A two-sided analysis of postpositions

#preposition #postposition Consider the following adverbs: après (after, dopu) (he would eat after), avant (before, nanzi) (they had seen them before). They can also be considered as prepositions:

  • après la fête: after the feast, dopu à a festa
  • avant le mois de juin: before the month of June, nanzi u mesi di ghjunghju
    Likewise, during is also a preposition: durant la procession, during the procession, mentri a prucissioni
    But après, avant, durant can also be used differently:
  • deux jours après: two days after, dui ghjorni dopu
  • une semaine avant: one week before, una sittimana innanzi
  • deux mois durant: for two months, mentri dui mesi
    From our point of view, these are postpositions, because they are then followed by punctuation (in general), and preceded by a common name.
    If we now extend this analysis to locutions, the following locutions are also postpositions:
  • plus tard: later, dopu; deux jours plus tard: two days later, dui ghjorni dopu
  • plus loin: further, più luntanu; trois mètres plus loin: three meters further
  • plus près: closer, più vicinu; dix centimètres plus près: ten centimeters closer

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More on two-sided grammar


Let’s focus on analyzing the following phrases:

  • à force de courage (bravely)
  • à force de courage et de persévérance (by dint of courage and perseverance)
  • avec beaucoup d’abnégation (selflessly)
  • d’une manière ou d’une autre (in any way)
  • d’une façon vraiment admirable (in a very admirable way)
  • au moment le plus opportun (when most appropriate)

What is their grammatical nature? From the point of view of two-sided grammar, what are they?

From a synthetic standpoint, first of all, they are adverbs. Let us turn now to their nature from an analytical point of view.

  • à force de courage (bravely): analytically, it is a preposition, followed by a common noun, then another preposition, then another common noun: PS-NC-PS-NC.
  • à force de courage et de persévérance (by dint of courage and perseverance): analytically, it is a preposition, followed by a common noun, then another preposition, then another common noun, then a conjunction, then another preposition and then another common noun: PS-NC-PS-NC-CONJ-PS-NC.
  • and so on
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Lemmatizer for French language updated

I just updated the lemmatizer for French language. Many new options are available.

The API can be tested here: https://rapidapi.com/okchakkotranslator/api/lemmatizer-for-french-language

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Reflections on grammatical typologies

It is useful to point out the differences that may exist between different grammatical typologies. The classical grammatical taxonomy is essentially aimed at teaching and comprehension. It therefore has a pedagogical purpose. On the other hand, the taxonomy that is useful for rule-based machine translation has a different purpose: it aims essentially at allowing disambiguation, both grammatically and semantically, because ambiguity is a fundamental and very common problem in this particular context. Such a typology essentially focuses on the location of word types, on the structures encountered in the sentence. This explains why typologies can be different, as they have different goals and purposes.

