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Are we Waves or are we Particles? A New Insight into Deep
Semantics in Natural Language Processing
Svetlana MACHOVA
Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Department of Computer Science and Engineering

University of West Bohemia

University of West Bohemia

Czech Republic

Czech Republic



This paper brings conceptually new, empirically based
scientific approach to a deeper understanding of human
mind cognition, language acquisition, modularity of
language and language origin itself. The research presented
provides an interactive multilingual associative experiment
as an attempt to map the Cognitive Semantic Space:
(CSSES) and its basic frames of the Essential Self in the
Czech language, collects and compares it to the CSSES of
conceptual language view in Czech, Russian, English and
potentially in other languages. We attempt to merge
cognitive metaphor theory with psycholinguistics and
methodology on the Essential Self metaphors. The research
has two main goals: the first is to build an Essential Self
multilingual WordNet, which serves as the basic lexical
resource for Artificial Intelligence describes the core of the
human nature. The second is to create a multilingual 3D
semantic network.

Essential Self; NLP; Associative experiment; AI; Cognitive
science; Language origin.




Language is one of the universal cognitive tools of
our mind, a communication device reflecting our visible
and inner life. We use it to describe not only objects we
see in the world, but also imperceptible being. According
to M Heidegger’s works, language is more likely an
independent entity measuring dimension of Being, rather
than a physically settled device. One of the important
questions arises from this fact - why and how the
language is able to describe Essential or Inner events we
cannot physically see? What is the origin of those words,
how have those words occurred in our language and,
more strikingly, how have we learned to be able to name
invisible events with the right words.

978-1-4244-6899-7/10/$26.00 ©2010 IEEE

The semantic aspect of a word – its real meaning –
is becoming one of the most fascinating issues in
contemporary computational linguistics and artificial
intelligence science. Hidden senses of the cognitive
metaphors are typical examples of words reflecting
hidden truths we never imagined we could have a
glimpse of. This research is an attempt to connect an idea
solving ancient metaphysic problems with current
phenomenological concepts of embodiment and
cognitive linguistics. One of the fundamental
characteristics of the human mind in connection with
language is its hidden cognitive ability.
Current cognitive linguistics theories describe
lexical units used in such expressions as a cognitive
metaphor. Originally, metaphor theory was presented in
Metaphors We Live By [1], where the authors argued
that our mind is unconsciously conceptualized by
metaphoric frames based on empirical sensations. In the
later ground breaking work Philosophy in the Flesh they
devote attention to the conceptualization of Essential
Self, which could be defined as our inner I, Being, or
soul. The examples collected by Yukio Hirose, Professor
of Linguistics at Tsukuba University, Japan, cited in
Lakoff & Johnson [2], demonstrates that the Essential
Self perception is universal, whether it be American,
Japanese or another culture. Japanese has a system of
metaphors for the Self that is so similar to the English
system, “that these metaphors are tapping into some sort
of real human experience” [3].
In this paper, through cognitive metaphor study, we
are attempting to recognize basic cognitive frames and
maintain a semantic network that helps neural modeling,
in which potential artificial intelligence can learn how to
produce Essential Self utterance, rich in emotionally
natural and emphatic content. By adapting human
personality, AI develops its own increasingly natural
range of vocabulary. Our research claims that not only
does AI need to understand deep meanings of human
Self language, but also that it needs to learn of its own
“Self” to enable it to understand the world.


Are we waves or are we particles?

In this section we would like to present our
preliminary theoretical finding about the nature of
human essence and its interactions. The Japanese
cognitive metaphors below notably illustrate that we are
naturally talking about our Selves as an Essence, or as
Descartes would say, - spirits living in the body without
even noticing it
• Kare-wa ki-ga titule-i-ru (Jap.).
• He has his spirits dispersed. (Lit.)
• He is distracted.( Transl. Eng).[3]
.We not only use cognitive metaphor to describe our
Essential states as distracted or concentrated, but the
metonymy used in Indo-European languages, unlike in
Japanese, hides the real meaning of the words. In the
example below we can see that while Japanese uses a
subject - spirits dispersed, Indo-European languages use
just one word metonymy - dispersed. That is why we are
usually not aware about the deep meaning of this
expression. Czech and Russian examples of a Scattered
Self metaphor also suggest that perception of the Inner
Self as a distracted/ concentrated is universal, eg.: Czech
- Je nějaký roztržitý. llit. He is torn to pieces) Ru: On
kakoj–to rassejannyj (See Tab. 1). To say good bye, to
leave - (Czech) roz-loučit se, in Russian- raz-luch-itj,
(luch is a ray). Literally it means to divide light rays).

