Call for abstracts - SLE2011: Functionally motivated computational approaches to models of language and grammar

Brian Nolan brian.nolan at
Fri Oct 29 12:06:57 UTC 2010

Functionally motivated computational approaches to models of language and grammar
Within the framework of the 44th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, to be held at the Universidad de La Rioja (Logroño, Spain), 8-11 September 2011, we would like to propose a workshop on functionally motivated work in computational approaches to models of language and grammar

Brian Nolan (Institute of Technology Blanchardstown Dublin Ireland)
Carlos Periñán Pascual (Universidad Católica de San Antonio, Murcia Spain)
 In this call for papers we propose to host a workshop under the SLE to examine and discuss recent and current work in the use of functional, cognitive and constructional approaches to the computational modelling of language and grammars.
 While recognising that in recent times much work has concentrated on statistical models, we wish to examine in particular computational models that are linguistically motivated and that deal with problems at the interfaces between concept, semantics, lexicon, syntax and morphology. Many functionally oriented models of grammar, including Functional Grammar, Functional Discourse Grammar and Role and reference Grammar have lent them selves to work as diverse as lexically motivated machine translation from Arabic to English (Nolan and Salem 2009, Salem and Nolan 2009a and 2009b) and to the conceptual ontological work on FunGramKB (Periñán-Pascual & Arcas-Túnez 2005, 2007, 2010a, 2010b; Periñán-Pascual & Mairal Usón 2009) plus recent work undertaken within the Lexical-Constructional Model (Mairal Usón, R. & Francisco Ruiz de Mendoza. 2008 and 2009, Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez, Francisco José and Mairal, Ricardo. 2008, Guest,  Nolan & Mairal-Uson. 2009) and Role and Reference Grammar (Van Valin 2005, Van Valin & LaPolla 1997).
 Indeed, similar work has been ongoing quietly within the domain of Sign Linguistics where various initiatives based upon variations of the original Mental Spaces Model (Fauconnier 1994) have been productively used in the creation of digital intelligent avatars to translate spoken/written languages into several Sign Languages (Morrissey & Way 2006, Cassell et al 2000, Prendinger & Ishizuka 2010). Sign Languages, as visual gestural languages, pose interesting problems for functional models of grammar (Leeson & Nolan 2008, Leeson et al 2006).
 The organisers of this workshop are a European group of linguists, computational linguists and computer scientists who, since the 2004 Role and Reference Grammar International Conference in Dublin have formulated computational proposals in different areas concerned with the lexicon and concept ontologies, and the computational processing of the syntax, morphology and semantics of a variety of languages. Thus far, these actual computational projects have encompassed 1) rule-based lexicalist interlingua bridge machine translation, 2) ontological engineering of concepts that enhance and enrich logical structures in a machine tractable way, 3) the implementation of a unified lexical meta-language in software, and 4) the parsing of complex sentences. The languages that have undergone a computation treatment in RRG have included English, Arabic and Spanish, and others.
 A consequence of this computational work has been the enrichment of the theoretical elements of the RRG theory, especially in its semantics and lexical underpinnings where they connect with concepts, and the building of frame based applications in software that demonstrate its viability in natural language processing. Furthermore, this computational work provides compelling evidence that functional approaches to grammar have a positive and crucial role to play in natural language processing. We claim that a functional approach to grammar delivers a credible and realistic linguistic model to underpin these kinds of NLP applications.
 The main topics of the workshop will include, but are not limited to, the following:
·      The deployment of functional models in parse and generation
·      The architecture of the lexicon
·      The linking system between semantics, lexicon and morphosyntax
·      Interpretation of the linguistic model into an algorithm specification
·      Issues for the layered structure of the clause and word
·      Complexity issues
·      Concept formation
·      Linguistically motivated computational approaches to gesture in language
 We would like to present a forum for a functional and cognitive linguistic, computational research agenda, based around an inclusive model consisting of the various cognitive and functional approaches to grammar. In sum, the aim of this workshop is to offer a forum for discussion and critical evaluation of the full gamut of research projects concerned with a broadly functional computational linguistics and that also contributes to our understanding of languages in a functionally oriented way.
Abstracts are invited for 20 minute presentations with 10 minute discussion. Interested researchers and linguists are invited to email brian.nolan at with their name, affiliation and provisional abstract of 500 words by 10 November 2010.

