4th International Workshop on Computational Approaches to Historical Language Change 2023 (LChange'23)


LChange'23 is the fourth workshop for computational approaches to historical language change with the focus on digital text corpora. Come join us for this exciting adventure!

Dec 6, 2023 10:00 AM — 6:00 PM
4th International Workshop on Computational Approaches to Historical Language Change 2023 (LChange'23)

The workshop builds upon its first iteration in 2019, and the subsequent events (2021, 2022). It will be colocated with EMNLP 2023 in Singapore, as a hybrid event. The workshop will take place on Wednesday 6 December 2023.

KEYNOTE 1, Moderator: Andrey Kutuzov
9.30-10.30Neural language models for word usage representation and analysisMario Giulianelli
10.30-11.00Coffee Break
SESSION 1 Chair: Pierluigi Cassotti
11.00-11.20EvoSem: A database of polysemous cognate setsMathieu Dehouck, Alex François, Siva Kalyan, Martial Pastor, David Kletz
11.20-11.40Semantic Shifts in Mental Health-Related ConceptsNaomi Baes, Nick Haslam, Ekaterina Vylomova
11.40-12.00Scent and Sensibility: Perception Shifts in the Olfactory DomainTeresa Paccosi, Stefano Menini, Elisa Leonardelli, Ilaria Barzon, Sara Tonelli
12.00-13.30Lunch Break
KEYNOTE 2, Moderator: Syrielle Montariol
13.30-14.30What does semantic change have to do with Hello Kitty? Referring as the source of changeGemma Boleda
SESSION 2 Chair: Bill Noble
14.30-14.50Political dogwhistles and community divergence in semantic changeMax Boholm, Asad B. Sayeed
14.50-15.10Automating Sound Change Prediction for Phylogenetic Inference: A Tukanoan Case StudyKalvin Chang, Nathaniel Romney Robinson, Anna Cai, Ting Chen, Annie Zhang, David R Mortensen
15.10-15.30Domain-Adapting BERT for Attributing Manuscript, Century and Region in Pre-Modern Slavic TextsPiroska Lendvai, Anna Jouravel, Elena Renje
15.30-16.30POSTER SESSIONSee list below
SESSION 3 Chair: Andrey Kutuzov
16.30-16.50Representing and Computing Uncertainty in Phonological ReconstructionJohann-Mattis List, Nathan Hill, Robert Forkel, Frederic Blum
16.50-17.10Anchors in Embedding Space: A Simple Concept Tracking Approach to Support Conceptual History ResearchJetske Adams, Martha Larson, Jaap Verheul, Michael Boyden
17.10-17.30GHisBERT – Training BERT from scratch for lexical semantic investigations across historical German language stagesChristin Beck, Marisa Köllner
17.30-17.45Closing Remarks

Poster presentations:

  • ChiWUG: A Graph-based Evaluation Dataset for Chinese Lexical Semantic Change Detection -- Chu-Ren Huang, Dominik Schlechtweg, Emmanuele Chersoni, Jing CHEN, Jelena Prokic
  • Changing usage of Low Saxon auxiliary and modal verbs -- Janine Siewert, Martijn Wieling, Yves Scherrer
  • Towards Detecting Lexical Change of Hate Speech in Historical Data -- Sanne Hoeken, Sophie Jasmin Spliethoff, Silke Schwandt, Sina Zarrieß, Özge Alacam
  • From Diachronic to Contextual Lexical Semantic Change: Introducing Semantic Difference Keywords (SDKs) for Discourse Studies -- Isabelle Gribomont
  • Multi-lect automatic detection of Swadesh list items from raw corpus data in East Slavic languages -- Ilia Afanasev
  • Literary Intertextual Semantic Change Detection: Application and Motivation for Evaluating Models on Small Corpora -- Jackson Ehrenworth, Katherine A. Keith
  • A longitudinal study about gradual changes in the Iranian Online Public Sphere pre and post of ‘Mahsa Moment’: Focusing on Twitter -- Sadegh Jafari, Amin Fathi, Abolfazl Hajizadegan, Amirmohammad Kazemeini, Sauleh Eetemadi
  • Graph-based Clustering for Detecting Semantic Change Across Time and Languages -- Xianghe Ma, Michael Strube, Wei Zhao
  • Swap and Predict - Predicting the Semantic Changes in Words across Corpora by Context Swapping -- Taichi Aida, Danushka Bollegala
  • A Word Sense Distribution-based approach for Semantic Change Prediction -- Xiaohang Tang, Yi Zhou, Taichi Aida, Procheta Sen, Danushka Bollegala
  • Time-Aware Language Modeling for Historical Text Dating -- Han Ren, Hai Wang, Yajie Zhao, Yafeng Ren
  • Efficient Continue Training of Temporal Language Model with Structural Information -- Zhaochen Su, Juntao Li, Zikang Zhang, Zihan Zhou, Min Zhang
  • Dialect-to-Standard Normalization: A Large-Scale Multilingual Evaluation -- Olli Kuparinen, Aleksandra Miletić, Yves Scherrer

Keynote Talks

This year we are happy to welcome Gemma Boleda and Mario Giulianelli as keynote speakers.

