The Homepage of Debopam Das

Debopam Das



Department of Linguistics
Karl-Liebknecht Strasse 24-25
14476 Potsdam Germany
University of Potsdam
Phone: +49 15214159339
Email: debdas@uni-potsdam.de, ddas@sfu.ca

ABOUT ME

My primary research interests are in discourse analysis, corpus linguistics and lexicography, and I mainly work on frameworks such as Systemic Functional Linguistics, Rhetorical Structure Theory and Appraisal Theory. I completed my PhD degree in Linguistics at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in August 2014, under the supervision of Dr. Maite Taboada and (the late) Dr. Paul McFetridge. My PhD dissertation focused on the signalling of coherence relations in discourse, examining what signals are used to indicate coherence relations, and whether coherence relations are more frequently explicit or implicit in terms of the type of signalling involved.

Before coming to SFU, I completed my MA in Linguistics at the University of Calcutta, India, and then worked in a couple of linguistic projects funded by the Government of India. Presently, I am working as a postdoctoral fellow (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) at the University of Potsdam, Germany.

Download my resume

RESEARCH INTERESTS

DISCOURSE ANALYSIS : Explicit and Implicit Coherence Relations, Signalling in Discourse, Discourse Parsing, Sentiment Analysis

CORPUS LINGUISTICS : Corpus Annotation, Corpus Development

LEXICOGRAPHY : Bilingual Dictionaries, Translation of Technical Terms

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

Systemic Functional Linguistics, Rhetorical Structure Theory, Appraisal Theory

PUBLICATIONS

Dissertation

Das, Debopam (2014). Signalling of Coherence Relations in Discourse . Ph.D. dissertation. Simon Fraser University, Canada

JOURNAL ARTICLES

Taboada, Maite & Das, Debopam (to appear). Signalling of coherence relations in discourse, beyond discourse markers . Discourse Processes.

Taboada, Maite & Das, Debopam (to appear). RST Signalling Corpus: A corpus of signals of coherence relations . Language Resources & Evaluation.

Trnavac, Radoslava, Debopam Das and Maite Taboada (2016). Coherence relations and evaluation. Corpora, 11(2): 169-190

Taboada, Maite & Das, Debopam (2013). Annotation upon annotation: Adding signalling information to a corpus of discourse relations . Dialogue and Discourse, 4(2), 249-281.

BOOK CHAPTER

Das, Debopam & Taboada, Maite. (to appear). Signalling Subject Matter and Presentational Coherence Relations in Discourse: A Corpus Study. In LACUS Forum, Volume 40. The Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States.

CONFERENCE AND WORKSHOP PROCEEDINGS

Das, Debopam & Stede, Manfred (under review). Developing the Bangla RST Discourse Treebank. In LREC 2018. Miyazaki, Japan.

Das, Debopam, Taboada, Maite & Stede, Manfred. 2017. The Good, the Bad, and the Disagreement: Complex ground truth in rhetorical structure analysis. In Proceedings of the Recent Advances in RST and Related Formalisms. Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Das, Debopam & Taboada, Maite 2013. Explicit and Implicit Coherence Relations: A Corpus Study. In Proceedings of the Canadian Linguistic Association (CLA) Conference. University of Victoria, Canada.

Das, Debopam. 2012. Investigating the Role of Discourse Markers in Signalling Coherence Relations: A Corpus Study. In Proceedings of the 2012 Northwest Linguistics Conference. University of Washington, Seattle.

Das, Debopam. 2010. The Uses and Distribution of Non-progressive Verbs in Progressive Forms in English: A Corpus-based Study. In Proceedings of the 26th Northwest Linguistics Conference. Simon Fraser University, Canada.

TECHNICAL REPORT

Stede, Manfred, Taboada, Maite and Das, Debopam (2017). Annotation Guidelines for Rhetorical Structure. Manuscript. University of Potsdam and Simon Fraser University.

