377 research outputs found

    Constraint-based semantics

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    Montague\u27s famous characterization of the homomorphic relation between syntax and semantics naturally gives way in computational applications to CONSTRAINT-BASED formulations. This was originally motivated by the close harmony it provides with syntax, which is universally processed in a constraint-based fashion. Employing the same processing discipline in syntax and semantics allows that their processing (and indeed other processing) can be as tightly coupled as one wishes - indeed, there needn\u27t be any fundamental distinction between them at all. In this paper, we point out several advantages of the constraint-based view of semantics processing over standard views. These include (i) the opportunity to incorporate nonsyntactic constraints on semantics, such as those arising from phonology and context; (ii) the opportunity to formulate principles which generalize over syntax and semantics, such as those found in HEAD-DRIVEN PHRASE STRUCTURE GRAMMAR; (iii) a characterization of semantic ambiguity, which in turn provides a framework in which to describe disambiguation, and (iv) the opportunity to underspecify meanings in a way difficult to reconcile with other views. The last point is illustrated with an application to scope ambiguity in which a scheme is developed which underspecifies scope but eschews auxiliary levels of logical form

    Representing grammar, meaning and knowledge

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    Among the expertises relevant for successful natural language understanding are grammar, meaning and background knowledge, all of which must be represented in order to decode messages from text (or speech). The present paper is a sketch of one cooperation of grammar and meaning representations -- with some remarks about knowledge representation -- which allows that the representations involved be heterogeneous even while cooperating closely. The modules cooperate in what might be called a PLURALIST fashion, with few assumptions about the representations involved. In point of fact, the proposal is compatible with state-of-the-art representations from all three areas. The paper proceeeds from the nearly universal assumption that the grammar formalism is feature-based and insufficiently expressive for use in meaning representation. It then demonstrates how feature formalisms may be employed as a semantic metalanguage in order that semantic constraints may be expressed in a single formalism with grammatical constraints. This allows a tight coupling of syntax and semantics, the incorporation of nonsyntactic constraints (e.g., from knowledge representation) and the opportunity to underspecify meanings in novel ways -- including, e.g., ways which distinguish ambiguity and underspecification (vagueness). We retain scepticism vis-à-vis more ASSIMILATIONIST proposals for the interaction of these -- i.e., proposals which foresee common formalisms for grammar, meaning and knowledge representation. While such proposals rightfully claim to allow for closer integration, they fail to account for the motivations which distinguish formalisms - elaborate expressive strength in the case of semantic representations, monotonic (and preferably decidable) computation in the case of grammar formalisms, and the characterization of taxonomic reasoning in the case of knowledge representation

    A feature-based syntax/semantics interface

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    Syntax/Semantics interfaces using unification-based or feature-based formalisms are increasingly common in the existing computational linguistics literature. The primary reason for attempting to specify a syntax/semantics interface in feature structures is that it harmonizes so well with the way in which syntax is now normally described; this close harmony means that syntactic and semantic processing (and indeed other processing, see below) can be as tightly coupled as one wishes - indeed, there need not be any fundamental distinction between them at all. In this paper, we first point out several advantages of the unification-based view of the syntax/semantics interface over standard views. These include (i) a more flexible relation to nonsyntactic constraints on semantics; (ii) a characterization of semantic ambiguity, which in turn provides a framework in which to describe disambiguation, and (iii) the opportunity to underspecify meanings in a way difficult to reconcile with other views. The last point is illustrated with an application to the notorious scope ambiguity problem

    Respecting local variation

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    Respecting local variation

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    Some Passives Not Characterized by Universal Rules: Subjectless Impersonals

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    Inheritance and complementation : a case study of easy adjectives and related nouns

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    Mechanisms for representing lexically the bulk of syntactic and semantic information for a language have been under active development, as is evident in the recent studies contained in this volume. Our study serves to highlight some of the most useful tools available for structured lexical representation, in particular, (multiple) inheritance, default specification, and lexical rules. It then illustrates the value of these mechanisms in illuminating one corner of the lexicon involving an unusual kind of complementation among a group of adjectives exemplified by easy. The virtures of the structured lexicon are its succinctness and its tendency to highlight significant clusters of linguistic properties. From its succinctness follow two practical advantages, namely its ease of maintenance and modifiability. In order to suggest how important these may be practically, we extend the analysis of adjectival complementation in several directions. These further illustrate how the use of inheritance in lexical representation permits exact and explicit characterizations of phenomena in the language under study. We demonstrate how the use of the mechanisms employed in the analysis of easy enable us to give a unified account of related phenomena featuring nouns like pleasure, and even the adverbs (adjectival specifiers) too and enough. Along the way we motivate some elaborations of the Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG) framework in which we couch our analysis, and offer several avenues for further study of this part of the English lexicon

    Software for Applied Semantics

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