Proceedings of the 5th Joint SIGHUM Workshop on Computational Linguistics for Cultural Heritage, Social Sciences, Humanities and Literature

Stefania Degaetano-Ortlieb, Anna Kazantseva, Nils Reiter, Stan Szpakowicz (Editors)

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Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (online)
Association for Computational Linguistics
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Proceedings of the 5th Joint SIGHUM Workshop on Computational Linguistics for Cultural Heritage, Social Sciences, Humanities and Literature
Stefania Degaetano-Ortlieb | Anna Kazantseva | Nils Reiter | Stan Szpakowicz

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The Early Modern Dutch Mediascape. Detecting Media Mentions in Chronicles Using Word Embeddings and CRF
Alie Lassche | Roser Morante

While the production of information in the European early modern period is a well-researched topic, the question how people were engaging with the information explosion that occurred in early modern Europe, is still underexposed. This paper presents the annotations and experiments aimed at exploring whether we can automatically extract media related information (source, perception, and receiver) from a corpus of early modern Dutch chronicles in order to get insight in the mediascape of early modern middle class people from a historic perspective. In a number of classification experiments with Conditional Random Fields, three categories of features are tested: (i) raw and binary word embedding features, (ii) lexicon features, and (iii) character features. Overall, the classifier that uses raw embeddings performs slightly better. However, given that the best F-scores are around 0.60, we conclude that the machine learning approach needs to be combined with a close reading approach for the results to be useful to answer history research questions.

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FrameNet-like Annotation of Olfactory Information in Texts
Sara Tonelli | Stefano Menini

Although olfactory references play a crucial role in our cultural memory, only few works in NLP have tried to capture them from a computational perspective. Currently, the main challenge is not much the development of technological components for olfactory information extraction, given recent advances in semantic processing and natural language understanding, but rather the lack of a theoretical framework to capture this information from a linguistic point of view, as a preliminary step towards the development of automated systems. Therefore, in this work we present the annotation guidelines, developed with the help of history scholars and domain experts, aimed at capturing all the relevant elements involved in olfactory situations or events described in texts. These guidelines have been inspired by FrameNet annotation, but underwent some adaptations, which are detailed in this paper. Furthermore, we present a case study concerning the annotation of olfactory situations in English historical travel writings describing trips to Italy. An analysis of the most frequent role fillers show that olfactory descriptions pertain to some typical domains such as religion, food, nature, ancient past, poor sanitation, all supporting the creation of a stereotypical imagery related to Italy. On the other hand, positive feelings triggered by smells are prevalent, and contribute to framing travels to Italy as an exciting experience involving all senses.

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Batavia asked for advice. Pretrained language models for Named Entity Recognition in historical texts.
Sophie I. Arnoult | Lodewijk Petram | Piek Vossen

Pretrained language models like BERT have advanced the state of the art for many NLP tasks. For resource-rich languages, one has the choice between a number of language-specific models, while multilingual models are also worth considering. These models are well known for their crosslingual performance, but have also shown competitive in-language performance on some tasks. We consider monolingual and multilingual models from the perspective of historical texts, and in particular for texts enriched with editorial notes: how do language models deal with the historical and editorial content in these texts? We present a new Named Entity Recognition dataset for Dutch based on 17th and 18th century United East India Company (VOC) reports extended with modern editorial notes. Our experiments with multilingual and Dutch pretrained language models confirm the crosslingual abilities of multilingual models while showing that all language models can leverage mixed-variant data. In particular, language models successfully incorporate notes for the prediction of entities in historical texts. We also find that multilingual models outperform monolingual models on our data, but that this superiority is linked to the task at hand: multilingual models lose their advantage when confronted with more semantical tasks.

