Computer Sciences Dept.

An Interactive, Heuristic Program for Learning Transformational Grammars

Sheldon Klein, Michael A. Kuppin

An interactive system for learning transformational grammars of natural languages has been programmed in ALGOL and is operational on a B5500 timesharing system. The program is part of an "automated linguistic fieldworker" system intended to duplicate the functions of a human linguist in working with a live informant. Using a battery of analytic heuristics, the program derives grammars containing context-free phrase structure rules and transformations via interaction with an informant who, minimally, is expected to be bilingual in English and the language under analysis. The informant must input sentences in the subject language, indicating spaces between morphological units, and may be required to answer questions about the validity of the program's test productions. A skilled linguist may choose to use the program as a partner in fieldwork. He may inspect the grammar at any time and guide the analysis by inserting or deleting rules of his choice.

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