Helsinki-NLP at TALN 2023

TALN (Traitement Automatique du Language Naturel) is an annual conference covering topics from computational linguistics, NLP and speech processing organized by ATALA, the French association for NLP. This year’s edition took place from 5 – 9 June 2023 in Paris and was collocated with CORIA (Conférence en Recherche d’Information et Applications

Two of our members participated: Timothee Mickus and Aleksandra Miletić. More details below!

Presentation on low-resourced languages
Aleksandra presented a paper on lemmatization experiments for Occitan in a session dedicated to low-resource settings. During the coffee break there was an interesting exchange of ideas with researchers working on Alsatian, another minority language spoken in France.

Timothee won Best Thesis Award
Timothee won ATALA’s Best Thesis Award for 2023 for his thesis On the Status of Word Embeddings as Implementations of the Distributional Hypothesis. ATALA’s Best Thesis Award is given to outstanding PhD theses defended in a francophone university during the last two years. Exceptionally, this year there were two awardees, the other being Tobias Mayer for his thesis Fouille d’arguments à partir des essais cliniques. The jury  congratulated both authors on the high quality of their work.

Timothee’s thesis was in particular saluted for the depth of his theoretical and practical contributions. Timothee’s presentation during a plenary session prompted a long and lively discussion, showing the interest of the community in the topic.

Aleksandra was elected to the Board of ATALA
During the conference, the elections for the Board of ATALA also took place. Aleksandra was among the members elected for a period of three years. The Board coordinates ATALA’s various activities, such as the organization of the TALN conference, the edition of the TAL journal, the administration of the LN mailing list, the organization of workshops and the attribuiton of the Best Thesis Award.


Jörg Tiedemann elected as the president of NEALT

Jörg Tiedemann will succeed Barbara Plank as the next president of the Northern European Association for Language Technology (NEALT). The elections were held during the NoDaLiDa conference in Faroe Islands (22-24 May 2023). Jörg will take office in January 2024 for a period of two years.

NEALT is a scientific, non-profit and non-political association focused on promoting language technologies developed in the Northern European countries and for the languages spoken in those countries. During his presidency, Jörg will be giving special attention to the following topics:

Supporting the organisation of the next edition of NoDaLiDa
NoDaLiDa (Nordic Conference on Computational Linguistics) is a bi-annual event showcasing work on all aspects of computational linguistics, NLP and speech processing, including interdisciplinary work with neighbouring disciplines such as linguistics or psychology. The next iteration will be a jubilee: it will mark the 25th edition of the conference.

Promoting NEJLT
NEJLT (Northern European Journal of Language Technology) publishes high quality peer-reviewed research in computational linguistics and language technology for all natural languages. NEJLT’s goal is to provide an alternative to the high-pace publication process typical of the top language technology conferences. The hope is that making journal publications more accessible will reduce the reviewing load of the community and have a positive effect on the quality of published research.

Improving  NEALT’s visibility, in particular for its Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
NEALT currently has five SIGs, which serve as forums for communities working on different topics to exchange ideas and share resources. The existing SIGs are dedicated to the Nordic Constraint Grammar, technology infrastructures in the North European region, language technology-related teaching, intelligent computer-assisted language learning, and high-performance computing for NLP in the Nordics. NEALT is also open to establishing new SIGs: instructions for starting a new one are available here.

Community building
All of NEALT’s activities above strive to support collaborations between people and teams working on language technologies in the Nordic countries. In the coming years, the association will be driving for more shared projects, co-organized scientific events and joint publications across the region.

Supporting young researchers and students
In the 2023 edition of NoDaLiDa, more than half of the accepted papers were student papers (i.e., the first author was a student). An important aspect of NEALT’s activity will be ensuring support for young researchers and especially students to attend scientific events such as NoDaLiDa.

New team member: Shaoxiong Ji


My name is Shaoxiong Ji. This year, I started as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Helsinki, working on high-performance language technology at the Language Technology research group led by Prof. Jörg Tiedemann.

My research focuses on multilingual NLP and machine translation. I will be working with some NLP resource development such as large-scale data and and train big models and knowledge distillation models with the HPLT project. I am also interested in some other topics such as modular neural networks, zero-shot cross-lingual tasks, and other low-resource problems.

I did my Ph.D. at Aalto University under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Pekka Marttinen in the Machine Learning for Healthcare research group.  My Ph.D. thesis is about natural language processing for healthcare applications. During my doctoral candidature, I was a visiting researcher with Prof. Hinrich Schütze at the University of Munich (LMU Munich, Germany) and Dr. Mikko Peltola at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL, Finland). Prior to my doctoral candidature, I did MPhil research with Prof. Xue Li and Prof. Helen Zi Huang at the University of Queensland (UQ Australia) working on NLP applications for social good. I did visiting research with Assoc. Prof. Erik Cambria at Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore), where I worked on sentiment analysis especially emotion recognition in conversations.

I also spent a half year as a research assistant and a visiting scholar with Dr. Guodong Long and Dr. Shirui Pan at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS Australia), working on federated learning and mobile internet applications.

I am happy to join the group and discuss more about interesting topics. Thank you for your time and for reading my introduction and looking forward to meeting you!


New team member: Ona de Gibert Bonet

Hello everyone!

My name is Ona de Gibert Bonet and I am thrilled to introduce myself as a new PhD student in the Department of Digital Humanities at the University of Helsinki. I joined the Helsinki-NLP group in January this year.

To tell you a bit about my background, I was born and raised in Barcelona. I received a B.A. in Modern Languages and Literature from the University of Barcelona (2016) and earned a M.S. in Language Analysis and Processing from the University of the Basque Country (2018).

I am passionate about Machine Translation (MT), which is what led me to pursue a PhD in Language Technology. I am excited to join the research team led by Jörg Tiedemann, where I will be exploring MT for low-resourced languages with a focus on knowledge distillation. I believe that this research area has great potential to make a positive impact on the democratization of MT, broadening its accessibility, and I am eager to contribute to this work.

Apart from my academic interests, I love dancing ballet and lindy hop. In my free time, you can often find me doing very Finnish things: knitting or in the sauna. Both activities help me relax and clear my mind after a long day of research.

Thank you for taking the time to read my presentation, and I cannot wait to see what this academic journey has in store for us all. If you see me around campus, please don’t hesitate to say hello!


FCAI Research Insight Event May 6, 2019

FCAI hosted Research Insight Event at Aalto university. The purpose of the day was to bring together FCAI’s academics and partners to discuss shared problems and to workshop future research ideas for the center.

Found in translation (FoTran) was presented by Jörg Tiedemann.
“Natural Language Processing is not only an important component of intelligent systems that interact with users but also develops into a core discipline of AI that aims at learning world knowledge from human communication. The goal of our research is to use translations to pick up essential semantics of natural language. Combining multilingual signals with multimodal grounding we aim at improved models for natural language understanding.”