The Empty Lexicon
This paper1 contrasts two views on the analysis of language. In one view, language is primarily seen as a carrier of messages in sentences whose propo-sitional content can be retrieved, and symbolised in a knowledge base. In the other, language is seen as a means of communication that deals in much more complex matters than just carrying messages. In relation to vocabulary and the design of lexicons, the model of terminology suits the first position, while in the other the lexicon is considered empty at the start and is gradually filled with the evidence of usage. Similar contrasts are made in other areas relevant to natural language processing. In one approach, the expectation is of tidiness and conformity to rules; the other stresses the inherently provisional nature of the organisation of language and, therefore, the meanings. As these two approaches encounter the vast amount of evidence stored in today's corpora, their methods and responses contrast in interesting ways.
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