On the difficulty of making concreteness concrete

Authors

  • Daphne Theijssen Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen
  • Hans van Halteren Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen
  • Lou Boves Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen
  • Nelleke Oostdijk Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen

Abstract

The use of labels of semantic properties like ‘concreteness’ is quite common in studies in syntax, but their exact meaning is often unclear. In this article, we compare different definitions of concreteness, and use them in different implementations to annotate nouns in two data sets: (1) all nouns with word sense annotations in the SemCor corpus, and (2) nouns in a particular lexico-syntactic context, viz. the theme (e.g. a book) in prepositional dative (gave a book to him) and double object (gave him a book) constructions. The results show that the definition and implementation used in different approaches differ greatly, and can considerably affect the conclusions drawn in syntactic research. A followup crowdsourcing experiment showed that there are instances that are clearly concrete or abstract, but also many instances for which humans disagree. Therefore, results concerning concreteness in syntactic research can only be interpreted when taking into account the annotation scheme used and the type of data that is being analysed.

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Published

2011-12-01

How to Cite

Theijssen, D., van Halteren, H., Boves, L., & Oostdijk, N. (2011). On the difficulty of making concreteness concrete. Computational Linguistics in the Netherlands Journal, 1, 61–77. Retrieved from https://clinjournal.org/clinj/article/view/7

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