WordNet and the promise since its development

WordNet® is a large database of English lexicons, built up under the direction of George A. Miller in Princeton University’s Cognitive Science Laboratory. Nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are grouped into sets of cognitive synonyms, coined as synsets, each expressing a distinct concept. Synsets are interlinked by means of conceptual-semantic and lexical relations. The resulting network of meaningfully related words and concepts can be navigated with the browser. WordNet is also freely and publicly available for download. WordNet’s structure makes it a useful tool for computational linguistics and natural language processing.

The database WordNet uses began in 1985 with the words in Kucera and Francis’s Standard Corpus of Present-Day Edited English (familiarly known as the Brown Corpus), principally because they provided frequencies for the different parts of speech. 18 Standard alphabetical procedures for organizing lexical information put together words that are spelled alike and scatter words with similar or related meanings haphazardly through the list. (Miller et al 1993) This is basically, how the well-known and developing lexical database has been born, the need to organize the many words English use.

Lexical semantics, as coined by Miller et al (1993), stems its roots on the acknowledgment that a word is a conventional association between a lexicalized concept and an utterance that plays a syntactic role. (Ibid) Quite differently, Murray’s Oxford English Dictionary (OED) developed in 1928 was compiled on the grounds of historical values and clearly, no one doubts the value of the OED in settling issues of word use or sense priority. However, by focusing on historical (diachronic) evidence, OED, like other standard dictionaries, neglected questions concerning the synchronic organization of lexical knowledge.

(Ibid) WordNet comes in with the promise of encompassing the said hindrance whilst not neglecting the ‘questions concerning the synchronic organization of lexical knowledge. ’ The 20th Century has observed the appearance of psycholinguistics, an interdisciplinary field of research concerned with the cognitive bases of linguistic competence, thus the Cognitive Science Lab in Princeton and the organization of words according to principles governing human lexical memory, WordNet®. WordNet is organized through the concept of synonym sets (synsets) which are groups of words that are roughly synonymous in a given context.

The glossary definition and the example sentences are shared among all synonyms in a given synset. 18 Defined by hypernym (also known as an Is-A relationship), both nouns and verbs are ordered into hierarchies. Hypernymy is a semantic relation. It is best explained in the following excerpt from one of the references the author has gotten hold of Automatic Extraction of Dutch Hypernym-Hyponym Pairs (Tjong Kim Sang, E. , Hofmann, K. ): One term is a hypernym of another if its meaning both covers the meaning of the second term and is broader.

For example, furniture is a hypernym of table. The opposite term for hypernym is hyponym. So table is a hyponym of furniture. Hypernymy is a transitive relation. If term A is a hypernym of term B while term B is a hypernym of term C then term A is also a hypernym of term C. WordNet organizes nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs into synonym sets (synsets), which are further arranged into a set of lexicographers’ source files (Table 1) by syntactic category and other organizational criteria. (Beckwith et al n. d. )