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ACL 2022 Theme Track: “Language Diversity: from Low-Resource to Endangered Languages”

Following the success of the ACL 2020 and ACL 2021 Theme tracks, we are happy to announce that ACL 2022 will have a new theme to commemorate the 60th anniversary of ACL with the goal of reflecting and stimulating discussion about how the advances in computational linguistics and natural language processing can be used for promoting language diversity from low-resource to endangered languages.

According to Ethnologue, there are more than 7,000 living languages in the world today, yet the majority of speech and language technologies have focused only on a small subset of these languages. For ACL 2022, we seek papers that discuss and reflect on the “role of the speech and language technologies in sustaining language use” (Bird, 2020) for the large variety of world languages with focus on under-resourced, indigenous and/or endangered languages. What are the challenges for developing and scaling up the current NLP technologies for the rich diversity of human languages and what are the ethical, cultural and policy implications of such technologies for the local communities?

We invite researchers to submit position, opinion, modelling, and resource papers on the following topics:

● Reflecting on the NLP community’s current progress on building speech and language technologies for under-resourced, indigenous and/or endangered languages and how we can make meaningful advances in the future.

● Discussions of how computational linguistic research could make (and have made) both positive and negative impact on language diversity and novel approaches to foster the positive while mitigating any negative impact.

● What computational methods and/or paradigms are needed for building adequate speech and language technologies for under-resourced, indigenous and/or endangered languages? (e.g., is the zero-resource scenario meaningful? How to exploit typological information? How to build models for highly complex morphological languages such as polysynthetic languages? Is the human-in-the-loop paradigm the way forward?)

● Quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods to assess the impact of NLP research for sustaining language maintenance and use for the large diversity of world languages

● Ways in which NLP practitioners can partner with language communities to develop impactful research (including data collection) and applications that can help sustain language use for indigenous and/or endangered languages, including such impacts as the development of teaching and learning materials for both children and adults.

● Discussions of how heavily aligned NLP research should be with the goals of language communities w.r.t to their languages (e.g., is the loss of knowledge or the loss of language the priority for a particular language community).

We anticipate having a special session for this theme at the conference and a best Thematic Paper Award in addition to the traditional Best Paper Awards.

What are the types of contributions? We welcome contributions in various forms and scopes. This could be an opinion or a discussion piece that reflects upon the progress made either in the broader area or in a specific area (e.g., focus on a group of languages). This could also be a conceptual or empirical study that provides an in-depth look at state-of-the-art approaches and enables a better understanding of the pros and cons of these approaches. Or this could also be a visionary proposal that calls for new directions, methodologies, or evaluations to push the boundaries. These are just a few ideas! If you have any theme-related contribution you think is relevant and good for the community to know about, we would like to see it!

What is the difference between a theme paper and a regular paper? A regular paper also has discussions on the limitations of the state of the art, but it often addresses a specific aspect and/or language with detailed solutions and evaluations. A theme paper provides a better understanding of a class of related problems or approaches and provides a holistic analysis and view, which may not be apparent by looking at each problem/language individually. For example, while “Machine Translation” and “Multilinguality” are areas for regular research papers, the theme track instead defines another kind of paper, which could be an opinion or a position paper that could potentially address one or more areas. Fundamentally, the theme paper focuses on language diversity w.r.t under-resourced, indigenous and/or endangered languages.

What is the review process? The ARR will have an ACL 2022 special theme track with Action Editors selected by the ACL 2022 Program Co-chairs. The authors are expected to self-claim the “ACL 2022 special theme” track during submission to ARR. A separate review form and instructions will be given to the reviewers. Once a paper with the reviews and the meta-reviews has been committed to ACL 2022, it will be considered by the Senior Area Chairs for the Theme track and finally by the Program Co-Chairs. The decision will be made based on the value added to help the community understand where we are and where we should be heading to.

What are the presentation forms? Accepted papers will be presented either orally or as a poster. We anticipate having a special oral session dedicated to the theme.

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