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Final Call for Papers

*1st International Workshop on Computational Approaches to Historical
Language Change 2019*


The workshop will be co-located with ACL 2019
<> to be held in Florence, on August
2nd, 2019.

Natural languages change over time. Every language relies on a finite
lexicon to express an infinite set of emerging ideas driven by
sociocultural and technological development. This tension is often
manifested in the historical emergence of novel word forms and meanings,
and the obliteration of existing words and word meanings. Compared to other
aspects of language where there are rich formal treatments of change (e.g.,
phonology, grammar), computational approaches to the time-varying
properties of word meanings and forms have just begun to take shape in
computational linguistics, natural language processing, and related
disciplines [1].

Characterizing the time-varying nature of language will have broad
implications and applications in multiple fields including linguistics,
artificial intelligence, digital humanities, computational cognitive and
social sciences. In this workshop, we will bring together the world's
pioneers and experts in *computational approaches to historical language
change with the focus on digital text corpora.* In doing so, this workshop
carries the triple goals of disseminating the state-of-the-art research on
diachronic modeling of language change, fostering international
cross-disciplinary collaborations, and exploring the fundamental
theoretical and methodological challenges in this growing niche of
computational linguistic research.

*Organizers:* Nina Tahmasebi, Lars Borin, Adam Jatowt, Yang Xu


We accept three types of submissions, long papers, short papers and
abstracts, following the ACL2019 style, and the ACL submission policy,_Review_and_Citation

Long papers may consist of up to eight (8) pages of content, plus unlimited
references, short papers may consist of up to four (4) pages of content;
final versions will be given one additional page of content so that
reviewers' comments can be taken into account. Abstracts may consist of up
to two (2) pages of content, plus unlimited references.

Submissions should be sent in electronic forms, using the Softconf START
conference management system. The submission site is now available at

*Important Dates*

   - April 26, 2019: Paper submission
   - May 24, 2019: Notification of Acceptance
   - June 3, 2019: Camera-ready papers due
   - August 2, 2019: Workshop Dates

*Keynote Talks*

·         *Confirmed Speaker:* Claire Bowern (Professor of Linguistics at
Yale University), Haim Dubossarsky
(Research Fellow at University of Cambridge)

·         *Title & Abstract:* tba

*Workshop Topics*

Human language changes over time, driven by the dual needs of adapting to
ongoing sociocultural and technological development in the world and
facilitating efficient communication. In particular, novel words are coined
or borrowed from other languages, while obsolete words slide into
obscurity. Similarly, words may acquire novel meanings or lose existing
meanings. This workshop explores these phenomena by bringing to bear
state-of-the-art computational methodologies, theories and digital text
resources on exploring the time-varying nature of human language.

Although there exists rich empirical work on language change from
historical linguistics, sociolinguistics and cognitive linguistics,
computational approaches to the problem of language change, *particularly
how word forms and meanings evolve*, have only begun to take shape over the
past decade or so, with exemplary work on semantic change and lexical
replacement. The motivation has long been related to *search*, and
*understanding* in diachronic archives. The emergence of long-term and
large-scale digital corpora was the prerequisite and has resulted in a
different set of problems for this strand of study than have traditionally
been studied in historical linguistics. As an example, studies of lexical
replacement have largely focused on named entity change (names of e.g.,
countries and people that change over time) because of the large effect
these name changes have for temporal information retrieval.

The aim of this workshop is three-fold. First, we want to provide
pioneering researchers who work on computational methods, evaluation, and
large-scale modeling of language change *an outlet for disseminating
cutting-edge research on topics concerning language change*. Currently,
researchers in this area have published in a wide range of different
venues, from computational linguistics, to cognitive science and digital
libraries venues. We want to utilize this proposed workshop as a platform
for sharing state-of-the-art research progress in this fundamental domain
of natural language research.

