ThuyLinh Nguyen
Faculty Advisor Stephan Vogel

Title: English-Karen Translation System for Karen Refugees
in Pittsburgh


ThuyLinh Nguyen is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research interests are in applying machine learning models to natural language processing problems. She is currently working in the statistical machine translation group under the supervision of Stephan Vogel. Before coming to Carnegie Mellon, Linh received her bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Hanoi National University in Vietnam and her Master's of Logics from the Universisty of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Project Synopsis

In Pittsburgh, the Jewish Family & Children's Service (JFCS) organization provides support to 200 Karen people from Burma who are starting their lives in the United States. One of the biggest challenges these refugees face is the language barrier. The refugees do not speak English and some are illiterate in their own language.
Without a translator, communication between JFCS staff and the refugees becomes very difficult especially when it comes to complicated matters such as transportation, health care or housing.

Our group of one faculty and four students in LTI proposes an English-Karen text-to-speech machine translation project. The goal of the project is to assist Karen refugees and JFCS by providing an English-Karen text-to-speech translation system. As an individual project, I am responsible for the English text to Karen text translation component. The project gives me a chance to test the existing machine translation technique especially word segmentation to a new language with limited resources.