The field of NLP has made substantial progress in building meaning representations. However, an important aspect of linguistic meaning, social meaning, has been largely overlooked. We introduce the concept of social meaning to NLP and discuss how insights from sociolinguistics can inform work on representation learning in NLP. We also identify key challenges for this new line of research.
Analyses of word embeddings have primarily focused on semantic and syntactic properties. However, word embeddings have the potential to encode other properties as well. In this paper, we propose a new perspective on the analysis of word embeddings by focusing on spelling variation. In social media, spelling variation is abundant and often socially meaningful. Here, we analyze word embeddings trained on Twitter and Reddit data. We present three analyses using pairs of word forms covering seven types of spelling variation in English. Taken together, our results show that word embeddings encode spelling variation patterns of various types to some extent, even embeddings trained using the skipgram model which does not take spelling into account. Our results also suggest a link between the intentionality of the variation and the distance of the non-conventional spellings to their conventional spellings.
In this paper, we use a new categorical form of multidimensional register analysis to identify the main dimensions of functional linguistic variation in a corpus of abusive language, consisting of racist and sexist Tweets. By analysing the use of a wide variety of parts-of-speech and grammatical constructions, as well as various features related to Twitter and computer-mediated communication, we discover three dimensions of linguistic variation in this corpus, which we interpret as being related to the degree of interactive, antagonistic and attitudinal language exhibited by individual Tweets. We then demonstrate that there is a significant functional difference between racist and sexist Tweets, with sexists Tweets tending to be more interactive and attitudinal than racist Tweets.