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Quantifying Contextual Aspects of Inter-annotator Agreement in Intertextuality Research
Enrique Manjavacas Arevalo | Laurence Mellerin | Mike Kestemont

We report on an inter-annotator agreement experiment involving instances of text reuse focusing on the well-known case of biblical intertextuality in medieval literature. We target the application use case of literary scholars whose aim is to document instances of biblical references in the ‘apparatus fontium’ of a prospective digital edition. We develop a Bayesian implementation of Cohen’s kappa for multiple annotators that allows us to assess the influence of various contextual effects on the inter-annotator agreement, producing both more robust estimates of the agreement indices as well as insights into the annotation process that leads to the estimated indices. As a result, we are able to produce a novel and nuanced estimation of inter-annotator agreement in the context of intertextuality, exploring the challenges that arise from manually annotating a dataset of biblical references in the writings of Bernard of Clairvaux. Among others, our method was able to unveil the fact that the obtained agreement depends heavily on the biblical source book of the proposed reference, as well as the underlying algorithm used to retrieve the candidate match.

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The Multilingual Corpus of Survey Questionnaires Query Interface
Danielly Sorato | Diana Zavala-Rojas

The dawn of the digital age led to increasing demands for digital research resources, which shall be quickly processed and handled by computers. Due to the amount of data created by this digitization process, the design of tools that enable the analysis and management of data and metadata has become a relevant topic. In this context, the Multilingual Corpus of Survey Questionnaires (MCSQ) contributes to the creation and distribution of data for the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) following FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) principles, and provides functionalities for end-users that are not acquainted with programming through an easy-to-use interface. By simply applying the desired filters in the graphic interface, users can build linguistic resources for the survey research and translation areas, such as translation memories, thus facilitating data access and usage.

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The FairyNet Corpus - Character Networks for German Fairy Tales
David Schmidt | Albin Zehe | Janne Lorenzen | Lisa Sergel | Sebastian Düker | Markus Krug | Frank Puppe

This paper presents a data set of German fairy tales, manually annotated with character networks which were obtained with high inter rater agreement. The release of this corpus provides an opportunity of training and comparing different algorithms for the extraction of character networks, which so far was barely possible due to heterogeneous interests of previous researchers. We demonstrate the usefulness of our data set by providing baseline experiments for the automatic extraction of character networks, applying a rule-based pipeline as well as a neural approach, and find the neural approach outperforming the rule-approach in most evaluation settings.

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End-to-end style-conditioned poetry generation: What does it take to learn from examples alone?
Jörg Wöckener | Thomas Haider | Tristan Miller | The-Khang Nguyen | Thanh Tung Linh Nguyen | Minh Vu Pham | Jonas Belouadi | Steffen Eger

In this work, we design an end-to-end model for poetry generation based on conditioned recurrent neural network (RNN) language models whose goal is to learn stylistic features (poem length, sentiment, alliteration, and rhyming) from examples alone. We show this model successfully learns the ‘meaning’ of length and sentiment, as we can control it to generate longer or shorter as well as more positive or more negative poems. However, the model does not grasp sound phenomena like alliteration and rhyming, but instead exploits low-level statistical cues. Possible reasons include the size of the training data, the relatively low frequency and difficulty of these sublexical phenomena as well as model biases. We show that more recent GPT-2 models also have problems learning sublexical phenomena such as rhyming from examples alone.

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Emotion Classification in German Plays with Transformer-based Language Models Pretrained on Historical and Contemporary Language
Thomas Schmidt | Katrin Dennerlein | Christian Wolff

We present results of a project on emotion classification on historical German plays of Enlightenment, Storm and Stress, and German Classicism. We have developed a hierarchical annotation scheme consisting of 13 sub-emotions like suffering, love and joy that sum up to 6 main and 2 polarity classes (positive/negative). We have conducted textual annotations on 11 German plays and have acquired over 13,000 emotion annotations by two annotators per play. We have evaluated multiple traditional machine learning approaches as well as transformer-based models pretrained on historical and contemporary language for a single-label text sequence emotion classification for the different emotion categories. The evaluation is carried out on three different instances of the corpus: (1) taking all annotations, (2) filtering overlapping annotations by annotators, (3) applying a heuristic for speech-based analysis. Best results are achieved on the filtered corpus with the best models being large transformer-based models pretrained on contemporary German language. For the polarity classification accuracies of up to 90% are achieved. The accuracies become lower for settings with a higher number of classes, achieving 66% for 13 sub-emotions. Further pretraining of a historical model with a corpus of dramatic texts led to no improvements.

