Unofficial Links and Notes on LFG/OT

by Joan Bresnan
[April 28, 2001]
New things are in gold.

Links up to October 2000 are now on a separate page.
Links up to August 1999 are on a separate page.
Links up to August 1998 are on a separate page.

Yes, there are some official links, too: start with Essex LFG and Stanford LFG, to find more internet-accessible information about current research, publications, people, and events.

More very useful information available on the web: see Reinhard Blutner's website.  Follow the links under Courses to "Language and Optimality", where there is a wealth of information, including course lectures, readings,  a page of links to researchers working in OT, and a list of references in various subareas of OT including overviews, phonology, syntax/morphology, learning, computation, and semantics.  This is an excellent resource.

The program of LFG 2001 (Hong Kong, June 25-27) is now out.  (The registration deadline is May 8.)  I plan to be there.

Peter Sells has completed his monograph on Swedish word order in OT using LFG as a representational basis, but right now you will have to contact him personally to get a copy.   This work is a full-scale theory of clausal word order with an extensive and detailed syntactic analysis of object shift and other important phenomena in Swedish.  While many OT works take a broad typological perspective that leaves out the details and wrinkles, Peter's new work gives a full formal treatment.  It has further enormous theoretical interest in showing how the kinds of typological generalizations that Ritchie Kayne brought to prominence with his work on the anti-symmetry of syntax within a transformational framework can be explained within the data-driven perspective of OT.

 Jonas Kuhn's (2001) draft ms. Formal and Computational Aspects of Optimality-theoretic Syntax is now available on line.  He asks that we not link to the files, which are his Ph.D. dissertation draft undergoing revision.  Just go to his website and follow the links to his ftp directory.  This formal and computational development of OT syntax, building on the well-defined LFG representational basis and including issues of generation and parsin,  is very important.  My understanding of OT has been deepened by studying this work.

Judith Aissen and I have written a short paper called "Optimality and Functionality: Objections and Refutations".  Have a look at my download page for links to it.

Don't miss Paul Boersma and Bruce Hayes 's article "Empirical Tests of the Gradual Learning Algorithm" in the latest issue of Linguistic Inquiry  32: 45-86.  This version has several new appendices not present in their ROA draft, on modelling stylistic variation and gradient grammaticality within OT with stochastic evaluation.  This is a really cool and impressive paper.

My own recent research direction is exploring the stochastic OT framework: finding evidence of "typology in variation".  See my download page  for the following:

A draft of the Bresnan and Deo (2001) paper, "Grammatical Constraints on Variation: `Be' in the Survey of English Dialects and (Stochastic) Optimality Theory".

The abstract of the paper in progress by Bresnan, Dingare, and Manning for LFG 2001, which finds that "the same categorical phenomena that are attributed to hard grammatical constraints in some languages continue to show up as statistical preferences in other languages, motivating a grammatical model that can account for soft constraints."  The constraints in question are based on Judith Aissen's OT theory of harmonic alignment of the person hierarchy with the relational hierarchy.

Andrew Koontz-Garboden 's 2001 paper "A stochastic OT approach to word order variation in Korlai Portuguese", presented at the 37th annual meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, Chicago, IL,  April 20, 2001, is available on his website.  Just go to his website and follow the link to his CV in html.

Much more work in this vein is in progress, and I'll put up more notes and links as soon as I can.

Finally, look for a very interesting discussion of the paper "A dynamic approach to the verification of distributional universals" by Elena Maslova in Linguistic Typology 4 (2000).  This issue is late, but it seems to me to be extremely important.

My book   Lexical-Functional Syntax   has now been released in the UK, and I've seen copies of it, which Blackwell has kindly shipped by special courier to Stanford for use in my fall LFG class right now, in advance of the U.S. release in November.    The paperback is listed on for $34.95, which isn't too terribly bad for 456 pages.   So I have now taken  down my  downloadable book ms. from the web.  The Blackwell book  is much nicer, it has benefitted from numerous corrections and changes, and the cover has a picture of a Paul Klee painting "Blossoming", which I like.  I'm very pleased with Blackwell.

Judith Berman's doctoral dissertation  Topics in the Clausal Syntax of German (University of Stuttgart, June 2000) can now be downloaded from her website.  This is a major contribution and the first large-scale analysis of German syntax in LFG in English.  It is a sophisticated and evidentially rich treatment of  many central syntactic problems of German.  It covers such fascinating topics as German phrase structure and verb second, subjects, agreement, and expletives,  weak crossover, extractions,  the distribution of sentential arguments and their interaction with passives and psych verbs.   It is based on a superb knowledge of both LFG and other current syntactic theories.  I think it is a really excellent work, which I intend to use in my future courses.  Check out

I have just read the excellent new Ph.D. dissertation (University of Essex) by Masako Ohara entitled An Analysis of Verbal Nouns in Japanese.  This work provides an analysis  of the famous and controversial light verb constructions of Japanese.  It builds on careful and convincing evidence ranging from the morposyntactic status of case particles to the aspectual semantics of event nominals.  It is an impressive piece of work, both for its elegant use of LFG architecture (including "constructive morphology") and its comprehensive consideration of diverse sources of evidence and alternative approaches.  Masako Ohara was a doctoral student of Louisa Sadler's at Essex.

