Contextualized Embeddings for Enriching Linguistic Analyses on Politeness

Linguistic analyses in natural language processing (NLP) have often been performed around the static notion of words where the context (surrounding words) is not considered. For example, previous analyses on politeness have focused on comparing the use of static words such as personal pronouns across (im)polite requests without taking the context of those words into account. Current word embeddings in NLP do capture context and thus can be leveraged to enrich linguistic analyses. In this work, we introduce a model which leverages the pre-trained BERT model to cluster contextualized representations of a word based on (1) the context in which the word appears and (2) the labels of items the word occurs in. Using politeness as case study, this model is able to automatically discover interpretable, fine-grained context patterns of words, some of which align with existing theories on politeness. Our model further discovers novel finer-grained patterns associated with (im)polite language. For example, the word please can occur in impolite contexts that are predictable from BERT clustering. The approach proposed here is validated by showing that features based on fine-grained patterns inferred from the clustering improve over politeness-word baselines.

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