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Grammatical Competence and Parsing Performance

How does a parser, a device that imposes an analysis on a string of symbols so that they can be interpreted, work? More specifically, how does the parser in the human cognitive mechanism operate? Using a wide range of empirical data concerning human natural language processing, Bradley Pritchett demonstrates that parsing performance depends on grammatical competence, not, as many have thought, on perception, computation, or semantics.

Pritchett critiques the major performance-based parsing models to argue that the principles of grammar drive the parser; the parser, furthermore, is the apparatus that tries to enforce the conditions of the grammar at every point in the processing of a sentence. In comparing garden path phenomena, those instances when the parser fails on the first reading of a sentence and must reanalyze it, with occasions when the parser successfully functions the first time around, Pritchett makes a convincing case for a grammar-derived parsing theory.

206 pages | 58 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 1992

Cognitive Science: Language

Computer Science

Language and Linguistics: Formal Logic and Computational Linguistics

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations and Glosses
1. The Garden Path Phenomenon
1.0. The Problem
1.1. Grammar and Parser
1.2. Local and Global Ambiguity
1.3. Problematic and Unproblematic Ambiguity
1.4. Deep and Surface Factors in Processing Breakdown
1.5. Theta Attachment
1.6. The Theta Reanalysis Constraint
2. Performance-Based Models of Human Natural Language Processing
2.0. Perceptual Approaches
2.0.1. The Canonical Sentoid Strategy
2.0.2. Kimball’s Seven Surface Principles
2.0.3. The Sausage Machine
2.0.4. Steal-NP
2.1. Computational Approaches
2.1.1. Augmented Transition Networks
2.1.2. Deterministic Parsing and Look-Ahead
2.1.3. Deterministic Parsing and Minimal Commitment
2.2. Lexical Approaches
2.2.1. Lexical Functional Grammar
2.3. Semantic Approaches
2.3.1. Interpretive Islands
2.3.2. Semantic Reanalysis Strategies
2.4. Summary

3. Grammatical Theory of Processing
3.0. Starting Assumptions
3.0.1. An Unambiguous Example
3.1. Object-Subject Ambiguity
3.1.1. Prepositional Object versus Clausal Subject
3.1.2. Verbal Complement versus Clausal Subject
3.2. Complement Clause-Relative Clause Ambiguity
3.3. Matrix Clause-Relative NP Ambiguity
3.3.1. Canonical Garden Path Effects
3.3.2. Canonical Garden Paths Avoided

4. The On-Line Locality Constraint
4.0. Ditransitive Constraint
4.0.1. A False Prediction
4.0.2. From the TRC to the On-Line Locality Constraint
4.0.3. (Re)Establishing the OLLC
4.0.4. Ditransitives Redux
4.1. Lexical Ambiguity
4.1.1. Intracategorial Ambiguity
4.1.2. Structural Ramifications of Lexical Ambiguity
4.1.3. Structural Constancy and Multi-Element Chains

5. Generalized Theta Attachment
5.0. Beyond the Theta Criterion
5.0.1. Eliminating Role Content
5.1. Adjunct Attachment
5.1.1. The Failure of Minimal Attachment
5.1.2. Quasi-Arguments
5.2. Cross-Linguistic Predictions
5.2.1. Mandarin
5.2.2. Hebrew
5.2.3. German
5.2.4. Japanese
5.2.5. Korean
5.3. Conclusions

Index of Names
General Index

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