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The Formal Complexity of Natural Language

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« on: July 08, 2022, 05:24:23 am »

The Formal Complexity of Natural Language, by W. Savitch et al.

Context-free grammar is a model intermediate between the two extremes of the finite-state and transformational grammars. Moreover, this intermediate model has much to recommend it. It is simple. It includes parse-tree structures in a conspicuous way. After being rejected by linguists it was used successfully by computer scientists as a model for programming language syntax. Yet most linguists have traditionally assumed it was inadequate to the task of capturing the intricacies of natural language syntax. Recently, vigorous efforts have been mounted to show that it IS adequate to that task. The most notable effort in this regard is the work on generalized phrase structure grammar by Gazdar, Pullum, Sag and others of their school. Their work reopened the question of whether or not natural languages are context-free. This anthology traces the responses to this question by presenting representative readings from the recent literature on linguistic theory:

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