Studying Laws of Semantic Divergence across Languages using Cognate Sets

Ana Uban, Alina Maria Ciobanu, Liviu P. Dinu
2019 Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Computational Approaches to Historical Language Change   unpublished
Semantic divergence in related languages is a key concern of historical linguistics. Intralingual semantic shift has been previously studied in computational linguistics, but it can only provide a limited picture of the evolution of word meanings, which often develop in a multilingual environment. In this paper we investigate semantic change across languages by measuring the semantic distance of cognate words in multiple languages. By comparing current meanings of cognates in different
more » ... , we hope to uncover information about their previous meanings, and about how they diverged within their respective languages from their common original etymon. We further study the properties of the semantic divergence of cognates, by analyzing how features of the words, such as frequency and polysemy, are related to their shift in meaning, and thus take the first steps towards formulating laws of cross-lingual semantic change.
doi:10.18653/v1/w19-4720 fatcat:m4wiywqpavcfppwdhrfkqozcae