We at the Cognitive Lexicon Laboratory take a computational approach to study the lexicon—the system for organizing words and meanings. The broad question we ask is how languages rely on a finite lexicon to express a growing and potentially infinite set of ideas. This tension often results in variation or extension of word meanings over time. Our research explores the cognitive mechanisms and knowledge that underlie this variation, as well as their connections with word meaning variation across languages and lexical semantic innovation and acquisition. This line of inquiry has applications in natural language processing: it will enable machines to learn to interpret and communicate novel meanings and adapt to emerging needs. The methods we develop for longitudinal text analysis can also inform sociomoral changes that are reflected in natural language use.
- 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. Annu Rev Linguist, 4, 109-128.
- Xu, Y., Malt, B.C. and Srinivasan, M. (2017) Evolution of word meanings through metaphorical mapping: Systematicity over the past millennium. Cogn Psychol, 96:41-53.