[Languagechange News] 2nd Cfp: 1st International Workshop on Computational Approaches to Historical Language Change - ACL2019

Nina Tahmasebi nina.tahmasebi at gu.se
Tue Mar 5 15:20:09 CET 2019

[apologies for x-posting]

Second Call for Papers

*1st International Workshop on Computational Approaches to Historical 
Language Change 2019*


The workshop will be co-located with ACL 2019 
<http://www.acl2019.org/EN/index.xhtml>to be held__in Florence, on 
August 2nd, 2019.

Natural languages change over time. Every language relies on a finite 
lexicon to express an infinite set of emerging ideas driven by 
sociocultural and technological development. This tension is often 
manifested in the historical emergence of novel word forms and meanings, 
and the obliteration of existing words and word meanings. Compared to 
other aspects of language where there are rich formal treatments of 
change (e.g., phonology, grammar), computational approaches to the 
time-varying properties of word meanings and forms have just begun to 
take shape in computational linguistics, natural language processing, 
and related disciplines [1].

Characterizing the time-varying nature of language will have broad 
implications and applications in multiple fields including linguistics, 
artificial intelligence, digital humanities, computational cognitive and 
social sciences. In this workshop, we will bring together the world's 
pioneers and experts in *computational approaches to historical language 
change with the focus on digital text corpora.* In doing so, this 
workshop carries the triple goals of disseminating the state-of-the-art 
research on diachronic modeling of language change, fostering 
international cross-disciplinary collaborations, and exploring the 
fundamental theoretical and methodological challenges in this growing 
niche of computational linguistic research.

*Organizers:*Nina Tahmasebi, Lars Borin, Adam Jatowt, Yang Xu


We accept three types of submissions, long papers, short papers and 
abstracts, following the ACL2019 style, and the ACL submission policy 

Long papers may consist of up to eight (8) pages of content, plus 
unlimited references, short papers may consist of up to four (4) pages 
of content; final versions will be given one additional page of content 
so that reviewers' comments can be taken into account. Abstracts may 
consist of up to two (2) pages of content, plus unlimited references.

Submissions should be sent in electronic forms, using the Softconf START 
conference management system. The submission site is now available at 

*Important Dates*

  * April 26, 2019: Paper submission
  * May 24, 2019: Notification of Acceptance
  * June 3, 2019: Camera-ready papers due
  * August 2, 2019: Workshop Dates

*Keynote Talk*

·*Confirmed Speaker:*Claire Bowern (Professor of Linguistics at Yale 
University) https://ling.yale.edu/people/claire-bowern

·*Title & Abstract:*tba

*Workshop Topics*

Human language changes over time, driven by the dual needs of adapting 
to ongoing sociocultural and technological development in the world and 
facilitating efficient communication. In particular, novel words are 
coined or borrowed from other languages, while obsolete words slide into 
obscurity. Similarly, words may acquire novel meanings or lose existing 
meanings. This workshop explores these phenomena by bringing to bear 
state-of-the-art computational methodologies, theories and digital text 
resources on exploring the time-varying nature of human language.

Although there exists rich empirical work on language change from 
historical linguistics, sociolinguistics and cognitive linguistics, 
computational approaches to the problem of language change, 
/particularly how word forms and meanings evolve/, have only begun to 
take shape over the past decade or so, with exemplary work on semantic 
change and lexical replacement. The motivation has long been related to 
/search/, and /understanding/ in diachronic archives. The emergence of 
long-term and large-scale digital corpora was the prerequisite and has 
resulted in a different set of problems for this strand of study than 
have traditionally been studied in historical linguistics. As an 
example, studies of lexical replacement have largely focused on named 
entity change (names of e.g., countries and people that change over 
time) because of the large effect these name changes have for temporal 
information retrieval.

The aim of this workshop is three-fold. First, we want to provide 
pioneering researchers who work on computational methods, evaluation, 
and large-scale modeling of language change *an outlet for disseminating 
cutting-edge research on topics concerning language change*. Currently, 
researchers in this area have published in a wide range of different 
venues, from computational linguistics, to cognitive science and digital 
libraries venues. We want to utilize this proposed workshop as a 
platform for sharing state-of-the-art research progress in this 
fundamental domain of natural language research.

