Technical Reports (CIS)

Document Type

Technical Report

Date of this Version

March 1990


University of Pennsylvania Department of Computer and Information Science Technical Report No. MS-CIS-90-20.


Definite Clause Grammars (DCGs) have proved valuable to computational linguists since they can be used to specify phrase structured grammars. It is well known how to encode DCGs in Horn clauses. Some linguistic phenomena, such as filler-gap dependencies, are difficult to account for in a completely satisfactory way using simple phrase structured grammar. In the literature of logic grammars there have been several attempts to tackle this problem by making use of special arguments added to the DCG predicates corresponding to the grammatical symbols. In this paper we take a different line, in that we account for filler-gap dependencies by encoding DCGs within hereditary Harrop formulas, an extension of Horn clauses (proposed elsewhere as a foundation for logic programming) where implicational goals and universally quantified goals are permitted. Under this approach, filler-gap dependencies can be accounted for in terms of the operational semantics underlying hereditary Harrop formulas, in a way reminiscent of the treatment of such phenomena in Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar (GPSG). The main features involved in this new formulation of DCGs are mechanisms for providing scope to constants and program clauses along with a mild use of λ-terms and λ-conversion.



Date Posted: 21 August 2007