Representing syntax by means of properties: a formal framework for descriptive approaches

Philippe Blache, Aix-Marseille Université & CNRS, France


Linguistic description and language modelling need to be formally sound and complete while still being supported by data. We present a linguistic framework that bridges such formal and descriptive requirements, based on the representation of  syntactic information by means of local properties. This approach, called Property Grammars, provides a formal basis for the description of specific characteristics as well as entire constructions. In contrast with other formalisms, all information is represented at the same level (no property playing a more important role than another) and independently (any property being evaluable separately). As a consequence, a syntactic description, instead of a complete hierarchical structure (typically a tree), is a set of multiple relations between words. This characteristic is crucial when describing unrestricted data, including spoken language. We show in this paper how local properties can implement any kind of syntactic information and constitute a formal framework for the representation of constructions (seen as a set of interacting properties). The Property Grammars approach thus offers the possibility to integrate the description of local phenomena into a general formal framework.


syntax; linguistic theory; usage-based theories; constructions; Property Grammars

Full Text:



ISSN of the paper edition: 2299-856X