Formal and informal meaning from documents through skeleton sentences
Complementing formal tag-set descriptions with intertextual semantics and vice-versa
Université de Montréal, Canada
C. M. Sperberg-McQueen
Black Mesa Technologies LLC
University of Bergen, Norway
In [Sperberg-McQueen et al. 2000a], Sperberg-McQueen et al. describe a framework in which the semantics of a structured document is represented by the set of inferences (statements) licensed by the document, that is, statements which can be considered to hold on the basis of the document. The authors suggest that an adequate set of basic inferences can be generated from the document itself by a fairly simple skeleton sentence and deictic expression mechanism. These ideas were taken up and developed in various ways and contexts in later work (see for example [Sperberg-McQueen et al. 2002]) and came to be called the “Formal tag-set description” approach (FTSD). The approach is independent of any particular logical system, and the possibility that the statements licensed by a document be in natural language has been mentioned and exemplified, though not to a large extent.
With a different set of preoccupations in mind (namely, providing semantic support to an author during the document creation process), Marcoux introduced in [Marcoux 2006] intertextual semantics (IS), a framework in which the meaning of a document is entirely and exclusively represented by natural language segments.
In this paper, we compare the IS and FTSD approaches, and argue that the insights into the meaning of a document supplied by the two approaches actually complement each other. We give a number of concrete examples of increasing complexity, including the set of formal and informal statements derivable in each case, to substantiate our claim.