A Three-Step Procedure for Language Generation

Unknown author (1980-12-01)

This paper outlines a three-step plan for generating English text from any semantic representation by applying a set of syntactic transformations to a collection of kernel sentences. The paper focuses on describing a program which realizes the third step of this plan. Step One separates the given representation into groups and generates from each group a set of kernel sentences. Step Two must decide based upon both syntactic and thematic considerations, the set of transformations that should be performed upon each set of kernels. The output of the first two steps provides the "TASK" for Step Three. Each element of the TASK corresponds to the generation of one English sentence, and in turn may be defined as a triple consisting of: (a) a list of kernel phrase markers; (b) a list of transformations to be performed upon the list of kernels; (c) a "syntactic separator" to separate or connect generated sentences. Step Three takes as input the results of Step One and Step Two. The program which implements Step three "reads" the TASK, executes the transformations indicated there, combines the altered kernels of each set into a sentence, performs a pronomialization process, and finally produces the appropriate English word string. This approach subdivides a hard problem into three more manageable and relatively independent pieces. It uses linguistically motivated theories at Step Two and Step Three. As implemented so far, Step Three is small and highly efficient. The system is flexible; all the transformations can be applied in any order. The system is general; it can be adapted easily to many domains.