About this website

This website hosts learning materials for two courses taught at the University of Helsinki: Working with Text in Python and Natural Language Processing for Linguists.

Together, these two courses provide an introduction to applied language technology for audiences who are unfamiliar with language technology and programming. The learning materials assume no previous knowledge of the Python programming language.

About the courses and their goals

The field of language technology (or often interchangeably, natural language processing) studies how computers can process and represent natural language, that is, languages spoken, written or signed in the world. Language technology is now used in many real-world applications, which range from traditional tasks such as filtering e-mails for spam to complex communicative situations, such as providing customer service using chatbots.

As a part of this development, language technology has become increasingly accessible in recent years. Popular programming languages such as Python enable users to apply the latest language technology. Newcomers, however, may find programming languages such as Python intimidating.

For this reason, these courses are intended to serve as a gentle, hands-on introduction to applying language technology using the Python programming language. The courses are designed particularly with newcomers in mind, targeting particularly students of languages and linguistics, in order to empower them by making language technology accessible and understandable.

Instead of treating text simply as data and a source of some information to be extracted, these learning materials emphasise text as the product of linguistic processes, which are inextricably related to language use in society. If you are already familiar with language technology, these materials may hopefully broaden your perspectives on language.

Information for students at the University of Helsinki

You can get credit by signing up for these courses when they are offered in your study programme.

Information for other users

The learning materials are available with a Creative Commons BY-NC 4.0 licence, which means they can be freely used for teaching and learning.

Instructors can contact me for access to the course assignments. You can find my contact details on my personal website.

Note that the University of Helsinki cannot provide credits or certificates for completing these courses.