LINGUIST List 9.1068

Sat Jul 25 1998

Qs: Grammar, Wood, Phonetics, MT

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate.


  1. Larry Trask, Dictionary of Grammar
  2. Peter R. Burton, Wood as Timber & Lumber
  3. Armindo Ngunga, Acoustic Phonetics Software
  4. Keith J. Miller, Prepositions in Machine Translation

Message 1: Dictionary of Grammar

Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 18:28:31 +0100 (BST)
From: Larry Trask <>
Subject: Dictionary of Grammar

The publisher and I have agreed that I should begin thinking about a
second edition of my Dictionary of Grammatical Terms in Linguistics,
originally published in 1993. Because of my other commitments, the
new edition isn't going to happen soon, but perhaps it's not too soon
to start collecting ideas.

Therefore, I am writing to invite you to submit suggestions for the
revised edition. I expect to have more space at my disposal this
time, though I don't yet know how much, and so I should be able to
expand the coverage a bit.

If you wrote to me earlier with suggestions or corrections, I should
have those on file, but you're welcome to write again anyway.

First of all, please note that this a dictionary of grammar
(morphology and syntax), and of nothing else whatever. Only
grammatical terms can be considered for inclusion, though I do hope to
include some terms from the diachronic study of grammar.

Second, note that I have to be very sparing with technical terms
peculiar to one particular theory of grammar. I will, of course, be
entering the most prominent terms from recent work in
Principles-and-Parameters syntax and in the Minimalist Program, but I
certainly won't have space to include everything.

I will particularly welcome the names of new(ish) theories of grammar,
including computational approaches, since these are easy to overlook.

I already plan to incorporate some terms from earlier versions of
generative grammar which space limitations forced me to exclude from
the first edition, such as `kernel sentence' and `Opacity Condition'.

If you have a term to suggest for inclusion, it would be very helpful
if you could include as much as possible of the following information:

1. The pronunciation (only if this is not obvious);
2. A proposed definition;
3. One or two examples of use;
4. A complete reference to the first published use of the term;
5. An indication of the context in which the term is used;
6. In the case of a substantial concept (such as a theory of grammar),
 any suggested reading that might be useful for a student wanting
 to pursue it;
7. A brief statement of why the term is important enough to be
 included in the dictionary.

Since I anticipate a large number of responses, I will generally have
to reply only with a formal acknowledgement, but rest assured that all
suggestions will be taken seriously.

You can e-mail me at least any time before the summer of 1999, since
I'm unlikely to get down to serious work before then. Right now I'm
just trying to get my file ready for work.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Larry Trask
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH
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Message 2: Wood as Timber & Lumber

Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 18:00:26 -0500
From: Peter R. Burton <>
Subject: Wood as Timber & Lumber

The words <<timber>> & <<lumber>> are not used the same ways in the
U.K. and the U.S. Australian use seems to correspond to British use.

Would speakers of English around the world please inform me which
meanings you normally associate with the words <<timber>> and
<<lumber>> when related to wood or trees, especially with respect to:

Meaning 1: refers collectively to the wood in a living forest;

Meaning 2: refers to wood roughly cut from trees;

Meaning 3: refers to wood as material cut for finished carpentry or

Meaning 4: refers to a section of wood as a piece of a finished

Could either of these words be used to include the meaning of the
other without requiring mental contortions by the reader?

Appreciate any insight.

Peter Burton
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Message 3: Acoustic Phonetics Software

Date: Wed, 22 Jul 98 12:55:24 -0000
From: Armindo Ngunga <>
Subject: Acoustic Phonetics Software

Dear colleague, 

I am looking for Mac software for acoustic phonetics in the
iternet. How can I get it? Please help. Sincerrely, Armindo (from
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Message 4: Prepositions in Machine Translation

Date: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 12:42:00 -0400
From: Keith J. Miller <>
Subject: Prepositions in Machine Translation

I am cross-posting to LINGUIST, CORPORA, and SCHOLAR. I apologize for
any duplication.

I am currently working on my dissertation on the Machine Translation
of prepositional phrases (not all prepositional phrases, actually only
a subset, and focusing on French and English for the time being, but
that is not important for the current message).

In preparing my lit. review, I have uncovered a large amount of
material concerning prepositions, prepositions and case, verbal
argument structure, etc..., but I have had some problems locating
previous work in the following areas. Any pointers or other assistance
would be most welcome. If there is interest, I will, of course, post
a summary of responses to the list.

I am currently in search of:

1. articles directly addressing the problem of _Machine Translation_
of prepositional phrases - in particular, previous proposed solutions
and/or implementations/evaluations of those solutions. I have come
across several inspiring papers, which are listed at the end of this
e-mail, but I feel that there certainly must be more out there.

2. articles relating to evaluation of the current state of the art in
PP translation. This is the most troublesome, because, as most of you
probably know, there are many varying viewpoints on the subject of
evaluation of MT systems, ranging from the more academically-focused
to the more commercially-focused.

I have found many articles on MT evaluation methodologies (including
an entire, very interesting, issue of CL), but haven't run across
anything that specifically addresses current MT systems' performance
with respect to PPs. It's not necessarily enough to say that this is
recognized as a 'hard problem' (i.e. it's listed as such in conference
calls, and anecdotally, people seem to agree that the issue needs to
be addressed.) I need to be able to make the case that, yes, it is
agreed that PP translation is a difficult and important problem, AND

I don't think that any large-scale studies have been done to address
this particular issue, and the development (let alone the
implementation) of an MT evaluation methodology to fill this gap could
be another whole dissertation in itself.

Both a) pointers to articles and
 b) suggestions for handling the fact that there may not be
numeric (hard, factual) metrics that demonstrate that PP translation
is an area in MT that needs improvement would be appreciated.

As a sidenote, I will be out of the office next week (July 25-Aug 1),
so I won't be able to summarize responses until after that.

Thank you in advance for any assistance you are able to provide.

 ----- Keith J. Miller
 Geogetown University
 Linguistics Department
 Computational Linguistics

References relating directly to the MT of PPs:

Bre, D. S., R. A. Smit, and J. P. Van Werkhoven. "Translating Temporal
 Prepositions Between Dutch and English." Journal of Semantics 7 (1990): 1-

Japkowitz, Nathalie, and Janyce M. Wiebe. "A System for Translating Locative
 Prepositions from English into French." 29th Annual Meeting of the
 Association for Computational Linguistics 29 (18-21 June 1991): 153-60.

Sumita, Eiichiro, and Hitoshi Iida. "Example-Based NLP Techniques: A Case
 Study of Machine Translation." In Statistically-Based Natural Language
 Programming Techniques: Papers from the 1992 AAAI Workshop; March 25 - 27,
 University, 81-87. Technical Report SS-92-01. Menlo Park, California: AAAI
 Press, 1992.

Trujillo, A. "Locations in the Machine Translation of Prepositional
 Quatrime Colloque international sur les aspets thoretiques et
 mthodologiques de la traduction automatique Fourth International
 Conference on Theoretical and Methodological Issues in Machine Translation
 empiricistes versus mthodes rationalistes en TA Empiricist vs.
 Rationalist Methods in MT 4 (1992): 13-20. Montral.
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