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Title: How do blind people know that blue is cold? Distributional semantics encode color-adjective associations
Certain colors are strongly associated with certain adjectives (e.g. red is hot, blue is cold). Some of these associations are grounded in visual experiences like seeing hot embers glow red. Surprisingly, many congenitally blind people show similar color associations, despite lacking all visual experience of color. Presumably, they learn these associations via language. Can we detect these associations in the statistics of language? And if so, what form do they take? We apply a projection method to word embeddings trained on corpora of spoken and written text to identify color-adjective associations as they are represented in language. We show that these projections are predictive of color-adjective ratings collected from blind and sighted people, and that the effect size depends on the training corpus. Finally, we examine how color-adjective associations might be represented in language by training word embeddings on corpora from which various sources of color-semantic information are removed.
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Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
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National Science Foundation
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