Research on Language and Computation

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 163–203 | Cite as

Linguistic Constraint Systems as General Soft Constraint Satisfaction



This paper proposes that linguistic constraint satisfaction can be viewed as an instance of general human soft constraint satisfaction. After a discussion on the relation between modularity in grammar and soft constraints and a review of the conceptions of gradient phenomena in language, the paper presents a generalized theory of soft constraint satisfaction from the AI literature (Bistarelli 2001). It then shows that a unifying underlying theory of constraint satisfaction allows us to bring different constraint-based linguistic theories (e.g., LOT and HPSG) closer together as well as account for certain gradient phenomena straightforwardly.


Constraint-based linguistic theories Soft constraint satisfaction Cognitive modeling of language 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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