Semantic Interpretation of Nominalizations

Richard D. Hull, Fernando Gomez

A computational approach to the semantic interpretation of nominalizations is described. Interpretation of nominalizations involves three tasks: deciding whether the nominalization is being used in a verbal or non-verbal sense; disambiguating the nominalized verb when a verbal sense is used; and determining the fillers of the thematic roles of the verbal concept or predicate of the nominalization. A verbal sense can be recognized by the presence of modifiers that represent the arguments of the verbal concept. It is these same modifiers which provide the semantic clues to disambiguate the nominalized verb. In the absence of explicit modifiers, heuristics are used to discriminate between verbal and non-verbal senses. A correspondence between verbs and their nominalizations is exploited so that only a small amount of additional knowledge is needed to handle the nominal form. These methods are tested in the domain of encyclopedic texts and the results are shown.

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