University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > NLIP Seminar Series > Unweaving The Lexical Rainbow: Grounding Linguistic Creativity in Perceptual Semantics

Unweaving The Lexical Rainbow: Grounding Linguistic Creativity in Perceptual Semantics

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Tamara Polajnar.

We only have LT2 for the hour, so please don't enter before 1pm and don't be late for the talk, as it will start promptly at 1:05 and we'll have to leave before 2pm.

The challenge of linguistic creativity is to use words in a way that is novel and striking and even whimsical, to convey meanings that remain stubbornly grounded in the very same world of familiar experiences as serves to anchor the most literal and unimaginative language. The challenge remains unmet by systems that merely shuttle or arrange words to achieve novel arrangements without concern as to how those arrangements are to spur the processes of meaning construction in a reader. In this talk I shall explore a problem of lexical invention that cannot be solved without an explicit model of the perceptual grounding of language: the invention of apt new names for colours. To solve this problem I shall call upon the notion of a linguistic readymade, a phrase that is wrenched from its original context of use to be given new meaning and new resonance in new settings. To ensure that our linguistic readymades, which owe a great deal to Marcel Duchamp’s notion of found art, are anchored in a consensus model of perception, I introduce the notion of a lexicalized colour stereotype. Along the way, I use the problem of grounded lexical invention to explore the problem of symbol-grounding more generally, and consider what it might tell us about the infamous Chinese Room problem posed by philosopher John Searle.

This talk is part of the NLIP Seminar Series series.

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