Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Language Resources for Slovene Learners of the Japanese Language

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
6.05.00  Humanities  Linguistics   

Code Science Field
H350  Humanities  Linguistics 

Code Science Field
6.02  Humanities  Languages and Literature 
language resources, corpora, Japanese language, Slovene language, foreign language education, language materials, dictionaries, collocations, syllabus
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (1)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  28019  PhD Irena Srdanović  Linguistics  Head  2013 - 2015  75 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0581  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts  Ljubljana  1627058  98,255 
Language resources for learning the Japanese language have mainly been built relying on the intuitions and experiences of language teachers and textbook writers. Only recently have the advantages of the empirical approach been recognized with its use of large electronic collections of texts, called corpora, and a rapidly growing range of tools that draw on developments in computer science, linguistics, and lexicography. While such resources share the same basic goals as traditional linguistic and lexicographic works in terms of meeting the communicational needs, there are fundamental differences in that various tasks can be accomplished more efficiently with the new technologies, which often provide even richer insights into language use. An area often neglected within the traditional language learning practice is the importance of collocations—words that typically co-occur in a text. The natural combinations of words in a given language are often unpredictable from one’s knowledge of other languages, thus foreign language learners are highly prone to mistakes. For example, ocha wo ireru meaning ‘pripraviti čaj’ (eng. ‘to make a tea’) is unpredictable for Slovene learners of Japanese because its literal meaning is ‘dati čaj noter’ (eng. 'to put tea in’), so they often use the unnatural expression ocha wo tsukuru, where tsukuru is a literal translation of Slovene ‘pripraviti’ (eng. 'to make’). Advances in corpus-based research have clearly highlighted the importance of such language phenomena, although they are not yet fully covered in language learning materials, including those for the Japanese language. Since correct or incorrect usage of collocations strongly depends on the native language of a language learner, this study focuses on Slovene learners of the Japanese language. Moreover, typical collocations have shown to be specific to various academic fields. Accordingly, the aim of this research is to develop language resources that address and resolve these issues, by developing two kinds of modules: 1) Corpus-based resources for learners of Japanese for academic purposes (JAP), based on general language skills and consisting of the following components: • Collocation query system with information on language proficiency levels • Collocation syllabus covering theoretical aspects of the treatment of collocations, emphasizing points of similarity and divergence between the two languages • Model of a Japanese – Slovene – Japanese dictionary of collocations 2) Corpus-based resources for learners of Japanese for specific purposes (JSP) that focus on domain-specific skills and consist of the following components: • Domain-specific corpus and word list creation • Domain-specific collocation syllabi and dictionary models, This module will concentrate on one or two domains that are frequently used in combination with Japanese studies at the institution. The research will employ various Japanese and Slovene language corpora, the tools summarizing the grammatical and collocational relations, the technology for building specialized corpora, as well as other sources. The major advantage of such empirical approach is in obtaining valuable linguistic information from large-scale resources in very short periods of time, which is not possible through traditional introspection alone. The systematic treatment of Japanese collocations will be a fundamental resource for creation of other language resources and learning materials and will be of use to both students and teachers. The innovative nature of the research is exhibited in the complementary employment of the state-of-the-art language technologies and categories related to language learning practices, such as proficiency levels. Furthermore, the comparison of collocations in the two languages is expected to provide us with new theoretical insights into the nature of ‘unpredictable’ and ‘predictable’ collocations, which is of wide relevance in the research community.
Significance for science
The research project bears upon the following areas of linguistics: corpus linguistics, foreign language learning, e-learning, corpus lexicography, applied linguistics and lexical semantics. Although all of the research areas touch upon the importance of collocations in language communication, collocations have still not been treated in the manner proposed in the project. This especially concerns the innovative combination of state-of-the-art methodology of corpus linguistics and linguistic technologies for extraction and grouping of the most salient collocational and grammatical relations with the categories from the theory and practice of foreign language learning, such as the learning burden, predictability of collocations etc. In addition, the research highlights the phenomenon of distant collocations, which is still poorly understood, since in principle traditionally collocations are only dealt within the range of five words. This phenomenon has a strong analytical potential, as it enables discovering systematic relations in textual macrostructure using corpora, which so far corpus linguistics and traditional approaches have not covered. The empirically based systematic treatment of collocations, besides the innovative methods, provided new and contemporary linguistic findings in the mentioned areas, especially with respect to the new theoretical and practical insights into the nature