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CLT seminar: Patrick Hanks - Corpus Pattern Analysis

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In this talk, I argue that modern corpus-driven lexicography must focus on discovering patterns of usage (valencies and collocations), rather than asking direct questions about word meanings. In fact, I argue, words do not have meanings as such; they have only meaning potentials. Different aspects of a word's meaning potential are realized in different contexts. Corpus-driven analyses of patterns of usage are necessarily selective and probabilistic.

The modern lexicographer, confronted with a vast array of evidence for different uses of a word, needs guidance on appropriate levels of generalization and on what can be safely left out, rather than the more traditional search for new words and new senses to be added to the dictionary. At the same time, computational linguists need to abandon the deluded search for certainties about "all possible" uses (if they have not already done so) and accept the more achievable goal of matching actual usage to patterns. A newly emerging theory of language in use (The Theory of Norms and Exploitations -- Hanks 2013) can help here, as it provides a basis for distinguishing conventional uses and meanings of words from creative ones

Date: 2014-09-04 10:30 - 11:30

Location: L308, Lennart Torstenssonsgatan 8

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