A Multi-Agent Model Approach to Resemanticization in Pronominal Agreement in Dutch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)


Do you refer to a table with ‘him’, ‘her’, or ‘it’ ? In Flemish this depends on where you live. In general, there are two possible strategies to tackle this dilemma: the syntactic approach, where a speaker can employ the lexical gender of the noun, or the semantic approach, where one can make use of the noun’s semantic properties. Due to morphological changes, the syntactic system is becoming increasingly opaque and lexical gender knowledge is being lost. One can start observing here a shift towards a more transparent semantic system. In studied Dutch spoken language data, this new mapping seems to be realized over the individuation hierarchy defined by Audring (2006), where concepts are clustered based on their level of individualization (e.g., animates, concrete objects and bounded abstracts, unbounded abstracts and masses). In the context of cultural evolution, we propose a multi-agent model, that allows, through pair-wise interactions between homogeneous individuals of a population, to simulate this shift. The interactions are carried out through sequential language games, being grounded within a context and driven by a certain communicative goal. We explore various gender mapping and learning mechanisms that can allow the agents to form a new agreement system using their semantic knowledge about the world. We investigate whether our strategies can yield cohesive clusterings over the semantic space. We notice that the system reaches full convergence in terms of gender preference at population level and that there are multiple successful ways of dividing the semantic space, including the individuation hierarchy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 26th Meeting of Computational Linguistics in the Netherlands (CLIN 26)
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherVU Amsterdam
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2015
EventCLIN26 - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 18 Dec 201518 Dec 2015




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