Das, Debopam (2010). Computational Analysis of Text Sentiment: A Report on Extracting Contextual Information about the Occurrence of Discourse Markers. Technical Report, Computational Analysis of Text Sentiment, Department of Linguistics, Simon Fraser University.

CONFERENCE AND WORKSHOP PRESENTATIONS

September 2017
Recent Advances in RST and Related Formalisms. Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Das, D. (2017) The Good, the Bad, and the Disagreement: Complex ground truth in rhetorical structure analysis.

July 2013
2013 LACUS Conference. Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, New York. Das, D. (2013) Signalling Subject Matter and Presentational Coherence relations in Discourse: A Corpus Study.

June 2013
Canadian Linguistic Association (CLA) Conference. University of Victoria. Das, D. (2013) Explicit and Implicit Coherence Relations: A Corpus Study.

April 2012
2012 Northwest Linguistics Conference. University of Washington, Seattle. Das, D. (2012) Investigating the Role of Discourse Markers in Signalling Coherence Relations: A Corpus Study.

May 2010
26th Northwest Linguistics Conference. Simon Fraser University, BC, Canada. Das, D. (2010) The Uses and Distribution of Non-progressive Verbs in Progressive Forms in English: A Corpus-based Study.

October 2008
30th All India Conference of Linguists, Deccan College Post-Graduate & Research Institute, Pune, India. Das, D. (2008) Technical Terms and Vernacular: Some Notes on Linguistic Terminology in Bangla.

INVITED TALKS

2014 Guest Lecture. LING 803 (Discourse and Pragmatics). “Signalling of Coherence Relations in Discourse”. October 16, 2014

2013 Guest Lecture. LING 220 (Introduction to Linguistics). “Observe Signals, Understand Relations”. April 9, 2013

CORPUS

Das, Debopam and Manfred Stede. The Bangla RST Discourse Treebank (under development).

Das, Debopam, Maite Taboada, and Paul McFetridge. RST Signalling Corpus LDC2015T10 . Web Download. Philadelphia: Linguistic Data Consortium, 2015.

EDUCATION

2009 – 2014
Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada
PhD in Linguistics (completed in August 2014)
Dissertation Topic: Signalling of Coherence Relations in Discourse

2004 – 2007
University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India
MA in Linguistics

2000 – 2004
University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India
BA in English Language and Literature

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE

June 2017 – Present
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Potsdam, Germany
The Bangla RST Discourse Treebank
Project PIs: Dr. Debopam Das and Dr. Manfred Stede
This project aims to develop a corpus in Bangla (an Indo-Aryan language) annotated for coherence relations according to Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST). The corpus contains 266 texts, comprising 71,009 words, with an average of 267 words per text. The corpus represents newspaper genre. The texts have been collected from a popular Bangla daily called Anandabazar Patrika published in India. The corpus started with the annotation of 16 texts, which were evaluated for agreement among the annotators. The currently-ongoing work includes annotation of the remaining 250 more texts, representative of different sub-genres in the newspaper genre.

September 2016 – Present
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Potsdam, Germany
Underspecification and RST
Project PI: Dr. Manfred Stede
This project examines the disagreement in Rhetorical Structure Theory annotation which takes into account what we consider "legitimate" disagreements. In rhetorical analysis, as in many other pragmatic annotation tasks, a certain amount of disagreement is to be expected, and it is important to distinguish true mistakes from legitimate disagreements due to different possible interpretations of the structure and intention of a text. Using different sets of annotations in German and English, we present an analysis of such possible disagreements, and propose an underspecified representation that captures the disagreements.

September 2014 – August 2016
Research Assistant, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Discourse Parsing for Sentiment Extraction
Project Supervisor: Dr. Maite Taboada
This project investigates the relationship between coherence relations (relations between propositions) and appraisal. In particular, we examine the role of coherence relations in the interpretation of evaluative words. By combining Rhetorical Structure Theory and Appraisal Theory, we analyze how different types of coherence relation influence the evaluative content expressed by nouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs found in the relational unit. We found that relations such as Concession, Elaboration, Evaluation, Evidence and Restatement most frequently intensify the polarity of opinion words. We also find that most opinion words (about 70 percent) are positioned in the nucleus.

