Computer Science Department
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
Word Learning in Context: Metaphors and Neologisms
Raluca Budiu, John R. Anderson
Keywords: Matephor comprehension, learning metaphors, learning
new words, computational model
We describe two experiments related to learning new words in
context. We study two types of new words: metaphors (for whom a
related meaning already exists) and artificial words. The new words
were used anaphorically to refer to past objects in the text. For
anaphoric metaphors, subjects showed an initial bias to adopt a
literal interpretation, which shifted as the experiment progressed.
Subjects learned the meaning of the metaphors more rapidly and more
accurately. After repeated exposure to the words in appropriate
contexts, metaphoric sentences were processed comparably with the
sentences made only of familiar words, whereas artificial-word
sentences maintained a slight disadvantage. Results suggest that
participants used context matching to understand and learn new words.
We present a computational model that captures the essential trends in
the data obtained from the two experiments.