What Type of Data Is Used in NLP?


Heather Bennett

In Natural Language Processing (NLP), various types of data are used to analyze and understand human language. These data types play a crucial role in training machine learning models and developing NLP applications. Let’s explore the different types of data utilized in NLP.

1. Text Corpora

A text corpus is a large and structured collection of texts, often consisting of written documents or spoken language recordings.

It serves as the primary source of data for NLP tasks. Text corpora can be domain-specific, such as medical texts or legal documents, or they can be general-purpose corpora like Wikipedia or news articles.

2. Linguistic Annotations

Linguistic annotations refer to adding additional information or metadata to the text corpus.

This includes part-of-speech (POS) tagging, named entity recognition (NER), syntactic parsing, semantic role labeling, and more. These annotations provide valuable insights into the structure and meaning of the text, enabling more advanced NLP analysis.

3. Word Embeddings

Word embeddings are dense vector representations that capture semantic relationships between words.

They are generated using unsupervised learning techniques like Word2Vec or GloVe on large text corpora. By representing words as vectors in a high-dimensional space, word embeddings allow NLP models to understand word similarities, analogies, and perform better at various tasks such as sentiment analysis or document classification.

4. Language Models

Language models are probabilistic models that learn patterns from a given sequence of words in a text corpus.

They help predict the likelihood of a particular word given its context within a sentence or document. Language models can be used for automatic speech recognition, machine translation, and generating coherent and contextually relevant sentences.

5. Speech Data

In addition to textual data, NLP also relies on speech data.

This includes transcriptions of spoken language, audio recordings, and phonetic transcriptions. Speech data is used for tasks such as automatic speech recognition (ASR), speaker diarization, and sentiment analysis on audio content.

6. Parallel Corpora

Parallel corpora consist of texts in multiple languages that are aligned at the sentence or document level.

These corpora are essential for machine translation and cross-lingual tasks. By comparing texts in different languages, NLP models can learn the correspondences between them and facilitate accurate translation between languages.

7. Knowledge Graphs

Knowledge graphs are structured representations of knowledge that capture relationships between entities, concepts, or facts.

They provide a powerful source of information for NLP applications by enabling semantic reasoning and inference. Knowledge graphs can be constructed from structured databases, ontologies, or by extracting information from unstructured text.


In conclusion, NLP relies on various types of data to understand human language better. Text corpora serve as the foundation for training models, while linguistic annotations provide additional insights into the structure and meaning of the text.

Word embeddings enable models to capture semantic relationships between words, while language models help predict word probabilities based on context. Speech data allows NLP systems to analyze spoken language, parallel corpora enable translation across languages, and knowledge graphs facilitate semantic reasoning.

NLP continues to advance with the availability of diverse data sources and innovative techniques to process and analyze them.

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