Opening conference

Ontology meets natural language: What can linguists learn?

Pr. Christiane Fellbaum

Princeton University

The creation of large lexical databases for Natural Language Processing has renewed interest in the structure of the lexicon and challenged many linguists’ theories of systemic regularities in the face of empirical investigation. The need for mapping lexicons across languages and research in automatic inferencing and reasoning have resulted in fruitful collaboration between lexicology and the neighboring discipline of ontology and have afforded new perspectives on the lexicon. My talk will address the following questions and provide some answers based on recent research.

  • To what extent can a formal ontology be mapped onto the lexicon of a natural language and reflect both its surface and its hidden structure?
  • How much lexical semantics can ontology capture, and how useful is an ontological perspective of the lexicon for word sense disambiguation?
  • How can ontology inform the construction of lexical databases for automatic reasoning, e.g., by introducing categorial distinctions such as between types and roles?