I was just thinking about what language learning tools (that aren’t out there yet) could be invented that would help me in my language learning.
Does anyone think it will ever be possible to design software so that it could automatically recognise which grammatical case certain parts of sentences are in, and highlight them accordingly?
I guess I’m just envisaging a more powerful version of LingQ! Where one sentence may have certain words highlighted in red for accusative, and green for nominative etc.
Personally I think it would help me recognise patterns in foreign languages better when I’m listening and reading…but as I say it’s literally an idea that just popped into my head!
What do you think? What do you wish was out there but isn’t?
“Does anyone think it will ever be possible to design software so that it could automatically recognise which grammatical case certain parts of sentences are in, and highlight them accordingly?”
Yes. How far away we are from this, I do not know. I think there will probably be a lot of cases where it won’t work since it will be ambiguous, especially for langauges like English with simple grammar systems.
I agree, I think it would be easier for languages like Russian which has relatively consistent repeatable rules with regards to the conjugation of nouns.
I am sure it is much easier than to create Google Translate. But it takes time for every language.
I think we don’t need to know cases for every sentence. That’s why your idea may be implemented as a separated tool.
Just to cook out my comment a bit more, consider the famous ‘garden path’ sentence
- Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.
In the second part of this, it is unclear from the grammar how the sentence is constructed. The verb could easily be ‘to fly’ or it could just as easily by ‘to like’. In this case, the sentence is constructed specifically to be confusing, but take this example
- We have to cook the chicken with stuffing and potatoes.
How does ‘and potatoes’ come into this sentence? This could be interpreted in two ways:-
- We have to cook the chicken with stuffing and with potatoes. → We have to cook the chicken with [stuffing and potatoes].
- We have to cook the chicken with stuffing, and we also have to cook potatoes. → We have to cook [the chicken with stuffing] and [potatoes].
I don’t know to what extent we could program a computer to distinguish between these alternatives. In fact, even native speakers of English can have trouble with this. In this case, we would probably mostly agree that the first of the two alternatives is the more likely one, but in a lot of cases, there is simply no way.
It would be interesting to see these chicken+potato sentences written out in Russian. Maybe Ress can do a translation. I wonder if the more complicated system of noun endings in Russian removes the ambiguity.
The same we have in Russian. Especially we can see such ambiguous lables on foodstuffs.
But it’s possible to say another way if we really need another meaning:
- We have to cook potatoes and the chicken with stuffing.
Well, the translation.
Мы должны приготовить курицу с начинкой и картофелем. Мы должны приготовить курицу с [начинкой и картофелем]. Мы должны приготовить [курицу с начинкой] и [картофелем].
The possibility to reduce the ambiguity:
Мы должны приготовить картофель и курицу с начинкой.
What looks the same to
Мы должны приготовить картофель с курицей и начинкой.
But here we have other possibilities:
Мы должны приготовить [картофель с курицей] и [картофель с начинкой].
Мы должны приготовить картофель [с курицей и начинкой (внутри картофеля)].
Any system at LingQ would have to be applicable to all languages. There are many languages where case is not an issue. I think we can and will institute some system of connecting a word, whatever form it is in, to a root form (nominative or infinitive or whatever), and perhaps a table or something. It is something we will introduce in the future I think.
Even in Russian, often only the context will tell you what the case is, and those are often the ones that cause trouble. The more obvious ones are more easily learned.
Having a tool like this might help a little bit, but unless you are trying to learn grammar without ever studying it directly, it’s usefulness would be quite limited imo. There is much more to Russian grammar, and even to the Russian case system, than knowing what case something is in.
It would be very useful to have an initial form of the word together with the form from the context. For example, I couldn’t understand for a long time that ‘fus’, ‘serai’,‘sommes’,‘sois’ - that all these words are the forms of the French verb “etre”.
And the same now with Turkish - I can’t find in the dictionary more than 50% of the words from the context because I don’t know their initials forms - and in Turlish it is especially difficult because the Turkish words can have so many suffixes at the same time.
For Russian, it would be really useful.
I agree. Putting the word family in with the definition, or a link to it, would be a good idea.