Mixed computation: grammar up and down the Chomsky Hierarchy

Evolutionary Linguistic Theory 2 (3):215-244 (2021)

Proof-theoretic models of grammar are based on the view that an explicit characterization of a language comes in the form of the recursive enumeration of strings in that language. That recur-sive enumeration is carried out by a procedure which strongly generates a set of structural de-scriptions Σ and weakly generates a set of strings S; a grammar is thus a function that pairs an element of Σ with elements of S. Structural descriptions are obtained by means of Context-Free phrase structure rules or via recursive combinatorics and structure is assumed to be uniform: binary branching trees all the way down. In this work we will analyse natural language construc-tions for which such a rigid conception of phrase structure is descriptively inadequate, and pro-pose a solution for the problem of phrase structure grammars assigning too much or too little structure to natural language strings: we propose that the grammar can oscillate between levels of computational complexity in local domains, which correspond to elementary trees in a lexical-ised Tree Adjoining Grammar.
Keywords syntax  derivations  compositionality  tree adjoining grammar
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