Tag Archives: two-sided grammatical analysis

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).

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.

More on two-sided grammatical analysis

Let us give some further examples of two-sided grammatical analysis:

  • “à dessein” (purposedly), “à volonté” (at will), “à tort” (mistakenly): from an analytical standpoint, these are prepositions followed by a singular noun. From a synthetical viewpoint, they are adverbs (adverbial locutions).
  • “à jamais” (forever): from an analytical standpoint, it is a preposition followed by an adverb. From a synthetical viewpoint, it is an adverb (adverbial locution).
  • “à genoux” (on my/his/her/… knees), “à torrents” (in torrents): from an analytical standpoint, these are prepositions followed by a plural noun. From a synthetical viewpoint, they are adverbs (adverbial locutions).

Two-sided grammatical analysis

Let us call two-sided grammatical analysis the type of grammatical analysis that will be described below. Two-sided grammatical analysis contrasts with one-sided analysis, which sees a sequence of words either as a locution type (adverbial locution, verbal locution, noun locution, etc.) or as the sequence of types of it constituent words. From the standpoint of two-sided grammatical analysis, a given sequence of words can be attributed one (synthetically) single type, and (analytically) several grammatical types corresponding one-by-one to its constituent words. The upshot is that a given sequence of words can be described from two – synthetic & analytic – different viewpoints. What is now the status of ‘de fait’, from the viewpoint of ‘two-sided grammatical analysis’? From a synthetic standpoint, it is an adverb. And from an analytic viewpoint, it is made up of one preposition (‘de’) followed by a common noun (‘fait’). Both viewpoints are complementary and cast each light on one facet of the same reality. (lacking the time to write a scholar article, but I hope the main idea should be clear…)