Concreteness vs. Abstractness: A Selectional Preference Perspective

Tarun Tater, Diego Frassinelli, Sabine Schulte im Walde


Abstract
Concrete words refer to concepts that are strongly experienced through human senses (banana, chair, salt, etc.), whereas abstract concepts are less perceptually salient (idea, glory, justice, etc.). A clear definition of abstractness is crucial for the understanding of human cognitive processes and for the development of natural language applications such as figurative language detection. In this study, we investigate selectional preferences as a criterion to distinguish between concrete and abstract concepts and words: we hypothesise that abstract and concrete verbs and nouns differ regarding the semantic classes of their arguments. Our study uses a collection of 5,438 nouns and 1,275 verbs to exploit selectional preferences as a salient characteristic in classifying English abstract vs. concrete words, and in predicting their concreteness scores. We achieve an f1-score of 0.84 for nouns and 0.71 for verbs in classification, and Spearman’s ρ correlation of 0.86 for nouns and 0.59 for verbs.
Anthology ID:
2022.aacl-srw.13
Volume:
Proceedings of the 2nd Conference of the Asia-Pacific Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 12th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing: Student Research Workshop
Month:
November
Year:
2022
Address:
Online
Venues:
AACL | IJCNLP
SIG:
Publisher:
Association for Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
92–98
Language:
URL:
https://aclanthology.org/2022.aacl-srw.13
DOI:
Bibkey:
Cite (ACL):
Tarun Tater, Diego Frassinelli, and Sabine Schulte im Walde. 2022. Concreteness vs. Abstractness: A Selectional Preference Perspective. In Proceedings of the 2nd Conference of the Asia-Pacific Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 12th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing: Student Research Workshop, pages 92–98, Online. Association for Computational Linguistics.
Cite (Informal):
Concreteness vs. Abstractness: A Selectional Preference Perspective (Tater et al., AACL-IJCNLP 2022)
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PDF:
https://aclanthology.org/2022.aacl-srw.13.pdf