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Computational Linguistics

Paola Merlo, Editor
June 2012, Vol. 38, No. 2, Pages 301-333
(doi: 10.1162/COLI_a_00097)
© 2012 Association for Computational Linguistics
Did It Happen? The Pragmatic Complexity of Veridicality Assessment
Article PDF (497.94 KB)
Abstract

Natural language understanding depends heavily on assessing veridicality—whether events mentioned in a text are viewed as happening or not—but little consideration is given to this property in current relation and event extraction systems. Furthermore, the work that has been done has generally assumed that veridicality can be captured by lexical semantic properties whereas we show that context and world knowledge play a significant role in shaping veridicality. We extend the FactBank corpus, which contains semantically driven veridicality annotations, with pragmatically informed ones. Our annotations are more complex than the lexical assumption predicts but systematic enough to be included in computational work on textual understanding. They also indicate that veridicality judgments are not always categorical, and should therefore be modeled as distributions. We build a classifier to automatically assign event veridicality distributions based on our new annotations. The classifier relies not only on lexical features like hedges or negations, but also on structural features and approximations of world knowledge, thereby providing a nuanced picture of the diverse factors that shape veridicality.

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