Eureka! A Simple Solution to the Complex ‘Tip-of-the-Tongue’-Problem

  • Michael ZockEmail author


Dictionaries are repositories of knowledge concerning words. While readers are mostly concerned with meanings, writers are generally more concerned with word forms (lemma) expressing meanings. I will focus here on this latter task: building a tool to help authors to find the word they are looking for, word they may know but whose form is eluding them. Put differently, my goal is to build a resource helping authors to overcome the Tip-of-the-Tongue problem (ToT). Obviously, in order to access a word, it must be stored somewhere (brain, resource). Yet this is far from sufficient. Access may depend on many other factors than storage of word forms: organization of the dictionary (index), the user’s cognitive state, i.e. available knowledge at the onset of search, the distance between the source- and the target-word (direct neighbor or not) , the knowledge of the relationship between the two, etc. I will try to provide evidence for the claim that (word) storage does not guarantee access. To this end I will compare a well-known lexical resource, WordNet (WN), to an equivalent one, but bootstrapped from Wikipedia (WiPe). While both versions contain basically the same set of words, the latter contains   many more (syntagmatic) links than WN. This is probably the reason why WiPe outperforms WN. In the last two sections I will explain under what conditions WN is suitable for word access, and what it might take to go beyond the limitations of this famous resource.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, LIF (UMR 7279)MarseilleFrance

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