Bai Li


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Word class flexibility: A deep contextualized approach
Bai Li | Guillaume Thomas | Yang Xu | Frank Rudzicz
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Word class flexibility refers to the phenomenon whereby a single word form is used across different grammatical categories. Extensive work in linguistic typology has sought to characterize word class flexibility across languages, but quantifying this phenomenon accurately and at scale has been fraught with difficulties. We propose a principled methodology to explore regularity in word class flexibility. Our method builds on recent work in contextualized word embeddings to quantify semantic shift between word classes (e.g., noun-to-verb, verb-to-noun), and we apply this method to 37 languages. We find that contextualized embeddings not only capture human judgment of class variation within words in English, but also uncover shared tendencies in class flexibility across languages. Specifically, we find greater semantic variation when flexible lemmas are used in their dominant word class, supporting the view that word class flexibility is a directional process. Our work highlights the utility of deep contextualized models in linguistic typology.

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Representation Learning for Discovering Phonemic Tone Contours
Bai Li | Jing Yi Xie | Frank Rudzicz
Proceedings of the 17th SIGMORPHON Workshop on Computational Research in Phonetics, Phonology, and Morphology

Tone is a prosodic feature used to distinguish words in many languages, some of which are endangered and scarcely documented. In this work, we use unsupervised representation learning to identify probable clusters of syllables that share the same phonemic tone. Our method extracts the pitch for each syllable, then trains a convolutional autoencoder to learn a low-dimensional representation for each contour. We then apply the mean shift algorithm to cluster tones in high-density regions of the latent space. Furthermore, by feeding the centers of each cluster into the decoder, we produce a prototypical contour that represents each cluster. We apply this method to spoken multi-syllable words in Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese and evaluate how closely our clusters match the ground truth tone categories. Finally, we discuss some difficulties with our approach, including contextual tone variation and allophony effects.


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Detecting dementia in Mandarin Chinese using transfer learning from a parallel corpus
Bai Li | Yi-Te Hsu | Frank Rudzicz
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers)

Machine learning has shown promise for automatic detection of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) through speech; however, efforts are hampered by a scarcity of data, especially in languages other than English. We propose a method to learn a correspondence between independently engineered lexicosyntactic features in two languages, using a large parallel corpus of out-of-domain movie dialogue data. We apply it to dementia detection in Mandarin Chinese, and demonstrate that our method outperforms both unilingual and machine translation-based baselines. This appears to be the first study that transfers feature domains in detecting cognitive decline.

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Multilingual prediction of Alzheimer’s disease through domain adaptation and concept-based language modelling
Kathleen C. Fraser | Nicklas Linz | Bai Li | Kristina Lundholm Fors | Frank Rudzicz | Alexandra König | Jan Alexandersson | Philippe Robert | Dimitrios Kokkinakis
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers)

There is growing evidence that changes in speech and language may be early markers of dementia, but much of the previous NLP work in this area has been limited by the size of the available datasets. Here, we compare several methods of domain adaptation to augment a small French dataset of picture descriptions (n = 57) with a much larger English dataset (n = 550), for the task of automatically distinguishing participants with dementia from controls. The first challenge is to identify a set of features that transfer across languages; in addition to previously used features based on information units, we introduce a new set of features to model the order in which information units are produced by dementia patients and controls. These concept-based language model features improve classification performance in both English and French separately, and the best result (AUC = 0.89) is achieved using the multilingual training set with a combination of information and language model features.