Linguistics 567: Grammar Engineering

Lab 9 Due 5/26


As usual, you'll need to turn in before and after snapshots of your test suite. If you end up modifying your test suite in the course of working on this lab, it can be edifying to run your previous grammar (as submitted for Lab 8) over the new test suite when you're all done and then comparing that to the final Lab 9 grammar.

I'll also be collecting your test suites for ODIN this week, so if you have any further cleaning up you'd like to do, please do so :-).


The goal of this lab is to be able to parse the two sentences I can eat glass. It doesn't hurt me., assign them appropriate semantics, and generate back. You have already done some of the work: from previous labs, your grammar should already handle pronouns, case (if applicable), and transitive verbs. You should already have most of the vocabulary required (except can and possibly not). You may need to add the appropriate verb forms, and may get inspired to add some lexical rules for verbal agreement in the process (if applicable, and if you haven't already).

You will need to add a treatment of however your language expresses the modal meaning can. The instructions below outline several possibilities. If none of them fit what's going on in your language, talk to me :).

Your grammar probably has a treatment of sentential negation from the customization script. You should verify that it works and produces the correct semantics. The instructions below cover several possibilities for sentential negation. You can refer to them if your negation is broken. If you don't see what you need there, be sure to contact me.

Finally, this is the last lab of the class. This means that you'll also need to:

  1. Make sure that your grammar generates.
  2. Include as much of the MT vocab as you can. Consider adding some basic adjectives to that site if you like.
  3. Suggest some interesting sentences using only the MT vocab (plus not and can, if you like) for me to use in the MT demo.

Semantic representations

Your semantic representations for the two sentences should look approximately like this, modulo the relations showing up in a different order, the variables (e's, x's, and h's) showing up with different numbers, the SEMSORT information showing up in different places. Also, if your language tends to use prodrop rather than overt pronouns, you might end up without any representation of the pronouns in these sentences.

can as an auxiliary verb

Use this version if in your language the morpheme expressing the same notion as can is a separate word which takes a VP complement and a subject. Updated 5/24/06

can as a bound morpheme

Use this version if the morpheme expressing the same meaning as can in your language attaches morphologically to the main verb of the sentence.

Negation as an adverb modifier

Use this version if your language expresses sentential negation via an adverb which modifies the V, VP or S.

(Note: English has two forms of sentential negation "contracted", which is actually an affix on the verb, cf. Zwicky and Pullum 1983, and the full-form adverb. This adverb is not actually treated syntactically as a modifier in sentential negation, but rather selected by auxiliary verbs, including the do of do-support. For the details of this analysis, see Sag, Wasow and Bender 2003 chapter 13 and Kim and Sag 1995. I would be surprised if another language being treated in this class had a system very similar to the English one, as it seems like a pretty quirky part of English grammar. Further, it's a subtle matter to establish what is actually going on in English, and I don't think anyone would have time in one week to show the same about another language.)

Negation as a verbal affix

Use this version if your language expresses sentential negation by adding a morpheme to the main verb.

Two-part negation

Use this version if your language expresses negation with both an affix on the verb and an adverb (e.g., French ne ... pas). If both elements are arguably affixes, you probably just want to write a pair of lexical rules, i.e., take the "Negation as a verbal affix" route, but write two rules and make sure you can require that they both apply or neither apply.

Test your grammar and try generating!

Write up

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