Discourse Features and Treebanks

MAubrey
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Re: Discourse Features and Treebanks

Post by MAubrey » April 25th, 2017, 12:13 am

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
April 21st, 2017, 2:50 pm
MAubrey wrote:
April 21st, 2017, 11:47 am
The trouble with building discourse features as a layer on top of syntax tree is that they're never going to map accurately unless you had already started with the discourse structure in mind at the beginning. Discourse features affect syntactic constituency in ways that aren't foreseeable if you're not already thinking about discourse when you build the trees. There are going to be mismatches.
Stephen Carlson wrote:
April 20th, 2017, 12:08 am
What happens when they form different hierarchies? It's not clear to me that there is much to be gained by reconciling two different trees.
I have reservations about what look like great grand children of generative syntax trees being wed to graphical reppresentations of information structure. I am not saying that someone hasn't tried to do this already. I don't keep up on all the latter day spinoffs from generative grammer. Jumping between dissimilar frameworks is possible if you understand both frameworks. But wedding the frameworks is another issue.
Well, I wasn't thinking of anything generative. Though there certainly are contemporary generative approaches to information structure.

In fact, Jonathan's Treebank is derived from generative linguistics--Andi Wu's model was a hybrid of bits of HPSG and generative grammar.

The problem is that the best (in my opinion) syntactic frameworks for modeling information structure are so very much non-generative that they would cohere at all with what Andi Wu & Randal Tan have done or what Jonathan & Micheal have derived from it--hence my talk of mismatches above.
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Re: Discourse Features and Treebanks

Post by MAubrey » April 25th, 2017, 12:17 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:
April 23rd, 2017, 8:03 am
Yes, he still uses that term. My point is that his hierarchies do not correspond to any conventional notion of a sentence.
The first level of indentation reflects the presence in a proposition of any pre-nuclear or pre-verbal
constituents, including vocatives, pre-verbal subjects (1:6a) and other points of departure (also called
‘topicalised constituents’―3:6a), preposed focal constituents (1:8c) and pre-nuclear participial
clauses (DFNTG §11.1, as in 2:2a-b).
The second level of indentation is for nuclear clauses that begin with a verb (e.g. 1:2a).

Third and subsequent levels of indentation are for post-nuclear clauses (1:2b), as well as the second
part of long propositions that have had to be divided.
Which means it makes more sense to use a common reference system, but not try to combine it with a conventional syntax tree. I think that's equally true of syntax trees based on constituency vs. dependency.
These are basically categories from Simon Dik's Functional Grammar. FG doesn't have a tree-oriented syntactic representation.

You can, however, make them work pretty easily with the syntactic representation used by Role and Reference Grammar.
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Re: Discourse Features and Treebanks

Post by Jonathan Robie » April 25th, 2017, 10:49 am

MAubrey wrote:
April 25th, 2017, 12:13 am
The problem is that the best (in my opinion) syntactic frameworks for modeling information structure are so very much non-generative that they would cohere at all with what Andi Wu & Randal Tan have done or what Jonathan & Micheal have derived from it--hence my talk of mismatches above.
I am very much out of date - in the 1980s, I was a PhD student in cognitive psychology, and took a little linguistics, but I have not kept up, and am trying to learn some of these things now. Since then, I have been fairly deeply involved in information modeling as a computer scientist.

Let me try a few guesses at what you are saying, and see how close I can get. Our treebanks model individual sentences. They do not attempt to model information flow. Discourse features also seem to occur at roughly the same level, hence constructs like P1 P2 V X, where the position of constituents with respect to the verb is meaningful.

One of the grand themes of cognitive psychology is that the world is full of information, we could never function if we tried to take it all into account, so we get very good at paying attention to the right information. You could never walk down the street if you had to first process every bit of information available to your senses as you go. You only become fluent at reading when you no longer need to pay attention to each individual letter to read a word. And a great deal of meaning is never encoded in sentence signals in the first place but is based on common frameworks of understanding. Once upon a time, Whitehead and Russell came up with the bright idea of encoding the great works of philosophy mathematically so we could compute new knowledge from them. They hit a bunch of problems, Gödel's Theorem and Turning's Halting Problem among them, but there were other problems that were much more mundane. Two people encoding the information understood the sentences differently, even in their native language, and wrote down different sets of propositions. More importantly, the information needed to reason from a sentence was often not found in the text at all, it was found in the set of understandings and assumptions people have about the world.

In Studies in the Way of Words, Grice gives the example of a man who comes to your door and knocks, carrying a gas can. You assume that the gas can is empty and he came to your door because he ran out of gas. You tell him there is a gas station around the corner. He assumes you are not willing to give him a ride, and that this is the closest gas station (there isn't a closer one in the other direction). He also assumes you believe the gas station is probably open.

