Section: Overall Objectives
The Sémagramme project intends to focus on the semantics of natural languages (in a wider sense than usual, including some pragmatics). Nevertheless, the semantic construction process is syntactically guided, that is, the constructions of logical representations of meaning are based on the analysis of the syntactic structures. We do not want, however, to commit ourselves to such or such specific theory of syntax. Consequently, our approach should be based on an abstract generic model of the syntax-semantic interface.
Here, an important idea of Montague comes into play, namely, the “homomorphism requirement”: semantics must appear as a homomorphic image of syntax. While this idea is almost a truism in the context of mathematical logic, it remains challenged in the context of natural languages. Nevertheless, Montague's idea has been quite fruitful, especially in the field of categorial grammars, where van Benthem showed how syntax and semantics could be connected using the Curry-Howard isomorphism . This correspondence is the keystone of the syntax-semantics interface of modern type-logical grammars . It also motivated the definition of our own Abstract Categorial Grammars .
Technically, an Abstract Categorial Grammar simply consists of a (linear) homomorphism between two higher-order signatures. Extensive studies have shown that this simple model allows several grammatical formalisms to be expressed, providing them with a syntax-semantics interface for free , , , , , .
We intend to carry on with the development of the Abstract Categorial Grammar framework. At the foundational level, we will define and study possible type theoretic extensions of the formalism, in order to increase its expressive power and its flexibility. At the implementation level, we will continue the development of an Abstract Categorial Grammar support system.
As said above, to consider the syntax-semantics interface as the starting point of our investigations allows us not to be committed to some specific syntactic theory. The Montagovian syntax-semantics interface, however, cannot be considered to be universal. In particular, it does not seem to be that well adapted to dependency and model-theoretic grammars. Consequently, in order to be as generic as possible, we intend to explore alternative models of the syntax-semantics interface. In particular, we will explore relational models where several distinct semantic representations can correspond to the same syntactic structure.