Interpreted Languages and Compositionality

Marcus Kracht, UCLA

Formal language theory standardly defines languages as sets of strings. Much of linguistic theory has been devoted to the exclusive study of string sets. However, in reality languages are always interpreted. A formal theory of interpreted languages however is barely given. In this lecture we shall develop such a formal theory. We shall look at ways to supplement standard grammars (CFGs, TAGs LCFRSs etc) with a semantic component and ask how to compute with these grammars. Also, we shall look at one metatheoretic principle that has played a decisive role in linguistic theory: compositionality. We shall see how this principle can be formally defined, and what its empirical consequences are. We shall look at some grammar formalisms and ask whether they are truly compositional.

Course material (UCLA)