Contextual Valence Shifters

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Abstract

In addition to describing facts and events, texts often communicate information about the attitude of the writer or various participants towards material being described. The most salient clues about attitude are provided by the lexical choice of the writer but, as discussed below, the organization of the text also contributes information relevant to assessing attitude. We argue that the current work in this area that concentrates mainly on the negative or positive attitude communicated by individual terms (Edmonds and Hirst, 2002; Hatzivassiloglou and McKeown, 1997; Turney and Littman, 2002; Wiebe et al., 2001) is incomplete and often gives the wrong results when implemented directly. We then describe how the base attitudinal valence of a lexical item is modified by lexical and discourse context and propose a simple, “proof of concept” implementation for some contextual shifters.