Empirical and Computational Approaches to Metaphor and Figurative Meaning


One of the hallmarks of human intelligence is the ability to go beyond literal meanings of utterances to infer speakers' intended meanings, a feat that remains elusive to the most advanced artificial systems. Figurative language such as metaphor, in particular, provides a striking case where complex meanings arise that cannot be derived from the literal semantics alone. For example, "My lawyer is a shark" is a literally false sentence, yet communicates relevant features of the lawyer in question (e.g. "ruthless," but not "swims").

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