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ACM Transactions on Speech and Language Processing Special Issue on

Multiword Expressions: from Theory to Practice and Use

Submission deadline EXTENDED:
May 15, 2012
June 12, 2012

Last updated: Aug 12, 2012


The special issue was published in two volumes and can be accessed at the ACM Digital Library:

Call for Papers

Are you submitting an article? Check the Frequently Asked Questions page

Multiword expressions (MWEs) range over linguistic constructions like idioms (a frog in the throat, kill some time), fixed phrases (per se, by and large, rock'n roll), noun compounds (traffic light, cable car), compound verbs (draw a conclusion, go by [a name]), etc. While easily mastered by native speakers, their interpretation poses a major challenge for computational systems, due to their flexible and heterogeneous nature. Surprisingly enough, MWEs are not nearly as frequent in NLP resources (dictionaries, grammars) as they are in real-word text, where they have been reported to account for half of the entries in the lexicon of a speaker and over 70% of the terms in a domain. Thus, MWEs are a key issue and a current weakness for tasks like natural language parsing and generation, as well as real-life applications such as machine translation.

In spite of several proposals for MWE representation ranging along the continuum from words-with-spaces to compositional approaches connecting lexicon and grammar, to date, it remains unclear how MWEs should be represented in electronic dictionaries, thesauri and grammars. New methodologies that take into account the type of MWE and its properties are needed for efficiently handling manually and/or automatically acquired expressions in NLP systems. Moreover, we also need strategies to represent deep attributes and semantic properties for these multiword entries. While there is no unique definition or classification of MWEs, most researchers agree on some major classes such as named entities, collocations, multiword terminology and verbal expressions. These, though, are very heterogeneous in terms of syntactic and semantic properties, and should thus be treated differently by applications. Type-dependent analyses could shed some light on the best methodologies to integrate MWE knowledge in our analysis and generation systems.

Evaluation is also a crucial aspect for MWE research. Various evaluation techniques have been proposed, from manual inspection of top-n candidates to classic precision/recall measures. The use of tools and datasets freely available on the MWE community website is encouraged when evaluating MWE treatment. However, application-oriented techniques are needed to give a clear indication of whether the acquired MWEs are really useful. Research on the impact of MWE handling in applications such as parsing, generation, information extraction, machine translation, summarization can help to answer these questions.

We call for papers that present research on theoretical and practical aspects of the computational treatment of MWEs, specifically focusing on MWEs in applications such as machine translation, information retrieval and question answering. We also strongly encourage submissions on processing MWEs in the language of social media and micro-blogs. The focus of the special issue, thus, includes, but is not limited to the following topics:

Submission Procedure

Authors should follow the ACM TSLP manuscript preparation guidelines described on the journal web site and submit an electronic copy of their complete manuscript through the journal manuscript submission site. Authors are required to specify that their submission is intended for this special issue by setting the submission type to "Special Issue on Multiword Expressions" on the first step of submission via the online system. Additionally, we recommend the inclusion of the note "Submitted for the special issue on Multiword Expressions" on the first page of the manuscript and in the field "Author's Cover Letter".


Submission deadline: EXTENDED May, 15, 2012 -> June 12, 2012 SUBMISSIONS CLOSED
Notification of acceptance September, 15, 2012 -> October 13, 2012-> October 20, 2012 NOTIFICATIONS SENT
Revised manuscript due November, 30, 2012 -> November 16, 2012 (minor revision), November 30 (major revision)

Program Committee

Guest Editors


For any inquiries regarding the special issue, please send an email to mweguesteditor at