Qualia Structure and the Compositional Interpretation of Compounds

  • Michael Johnston
  • Federica Busa
Part of the Text, Speech and Language Technology book series (TLTB, volume 10)


The analysis of nominal compound constructions has proven to be a recalcitrant problem for linguistic semantics and poses serious challenges for natural language processing systems. We argue for a compositional treatment of compound constructions which limits the need for listing of compounds in the lexicon. The Generative Lexicon (Pustejovsky, 1995) provides us with a model of the lexicon which couples sufficiently expressive lexical semantic representations with mechanisms which capture the relationship between those representations and their syntactic expression. In our approach, the qualia structures of the nouns in a compound provide relational structure enabling compositional interpretation of the modification of the head noun by the modifying noun. This brings compound interpretation under the same rubric as other forms of composition in natural language, including argument selection, adjectival modification, and type coercion. We examine data from both English and Italian and develop analyses for both languages which use phrase structure schemata to account for the connections between lexical semantic representation and syntactic expression. In addition to applications in natural language understanding, machine translation, and generation, the model of compound interpretation developed here can be applied to multi-lingual information extraction tasks.


Machine Translation Head Noun Lemon Juice Revolving Door Lexical Rule 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Johnston
    • 1
  • Federica Busa
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and EngineeringOregon Graduate InstitutePortlandUSA
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceBrandeis UniversityWalthamUSA

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