We at the Cognitive Lexicon Laboratory take a computational approach to study the human lexicon—the fundamental organization of 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, leading to semantic change. Our research concerns the computational mechanisms and knowledge that underlie this variation and its connections with word meaning variation across languages, or semantic typology. This line of inquiry has potential applications to natural language processing: it will enable machines to learn to process and communicate novel meanings beyond conventional language and adapt to changing communicative needs. The methods we develop for historical text analysis can also inform sociomoral changes that are reflected in natural language use.
Semantic change; Semantic typology; Language and cognition; Computational methods for linguistic and social sciences.
- Xu, Y., Liu, E., and Regier, T. (in press) Numeral systems across languages support efficient communication: From approximate numerosity to recursion. Open Mind: Discoveries in Cognitive Science.
- Habibi, A.A., Kemp, C., and Xu, Y. (in press) Chaining and the growth of linguistic categories. Cognition.
- Xu, Y., Duong, K., Malt, B.C., Jiang, S., and Srinivasan, M. (in press) Conceptual relations predict colexification across languages. Cognition.
- Xie, J.Y., Ferreira Pinto Jr., R., Hirst, G., and Xu, Y. (2019) Text-based inference of moral sentiment change. In Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, 4646-4655, Hong Kong, China.
- Ramiro, C., Srinivasan, M., Malt, B.C., and Xu, Y. (2018) Algorithms in the historical emergence of word senses. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(10), 2323-2328.
- Kemp, C., Xu, Y., and Regier, T. (2018) Semantic typology and efficient communication. Annual Review of Linguistics, 4, 109-128.
- Xu, Y., Malt, B.C., and Srinivasan, M. (2017) Evolution of word meanings through metaphorical mapping: Systematicity over the past millennium. Cognitive Psychology, 96, 41-53.
- Xu, Y., Regier, T., and Malt, B.C. (2016) Historical semantic chaining and efficient communication: The case of container names. Cognitive Science, 40(8), 2081-2094.