wiki:DevelopmentModule

D4.2: Sketch Grammar development module

This report describes the new procedure for building sketch grammars for a new language, designed within the scope of the project, with minimum input from native speakers required.

State of the art

Building a sketch grammar for a new language was always dependent on a native speaker of the particular language who was willing to spend a very long time (typically months) with studying the sketch grammar formalism, and writing a sketch grammar then. Not always there was such a person willing to do that, and even if there was, the resulting sketch grammars were often incomplete, contained significant errors and omissions, or did not match the template which would make it compatible with the other sketch grammars within the system, e.g. for the Bilingual word sketch application.

Phase I

In the first phase, we tried to create a "wizard" for writing sketch grammars -- a system that would be so intuitive for native speakers that there would be no need for them to learn the formalism, they would just input their language knowledge into the system. We have created two initial versions of this system and tested these versions on 4 languages with native speakers. Unfortunately, it showed up that such procedure does not lead to satisfactory results: the native speakers, due to the lack of knowledge about the underlying formalism, created inputs with significant problems which resulted into almost useless noisy word sketches.

Conclusion: We are not able to fully automate creating sketch grammars.

Phase II

However, we still thought that we can minimise the amount of native speakers' technical input, in order to get technically well-designed grammars with minimum technical effort of native speakers of the respective languages.

Therefore, we have designed a rather short electronic questionnaire consisting of questions about syntax and word ordering rules (including many examples) of the particular language, which can be used for creating a sketch grammar by a human technical expert who does not understand the language, however, is very familiar with the sketch grammar formalism and knows its options and problems. Filling-in the questionnaire for 1 language took the native speakers roughly 2 hours on average, and the following processing by the technical expert 2-4 days per language. Of course, to fine-tune the grammar, there is further communication with the native speakers needed, but even the first version was usable for all the languages.

We have applied this methodology to the 6 languages within the project: Norwegian, Czech, Amharic, Afaan Oromo, Tigrinya, and Somali. The results are described in deliverables D4.4a-d, and we can conclude that this procedure was successful: no more we need a technically skilled language expert familiar with the sketch grammar formalism; rather than that, a sketch grammar can be written by a non-native-speaker technical expert with a rather minor computer-aided help of the native speaker.

The developed on-line questionnaire is attached below as HTML and PDF:

Word sketch questionnaire

In case of questions about parts of speech, please refer to the universal dependencies tagset, if possible

 

and/or

  • What are the words for and/or?

    • ___________________

  • Are there other means that normally express “X and/or Y”? E.g. “as well as” in English?

    • ___________________________________________________________

  • Translate (and indicate how the words match, if it is not 1:1):

    • “dog and cat”:____________________

    • “white or black door”:______________________

 

Direct verb object

  • What parts of speech are typically objects?

    • ___________________

  • Is the object typically before or after (or both) the verb?

    • ___________________

  • What words (in terms of parts of speech) or phrases can there be between the verb and the object?

    • ___________________

  • In case of passive constructions (like “Larry was informed”):

    • How is the passive expressed? (e.g. be+participle in English)

      • ___________________________________________________

    • Is the object (Larry) typically before or after the verb?

      • _________

    • What words (in terms of parts of speech) or phrases can there be between the verb (was informed) and the object(Larry)?

      • _____________________

  • Is it usual that the subject is not expressed in the sentence, or is the subject mandatory, as in English? Please give examples with translations:

    • __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Translate (and indicate how the words match, if it is not 1:1):

    • “Paul quickly bought a new car”: ___________________________

    • “Larry gave a photo to Jane”: ________________________

    •  “Larry was informed”: _________________________

    • “Larry was informed by Jane”: _________________________

    • “Fresh young Jane helped small old Larry”: ____________________________

    • “The car which has been painted belongs to Larry”: _____________________

 

Verb subject

  • What parts of speech are typically subjects?

    • ___________________

  • Is the subject typically before or after (or both) the verb?

    • ___________________

  • Can there be a confusion between subject and object in sentences like “Larry helped Harry” (in some languages it is not clear who helped whom)? Is it somehow marked, and how?

    • ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • What words (in terms of parts of speech) or phrases can there be between the verb and the subject?

    • ___________________

 

Adjective predicates

  • How do you say “Larry is nice”, “that car is blue”? What words, parts of speech -- please describe:

    • _____________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Translate:

    • “Larry is nice”: __________________________________

    • “That car is blue”: __________________________________

    • “The man was happy”: _________________________________

    • “The man who was smiling helped Larry”: _________________________

    • “The car which is very fast belongs to Larry”: ________________________

 

Noun predicates:

  • How do you say “Larry is a policeman”, “that car is an SUV“? What words, parts of speech -- please describe:
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Translate:

    • “Larry is a policeman”: __________________________________

    • “That car is an SUV”: __________________________________

    • “The meeting was a big success”: _________________________________

    • “The man who was a policeman helped Larry”: _________________________

    • “The car which is an SUV belongs to Larry”: ________________________

 

Pronominal (direct verb) object:

  • When the object is a pronoun (“I”, “you”), is it before or after (or both) the verb?

