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NLP CW1–09 Text simplification
01/13
Can text simplification help a
reader with a low to
basic level of language?
By Barney Staddon
NLP CW1–09 Text simplification
• The need for text simplification
• The approaches
• The problems
• The solutions
(or attempts to solve problems!)
• Conclusions
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NLP CW1–09 Text simplification
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The need for text simplification
“If complex texts can be made simpler,
sentences become easier to process,
both for programs and humans”
Chandrasekar et al (1996)
NLP CW1–09 Text simplification
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The need for text simplification
Natural Language Processing:
Machine translation
Simplification
Text summarization
Text analysis
NLP CW1–09 Text simplification
The need for text simplification
Human Processing:
Greater access to information
• English only spoken as first language by 4.7% (CIA, 2009)
• 18% of world population are illiterate (CIA, 2009)
• Newspapers, official information, subtitles, print or online.
Language education
• Manual simplification is expensive and time consuming
Readers with disabilities
• Aphasia
05/13
NLP CW1–09 Text simplification
The approaches
Author-validated simplification:
06/13
NLP CW1–09 Text simplification
The approaches
Post-authored simplification:
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NLP CW1–09 Text simplification
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The problems
INPUT
Syntactic analysis: What is the structure?
Syntactic simplification: Can it be made simpler?
Lexical simplification: Is the vocabulary difficult?
Cohesion analysis: Does it still make sense?
OUTPUT
NLP CW1–09 Text simplification
The solutions
Parsers and lemmatizers
Sentence splitting & pronoun resolution
Machine learning approach
Rules based approach
Lexical databases
Author validation
09/13
NLP CW1–09 Text simplification
10/13
John gets the bus to university but he always gets there incredibly
late even if he leaves early.
John gets the bus to university.
However, John always gets to university incredibly late.
John leaves early.
John gets the bus to university.
However, John always gets to university very late.
John leaves early.
John gets the bus to university.
John leaves early.
However, John always gets to university very late.
Syntactic
simplification
Lexical
simplification
Cohesion
analysis
NLP CW1–09 Text simplification
11/13
Conclusions
Post-authored simplification
- Error prone, can lack cohesion
- Relies on rules, (judgements based on experience?)
Author-validated simplification
- Very slow, requires author
- Side steps problems of semantic meaning
- Works well, ensures cohesion
Can text simplification help a reader with a low to basic level of
language?
Yes, but currently without main benefits of computerization!
NLP CW1–09 Text simplification
(Source: http://www.storyscribe.com/sssoftware/stylewriter-images/screenshots/SS12.gif)
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NLP CW1–09 Text simplification
13/13
Can text simplification help a reader with a low to basic level of language?
Questions
References:
Chandrasekar R., Doran, C. and Srinivas, B. (1996). Motivations and Methods for Text Simplification.
Proceedings of the 16th conference on Computational linguistics, (2). pp. 1041 – 1044. [Online]. Available from:
http://www.aclweb.org/anthology/C/C96/C96-2183.pdf [Accessed 13/11/09]
Central Intelligence Agency. (2009). The World Factbook. [Online]. Available from:
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/xx.html [Accessed 13/11/09]

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