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Proceedings of the Fourth Italian Conference on Computational Linguistics CLiC-it 2017

Roberto Basili
Malvina Nissim
Giorgio Satta

PARAD-it: Eliciting Italian Paradigmatic Relations with Crowdsourcing

Irene Sucameli et Alessandro Lenci


In this paper, we present a new dataset of semantically related Italian word pairs. The dataset consists of nouns, adjectives and verbs together with their synonyms, antonyms and hypernyms. The data have been collected with crowdsourcing from a pool of Italian native speakers. The dataset, the first of its kind, is useful not only to evaluate computational models of Italian semantic relations, but also for linguistic and psycholinguistic investigations of the mental lexicon.

Texte intégral

1 Introduction

1The present project aims at providing new data about the internal organization of the Italian lexicon. For this purpose, we present PARAD-it1 a paradigmatic relation dataset elicited from Italian native speakers with crowdsourcing. This dataset consists of a set of target words selected from the Italian section of MultiWordNet paired with relata belonging to different kinds of paradigmatic semantic relations. The data have been collected using the same method adopted by Scheible and Schulte im Walde (2014) for German and by Benotto (2015) for English, thereby making the three datasets fully comparable for crosslingual analyses. PARAD-it is a collection of hypernyms, antonyms, and synonyms for a set of Italian nouns, adjectives and verbs.

2 Related Works

2Our contribution is just the latest in a series of recent works aimed at eliciting judgments about semantic relations, to develop testsets for computational models. Besides Scheible and Schulte im Walde (2014) and Benotto (2015), we can mention BLESS, realized by Baroni and Lenci (Baroni and Lenci, 2011). Bless is a dataset created for the evaluation of distributional semantic models. The BLESS dataset includes 200 English nouns, equally divided into animate and inanimate entities. Each noun is associated to multiple relata belonging to five types of relations: hyperonymy, co-hyponymy, meronymy, attributes and events.

3Another relevant project is EVALution. This dataset combines data extracted from Concept-Net 5.0 (Liu and Singh, 2004) and WordNet 4.0 (Fellbaum, 1998), and then checked by native speakers. The crowdsourcing task consisted in rating the truthfulness of sentences generated from the selected word pairs, according to templates indicative of various semantic relations and to be used as a proxy for the prototypicality of the relations. PARAD-it extends this line of research to Italian for the first time.

3 Collecting PARAD-it

3.1 Target Selection

4The PARAD-it targets were extracted from the Italian section of the MultiWordNet database (Pianta, Bentivogli and Girardi, 2002).

  • 2 The balancing parameters are the same used by Scheible and Schulte im Walde (2014) and by Benotto ( (...)

5The selection of nouns, adjectives and verbs was balanced for:2


  • Frequency - three frequency classes were identified using the itWaC corpus (Baroni et al. 2009): i.) words with frequency from 200 to 2999, ii.) words with frequency from 3,000 to 9,999, and iii.) words with frequency greater than 10,000.

  • Polysemy - three polisemy classes were identified, according to the number of synsets in MultiWordNet: i.) words with one synset, ii.) words with two synsets, iii.) words with three or more synsets.

7Then, 11 targets were randomly sampled for each class, making a total of 99 targets for each PoS.

3.2 Data Elicitation

8Italian native speakers were asked to produce, for each target word, a synonym, an antonym and a hypernym. The data were collected through CrowdFlower,3 a crowdsourcing web-based platform to design various data collection tasks (i.e., sentiment analysis, data categorization, etc.) thanks to the help of external workers which are paid according to the type of task.

Figure 1: Example of CrowdFlower form

Figure 1: Example of CrowdFlower form

9In the present project, we collected data from ten subjects, for each target word, and for each semantic relation. In order to guarantee that the tasks would be completed only by Italian native speakers, the CrowdFlower form also included a test to discriminate Italian words from “pseudo words”. The responses produced by subjects that failed to pass the test were excluded. All the elicited data were then manually normalised: Typing errors were corrected and the words written in lower case and capital letters were mapped onto a single standard form.

3.3 Results

10The number of responses for each PoS and each relation type is shown in Table 1. The lowest number of responses concerns mainly antonyms and then hypernyms. This is due to the fact that antonyms are characterized by a high degree of canonicity (Paradis and Willners 2011, de Weijer et al. 2012). For this very reason, it may be more difficult for a speaker to provide an antonym for a input word since he can rely only on a small group of possible answers.

11Compared to antonyms and hypernyms, synonyms are more easily identified by users. In fact, 2,674 tokens have been provided for this paradigmatic relation. However, if we consider the number of types, instead of the number of tokens, the situation is different. In fact, with 1,528 types, the relation of hypernymy is the one with the highest number of types produced. This result shows that, even if for the users it is simpler to provide a synonym for a given target, words have in general a lower number of distinct synonyms. On the other hand, the users have provided less responses for the hypernyms but more differentiated. This might due to the fact that taxonomies (typical of hypernyms) have different levels of depth (Murphy, 2010). Concerning the target PoS, verbs have elicited the highest number of responses, possibly because of their inherent higher polysemy (Murphy, 2010). These results regarding the identification of verbs and hypernyms by native speakers are in line with those obtained by Scheible and Schulte im Walde for German and with those produced by Benotto for English.

