LINGUIST List 12.100

Wed Jan 17 2001

Qs: "Phonetiseurs", Comprehensive Semantic Research

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  1. Virginie Br��s, "Phonetiseurs"
  2. Wil Snyder, Comprehensive Semantic research

Message 1: "Phonetiseurs"

Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2001 11:37:35 +0100
From: Virginie Br��s <>
Subject: "Phonetiseurs"

Dear linguists,

We are a company of linguistic engineering and we are looking for
information about "phonetisers" (in french "phonetiseurs") of a
particular type : we would like to know if there is "phonetisers" by
Markov's chain, if yes, how do they work ? Are they accessible,
downloadable, done market, etc. ?

Thank you in advance and sorry for my broken english !

Virginie BREUS

1 avenue du President Pompidou
Tel : (+ 33) (0)1 41 29 78 00
Fax : (+ 33) (0)1 47 08 92 91
E-mail :
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Message 2: Comprehensive Semantic research

Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2001 05:48:48 +0800
From: Wil Snyder <>
Subject: Comprehensive Semantic research

I'm with the Summer Institute of Linguistics, and am living in China
and researching Bouyei, a Northern Tai language of about 3 million
speakers. I've done extensive dialect survey, and worked through the
phonologies of the various dialects, as well as a first order estimate
of the intelligibility network. This has been published as a book in
Chinese, but not English yet! I've also spent lots of time learning the
language, and am now interested in working through the grammar,
semantics, pragmatics and discourse structures of one of the central
dialects of this language. This is a new area for me, and I could use
some advice about how to proceed. The more I think about it, the more
interested I am in how the language 'works' with regard to encoding 

I've collected scads of natural texts, and have worked out all the 
constituent structures found in the language so far. What I have in 
mind is to go through all the text data I have so far and tag it 
grammatically and semantically, and then work out the realizations of 
the semantic constructions and functions into the grammar and vice 
versa. I would also like to see how pragmatics affects the language 
output, and look into the interaction of the grammar and discourse 
structure. I know this is a mammoth project, but it needs to be done 
to understand this particular language as much as possible. Bouyei is 
a little known language, and next to nothing has been done beyond 
historical linguistics and phonology sketches. I'm sure it has a lot 
of interesting grammar and semantic phenomena.

In the late '80's I studied generative grammar and an offshoot of 
stratificational grammar targeted for field linguistics. Recently, 
I've been reading what I can regarding RRG, Systemics (seems a bit 
quacky?), LFG and HPSG, but it's only introductory work and some 
miscellaneous articles. So far, I haven't seen anything that would 
guide me in my quest, but I don't have access to a good library yet. 
What I've seen in these is a comprehensive theory, but only sketches 
of small parts of language, with semantics as somewhat of an 
afterthought(??). I'm interested in a comprehensive, systematic way 
to encode the semantic constructions and functions of language. As 
I've gone through some of the Bouyei texts and tried to tag the semantics, 
I've encountered all sorts of problems; concepts that I can't find in 
any semantic theory, and I would have to make up a way to encode it 
myself. This is unsatisfactory, because I would hope that my research 
would easily contribute to existing semantic research, and how can it 
do that well if I'm using my own system? Surely there are semantic 
systems/hierarchies that are being used to comprehensively research 

Regarding lexical semantics, I'm quite impressed with the work done 
by WordNet, and can well imagine applying that system to Bouyei, with 
modification. This applies to the lexicon, and involves 
subcategorization of verbs (in a minimal way??), but what about 
semantic propositions/constructions? Also, I'm quite impressed with 
the theory of LFG, and it's computational capability, but does LFG 
have a semantic theory that can be used to encode an entire language?

As you can see, I'm becoming quite interested and fascinated with the 
study of meaning in language, and I'm also pretty much out to sea. 
Does anyone have some advice as to where I might start, and what 
resources there are for this kind of research? Any help will be 

Wil Snyder
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