Are we light waves or are we dispersed particles?
The cognitive metaphors of Self as a Light below
suggest that the Essential Self could have a nature
similar to Light as described by quantum mechanics.
Free particles in Broglie’s wave-particle theory also have
both functions as an Essential Self.
It is striking that language had been acquainted with
our Self’s nature as light many thousands years before
Broglie’s discovery. How and where did we learn this
knowledge? How could it happen that mind a priori
knows that our spirits are distracted [3], that we are
literally hanging around, recognize that we are not
ourselves today [2].
There are more examples proving the universality
of the Essential Self metaphors, behaving as a Fluid
waves “flowing” between individuals in other languages.
Siya ay may malaking im-pluwensiya sa Maria (Philipin),
Ha una grande in-fluenza su Maria (Italian), Sie hat
einen großen Ein-fluss auf Mary (German), Sy het 'n
groot invloed op Mary (African). The noun “influence” is
of Latin origin – fluentum, means flow, stream, stellar
emanation. The mechanism of in-flu-ence, the subject of
many theories, has the same concept as an in-spir-ation,
thus to influence someone basically should mean to
in-spire that person. There are some examples in English,
Czech and Russian describe our Inner Self different
states: as a gas, cloud, light, fire, fluid in the Table 1.

Table 1. Essential Self in the different physical states
Essential Self.
States of Matter
Self in a Liquid state

Self as
Self as






Separating of two Selves
is a Light dividing
Self in a Gaseous matter,
an Ether state.
Cloudy/foggy Self


in-flu-ence Má v-liv na někoho (lit. Poor
Self into someone else), je
Someone is broken Ona se zhroutila. (lit. she got
down. He is torn to ruined) Je roztržitý.
Shine with happiness., Vlité světlo víry, zářit radosti
personality is shining (lit. shine with happiness) Mít
through, to have dark temné
Dissociate, disjoin
Roz-louč-it se. (lit. To
divide-light rays)
distracted, Rozptýlený, koncentrovaný.
Ona působila velmi étericky.
Frowning, scowling
chmuřit se, mlžit (lit. To be

Ona silno vlijaet na kogo-to (lit.
She strongly pours herself into
Ona sovsem rassypalas’ ot
gorja.(lit. scattered)
Sijat’ ot radosti. Temny celovek

Raz-luchit’ (.(lit. to divide light
Rassejannyj (lit. dispersed)

golovu (lit. Making clouds, fog
around sb’s. head)
Essential Self is Creating To create fun /learning Zanechávat
sebou Sozdat’ prijatnuju atmosferu
unique/common atmosphere.
His atmosféru strachu. Vytvářel otdyxa. V offise byla veselaja
presence still lingers příjemnou atmosféru


Essential Self interaction

How does the literal meaning of cognitive
metaphors like hanging around, an open soul, and being
out of the body refers to the human interaction? What
does it really means when we say, -“I was beside
myself”? “If I – (the Subject) is beside the Self, than it is
also outside the Self, outside the body, which is not
where it normally resides” [3]. It obvious that our

language reflects not only superficial relations, but also
transcends and grasps those states of being, which is still
unprovable by present science.
Looking at the examples in the Table 2 we realize
that Essential Self is never really isolated, it can be
inside and outside its shell. We share our spirit with each
other creating common spirit, constantly changing
ourselves, others and the outside world.

Table 2. Essential Selves Interaction
Interaction of Selves

English examples

Selves shares itself Spirits To inspire (see–
Self is open/closed for
Openness, open
another Self
minded, open
Self accepting another
She is not accepting
Self into Its inner World him as a person
Hanging together.
Understanding is
To let someone in (lit.
accepting, grasping
into the soul)
someone/ something into
the soul
Self is changing, can be
I am not myself today.
possessed by
What got into you? He
got in your head.
Selves Mixing


Mix /fuse with others.

Czech examples

Russian examples



Je otevřený/ Je uzamčený
v sobě, je zabedněný

Otkrytaja dusha, dusha

Byl jí příjemný. Mluvil ji
z duše.

Byl prijatnyj čelověk. Pogovorit’
po dusham

Pojmout něco. Ty mě
vůbec nechápeš!

Ja jeho ponimaju (lit. I am
grasping him)

Je nesvá. Je sám sebou, je
osobnost. Co to do tebe
vjelo? Nemůžu ho dostat
z hlavy.
Mít smíšené pocity, Bavit
se (lit. To fuse their

Ja sama ne svoja. Ona kakaja to
drugaja. Cto s toboj?

Research methods

To minimize the significant gap between human and
artificial intelligence we need to understand and be able
to process the deep meanings of the Essential Self speech.
The concept is based on the psychoanalytic methodology
developed by S. Freud, C.G. Jung, W. James and current
cognitive linguistics theories reflecting how the mind
works. In this research we provide Free Association
Experiment [FAE], giving us access to information
about the primary ways of thinking, individuals, social
groups, representatives of a nation and totality of
experience acquired by all humankind [5]. A set of 400
cognitive Essential Self metaphors in Czech is used as
stimuli for collecting respondent data. It represents a
unique list reflecting the inner perception of the world of
interpersonal communication - an associative model of
the Mind, the psychoanalytic data of the Essential Self

Pomeshannyj-crazy (lit.mixed),
Chto s toboj slucilos? (lit. What
fused with you?)

proves to be a significant contribution to the core
knowledge of the human nature. The thesaurus, which
was compiled by Word Association [WAT], is also an
excellent resource for extending existing semantic
networks like WordNet. Several general semantic WATs
were created, such as Edinburgh Associative Thesaurus,
and Russian Associative Thesaurus. The WAT is a
fundamentally new resource of language cognition, a
platform for mind study and optimizing the human
communication process with electronic resources [5].


