A grammar quiz with a purpose
Posted: 12 June 2014 07:36 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Take this English grammar quiz. You’ll help train an algorithm that tries to guess your English dialect and what your native language is. It correctly guesses that I am a American native English speaker, but then I designed the algorithm!

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Posted: 12 June 2014 08:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Several of the questions seem to be testing the same property, so it is not a very efficient test. Also, the maximum age that can be entered is 100, so around 400000 people, including tens of thousands of English speakers, are needlessly excluded from your sample.

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Posted: 12 June 2014 08:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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On the other hand it identified me as English accurately.

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Posted: 12 June 2014 09:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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It came pretty close with me, identifying me as New Zealandische.

(Its second guess, Australian, was correct.)

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Posted: 13 June 2014 01:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I would only ever say ‘The man who arrived yesterday needs a wakeup call at nine’; but this option wasn’t available. For want of a ‘none of the above’ button, I clicked ‘The man that arrived’ as being the only one I have ever heard anyone using.

The quiz also asks whether a number of sentences ‘are grammatical’, including:

1. I’ll write my brother.
2. I’m just after telling you.
3. She resigned Thursday.
4. I’m wanting dessert.
5. Who did Sue ask why Sam was waiting?
6. Who did Bill ask why Jane was talking to?

That confused me because while I would not myself use the constructions in 1-4 because these are not natural to my dialect, I certainly wouldn’t say they ‘weren’t grammatical’. Conversely, while I do not consider 5-6 grammatical I actually would use them in speech, though not in writing. The instructions simply didn’t make clear whether I should have clicked in these cases.

So, although the algorithm correctly identified me as a UK speaker, I don’t know how useful my response was.

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Posted: 13 June 2014 02:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Yes, I was a little unsure as to how to mark something like “I’m just after telling you”. This makes perfectly good sense in Irish English but should I have therefore scored it as grammatically sound? I left it blank in the end.

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Posted: 13 June 2014 02:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I agree with SL and Aldi regarding ‘grammatical’; for the purposes of the quiz, I interpreted it as meaning ‘does this sound natural to you?’

That said, the quiz did pretty well. It identified me as English first and Scottish second. I would have accepted either that or the reverse as being a good guess. (Scots parentage, educated in England, worked in Scotland for the last 29 years.)

I was surprised by the guesses at first language: English, Hungarian, Swedish. I’m not sure what I would expect to come in second or third place.

In the post-quiz questions, I was asked for UK regions and postcode districts I had lived in for 10 years or more. That suggests that a reasonable degree of fine tuning will be possible.

[ Edited: 13 June 2014 02:55 AM by Dr Fortran ]
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Posted: 13 June 2014 05:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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They should definitely clarify that it means “grammatical in your dialect.” Otherwise, a good quiz.

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Posted: 13 June 2014 08:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Btw, welcome to the forum, gameswithwords. Is this quiz part of a thesis?

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