We at the Cognitive Lexicon Laboratory take a computational approach to study the lexicon—the system for organizing words and meanings. The overarching question we ask is how languages rely on a finite lexicon to express a growing and potentially infinite set of ideas. This tension is often manifested in lexical creativity, such as the extension of word meanings and the formation of new words and expressions. Our lab explores the cognitive foundations that underlie historical word meaning extension, word meaning variation across languages, linguistic composition and acquisition. This line of inquiry may enable machines to interpret and communicate novel meanings and adapt to emerging needs. The methods we develop for diachronic text analysis can also inform sociomoral changes that are reflected in natural language use.

Sample publications