Scientists confess to sneaking Bob Dylan lyrics into their work for the past 17 years

Scientists confess to sneaking Bob Dylan lyrics into their work for the past 17 years by Rachel Feltman.

From the post:

While writing an article about intestinal gasses 17 years ago, Karolinska Institute researchers John Lundberg and Eddie Weitzberg couldn’t resist a punny title: “Nitric Oxide and inflammation: The answer is blowing in the wind”.

Thus began their descent down the slippery slope of Bob Dylan call-outs. While the two men never put lyrics into their peer-reviewed studies, The Local Sweden reports, they started a personal tradition of getting as many Dylan quotes as possible into everything else they wrote — articles about other peoples’ work, editorials, book introductions, and so on.

An amusing illustration of one difficulty in natural language processing, allusion.

The Wikipedia article on allusion summarizes one typology of allusion (R. F. Thomas, “Virgil’s Georgics and the art of reference” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 90 (1986) pp 171–98) as:

  1. Casual Reference, “the use of language which recalls a specific antecedent, but only in a general sense” that is relatively unimportant to the new context;
  2. Single Reference, in which the hearer or reader is intended to “recall the context of the model and apply that context to the new situation”; such a specific single reference in Virgil, according to Thomas, is a means of “making connections or conveying ideas on a level of intense subtlety”;
  3. Self-Reference, where the locus is in the poet’s own work;
  4. Corrective Allusion, where the imitation is clearly in opposition to the original source’s intentions;
  5. Apparent Reference, “which seems clearly to recall a specific model but which on closer inspection frustrates that intention”; and
  6. Multiple Reference or Conflation, which refers in various ways simultaneously to several sources, fusing and transforming the cultural traditions.

(emphasis in original)

Allusion is a sub-part of the larger subject of intertextuality.

Thinking of the difficulties that allusions introduce into NLP. With “Dylan lyrics meaning” as a quoted search string, I get over 60,000 “hits” consisting of widely varying interpretations. Add to that the interpretation of a Dylan allusion in a different context and you have a truly worthy NLP problem.

Two questions:

The Dylan post is one example of allusion. Is there any literature or sense of how much allusion occurs in specific types of writing?

Any literature on NLP techniques for dealing with allusion in general?

I first saw this in a tweet by Carl Anderson.

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