Bizzoni, Yuri; Degaetano-Ortlieb, Stefania; Menzel, Katrin; Krielke, Marie-Pauline; Teich, Elke

Grammar and Meaning: Analysing the Topology of Diachronic Word Embeddings

Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Computational Approaches to Historical Language Change, Association for Computational Linguistics, pp. 175-185, Florence, Italy, 2019.

The paper showcases the application of word embeddings to change in language use in the domain of science, focusing on the Late Modern English period (17-19th century). Historically, this is the period in which many registers of English developed, including the language of science. Our overarching interest is the linguistic development of scientific writing to a distinctive (group of) register(s). A register is marked not only by the choice of lexical words (discourse domain) but crucially by grammatical choices which indicate style. The focus of the paper is on the latter, tracing words with primarily grammatical functions (function words and some selected, poly-functional word forms) diachronically. To this end, we combine diachronic word embeddings with appropriate visualization and exploratory techniques such as clustering and relative entropy for meaningful aggregation of data and diachronic comparison.