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Analyzing relative pronouns

What is the status of ‘relative pronouns’ of classical grammar within the present conceptual framework? Traditionally, a distinction is made between simple relative pronouns (qui, que, dont, où ; who, what, whose, where) and compound relative pronouns (à qui, pour lesquelles, à côté duquel, etc.; to whom, for whom, beside whom, etc.). If we look first at simple relative pronouns, the category does not seem satisfactory, in particular because of the presence of ‘qui’ (who) and ‘que’ (what), whose grammatical role appears, in the present context, to be quite different. Consider the two short sentences: ‘la maison que j’habite est grande’; et ‘l’homme qui parle est grand’. (the house I live in is big and the man who speaks is tall.). As these two examples illustrate, the structures following ‘que’ and ‘qui’ appear different. Here, ‘que’ is followed by a personal pronoun (‘j’habite’: I live) and a conjugated verb; and ‘qui’ is followed directly by a conjugated verb (‘parle’: speaks). From our present perspective, these are inherently different structures. Here, it turns out that ‘dont’ and ‘où’ admit the same type of structure as ‘que’. Thus, the homogeneous category, from our point of view, is formed here by ‘que’, ‘dont’, ‘où’, but not by ‘qui’. If we extend this analysis to other words, by searching for those who could fit into this category, we also find: ‘duquel’ (= de lequel; from which), ‘de laquelle’, ‘desquels’ (= de lesquels; from which), ‘desquelles’ (= de lesquelles; from which), ‘auquel’ (à lequel), à laquelle, ‘auxquels’ (à lesquels), ‘auxquelles’ (à lesquelles). But we also have all forms of the same type built from another preposition than ‘de’ or ‘à’: ‘sur lequel’, ‘sur laquelle’, …, ‘par lequel’, ‘par laquelle’, ‘avec lequel’, etc. Les pronoms relatifs composés classiques tels que ‘à qui’, ‘pour lesquelles’, ‘à côté duquel’, etc.; to whom, for whom, beside whom, etc.), s’intègrent également naturellement dans cette catégorie. But from the point of view of two-sided grammar, ‘à l’aide duquel’, ‘au moyen de laquelle’, ‘à la suite de quoi’, ‘à l’aide de qui’, etc. (with the help of which, by means of which, as a result of which, with the help of whom, etc.) also belong to this category. (to be continued)

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Powering MT with two-sided grammar: the case of ‘près de’

‘près de’ (near) is considered to be a prepositive locution. From the viewpoint of two-sided grammar, it is (synthetically) a preposition, made up (analytically) of an adverb (‘près’) followed by the preposition ‘de’. In Corsican language, this is translated as vicinu à. But this grammatical analysis does not solve all cases, as the example above shows. Because in the sentence ‘depuis près de dix ans, il travaillait’ (for almost ten years, he has been working), ‘près de’ (almost; guasgi) has a different grammatical role. According to classical analysis, it would rather be an adverb.
In the present conceptual framework, we will analyze ‘près de’ (almost; guasgi) in ‘depuis près de dix ans, il travaillait’ (for almost ten years, he has been working) as a modulator of the cardinal determinant ‘dix’ (ten), i.e. as a modulator of cardinal determinant. A prototype implemented with this type of grammatical analysis then gives the correct translation, where ‘near’ is replaced by guasgi (nearly) . It seems that two-sided grammar is beginning to produce interesting results (to be confirmed).

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Expanding on noun modulators

Let’s take a closer look at noun modulators, especially common noun modulators. We have seen that adjectives could be considered, in the present conceptual framework, as noun modulators. In this context, the question arises, are there other forms of noun modulators? It seems that there are.

Let us consider elements of sentences such as ‘bois de châtaignier’ (chestnut wood; legnu castagninu) or ‘oiseau de proie’ (bird of prey; aceddu di preda). In ‘bois de châtaignier’, ‘de châtaignier’ seems to play the role of noun modulator, in the same way as an adjective. In traditional grammar, ‘de châtaignier’ is considered as a noun complement. In the present framework, it would be a noun modulator, since it clarifies and restricts the meaning of the noun ‘bois’ (wood; legnu). The role of ‘de proie’ in ‘oiseau de proie’ is identical, as it acts as a modulator of the name ‘bird’.

Interestingly, it turns out that the comparison between languages tends to validate this type of analysis. Indeed, ‘bois de châtaignier’ is better translated in Corsican language by legnu castagninu than litterally by legnu di castagnu (chestnut wood); and in this case, castagninu (of chestnut) is an adjective, i.e. a noun modulator. Thus, castagninu and di castagnu being equivalent here, confirming in both cases their same nature of adjective modulator.

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Modulators: the case of adjectives

Using the notion of modulator again, we can now insert adjectives into this framework: in this context, they consist of noun modulators (mostly common nouns, but sometimes proper nouns as well). The adjective, as a noun modulator, is placed either before or after the noun.

So we have the following categories:

  • modulators of nouns (= adjectives)
  • modulators of adjectives
  • modulators of verbs, i.e. adverbs in a restrictive but classical sense
  • modulators of determinants
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