Selectional preferences have been used by word sense disambiguation (WSD) systems as one source of disambiguating information. We evaluate WSD using selectional preferences acquired for English adjective—noun, subject, and direct object grammatical relationships with respect to a standard test corpus. The selectional preferences are specific to verb or adjective classes, rather than individual word forms, so they can be used to disambiguate the co-occurring adjectives and verbs, rather than just the nominal argument heads. We also investigate use of the one-senseper-discourse heuristic to propagate a sense tag for a word to other occurrences of the same word within the current document in order to increase coverage. Although the preferences perform well in comparison with other unsupervised WSD systems on the same corpus, the results show that for many applications, further knowledge sources would be required to achieve an adequate level of accuracy and coverage. In addition to quantifying performance, we analyze the results to investigate the situations in which the selectional preferences achieve the best precision and in which the one-sense-per-discourse heuristic increases performance.

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