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Language Modeling: Exploiting Logical Form


Admission requirements

BA level syntax and semantics or BA level computational linguistics


Not all linguists are convinced that the meaning of a sentence can be expressed in and by the grammar, with formal and finite resources. The background issue here is whether (some form of) meaning can be determined, in the very same sense that has been applied to formal aspects of sentences (phonological, morphological and syntactic structure): can the meaning of a sentence be determined by finite calculations within in a principled framework?
This course analyzes the linguistic architecture of the Leiden language automaton Delilah – – which aims to compute fully specified sentential meanings for the sake of inference, by deep processing. The automaton produces three different levels of Logical Form, on the basis of a neo-Davidsonian event semantics.
We will scrutinize the assumptions, the grammar and the logic underlying these Logical Forms, and discuss the question under which conditions these semantic representation are relevant to the theory of grammar, to language description and to natural language processing. In particular, we will pay attention to the question which aspects of sentence meaning should be computable this way, and which may fall outside this window. Papers are solicited on the (non-)computability of semantic phenomena in any language. Thus, students are invited to project their semantic insights on the concept of computability.

Course objectives

The student is able to compare theoretical goals, research efforts and computational effects in semantics-oriented, grammar-based deep language processing, and is able to weigh theoretical validity and descriptive adequacy against computability

Mode of instruction

2-hour weekly seminar

Assessment method

Written paper


Yes Blackboard

Reading list

C. Cremers, M. Hijzelendoorn and H. Reckman. From form to meaning and back. Dutch as a computable language. 2011 ms. Available as PDF from the lecturer.


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