Computationally relevant properties of natural languages and their grammars

Research paper by Gerald Gazdar, Geoffrey K. Pullum

Indexed on: 01 Sep '85Published on: 01 Sep '85Published in: New Generation Computing


This paper surveys what is currently known about natural language morphology and syntax from the perspective of formal language theory. Firstly, the position of natural language word-sets and sentence-sets on the formal language hierarchy is discussed. Secondly, the contemporary use by linguists of a range of formal grammars (from finite state transducers to indexed grammars) in both word-syntax (i.e. morphology) and sentencesyntax is sketched. Finally, recent developments such as feature-theory, the use of extension and unification, default mechanisms, and metagrammatical techniques, are outlined.