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Digital Heritage Seminar: Nina Tahmasebi & Simon Hengchen

Online event

18 October 2022
14:00 - 15:30

This event has passed.


18 October 2022
14:00 - 15:30

Event type

Online event




Digital Heritage Seminar Series: Lexical Semantic Change

Language provides a window into societies and cultures of the past and the present. In the past decade, the development of large historical/diachronic text corpora and the popularisation of computational methods in the humanities have allowed scholars to leverage language patterns to answer a large array of research questions in disciplines as varied as linguistics, history, archaeology, literature and media studies.

Lexical semantic change, a phenomenon describing the evolution of the meanings of lexical units, has long preoccupied historical linguists. The possibility to study this phenomenon with computational methods has far reaching implications in several disciplines since diachronic semantic change can be used to identify conceptual shifts in questions related to many aspects of society such as culture, religion, politics, economics and morality. The recent convergence of Natural Language Processing and Computational Linguistics with a range of humanities disciplines has led questions related to lexical semantic change to gain momentum.

In this three-part seminar series, we will hear from three timely projects which are pushing the boundaries of Digital Humanities by creating synergies between disciplines to develop cutting-edge methods to investigate lexical semantic change at a large scale.

The series is co-organised by CAMille (ULB-KBR), the Data Science Lab (VUB-KBR), the Digital Research Lab (UGent – KBR), and LabEL (UCLouvain-KBR).



Nina Tahmasebi (Göteborgs universitet) & Simon Hengchen: “Change is Key!”

In this talk, we will present the Change is Key! program, a 6-year research program where we combine methods for semantic change and lexical variation to answer research questions stemming from humanities and social sciences. We will first introduce different classes of methods for computationally detecting semantic change, ranging from topic modelling to contextual embeddings, and discuss how the results should be valued and evaluated.

The talk will further shed light on research questions from the humanities and social science focus domains that will be tackled in Change is Key! as well as present a case-study on semantic change in Dutch-language historical newspapers using topic modelling.

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Practical information

Registration is free but mandatory. The morning of the event you will be sent the link to the meeting and the etiquette to follow.

Duration: 1,5 hours

Should you have any further questions please email vfnoryyr.tevobzbag@xoe.or or oerpug.qrfrher@xoe.or.

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About the speakers

Nina Tahmasebi is an associate professor in Natural Language Processing (NLP) at the University of Gothenburg. She studies lexical semantic change from a computational perspective, developing theory, methods, evaluation techniques, and resources. She also works with text mining and AI for digital humanities, both practically and with regards to epistemological questions relating to a data-intensive research methodology: how text mining can be used to generate stable knowledge in text-based humanities and social sciences.

Simon Hengchen holds master’s degrees in Germanic languages and in Information Science from the Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), where he also obtained a PhD in Information Science. His research focuses on computational approaches to lexical semantic change. After a postdoc in a computational history group in Helsinki and a researcher position at Göteborgs Universitet (Sweden), Simon founded his company and is currently working in industry, in Brussels. He remains employed as a lecturer at the Université de Genève (Switzerland) where he teaches two master’s level courses.