Good news | The School of Humanities and Social Science Undergraduate Student Paper Featured in the International Conference of the Asian Association for Lexicography
Have you ever wondered about the authority and reliability of the meanings of words in an electronic dictionary?
Fanfei Meng and Shiyang Zhang from the School of Humanities and Social Science, and Xi Wang from the School of Data Science with the help and encouragement of Prof. Li Lan, not only questioned but also researched and put their ideas into practice one step at a time!
Ideas are born and brainstorming begins
Received the school's 22nd round of URA
(Undergraduate Research Awards）
Abstract passes the International Conference of the Asian Association for Lexicography review, receive invitation to attend conference
Attended and presented a paper at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, and the paper was included in the Conference proceedings.
The process of research is tedious and long:
" We found many problems with the ‘concise dictionary’ of Youdao Platform in our daily use of the dictionary, and inspired by Prof. Li's course, we came up with the idea of researching the inaccuracy in online dictionaries. After confirming the topic with Prof. Li, we collected and screened ten words with deficiencies, and designed the question format, logic and content of the translation test. Once the questionnaire containing the background survey, translation test, and review of the test process was finalized, we began a long experimental process, including finding participants, recording the test process under remote monitoring, and collecting and organizing the questionnaires. Afterwards, we used Chi-square tests, Descriptive statistical analysis, and categorical summary analysis to analyze and discuss the collected data and started writing the paper after drawing a broad conclusion and sorting out the logic of the paper.
Group photo of students and Prof. Li Lan at the conference in Seoul
About the Conference
The 16th International Conference of the Asian Association for Lexicography (ASIALEX 2023)
2023.6.22 - 6.24
Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea
Lexicography, Artificial Intelligence, and Dictionary Users
From left to right: Prof. Li Lan, Meng Fanfei, Zhang Shiyang, Wang Xi
About the Paper
Inaccuracy of an E-Dictionary and Its Influence on Chinese Language Users
Meng Fanfei, Wang Xi, Zhang Shiyang
(in alphabetical order by last name)
Abstract of the Paper:
Electronic dictionaries have replaced most paper dictionaries and have become the primary learning tools in assisting L2 learners in expanding their lexical repertoire. Generally, users tend to assume the definitions in E-dictionaries are reliable and barely question the validity of the descriptions provided. The accuracy of major E-dictionaries is not commonly challenged, and the formation of online dictionary corpora is rarely discussed. Moreover, the study of dictionary use is rather limited, especially E-dictionary problems.
This study takes a combined research approach of experiment, survey, and dictionary critique to investigate the most popular E-dictionary in China – Youdao. The experiment included retrospection and translation test with the purpose of finding out how E-dictionary can affect student learning. Over a hundred students in different disciplines were asked to translate sentences that included insufficiently defined words in Youdao dictionary. The dictionary consultation process was recorded to observe how some deficient definitions influence participants’ understanding of the words. It is found that E-dictionaries with errors of incomplete and/or inaccurate definitions could lead to students’ misinterpretation of the sentence. In addition, student consultation habits were found problematic. The causes of the deficient word definitions are also explained from a data processing point of view. For instance, translation mistakes are integrated by the application of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning technology in online dictionaries. It is suggested that the dictionary skills of users should be further trained, and improvement of online dictionaries should also be made with better AI technologies.
Link to the paper (can be viewed by clicking on the "Read More" link):
From left to right: Meng Fanfei, Zhang Shiyang, Prof. Li Lan, Wang Xi
Turning the problems I encountered in my daily study into research topics made me realize the importance and significance of habitual thinking and constant reflection. The results of my research also made me realize that it is too easy for us to regard something that exists in a systematic way and is widely popular as an authority, while ignoring the reliability of the means by which the so-called authority is constructed, and neglecting to question the legitimacy of its being regarded as an authority. In addition to keeping up the thinking, action is also essential in producing the paper. I am glad that last year we were not scared off by the ddl for the URA project that was due in four days, but rather we decided on the topic, contacted the supervisor, and divided up the work to write the proposal with a sense of "just rush and it's over”. It is not advisable to rush to the last minute, but when this is unavoidable, teamwork, execution, and an unknown sense of conviction are invaluable.
