Wayne Tosh


Collecting linguistic data for the grammar of a language
Wayne Tosh
Proceedings of the Annual meeting of the Association for Machine Translation and Computational Linguistics

Establishing the grammatical description of a language is one of the major tasks facing the technician in machine translation. Another is that of creating the system of programs with which to carry out the translation process. The Linguistics Research Center of The University of Texas recognizes the advantages in maintaining the specialties of linguistic research and computer programming as two separate areas of endeavor. We regard the linguistic task as a problem in convergence. We do not expect ever to have a final description of a language (except theoretically for a given point in the history of that language). We do expect, however, to begin with almost immediate application of the very first grammatical description. We shall make repeated revisions of the grammar as we learn how to make it approximate better the language text fed into the computer. The grammatical description of any one language is based primarily on specific text evidence. We are not attempting to describe “the language”. We are, however, attempting to make descriptive decisions sufficiently general that new text evidence does not require extensive revision of earlier descriptions. Corpora selected for description are chosen so as to have similar texts within the same scientific discipline for the several languages. Tree diagrams are drawn for each sentence in detail. The diagrams are inspected for consistency before corresponding phrase-structure rules are compiled in the computer. The grammar is then verified in the computer system and revised as necessary.