Table 1: Number of total responses

















































Table 2: Ambiguous responses

















































12As an additional level of analysis, we have identified the ambiguous responses (Table 2). When users have provided the same response for different paradigmatic relation, that response has been considered as ambiguous. Here, the highest number of ambiguity has been recorded in relation to the synonymy-hypernymy pair. Actually, this high number of ambiguity was expected and the result seems to be reasonable since it is similar to the one obtained by Scheible and Schulte im Walde for German (with 470 types recorded as ambiguous within the couple synonymy-hypernymy). This result may depend on the fact that in many cases the distinction between synonymy and hypernymy is blurred or not easily identifiable, especially for more abstract items. For instance, the target mattino ('morning') has prompted the word giorno ('day') both as synonym and as hypernym.


14Concerning the different responses provided by subjects (Figure 2), we saw that a) speakers are mostly in agreement referring to the relation of antonymy, consistently with the trend in the parallel English and German data; b) only in few cases more than 7 different responses have been provided for the same input, while c) in most cases between 3 and 5 different responses have been indicated for target.

15This suggests that Italian native speakers do not tend to have one-to-one lexical associations. At the same time, they tend to identify a reduced group of terms that can be used with a certain relation.

Figure 2: Targets for different responses. The Y axis reports the number of targets provided by users while the X axis reports the number of different responses per input

Figure 2: Targets for different responses. The Y axis reports the number of targets provided by users while the X axis reports the number of different responses per input

Figure 3 and Figure 4 show the production of frequency distribution among classes and relations

Figure 3 and Figure 4 show the production of frequency distribution among classes and relations

Figure 3: Distribution of production frequency among classes

Figure 3: Distribution of production frequency among classes

Figure 4: Distribution of production frequency among relations

Figure 4: Distribution of production frequency among relations

16Concerning the distribution among classes, 949 nouns have been produced by users only once. On the other hand, verbs have 879 hapax responses, and adjectives 727. From Figure 4, it is possible to observe that hypernyms have the highest number of hapax. In fact, for this relation there are 1,090 hapax, while synonymy has 812 hapax and antonymy only 643. This result is due to the existence of canonicity relations for antonymy, and to the notorious paucity of true synonyms.

3.4 Distributional Semantic Analysis of the Elicited Data

17A distributional space has been built in order to analyse the synonyms, antonyms and hypernyms produced by subjects. Distributional Semantic Models (DSMs) use corpus co-occurrences to measure the similarity/relatedness between two words: The closer two vectors are in distributional space, the more semantically related the two words are.

18We used DISSECT (DIStributional SEmantic Composition Toolkit) to train a standard countbased DSM on the Repubblica corpus, a corpus made up of newspaper articles with over 300 million tokens. Our targets and contexts include the PARAD-it data plus all the content words in Repubblica with frequency greater than 200. Cooccurrences have been extracted, using a context window of 2 content words to the left and right of each target item. For each PARAD-it relatum, we measured its cosine with the target word, using PPMI (Positive Pointwise Mutual Information) as weighting scheme, and truncated SVD (Singular Value Decomposition) to 300 latent dimensions. Figure 5 and Figure 6 report the boxplot summarizing the cosine distribution by semantic relation and by PoS.

19The analysis shows that there are no significant differences in the cosine median neither between different types of relations nor between different grammatical classes. As shown in Figure 5, the highest cosine values have been recorded for antonyms (over 0.90). This is due to the fact that this type of relation is characterized by a high rate of canonicity. On the other side, hypernyms show the greatest median values (0.76).

20Concerning the distribution of relata cosine by PoS, nouns have the highest cosine values, while adjectives and verbs show a more reduced variability. These results are coherent with the production data. Indeed, as we saw above, high frequency values were recorded both for nouns and hypernyms while speakers’ production show a greater homogeneity in responses for the relation of antonymy.

Figure 5: Distribution of relata cosines by relations

Figure 5: Distribution of relata cosines by relations

Figure 6: Distribution of relata cosines by target PoS

Figure 6: Distribution of relata cosines by target PoS

3 Conclusion

21This project presents PARAD-it, a new collection composed by pairs of Italian nouns, verbs and adjectives related by different types of paradigmatic relations, elicited by native speakers with crowdsourcing. Starting from this new resource, a quantitative analysis was carried out to analyze the mechanisms underlying the Italian language. In particular, the analysis has shown that: i) high frequency values tend to be recorded for nouns and hypernyms while ii) Italian speakers tend to use a more uniform vocabulary to describe the relation of antonymy. This analysis has revelead some interesting differences in the response distribution both with respect to the PoS of the target, and with respect to the semantic relation. Moreover, this study confirms the differential salience of the various paradigmatic relations in organizing the mental lexicon.

22To the best of our knowledge, PARAD-it is the first, freely available resource of this kind for Italian, paving the way for its use as a test set for computational models of semantic relation identification and classification. For future research, we plan to realize and additional round of crowdsourcing in order to validate the words previously produced, checking also if there is an overlap between these words and the targets from MultiWordNet. Moreover, we plan to carry out a crosslingual comparison with the similar datasets collected for German and for English.


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1 PARAD-it is freely distributed and it will be available for download from:

2 The balancing parameters are the same used by Scheible and Schulte im Walde (2014) and by Benotto (2015).


Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1: Example of CrowdFlower form
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Titre Figure 3 and Figure 4 show the production of frequency distribution among classes and relations
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Titre Figure 3: Distribution of production frequency among classes
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Titre Figure 4: Distribution of production frequency among relations
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Titre Figure 5: Distribution of relata cosines by relations
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Titre Figure 6: Distribution of relata cosines by target PoS
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