Where New Words Are Born: Distributional Semantic Analysis of Neologisms and Their Semantic Neighborhoods

We perform statistical analysis of the phenomenon of neology, the process by which new words emerge in a language, using large diachronic corpora of English. We investigate the importance of two factors, semantic sparsity and frequency growth rates of semantic neighbors, formalized in the distributional semantics paradigm... We show that both factors are predictive of word emergence although we find more support for the latter hypothesis. Besides presenting a new linguistic application of distributional semantics, this study tackles the linguistic question of the role of language-internal factors (in our case, sparsity) in language change motivated by language-external factors (reflected in frequency growth). read more

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