 Important dates
Submission of provisional abstract: 10 November 2010.
Notification of acceptance of workshop proposal: 15th December 2010.
If the workshop proposal is accepted then all abstracts will need to be submitted to SLE by 15th January 2011, via the SLE conference website:
Notification of acceptance: 31st March 2011
Registration: From April 2011 onwards
Conference: 8-11 September 2011

Selected references
Cassell, J., Sullivan, J., Prevost, S., and Churchill, E. (Eds.). 2000. Embodied
Conversational Agents. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Fauconnier, Gilles. (1994). Mental Spaces: Aspects of Meaning Construction in
Natural Language. Cambridge University Press.  Cambridge.
Guest, Elizabeth, Brian Nolan and Ricardo Mairal-Uson. 2009. Natural Language
processing applications in an RRG Framework. Proceedings of the 10th International Role and Reference Grammar Conference. University of California, Berkeley USA.
Leeson, Lorraine and Brian Nolan. 2008. Digital Deployment of the Signs of
Ireland Corpus in Elearning. Language Resources and Evaluation LREC2008 - 3rd Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages: Construction and Exploitation of Sign Language Corpora. Marrakech, Morocco.
Leeson, Lorraine, John Saeed, Deirdre Byrne-Dunne, Alison Macduff and Cormac
Leonard. 2006. Moving Heads and Moving Hands: Developing a Digital Corpus of Irish Sign Language. The ‘Signs of Ireland’ Corpus Development Project. IT&T Conference ( IT Carlow, Ireland.
Mairal Usón, R. and Francisco Ruiz de Mendoza. 2008: New challenges for lexical
representation within the Lexical-Constructional Model (LCM). In Revista
Canaria de Estudios Ingleses. Universidad de La Laguna.
Mairal Usón, Ricardo and Francisco Ruiz de Mendoza. 2009: Levels of description
and  explanation in meaning construction. In Ch. Butler and J. Martín Arista (eds.). Deconstructing Constructions. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Morrissey, Sara and Andy Way. 2006. Lost in Translation: the Problems of Using
Mainstream MT Evaluation Metrics for Sign Language Translation. In Proceedings of Strategies for developing machine translation for minority languages: 5th SALTMIL Workshop on Minority Languages. Genoa, Italy. pp.91-98
Nolan, Brian and Yasser Salem. 2009. UniArab: An RRG Arabic-to-English machine
translation software. Proceedings of the Role and Reference Grammar International Conference. University of California, Berkeley USA.
Periñán-Pascual, Carlos, and Francisco Arcas-Túnez. 2005. Microconceptual-
Knowledge Spreading in FunGramKB. Proceedings on the 9th IASTED International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Soft Computing. 239-244, ACTA Press, Anaheim-Calgary-Zurich.
Periñán-Pascual, Carlos and Francisco Arcas Túnez. 2007. Cognitive modules of an NLP knowledge base for language understanding. Procesamiento del Lenguaje Natural 39, 197-204.
Periñán-Pascual, Carlos and Francisco Arcas Túnez. 2010a. Ontological commitments in FunGramKB. Procesamiento del Lenguaje Natural 44, 27-34.
Periñán-Pascual, Carlos and Francisco Arcas Túnez. 2010b. The architecture of FunGramKB. Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation, European Language Resources Association (ELRA), 2667-2674.
Periñán-Pascual, Carlos and Ricardo Mairal Usón. 2009. Bringing Role and Reference Grammar to natural language understanding. Procesamiento del Lenguaje Natural 43, 265-273.
Prendinger, Helmut and Mitsuru Ishizuka. 2010. Life-Like Characters: Tools,
Affective Functions, and Applications (Cognitive Technologies). Springer.
Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez, Francisco José and Mairal, Ricardo. 2008: ‘Levels of
description and constraining factors in meaning construction: an introduction to the Lexical Constructional Model’. Folia Linguistica 42/2 (2008), 355–400.
Salem, Y., Hensman, A., and Nolan, B., 2008a. Implementing Arabic-to-English
machine translation using the Role and Reference Grammar linguistic model. In Proceedings of the Eighth Annual International Conference on Information Technology and Telecommunication (IT&T 2008), Galway, Ireland.
Salem, Y. and Nolan, B., 2009a. Designing an XML lexicon architecture for Arabic
machine translation based on Role and Reference Grammar. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Arabic Language Resources and Tools (MEDAR 2009), Cairo, Egypt.
Salem, Y. and Nolan, B., 2009b. UNIARAB: An universal machine translator
system for Arabic Based on Role and Reference Grammar. In Proceedings of the 31st Annual Meeting of the Linguistics Association of Germany (DGfS 2009).
Van Valin, R., 2005. Exploring the Syntax-Semantic Interface. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Van Valin, R. and LaPolla, R., 1997. Syntax: Structure, Meaning, and Function.
  Cambridge University Press.

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