Human associations are comparable

We shall compare a Polish list derived from our experiment to a semantically equivalent English list derived from the Edinburgh Associative Thesaurus. To illustrate the problem, we selected an ambiguous Polish word dom, which refers to the English words home and house. Those lists will present words associated with their basic stimulus, and ordered in accordance to their strength of association. Due to the varied number of responses (95 for home and house and 540 for dom), we will be using a more qualitative measure of similarity based on the rank of occurring words on them, rather than on a direct comparison of association strength. That list measure LMw(l1,l2), given two word lists l1 and l2 and a comparison window, which will be equivalent to the amount of words matching in lj and l2 in a window of w words taken from the beginning of the lists.

In order to establish some basic expected levels of similarity, we will compare the list obtained in our experiment for the stimulus word dom, whose meaning covers both English words home and house. First, each Polish association word was carefully translated into English, and then the lists automatically looked for identical words. Because words may differ in rank on the compared lists, the table includes the window size needed to match a word on both lists.

dom

home

house

rodzinny (adv. family)

house

home

mieszkanie (flat)

family

garden

rodzina (n.family)

mother

door

spokoj (peace)

away

boat

cieplo (warmth)

life

chimney

ogrod (garden)

parents

roof

moj (my)

help

flat

bezpieczenstwo (security)

range

brick

mama (mother)

rest

building

pokoj (room)

stead

bungalow

Table 2.1. Top 10 elements of the experiment lists for dom (author’s experiment) and the EAT lists for home and house

The lists can be compared separately, but considering the ambiguity of dom, we can compare the list of association of dom with a list of interspersed (i.e. a list composed of the 1st word related to home, next to the 1st word associated with house, then the 2nd word related to home, etc.) associations of both home and house lists from the EAT.

w

home + house vs. dom

w

home vs. dom

w

house vs. dom

3

family

3

Family

3

Family

6

garden

9

Mother

6

Flat

9

mother

18

Cottage

6

Garden

12

roof

24

Garden

11

Roof

14

flat

26

Parents

14

Room

18

building

35

Peace

15

Building

19

chimney

41

Security

19

Chimney

26

parents

21

Cottage

30

room

30

Mother

32

brick

32

Brick

35

cottage

34

Security

64

security

40

Warm

65

peace

41

Warmth

74

warm

75

warmth

Table 2.2. Comparison of the experiment list and the EAT lists. Matching words are shown for their corresponding window sizes w for the LMwObh) measure

The original, i.e. used for comparison human association list, is a list of words associated with a stimulus word ordered by frequency of responses. Unfortunately, we cannot automatically distinguish words which enter into semantic relation to the stimulus word by frequency or by computed association strength, for example in the list associated to the word table a semantically unrelated cloth is substantially more frequent than legs and leg, which enter into “part of’ relation to the table [PAL 64]. The described observation is language independent. The proposed method of comparison truncates from the resulting list language-specific semantic associations, e.g. home - house and house - home the most frequent on EAT as well as all non-semantic associations, e.g. home - office or house - Jack. Each resulting list consists of words, each of which is semantically related to a stimulus word. In other words, the comparison of the human association list will automatically extract a sub-list of semantic associations.

 
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