Separating syntax and combinatorics in categorial grammar

The ‘syntax’ and ‘combinatorics’ of my title are what Curry (1961) referred to as phenogrammatics and tectogrammatics respectively. Tectogrammatics is concerned with the abstract combinatorial structure of the grammar and directly informs semantics, while phenogrammatics deals with concrete operations on syntactic data structures such as trees or strings. In a series of previous papers (Muskens, 2001a; Muskens, 2001b; Muskens, 2003) I have argued for an architecture of the grammar in which finite sequences of lambda terms are the basic data structures, pairs of terms syntax, semantics for example. These sequences then combine with the help of simple generalizations of the usual abstraction and application operations. This theory, which I call Lambda Grammars and which is closely related to the independently formulated theory of Abstract Categorial Grammars (de Groote, 2001; de Groote, 2002), in fact is an implementation of Curry’s ideas: the level of tectogrammar is encoded by the sequences of lambda-terms and their ways of combination, while the syntactic terms in those sequences constitute the phenogrammatical level. In de Groote’s formulation of the theory, tectogrammar is the level of abstract terms, while phenogrammar is the level of object terms.
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Reinhard Muskens (2010). New Directions in Type-Theoretic Grammars. Journal of Logic, Language and Information 19 (2):129-136.

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