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Word play


This article is a perspective on some important developments in semantics and in computational linguistics over the past forty years. It reviews two lines of research that lie at the opposite ends on the field: semantics and morphology. The semantic part deals with issues from the 1970s such as discourse referents, implicative verbs, presuppositions, and questions. The second part presents a brief history of the application of finite-state transducers to linguistic analysis starting with the advent of two-level morphology in the early 1980s and culminating in successful commercial applications in the 1990s. It offers some commentary on the relationship, or the lack thereof, between computational and paper-and-pencil linguistics. The final section returns to the semantic issues and their application to currently popular tasks such as textual inference and question answering. This article is the journal version of the author's acceptance speech for the ACL Lifetime Achievement Award presented on June 26, 2007.


Karttunen, L. Word play. Computational Linguistics. 2007 December; 33 (4): 443-467.