The Syntax-Semantics interface in an incremental context
Seminar Winter 2012/13


Course Information

Dr. Vera Demberg and Dr. Asad Sayeed
Konferenzraum 2.11 (1st floor) in C7.2
Meeting times
16:00-18:00 on Wednesdays
vera at/asayeed at coli d0t uni hyph3n saarland d0t de

Goals of the seminar

This course focuses on new ideas and technologies in incremental syntactic and semantic processing. Incremental parsing of natural language from a syntactic perspective has a well-developed literature, with a variety of theories and techniques developed with an eye towards a variety of goals and applications. However, adapting semantic representations to these technologies involves an additional dimension of challenges from formal, psycholinguistic, and engineering perspectives.

Through readings from recent literature, we will cover several aspects of this topic. We will start with the psycholinguistic and application-oriented motivations for incremental processing at the syntactic and semantic level. We will then cover some of the most current work on psycholinguistically-plausible approaches to incremental syntax (based in TAG, CCG, PCFG, etc.). After that, we will move on to recent developments in semantics, such as neo-Davidsonian approaches and minimal recursion semantics. We discuss how these approaches can be integrated with compositional distributional approaches to semantics.

Additional topics will be covered as time and student interest permits.

Mailing List

If you want to participate in the course, you have to sign up for the mailing list.

Requirements and evaluation

We plan to give every student at least one opportunity to present a relevant paper from the literature and lead discussion about its contents. The format will depend on how many students attend the course. Projects may also be considered depending on course attendance.


Date Topic
17.10. Introduction to the course topic; Organization (Vera Demberg)
24.10. Historic Background: Incremental Interpretation and the Strict Competence Hypothesis (Vera Demberg)
31.10. Psycholinguistic Background on Incremental Processing (Vera Demberg)
07.11. Incremental Parsing -- Tree-Adjoining Grammars (Vera Demberg)
14.11. Incrementality and CCG (Vera Demberg)
21.11. Incremental Parsing -- Phrase Structure or Dependency (Evi Kiagia)
28.11. Incremental Semantic Parsing with Chunks (Moinuddin Mushirul Haque)
05.12. Neo-Davidsonian Semantics (Asad Sayeed)
12.12. Incremental Semantics for TAGs (Asad Sayeed)
19.12. entfaellt
9.01. Introduction to Compositional Distributional Semantics (reading will be sent out by email) (Asad Sayeed)
16.01. Compositional Distributional Semantics -- Verbs and their Arguments (Jesus Cavillo)
23.01. Compositional Distributional Semantics -- Noun Phrases (Marc Schulder)
30.01. TBD (tba)
06.02. Wrap-Up


We will pick relevant topics to fit the above from the reading list below. We will expand this as the semester moves on. Relevant suggestions from students are welcome. Some papers listed below do indeed logically belong in more than one category. Time permitting, we may cover other special topics.

Psycholinguistic motivations
  • Intro: the strict competence hypothesis
    • Abney and Johnson (1991) Memory Requirements and Local Ambiguities of Parsing Strategies
    • Steedman, M. (1992).Grammars and Processors (Tech. Rep. MS-CIS-92-52). University of Pennsylvania, Department of Computer and Information Science. To appear in H. Kamp & C. Rohrer, (Eds.),Current Theories in Natural Language Understanding. The Netherlands: Reidel.
    • Shieber and Johnson (1993) Variations in incremental interpretation.
    • Edward Stabler (1991) Avoid the pedestrian's paradox. In Principle-based parsing: computation and psycholinguistics, pp. 199-237
  • Psycholinguistic experiments on incrementality: Evidence for/against strict incrementality (meaning that each word in a sentence is fully integrated as soon as it is encountered)
  • Incrementality and prediction
  • Acquisition and processing.
Engineering: dialog systems
  • Trade-off between incrementality (speed) and accuracy:<\li>
Incremental syntax
Incremental semantics
Compositional distributional approaches

Last updated 7:26 16.10.12