Cambridge University Fellow to be Holy Week Missioner at King’s College Chapel

Cambridge University Fellow to be Holy Week Missioner at King's College Chapel

The University of King’s College Chapel is pleased to announce that the preacher for all Holy Week services will be Dr Marcus Tomalin, a Fellow of Downing College and an affiliated lecturer in English at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Dr Tomalin’s research focuses on literature and linguistic theory during the Romantic period, as well as missionary linguistics and the development of syntactic theory. His many publications include Linguistics and the Formal Sciences (2006), and Romanticism and Linguistic Theory (2009). He is also research associate in the Machine Intelligence Laboratory at the Department of Engineering, Cambridge.

Dr Tomalin plays the lute and has sung in several Cambridge College choirs, including for several years at Clare under the direction of Timothy Brown.

Here is Dr Tomalin’s description of his main research interests:

“My research in the Philosophy of Language and Theoretical Linguistics has recently focused upon the relationship between mathematics and linguistic theory during the 20th century. Sometimes I have approached this topic from an historical perspective (for instance, exploring Leonard Bloomfield’s (1887-1949) knowledge of mathematics) while, at other times, I have concentrated upon analysing distinctive mathematical techniques that are present in contemporary linguistic theories (for instance, reconsidering the so-called recursive components). In addition, I am intrigued by the problem of language death, and I have written at length about Haida, an endangered language that is spoken on the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America.

I am also interested in the relationship between grammatical theories and contemporaneous literary texts from various historical periods. For instance, 18th century grammarians such as Robert Lowth (1710-1787) and Lindley Murray (1745-1826) produced grammar textbooks which exerted a profound influence upon literary perceptions during the 18th and 19th centuries, especially concerning notions of grammaticality, and it is revealing to explore the manner in which different authors (such as Christopher Smart, William Cobbett, and William Hazlitt) responded to, and negotiated with, formulations concerning grammatical correctness.

As a research associate in the Engineering Department, I have been involved in developing automatic speech recognition systems. I work on various problems, such as the difficult tasks of identifying `Structural MetaData’ in input speech signals, and building statistical language models for agglutinative languages. I helped to implement an effective morphological decomposition scheme for the Cambridge Arabic ASR system as part of the Global Autonomous Language Exploitation project. I currently work on the Natural Speech Technology programme, seeking to develop ways of improving the grammaticality and acceptability of ASR output.”

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