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Automating the Detection of Poetic Features: The Limerick as Model Organism
Almas Abdibayev | Yohei Igarashi | Allen Riddell | Daniel Rockmore

In this paper we take up the problem of “limerick detection” and describe a system to identify five-line poems as limericks or not. This turns out to be a surprisingly difficult challenge with many subtleties. More precisely, we produce an algorithm which focuses on the structural aspects of the limerick – rhyme scheme and rhythm (i.e., stress patterns) – and when tested on a a culled data set of 98,454 publicly available limericks, our “limerick filter” accepts 67% as limericks. The primary failure of our filter is on the detection of “non-standard” rhymes, which we highlight as an outstanding challenge in computational poetics. Our accent detection algorithm proves to be very robust. Our main contributions are (1) a novel rhyme detection algorithm that works on English words including rare proper nouns and made-up words (and thus, words not in the widely used CMUDict database); (2) a novel rhythm-identifying heuristic that is robust to language noise at moderate levels and comparable in accuracy to state-of-the-art scansion algorithms. As a third significant contribution (3) we make publicly available a large corpus of limericks that includes tags of “limerick” or “not-limerick” as determined by our identification software, thereby providing a benchmark for the community. The poetic tasks that we have identified as challenges for machines suggest that the limerick is a useful “model organism” for the study of machine capabilities in poetry and more broadly literature and language. We include a list of open challenges as well. Generally, we anticipate that this work will provide useful material and benchmarks for future explorations in the field.

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Unsupervised Adverbial Identification in Modern Chinese Literature
Wenxiu Xie | John Lee | Fangqiong Zhan | Xiao Han | Chi-Yin Chow

In many languages, adverbials can be derived from words of various parts-of-speech. In Chinese, the derivation may be marked either with the standard adverbial marker DI, or the non-standard marker DE. Since DE also serves double duty as the attributive marker, accurate identification of adverbials requires disambiguation of its syntactic role. As parsers are trained predominantly on texts using the standard adverbial marker DI, they often fail to recognize adverbials suffixed with the non-standard DE. This paper addresses this problem with an unsupervised, rule-based approach for adverbial identification that utilizes dependency tree patterns. Experiment results show that this approach outperforms a masked language model baseline. We apply this approach to analyze standard and non-standard adverbial marker usage in modern Chinese literature.

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Data-Driven Detection of General Chiasmi Using Lexical and Semantic Features
Felix Schneider | Björn Barz | Phillip Brandes | Sophie Marshall | Joachim Denzler

Automatic detection of stylistic devices is an important tool for literary studies, e.g., for stylometric analysis or argument mining. A particularly striking device is the rhetorical figure called chiasmus, which involves the inversion of semantically or syntactically related words. Existing works focus on a special case of chiasmi that involve identical words in an A B B A pattern, so-called antimetaboles. In contrast, we propose an approach targeting the more general and challenging case A B B’ A’, where the words A, A’ and B, B’ constituting the chiasmus do not need to be identical but just related in meaning. To this end, we generalize the established candidate phrase mining strategy from antimetaboles to general chiasmi and propose novel features based on word embeddings and lemmata for capturing both semantic and syntactic information. These features serve as input for a logistic regression classifier, which learns to distinguish between rhetorical chiasmi and coincidental chiastic word orders without special meaning. We evaluate our approach on two datasets consisting of classical German dramas, four texts with annotated chiasmi and 500 unannotated texts. Compared to previous methods for chiasmus detection, our novel features improve the average precision from 17% to 28% and the precision among the top 100 results from 13% to 35%.

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Translationese in Russian Literary Texts
Maria Kunilovskaya | Ekaterina Lapshinova-Koltunski | Ruslan Mitkov

The paper reports the results of a translationese study of literary texts based on translated and non-translated Russian. We aim to find out if translations deviate from non-translated literary texts, and if the established differences can be attributed to typological relations between source and target languages. We expect that literary translations from typologically distant languages should exhibit more translationese, and the fingerprints of individual source languages (and their families) are traceable in translations. We explore linguistic properties that distinguish non-translated Russian literature from translations into Russian. Our results show that non-translated fiction is different from translations to the degree that these two language varieties can be automatically classified. As expected, language typology is reflected in translations of literary texts. We identified features that point to linguistic specificity of Russian non-translated literature and to shining-through effects. Some of translationese features cut across all language pairs, while others are characteristic of literary translations from languages belonging to specific language families.