Second, in doing so we want to *bring together domain experts across 
disciplines*. We want to connect those that have long worked on language 
change within historical linguistics and bring with them a large 
understanding for general linguistic theories of language change; those 
that have studied change across languages and language families; those 
that develop and test computational methods for detecting semantic 
change and laws of semantic change; and those that need knowledge (of 
the occurrence and shape) of language change, for example, in digital 
humanities and computational social sciences where text mining is 
applied to diachronic corpora subject to lexical semantic change.

Third, the detection and modelling of language change using diachronic 
text and text mining raise *fundamental theoretical and methodological 
challenges* for future research in this area. The representativeness of 
text is a first critical issue; works using large diachronic corpora and 
computational methods for detecting change often claim to find changes 
that are universally true for a language as a whole. But the jury is out 
on how results derived from digital literature or newspapers accurately 
represent changes in language as a whole. We hope to engage corpus 
linguists, big-data scientists, and computational linguists to address 
these open issues. Besides these goals, this workshop will also support 
discussion on the evaluation of computational methodologies for 
uncovering language change. Verifying change only using positive 
examples of change often confirms a corpus bias rather than reflecting 
genuine language change. Larger quantities and higher qualities of text 
over time result in the detection of more semantic change. In fact, 
multiple semantic laws have been proposed lately where later other 
authors have shown that the detected effects are linked to frequency 
rather than underlying semantic change. The methodological issue of 
evaluation, together with good evaluation testsets and standards are of 
high importance to the research community. We aim to shed some light on 
these issues and encourage the community to collaborate to find solutions.

The work in semantic change detection has, to a large extent, moved to 
(neural) embedding techniques in recent years. These methods have 
several drawbacks: the need for very large datasets to produce stable 
embeddings, and the fact that all semantic information of a word is 
encoded in a single vector thus limiting the possibility to study word 
senses separately. A move towards multi-sense embeddings will most 
likely require even more texts per time unit, which will limit the 
applicability of these methods to other languages than English, and a 
few others. We want to bring about a discussion on the need for methods 
that can discriminate and disambiguate among a word's senses (meanings) 
and that can be used for resource-poor languages with little hope of 
acquiring the order of magnitude of words needed for creating stable 
embeddings, possibly using dynamic embeddings that seem to require less 
text. Finally, knowledge of language change is useful not only on its 
own, but as a basis for other diachronic textual investigations and in 

A digital humanities investigation into the living conditions of young 
women through history cannot rely on the word /girl/ in English, as in 
the past the reference of /girl/ also included young men. Automatic 
detecting of language change is useful for many researchers outside of 
the communities that study the changes themselves and develop methods 
for their detection. By reaching out to these other communities, we can 
better understand how to utilize the results for further research and 
for presenting them to the interested public. In addition, we need good 
user interfaces and systems for exploring language changes in corpora, 
for example, to allow for serendipitous discovery of interesting 
phenomena. In addition to facilitate research on texts, information 
about language changes is used for measuring document across-time 
similarity, information retrieval from long-term document archives, the 
design of OCR algorithms and so on.

We invite original research papers from a wide range of topics, 
including but not limited to:

  * Automatic detection of semantic change and diachronic lexical
  * Fundamental laws of language change
  * Computational theories and generative models of language change
  * Sense-aware (semantic) change analysis
  * Methodologies for resource-poor languages
  * Diachronic linguistic data visualization and online systems
  * Applications and implications of language change detection
  * Sociocultural influences on language change
  * Cross-linguistic and phylogenetic approaches to language change
  * Methodological aspects of, as well as datasets for, evaluation

The workshop is planned to last a full day. Submissions are open to all, 
and are to be submitted anonymously. All papers will be refereed through 
a double-blind peer review process by at least three reviewers with 
final acceptance decisions made by the workshop organizers. We plan to 
edit a book on the basis of extended workshop papers and are currently 
discussing the publication with a publisher.

Contact us at *_PC-ACLws2019 at languagechange.org 
<mailto:PC-ACLws2019 at languagechange.org>_ *if you have any questions.

[1]Nina Tahmasebi, Lars Borin, Adam Jatowt: Survey of Computational 
Approaches to Lexical Semantic Change. CoRR abs/1811.06278 (2018) 

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