Our discourses are full of potential lexical ambiguities, due in part to the pervasive use of words having multiple senses. Sometimes, one word may even be used in more than one sense throughout a text. But, to what extent is this true for different kinds of texts? Does the use of polysemous words change when a discourse involves two people, or when speakers have time to plan what to say? We investigate these questions by comparing the polysemy level of texts of different nature, with a focus on spontaneous spoken dialogs; unlike previous work which examines solely scripted, written, monolog-like data. We compare multiple metrics that presuppose different conceptualizations of text polysemy, i.e., they consider the observed or the potential number of senses of words, or their sense distribution in a discourse. We show that the polysemy level of texts varies greatly depending on the kind of text considered, with dialog and spoken discourses having generally a higher polysemy level than written monologs. Additionally, our results emphasize the need for relaxing the popular “one sense per discourse” hypothesis.
The way we use words is influenced by our opinion. We investigate whether this is reflected in contextualized word embeddings. For example, is the representation of “animal” different between people who would abolish zoos and those who would not? We explore this question from a Lexical Semantic Change standpoint. Our experiments with BERT embeddings derived from datasets with stance annotations reveal small but significant differences in word representations between opposing stances.
Pre-trained language models (LMs) encode rich information about linguistic structure but their knowledge about lexical polysemy remains unclear. We propose a novel experimental setup for analyzing this knowledge in LMs specifically trained for different languages (English, French, Spanish, and Greek) and in multilingual BERT. We perform our analysis on datasets carefully designed to reflect different sense distributions, and control for parameters that are highly correlated with polysemy such as frequency and grammatical category. We demonstrate that BERT-derived representations reflect words’ polysemy level and their partitionability into senses. Polysemy-related information is more clearly present in English BERT embeddings, but models in other languages also manage to establish relevant distinctions between words at different polysemy levels. Our results contribute to a better understanding of the knowledge encoded in contextualized representations and open up new avenues for multilingual lexical semantics research.
Large scale language models encode rich commonsense knowledge acquired through exposure to massive data during pre-training, but their understanding of entities and their semantic properties is unclear. We probe BERT (Devlin et al., 2019) for the properties of English nouns as expressed by adjectives that do not restrict the reference scope of the noun they modify (as in “red car”), but instead emphasise some inherent aspect (“red strawberry”). We base our study on psycholinguistics datasets that capture the association strength between nouns and their semantic features. We probe BERT using cloze tasks and in a classification setting, and show that the model has marginal knowledge of these features and their prevalence as expressed in these datasets. We discuss factors that make evaluation challenging and impede drawing general conclusions about the models’ knowledge of noun properties. Finally, we show that when tested in a fine-tuning setting addressing entailment, BERT successfully leverages the information needed for reasoning about the meaning of adjective-noun constructions outperforming previous methods.
The intensity relationship that holds between scalar adjectives (e.g., nice < great < wonderful) is highly relevant for natural language inference and common-sense reasoning. Previous research on scalar adjective ranking has focused on English, mainly due to the availability of datasets for evaluation. We introduce a new multilingual dataset in order to promote research on scalar adjectives in new languages. We perform a series of experiments and set performance baselines on this dataset, using monolingual and multilingual contextual language models. Additionally, we introduce a new binary classification task for English scalar adjective identification which examines the models’ ability to distinguish scalar from relational adjectives. We probe contextualised representations and report baseline results for future comparison on this task.
We present the MULTISEM systems submitted to SemEval 2020 Task 3: Graded Word Similarity in Context (GWSC). We experiment with injecting semantic knowledge into pre-trained BERT models through fine-tuning on lexical semantic tasks related to GWSC. We use existing semantically annotated datasets, and propose to approximate similarity through automatically generated lexical substitutes in context. We participate in both GWSC subtasks and address two languages, English and Finnish. Our best English models occupy the third and fourth positions in the ranking for the two subtasks. Performance is lower for the Finnish models which are mid-ranked in the respective subtasks, highlighting the important role of data availability for fine-tuning.
Adjectives like pretty, beautiful and gorgeous describe positive properties of the nouns they modify but with different intensity. These differences are important for natural language understanding and reasoning. We propose a novel BERT-based approach to intensity detection for scalar adjectives. We model intensity by vectors directly derived from contextualised representations and show they can successfully rank scalar adjectives. We evaluate our models both intrinsically, on gold standard datasets, and on an Indirect Question Answering task. Our results demonstrate that BERT encodes rich knowledge about the semantics of scalar adjectives, and is able to provide better quality intensity rankings than static embeddings and previous models with access to dedicated resources.
This study is a preliminary exploration of the concept of informativeness –how much information a sentence gives about a word it contains– and its potential benefits to building quality word representations from scarce data. We propose several sentence-level classifiers to predict informativeness, and we perform a manual annotation on a set of sentences. We conclude that these two measures correspond to different notions of informativeness. However, our experiments show that using the classifiers’ predictions to train word embeddings has an impact on embedding quality.
Word embedding representations provide good estimates of word meaning and give state-of-the art performance in semantic tasks. Embedding approaches differ as to whether and how they account for the context surrounding a word. We present a comparison of different word and context representations on the task of proposing substitutes for a target word in context (lexical substitution). We also experiment with tuning contextualized word embeddings on a dataset of sense-specific instances for each target word. We show that powerful contextualized word representations, which give high performance in several semantics-related tasks, deal less well with the subtle in-context similarity relationships needed for substitution. This is better handled by models trained with this objective in mind, where the inter-dependence between word and context representations is explicitly modeled during training.
Usage similarity estimation addresses the semantic proximity of word instances in different contexts. We apply contextualized (ELMo and BERT) word and sentence embeddings to this task, and propose supervised models that leverage these representations for prediction. Our models are further assisted by lexical substitute annotations automatically assigned to word instances by context2vec, a neural model that relies on a bidirectional LSTM. We perform an extensive comparison of existing word and sentence representations on benchmark datasets addressing both graded and binary similarity.The best performing models outperform previous methods in both settings.
Lexical complexity detection is an important step for automatic text simplification which serves to make informed lexical substitutions. In this study, we experiment with word embeddings for measuring the complexity of French words and combine them with other features that have been shown to be well-suited for complexity prediction. Our results on a synonym ranking task show that embeddings perform better than other features in isolation, but do not outperform frequency-based systems in this language.