Documentation for the Grammar Matrix Customization Argument Optionality Library

Introduction

This document explains how to fill out the Argument Optionality page of the Grammar Matrix Customization questionnaire and presents background information on the argument optionality library of the Grammar Matrix Customization System (Bender et al., 2002; Bender and Flickinger, 2005; Bender et al., 2010). General instructions on using the questionnaire can be found here.

Citing the Argument Optionality Library

The standard references for the Argument Optionality library and its implementations are Saleem 2010 and Saleem and Bender 2010. The full references and .bib entries can be found here.

Options

The Argument Optionality page allows you to describe argument realization in your language. More specifically, it enables you to indicate whether an argument, i.e. subject or object, can be dropped in your language. This page is divided into two sections: (1). Subject dropping and (2). Object dropping.


1. Subject dropping

In this section you can indicate whether a subject can be dropped in your language, describe the conditions/contexts in which subject dropping occurs, and model the agreement between subject (overt or dropped) and the verb.

First, using the options provided on the Argument Optionality questionnaire page, please indicate whether the subject dropping can occur with any verb or only with certain verbs. For example, in Tamil subjects and objects can be dropped with all verbs, except for weather-related verbs, which require overt subjects (Asher, 1985). In other languages subject dropping can occur only with certain verbs, in which case you would choose the second option from the options provided below:

Please note that when you are filling out the Verb Types section on the Lexicon page later, for each verb type that does not allow subject dropping, you will need to select the feature OPT with the value "minus" and specified on the subject NP. For example, for Tamil language that allows subject dropping with any verb except only a very narrow group of verbs, you would choose the first option for subject dropping on the Argument Optionality page, i.e. "with any verb," and later use the menu on the Lexicon page in order to add the OPT+ value to all verbs that allow the subject dropping and OPT- value to weather verbs.

Second, using the options provided to you on the Argument Optionality questionnaire page, you can model the agreement between the dropped/overt subject and the verb. Depending on the language you are modeling, verbs may or may not be marked for person, number, or gender when their arguments are dropped or overt:

Please note that when you are filling out the Verb Types section on the Lexicon page later, you will need to add the following features and their values for the verbs, depending on whether the morphemes (subject markers) are required, optional, or not permitted when an overt subject is present or absent. You will need to select overt-arg permitted for the morphemes that are (1). optional when a subject is dropped and required when an overt subject is present or (2). required when a subject is dropped and optional when an overt subject is present. You will need to select overt-arg not permitted for the morphemes that are optional or required when a subject is dropped and are not permitted when an overt subject is present. And, finally, you will need to select drp-arg not permitted option for the morphemes that are not permitted when a subject is dropped and required when an overt subject is present. These four options above are described in more detail on the Argument Optionality page.

Lastly, you will need to specify the contexts, in which subject dropping occurs. Depending on the language, subjects can be dropped in all contexts or just some contexts. Finnish and Hebrew are examples of languages that allow subject dropping in certain contexts. In Finnish a subject can be dropped only for certain persons. In Hebrew subject dropping can occur only with expletives, some non-matrix clauses, generic references for third person subjects, and with the past and future tense for the first and second person subjects. Below are the options provided to you on the Argument Optionality page:

If you indicate that in your language subject dropping occurs only in some contexts, you will need to add context(s) in which subject dropping occurs by selecting features and their values as applicable to your language in the drop-down menu that appears when you add a context in the menu below:

1. Object dropping

In this section you can indicate whether an object can be dropped in your language, whether object dropping can occur with all verbs or just certain verbs, and model the agreement between object (overt or dropped) and the verb.

First, using the options provided on the Argument Optionality questionnaire page (repeated below), please indicate whether the object can be dropped with any verb or only with certain verbs:

If your language allows object dropping for all verbs, e.g. Tamil or Arabic, then select the first option "always allowed." If your language allows object dropping only for certain verbs, then select the second option "lexically licensed." English is an example of a language that usually requires overt objects, but allows object dropping for certain verbs, such as eat (Example 1: He is eating fish, Example 2: He is eating).

