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Title: Modeling the influence of verb aspect on the activation of typical event locations with BERT
Authors: Cho, WI
Chersoni, E 
Hsu, YY 
Huang, CR 
Issue Date: 2021
Source: In Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021, August 1 - 6, 2021, p. 2922-2929. Stroudsburg, PA: Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), 2021
Abstract: Prior studies on event knowledge in sentence comprehension have shown that the aspect of the main verb plays an important role in the processing of non-core semantic roles, such as locations: when the aspect of the main verb is imperfective, locations become more salient in the mental representation of the event and are easier for human comprehenders to process.
In our study, we tested the popular language model BERT on two datasets derived from experimental studies to determine whether BERT’s predictions of prototypical event locations were also influenced by aspect. We found that, although BERT efficiently modelled the typicality of locations, it did so independently of the verb aspect. Even when the transformer was forced to focus on the verb phrase by masking the context words in the sentence, the typicality predictions were still accurate; in addition, we found aspect to have a stronger influence on the scores, with locations in the imperfective setting being associated with lower surprisal values.
Publisher: Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL)
ISBN: 978-1-954085-54-1
DOI: 10.18653/v1/2021.findings-acl.258
Rights: ©2021 Association for Computational Linguistics
ACL materials are Copyright © 1963–2021 ACL; other materials are copyrighted by their respective copyright holders. Materials prior to 2016 here are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License. Permission is granted to make copies for the purposes of teaching and research. Materials published in or after 2016 are licensed on a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (
The following publication TH Cho, W. I., Chersoni, E., Hsu, Y. Y., & Huang, C. R. (2021, August). Modeling the Influence of Verb Aspect on the Activation of Typical Event Locations with BERT. In Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021 (pp. 2922-2929) is available at
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