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Computational Approaches for Understanding Semantic Constraints on Two-termed Coordination Structures

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Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNAI,volume 13502)


Coordination is a linguistic phenomenon where two or more terms or phrases, called conjuncts, are conjoined by a coordinating conjunction, such as and, or, or but. Well-formed coordination structures seem to require that the conjuncts are semantically similar or related. In this paper, we utilize English corpus data to examine the semantic constraints on syntactically like coordinations, which link constituents with the same lexical or syntactic categories. We examine the extent to which these semantic constraints depend on the type of conjunction or on the lexical or syntactic category of the conjuncts. We employ two distinct, independent metrics to measure the semantic similarity of conjuncts: WordNet relations and semantic word embeddings. Our results indicate that both measures of similarity have varying distributions depending on the particular conjunction and the conjuncts’ lexical or syntactic categories.


  • Coordination
  • Corpus linguistics
  • Semantics

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  1. 1.

    We focus on the coordination of lexical categories like nouns, verbs, and adjectives, as well as syntactic (phrasal) categories such as noun phrases, verb phrases and adjective phrases. For simplicity, we refer to both as categories in this paper.

  2. 2.

    UD v2 also handles shared modifiers, such as the adjective old in “old men and women,” using a distinct type of annotation.

  3. 3.

    Our code is available at

  4. 4.

    To avoid potential false positives for synonymy, we filter out coordinations in which both conjuncts have the same lemma, as in “he ran faster and faster.”

  5. 5.

    Previous corpus analyses have shown that antonymous word pairs co-occur within the same sentence with frequencies far higher than chance [2, 6].


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Kallini, J., Fellbaum, C. (2022). Computational Approaches for Understanding Semantic Constraints on Two-termed Coordination Structures. In: Sojka, P., Horák, A., Kopeček, I., Pala, K. (eds) Text, Speech, and Dialogue. TSD 2022. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 13502. Springer, Cham.

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