Introduction to Arabic Natural Language Processing

Introduction to Arabic Natural Language Processing

Nizar Y. Habash,
ISBN: 9781598297959 | PDF ISBN: 9781598297966
Copyright © 2010 | 187 Pages | Publication Date: 01/01/2010

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This book provides system developers and researchers in natural language processing and computational linguistics with the necessary background information for working with the Arabic language. The goal is to introduce Arabic linguistic phenomena and review the state-of-the-art in Arabic processing. The book discusses Arabic script, phonology, orthography, morphology, syntax and semantics, with a final chapter on machine translation issues. The chapter sizes correspond more or less to what is linguistically distinctive about Arabic, with morphology getting the lion's share, followed by Arabic script. No previous knowledge of Arabic is needed. This book is designed for computer scientists and linguists alike. The focus of the book is on Modern Standard Arabic; however, notes on practical issues related to Arabic dialects and languages written in the Arabic script are presented in different chapters.

Table of Contents

What is "Arabic"?
Arabic Script
Arabic Phonology and Orthography
Arabic Morphology
Computational Morphology Tasks
Arabic Syntax
A Note on Arabic Semantics
A Note on Arabic and Machine Translation

About the Author(s)

Nizar Y. Habash, Columbia University
Nizar Habash is a research scientist at the Center for Computational Learning Systems in Columbia University, where he has worked since 2004. He received a B.Sc. in Computer Engineering and a B.A. in Linguistics and Languages from Old Dominion University in 1997. He received his Ph.D. in 2003 from the Computer Science Department, University of Maryland College Park. His Ph.D. thesis is titled Generation-Heavy Hybrid Machine Translation. In 2005, he co-founded the Columbia Arabic Dialect Modeling (CADIM) group with Mona Diab and Owen Rambow. Nizar's research includes work on machine translation, natural language generation, lexical semantics, morphological analysis, generation and disambiguation, syntactic parsing and annotation, and computational modeling of Arabic and its dialects. Nizar currently serves as secretary of the board of AMTA (Association for Machine Translation in the Americas) and of IAMT (International Association for Machine Translation). He served as vice-president of the Semitic Language Special Interest Group in the Association of Computational Linguistics (ACL) (2006-2009). He also served as the research community representative on the AMTA board (2006-2008). He previously served as a research program co-chair for the AMTA 2006 conference, the Workshop on Computational Approaches to Semitic Languages (ACL 2005) and the Workshop on Machine Translation for Semitic Languages (MT Summit 2003). Nizar has published over 80 papers in international conferences and journals and has given numerous lectures and tutorials for academic and industrial audiences.



The book is concise, as required by the publisher, but the contents are impressive. It takes care of very specific details such as the hamza letter mark (which can appear above or below specific letter forms; when it appears at stem-initial positions it tends to be perceived as a diacritic) and relates it to aspects of various linguistic phenomena. Moreover, the material in text boxes that frequently appear as alerts or FAQ's are very interesting teaching material that directly draws the attention of the reader’s mind. In particular, I admired the highlight such as FAQ: How true is "Arabic has no vowels?" I found that the book follows a reasonable approach such that the reader can easily pursue the logical sequence not only across one chapter but also across the entire book. This means that the material is brilliantly organized in such away it covers the necessary breadth and depth of its intended audience. In my opinion, for anyone who wants to understand Arabic natural language processing, this book is indispensable.
Khaled Shaalan - British University in Dubai

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