1996 SALS-SIG Seminars

1996 SALS-SIG Seminars

SALS-SIG Research Seminar

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The Design and Implementation of a Multilingual Meaning Server

Licheng Zeng
Speech, Hearing and Language Research Center (SHLRC),
School of English, Linguistics and Media (ELM),
Macquarie University

When: Friday, 25th October 1996

Time: 2:00pm

Where: Room E6A357, Macquarie University


The multilingual meaning server (MMS) is a software environment that manages modules of multiple linguistic systems and provides reasoning routines about the multilingual resources. Various NLP processes (eg. generation, analysis and translation) can interact with this server to access multilingual resources and to reason about cross-language meanings. MMS is an implementation of a more theoretical notion called "computati onal multilinguality", which I define as MEANING EXCHANGES across multiple linguistic systems. In this talk, I will focus on the theoretical aspects of computational multilinguality and on the design of MMS.

Among the theoretical foundations of computational multilinguality are Way's (1991) theory of Dynamic Type Hierarchy -- a theory that views metaphor as a refinement and extension of extant conceptual systems, as well as Halliday's theory of grammatical metaphor (1985/1994) -- a theory that examines metaphor at the level of grammar and discourse beyond the traditional word-based stance. Based on these two theories, I approach multilinguality in a way similar to metaphor, and accordingly, draw two important conclusions about cross-language meaning exchange:

  1. meaning exchange is to reconstrue a meaning originally created in one language L1, in the light of another linguistic system L2.
  2. gaps in cross-language meaning exchange are compensated through discourse.

The computational multilinguality I propose is essentially in the same spirit as the negotiation-based Machine Translation model proposed by Kameyama et. al. (1992).

An MMS has already been tentatively implemented. It has the following features:

  1. Distinct linguistic systems are integrated into a global, overarching meaning space. Integrating a linguistic system into the global meaning space is essentially a process of refining semantic and grammatical conceptual hierarchies.
  2. System networks are used to represent the body of semantic and grammatical conceptual hierarchies. We have extended the formalism of a system network so that it supports multiple views on the partitioning of a linguistic category. We use the extended formalism to unify conceptual mismatches among different linguistic systems.
  3. Global PERSPECTIVES are compiled out of the integrated meaning space. Each perspective represents the integrity of a distinct linguistic system. A NLP process normally operates under a single perspective. Thus monolingual processing is supported in the multilingual environment.
  4. MMS specializes only one reasoning routine for multilingual processing, viz. RECONSTRUE. Given a meaning expression in one perspective, this process justifiably generates another meaning in a different perspective.
  5. Under the integrated meaning space, cross-language divergence is viewed as metaphor.

MMS has been called on by a generating process that produces multilingual text. We are alsoexperimenting with multimedia text production based on this architecture.


Halliday, M. (1985/1994). An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Edward Arnold.

Kameyam, M., Ochitani, R., and Peters, S. (1992) "Resolving translation mismatches with information flow." in Proceedings of the 29th ACL.

Way, E. (1991). Knowledge Representation and Metaphor. Kluwer Academic Pulbishers: Dordrecht.

Enquiries: Maria Milosavljevic 850 6345 mariam@mpce.mq.edu.au

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Last modified: July 1997
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