Second, in doing so we want to *bring together domain experts across
disciplines*. We want to connect those that have long worked on language
change within historical linguistics and bring with them a large
understanding for general linguistic theories of language change; those
that have studied change across languages and language families; those that
develop and test computational methods for detecting semantic change and
laws of semantic change; and those that need knowledge (of the occurrence
and shape) of language change, for example, in digital humanities and
computational social sciences where text mining is applied to diachronic
corpora subject to lexical semantic change.

Third, the detection and modelling of language change using diachronic text
and text mining raise *fundamental theoretical and methodological
challenges* for future research in this area. The representativeness of
text is a first critical issue; works using large diachronic corpora and
computational methods for detecting change often claim to find changes that
are universally true for a language as a whole. But the jury is out on how
results derived from digital literature or newspapers accurately represent
changes in language as a whole. We hope to engage corpus linguists,
big-data scientists, and computational linguists to address these open
issues. Besides these goals, this workshop will also support discussion on
the evaluation of computational methodologies for uncovering language
change. Verifying change only using positive examples of change often
confirms a corpus bias rather than reflecting genuine language change.
Larger quantities and higher qualities of text over time result in the
detection of more semantic change. In fact, multiple semantic laws have
been proposed lately where later other authors have shown that the detected
effects are linked to frequency rather than underlying semantic change. The
methodological issue of evaluation, together with good evaluation testsets
and standards are of high importance to the research community. We aim to
shed some light on these issues and encourage the community to collaborate
to find solutions.

The work in semantic change detection has, to a large extent, moved to
(neural) embedding techniques in recent years. These methods have several
drawbacks: the need for very large datasets to produce stable embeddings,
and the fact that all semantic information of a word is encoded in a single
vector thus limiting the possibility to study word senses separately. A
move towards multi-sense embeddings will most likely require even more
texts per time unit, which will limit the applicability of these methods to
other languages than English, and a few others. We want to bring about a
discussion on the need for methods that can discriminate and disambiguate
among a word's senses (meanings) and that can be used for resource-poor
languages with little hope of acquiring the order of magnitude of words
needed for creating stable embeddings, possibly using dynamic embeddings
that seem to require less text. Finally, knowledge of language change is
useful not only on its own, but as a basis for other diachronic textual
investigations and in search.

A digital humanities investigation into the living conditions of young
women through history cannot rely on the word *girl* in English, as in the
past the reference of *girl* also included young men. Automatic detecting
of language change is useful for many researchers outside of the
communities that study the changes themselves and develop methods for their
detection. By reaching out to these other communities, we can better
understand how to utilize the results for further research and for
presenting them to the interested public. In addition, we need good user
interfaces and systems for exploring language changes in corpora, for
example, to allow for serendipitous discovery of interesting phenomena. In
addition to facilitate research on texts, information about language
changes is used for measuring document across-time similarity, information
retrieval from long-term document archives, the design of OCR algorithms
and so on.

We invite original research papers from a wide range of topics, including
but not limited to:

   - Automatic detection of semantic change and diachronic lexical
   - Fundamental laws of language change
   - Computational theories and generative models of language change
   - Sense-aware (semantic) change analysis
   - Methodologies for resource-poor languages
   - Diachronic linguistic data visualization and online systems
   - Applications and implications of language change detection
   - Sociocultural influences on language change
   - Cross-linguistic and phylogenetic approaches to language change
   - Methodological aspects of, as well as datasets for, evaluation

The workshop is planned to last a full day. Submissions are open to all,
and are to be submitted anonymously. All papers will be refereed through a
double-blind peer review process by at least three reviewers with final
acceptance decisions made by the workshop organizers. We plan to edit a
book on the basis of extended workshop papers and are currently discussing
the publication with a publisher.

Contact us at *[log in to unmask]
<[log in to unmask]> *if you have any questions.

[1[1]  Nina Tahmasebi, Lars Borin, Adam Jatowt: Survey of Computational
Approaches to Lexical Semantic Change. CoRR abs/1811.06278 (2018)

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