Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Parameterizing lexical conceptual structure for interlingual machine translation

A review of “Machine Translation: A View from the Lexicon” by Bonnie Jean Dorr. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1993. xx + 432 pp., ISBN 0-262-04138-3, $40.50

  • 35 Accesses

  • 2 Citations


this is an interesting and informative book with much to recommend it. It covers a great deal of ground in discussion of ideas and presentation of an actual implementation, but I believe the major contribution to be in four areas:

- In presenting a system whose syntax is based on “principles and parameters”, Dorr provides an interesting challenge to the standard rule-based approaches which are broadly unification-based.

- Dorr presents an interlingua which appears to have relatively solid linguistic motivation, and for which there is a very systematic mapping to and from text. This directly addresses two of the standard objections to interlingual approaches: arbitrariness and lack of systematicity. Unfortunately, the range of phenomena she considers is too limited to address the other major objection that is normally raised in relation to interlingual approaches: that of lack of coverage.

- Dorr presents a classification of translation divergences. I believe such a classification to be worthwhile, and I take this is a useful beginning. However, I find the actual classification proposed too broad, and theory-dependent. Moreover Dorr's claims about completeness of the classification are not convincing.

- Dorr presents a solution to various translation divergences via parameterization of the interlingual representation. Here I believe reservations about conceptual coherence of the representation and the generality of the approach are appropriate.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Dorr, Bonnie J.: 1991, ‘Principle Based Parsing for Machine Translation’, in Robert C. Berwick, Steven P. Abney and Carol Tenny (eds.), Principle Based Parsing: Computation and Psycholinguistics, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp. 153–183.

  2. Dorr, Bonnie J.: 1992/3, ‘The Use of Lexical Semantics in Interlingual Machine Translation’, Machine Translation 7, 135–193.

  3. Dorr, Bonnie J. and Mari Broman Olsen: 1996, ‘Multilingual Generation: the Role of Telicity in Lexical Choice and Syntactic Realization’, Machine Translation 11, 37–74.

  4. Dorr, Bonnie J. and Clare R Voss: 1996, ‘A Multi-Level Approach to Interlingual MT: Defining the Interface between Representational Languages’, International Journal of Expert Systems 9, 15–51.

  5. Hale, Kenneth and S. Jay Keyser: 1989, ‘On some Syntactic Rules in the Lexicon” ms. Cognitive Science Center, MIT, Cambridge, MA.

  6. Jackendoff, Ray: 1990, Semantic Structures, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

  7. Reichenbach, Hans: 1947, Elements of Symbolic Logic, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

  8. Talmy, Leonard: 1983, ‘How Language Structures Space’, in Herbert L. PickJr. and Linda P. Acredolo (eds.), Spatial Orientation: Theory, Research and Application, Plenum Press, New York, pp. 225–282.

  9. Talmy, Leonard: 1985, ‘Lexicalization Patterns: Semantic Structure in Lexical Forms’, in Timothy Shopen (ed.), Grammatical Categories and the Lexicon, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 57–149.

Download references

Author information

Additional information

I am grateful to Harold Somers and Bonnie Dorr for criticisms and corrections of an earlier version. Of course, the remaining deficiencies are entirely my fault.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Arnold, D. Parameterizing lexical conceptual structure for interlingual machine translation. Mach Translat 11, 217–241 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00387396

Download citation


  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Systematic Mapping
  • Computational Linguistic
  • Machine Translation
  • Major Objection