Yale University Library News

Day of Data Lecture: An Algorithm Can Fatten-Up a Lexicon

March 5, 2018

Join us on March 8, 2018, 2-3 PM in the Sterling Memorial Library Lecture Hall, for a Yale Day of Data Spring Series talk by linguist Stephanie Fielding. Fielding's algorithmic work allows for the reconstruction of a language with a slim set of words. 

When Stephanie Fielding started her study of the Mohegan language, she found that the primary sources for the language were diaries written in Mohegan by the aunt of her grandfather's grandfather, Fidelia Fielding. The language was simple and sparse. What was there gave her a basis to work from, but the vocabulary was impossible to use for conversations. Luckily, the Mohegans' cousins to the north, the Wampanoag, have a huge corpus of work which includes The Holy Bible, translated by John Eliot and his informants. 

During Fielding's time at MIT under the tutelage of Norvin Richards, she learned how to make an algorithm to turn a Wampanoag word into an authentic Mohegan word. More recently, she found notes written by Mohegan Medicine Woman Gladys Tantaquidgeon in Delaware using an orthography invented by anthropologist Frank Speck, whom Gladys worked with for many years. These pages have many names of plants and their medicinal uses in this Delaware script. Fielding's latest task is to make an algorithm that will turn these Delaware words into authentic Mohegan words.

Thursday, March 8, 2018, 2-3 PM Sterling Memorial Library Lecture Hall Refreshments will be provided and all are welcome to attend. 

This event is part of the Yale Day of Data Spring Series, sponsored by the Yale University Library.