L INGUISTICS 384: L ANGUAGE AND C OMPUTERS PART- OF -S PEECH TAGGING I N - CLASS E XERCISE 1 Introduction Part-of-what? Yes, yes, I’m aware that “sentence diagramming” and, in general, teaching parts of speech is a dying practice.1 Anyhow, for the moment just read the following passage (from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872): Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. “Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!” He took his vorpal sword in hand: Long time the manxome foe he sought — So rested he by the Tumtum tree, And stood awhile in thought. And, as in uffish thought he stood, The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, And burbled as it came! One, two! One, two! And through and through The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! He left it dead, and with its head He went galumphing back. “And, has thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” He chortled in his joy. Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. 1 Unless you went to middle school (a.k.a. “Jr. high”) in the South. 2 Mad Liberwocky There are a lot of wacky words in this poem, but you can still understand it. You can still make a mental picture of “The Jabberwock”. You know it is something’s name and not a common word, like borogroves. But how? How can you categorise words you’ve never seen before? Ah! Now you know how your computer feels when you ask it to translate “I friended him on Facebook.” into German. To give you a feel for how a computer might do this, I’ve blanked out all of the made-up words, names, etc. Your job is to fill them each in with one of the following words:2 pizza, meatloaves, Cletus, smelly, eat, burped, shazaam, skipping. Notice how (even if it seems odd), only one of the words “fits” in each blank (maybe two). Twas , and the Did and in the : All were the , And the raths . “Beware the , my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the bird, and shun The !” He took his sword in hand: Long time the foe he sought — So rested he by the tree, And stood awhile in thought. And, as in thought he stood, The , with eyes of flame, Came whiffling through the wood, And as it came! One, two! One, two! And through and through The blade went ! He left it dead, and with its head He went back. “And, has thou slain the ? Come to my arms, my boy! O day! ! !” He in his joy. Twas , and the Did and in the ; All were the , And the raths . 2 Like that old game Mad Libs. 3 Deep JJ Thoughts NNS Parts of speech are simply “[sets] of words that can function in the same way in a sentence” (Language Files 10:196). So, if I told you that “pizza” has the part of speech singular common noun (NN, for short), which words in Jabberwocky would you label similarly? Why?3 If “Cletus” has the part of speech proper noun (NNP), what would that tell you about “Jabberwock”? Why? Are there any words in Jabberwock that are ambiguous4 in their parts of speech? What kinds of cues can you use to determine (or guess at) parts of speech? (Think of as many as you can.) Which of these cues do you suspect a computer could use to predict parts of speech? Why or why not? 3 Hint: 4 I.e., look at which blanks you filled in with “pizza”. that have more than one label.