Discreteness of Senses
Finally, the very notion of "word sense" is slippery and controversial. Most people can agree in distinctions at the coarse-grained homograph level (e.g., pen as writing instrument or enclosure), but go down one level to fine-grained polysemy, and disagreements arise. For example, in Senseval-2, which used fine-grained sense distinctions, human annotators agreed in only 85% of word occurrences. Word meaning is in principle infinitely variable and context sensitive. It does not divide up easily into distinct or discrete sub-meanings. Lexicographers frequently discover in corpora loose and overlapping word meanings, and standard or conventional meanings extended, modulated, and exploited in a bewildering variety of ways. The art of lexicography is to generalize from the corpus to definitions that evoke and explain the full range of meaning of a word, making it seem like words are well-behaved semantically. However, it is not at all clear if these same meaning distinctions are applicable in computational applications, as the decisions of lexicographers are usually driven by other considerations. Recently, a task – named lexical substitution – has been proposed as a possible solution to the sense discreteness problem. The task consists of providing a substitute for a word in context that preserves the meaning of the original word (potentially, substitutes can be chosen from the full lexicon of the target language, thus overcoming discreteness).
Famous quotes containing the word senses:
“Although Samuel had a depraved imaginationperhaps even because of thislove, for him, was less a matter of the senses than of the intellect. It was, above all, admiration and appetite for beauty; he considered reproduction a flaw of love, and pregnancy a form of insanity. He wrote on one occasion: Angels are hermaphrodite and sterile.”
—Charles Baudelaire (18211867)