Prof. Harold Somers

 Centre for Next Generation Localisation
 School of Computing 
Dublin City University
Glasnevin, Dublin 9
e-mail: hsomers at
+353/0 1 700 6703
+44/0 161 860 4231

Office: L2.05 - School of Computing

Pen picture · Research · Teaching and Examining · Other activities · Publications · Personal stuff

Pen Picture

Between February 2008 and April 2010, I was (half-time) Director of Education and Outreach in CNGL, having taken early retirement after 30 years at the University of Manchester and its predecessor institution UMIST.
Since April, I have focused on my research as part of the MT research group, in particular as Workpackage leader on the "Assistive Technology" track of the Integrated Language Technology theme. I am also leading DCU's contribution to the CoSyne, an FP7 project running for 3 years from march 2010.

My first degree, from University College North Wales, Bangor, was in Linguistics and I have an MA in Linguistics from Manchester University and a PhD from UMIST. I came to UMIST in 1978 as a Teaching Assistant in the (then) Department of European Studies and Modern Languages, working my way through the ranks - and the name changes - eventually to become in August 2000, Head of the Department of Language and Linguistics. During my time at UMIST I helped to set up, and later was Director of, the Centre for Computational Linguistics. Between 2000 and 2004 I oversaw the dismantling of that department in the run up to the amalgamation of UMIST with Manchester University, at which time I transferred first to the School of Informatics, then the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures. On retirement I was granted the title of Emeritus professor in the School of Computer Science. I have had three breaks on leave of absence, at ISSCO in Geneva in 1979-80, as a Toshiba Fellow in Japan in 1986-7, and between January and September 2005 at the Centre for Language Technology, Macquarie University, Sydney.

Research interests

Throughout the course of my career, my main interest has focused on all aspects of Machine Translation and related technologies, especially, recently, applications in areas of healthcare provision, where it can be used to help patients with limited or no English. I am especially interested in healthcare as an application area for spoken language translation, and have presented papers (e.g. this one, at TMI 2007) exploring the range of technologies needed for this purpose. Further research is planned, focussing on languages relevant to new immigrants in Ireland, and also on Irish Sign Language.


We are participating in the CoSyne project, which aims to integrate translation, editing and updating of multilingual wiki sites. More than just tranlsation, the idea is that user's updates might include new information and/or postedits of imperfect translations, and might be made to any of several parallel versions of the wiki page. It is then up to the system to reconcile these edits, making sure never to retranslate something that has been written or corrected by a human; the system also has a knowledge engineering aspect as it tests for consistency of information.


During my Manchester years I supervised 17 successful PhD students (with two more just submitted, and one other in process) - See here for details. I am supervising the following students at DCU:

Teaching and Examining

My current post does not involve any teaching. Almost all my teaching in the past was focussed on Machine Translation, though I have also taught programming (Pascal, Lisp, Prolog), general computational linguistics courses, corpus linguistics, and other more general linguistics topics, and study skills.

I am external examiner for the MAs in Applied Translation Studies, Interpreting and Translation Studies, and Translation Studies with Interpreting in the School of Modern Languages, University of Leeds.
Previously, I have been external examiner for UG courses at the University of Brighton.

I have been (or am about to be) the external examiner for PhDs (or equivalent) at the following universities: Alicante, Basel, Coventry, Dublin City University, Essex, Geneva, Imperial College London, Jadavpur University Kolkata, Lancaster, Leeds, Macquarie University Sydney, Manchester, Montreal, Sheffield, Trinity College Dublin.

Other activities

I was from 1996 to 2007 editor of the journal Machine Translation published by Springer. Andy Way took over the editorship in 2008. I remain on the editorial board. I am on the Editorial Board of the journal Localisation Focus, and of the ACL's Studies in Natural Language Processing book series, published by Cambridge University Press.

I was Chairman of the local arrangements committee for Coling 2008, which took place in Manchester. From 2004 to 2008 I was a member of the Executive Committee of the European Association for MT (EAMT). I have been a member of the Advisory Committee of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics, which I helped found in 1982 and of which I was secretary from 1982-86.

Activities in which I am involved, in the near future

Conferences I am interested in

Activities in the last twelve months

ISA Cloud Computing Bootcamp
CNGL biannual meeting
"Linguistics at School"
EBMT Workshop
MT Marathon
2nd AILO
CNGL Spring Meeting
SL Workshop
14th EAMT
8th IOL
  • Sept: I attended the ISA Cloud Computing Bootcamp at Croke Park, Dublin.
  • October: I participated in the CNGL biannual meeting, in Dublin.
  • October: I gave a talk about Linguistics Olympiads in the "Linguistics in Schools" event, organised by the Committee for Linguistics in Education, which took place at the Research Centre for English and Applied Linguistics, Cambridge.
  • November: I presented a paper entitled "A review of EBMT using proportional analogies" at the 3rd Workshop on Example-Based Machine Translation, at DCU, Dublin.
  • January, 2010: I participated in the Fourth MT Marathon, held at DCU.
  • February-March: We organized the Second All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad, with a national final in Dublin, March 24th.
  • April: I attended the CNGL Biannual (Spring) meeting in Limerick.
  • May: I attended the Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC) in Malta, including ...
  • May: ... the 4th Workshop on Corpora for Sign languages, to present a paper "Building Sign Language corpora for use in Machine Translation" co-authored with Sara Morrissey, Robert Smith, Shane Gilchrist and Sandipan Dandapat.
  • May: I attended the 14th Annual Meeting of the EAMT held in Saint-Raphaël, France.

  • July: I accompanied the irish team to the International Linguistics Olympiad held in Stockholm. Last updated: 1.7.10