Treat the Word As a Whole or Look Inside? Subword Embeddings Model Language Change and Typology

WS 2019  ·  Yang Xu, Jiasheng Zhang, David Reitter ·

We use a variant of word embedding model that incorporates subword information to characterize the degree of compositionality in lexical semantics. Our models reveal some interesting yet contrastive patterns of long-term change in multiple languages: Indo-European languages put more weight on subword units in newer words, while conversely Chinese puts less weights on the subwords, but more weight on the word as a whole. Our method provides novel evidence and methodology that enriches existing theories in evolutionary linguistics. The resulting word vectors also has decent performance in NLP-related tasks.

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