Syntactic simplification and Text Cohesion

Advaith Siddharthan

Research output: Book/ReportOther Report


Syntactic simplification is the process of reducing the grammatical complexity of a text, while retaining its information content and meaning. The aim of syntactic simplification is to make text easier to comprehend for human readers, or process by programs. In this thesis, I describe how syntactic simplification can be achieved using shallow robust analysis, a small set of hand-crafted simplification rules and a detailed analysis of the discourse-level aspects of syntactically rewriting text. I offer a treatment of relative clauses, apposition, coordination and subordination. I present novel techniques for relative clause and appositive attachment. I argue that these attachment decisions are not purely syntactic. My approaches rely on a shallow discourse model and on animacy information obtained from a lexical knowledge base. I also show how clause and appositive boundaries can be determined reliably using a decision procedure based on local context, represented by part-of-speech tags and noun chunks. I then formalise the interactions that take place between syntax and discourse during the simplification process. This is important because the usefulness of syntactic simplification in making a text accessible to a wider audience can be undermined if the rewritten text lacks cohesion. I describe how various generation issues like sentence ordering, cue-word selection, referring-expression generation, determiner choice and pronominal use can be resolved so as to preserve conjunctive and anaphoric cohesive-relations during syntactic simplification.
In order to perform syntactic simplification, I have had to address various natural language processing problems, including clause and appositive identification and attachment, pronoun resolution and referring-expression generation. I evaluate my approaches to solving each problem individually, and also present a holistic evaluation of my syntactic simplification system.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge, United Kingdom
PublisherUniversity of Cambridge
Number of pages195
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004

Publication series

NameTechnical Reports
PublisherUniversity of Cambridge Computer Laboratory
ISSN (Print)1476-2986


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