University of Cambridge > > NLIP Seminar Series > What you get is not only what you see! A distributional analysis of semantic features from congenital blind subjects

What you get is not only what you see! A distributional analysis of semantic features from congenital blind subjects

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ekaterina Kochmar.

The effect of blindness on the organization and structure of conceptual representations has always been regarded as crucial evidence to understand the relationship between sensory-motor systems and semantic memory, as well as the link between language and perception. Features composing concepts are derived from two major kinds of experience, sensory-motor experiences and linguistic experiences. Vision undoubtedly represents the main source of information for most concrete concepts, while for abstracts ones linguistic experiences clearly have a dominant role. It has been variously argued that information relevant to form conceptual representations is redundantly coded in perception and in language. Each source of information might, on its own or in conjunction with the other, support the construction of similar conceptual spaces. In the case of congenitally blind individuals, this hypothesis predicts that the lack of visual experiences can be compensated with information acquired through language, allowing subjects to learn even those features that are uniquely related to vision.

In this talk, I will present a computational linguistic analysis of semantic features produced by blind and sighted persons to describe concrete and abstract nouns and verbs. The purpose of this research is to use corpus data to investigate the possible role played by language-derived information in blind and sighted people with respect to different concept types, as a key to understand the contribution of distributional information to semantic representations.

This talk is part of the NLIP Seminar Series series.

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