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5th Lucentino Coloquium on phraseology, linguistic variations and translation

The Cervantes Institute and other universities have expressed their intention to apply the results obtained by FRASYTRAM to the teaching of Spanish as a language

The benefits of the research project will return to improve machine translation.


Alicante, 27 October 2014

As we do not talk the same way in Alicante, Murcia or Mexico and learning Spanish requires one to know the typical expressions used in a particular geographical area of a Spanish-speaking country, the University of Alicante’s FRASYTRAM group (on phraseology and multilingual translation), began its activity in January 2012 a R&D project on the study of diatopic expressions of the language and translation of the most common Spanish verb set constructions, which will end in December 2014. the culmination of this process is the 5th UA Lucentino colloquium on phraseology, linguistic variations and Translation, which will start tomorrow, Tuesday, 28 and ends on 30 October 2014. the conference involved 80 lecturers and researchers from 15 different countries who will present their work on phraseology from Latin America and Spain.

Diatopic expressions are those set expressions used by speakers in a certain geographical location. FRASYTRAM,  made up of twenty participants including researchers from the Autonomous University of Puebla (BUAP) of Mexico, from the Ricardo Palma University in Lima (Peru) and a doctoral researcher who is studying the expressions in Argentina, has managed to develop a database of amongst 1,500 and 2,000 most common expressions in Spain, a total of 30,000 expressions retrieved. Researchers have also compiled 9,000 Hispanic expressions, focusing on Peru, Argentina and Mexico. 

To create the database, the experts have distinguished two corpora, one from newspapers and from other literary works by authors from Hispanic and Spanish language, focusing on the twentieth century. The idea is to find the expressions in the database they already had, determine the most frequent and teach them to those students who are learning academic Spanish. And the way to find them is by "emptying dictionaries". The most reliable source is a good dictionary to collect expression. 

Another finding reported by Professor Pedro Mogorrón Huerta, director of the Department of Translation and Interpreting at the UA and coordinator of the project as the principal researchers, is that the two corpora coincide in around 60% to 65% of the most frequent expressions. 

In turn, researchers have analysed the expressions used in textbooks for teaching Spanish. Mogorrón explained that the expressions given never coincide on two manuals, so researchers concluded that they had not had rigorous selection criteria and were randomly chosen expressions, without knowing whether these were the most frequently used. The results now allow practical application for both teaching Spanish as a language and for machine translation. In this regard, as reported by the director of FRASYTRAM, the Cervantes Institute and various universities have shown their intention to apply these results. 

The project, that will end in December,  started from an initial database of 18,000 gathered verbal constructions, characterised by their fixation, mostly from the Spanish mainland, as the group was first developed from research projects funded by the Valencian government and AECI, which list is now expanding. Its versatility, for which they developed an application in continuous process of expansion, that organises the idioms by semantic fields, allows the location of a good number of Spanish idiomatic expressions by semantic fields, together with their equivalences in various languages are Arabic, Catalan, French, English, Italian. 

The opening ceremony will be held tomorrow, Tuesday 28 October 2014, at 9 am, in the auditorium at the Geography Building.


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