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The Creative Language System Group

Research Mission

  • The Creative Language Systems group is dedicated to Computational Creativity, placing a specific emphasis on the computational exploration of language and its creative potential, from lexical phenomena such as Metaphor, Analogy, Metonymy, Polysemy, to complex social phenomena such as Humour 
  • As such, we build models of creative language use, and attempt to construct applications from these models. 
  • We are also striving to develop generalized models of creative linguistic behaviour. 
  • The resources that drive our research are the lexical ontologies WordNet and HowNet and the open-source encyclopaedia Wikipedia
  • Read or listen Tony Veale’s discussion of humour and metaphor on the radio show - PhilosophyTalk. 
  • Publications

    • Veale, T. (2013).

      Veale, T. (2013). A Service-Oriented Architecture for Computational Creativity. Journal of Computing Science and Engineering, 7(3):159-167 [pdf]

    • Veale, T. (2013).

      Veale, T. (2013). Strategies and tactics for ironic subversion. In: Dynel, M. (Ed.), Developments in Linguistic Humour Theory. John Benjamins publishing company. [pdf]

    • Veale, T. (2013).

      Veale, T. (2013). Humorous Similes. HUMOR: The International Journal of Humor Research, 21(1):3-22. [pdf]

    • Veale, T. (2013).

      The Agile Cliché: Using Flexible Stereotypes as Building Blocks in the Construction of an Affective Lexicon. In: Oltramari, A., Vossen, P., Qin, L. & Hovy, E (eds). New Trends of Research in Ontologies and Lexical Resources. Berlin: Springer: Theory and Applications of Natural Language Processing.[pdf]

    • Veale, T. (2012).

      Exploding the Creativity Myth: The Computational Foundations of Linguistic Creativity. London: Bloomsbury Academic. [sample chapter]

    • Veale, T. (2012).

      Detecting and Generating Ironic Comparisons: An Application of Creative Information Retrieval. AAAI Fall Symposium Series 2012, Artificial Intelligence of Humor. Arlington, Virginia. [pdf]

    • Veale, T. (2012).

      A Context-sensitive, Multi-faceted model of Lexico-Conceptual Affect. In Proc. of ACL’2012, the 50th Annual Conference of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Jeju, South Korea. [pdf]

    • Veale, T. and Li, G. (2012).

      Specifying Viewpoint and Information Need with Affective Metaphors: A System Demonstration of Metaphor Magnet. In Proc. of ACL’2012, the 50th Annual Conference of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Jeju, South Korea. [pdf]

    • Veale, T. (2012).

      Seeing the Best and Worst of Everything on the Web with a Two-level, Feature-rich Affect Lexicon. In Proc. of WWW’2012, the 21st World-Wide-Web conference, Lyon, France. [pdf]

    • Veale, T. and Hao, Y. (2012).

      In the Mood for Affective Search. In Proc. of WWW’2012, the 21st World-Wide-Web conference, Lyon, France. [pdf]

      More Publications

    Current Projects

    Metaphor Magnet

    Metaphor Magnet is an online software application that allows you to explore the space of affective conceptual metaphors. The Metaphor Magnet application can also be used as a service by other NLP applications, returning XML documents to the client. Details of this XML functionality are provided at the end of this page.

    Thesaurus Rex

    Thesaurus Rex organizes words according to the fine-grained ad-hoc categories they are placed into by speakers in everyday language. But Thesaurus Rex is more than a distributional thesaurus.  Enter a word and you can see the many different categories it is placed into, but enter an ad-hoc category of your own design, such as mythical monster or bland food, and see which concepts can be recruited for your category.

    Metaphor Eyes

    Metaphor is a fundamentally knowledge-hungry phenomenon. We need to possess knowledge about a topic (that which is described in a metaphor) and a vehicle (that which does the describing) before we can meaningfully describe one in terms of the other. Where does a computer acquire this conventional knowledge? From conventional language, which is abundant on the World Wide Web.

    Idiom Savant

    You can find a colorful description for almost anything in the texts of the world-wide-web. Of course, you can also find a great deal of nonsense and irrelevance too.Idiom Savant is a linguistic magnet for finding the sharpest needles in the haystacks of the internet. Enter a term of interest, such as priest or politician or critic or movie and Idiom Savant will show you two lists of resonant descriptions, divided acording to the perceived affect of the words employed: one list for positive descriptions, and another for negative descriptions. A sensible measure of pragmatic comparability (not just semantic similarity) is used to find the most comparable terms for your input, and to show you the positive and negative descriptions pertaining to those other terms also. For instance, enter the term critic and you will find apt descriptions for judge and monster also.

