Joan Byamugisha awarded Best Student Paper Award at the 2016 Controlled Natural Language Workshop

Joan Byamugisha a doctoral student in the Department of Computer Science was awarded the Best Student Paper award for her peer-reviewed submission [1, 2] at the 2016 Controlled Natural Language Workshop, held in Aberdeen, Scotland. Joan is supervised by Dr. Maria Keet and Dr. Brian DeRenzi.

In addition to the honour of winning the award, selected by the organising committee of the workshop, Joan received a GBP 200 Amazon gift voucher sponsored by Digital Grammars.

Joan investigated the feasibility of bootstrapping a controlled natural language for Runyankore, which is spoken in her home country Uganda, taking as starting point a CNL for isiZulu. As it turned out, this was feasible. The paper presents the so-called "verbalisation patterns"—akin to logic-based templates where one can slot in the values for the variables to generate understandable sentences in natural language—and the evaluation with Runyankore speakers to find out their preferences on what reads better. The surprising result was that for most patterns specified, the sentence structure was determined by the same grammatical components as for isiZulu, notwithstanding the geographical distance between the regions. 

The camera-ready copy of the paper is freely available from the departmental publications repository as prepublication camera-ready copy [1] and it is linked to the official published version (same content) at the publisher’s website [2].