Computer-aided analysis of English punctuation on a parsed corpus: the special case of comma
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Punctuation, an orthographical component of language, has usually been ignored by most research in computational linguistics over the years. One reason for this is the overall difficulty of the subject, and another is the absence of a good theory. On the other hand, both ‘conventional’ and computational linguistics have increased their attention to punctuation in recent years because it has been realized that true understanding and processing of written language will be almost impossible if punctuation marks are not taken into account. Except the lists of rules given in style manuals or usage books, we know little about punctuation. These books give us information about how we should punctuate, but they are generally silent about the actual punctuation practice. This thesis contains the details of a computer-aided experiment to investigate English punctuation practice, for the special case of comma (the most significant punctuation mark) in a parsed corpus. The experiment attempts to classify the various uses of comma according to the syntax-patterns in which comma occurs. The corpus (Penn Treebank) consists of syntactically annotated sentences with no part-of-speech tag information about individual words, and this ideally seems to be enough to classify ‘structural’ punctuation marks.
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