Multi-Word Expressions (MWEs) are an indispensable part of natural languages and appear steadily on a daily basis, both new and already existing but paraphrased. Thus, the automated processing of MWEs is important for many natural language applications. The meaning of MWEs can be either motivated or arbitrary. Native speakers master most MWEs, while learners of a foreign language have to learn MWEs by heart. The interpretation of MWEs poses a major challenge for automated analysis helping both groups easily master MWEs.
The growing interest in MWEs in the NLP community has led to many specialized workshops held every year since 2001 in conjunction with ACL, EACL and LREC; there have been also two recent special issues on MWEs published by leading journals: the International Journal of Language Resources and Evaluation, and the Journal of Computer Speech and Language.
As a result of the overall progress in the field, the time has come to move from basic preliminary research to actual applications in real-world NLP tasks. Following this trend, the LREC-MWE’08 focused on gathering resources and creating a common repository in order to rank MWE candidates and facilitate further research.