Automatic Detection of Lexical Functions in Context

Olga Kolesnikova


In this article, we explore the concept of lexical functions as a formalism to represent recurrent lexical, semantic, and syntactic relations among words. A lexical function takes a word as input and outputs a set of words related to the input in a certain way on the paradigmatic or syntagmatic level. For example, the syntagmatic lexical function termed Oper1 takes the noun decision as input and outputs the verb make with the semantics of ‘Agent realizes the action denoted by the noun’, so Oper1 captures the relation between the noun and the verb in the collocation make a decision. The numeric part of the Oper1 notation reflects two facts: first, the action of make is performed by the agent, which is viewed as the first semantic actant (or argument) in the Tesnière’s model, and second, the syntactic function of the word denoting the agent in utterances with make a decision is subject. In general, lexical functions represent common semantic and syntactic patterns typical for certain word classes and can aid in many tasks of natural language processing, lexical and syntactic disambiguation being the most fundamental one among them. In this article, we review various paradigmatic and syntagmatic lexical functions, their application and identification in natural language processing.


Collocation, lexical function, paradigmatic relations, syntagmatic relations, machine learning

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