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Cambridge Language Sciences Annual Symposium 2017

A research and networking event for researchers in the language sciences at the University of Cambridge
When Nov 21, 2017
from 01:15 PM to 07:45 PM
Where Cripps Court, Magdalene College
Contact Name
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Now in its third year, this annual meeting for the research community of Cambridge Language Sciences brings together established and early careers researchers for an afternoon of talks and poster presentations, and provides an opportunity for informal networking. The theme of this year's Symposium is the link between research in language sciences and tech innovation.

The programme is in development, and this page will be updated as details are confirmed.


13.00-13.30 Registration and coffee

13.30-14.30 Keynote lecture:The Use of Deep Learning in Spoken Dialogue Systems

Prof. Steve Young (Dept. of Engineering/Siri Development Team)

Spoken dialogue systems (SDS) provide the core enabling technology for building intelligent personal assistants.  The function of an SDS is to understand each user input, decode the users intention or goal and then respond accordingly.   Whereas historically much of this functionality has been provided by hand-crafted rule systems, modern systems increasingly rely on statistical models and machine learning.   This talk will review the structure and components of a modern SDS and their implementation using deep neural networks.   The provision of adequate quantities of annotated training data is a major limitation on progress and the talk will conclude by discussing ways in which this bottleneck might be eliminated.

14.30-15.00 Individualised Language in the Big Data Era

Dr Paula Buttery (Computer Lab)

15.00-15.30 Poster slam (1-minute talks by the poster presenters)

15.30-16.15 Poster exhibition; refreshments

16.15-16.45 Using Social Media to Investigate Linguistic Variation and Change

Dr David Willis (Dept. of Theoretical & Applied Linguistics)

Data from social-media platforms such as Twitter have been used to investigate how new words diffuse geographically. However, they have been little used to answer core questions in historical linguistics and language variation and change, such as, what grammatical variation exists and how new grammatical variants spread. This talk will explore their use in this domain, demonstrating some of the methods being developed as part of the project Investigating the diffusion of morphosyntactic innovations using social media, and will consider whether social media data provide a good proxy for spoken data.

16.45-17.15 Linguistic Yardsticks: Evaluating Language Technology Using Insights from Linguistic Theory

Dr Laura Rimell (DeepMind)

17.15-18.15 Keynote lecture: Powered by Cambridge: Devices, data and interDisciplinarity

Saul Nassé (CEO, Cambridge Assessment, English)

18.15-19.45 Reception


Call for posters now open

Submissions can be on any topic, with interdisciplinary research especially welcome. Please submit via the online portal at

Deadline: 6 October

Poster session organisersGuy Emerson ( and Samantha Sie (


Registration will open in October and be announced via the language sciences mailing list. The link will be on this page.

The Symposium is free to University of Cambridge researchers and guests. 

The talks will be filmed and available online afterwards. Talks from previous events are here:


Simon Fisher. presenting


Website re-development 

This website will no longer be updated after 31 July 2017 while a new version of the site is in development. This is to reflect the transition of Cambridge Language Sciences to the status of Interdisciplinary Research Centre.


Site members will be notified via the mailing list when the new website is live. 


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Cambridge Language Sciences Annual Symposium 2017

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Upcoming events