Abstract Elisabetta Jezek 21 November 2016

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Stretching the meaning of words: context-sensitive lexical semantics and compositionality

Dr Elisabetta Ježek, Università degli Studi di Pavia

In this talk I will first present linguistic evidence why we need a context-sensitive model of lexical semantics to account for how lexical information, cognitive knowledge, pragmatic inference and compositionality interact in language use. This linguistic evidence focuses on different polysemy types and meaning modulations we can detect in language, particularly in verb-argument composition. Based on empirical data, I will argue that an account which stresses the interplay between lexical meaning and concepts, preserving at the same time the distinction between the two, is more likely to succeed in helping us understand of how the dimensions above interact. Finally, I will address the question of how vector-based analyses of language can be useful to gain evidence-based insight on the relational structure of the mental lexicon, its interplay with conceptual knowledge, and the way meaning is built compositionally using words and their associated information as basic blocks. I will address the puzzle of the representation of verbs and verb classes in vector space models, claiming that tensor representations are not sufficient to represent the semantic contribution of verbs in predicative use.

Recently Published: The Lexicon: An Introduction. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

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