When Time Makes Sense: A Historically-Aware Approach to Targeted Sense Disambiguation
Coll Ardanuy, Mariona
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As languages evolve historically, making computational approaches sensitive to time can improve performance on specific tasks. In this work, we assess whether applying historical language models and time-aware methods help with determining the correct sense of polysemous words. We outline the task of time-sensitive Targeted Sense Disambiguation (TSD), which aims to detect instances of a sense or set of related senses in historical and time-stamped texts, and address two main goals: 1) we scrutinize the effect of applying historical language models on the performance of several TSD methods and 2) we assess different disambiguation methods that take into account the year in which a text was produced. We train historical BERT models on a corpus of nineteenth-century English books and draw on the Oxford English Dictionary (and its Historical Thesaurus) to create historically evolving sense representations. Our results show that using historical language models consistently improves performance whereas timesensitive disambiguation helps especially with older documents.