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Publication Details

Sentence Disambiguation By A Shift-Reduce Parsing Technique

by Shieber, Stuart M.

Technical Note 281
Institution: AI Center, SRI International
Address: 333 Ravenswood Ave., Menlo Park, CA 94025
Mar 1983.

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Abstract

Native speakers of English show definite and consistent preferences for certain readings of syntactically ambiguous sentences. A user of a natural-language-processing system would naturally expect it to reflect the same preferences. Thus, such systems must model in some way the linguistic performance as well as the linguistic competence of the native speaker. We have developed a parsing algorithm–a variant of the LALR(1) shift-reduce algorithm–that models the preference behavior of native speakers for a range of syntactic preference phenomena reported in the psycholinguistic literature, including the recent data on lexical preferences. The algorithm yields the preferred parse deterministically, without building multiple parse trees and choosing among them. As a side effect, it displays appropriate behavior in processing the much discussed garden-path sentences. The parsing algorithm has been implemented and has confirmed the feasibility of our approach to the modeling of these phenomena.

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