Our treebanks are at a fairly low level in all of this. They represent the information found in individual sentences. A human being who is reading these sentences may not pay attention to all of this information, but they do represent the structure of a sentence in a meaningful way. As humans read, they select the information they care about and relate it to what they already know, discarding what they do not care about or do not understand. A woman living in Galilee might read Mark 16 very differently than a man, for instance, relating to the experience of being a woman compelled to show love in a situation that is potentially dangerous, when she is not in control of most of what is going on. We're not that ambitious. We simply try to reflect the structure of individual sentences. Discourse grammar might indicate a few more things that we could add to our representation of a sentence, but it is probably better to treat Levinsohn's data as a separate analysis of the same text.

I am not up to date on linguistic theories, and I really don't understand what level each of them functions on - what part of the problem they solve for understanding the way people extract meaning from text. I'm very much a data modeler, I like theories embodied in a set of regular rules applied to a corpus in a way that is verifiable. That makes Levinsohn and Runge attractive to me, they have each done this work. I would generally expect each analysis to answer a different set of questions, and having multiple analyses is a good thing.

So ... suppose I have treebanks and I have Levinsohn's data. Tell me about information flow, what part of this problem those models solve and how they solve it. Give me a concrete example or two of how it works and how it relates to Role and Reference Grammar. Links to blog posts or articles or whatever would be fine.

I have Dik's book and will read it along with Levinsohn. This year, much of my work will focus on improving the treebanks.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

MAubrey
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Re: Discourse Features and Treebanks

Post by MAubrey » April 26th, 2017, 5:44 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
April 25th, 2017, 10:49 am
So ... suppose I have treebanks and I have Levinsohn's data. Tell me about information flow, what part of this problem those models solve and how they solve it. Give me a concrete example or two of how it works and how it relates to Role and Reference Grammar. Links to blog posts or articles or whatever would be fine.
Oof...this is a weekend question. Not a work week question. I can do this. But I probably won't be able to do it fast.
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Re: Discourse Features and Treebanks

Post by MAubrey » May 3rd, 2017, 2:23 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
April 25th, 2017, 10:49 am
So ... suppose I have treebanks and I have Levinsohn's data. Tell me about information flow, what part of this problem those models solve and how they solve it. Give me a concrete example or two of how it works and how it relates to Role and Reference Grammar. Links to blog posts or articles or whatever would be fine.
MAubrey wrote:
April 26th, 2017, 5:44 pm
Oof...this is a weekend question. Not a work week question. I can do this. But I probably won't be able to do it fast.
I haven't forgotten about this. I'm still working on it. But my time is limited and I want what I'm writing up to be as useful as possible.
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Re: Discourse Features and Treebanks

Post by Jonathan Robie » May 3rd, 2017, 2:52 pm

MAubrey wrote:
May 3rd, 2017, 2:23 pm
I haven't forgotten about this. I'm still working on it. But my time is limited and I want what I'm writing up to be as useful as possible.
OK - meanwhile, I should mention that I discussed this with Steven Runge, who contacted me to help me map this data to our treebank models. He has mapped discourse features to similar treebanks.

I think that the discourse features map cleanly to the constituents that our treebanks contain. Steven suggested that I should not try to think of the indentation in Levinsohn's discourse analysis as a hierarchy in the same sense as the syntax treebanks. So I think I know what to do when I get to this task.

I'm also interested in learning about Role and Reference Grammar, and the advantages it has - both in general and with respect to discourse analysis. Perhaps looking at the same Mark 16 passage?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

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Re: Discourse Features and Treebanks

Post by MAubrey » May 9th, 2017, 10:12 pm

Answers that get too long and complicated. But I wanted something that would be valuable beyond just this discussion.

Part I: A brief history of syntactic theory: Early Chomsky

There's going to be a part II and a part III...maybe a part IV.
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Re: Discourse Features and Treebanks

Post by Jonathan Robie » May 11th, 2017, 9:16 am

MAubrey wrote:
May 9th, 2017, 10:12 pm
Answers that get too long and complicated. But I wanted something that would be valuable beyond just this discussion.

Part I: A brief history of syntactic theory: Early Chomsky

There's going to be a part II and a part III...maybe a part IV.
Thanks - this is helpful, I think the most useful response to this would be a blog post or two of my own. And that may take a little time. Let's keep the conversation going. I'll learn along the way.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

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Re: Discourse Features and Treebanks

Post by MAubrey » May 23rd, 2017, 7:57 pm

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Re: Discourse Features and Treebanks

Post by Jonathan Robie » May 24th, 2017, 8:52 pm

Nice posts! Question: What reference do you recommend for information flow? Is there a good overview articles so I don't have to start another 500 page book?

In order to participate in the conversation, I had to introduce the notation I am using, and some of the goals of what we are doing. I'll use that to work my way into commenting on the relationship to discourse grammar.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

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