Gemma Boleda (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

Title of talk: What does semantic change have to do with Hello Kitty? Referring as the source of change

It has long been noted that lexical semantic change is rooted in specific utterances, specific reference acts: for instance, in Old English “deor” (“deer”) meant “wild animal”, and it acquired its current meaning “probably via hunting, deer being the favorite animal of the chase”. However, traditional historical linguistics lacked the tools to explore the process from reference to semantic change on a large scale. Current methods in computational linguistics, as well as the increasing availability of large-scale linguistic resources, afford precisely that. In this talk, I will present work that links reference to change by examining different phenomena (production of referring expressions, regular polysemy) at different timescales (language development, synchronic use, language evolution), using quantitative and computational methods.

Mario Giulianelli (University of Amsterdam)

Title of talk: Neural language models for word usage representation and analysis

Neural language models are powerful tools for language scientists interested in studying language users’ interpretation of words and the evolution of word usage over time. Drawing from a series of recent findings, I will argue that contemporary language models (LMs) can infer contextually appropriate interpretations for diverse usages of the same word, akin to how human readers comprehend lexical meaning. Through the integration of artificial attention mechanisms that operate across extended contextual sequences and an extensive phase of cross-situational learning using vast amounts of texts, current LMs serve as highly generalisable engines for lexical interpretation; they offer distinct access to the first-order and second-order co-occurrence statistics of word usage; and they allow for quantitative and interpretable comparisons, synchronically and diachronically. I will discuss methods to engage with LMs for obtaining word representations, including the collection and analysis of neural representations generated during the processing of word usage examples, and the direct input of natural language instructions to induce human-readable word definitions. These approaches hold significant relevance for examining shifts and variations in word usage across the temporal and spatial dimensions.

Important Dates

Deadlines are to be understood as 23:59 AoE.

  • September 1, 2023: Paper submission –> Deadline update: September 8th.
  • October 6, 2023: Notification of acceptance –> update: October 10th.
  • October 18, 2023: Camera-ready papers due –> update: October 20th, STRICT deadline
  • December 6, 2023: Workshop date


We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of iguanodon.ai as gold sponsor.

Registration sponsorship:

Thanks to iguanodon.ai, we are sponsoring the registration fees for the EMNLP conference, including the yearly ACL membership fee, for several students and early-career researchers.

We therefore would like to invite interested candidates to apply by email, by October 15th 23:59 CEST, to syrielle.montariol@gmail.com with the following information:

  • Short CV
  • 500-word abstract about current research
  • Whether it would be your first xACL event
  • Whether you have an accepted paper at EMNLP 2023 (including workshops)
  • Confirmation of your “student” status if you are one
We particularly encourage sponsorship applications from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups in the NLP community.

Workshop Topics

This workshop explores state-of-the-art computational methodologies, theories and digital text resources on exploring the time-varying nature of human language.

The aim of this workshop is three-fold. First, we want to provide pioneering researchers who work on computational methods, evaluation, and large-scale modelling of language change an outlet for disseminating cutting-edge research on topics concerning language change. We want to utilize this workshop as a platform for sharing state-of-the-art research progress in this fundamental domain of natural language research.

Second, in doing so we want to bring together domain experts across disciplines by connecting researchers in historical linguistics with those that develop and test computational methods for detecting semantic change and laws of semantic change; and those that need knowledge (of the occurrence and shape) of language change, for example, in digital humanities and computational social sciences where text mining is applied to diachronic corpora subject to e.g., lexical semantic change.

Third, the detection and modelling of language change using diachronic text and text mining raise fundamental theoretical and methodological challenges for future research.

Besides these goals, this workshop will also support discussion on the evaluation of computational methodologies for uncovering language change. SemEval2020 Task1 on unsupervised detection of lexical semantic change attracted three figure submission numbers and a total of 21 submitted system papers. Since then, three more tasks have been completed in Italian, Russian, and Spanish.