Please note that when you are filling out the Verb Types section on the Lexicon page later, for all verbs that do not allow object dropping, you will need to select the feature OPT with value "minus" and specify it as marked on the object. And, vice versa, for all verbs that allow object dropping, you will need to select the feature OPT with value "plus" and specify it as marked on the object.

Second, using the options provided to you on the Argument Optionality page in Matrix Questionnaire, you can model the agreement between the object (overt or dropped) and the verb. Depending on the language you are modeling, verbs may or may not be marked for person, number, or gender. Similar to subjects, when you are filling out the Verb Types section on the Lexicon page later, you will need to add appropriate features and their values for the verbs, depending on whether the morphemes (object markers) are required, optional, or not permitted in the presence or absence of an overt object. You will be provided with four options, described in detail on the Argument Optionality page.

For more information on analyses and implementation of the argument optionality please refer to Analyses section below.

Analyses

When you define argument optionality in your language, your starter grammar will include an actual Matrix feature OPT, as well as two features OVERT-ARG and DRP-ARG, the main purpose of which is just to prompt creation of certain lexical and/or phrase rules . All three features will be available to you for later use in the Grammar customization system.

The feature OPT is used to specify which verb types allow dropped arguments and which verbs do not. Its values can be either underspecified as type bool, or constrained to + or -, based on the choices you make on the Argument Optionality and Lexicon pages. Verb types allowing dropped arguments should be specified as [OPT +], while verb types that do not allow dropped arguments, should be specified as [OPT -].

Feature OVERT-ARG will appear on Lexicon page if you have indicated that your language has markers that are required for dropped arguments and that are optional/not permitted for overt arguments.

Feature DRP-ARG will appear on Lexicon page if you have indicated that your language has markers that are required for overt arguments and that are optional/not permitted for dropped arguments.

Below is a snippet of code related to Argument Optionality in choices file for a language with lexically-based subject dropping:

section=arg-opt
subj-drop=subj-drop-lex
subj-mark-drop=subj-mark-drop-not
subj-mark-no-drop=subj-mark-no-drop-not
subj-con=subj-con-always

Below is a snippet of code related to Argument Optionality in choices file for a language with context dependent subject dropping:

subj-con=subj-con-some
context1 feat1 name=tense
context1 feat1 value=past
context1 feat1 head=verb
context1 feat2 name=person
context1 feat2 value=3rd
context1 feat2 head=subj

In order to model argument optionality a unary phrase structure rule was used to shorten the valence list(s) of the mother. More specifically, for the languages allowing object dropping, in addition to a head-comps-phrase rule, a unary head-opt-comps-phrase rule was added. This rule empties the COMPS list without a complement being present. A similar analysis was adopted for languages allowing subject dropping.

Currently the Argument Optionality library allows user to cover various combinations of lexical, context, and affix co-occurrence restrictions involved in argument realization for different languages. For more information about the analyses implemented in the Argument Optionality library please refer to Chapter 4 in Saleem 2010 and Saleem and Bender 2010.

Upcoming Work

One possible improvement to Argument Optionality section in Grammar Matrix Customization system is providing coverage of languages, in which pronominal subjects are expressed by clitics with variable hosts or by subject pronouns occupying a different syntactic position than full noun phrase subjects do. Another possible improvement of Argument Optionality section of Grammar Matrix Customization is the coverage of semantic factors influencing the argument optionality strategies employed by different languages. All of these improvements would benefit the word order section of Grammar Matrix customization system as well, as they would require applying changes/extensions to the word order library.

References

Asher, R.E. 1985. Tamil. Croom Helm, London.

Saleem, Safiyyah. 2010. Argument Optionality: A New Library for the Grammar Matrix Customization System. Masters thesis, University of Washington.

Safiyyah Saleem and Emily M. Bender. 2010. Argument Optionality in the LinGO Grammar Matrix. Coling 2010: Posters. pp.1068-1076.

MatrixDoc/ArgumentOptionality (last edited 2013-02-15 04:32:59 by VaryaGracheva)

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