Syntactic constraints and efficient parsability

Robert C. Berwick, Amy S. Weinberg
1983 Proceedings of the 21st annual meeting on Association for Computational Linguistics -  
A central goal of linguistic theory is to explain why natural languages are the way they are. It has often been supposed that com0utational considerations ought to play a role in this characterization, but rigorous arguments along these lines have been difficult to come by. In this paper we show how a key "axiom" of certain theories of grammar, Subjacency, can be explained by appealing to general restrictions on on-line parsing plus natural constraints on the rule-writing vocabulary of
more » ... abulary of grammars. The explanation avoids the problems with Marcus' [1980] attempt to account for the same constraint. The argument is robust with respect to machine implementauon, and thus avoids the problems that often arise wilen making detailed claims about parsing efficiency. It has the added virtue of unifying in the functional domain of parsing certain grammatically disparate phenomena, as well as making a strong claim about the way in which the grammar is actually embedded into an on-line sentence processor.
doi:10.3115/981311.981335 dblp:conf/acl/BerwickW83 fatcat:jg5xdnp2gvd2nlsnwevqqotrg4