Grammaticamodellen in de Taaltechnologie
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Periode 2: November 2004 - Februari 2005

Docent Paola Monachesi
Paola dot Monachesi at let dot uu dot nl
tel: 030-2536065
Computationele Linguistiek
Trans 10, kamer 2.13
3512 JK Utrecht
Spreekuur: Wednesday 11.00-12.00  

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This course 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;
  • 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.

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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).

Monachesi, P. (2005). The verbal complex in Romance. A case study in grammatical interfaces . Oxford University Press.

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 23-11 until 25-1 BG 048 (Uithof) 11.00-13.00
Thursday 25-11 until 27-1 Kromme Nieuwegracht 29, 024 13.00-15.00

Onderwijsvorm: 4 uur hoorcollege en 2 uur werkcollege


Week 1: Tuesday 23/11 Introduction to unification grammars. History. Development. Different types of formal grammars. Features to represent linguistic information in various grammar formalisms. Feature theory. Unification. Subsumption. Exercises and discussion.
Thursday 25/11 HPSG - general description. Linguistic signs as typed feature structures. The use of types and inheritance. Lexical entries in HPSG. Exercises and discussion.
Week 2: Tuesday 30/11 Lexical entries in HPSG. The schemas of immediate dominance and the principles that govern the good formation of the phrases.
Thursday 2/12 Complementizers, modifiers and determiners.
Week 3: Tuesday 7/12 Raising and control
Thursday 9/12 Long Distance dependencies
Week 4: Tuesday 14/12 Long Distance dependencies
Thursday 16/12 Morphology and its interfaces: the case of Romance clitics
Week 5: Tuesday 21/12 Preparation for the exam. You can find the exam here.
Thursday 23/12 TEST - Trans 10 (Binnenstadt), 017 (11.00-15.00)
Week 6: Tuesday 11/1 Syntax and its interfaces: the case of Romance auxiliary verbs
Thursday 13/1 Syntax and its interfaces: the case of Romance auxiliary verbs
Week 7: Tuesday 18/1 TAG: general principles.
HPSG vs. TAG: a comparison of the general principles.
Thursday 20/1 Presentation and discussion of HPSG papers.
Rogier+Sanne/ Joan+Jantine
Week 8: Tuesday 25/1 Presentation and discussion of HPSG papers.
Julia + Matijs / Grabriella + Daan
Thursday 27/1 Presentation and discussion of HPSG papers.
Thomas, Matijs, Lennart, Berend

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Weekdag:   Plaats: Tijd:
Thursday Kromme Nieuwegracht 80, zaal 108 11.00 - 13.00

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 25/11 Introduction to HDrug. How to use the system. Exercises with types and simple grammars. *Opgaven ##* *Opgaven ##*
Week 2: Thursday 2/12 Write a small grammar for dutch with intrasitive, transitive and ditransitive verbs. *Opgaven ##* *Opgaven ##*
Week 3: Thursday 9/12 Add principles, schemas and macros. Analysis of determiners. *Opgaven ##* *Opgaven ##*
Week 4: Thursday 16/12 The analysis of wh-movement *Opgaven ##* *Opgaven ##*
Week 5: Thursday 23/12 Add complement clauses and verb clusters *Opgaven ##* *Opgaven ##*
Week 6: Thursday 13/1 Add complement clauses and verb clusters *Opgaven ##* *Opgaven ##*
Week 7: Thursday 20/1 A large coverage Dutch HPSG grammar. *Opgaven ##* *Opgaven ##*
Week 8: Thursday 27/1 A large coverage Dutch HPSG grammar. *Opgaven ##* *Opgaven ##*

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The Final Project consists of a paper of max. 4 pages (8 pages for couples) in which the students, should present the formalization and/or the implementation of a linguistic phenomenon in a language of choice. The paper read for the paper presentation should create the basis for the final project.


  • Test = 40% (max. 40 points)
  • Final project = 20% (max. 20 points)
  • Practicum = 20% (max. 20 points)
  • Paper presentation + class participation = 20% (max. 20 points)

In order to pass the course you have to have at least 55 points. Students who have collected less than 55 points have to take the course again.
You can find the results of the course here.

Check het rooster op de CKI web-pagina.