[b-hebrew] Generation grammar and b-hebrew

dwashbur at nyx.net dwashbur at nyx.net
Wed Jun 23 16:38:03 EDT 2010

Let's put it this way: I know as much about computational linguistics as I do about advanced 
math, if you saw my comment to Eric.

I don't believe language can be quantified the way that  most mathematicians and 
computational folks would like.  My approach to syntax has three parts: base rules, 
transformations, and what I call social convention.   This last is a fairly nebulous category, 
but basically it means that there are certain aspects of language usage that we can only 
explainby appealing to the fact that  a society chooses to do it  that way.  I don't really have 
any examples from Hebrew yet, but in biblical Greek a couple of examples would be the 
"historic present" that we see all over the place in Mark, and the way that neuter plural 
subjects take a singular verb.

On 23 Jun 2010 at 22:21, James Christian wrote:

> Hi, so it seems we agree that even if we are to perfectly define a
> constituent driven CFG it is 
> destined to over generate. I appreciate that you have a strict
> policy of separating syntax and 
> semantics but from an engineering perspective the approach has
> little importance when 
> compared with the results. This is not to say I have anything
> against implementing a generative 
> grammar with a strict separation between syntax and semantics it is
> just that it is still not clear to 
> me how exactly this kind of over generation will eventually be
> eliminated.
> I don't know if you have looked into knowledge based expert systems.
> This seems to be the kind 
> of approach you are suggesting. They are a very grey area in the
> computational linguistics 
> literature. That is to say it is possible to find papers outlining
> experiments with high or near 
> perfect performance in some very limited domain but wide coverage
> remains elusive. You may or 
> may not have heard of the cyc project. A project which aims to
> encode a basic knowledge of the 
> universe, something like what we call common sense. 
> In any case, with Hebrew I guess we'll just have to suck it and see.
> For me, it is not the method 
> so much that carries any particular importance. It is the
> performance of the system. That is to 
> say, what it all boils down to is how the system performs in terms
> of over and under generation. 
> James Christian 
> On 22 June 2010 18:58, <dwashbur at nyx.net> wrote:
>     On 21 Jun 2010 at 8:20, James Christian wrote:
>     >
>     > Ok. Any ideas how you would implement this such that the
> grammar
>     > would not over generate?
>     > Have you made any implementations of your scheme? James
> Christian 
> As I said, the constraints you are talking about are in the semantic
> component. We can
> take a phrase like Chris Rice's famous song "Smell the Color Nine"
> and see that it's
> syntactically well-formed, but semantic nonsense. My dad used to
> jokingly use the phrase
> "Is you speaking to I?" This one is a little more problematic, but
> in a sense is still
> syntactically well-formed at a deep grammar level. It includes a
> subject, verb and
> preposition with object. But there are agreement and case problems,
> obviously. As I see it,
> those are surface level aspects, i.e. the clause becomes badly
> formed by filling the slots
> with deliberate mismatches: "You" in English takes a different form
> of the verb, and "I" in
> English is used exclusively as a nominative. Where such distinctions
> exist, they may or
> may not be part of the actual syntactic component of grammar; I
> haven't really thought that
> through yet.
> Dave Washburn
> http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
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Dave Washburn


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