Linguistics 567: Grammar Engineering

Spring 2005

Course Info

  • Required Text:
  • Software

    Instructor Info




    Natural language processing (NLP) enables computers to make use of data represented in human language (including the vast quantities of data available on the web) and to interact with computers on human terms. Applications from machine translation to speech recognition and web-based information retrieval demand both precision and robustness from NLP technology. Meetings these demands will require better hand-built grammars of human languages combined with sophisticated statistical processing methods. This class focuses on the implementation of linguistic grammars, drawing on a combination of sound grammatical theory and engineering skills.

    Class meetings will alternate between lectures and hands-on lab sessions. We will cover the implementation of constraints in morphology, syntax and semantics within a unification-based lexicalist framework of grammar. The weekly exercises will focus on building up an implemented grammar for a language of your choice (everyone must work on a different language, so be prepared to work with a language you don't know well!), based on the LinGO Grammar Matrix. At the end of the quarter, we will use the various grammars in a machine translation task.

    Prerequisites: Linguistics 566 or equivalent. No programming experience is required.

    Note: To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, 206-543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating that you have a disability which requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to the instructor so we can discuss the accommodations you might need in this class.


    Weekly lab exercises, begun in class on Wednesdays (lab) and turned in by Sunday night. (I'd make the deadline Friday, but would rather not spend the weekend grading things...) Most lab exercises will require write-ups to explain the phenomena as manifested in your language and how you implemented your analysis. You will be advised on Mondays of what data or information about your language you need to bring for Wednesday. Active class participation will be viewed favorably when it comes to grading.

    Lab exercises are to be turned in via Catalyst E-Submit:

    Schedule of Topics and Assignments (tentative)

    DatesLectureLab prepLabDue dateReading
    3/28, 3/30 Overview
    The Grammar Matrix

    Prep 1: Emacs tutorial Lab 1: Getting to know the LKBDue: 4/1 Ch 1-3
    4/4, 4/6 Formalism, A tour of the Matrix Prep 2 Lab 2: Word order, small vocabulary, lexical semanticsDue: 4/8Ch 4-5
    4/11, 4/13 Using [incr tsdb()]
    Matrix tour cont
    Prep 3 Lab 3: Running testsuites, case and agreementDue: 4/15Oepen & Flickinger 1998
    4/18, 4/20 Optional arguments, Minimal Recursion Semantics Prep 4 Class cancelled: sorry!Due: --Copestake, Flickinger, Pollard, and Sag, to appear
    4/25, 4/27 Minimal Recursion Semantics, cont Prep 5 Lab 4: Argument optionality and ModificationDue: 4/29 
    5/2, 5/4 Precision grammars and corpus data; messages and clausal semantics Prep 6 Lab 5: Clausal semantics (declaratives)Due: 5/6Baldwin et al 2005
    5/9, 5/11 Stump the chump (quick presentation of problems from each language; suggestions on how they might be handled) Prep 7 Lab 6: Polar questions, imperativesDue: 5/13 
    5/16, 5/18 Raising, control, argument composition, sentential negation Prep 8 Lab 7: I can eat glass. It doesn't hurt me.Due: 5/20 
    5/23, 5/25 Guest Lecture: Scott Drellishak on Coordination Prep 9 Lab 8: CoordinationDue: 5/27Drellishak and Bender 2005
    5/30, 6/1 Holiday, no class Prep 10 Machine Translation ExtravaganzaNope 

    ebender at u dot washington dot edu
    Last modified: Wed May 25 08:36:51 PDT 2005