Literal and metaphorical sense identification through concrete and abstract context

Peter D. Turney, Yair Neuman, Dan Assaf, Yohai Cohen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

188 Scopus citations

Abstract

Metaphor is ubiquitous in text, even in highly technical text. Correct inference about textual entailment requires computers to distinguish the literal and metaphorical senses of a word. Past work has treated this problem as a classical word sense disambiguation task. In this paper, we take a new approach, based on research in cognitive linguistics that views metaphor as a method for transferring knowledge from a familiar, well-understood, or concrete domain to an unfamiliar, less understood, or more abstract domain. This view leads to the hypothesis that metaphorical word usage is correlated with the degree of abstractness of the word's context. We introduce an algorithm that uses this hypothesis to classify a word sense in a given context as either literal (denotative) or metaphorical (connotative). We evaluate this algorithm with a set of adjective-noun phrases (e.g., in dark comedy, the adjective dark is used metaphorically; in dark hair, it is used literally) and with the TroFi (Trope Finder) Example Base of literal and nonliteral usage for fifty verbs. We achieve state-of-the-art performance on both datasets.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEMNLP 2011 - Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, Proceedings of the Conference
Pages680-690
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 3 Oct 2011
EventConference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, EMNLP 2011 - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Jul 201131 Jul 2011

Publication series

NameEMNLP 2011 - Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, Proceedings of the Conference

Conference

ConferenceConference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, EMNLP 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityEdinburgh
Period27/07/1131/07/11

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