6 November 2023

Digital Humanities Initiative Talk Series: Uncovering word meaning change in texts with computational models

Date: 6 November 2023 (Mon)
Time: 6 pm (HK time)
On Zoom
Language: English

Please click here to register


Dr Barbara McGillivray
Lecturer in Digital Humanities and Cultural Computation
King’s College London

About the talk:

Thanks to the increasing availability of digital textual collections and the advancement of data-intensive techniques from the computational sciences, a unique opportunity has emerged for testing these methods in contemporary humanities research. An especially suitable domain for this endeavour is the investigation of the evolution of word meanings. This field has broad applicability and relevance that extends far beyond the realm of linguistic research, encompassing disciplines such as history, literary studies, lexicography, and classics. Moreover, computational linguistics research has recently focused on this area, leading to the development of various algorithms aimed at automatically identifying semantic shifts from corpus data, albeit with varying degrees of success. In this talk, Dr. McGillivray will provide an overview of computational techniques for analysing shifts in meaning within historical texts. Discussions will be informed by her work on ancient Greek, Latin, historical English, and contemporary. Emphasis will be placed on methodological considerations, highlighting the broader implications of this research in digital humanities.

About the Speaker:

Barbara is a digital humanist and computational linguist. Before joining King’s in 2021, Barbara was Turing research fellow at The Alan Turing Institute and at the University of Cambridge between 2017 and 2021. Before that, she worked as language technologist in the Dictionary division of Oxford University Press and as data scientist in the Open Research Group of Springer Nature. She obtained her PhD in computational linguistics from the University of Pisa (Italy) in 2010, after a Master’s degree in Mathematics and a Bachelor’s degree in Classics from the University of Firenze (Italy). She is Editor in Chief of the Journal of Open Humanities Data and co-Investigator of the Living with Machines project. She is also Turing fellow at The Alan Turing Institute, UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence, and president of SIGHUM, ACL’s special interest group on Language Technologies for the Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities.