Ronald M. Kaplan

in The Oxford Handbook of Computational Linguistics

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780199276349
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics


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  • Linguistics
  • Computational Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



This article introduces some of the phenomena that theories of natural language syntax aim to explain. It briefly discusses a few of the formal approaches to syntax that have figured prominently in computational research and implementation. The fundamental problem of syntax is to characterize the relation between semantic predicate-argument relations and the superficial word and phrase configurations by which a language expresses them. The major task of syntactic theory is to define an explicit notation for writing grammars. This article details a framework called transformational grammar that combines a context-free phrase-structure grammar with another component of transformations that specify how trees of a given form can be transformed into other trees in a systematic way. Finally, it mentions briefly two syntactic systems that are of linguistic and computational interest, namely, generalized phrase structure grammar and tree-adjoining grammars.

Keywords: natural language syntax; computational research; syntactic theory; transformational grammar; phrase structure grammar

Article.  7969 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Computational Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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