Rafael Saldivar


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An insulin pump? Identifying figurative links in the construction of the drug lexicon
Antonio Reyes | Rafael Saldivar
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Figurative Language Processing (FLP)

One of the remarkable characteristics of the drug lexicon is its elusive nature. In order to communicate information related to drugs or drug trafficking, the community uses several terms that are mostly unknown to regular people, or even to the authorities. For instance, the terms jolly green, joystick, or jive are used to refer to marijuana. The selection of such terms is not necessarily a random or senseless process, but a communicative strategy in which figurative language plays a relevant role. In this study, we describe an ongoing research to identify drug-related terms by applying machine learning techniques. To this end, a data set regarding drug trafficking in Spanish was built. This data set was used to train a word embedding model to identify terms used by the community to creatively refer to drugs and related matters. The initial findings show an interesting repository of terms created to consciously veil drug-related contents by using figurative language devices, such as metaphor or metonymy. These findings can provide preliminary evidence to be applied by law agencies in order to address actions against crime, drug transactions on the internet, illicit activities, or human trafficking.