Assignment 6, Ling 645/CMSC 723, Fall 1997

Assignment 6: Exploring word senses using WordNet

1.  Go over the Midterm 1 solutions at

and  make sure you understand everything.  Nothing to turn in here,
obviously, and hopefully you were already planning to do so!

2.  Simple exercise on word senses [30pts]

  (a)  Write down, in English, between 2 and 10 different senses of 
       the verb "break".  You may be able to come up with more, but 10 is
       plenty!  Fewer is also ok.  For example, here are two:

         1. break an object into pieces
            Example:  Edgar broke the vase.

         2. break a bone
            Example:  Mildred broke her wrist.

       Try to do this without a dictionary if you can, but if you're
       not a native speaker of English, use a dictionary if you need to.

  (b)  Go to the web page for using WordNet online,

       and look up the verb senses for "break".  (I would use
       the HTML forms interface, but you could play with the applet, 
       too, if you'd like.)

       Which WordNet senses do your senses from part (a)
       match, if any?  (One of you senses might match more than one
       WordNet sense, of course.)  For example, 

          Sense 1:  Matches WN senses 2,3,4,5

   (c) Do any of your senses group naturally into a class with common
       elements of meaning?  How would you group them?  (Use a
       hierarchy if that makes more sense.)  

   (d) Can you identify a "core meaning" for "break" that covers 
       a reasonably large subset of the different senses?  

Note that this is an exploratory exercise, and there is no "correct"
answer!  At a workshop I attended, a group of a dozen linguists spent
an entire afternoon debating our answers to 2(a-d).  You don't need to
spend that long -- an hour should be plenty.

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