We invite original research papers from a wide range of topics, including but not limited to:

  • Novel methods for detecting diachronic semantic change and lexical replacement
  • Automatic discovery and quantitative evaluation of laws of language change
  • Computational theories and generative models of language change
  • Sense-aware (semantic) change analysis
  • Diachronic word sense disambiguation
  • Novel methods for diachronic analysis of low-resource languages
  • Novel methods for diachronic linguistic data visualization
  • Novel applications and implications of language change detection
  • Quantification of sociocultural influences on language change
  • Cross-linguistic, phylogenetic, and developmental approaches to language change
  • Novel datasets for cross-linguistic and diachronic analyses of language


URL for submissions: https://openreview.net/group?id=EMNLP/2023/Workshop/LChange.

We accept two types of submissions, long and short papers, following the EMNLP 2023 style (you can also directly use the Overleaf template), and the ACL submission policy.

Long and short papers may consist of up to eight (8) and four (4) pages of content, respectively, plus unlimited references; final versions will be given one additional page of content so that reviewers' comments can be taken into account.

LChange’23 also welcomes papers focusing on releasing a dataset or a model; these papers fall into the short paper category. To encourage model and dataset sharing at the reviewing phase, model and dataset papers do not need to be anonymous.

Accepted papers will be presented orally or as posters and included in the workshop proceedings. Submissions are open to all, and are to be submitted anonymously. All papers will be refereed through a double-blind peer review process by at least three reviewers with final acceptance decisions made by the workshop organizers.


Contact us if you have any questions.

If you have published in the field previously, and are inrerested in helping out in the PC to review papers, send us an email.

Organisers: Nina Tahmasebi, Syrielle Montariol, Haim Dubossarsky, Andrey Kutuzov Simon Hengchen, David Alfter, Francesco Periti , and Pierluigi Cassotti.

Anti-Harassment Policy

Our workshop highly values the open exchange of ideas, the freedom of thought and expression, and respectful scientific debate. We support and uphold the ACL Anti-Harassment policy, and any workshop participant should feel free to contact any of the workshop organisers or ACL (acl@aclweb.org), in case of any issues.


  • Simon Hengchen, Nina Tahmasebi, Dominik Schlechtweg, Haim Dubossarsky. Challenges for Computational Lexical Semantic Change. Nina Tahmasebi, Lars Borin, Adam Jatowt, Yang Xu, Simon Hengchen (eds). Computational Approaches to Semantic Change. Berlin: Language Science Press.
  • Nina Tahmasebi, Adam Jatowt, Lars Borin. Survey of Computational Approaches to Lexical Semantic Change Detection. Nina Tahmasebi, Lars Borin, Adam Jatowt, Yang Xu, Simon Hengchen (eds). Computational Approaches to Semantic Change. Berlin: Language Science Press.
  • Baayen, R. Harald. 2001. Word Frequency Distributions. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Koplenig, Alexander. 2015. The Impact of Lacking Metadata for the Measurement of Cultural and Linguistic Change Using the Google Ngram Data Sets—Reconstructing the Composition of the German Corpus in Times of WWII. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities fqv037. https://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqv037.
  • Koplenig, Alexander, Sascha Wolfer & Carolin Müller-Spitzer. 2019. Studying Lexical Dynamics and Language Change via Generalized Entropies: The Problem of Sample Size. Entropy 21(5). https://doi.org/10.3390/e21050464. http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/21/5/464.
  • Andrey Kutuzov, Lilja Øvrelid, Terrence Szymanski, and Erik Velldal. 2018. Diachronic word embeddings and semantic shifts: a survey. In Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computational Linguistics, pages 1384–1397, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Association for Computational Linguistics.
  • Labov, William. 1994. Principles of linguistic change (Language in Society 20). Oxford, UK ; Cambridge [Mass.]: Blackwell.
  • Michel, Jean-Baptiste, Yuan Kui Shen, Aviva Presser Aiden, Adrian Verses, Matthew K. Gray, The Google Books Team, Joseph P. Pickett, et al. 2010. Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books (Supporting Online Material II). Science 331(14). http://www.sciencemag.org/content/331/6014/176/suppl/DC1 (5 March, 2014).
  • S. Montanelli, F. Periti, A Survey on Contextualised Semantic Shift Detection. (2023) arXiv:2304.01666.
  • Pechenick, Eitan Adam, Christopher M. Danforth & Peter Sheridan Dodds. 2015. Characterizing the Google Books Corpus: Strong Limits to Inferences of Socio-Cultural and Linguistic Evolution. (Ed.) Alain Barrat. PLOS ONE 10(10). e0137041. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0137041.
  • Szmrecsanyi, Benedikt. 2016. About text frequencies in historical linguistics: Disentangling environmental and grammatical change. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory 12(1). 153–171. https://doi.org/10.1515/cllt-2015-0068.