Chapter 15. A computational exploration of creative similes

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The syntactic form of explicit as-similes provides a ready-made infrastructure for linguistic creativity that writers and speakers can exploit with remarkable freedom. This chapter adopts a computational approach to similes, asking: what kinds of knowledge must a computational agent possess so as to recognize the ironic intent of a humorous comparison and to what degree is this intent telegraphed to the audience by the use of specific markers or support structures? Using automated means to collect two very large corpora of similes, one that favours the conventional and one that favours the creative use of similes, the chapter describes the characteristics of similes used with ironic intent and the role played by ‘about’ as a scaffolding structure for creative similes.


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