Categorisation of Actions by Analogy: From the Analysis of Metaphoric Utterances to a Computational Model

Karine Duvignau, Olivier Gasquet, Bruno Gaume, and Marie-Dominique Gineste

If work in psychology has clearly brought to light the existence of conceptual flexibility in the categorisation of objects, which led to a re-questioning of the traditional conception of categorisation which considers rigid and discontinuous categories, it is not the case in linguistics and psycholinguistics. We propose, through a highlighting of the role of analogy in the categorisation of verbs, to defend the idea of semantic flexibility which constitutes a linguistic counterpart to psychologists’ advances on categorisation. Accordingly, we show that the production of metaphoric verbal utterances by adults and particularly by 2/3 year old children, reflects the existence of an analogical categorisation of verbs which makes it possible to argue in favour of a computational model of the role of analogy in the semantic network of the verb lexicon.

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