Linguistics 575: Semantic Representations

Spring quarter, 2013

Course Info

Instructor Info



The English Resource Grammar (Flickinger 2000, 2011) is a broad-coverage precision grammar for English, written in HPSG (Pollard and Sag 1994) and producing semantic representations in the format of Minimal Recursion Semantics (Copestake et al 2005). It encompasses analyses of a wide range of phenomena in English, and a key piece of each analysis is the design of the resulting semantic representation. The MRS representations are built compositionally by the grammar and represent a significant abstraction away from the surface string. At the same time, they are still relatively closely tied to the surface string, when compared to other encoding systems for knowledge (and meaning) which have been proposed.

The goal of this seminar is to come to a better understanding of the relationship between the information encoded in MRS (as produced by the ERG) and the information needs of downstream applications which take semantic representations as input. We will begin with an overview of MRS, and then move to alternative meaning representations. Term projects will involve developing mappings between MRS and other representations, based on data sets which have target representations included in their annotations. It is expected that each such mapping will reveal information that is in the MRS but not in the target representation and vice versa.

Note: To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, 206-543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating that you have a disability which requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to the instructor so we can discuss the accommodations you might need in this class.


Schedule of Topics and Assignments (may be updated)

4/1 Introduction, organization
What is meaning? What is semantics?
The DELPH-IN ecology
Szabó 2012, Speaks 2010  
4/5     Sample MRS output from the ERG
4/8 The Conduit Metaphor
Minimal Recursion Semantics
Reddy 1979, Clark 1996 (Ch 5 -- available on CommonView), Copestake et al 2005 KWLH: K and W due
4/15 Target corpora presentations Target corpora descriptions
4/22 LFG, GMB Crouch 2005, Crouch and King 2006
Basile et al 2012, Venhuizen et al 2013
4/29 Evaluation, evaluation presentations Zhang et al ms (Section 5)  
5/3     Evaluation plan descriptions
5/6 Quantifier scope Koller and Thater 2005, Koller et al 2008,
Evang and Bos 2013
5/13 Reading MRSs
5/20 Term project presentations
5/27 No class: Memorial Day holiday    
6/3 Term project presentations   KWLH papers due
6/13     Final projects due 11pm


ebender at u dot washington dot edu
Last modified: 3/31/13