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.

Sample publications