Computational Models of Figurative Language

TitleComputational Models of Figurative Language
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsLönneker-Rodman, B., & Narayanan S.
Other Numbers3408

The heading figurative language subsumes multiple phenomena that can be used to perform mostlinguistic functions including predication, modification, and reference. Figurative language can tapinto conceptual and linguistic knowledge (as in the case of idioms, metaphor, and some metonymies)as well as evoke pragmatic factors in interpretation (as in indirect speech acts, humor, irony, orsarcasm). Indeed, the distinction between the terms literal and figurative is far from clear cut.While there is a continuum from literal to figurative, certain phenomena such as metaphor andmetonymy are considered prototypical instances of figurative language.To date, no comprehensive computational system addressing all of figurative language has beenimplemented, or even designed. Most computational work has focused on the conceptual andlinguistic underpinnings of figurative language. Our discussion will focus on the two types offigurative language phenomena that have been studied computationally: metonymy (Section 2)and metaphor (Section 3). Each section introduces the phenomenon by way of examples andprovides an overview of computational approaches. Section 4 concludes with a brief discussion ofcomputational attempts to model other types of figurative language including humor and irony.

Bibliographic Notes

Cambridge Encyclopedia of Psycholinguistics, M. Spivey, M. Joanisse, and K. McRae, eds., Cambridge University Press

Abbreviated Authors

B. Loenneker-Rodman and S. Narayanan

ICSI Research Group


ICSI Publication Type

Book chapter or section