Wordnets: semantic networks of words and concepts and their application in natural language processing

Piek Vossen



De Boelelaan 1105,
room 11A-26 1081 HV Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Course level


Course description

The English WordNet was built as an implementation of a model of the mental lexicon. It separates the lexicalization of concepts in a language from the conceptual relations between concepts. It has been used extensively in natural language processing (NLP) even though it was not designed for that purpose. The wordnet model was applied to many more languages since and the multilinguality raised many new issues on what is a word, what is a concept and what lexical ambiguities languages exhibit.
This course will provide background information on wordnets and discuss many issues involved in building wordnets, comparing wordnets and using them in NLP applications. The participants will try to build a small wordnet themselves and compare them with the English wordnet and more formal models such as ontologies.

Day-to-day program

Lecture 1 The English WordNet: language as a conceptual model
Lecture 2 EuroWordNet: multilingual perspective on wordnets
Lecture 3 Global WordNet: word and concept
Lecture 4 Wordnet applications: detecting word meanings in context
Lecture 5 Building your own wordnet: comparing and discussing domain wordnets

Reading list

Course readings:

Lecture 1: You can download the literature for the first lecture here.
You need to read the first four chapters (61 pages):
George A. Miller, Richard Beckwith, Christiane Fellbaum, Derek Gross, and Katherine Miller, Introduction to WordNet: An On-line Lexical Database, In: 5 papers on WordNet, p. 1-9
George A. Miller, Nouns in WordNet: A Lexical Inheritance System, In: 5 papers on WordNet, p. 10-25
Christiane Fellbaum, Derek Gross, and Katherine Miller, Adjectives in WordNet, In: 5 papers on WordNet, p. 11-39
Christiane Fellbaum, English Verbs as a Semantic Net, In: 5 papers on WordNet, p. 40-61  

Lecture 2:
Vossen P. 2002EuroWordNet General Document. EuroWordNet Project LE2-4003 & LE4-8328 report, University of Amsterdam. To be downloaded here.

Lecture 3:
Vossen P., Fellbaum C. "Universals and Idiosyncracies in Multilingual WordNets",chapter in: Multilingual FrameNets in Computational Lexicography, Methods and Applications, p. 319-346, Ed. H.C. Boas, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, ISBN 978-3-11-021296-9. To be downloaded here.

Lecture 4:
Vossen P. "WordNet: principles, developments and applications", chapter in Handbook of Linguistics and Communications (HSK), volume Dictionaries, an International Encyclopedia of Lexicography, Supplementary volume: Recent developments with special focus on computational lexicography. Eds. R.H. Gouws, U. Heid, W. Schweickard, H.E. Wiegand, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, Germany. To be downloaded here.
Agirre, E. and Edmonds, P. (eds.) (2006): Word Sense Disambiguation: Algorithms and Applications. New York. Only the introduction chapter, page 1-28.To be downloaded here.

Background and additional readings:

English WordNet:
Global Wordnet:

Fellbaum (ed.): WordNet An Electronic Lexical Database, MIT press, ISBN-10: 0-262-06197-X, ISBN-13: 978-0-262-06197-1

Vossen, P (ed.) 1998  EuroWordNet: a multilingual database with lexical semantic networks for European Languages. Kluwer, Dordrecht.