DGfS-Workshop on Sense Divergences across Language Varieties

Event date: March 4, 2020 9:00 AM to March 6, 2020 2:00 PM

Words change their senses not only over time but also across communities, domains, dialects, registers, and other language varieties (Wieling & Nerbonne, 2015; Wiese & Pohle, 2016; Del Tredici & Fernandez, 2017; Ferrari et al., 2017; Hovy & Purschke, 2018; Schlechtweg et al., 2019; i.a.).

An example for a diachronic sense divergence is the German noun "Vorwort", which was mainly used in the meaning of "preposition" before ca. 1800 (Paul, 2002; Schlechtweg et al., 2018). Then it rapidly acquired a new meaning "preface", which after 1850 has nearly exclusively been used. An example for a synchronic domain specific sense divergence is the German noun "Schnee" (Hätty et al., 2019). In general-language use, "Schnee" predominantly refers to "snow", while in the cooking domain the predominant meaning is the domain-specific "beaten egg whites". The German verb "heben" is an example for a dialectal lexical variation (Boberg et al., 2018), as it is used in the meaning "to lift" in standard German, while in the Southern-German dialect Swabian it is used in the meaning "to hold".

The above examples exhibit different predominant word senses with regard to specific language varieties. While each research field on language variety has its own tradition to explore word sense divergences, both from a theoretical and from an empirical perspective, this workshop aims to bring together interdisciplinary studies on lexical semantic divergences across time, domains, registers, and further language varieties.

We invite research contributions across languages and across research disciplines to provide and compare resources, corpus-based empirical evidence and computational models for divergences in word meanings across language varieties. Relevant aspects include (but are not restricted to)

- investigations on word sense definition and discrimination;
- corpus-based examples and discussions of lexical sense divergences;
- frequency distributions of word senses across corpora for language varieties;
- computational models to determine and measure lexical semantic change and divergence;
- relevance of word sense divergences for theories and applications in different fields.

Invited speakers

Barbara McGillivray,
Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, University of Cambridge, and The Alan Turing Institute

John Nerbonne,
Humanities Computing, University of Groningen, and Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Freiburg

Workshop organisers

Dominik Schlechtweg,
Institut für Maschinelle Sprachverarbeitung, Universität Stuttgart

Sabine Schulte im Walde,
Institut für Maschinelle Sprachverarbeitung, Universität Stuttgart


The workshop will be held on March 4-6, 2020, as part of the 42nd Annual Conference of the Linguistic German Society (DGfS) in Hamburg, Germany. For further information, please see this web site.