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A World of Difference: Divergent Word Interpretations among People

Tianran Hu, Ruihua Song, Maya Abtahian, Philip Ding, Xing Xie, Jiebo Luo

Divergent word usages reflect differences among people. In this paper, we present a novel angle for studying word usage divergence -- word interpretations. We propose an approach that quantifies semantic differences in interpretations among different groups of people. The effectiveness of our approach is validated by quantitative evaluations. Experiment results indicate that divergences in word interpretations exist. We further apply the approach to two well studied types of differences between people -- gender and region. The detected words with divergent interpretations reveal the unique features of specific groups of people. For gender, we discover that certain different interests, social attitudes, and characters between males and females are reflected in their divergent interpretations of many words. For region, we find that specific interpretations of certain words reveal the geographical and cultural features of different regions.

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