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BAHP: Benchmark of Assessing Word Embeddings in Historical Portuguese
Zuoyu Tian | Dylan Jarrett | Juan Escalona Torres | Patricia Amaral

High quality distributional models can capture lexical and semantic relations between words. Hence, researchers design various intrinsic tasks to test whether such relations are captured. However, most of the intrinsic tasks are designed for modern languages, and there is a lack of evaluation methods for distributional models of historical corpora. In this paper, we conducted BAHP: a benchmark of assessing word embeddings in Historical Portuguese, which contains four types of tests: analogy, similarity, outlier detection, and coherence. We examined word2vec models generated from two historical Portuguese corpora in these four test sets. The results demonstrate that our test sets are capable of measuring the quality of vector space models and can provide a holistic view of the model’s ability to capture syntactic and semantic information. Furthermore, the methodology for the creation of our test sets can be easily extended to other historical languages.

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The diffusion of scientific terms – tracing individuals’ influence in the history of science for English
Yuri Bizzoni | Stefania Degaetano-Ortlieb | Katrin Menzel | Elke Teich

Tracing the influence of individuals or groups in social networks is an increasingly popular task in sociolinguistic studies. While methods to determine someone’s influence in shortterm contexts (e.g., social media, on-line political debates) are widespread, influence in longterm contexts is less investigated and may be harder to capture. We study the diffusion of scientific terms in an English diachronic scientific corpus, applying Hawkes Processes to capture the role of individual scientists as “influencers” or “influencees” in the diffusion of new concepts. Our findings on two major scientific discoveries in chemistry and astronomy of the 18th century reveal that modelling both the introduction and diffusion of scientific terms in a historical corpus as Hawkes Processes allows detecting patterns of influence between authors on a long-term scale.

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A Pilot Study for BERT Language Modelling and Morphological Analysis for Ancient and Medieval Greek
Pranaydeep Singh | Gorik Rutten | Els Lefever

This paper presents a pilot study to automatic linguistic preprocessing of Ancient and Byzantine Greek, and morphological analysis more specifically. To this end, a novel subword-based BERT language model was trained on the basis of a varied corpus of Modern, Ancient and Post-classical Greek texts. Consequently, the obtained BERT embeddings were incorporated to train a fine-grained Part-of-Speech tagger for Ancient and Byzantine Greek. In addition, a corpus of Greek Epigrams was manually annotated and the resulting gold standard was used to evaluate the performance of the morphological analyser on Byzantine Greek. The experimental results show very good perplexity scores (4.9) for the BERT language model and state-of-the-art performance for the fine-grained Part-of-Speech tagger for in-domain data (treebanks containing a mixture of Classical and Medieval Greek), as well as for the newly created Byzantine Greek gold standard data set. The language models and associated code are made available for use at

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Zero-Shot Information Extraction to Enhance a Knowledge Graph Describing Silk Textiles
Thomas Schleider | Raphael Troncy

The knowledge of the European silk textile production is a typical case for which the information collected is heterogeneous, spread across many museums and sparse since rarely complete. Knowledge Graphs for this cultural heritage domain, when being developed with appropriate ontologies and vocabularies, enable to integrate and reconcile this diverse information. However, many of these original museum records still have some metadata gaps. In this paper, we present a zero-shot learning approach that leverages the ConceptNet common sense knowledge graph to predict categorical metadata informing about the silk objects production. We compared the performance of our approach with traditional supervised deep learning-based methods that do require training data. We demonstrate promising and competitive performance for similar datasets and circumstances and the ability to predict sometimes more fine-grained information. Our results can be reproduced using the code and datasets published at

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‘Tecnologica cosa’: Modeling Storyteller Personalities in Boccaccio’s ‘Decameron’
A. Cooper | Maria Antoniak | Christopher De Sa | Marilyn Migiel | David Mimno

We explore Boccaccio’s Decameron to see how digital humanities tools can be used for tasks that have limited data in a language no longer in contemporary use: medieval Italian. We focus our analysis on the question: Do the different storytellers in the text exhibit distinct personalities? To answer this question, we curate and release a dataset based on the authoritative edition of the text. We use supervised classification methods to predict storytellers based on the stories they tell, confirming the difficulty of the task, and demonstrate that topic modeling can extract thematic storyteller “profiles.”