of distant collocations, predictability and unpredictability of collocations for foreign language learners, and pragmatic information in dictionaries. As such, it contributed to the development of science in the field of linguistics. The importance of the proposed theoretical framework will also be in its possible applicative use for the purposes of lexicography, creation of syllabi, and e-learning. From the point of view of the used methods, the results of the project are of interest to the field of language technologies and to all corpus linguists, as they offer several methodological approaches that has not yet been seen in the corpus analysis of European languages. The project contributes to the development of the emerging field of Language for Specific Purposes learning and teaching, which is an industry-relevant branch of language pedagogy The contribution primarily consists of the systematic and empirical treatment of domain-specific vocabulary in the field of tourism using the most up-to-date language technologies and methods of corpus linguistic and language learning. In the field, the novel possibilities for fast and efficient development of specialized corpora have been gradually recognized, but the advantages of these methods for extraction of collocations for language learning have so far not been sufficiently exploited. The proposed project enhances the existing approaches with the novel way of extracting domain-specific collocations and their innovative treatment from the pedagogical perspective of learning burden and predictability. The theoretical and practical findings of the proposed research address language-related issues that are relevant to the international linguistic community. By providing novel models for analysis and description of collocations from the perspective of support in language learning, the project undoubtedly represents a novelty in a wider linguistic environment and receive attention also outside of the Slovene and Japanese area of expertise, which opens new possibilities for further development of the project and its multilingual consideration in Europe and wider.
Significance for the country
The theoretical and practical findings of the proposed research, as well as published results in the form of scientific monograph, chapters in monograph, journal papers and contributions at international conferences, present an important direct contribution to the development of the Japanese studies in Slovenia. In addition, they contribute directly to a wide recognition of the profession in Europe, Japan and beyond. The developed language resources provide support to students in enhancing their Japanese language skills, to teachers for more efficient creation of syllabi, and to specialists to create better learning materials and dictionaries in Slovenia and wider. The researcher also developed a set of learning materials that provide support to students and teachers of Japanese language at Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana in usage of publicly available tools for exploring collocation data. This includes the publicly available resource adjusted to the needs of this project, which is also a contribution to the development of knowledge and the improvement of human skills. Since it has been showed that the incorrect usage of collocations presents one of the most frequent obstacles in the correct usage of a foreign language, the practical results of the research undoubtedly contribute to more efficient process of learning and teaching Japanese language at the institution and thus strengthen the Japanese studies program in Slovenia. Above all, the results of the project are important for education of Slovene graduates and postgraduates of Japanese studies as new specialists who are with the use of the provided resources more adjustable to the needs of general language use, on one hand, and to the needs of language production inside a particular domain, tourism, on the other hand. The education of new specialists for a specific domain is strongly related to the needs of industry and better employability of the graduates. Because of a more proficient and correct language usage, the Slovene companies that employ such graduates will possibly have better relations with their Japanese partners and therefore increased operability and economic prospects with Japan. The project doubtlessly contributes to strengthening of the Japanese Studies and building a strong base for education of more qualified specialists in Slovenia. Due to a wider application possibilities of the project results outside Slovenia, the project indirectly contributes to research collaboration and international exchange of knowledge and expertise at the level of European Union as well as in Asia and more widely. Through international, intercultural and interdisciplinary activities of new specialists, the project contributes to strengthening the connections between Japan and Slovenia and thus to promotion of our research environment, and, more widely construed, of the country. At various Japanese universities, such as Tsukuba University, Tokyo University for Foreign Studies, Tokyo Institute of Technology, research on developing e-learning programs, corpus-based dictionaries for foreign learners of Japanese etc. has been in progress. With its novel approaches and results about collocations, the proposed research has partially contributed to improvement and exchange of resources, and thus indirectly facilitates access to other research findings that are relevant for the field and add to transferring knowledge, prolonging the existing and creating new interuniversity and interfaculty agreements on mutual cooperation. Finally, the methods and theoretical achievements of the research are applicable to other language pairs and the results are expected to contribute to the field of lexicography, especially for creation of bilingual dictionaries of collocations.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2013, 2014, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2013, 2014, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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