Conceptual Phrases and Deterministic English Parsing

Unknown author (1979-08)

This report describes research done at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Support for the laboratory's artificial intelligence research is provided in part by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense under Office of Naval Research contract N00014-75-C-0643.

Working Paper

The grammar of many of the lower-level constituents of grammatical structures in English has not been a area of exciting new linguistic discovery, in contrast with study of clause-level constituents. The syntax of these conceptual phrases, as they are termed here, seems to be somewhat ad hoc, which presents problems for their specification for the purpose of computer understanding of natural language. This report concludes that their irregular behavior stems from a closer relationship between the syntax and the semantics of these than other English constructs. Conceptual phrases all correspond to objects in a single, tightly constrained semantic class, and as a result, semantic knowledge about them can be used to 'optimize' the process of communicating them. The unique nature of conceptual phrases is exploited to provide a combined syntactic and semantic description for them, consisting of syntactically augmented frames, that is much simpler than individual syntactic or semantic descriptions. An example representation for numbers is given, along with an analysis of some problems that occur when a practical implementation is attempted.