Designing an Extensible Domain-Specific Web Corpus for “Layfication”: A Case Study in eCare at Home

Designing an Extensible Domain-Specific Web Corpus for “Layfication”: A Case Study in eCare at Home

Marina Santini (RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Sweden), Arne Jönsson (RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Sweden & Linköping University, Sweden), Wiktor Strandqvist (RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Sweden & Linköping University, Sweden), Gustav Cederblad (Linköping University, Sweden), Mikael Nyström (RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Sweden & Linköping University, Sweden), Marjan Alirezaie (Örebro University, Sweden), Leili Lind (RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Sweden & Linköping University, Sweden), Eva Blomqvist (RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Sweden & Linköping University, Sweden), Maria Lindén (Mälardalen University, Sweden) and Annica Kristoffersson (Örebro University, Sweden)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 58
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7879-6.ch006

Abstract

In the era of data-driven science, corpus-based language technology is an essential part of cyber physical systems. In this chapter, the authors describe the design and the development of an extensible domain-specific web corpus to be used in a distributed social application for the care of the elderly at home. The domain of interest is the medical field of chronic diseases. The corpus is conceived as a flexible and extensible textual resource, where additional documents and additional languages will be appended over time. The main purpose of the corpus is to be used for building and training language technology applications for the “layfication” of the specialized medical jargon. “Layfication” refers to the automatic identification of more intuitive linguistic expressions that can help laypeople (e.g., patients, family caregivers, and home care aides) understand medical terms, which often appear opaque. Exploratory experiments are presented and discussed.
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Introduction

Cyber-Physical Systems (CPSs) denote an emergent paradigm that combines most advanced technological approaches and computational tools to solve complex tasks. CPSs are domain-independent and have penetrated diversified disciplines, such as healthcare and self-driving vehicles. Corpus-based Language Technology is an essential component of many CPSs, where linguistic knowledge is indispensable to prevent failures or fatal errors due to misunderstandings or poor understanding.

Web corpora are the bedrock underlying modern real-world corpus-based Language Technology applications (henceforth LT applications), such as terminology extraction, ontology learning, text simplification, automatic summarization and machine translation. In this chapter, we describe the design and the development of an extensible domain-specific web corpus to be used in a distributed social application for the care of the elderly at home.

Web corpora are text collections made of documents that have been automatically retrieved and downloaded from the web. Generally speaking, building web corpora is convenient because the whole process of corpus creation is automated, fast and inexpensive. In contrast, the construction of traditional corpora ̶ such as the British National Corpus (BNC) (Burnard, 2007) or the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCOA) (Davies, 2009) or the recent iWeb corpus1 ̶ normally spans over several years, relies on considerable amount of human expertise to decide the ideal combination of documents that is worth storing in the corpus and, last but not least, necessitates substantial funding. It goes without saying that the investments in time, financial resources and human knowledge required by traditional corpora are well paid-off because such an effort amounts to high-quality and long-lasting collections, that are extensively used by teachers, students, researchers and system developers. For instance, the Brown corpus created in the 60's (Kucera & Francis, 1979) is still valuable today, especially for monitoring how the language has changed in the last decades (e.g. Malá, 2017).

While traditional corpora are a shrine of hand-crafted qualities, the added value of web corpora is in their malleability. Similar to traditional corpora, web corpora can be general-purpose or specialized (Barbaresi, 2015) and may serve different purposes, such as linguistic studies (e.g. Schäfer & Bildhauer, 2013; Biemann et al., 2007; Lüdeling et al. 2007) and professional uses (Goldhahn et al., 2012; Baroni et al., 2006). However, the unique and unprecedented potential of web corpora is that they can promptly and inexpensively account for virtually any domain, topic, genre, register, sublanguage, style and emotional connotation, since the web itself is a panoply of linguistic and textual varieties. This potential can be profitably exploited for domain-specific projects that require specialized text collections to implement corpus-based LT applications. Examples of these types of LT applications are those implemented in projects like DigInclude2 and E-care@home3 in Sweden or those that have been developed for European projects, such as SEMANTICMINING4 and SemanticHealthNet5 in the semantic interoperability field, as well as Accurat6, TTC7 and EXPERT8 in Natural Language Processing (NLP), Computational Linguistics and Information Retrieval.

Arguably, traditional corpora and web corpora are complementary and allow for a wide spectrum of possible linguistic, empirical and computational studies and experiments.

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