Metaphor detection: Leveraging culturally grounded eventive information

I. Hsuan Chen, Yunfei Long, Qin Lu, Chu Ren Huang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Metaphors are compact packages of information with rich cultural background information. As one of the most powerful linguistic forms with non-literal meaning, metaphor detection in natural language processing can be both challenging and rewarding. We propose an innovative method for metaphor detection and classification leveraging culturally grounded eventive information. This culturally grounded information is organized based on ontological structure, which in turn facilitates further semantic processing of the result of our classification. As a culturally bound ontological system, the Chinese writing system has basic concepts organized according to semantic radicals, which are symbols containing rich eventive information that represent categorical concepts. This paper illustrates the basic design principles of applying ontological structures in metaphor detection by taking into account radicals representing body parts, instruments, materials, and movements. Our approach to leverage the eventive information of the Chinese writing system in metaphor detection is based on the fact that such information is available as an integral part of the writing system of any text. We hypothesize that eventive information can be accessed through the 'embodied' source domain information represented by the radicals without syntactic processing or annotation. In terms of the theory of metaphor, we further hypothesize that eventive types in the embodied source domain maps to, and hence can help to predict, eventive meaning in the target domain of metaphor. Our studies show that the event information encoded in lexical items can facilitate classification of metaphoric events and identification of metaphors in Chinese texts effectively. We achieved improvements in Chinese metaphor detection over state-of-the-art approaches in our first classification experiment, and our proposed approach is shown to be generalizable in a second experiment involving new sets of characters with the same radicals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8610071
Pages (from-to)10987-10998
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Access
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Chinese radicals
  • eventive information
  • Metaphor detection
  • ontology
  • writing system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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