A feature-based syntax/semantics interface

  • John Nerbonne


Syntax/semantics interfaces using unification-based or feature-based formalisms are increasingly common in the existing computational linguistics literature. The primary reason for attempting to specify a syntax/semantics interface in feature structures is that it harmonizes so well with the way in which syntax is now normally described; this close harmony means that syntactic and semantic processing (and indeed other processing, see below) can be as tightly coupled as one wishes — indeed, there need not be any fundamental distinction between them at all. In this paper, we first point out several advantages of the unification-based view of the syntax/semantics interface over standard views. These include (i) a more flexible relation to nonsyntactic constraints on semantics, (ii) a characterization of semantic ambiguity, which in turn provides a framework in which to describe disambiguation, and (iii) the opportunity to underspecify meanings in a way difficult to reconcile with other views. The last point is illustrated with an application to the notorious scope ambiguity problem.


Semantic Representation Computational Linguistics Lexical Ambiguity Argument Position Semantic Ambiguity 
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Copyright information

© J.C. Baltzer AG, Science Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Nerbonne
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Alfa-Informatica, Cognitive and Neuro-SciencesRijksuniversiteit GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Centre for Behavioural, Cognitive and Neuro-SciencesRijksuniversiteit GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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