    Jigsaw Bard

    The Jigsaw Bard is an online application that allows you to find resonant phrases for a large range of simple properties, like quiet, or for an even larger range of complex blended properties, like quiet and calm. The Bard has already scoured vast amounts of web text to identify phrases that have a resonant quality, and has automatically indexed these phrases on the properties they most poetically suggest. Most phrases are found art in this respect -- they are well-formed fragments of English that the Bard thinks have both a poetic quality and a useful communicative function. But some phrases (shown in blue) have been directly composed by the Bard itself. Have a look and see what you think of the Bard’s compositional abilities.

    The Lex-Ecologist

    Ecologists study the natural environment of plants and animals. Our plants and animals are words and concepts, and our environments are large text corpora. The Lex-Ecologist allows you to explore the rich textual environment for words provided by the text of the on-line encyclopaedia Wikipedia. Observe the behaviour of concepts in this environment: observe what they do, what is done to them, what they act upon, and how they congregrate into groups.

    Dorian: Analogical Portraiture

    Dorian is a knowledge-base that explores this multiplicity of categorization when dealing with proper-named entities. Dorian’s knowledge-base of proper-named entities is harvested from the Google n-grams, and associates entities with the categories that speakers most commonly attribute to them. Dorian’s knowledge-base is supplemented by the category-system in Wikipedia, which adopts a less subjective, curated approach to categorization.

    Aristotle: An Interactive Metaphor Finder

    Let Aristotle help you find appropriate metaphors to describe a given person or thing. Simply enter the target for your metaphor (called the tenor in metaphor research), choose a property you would like to accentuate, and Aristotle will select a range of possible vehicles to carry this meaning. Click on any of these vehicles to understand the full import of the metaphor you are about to use.


    Sardonicus is a simile-finder that knows the exemplary properties of different objects in the real world. It has acquired this knowledge by sifting the contents of the web in search of meaningful comparisons. It knows that ninjas are stealthy and that bowling balls are heavy and smooth enough to be called bald. It also has a healthy sense of irony, so it knows that roller-coasters are not exactly a model of consistency, and that turtles are not generally prized for their speed. The similes in Sardonicus are divided into straight-faced "factual" similes and tongue-in-cheek "ironic" similes, and are organized hierarchically using a taxonomy of adjectives.  Try it now, it might put an ironic smile on your face.

    Mondrian: Mapping of Names, Descriptions and Roles in Analogy

    Mondrian is a knowledge-base of commonplace associations that have been mined from the Google n-grams database of frequent web-content.

    Mondrian views the world as a collection of triples, of the form Subject-Relation-Object.

    You can query Mondrian to see what triples have a given Subject, Relation or Object (or any combination of these).

    For instance, put Rabbi in the Subject field and Mondrian will give you all its triples in which Rabbi is the subject.

    When you click on a relation, Mondrian shows you analogies for this relation. Mondrian uses the squaring rule to detect analogies: S1-R-O1 is analogical to S2-R-O2 if Mondrian thinks that S1-like-S2 and O1-like-O2. Hence, Mondrian builds squaring relations between parallel triples.

    Click on a column of the relations table to see the table re-sorted with that column as a key.

    Mondrian will also show you the common compounds that a subject engages in.

    Click here to see Mondrian in action.

    Prototype Games

    The Way of Knowledge

    A levels-based grid game in which you must use your world knowledge to safely navigate each level to the next progression point. Avoid falling into pits of ignorance when you fail to answer questions correctly. The topology of the game as well as each question/puzzle is computer generated using WordNet.

    Play a demo version of this game


    Another levels-based grid game, in which you must use your world knowledge to find a path between different start/endpoints in Wikipedia (e.g., from Zeus to Haircream). Each level has successively longer paths for you to navigate, but hints are liberally sprinkled around each level.

    Play a demo version of this game


    This is a game that exploits a player’s knowledge of compound terms in a language. One must blaze a trail through a matrix of words, from the top row to the bottom, forming a chain composed of two-word compound terms. That is, each successive pair of words in the chain must comprise an established two-word phrase, like "queen mother" or "mother goose" (as in the chain "queen mother goose").

    Play a demo version of this game