Gemma Boleda

Gemma Boleda

Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Engineering Sciences

I am an ICREA Research Professor in the Department of Translation and Language Sciences of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, where I co-lead the Computational Linguistics and Linguistic Theory (COLT) research group. I previously held post-doctoral positions at the the Computer Science department of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Spain), the department of Linguistics of The University of Texas at Austin (USA), and the CIMEC Center for Brain/Mind Sciences of the University of Trento (Italy). Before that, I graduated in Spanish Philology at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and obtained my PhD in Cognitive Science and Language at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (both in Spain). I was also a visiting researcher at the Computational Linguistics & Phonetics department (CoLi) of Saarland University and the Institute for Natural Language Processing (IMS) of the University of Stuttgart, both in Germany.

Research interests

I want to understand how language works; in particular, how humans convey meaning through language. The focus of my research is how the linguistic system and its use in communication influence each other. For instance, a speaker of English can use different expressions (e.g. "the dog/chihuahua/small dog") when referring to a given chihuahua. The choice depends, a.o., on the words and grammar available in the language and the properties of the object. In turn, over time, specific speaker choices change the system itself. I study these dynamics in a range of semantic phenomena, and investigate which aspects are universal across languages, and what governs variation.
My team and I work with a cross-disciplinary approach that integrates methodologies from Linguistics, Artificial Intelligence, and Cognitive Science. Our approach requires large amounts of data, and part of our work involves gathering linguistic data on a large scale.

Selected publications

- Brochhagen T, Boleda G, Gualdoni E & Xu Y 2023, 'From language development to language evolution: A unified view of human lexical creativity', Science, vol. 381, no. 6656, pp 431-436.
- Gualdoni E, Brochhagen T, Mädebach A & Boleda G 2023, 'What's in a name? A large-scale computational study on how competition between names affects naming variation'. Journal of Memory and Language, 133, 104459.
- He Y, Liao X, Liang J & Boleda G 2023, 'The Impact of Familiarity on Naming Variation: A Study on Object Naming in Mandarin Chinese', Proceedings of the 27th Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning (CoNLL), 456-475.
- Harrison S, Gualdoni E & Boleda G 2023, 'Run Like a Girl! Sport-Related Gender Bias in Language and Vision', Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL, 14093-14103.
- Gualdoni E, Kemp C, Xu Y & Boleda G 2023, Quantifying informativeness of names in visual space, Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 45, pp 2084-2090

Selected research activities

Three researchers have received competitive post-doctoral grants to work with me: Germán Kruszewski (Marie Sklodowska-Curie), Iria De Dios (Juan de la Cierva), and Carmen Saldaña (Beatriu de Pinós).