Exploring Semantic Variation in the Contexts of Concrete and Abstract Words

Publié le 6 décembre 2018 Mis à jour le 8 janvier 2020
le 7 février 2019

Diego Frassinelli, IMS Stuttgart - Séminaire CLLE ERSS (14 h/16 h - Salle D30 MDR UT2J)

In recent years, both cognitive and computational research have focused on empirically investigating the properties of concrete and abstract words by looking at their contextual co-occurrences in corpora.

In this talk I will report on a series of experiments that provide a detailed characterisation of the distributional nature of abstract and concrete English nouns, verbs and adjectives. Specifically I will address the following questions: (1) What is the overall distribution of concreteness in the contexts of concrete and abstract target words? 2) What is the relationship in terms of concreteness between verbs and nouns that are in a specific syntactic relationship (subject, direct and prepositional object) with each other? 3) Are our contextual models in line with existing theories of meaning representation?

Together these studies show consistent patterns in the distributional representation of concrete and abstract words, thus challenging existing theories of cognition and providing a more fine-grained description of their nature. At the same time, they reveal empirical evidence why contextual abstractness represents a valuable indicator for automatic non-literal language identification.