    • ___________________

  • What words (in terms of parts of speech) or phrases can there be between the verb and the pronoun object?

    • ___________________

  • Is it possible to list all the pronoun word forms that can work as objects? If yes, please list them, if not, list at least some of the word forms. Also include translations:

    • _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Translate:

    • “Larry helped him”: ____________________________

    • “Larry quickly bought it in the shop”: _____________________

    • “I can buy it”: ________________________

 

Pronominal (verb) subject:

  • When the subject is a pronoun (“I”, “you”), is it before or after (or both) the verb?

    • ___________________

  • What words (in terms of parts of speech) or phrases can there be between the verb and the pronoun subject?

    • ___________________

  • Is it possible to list all the pronoun word forms that can work as subjects? If yes, please list them, if not, list at least some of the word forms. Also include translations:

    • _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Can there be a confusion between pronominal subject and object in sentences like “she helped him” (in some languages it is not clear who helped whom)? Is it somehow marked, and how?

    • ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Translate:

    • “He helped Larry”: _________________________

    • “I quickly bought a drink in the shop”: ______________________

    • “It was awesome”: ___________________________

 

Noun phrases:

  • What parts of speech can modify a noun? (e.g. noun or adjective in English)

    • ___________________

  • Is the modifier typically before or after (or both) the noun?

    • ___________________

  • What words (in terms of parts of speech) or phrases can there be between the noun and the modifier?

    • ___________________

 

  • Does the language use determiners, and where in the noun phrase they are?

    • ______________________

  • Translate:

    • “Old Jack”:___________________________________

    • “That old Jack”: _____________________

    • “That old Jack with that hat”: _____________________

    • “USB cable”: ______________________

    • “Long USB cable”: _____________________

    • “Internet connection”: ____________________

 

Adjective phrases:

  • What parts of speech can modify an adjective? (is it only adverb?)

    • ___________________

  • Is the modifier typically before or after (or both) the adjective?

    • ___________________

  • What words (in terms of parts of speech) or phrases can there be between the adjective and the modifier?

    • ___________________

  • Translate:

    • “Dark green”: _________________

    • “Undoubtedly better”: _______________

 

When adverb modifies a verb:

  • Is the adverb typically before or after (or both) the verb?

    • ___________________

  • What words (in terms of parts of speech) or phrases can there be between the verb and the adverb?

    • ___________________

  • Translate:

    • “Jack tremendously succeeded”: ____________________

    • “Jack ate the cake very quickly”: _______________________

 

Multi-word verb forms:

  • Are there verbs composed of more words, e.g. as English “I have done”, “I have been told”, “I did not tell”, “I was informed”, “they have been informed”? Please describe (and translate):

    • _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • How is the passive voice expressed?

    • _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Does your language use phrasal verbs (like “get up”, “take off”). Please explain how and list the particles, if possible:

    • ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    • What words (in terms of parts of speech) or phrases can there be between the verb and the particle? ______________________________________

 

Possesors:

  • How do you say “John’s book”, “Book of mine”? Please explain

    • __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Translate:

    • “John’s book”: ______________________

    • “President’s decision”: ___________________________

    • “Communication of the Ministry”: ________________________

 

Wh-words:

  • Are there wh- words that can be recognized in your language (like “which”, “where”, “who”, ...)? Can you list all, or at least most frequent of them?

    • ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Please include 2 short examples of wh-word use with translation:

    • ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Reflexives:

  • Are there reflexive pronouns in your language (“myself”, “itself”, “ourselves”)? Can you list all, or at least most frequent of them?

    • ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Please include 2 short examples of use of these reflexives, with translation:

    • ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

It+:

  • Do you say “It’s ADJ to do something”? Explain how it is expressed, and give 2 short examples:

    • ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Prepositional phrases:

  • Does your language use prepositions, postpositions, or both?

    • _____________

  • Describe the usual structures of an adpositional phrase (e.g. “ADP DET NOUN”, “ADP DET ADJ NOUN” for English):

    • ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • What parts of speech can an adpositional phrase modify (noun/verb/adjective)?

    • _____________________________________________

  • When the adpositional phrase modifies a noun/verb/adjective, is it usually before or after the noun/verb/adjective?

    • _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Translate:

    • “This is Jack from London“: ______________________

    • “This is Jack from the white city”: _____________________

    • “Jack is from London”: _________________________

    • “Jack went to the white city”: _______________________

    • “Jack bought the car in London”: _______________________

 

Modal verbs:

  • How do you express modality such as permission, ability....? (In English, there are modal verbs like “can”, “may”) Please describe:

    • __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • If there are modal verbs or particles, can you list all (or at least the most frequent) of them, with translations?

    • ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Translate:

    • “Jack can be a programmer”: _________________________

    • “Jack may be a programmer”: _________________________

    • “Jack would be a programmer (if …)”: _____________________

 

Notable constructions:

  • Are there some notable constructions that a learner of the language or a linguist may want to see? Examples for English:

    • the word is predominantly used in plural, OR

    • the verb is very often used with “used to” or with “may”.

Please explain and give examples: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Last modified 5 years ago Last modified on May 31, 2017, 1:57:54 AM

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