U of Pittsburgh
The Descriptive Grammar as a (Meta)Database
Traditional descriptive grammars have many features associated with modern databases. They are highly structured documents consisting of discrete, titled sections, which, to a certain extent, are intended to stand on their own - serving as the equivalent of a database "record". However, detailed formal modeling of the structure of descriptive grammars has yet to be undertaken. This is in contrast to other database-like linguistic resources such as, for example, interlinear text (see, e.g., Bow, Baden, and Bird 2003) and dictionaries and lexicons (see, e.g., Sperberg-McQueen and Burnard 2002). Developing a formal model of the information encoded in descriptive grammars would clearly be an important step towards the creation of best-practice standards for electronic grammars.
This paper proposes such a model, largely based on a survey of four print grammars: two "best-practice" grammars (Rice 1989, Haspelmath 1993), a grammar from a language family (Bantu) with its own specialized descriptive tradition (Maganga and Schadeberg 1992), and a "legacy" grammar (Williamson (1965), which is partially cast in early transformational grammar). The proposed model has the following characteristics:
This proposed model is derived from the practice of print grammars. However, a range of extensions to it for electronic grammars can be envisioned, including encoding of directives for dynamic retrieval of all examples of some grammatical phenomenon found in a corpus (a simple version of which has been implemented) and encoding of machine-readable formal grammar rules accompanying the discursive text (presently under research).
The descriptive grammar as a (meta)database
Bow, Cathy, Baden Hughes, and Steven Bird. 2003. Towards a general model of interlinear text. Proceedings of EMELD Workshop 2003: Digitizing and Annotating Texts and Field Recordings. LSA Institute: Lansing MI, USA. July 11 - 13, 2003.
Haspelmath, Martin. 1993. A grammar of Lezgian. Berlin: Mouton.
Maganga, Clement and Thilo Schadeberg. Kinyamwezi: Grammar, texts, vocabulary. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.
Rice, Keren. 1989. A grammar of Slave. Berlin: Mouton.
Sperberg-McQueen, C.M. and L. Burnard. TEI P4: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange. Text Encoding Initiative Consortium. XML Version: Oxford, Providence, Charlottesville, Bergen.
Williamson, Kay. 1965. A grammar of the Kolokuma dialect of Ijo. Cambridge: Cambridge, University.