We at the Cognitive Lexicon Laboratory take a computational approach to study the lexicon—the system of word-meaning mappings for human communication. The overarching question we ask is how a finite lexicon is adapted to express a growing and potentially infinite range of ideas over time and across cultures. We investigate the emergent properties of the lexicon that help resolve this tension, such as the construction of novel word meanings and expressions, by developing formal theories to characterize their underlying cognitive mechanisms (e.g., semantic chaining) and functional principles for efficient communication. This line of work has led to applications that support the generation and interpretation of creative language use in machines. The methods we develop for diachronic textual analysis also facilitate the scalable inference of connotative meaning change.
- Hahn, M. and Xu, Y. (2022) Crosslinguistic word order variation reflects evolutionary pressures of dependency and information locality. PNAS, 119(24), e2122604119.
- Prystawski, B., Grant, E., Nematzadeh, A., Lee, S.W.S., Stevenson, S., and Xu, Y. (2022) The emergence of gender associations in child language development. Cognitive Science, 46, e13146.
- Yu, L. and Xu, Y. (2021) Predicting emergent linguistic compositions through time: Syntactic frame extension via multimodal chaining. EMNLP 2021.
- Sun, Z., Zemel, R., and Xu, Y. (2021) A computational framework for slang generation. TACL, 9, 462-478.
- Ferreira Pinto Jr., R. and Xu, Y. (2021) A computational theory of child overextension. Cognition, 206, 104472.
- Xu, Y., Liu, E., and Regier, T. (2020) Numeral systems across languages support efficient communication: From approximate numerosity to recursion. Open Mind, 4, 57-70.
- Habibi, A.A., Kemp, C., and Xu, Y. (2020) Chaining and the growth of linguistic categories. Cognition, 202, 104323.
- Xu, Y., Duong, K., Malt, B.C., Jiang, S., and Srinivasan, M. (2020) Conceptual relations predict colexification across languages. Cognition, 201, 104280.
- Xie, J.Y., Ferreira Pinto Jr., R., Hirst, G., and Xu, Y. (2019) Text-based inference of moral sentiment change. EMNLP 2019.
- Ramiro, C., Srinivasan, M., Malt, B.C., and Xu, Y. (2018) Algorithms in the historical emergence of word senses. PNAS, 115(10), 2323-2328.
- Kemp, C., Xu, Y., and Regier, T. (2018) Semantic typology and efficient communication. Annual Review of Linguistics, 4, 109-128.