In our previous research we showed that the
Essential Self metaphors are not regular metaphors, but,
a literal reflection of invisible truth (See also [3]). The
uniqueness of this pilot concept is an idea to draw a
picture of the universal language framework of Essential
Self and its interaction. New paradigms in computational

linguistics are reflected by new research methods using a
Free Association Experiment. It is the first of its kind of
NLP tool, providing a fundamentally new source of
language research.
The psychoanalytic data of the Essential Self proves
to be a significant contribution to the core knowledge of
the human mind cognition. According to Anna
Sinopalnikova [4], Word Association Thesaurus (WAT)
is also an excellent resource to extend existing semantic
networks like WordNet. Sinopalnikova’s quantitative
analysis shows that 31% of word associations do not
occur in the British National Corpus, where 57,1% of
them are paradigmatic, 8,4% syntagmatic, 21,7%,
domain and others. And comparing Russian Corpus with
Russian Word Association Thesaurus, 64% word
associations do not occur in the corpus, (49% while
excluding unique associations (with absolute frequency
= 1))” [4]
Few general semantic WATs were created, such as
the Edinburg Associative Thesaurus, and the Russian
Associative Thesaurus. Interesting findings were
obtained in this case. The absolute majority of Russians
associate with the expression to talk – the expression po
dusham (lit. talk between souls), in our case - between
Essential Selves. Answers that associated talk mostly
with the Souls dialog occurred 122 times [5].


In NLP we can not disregard the literal senses of the
words. We should be aware that their hidden meanings
could lays right here - in front of us. The associative
experiment fully expresses the nature of inner reality
giving us insight into interlingual universal aspects of
semantic cognition. Essential self metaphors described
by the association experiment allow us to identify the
main structures and deep semantic networks hidden
beyond the language. Before drawing any conclusion, we
acknowledge the fact that the Free Association method
should be applied to all languages to determine a
common language view of the inner life of mind.
One of the most important facts about this
phenomenon is its universality. After comparison of
these examples through languages we can claim, in
accordance with Y. Hirose [6], G. Lakoff and M. Johnson
[3], that cognitive Essential Self metaphor cannot be
considered “dead” metaphors but literal reflections of the
internal truth. Moreover, metaphors with the same
etymological motivation, the same conceptuality could
not have just incidentally appeared all over the world in
all languages.
Knowledge of the universal ideas of inner life - of
the imperceptible- is hidden in cognitive metaphors a
priori. The main logical conclusion arising from this
research – language acquisition, ability to recognize and
reflect the metaphysical world in language is established

deeply in our Essential Self - our Spirit connected with
Logos and transcendent objects like the soul, God. The
universal language view of the Essential Self apparently
correlates with the Cartesian notion of the spirit living in
the body and Plato’s, Descartes, Leibniz’s and
Chomsky’s theories of innate ideas. Finally it could
explain how and why humankind was able to learn
spiritual dimension speech.
Empirical findings about the phenomenology of
mind, gained from natural language, has opened a new
dimension of artificial intelligence research, allowing us
to create a link between an unconscious level of
cognition and surface level common sense used in
language. Word meaning comprehension consequently
leads us to a deeper understanding of the world of our
mind, and of cognitive processes of mind. As G. Lakoff
says, - “little research has been done on our metaphoric
system of inner life in other languages and it is needed to
be done” [3]. Within the processing of associative data
we aim to build a 3D Semantic network, which creates
the model of Essential Self life and Self interaction.


This research is a part of the Medical project at the
University of Bohemia in the Czech Republic dealing
with medical and psycholinguistics databases supported
by the Czech Science Foundation grant 2C06009. We
also would like to thank Ing. Petr Kratochvil,
Department of Computer Science and Engineering,
University of West Bohemia, Czech Republic who
provides technical support for the interactive application
of associative experiment and the database available
online http://medical.kiv.zcu.cz/associative-experiment


[1] George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, “Metaphor We
Live By”, Chicago, University of Chicago Press,
[2] George Lakoff, “Sorry, I'm not Myself Today: The
Metaphor System for Conceptualizing the Self”, in
Gilles Fauconnier and Eve Sweetser eds., 1996.
[3] George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, “Philosophy in
the Flesh. The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to
Western Thought”. N.Y. Perseus Books, 1999
[4] Anna Sinopalnikova, “Word Association Thesaurus
As a resource for building Wordnet”, Masaryk
university, Brno, 2004
[5] Nadezhda V.Ufimceva, „Archetypy jazykovogo
soznanija russkix na poroge XXI veka“, Institut
jazykoznanija RAN, 2006
[6] Yoko Hasegawa and Yukio Hirose, “What the
Japanese Language Tells Us about the Alleged
Japanese Relational Self”, Australian Journal of
Linguistics, vol. 25, pp.219-251, Oct. 2005

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