A Principle-Based System for Natural Language Analysis and Translation

Matthew Walter Crocker
Publishing date
August 1988
Traditional views of grammatical theory hold that languages are characterized by sets of constructions. This approach entails the enumeration of all possible constructions for each language being described. Current theories of transformational generative grammar have established an alternative position. Specifically, Chomsky's Government-Binding theory proposes a system of principles which are common to human language. Such a theory is referred to as a ``Universal Grammar'' (UG). Associated with the principles of grammar are parameters of variation which account for the diversity of human languages. The grammar for a particular language is known as a ``Core Grammar'', and is characterized by an appropriately parametrized instance of UG. Despite these advances in linguistic theory, construction-based approaches have remained the status quo within the field of natural language processing. This thesis investigates the possibility of developing a principle-based system which reflects the modular nature of the linguistic theory. That is, rather than stipulating the possible constructions of a language, a system is developed which uses the principles of grammar and language specific parameters to parse language. Specifically, a system is presented which performs syntactic analysis and translation for a subset of English and German. The cross-linguistic nature of the theory is reflected by the system which can be considered a procedural model of UG.