Recent Advances in Automatic Readability Assessment and Text Simplification
  • ISSN 0019-0829
  • E-ISSN: 1783-1490
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In this paper, we tackle three underresearched issues of the automatic readability assessment literature, namely the evaluation of text readability in less resourced languages, with respect to sentences (as opposed to documents) as well as across textual genres. Different solutions to these issues have been tested by using and refining READ‑IT, the first advanced readability assessment tool for Italian, which combines traditional raw text features with lexical, morpho-syntactic and syntactic information. In READ‑IT readability assessment is carried out with respect to both documents and sentences, with the latter constituting an important novelty of the proposed approach: READ‑IT shows a high accuracy in the document classification task and promising results in the sentence classification scenario. By comparing the results of two versions of READ‑IT, adopting a classification‑ versus ranking-based approach, we also show that readability assessment is strongly influenced by textual genre; for this reason a genre-oriented notion of readability is needed. With classification-based approaches, reliable results can only be achieved with genre-specific models: Since this is far from being a workable solution, especially for less resourced languages, a new ranking method for readability assessment is proposed, based on the notion of distance.


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