Grammaticamodellen in de Taaltechnologie
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Periode 2: November 2002 - Januari 2003

Docent Paola Monachesi
tel: 030-2536065
Computationele Linguistiek
Trans 10, kamer 2.13
3512 JK Utrecht
Spreekuur: Wednesday 14.00-15.00  

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Thiscourse provides an introduction to the techniques and tools that are necessary for the implementation of precise and extensible grammars which are required both in research and in industrial applications. Computational grammars constitute an essential component of text understanding systems, spell-checkers, grammar-checkers, machine translation systems and communication tools for disabled individuals.

The course will combine background lectures with practical exercises on how to formalize linguistic knowledge working mainly within the framework of Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG) (Pollard and Sag 1987, 1994). This framework has the advantage of being well suited both for theoretical linguistic work and for computational implementations.

HPSG can be defined as a constraint-based, lexicalist approach to grammatical theory. It is based on the assumption that human linguistic sentence processing has a powerful lexical basis. It is for this reason that its notion of phrase structure is built around the concept of a lexical head which encodes information that determines crucial grammatical properties of the phrase it projects. Furthermore, HPSG is a surface-based grammar formalism in that it provides a direct characterization of the actual surface order of string elements in a sentence. It can also be viewed as a declarative approach to grammar since the association between strings and informational elements are defined in terms of what associations are possible and not how they are computed. The HPSG informational elements are feature structures, which are partial function from features to their value.

The implementation of HPSG grammar fragments will be conducted within the processing system HDrug, which has been developed at the University of Groningen for formalization and visualisation of constraint-based grammars.

The course will compare HPSG to another grammatical model, that is Tree Adjoining Grammar (TAG).

Skills/Knowledge that the students are going to acquire during the course:

  • general knowledge of the computational properties of HPSG and TAG and of their similarities and differences;
  • general knowledge of the way specific linguistic phenomena are formalized and implemented in unification based grammar models acquired by means of self investigation of already implemented grammar fragments;
  • relation between the two grammar models and their use in the language technology world;
  • hands-on experience with the implementation of a (unification-based) grammar fragment;
  • presentation of papers by means of visual tools;
  • writing of a scientific article.

[ Dutch version ]

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Books and papers

The books/papers listed below are meant for reference. Only selected chapters will be used during the course.

Abeille' A. 1993. Les Nouvelles Syntaxes, Grammaires d'unification et analyse du francaise. Paris: Armand Colin.
(Introduction contains an overview of the development of unification grammars).

Pollard C. and I. Sag (1987) Information based syntax and semantics. Stanford: CSLI.

Pollard C. and I. Sag (1994) Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar. Stanford: CSLI .

Sag I. and T. Wasow (1999) Syntactic Theory. A formal introduction. Stanford: CSLI .
(Appendix on the development of Generative Grammar)

Shieber S. (1986) An introduction to unification-based approaches to grammar. Stanford: CSLI.

Relevant Links

Various grammar formalisms- webpages

HPSG - Logical foundations

HPSG Projects

Various grammar implementation tools - webpages

Material for making slides for the presentation

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Weekdag: Datum: Plaats: Tijd:
Tuesday 19-11 van het Ruppertgebouw (Uithof), zaal C 15.00-17.00
Tuesday 26-11 van het Ruppertgebouw (Uithof), zaal C 15.00-17.00
Tuesday 3-12 van het Ruppertgebouw (Uithof), zaal C 15.00-17.00
Tuesday 10-12 BG, 467 (Uithof) 15.00-17.00
Tuesday 17-12 BG, 467 (Uithof) 15.00-17.00
Tuesday 7-1 BG, 465 (Uithof) 15.00-17.00
Tuesday 14-1 BG, 465 (Uithof) 15.00-17.00
Tuesday 21-1 BG, 465 (Uithof) 15.00-17.00
Thursday from 21-11 until 16-1 Drift 15 (Centrum), zaal 002 11.00-13.00

Onderwijsvorm: 4 uur hoorcollege en 2 uur werkcollege


Week 1: Tuesday 19/11 Introduction to unification grammars. History: unification grammars as a criticism to Transformational grammars and a way to formalize grammars. Development: DCG,FUG,PATR. Different types of formal grammars. Exercises and discussion.
Thursday 21/11 Features to represent linguistic information. Way features are used in various grammar formalisms. Feature theory. Unification. Subsumption. Exercises and discussion.
Week 2: Tuesday 26/11 HPSG - general description. Linguistic signs as typed feature structures. The use of types and inheritance. Exercises and discussion.
Thursday 28/11 Features used to represent linguistic information in HPSG. Different kinds of features: atomic, complex. Lexical entries in HPSG.
Week 3: Tuesday 3/12 Lexical entries in HPSG. The schemas of immediate dominance and the principles that govern the good formation of the phrases.
Thursday 5/12 Reading group: Generalizations in the lexicon. Morphology in HPSG.
Week 4: Tuesday 10/12 Discussion about morphology in HPSG. Exercises.
Thursday 12/12 Reading group: Complementizers, modifiers and determiners.
Week 5: Tuesday 17/12 Complementizers, modifiers and determiners. Exercises and discussion.
Thursday 19/12 TEST
Reading group: raising and control. Long Distance Dependencies.
Week 6: Tuesday 7/1 Raising vs. control. Long distance dependencies. Exercises and discussion.
Thursday 9/1 Reading group.
Week 7: Tuesday 14/1 TAG: general principles.
Thursday 17/1 Reading group.
Week 8: Tuesday 21/1 TEST
Thursday 23/1 Presentation and discussion HPSG papers.

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Weekdag:   Plaats: Tijd:
Thursday Kromme Nieuwegracht 80, zaal 009 13.00 - 15.00

In the werkcollege we will have hands-on sessions to get acquainted with the implementation of HPSG grammars. The system HDrug will be adopted to implement the phenomena discussed during the hoorcollege.

Week: Werkgroep: Onderwerp: Te bespreken op werkgroep: Verplichtte opdracht:
Week 1: Thursday 21/11 Introduction to HDrug. How to use the system. Exercises with types and simple grammars. *Opgaven ##* *Opgaven ##*
Week 2: Thursday 28/11 Write a small grammar for dutch with intrasitive, transitive and ditransitive verbs. *Opgaven ##* *Opgaven ##*
Week 3: Thursday 5/12 Session on TAG by Anne Abeille' *Opgaven ##* *Opgaven ##*
Week 4: Thursday 12/12 Add principles, schemas and macros. Analysis of determiners. *Opgaven ##* *Opgaven ##*
Week 5: Thursday 19/12 The analysis of wh-movement *Opgaven ##* *Opgaven ##*
Week 6: Thursday 9/1 Add complement clauses and verb clusters *Opgaven ##* *Opgaven ##*
Week 7: Thursday 16/1 A large coverage Dutch HPSG grammar. Demo. *Opgaven ##* *Opgaven ##*

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The Final Project consists in a paper of max. 4 pages in which the students, working in couples, can choose among one of the following options:

  • discussion of the formalization and/or the implementation of a phenomenon of choice in one of the grammar models presented during the course (on the basis of existing articles/implementations);
  • comparison between the formalization of a phenomenon already analyzed during the course with the formalization of the same phenomenon either in TAG or in the Minimalist Programme or in Categorial Grammar.


  • 2 Tests = 40%
  • Eindopdracht = 30%
  • Practicum + Presentatie = 30%


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