Conference article

A larger-scale evaluation resource of terms and their shift direction for diachronic lexical semantics

Astrid van Aggelen
Centrum Wiskunde Informatica, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Antske Fokkens
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Laura Hollink
Centrum Wiskunde Informatica, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Jacco van Ossenbruggen
Centrum Wiskunde Informatica, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Published in: Proceedings of the 22nd Nordic Conference on Computational Linguistics (NoDaLiDa), September 30 - October 2, Turku, Finland

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 167:5, p. 44--54

NEALT Proceedings Series 42:5, p. 44--54

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Published: 2019-10-02

ISBN: 978-91-7929-995-8

ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


Determining how words have changed their meaning is an important topic in Natural Language Processing. However, evaluations of methods to characterise such change have been limited to small, handcrafted resources. We introduce an English evaluation set which is larger, more varied, and more realistic than seen to date, with terms derived from a historical thesaurus. Moreover, the dataset is unique in that it represents change as a shift from the term of interest to a WordNet synset. Using the synset lemmas, we can use this set to evaluate (standard) methods that detect change between word pairs, as well as (adapted) methods that detect the change between a term and a sense overall. We show that performance on the new data set is much lower than earlier reported findings, setting a new standard.


diachronic lexical semantics distributional semantics Digital Humanities


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