Event knowledge and typicality in logical metonymy: beyond type clash


Sentences like The author began the book (logical metonymies) combine a verb requiring an event-denoting object (event-subcategorizing verb, beg in) and entity-denoting object ( book), and involve the understanding of a covert event ( reading ). Type - clash (between entity - denoting object and event - subcategorizing verb) has been a classical way to account for such phenomena, and together with selection al restriction violations it is widely invoked in linguistic theory. More recent work in psycholinguistics suggests that these phenomena might be better captured via graded notions such as typicality and thematic fit, defined as the plausibility of a filler for an argument slot (e.g. how typical it is that books are objects of read, begin, eat …). I present two psycholinguistic experiments showing effects of event typicality in logical metonymy interpretation ( The baker began the icing - > spreading , The child began the icing -> eating). Distributional Semantic Models are computational models of word meaning based on the assumption that words occurring in similar contexts (and in similar argument positions) are also semantically similar, and represent word meaning with corpus - based co - occurrence vectors. Distributional Memory, with its mod u l e ECU ( E xpectation C omposition and U pdate), is a distributional semantic model of the dynamic composition and update of thematic fit and of the graded effect of thematic fit on expectation s about upcoming arguments . In particular, ECU can distinguish expectations of upcoming arguments for different typical event scenarios ( Baker spreads icing vs. Child eats icing ). The second part of my talk will present first results fr om computational models such as ECU on logical metonymy, successfully replicating t he pattern of results from the psycholinguistic experiments. Both the psycholinguistic experiments and the similarity - based models suggest an alternative account of logical metonymy interpretation redefining the binary notion of type - clash in more graded terms, i.e. as thematic fit.

Jun 12, 2012 2:00 PM — 3:00 PM
Invited Talk
University of Western Ontario
Alessandra Zarcone
Alessandra Zarcone
Professor of Language Technologies and Cognitive Assistants

Computational linguist with a background in NLP and in psycholinguistics, working on human-machine interaction.