Experimental Lab

  • Experimental Lab

The Experimental Lab is located in Room 76 in the LILEC Department, via Cartoleria 5, Bologna.

It is equipped with hardware and software useful for experimental, computational and applied research in linguistics, translation studies and cultural studies, and for research in Digital Humanities in general, including literature and philology.

The purpose of the Lab and of the web platform “Diversity Digital Hub” (DDH) is to give support and visibility to digitally-informed research conducted by the members of the LILEC Department, also within the Project of Excellence “DIVE IN: Diversity and Inclusion”.

1. Lab Equipement

The Lab has six workstations, five All-in-One Desktop PCs (three MacOS and two Windows) and one laptop connected to a beamer and a screen. The Lab is equipped with a Tobii Pro Eye-Tracker, connected to a laptop configured for eye-tracking experiments with Tobii Pro Lab Full Edition and E-Prime. In addition, it has a multifunction printer and a complete audio-visual kit (microphone, recorders, camera, headphones).

More specifically, the Experimental Lab provides resources and tools for:
- collecting, processing, and analyzing (linguistically and literarily) corpora of oral, written and digital texts;
- empirical and experimental studies of language and text/discourse, in all its expressions.
- creating databases to study texts (e.g. about travel or cultural heritage), synchronically and diachronically.
- modeling and visualizing linguistic and bibliographical data.
- extracting data from the web and from other corpora of translation, in order to create specific multilingual dictionaries.

2. Lab Software and Additional Services

The workstations in the Lab are equipped with the most advanced software and services for the analysis of linguistic and textual data. Here is a selection of the most powerful ones, for which a specific license has been acquired:
- NVivo allows to store and analyze texts, videos, social media and more, offering an automatic transcription tool and tools for statistical analyses; it is designed to support researchers in dealing with complex data coming from a variety of sources (text, audio, video, emails, images, spreadsheets, online surveys, social and web content and much more).
- IBM SPSS Statistics allows to perform advanced statistical analyses, due to a big library of algorithms and integrated tools of textual analysis.
- SDL Trados Studio is the complete translation environment for language professionals who want to edit, review and manage translation projects as well as corporate terminology.
- E-prime is the world-leading behavioral experiment software. It provides an easy-to-use environment for computerized experiment design, data collection, and analysis, with millisecond precision timing to ensure the accuracy of data.
- Multimodal Analysis is an interactive software for the annotation and analysis of digital images (e.g. advertisements, posters, website screenshots, etc.) and videos.
- Atlas.ti is a powerful workbench for the qualitative analysis of large bodies of textual, graphical, audio and video data. It allows to understand material in depth, exploring data with tools such as the Network Editor, the Text Search Tool, word clouds, word frequency tables, and through various query options. These tools allow to discover the intricate hidden “texture” of textual, audio and visual data.
- Transana is a software package used to analyze texts, digital videos or audio data. It lets the user analyze and manage data, transcribe it, identify analytically interesting clips, assign keywords to clips, arrange and rearrange clips, create complex collections of interrelated clips, explore relationships between applied keywords. It allows to manage large collections of video and audio files and clips.
- Survey Monkey is a web interface that allows to design, send and elaborate professional surveys, with advanced tools for qualitative and quantitative analysis.

The Hub will provide visibility to the digital products created by LILEC’s researchers (corpora, database, digital critical editions, bibliographies, MOOC etc.), and to events and initiatives (workshops, lectures, conferences) organized by the members of the Lab, in order to provide LILEC an interdisciplinary and methodological know-how and an international visibility.

Furthermore, thanks to the activities of the Lab and Hub, the LILEC aims to contribute to the research and development of Humanistic Artificial Intelligence and to the processing of natural language (NLP). Specifically, in the field of semantic technologies and human-machine interaction for the research in: automated analysis of macroscopic trends in cultural change; sentiment analysis; semantic web technologies for mark-up; Named-entity Recognition (NER); RTExtTools and Machine-learning classification of texts.

3. Corpora and Databases

The Lab grants access to all the resources, corpora and databases designed and created by the LILEC staff (link). It furthermore offers FULL ACCESS to Sketch Engine (https://www.sketchengine.eu) and Ethnologue (https://www.ethnologue.com).
- Sketch Engine contains 500 ready-to-use corpora in 90+ languages, each having a size of up to 30 billion words to provide a truly representative sample of language. Its algorithms analyze authentic texts of billions of words (text corpora) to identify instantly what is frequent or typical in a language and what is rare, unusual or emerging usage. It is also designed for text analysis or text mining applications.
- Ethnologue is an observatory of the world’s languages. It lists every recognized language, provides demographic, socio-political and historical information, statistical data based on geographical areas, interactive maps. It provides information on where a given language is spoken, whether it is endangered, whether it is officially recognized, etc.