Andrew Carnie has completed an introductory syntax textbook on Minimalism, which includes a chapter each on LFG and HPSG.  LFG afficionados may wish to download his draft and give him some comments!  Carnie has also written an LFG paper on Irish syntax:  "Flat Structure, Phrasal Variability and Non-Verbal Predication in Irish "(draft July 2000).  This paper points out some very interesting and surprising relations between Irish and Paul Kroeger's analysis of Tagalog.  Have a look at

Paul Kroeger, who is now on sabbatical at Stanford, is completing two textbooks on linguistics: Foundations of Grammatical Analysis and Syntactic Analysis (an LFG approach).  I've looked at parts of the mss., and believe that these books will be wonderful for teaching introductory, data-rich courses on morphological and syntactic analysis.  A special feature is his focus on languages from Asia and Australia and coverage of syntactic topics such as serial verbs and ergativity in addition to the familiar classics (passive, dative, causative, control, etc.).

You can now find a downloadable version of Rachel Nordlinger and Louisa Sadler's new paper "Tense as a Nominal Category" (to appear in the LFG2000 on-line proceedings) on Louisa Sadler's website.  This paper includes a typological survey of languages in which clausal tense, usually a verbal category, appears on nominal dependents; a discussion of the theoretical implications for head-driven approaches to syntax; and a comparison of the Spencer/Sadler/Barron analysis of English subject-auxiliary contraction with Bender and Sag's HPSG-99 approach.   This is a pleasantly mind-blowing, yet convincing read.

The LFG2000 conference was the best yet, according to many who attended.   The Proceedings will be available on-line soon, so I won't give a detailed report at this late date.   A lot of discussion was excited by the papers by Mark Johnson on "Stochastic Lexical-Functional Grammar" (slides from this talk are on Mark's webpage),  Jonas Kuhn on 'Faithfulness violations and bidirectional optimization',  and the workshop on Morphosyntax in LFG organized by Louisa Sadler and Andrew Spencer.  Another notable feature of the conference was the number and variety of OT-LFG papers.

Speaking of OT,  Judith Aissen has a downloadable draft of a beautiful new paper:   "Differential Object Marking: Iconicity vs. Economy".  Don't miss it!

Another very nice OT paper I have read recently is Arto Anttila and Viv Fong's elegant "The Partitive Constraint in Optimality Theory", available on the ROA.

Yet another new OT paper which I've enjoyed is David Beaver's "The Optimization of Discourse", which you can download from his website.  This paper is an illuminating exposition of an OT theory of Centering, very readable.

There has been an explosion of work on formal semantics and OT, especially in Amsterdam.  For some leads look at my previous unofficial links page (links to Oct 2000).  Much of the new work is now appearing on the ROA.

There is also some exciting new work on probabilistic linguistic analysis based on LFG and/or OT-LFG, in addition to  Mark Johnson's LFG2000 talk mentioned above:

Stefan Riezler  has several papers downlable from his homepage.  See especially

     Lexicalized Stochastic Modeling of Constraint-Based Grammars using
     Log-Linear Measures and EM Training. With Detlef Prescher, Jonas Kuhn,
     and Mark Johnson. To appear in Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the
     Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL'00) , 2000, Hong Kong.

     Exploiting Auxiliary Distributions in Stochastic Unification-Based
     Grammars. With Mark Johnson. In Proceedings of the 1st Meeting of the North
     American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics
     (ANLP-NAACL 2000), 2000, Seattle, WA.

Rens Bod's ACL 2000 paper "An Improved Parser for Data-Oriented Lexical-Functional Analysis" is available for download from his web page and from the DOP-LFG page.    Using a different relative frequency estimator he obtains an improvement in parsing by two orders of magnitude.  He also shows that tree structures enriched with f-structures improve the accuracy of results.

I have received a copy of Etsuro Moriya 's "On Learning Lexical Functional Grammars - A Survey".  Among the mathematical learnability results reviewed are works by Tetsuro Nishino, including his implementation of an LFG learner on neuroidal nets.

For a paper on Jiwarli word order by Peter Austin go to his webpage and look for the Selected Pre-Publication links.  (The Jiwarli paper is linked to the Bali paper and vice versa.)  This paper presents further evidence on the nonconfigurationality of a completely dependent-marking language.

Have a look at the web page of the new NorGram project::

              "NorGram is a language technology
                project with the aim of developing
                computational grammars for Norwegian
                with broad empirical coverage and a
                sound theoretical basis...
               The theoretical framework employed in
                NorGram is Lexical-Functional Grammar"