Please join us for the next NLP Seminar Thursday, March 10 at 4pm in 205 South Hall. All are welcome!

Speaker: Justine Kao (Stanford)

Title: Computational approaches to creative and social language


Humans are highly creative users of language. From poetry, to puns, to political satire, much of human communication requires listeners to go beyond the literal meanings of words to infer an utterance’s subtext as well as the speaker’s intentions. Here I will present research on four types of creative language: hyperbole, irony, wordplay, and poetry. In the first part of the talk, I will describe an extension to Rational Speech Act (RSA) models, a family of computational models that view language understanding as recursive social reasoning. Using a series of behavioral experiments, I show that the RSA model predicts people’s interpretations of hyperbole and irony with high accuracy. In the second part of the talk, I will describe formal measures of humor and poetic beauty that incorporate insights from psychology and literary theory to produce quantitative predictions. Finally, I will discuss ways in which cognitive modeling and NLP can provide complementary approaches to understanding the social aspects of language use.