Word sense disambiguation is important in machine translation between less-closely related languages. The problem was elucidated most famously by Yehoshua Bar-Hillel, who asks us to consider the following sentence:
- Little John was looking for his toy box. Finally he found it. The box was in the pen.
The word pen may have two meanings:
- Something you use to write with
- A container of some kind
To a human, the meaning is obvious, but Bar-Hillel claimed that without a "universal encyclopaedia" a machine would never be able to deal with this problem. Figuring out which sense to use when a word is ambiguous is called word sense disambiguation, and is a big research area.
- Main article: Lextor
Lextor is the current word sense disambiguation module for Apertium, it works using statistics and requires 1) slightly pre-processed dictionaries and 2) corpora to train the module. For more information see the main page.
- Ide, N. and Véronis, J. (1998) "Word Sense Disambiguation: The State of the Art". Computational Linguistics 24(1)