September 2009 – August 2014
Research Assistant, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Signalling of Coherence Relations in Discourse
Project Supervisors: (The late) Dr. Paul McFetridge and Dr. Maite Taboada
This project (also my PhD project) investigates how coherence relations are signalled in discourse, and what signals are used to indicate them. A secondary goal of this study is to examine whether coherence relations are more frequently explicit or implicit in terms of the type of signalling involved. I conducted a corpus study, examining the RST Discourse Treebank which includes a collection of 385 Wall Street Journal articles annotated for rhetorical (or coherence) relations. I examined each and every relation in that corpus, identifying the signals for those relations, and finally, adding a new layer of annotation to them, to include signalling information. Results from my corpus study show that the majority of relations (over 90%) in a discourse are signalled (sometimes by multiple signals), and also that the majority of signalled relations (over 80%) are indicated by signals other than discourse markers, such as lexical, semantic, syntactic and graphical features.

September 2009 – December 2012
Research Assistant, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Computational Analysis of Text Sentiment
Project Supervisor: Dr. Maite Taboada
The goal of this project is to develop a computational system for automatically extracting sentiment from any given text. Sentiment is characterized as positive or negative views expressed by the subjective content of a text (e.g., an opinion piece in a newspaper or a movie review). We hypothesize that, given a text, we can determine whether it contains sentiment or subjective content, and if it does, we can also determine the type of the sentiment – categorically positive or negative, based on the analysis of the discourse structure of the text. In this project, my contributions were related to developing resources for discourse parsing. Specifically, I conducted a corpus study in order to extract relevant linguistic signals (e.g., discourse markers) of coherence relations, and then formulated rules for identifying coherence relations in unseen texts based on the contextual information about the occurrence of those signals.

January 2009 – July 2009
Research Fellow, The Asiatic Society, India
Project Supervisor: Dr. Pabitra Sarkar
A Modern Dictionary for Readers with Vernacular Different than Bengali
This project developed a detailed encyclopedic bilingual dictionary (from Bengali to English direction) in six volumes with an eye to facilitate understanding of the Bengali language by providing elaborate but precise information on Bengali words and their usages. In this project, I worked on entries dealing with biographical sketches of important personalities who had some significant social, cultural and political contribution for Bengal and its people.

August 2007 – December 2008
Project Fellow, University of Calcutta, India
Defining Key Concepts in Linguistics: A Bilingual Approach with Text-Machine Interface
Project Supervisor: Dr. Krishna Bhattacharya
This project developed a precise and convenient bilingual dictionary (in Bengali and English) on Linguistics to cover common concepts and frequently used terms in that discipline, specifically citing examples from Indian as well as other foreign languages to illustrate concepts. In addition, it addressed the problems of standardizing Linguistic terminology in Bengali. In this project, my contributions were related to (i) collecting, scrutinizing and justifying the English and Bengali entries (relevant linguistic key terms) for the dictionary, (ii) defining those entries in both English and Bengali, and (iii) citing appropriate examples from various languages to illustrate those linguistic concepts.

TEACHING EXPERIENCE

INSTRUCTOR (at the University of Potsdam)
Foundations of Linguistics (Winter 2017/2018 and Winter 2016/2017) Syllabus
This course provides an introduction to the study of linguistic analysis, emphasizing on the formal models used in the discipline. It focuses on the central topics of linguistics, such as morphology (the study of word structure), syntax (the study of sentence structure) and semantics (the study of meaning), and also touches upon other sub-areas in the discipline such as psycholinguistics (the study of the relationship between language and mind) and discourse analysis (the study of the use of language in context).

Introduction to Discourse Analysis (Winter 2017/2018 and Winter 2016/2017) Syllabus
This course introduces the study of discourse analysis, involving the analysis of language above the level of sentence as well as the investigation of language in context. The course will explore a wide range of phenomena included in the study of discourse from linguistic, psycholinguistic and computational points of view. Students will read original and recent work in these areas, and will engage themselves in collecting, analyzing and describing different forms of discourse.