Many thanks to my incredible teammates and Prof.Li! Looking back on this research, I think it was generally smooth, with occasional bumps in the road. But fortunately, our topic selection was enough to provide us with lasting interest and driving force; my teammates were responsible and capable, we supported each other to produce the stage summary of the study during the mid-term week and the final draft of the thesis during the final week as if we were comrades-in-arms; and our supervisor, Prof. Li Lan, was even better than impeccable - despite her busy work schedule, we could always learn her life philosophy and appreciate her life style in Symposium Coffee, Harmonia and Muse Function Room, her office and her home. I know that without her guidance, it would have been difficult for us to be honored to attend ASIALEX.
(The School of Humanities and Social Science, Cohort of 2020, Translation Programme)
Students in the middle of their presentations
In this research, I truly felt the beauty of the integration of data and humanities. As a computer science major, I am used to dealing with codes and numbers, but the process of working with the two students from the School of Humanities and Social Science made me realize the collision and fusion between disciplines, and each of our discussions was full of passion and creativity, as if we were having a knowledge feast every day.
The topic of language acquisition and electronic dictionaries is not only a pure academic research for me, but also a kind of interest and pursuit. As a student with a background in computational science, it is a rare experience to be able to delve into the wonders behind language. The combination of humanities and science and technology made me realize more the importance and fun of interdisciplinary cooperation.
Last but not least, I would like to give a special thanks to Prof. Li Lan. Prof. Li always took time out of her busy schedule to provide us with guidance and advice. She also personally took us to Korea to attend the ASIALEX academic conference, which gave us the opportunity to communicate and share with teachers from all over the world. This experience was not only an academic enhancement for me, but also a life experience. What I learned is not only knowledge, but also how to cooperate with others and how to face and solve problems in academics.
( School of Data Science, Cohort of 2020, Computer Science and Engineering Programme)
Group photo while participating in the conference
This is one of the most unforgettable research experiences in my undergraduate years. In June last year, Zhang Shiyang and I, on the spur of the moment, stood in front of the Muse cafeteria with umbrellas and chatted in the rain to give birth to the idea of research, and immediately found Wang Xi, an interdisciplinary student who is also very passionate about research, to form a team. Luckily, Prof. Li Lan was willing to be our mentor in the tight time frame of one week before the deadline of URA's ddl application, and provided us with a lot of advice and encouragement, and we finally succeeded in winning the 19th round of URA (Undergraduate Research Award).
The research process is a long one, and therefore there is no shortage of delays. When our progress was stagnant and we were not motivated enough, Prof. Li Lan pushed us again, and with her encouragement we boldly submitted our abstracts to ASIALEX (the International Conference of the Asian Association for Lexicography), and unexpectedly passed the screening and received an invitation to attend the conference in Seoul, South Korea.
Since then we have been full of energy, I can not forget how the nervous and flattered I felt when in the Mid-Autumn Festival we went to the professor's office to drink tea and eat mooncakes, but was invited directly to the home of Prof. Li to discuss. I can't count the number of times teammates and I brainstormed in all kinds of weird places on campus, and each meeting was a couple of hours...
When we were really attending the conference, the three of us realized that we were actually the only undergraduates on the site, facing all the professors and doctors, and we were so nervous before going on the stage because we were afraid of disgracing Prof. Li Lan; however, we were surprisingly calm during the real speech and Q&A. The pleasant conversation with the two Italian professors during the coffee break, being mistaken for a PhD program, and being called "teacher" by the PhD students...all of these constitute invaluable experiences and memories for us.
I am very thankful to Prof. Li Lan for giving us endless encouragement, support and opportunities, and to my super-nice and super-awesome teammates for finally bringing this phase to a temporary end, but even more so, it is the beginning of a new journey of self-explore.
(The School of Humanities and Social Science, Cohort of 2020, Translation Programme)
About the Instructor
Professor LI Lan holds a Ph. D. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, and joined The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen in 2017.She is currently Associate Professor of School of Humanities and Social Science of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Director of The Centre for Learning Enhancement And Research (CLEAR). Professor LI Lan is a member of CIOL (Chartered Institute of Linguists) and the executive director of the Asian Association for Lexicography. Her research fields include lexicology and lexicography, corpus study and EFL vocabulary learning, metaphor study, technical and web writing, neologisms, and workplace English.She has published more than sixty papers in leading professional journals such as Studies in Business English, Journal of Foreign Languages, Linguistics and Human Sciences. Her research results were also honored with the third prize in 2021 in the Outstanding Paper Competition for the 10th Anniversary of the Publication of Chinese ESP Research. She was honored with the title of "Outstanding Educator" in Shenzhen in 2020.