Dictionary Dissection: A Computational Approach to Recovering Primitive Concepts 公开

Manor, Laura Jean (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/m900nv052?locale=zh
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Abstract

There are many linguists who believe that there are universal conceptual primitives that make up the internal structure of all words. I believe that all verbs must contain at least one of these primitives. Although we cannot know what these primitives are, I suggest that some verbs are closer to the conceptual primitives than others. These verbs are the most basic or generic verbs of a language.

Through the computation analysis of a dictionary, I attempt to uncover the most basic of English Verbs. This process includes the iterative re-representation of verb definitions, wherein the verbs in a definition are replaced with the definition of the verbs, and so on. The process, which I refer to as drilling, ends when the re-representation process uses a verb that was used previously.

After completing the process with two different dictionaries, I acquired a list of verbs that share many similarities with theoretical lists put together by linguists in the past. I believe that these basic verbs act as windows to the universal human concepts.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION...1
LITERARY BACKGROUND...2

WHAT IS A VERB?...2
VERBAL SYSTEMS AND WORD FORMATION...4
THE INTERNAL STRUCTURE OF A VERB...6

Theories with no or minimal internal structure...6
Theories with complex internal structure...7
Figure 1. John CAUSE Bill DIE as reprinted by Pullman, 2006...7

ON UNIVERSAL PRIMITIVES AND LIGHT VERBS...8
ATTEMPTS OF THE SEMANTIC CLASSIFICATION OF ENGLISH VERBS...9

The Levin Verb Classes...10
WordNet®...10
VerbNet...12

INSPIRATION FOR THE PRESENT STUDY...12

THE PRESENT STUDY...13

OBTAINING THE DEFNITIONS...13

Inherent Bias and Inconsistency of Dictionaries...14
Selecting the Dictionaries...14
Preparing the Definitions...15

DRILING...16

Multiple Senses...17
Focusing on the First Verb in the Definition...17
Initial Drilling Problems with Merriam-Webster®...18
Initial Drilling Problems with WordNet...19

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION...19

TABLE 1. POST-DRILLING FREQUENCIES FOR MERRIAM-WEBSTER AND WORDNET...20

CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH...21
REFERENCES...24
APPENDIX A...27

TABLE 2. PRE-DRILLING FREQUENCIES FOR MERRIAM-WEBSTER AND WORDNET...27

APPENDIX B...28

TABLE 3. POST-DRILLING CYCLES FOR MERRIAM-WEBSTER AND WORDNET...28

APPENDIX C...29

FIGURE 2. SPATIAL REPRESENTATION OF ENGLISH VERBS IN RELATION TO BASIC VERBS...29
FIGURE 3. SPATIAL REPRESENTATION OF ENGLISH VERBS IN RELATION TO BASIC VERBS WITH LABELS...30

APPENDIX D...31

EXAMPLE MERRIAM-WEBSTER OUTPUT...31
EXAMPLE CODE FOR RETRIEVING MERRIAM-WEBSTER DEFINITIONS...31

APPENDIX E...33

EXAMPLE CODE FOR DRILLING WORDNET (FIRST VERB ONLY)...5

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