Coherence Relations (Summer 2017) Syllabus
This course provides an introduction to the study of coherence relations in discourse. Coherence relations are defined as the relations between propositions, or more simply, the semantic and pragmatic relations between clauses or sentences. Discourse is defined as the language above the level of sentence and also the use of language in context. The course will explore a wide range of phenomena in the study of coherence relations from linguistic, psycholinguistic and computational points of view. Students will read original and recent work in these areas. They will also focus on different forms of discourse and analyze important aspects of coherence relations.

Human Discourse Processing (Summer 2017) Syllabus
This course provides an introduction to how discourse is processed by humans. Discourse is defined as the language above the level of sentence and also the use of language in context. In this course, we will learn about a wide range of phenomena included in the study of discourse processing from linguistic and psycholinguistic points of view. Students will read original and recent work in these areas. They will also examine different forms of discourse and analyze important aspects of human discourse processing.
SESSIONAL INSTRUCTOR (at Simon Fraser University)
LING 100: Communication and Language (Summer 2016, Summer 2015 and Spring 2015) Syllabus
This course introduces the study of language and human communication. Some of the topics covered in this course are structures in human language, animal communication, language and mind, language and society and languages of the world.

LING 160: Language, Culture and Society (Fall 2015) Syllabus
This course provides an introduction to sociolinguistics, and examines the socio-cultural aspects of language. Some of the topics to be discussed include language variation, bilingual and multilingual speech communities, language and ethnicity, gender and age, regional and social dialects, language loss/language death and the relationship between language and cognition.

TEACHING ASSISTANT (at Simon Fraser University)
LING 482W: Discourse Analysis (Fall 2012)
This writing-intensive course provided an introduction to the analysis of discourse and dialogue from linguistic, psycholinguistic and computational points of view. This course involved extensive drafting, reviewing, and in-class writing exercises. In this course, I helped students decide on their final project topics, monitored their in-class writing activities, provided feedback on their writing assignments and in-class project presentations, and graded final papers.

LING 323: Morphology (Summer 2010)
LING 323 provided foundations in morphological analysis, demonstrating descriptive and analytical techniques for understanding the internal structure of words. In this course, I graded assignments and examinations, and proctored midterm and final examination.

LING 321: Phonology (Summer 2014, Summer 2011, Fall 2010)
LING 321 explored some foundations of phonological theory with a focus on non-linear phonological structure, or structure above and below the segment. In this course, I graded assignments and examinations, and proctored midterm and final examination, and held office hours.

LING 301W: Linguistic Argumentation (Spring 2013)
This writing-intensive course provided students with a critical and comparative survey of some of the different types of empirical and theoretical argumentation used in linguistic research. In this course, I helped students decide on their final project topics, monitored their in-class writing activities, provided feedback on their writing assignments and in-class project presentations, and graded final papers. Also, I have occasionally taught the course as a substitute in the absence of the course instructor.

LING 222: Introduction to Syntax (Spring 2013, Fall 2011, Summer 2011, Spring 2011)
LING 222 provided a basic introduction to syntactic analysis and argumentation. It covered word classes and grammatical categories; simple and complex sentences, relative clauses; head words and their dependents; constituent structure; relationships within sentences; and syntactic processes. In this course, I graded assignments and examinations, and proctored midterm and final examination.

LING 221: Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology (Spring 2011, Fall 2010)
LING 221 provided an introduction to speech sounds and their function in language. Major themes to be covered include phonological features, phonological alternations, phonological rules and phonological representations. In this course, I graded assignments and examinations, and proctored midterm and final examination.

LING 220:Introduction to Linguistics (Fall 2014, Fall 2012)
LING 220 introduced the complexities of human language by focusing on the core areas of linguistics: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. In this course, I regularly conducted tutorial sessions. My other responsibilities included collaborating with the instructor in terms of educational and administrative issues of the course, preparing questions for examinations, grading assignments and examinations, holding office hours, and proctoring midterm and final examinations.

