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Objectivity of subjectivity


For some months I study the discourse of attitude, and sometimes look back to the nice talk of Shilpa Arora and Mahesh Joshi. In the beginning of this work they consider a comment subjective if it cannot be objectively verified. Such definition seems to be quite reasonable if you are using some arbitrary judgement what can be objectively verified and what cannot. However, arbitrary judgement is subjective.

There is a long tradition in opinion mining to make some arbitrary classifications of the words or expressions. For example, many researchers consider opinions as subjective, and  the statements about facts as objective. Many use external standard dictionary to classify expressions as positive or negative, WordNet to identify semantic similarity etc. It’s no wonder that so many studies suffer problems of identifying ironic expressions, sarcasm etc.

In my studies on expressing attitudes the discourse is taken as is, without arbitrary classification. Instead, I examine in which contexts the expressions appear. And result (for Polish language) is different. In the rough picture expressions of attitude seem to fall into two categories: “at the point” statements, and private, even intimate statements. There is a sharp distinction between these two kinds of expressions, clearly visible in the matrices of context relatedness of the expressions.

  1. T.R. Fitz-Gibbon
    2009/07/24 at 23:06

    Very interesting. Could you please discuss what you mean by “at the point” statements and private statements?

  2. Andrzej Góralczyk
    2009/07/25 at 20:38

    I found some expressions semantically related to the self, pointing to external subjects at the same time, and free of emotion. Those expressions I call “at the point statements”.

    Some examples: “I use… “, “I am making use of…”, “I have got…”.

    It is interesting that they share very few contexts with evaluating expressions (fine, modern, safe,..), albeit quite often share contexts with general advice like “I recommend it” or – by nearly 30% more often – “I don’t recommend it”; “I suggest you check it first” etc., but also “It is useful”.

    Generally, they act as almost purely “objective” statements, giving dispassionate account of something.

    Sociologists say Polish people are – in general – very distrustful. Probably this is the reason why many affirmative expressions are used rather by official bodies (marketers, politicians, PRs etc.), not by individuals. Individuals rarely express affirmation directly and definitely.

    Above is connected to relatively sharp distinction of “they” and “we, I”. The official sphere is often opposite to the private sphere. So, the personal expressions (often indirectly emotive) appear in the general context of private (or even intimate) speech. Actually, I found 2 separate “modes” of private speech. The first is quite diverse and the expressions are not very definite, like “I would like to” (do, mention about,..), “I need”, “I’m short of…”. The second seems to be used in opposite situation, when the matter is to stress the individual point of view. “I am right” “You are right”, “sure” etc.

    I am on the go with my research, and new results are coming almost every day.

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