Speaker: Thora Hagen and Erik Ketzan
Affiliation: 1, Chair of Computational Philology, University of Würzburg, Germany; 2, Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, UK
Title: Introducing Traveling Word Pairs in Historical Semantic Change: A Case Study of Privacy Words in 18th and 19th Century English
Abstract: In recent years, Lexical semantic change detection (LSCD) has become a central task of NLP. Because most studies in LSCD only consider the semantic change of words in isolation, in this paper, we propose a new direction for the analysis of semantic shifts: traveling word pairs . First, we introduce shift correlation to find pairs of words that semantically shift together in a similar fashion. Second, we propose word relation shift to analyze how the relationship between two words has changed over time. As a test case, we investigate the word privacy (and related words identified by a pre-existing dictionary), as an example of a word that has shifted semantics historically and remains vibrantly explored as a concept in contemporary humanistic discourse. We report that the term privacy in comparison shows relatively little change initially – with correlation analysis revealing more about how key terms surrounding privacy have shifted in tandem, and explore nuanced changes through word pair analysis, suggesting a shift toward concreteness in particular.