LING 200: Introduction to the Description of English Grammar (Summer 2014, Summer 2013)
LING 200 provided a practical overview of English grammar based on linguistic principles, for those desiring basic knowledge of language structure, grammatical categories and grammatical analysis. In this course, I helped the instructor with the duties associated with the midterm and final examinations.

LING 110: The Wonders of Words (Spring 2014, Fall 2013, Summer 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2011, Summer 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2010, Summer 2010, Spring 2010)
LING 110 introduced linguistics through the medium of the English language. Major topics covered in this course include the history of the English language, the structure and development of words, word relationships, and changes to words and parts of words. In this course, I helped the instructors with the duties associated with the midterm and final examinations.

LING 100: Communication and Language (Summer 2014, Spring 2014)
LING 100 explored a wide range of material relating to the creation, growth, and change of language and its role in human communication. In this course, I helped the instructors with the duties associated with the midterm and final examinations.

HONORS

SCHOLARSHIPS & AWARDS

Spring 2014
Graduate Fellowship, Dean of Graduate Studies, Simon Fraser University

Spring 2014
Community Trust Endowment Fund Graduate Fellowship, Dean of Graduate Studies, Simon Fraser University

Fall 2013
Travel and Minor Research Award, Dean of Graduate Studies, Simon Fraser University

Summer 2013
Graduate Student Research Award (GSRA), Dean of Graduate Studies, Simon Fraser University

Spring 2013
President's PhD Scholarship, Dean of Graduate Studies, Simon Fraser University

Fall 2012
Graduate Fellowship, Dean of Graduate Studies, Simon Fraser University

Spring 2012
Graduate Fellowship, Dean of Graduate Studies, Simon Fraser University

Fall 2011
Community Trust Endowment Fund Graduate Fellowship, Dean of Graduate Studies, Simon Fraser University

Fall 2009
Community Trust Endowment Fund Graduate Fellowship, Dean of Graduate Studies, Simon Fraser University

PRIZES

2013
Winner of the Three Minute Thesis Competition in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Simon Fraser University

2013
People’s Choice Winner of the Three Minute Thesis Competition in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Simon Fraser University

PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES

THESES SUPERVISION

Sept, 2017 – Present
Sebastian Golly (Bachelor’s thesis, Co-supervisor, University of Potsdam)

Sept, 2017 – Present
Danny Belitz (Bachelor’s thesis, Co-supervisor, University of Potsdam)

SERVICE

November, 2016 – Present
Member, Habilitation Colloquium Committee of Dr. Alexander Geyken, University of Potsdam

Spring, 2014 – Summer 2014
Manager, Discourse Research Group, Department of Linguistics, Simon Fraser University

Spring, 2012 – Summer 2014
Treasurer, Linguistics Graduate Studies Association, Simon Fraser University

Fall, 2009 – Fall, 2011
Member, Colloquium Committee, Department of Linguistics, Simon Fraser University

JOURNAL REVIWING

September 2017. Dialogue and Discourse
June 2017. Current Psychology
April 2017. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory

ORGANIZER

Organizer, 7th Workshop on RST (to be held in 2019)

Abstract reviewer, 30th Northwest Linguistics Conference, SFU, Vancouver, April 26-27, 2014

Student volunteer, North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO), 2012, 2013, 2014

Student volunteer, Western Conference on Linguistics, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, November 18-20, 2011

WORKSHOPS

2012
Participant. International Teaching Professional Program, Potsdam Graduate School, Potsdam. Aug, 2017 - Present.

2013
Instructor. Practice Session for 2013 North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO), Simon Fraser University. Jan 19, 2013.

2012
Participant. Workshops for instructors in writing courses, The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Simon Fraser University. Oct 10 and Nov 6, 2012.

LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY

Bengali (Native)
English (Fluent)
Hindi (Fluent)
German (Beginner)
Spanish (Beginner)

REFERENCES

Available upon request