Graphs in Linguistics: Diagrammatic Features and Data Models

  • Paolo PetriccaEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics book series (SAPERE, volume 49)


This paper examines the use of diagrams in linguistics, in order to analyze their diagrammatic features, as well as their data structures, in relation to the modeling process. It starts from defining the comparison parameters, from several seminal works on diagrams.

The analysis begins from the classical IPA Consonants chart and its relative vowel graph; both are instances of quite orthodox use of visual representations, showing themselves as a mere visual account of relational data. In the syntax section, there is a strong presence of trees with their hierarchical structure.

Semantics offers a far more varied collection of diagrams. Based on many possible foci and on different tasks, there are several important diagrams in use. It will be considered Wordnet, Framenet, Generative Lexicon, DRT and UML-based semantics.

All these examples will lead us to stress how data models play an essential role in determining the modelling potential of graphs and the possible tasks performed by means of them. The object-oriented paradigm and its graphical development will be asserted as the most interesting use of diagrams; it will display an outstanding potential in modelling tasks.


Diagrams Linguistics Data models Model-based reasoning 


  1. 1.
    Berardi D, Calvanese D, De Giacomo G (2005) Reasoning on UML class diagrams. Artif Intell 168:70–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Blackwell A, Engelhardt Y (2002) A meta-taxonomy for diagram research. In: Anderson M, Meyer B, Olivier P (eds) Diagrammatic representation and reasoning. Springer, London, pp 47–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Eisele C (ed) (1976) The new elements of Mathematics by Charles S. Peirce. Mouton, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Engelhardt Y (2002) The language of graphics: a framework for the analysis of syntax and meaning in maps, charts and diagrams. Ph.D. thesis, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Institute for Logic, Language and ComputationGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fellbaum C (ed) (1998) WordNet: an electronic lexical database. MIT Press, Cambridge Scholar
  6. 6.
    Fillmore C et al (2003) Background to FrameNet. Int J Lexicography 16(3):235–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Fowler M, Scott K (1997) UML distilled - applying the standard object modeling language. Addison Wesley, BostonGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Geeraerts D (2010) Theories of lexical semantics. OUP, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Helbig H (ed) (2006) Knowledge representation and the semantics of natural language. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
  11. 11.
    Kamp H, Reyle U (1993) From discourse to logic. introduction to model theoretic semantics of natural language, formal logic and discourse representation theory. Studies in linguistics and philosophy, vol 43. Springer, NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kramer S, Ljungberg C (eds) (2016) Thinking with diagrams. The semiotic basis of human cognition. De Gruyter Mouton, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kress GR, van Leeuwen T (1996) Reading images: the grammar of visual design. Routledge, AbingdonGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Purchase HC (2014) Twelve years of diagrams research. J. Visual Lang. Comput. 25(2):57–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Pustejosvky J (1995) The generative lexicon. MIT Press, BostonGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ruppenhofer J, Ellsworth M et al (2016) FrameNet II: extended theory and practice.
  17. 17.
    Schalley AC (2004) Representing verbal semantics with diagrams. an adaptation of the uml for lexical semantics. In: Proceeding COLING 2004 proceedings of the 20th international conference on computational linguistics article no 785. Association for Computational Linguistics, StroudsburgGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Schalley AC (2004) Cognitive modelling and verbal semantics. De Gruyter Mouton, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Smessaert H, Demey, L (2018) Towards a typology of diagrams in linguistics. In: Chapman P, Stapleton G, Moktefi A, Perez-Kriz S, Bellucci F (eds) Diagrammatic representation and inference. diagrams 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10871. Springer, Cham, pp 236–244Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Stapleton G, Jamnik M, Shimojima A (2017) What makes an effective representation of information: a formal account of observational advantages. J Logic Lang Inform 26(143):143–177. Scholar
  21. 21.
    Stjernfelt F (2011) On operational and optimal iconicity in Peirce’s diagrammatology. Semiotica 186(1/4):395–419. Scholar
  22. 22.
    Talmy L (2000) Towards a cognitive semantics. vol. 1 concept structuring. MIT Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Talmy L (2000) Towards a cognitive semantics. vol. 2 typology and process in concept structuring. MIT Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and CulturesUniversity “G. D’Annunzio” of Chieti-PescaraPescaraItaly

Personalised recommendations