Language Resources and Evaluation

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 139-159

First online:

The English lexical substitution task

  • Diana McCarthyAffiliated withThe University of Sussex Email author 
  • , Roberto NavigliAffiliated withThe University of Rome “La Sapienza”

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Since the inception of the Senseval series there has been a great deal of debate in the word sense disambiguation (WSD) community on what the right sense distinctions are for evaluation, with the consensus of opinion being that the distinctions should be relevant to the intended application. A solution to the above issue is lexical substitution, i.e. the replacement of a target word in context with a suitable alternative substitute. In this paper, we describe the English lexical substitution task and report an exhaustive evaluation of the systems participating in the task organized at SemEval-2007. The aim of this task is to provide an evaluation where the sense inventory is not predefined and where performance on the task would bode well for applications. The task not only reflects WSD capabilities, but also can be used to compare lexical resources, whether man-made or automatically created, and has the potential to benefit several natural-language applications.


Lexical substitution Word sense disambiguation SemEval-2007