An incremental procedural grammar for sentence formulation
Kempen, G., & Hoenkamp, E.
An incremental procedural grammar for sentence formulation. Cognitive Science, 11
This paper presents a theory of the syntactic aspects of human sentence production. An important characteristic of unprepared speech is that overt pronunciation of a sentence can be initiated before the speaker has completely worked out the meaning content he or she is going to express in that sentence. Apparently, the speaker is able to build up a syntactically coherent utterance out of a series of syntactic fragments each rendering a new part of the meaning content. This incremental, left-to-right mode of sentence production is the central capability of the proposed Incremental Procedural Grammar (IPG). Certain other properties of
spontaneous speech, as derivable from speech errors, hesitations, self-repairs, and language pathology, are accounted for as well. The psychological plausibility thus gained by the grammar appears compatible
with a satisfactory level of linguistic plausibility in that sentences receive structural descriptions which are in line with current theories of grammar. More
importantly, an explanation for the existence of configurational conditions on transformations and other linguistics rules is proposed.
The basic design feature of IPG which gives rise to these psychologically and linguistically desirable properties, is the “Procedures + Stack” concept. Sentences are built not by a central constructing agency which overlooks the whole process but by a team of syntactic procedures (modules) which work-in parallel-on
small parts of the sentence, have only a limited overview, and whose sole communication channel is a stock. IPG covers object complement constructions, interrogatives, and word order in main and subordinate clauses. It handles unbounded dependencies, cross-serial dependencies and coordination phenomena such as gapping and conjunction reduction. It is also capable of generating self-repairs and elliptical answers to questions. IPG has been implemented as an incremental Dutch sentence generator written in LISP.