Translating Temporal Prepositions between Dutch and English

Journal of Semantics 7 (1):1-51 (1990)
Abstract
The decision trees for selecting the appropriate temporal conjunction or preposition in English and Dutch, developed in an earlier paper, are tested. Data are from the translations of parts of two books, one English and one Dutch, into Dutch and English respectively. The analysis of the data has led to the complete recasting of the original selection trees. The new trees are based on about a dozen different attributes that are needed to classify the normal, non–idiomatic use of almost all the temporal conjunctions and prepositions in both languages. Some of these attributes are: time point v. period; simultaneity v. order; relative order of the matrix and sub events; whether or not the Time of Discourse is used to mark the end of a period, etc. Among other details we have been able to show how the conjunction AS, in its temporal use, is not ambiguous between WHEN and WHILE as was originally thought. There is a large overlap between the selection trees for both languages, as well as some interesting differences. These trees have been specified in sufficient detail to be readily incorporated in natural language computer programs
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