The Living Thing / Notebooks : Semantics

“[…] archetypes don’t exist; the body exists. The belly inside is beautiful, because the baby grows there, because your sweet cock, all bright and jolly, thrusts there, and good, tasty food descends there, and for this reason the cavern, the grotto, the tunnel are beautiful and important, and the labyrinth, too, which is made in the image of our wonderful intestines. When somebody wants to invent something beautiful and important, it has to come from there, because you also came from there the day you were born, because fertility always comes from inside a cavity, where first something rots and then, lo and behold, there’s a little man, a date, a baobab.

And high is better than low, because if you have your head down, the blood goes to your brain, because feet stink and hair doesn’t stink as much, because it’s better to climb a tree and pick fruit than end up underground, food for worms, and because you rarely hurt yourself hitting something above — you really have to be in an attic — while you often hurt yourself falling. That’s why up is angelic and down devilish.”

Umberto Eco. “Foucault’s Pendulum.”

On the mapping between linguistic tokens and what they denote.

If I had time I would learn about: Wierzbicka’s semantic primes, Valiant’s PAC-learning, Wittgenstein, probably Mark Johnson if the over-writing doesn’t kill me. Logic-and-language philosophers, toy axiomatic worlds. Classic AI symbolic reasoning approaches. Drop in via game theory and neurolinguistics? Ignore most of it, mention plausible models based on statistical learnability.

Learnability of terms

When do we need to use words? BGPL10 have a toy model for color words, which is a clever choice of domain.

a link to count model stochastics.

Also what embodiment means for this stuff.

Neural models

What does the MRI tell us about denotaiton in the brain?

SNVV14 is worth it for the tag alone: “experimental semiotics”

How can we understand each other during communicative interactions? An influential suggestion holds that communicators are primed by each other’s behaviors, with associative mechanisms automatically coordinating the production of communicative signals and the comprehension of their meanings. An alternative suggestion posits that mutual understanding requires shared conceptualizations of a signal’s use, i.e., “conceptual pacts” that are abstracted away from specific experiences. Both accounts predict coherent neural dynamics across communicators, aligned either to the occurrence of a signal or to the dynamics of conceptual pacts. Using coherence spectral-density analysis of cerebral activity simultaneously measured in pairs of communicators, this study shows that establishing mutual understanding of novel signals synchronizes cerebral dynamics across communicators’ right temporal lobes. This interpersonal cerebral coherence occurred only within pairs with a shared communicative history, and at temporal scales independent from signals’ occurrences. These findings favor the notion that meaning emerges from shared conceptualizations of a signal’s use.

Word vector models

Nearly-reversible, distributed representations of semantics.

As invented by BDVJ03 and popularised/refined by Mikolov and Dean at Google, the skip-gram semantic vector spaces —- definitely the hippest of the ways of defining String distances for natual language this season.

mapping 1-5
Sanjeev Aror explain that, more than that, the skip gram vectors for polysemic words are a weighted sum of their constituent meanings


The rose has teeth in the mouth of the beast.


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