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WMDecompose: A Framework for Leveraging the Interpretable Properties of Word Mover’s Distance in Sociocultural Analysis
Mikael Brunila | Jack LaViolette

Despite the increasing popularity of NLP in the humanities and social sciences, advances in model performance and complexity have been accompanied by concerns about interpretability and explanatory power for sociocultural analysis. One popular model that takes a middle road is Word Mover’s Distance (WMD). Ostensibly adapted for its interpretability, WMD has nonetheless been used and further developed in ways which frequently discard its most interpretable aspect: namely, the word-level distances required for translating a set of words into another set of words. To address this apparent gap, we introduce WMDecompose: a model and Python library that 1) decomposes document-level distances into their constituent word-level distances, and 2) subsequently clusters words to induce thematic elements, such that useful lexical information is retained and summarized for analysis. To illustrate its potential in a social scientific context, we apply it to a longitudinal social media corpus to explore the interrelationship between conspiracy theories and conservative American discourses. Finally, because of the full WMD model’s high time-complexity, we additionally suggest a method of sampling document pairs from large datasets in a reproducible way, with tight bounds that prevent extrapolation of unreliable results due to poor sampling practices.

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Period Classification in Chinese Historical Texts
Zuoyu Tian | Sandra Kübler

In this study, we study language change in Chinese Biji by using a classification task: classifying Ancient Chinese texts by time periods. Specifically, we focus on a unique genre in classical Chinese literature: Biji (literally “notebook” or “brush notes”), i.e., collections of anecdotes, quotations, etc., anything authors consider noteworthy, Biji span hundreds of years across many dynasties and conserve informal language in written form. For these reasons, they are regarded as a good resource for investigating language change in Chinese (Fang, 2010). In this paper, we create a new dataset of 108 Biji across four dynasties. Based on the dataset, we first introduce a time period classification task for Chinese. Then we investigate different feature representation methods for classification. The results show that models using contextualized embeddings perform best. An analysis of the top features chosen by the word n-gram model (after bleaching proper nouns) confirms that these features are informative and correspond to observations and assumptions made by historical linguists.

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A Mixed-Methods Analysis of Western and Hong Kong–based Reporting on the 2019–2020 Protests
Arya D. McCarthy | James Scharf | Giovanna Maria Dora Dore

We apply statistical techniques from natural language processing to Western and Hong Kong–based English language newspaper articles that discuss the 2019–2020 Hong Kong protests of the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement. Topic modeling detects central themes of the reporting and shows the differing agendas toward one country, two systems. Embedding-based usage shift (at the word level) and sentiment analysis (at the document level) both support that Hong Kong–based reporting is more negative and more emotionally charged. A two-way test shows that while July 1, 2019 is a turning point for media portrayal, the differences between western- and Hong Kong–based reporting did not magnify when the protests began; rather, they already existed. Taken together, these findings clarify how the portrayal of activism in Hong Kong evolved throughout the Movement.

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Stylometric Literariness Classification: the Case of Stephen King
Andreas van Cranenburgh | Erik Ketzan

This paper applies stylometry to quantify the literariness of 73 novels and novellas by American author Stephen King, chosen as an extraordinary case of a writer who has been dubbed both “high” and “low” in literariness in critical reception. We operationalize literariness using a measure of stylistic distance (Cosine Delta) based on the 1000 most frequent words in two bespoke comparison corpora used as proxies for literariness: one of popular genre fiction, another of National Book Award-winning authors. We report that a supervised model is highly effective in distinguishing the two categories, with 94.6% macro average in a binary classification. We define two subsets of texts by King—“high” and “low” literariness works as suggested by critics and ourselves—and find that a predictive model does identify King’s Dark Tower series and novels such as Dolores Claiborne as among his most “literary” texts, consistent with critical reception, which has also ascribed postmodern qualities to the Dark Tower novels. Our results demonstrate the efficacy of Cosine Delta-based stylometry in quantifying the literariness of texts, while also highlighting the methodological challenges of literariness, especially in the case of Stephen King. The code and data to reproduce our results are available at