The Language of Time: A Reader

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This reader collects and introduces important work on the use of linguistic devices in natural languages to situate events in time: for instance, whether an event is past, present, or future; whether it is real or hypothetical; when it occurred; and how long it lasted. In focussing on the treatment and retrieval of time-based information it seeks to lay the foundation for temporally-aware natural language computer processing systems, such as those that process documents on the worldwide web to answer questions or produce summaries. The development of such systems requires the application of technical knowledge from many different disciplines. This book is the first to bring this work together, by means of classic and contemporary papers in four areas: tense, aspect, and event structure; temporal reasoning; the temporal structure of natural language discourse; and temporal annotation. Clear, self-contained editorial introductions to each area provide the necessary technical background for the non-specialist and explain the underlying connections across disciplines.

Readers in academia and industry will value this introduction and guide to a new and vital technology. The former include researchers, students, and teachers of natural language processing, linguistics, artificial intelligence, computational linguistics, computer science, information retrieval (including the growing speciality of question-answering), library sciences, human-computer interaction, and cognitive science. Those in industry include corporate managers and researchers, software product developers, and engineers in information-intensive companies, such as on-line database and web-service providers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book brings together a variety of approaches, theoretical as well practical, for dealing with time in natural language. The papers are among the most relevant. They have been arranged in an order which makes sense. The introductions are excellent. ... Compulsory reading for people working in the relevant disciplines."—Linguist List 16.3481
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199268535
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2005
  • Pages: 600
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Georgetown University

Brandeis University

University of Sheffield

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
List of Contributors xi
Acknowledgements xiii
Part I Tense, Aspect, and Event Structure 1
Introduction to Part I 3
1 Verbs and Times 21
2 The Syntax of Event Structure 33
3 The Algebra of Events 61
4 The Tenses of Verbs 71
5 Tense Logic and the Logic of Earlier and Later 79
6 Temporal Ontology and Temporal Reference 93
7 Deriving Verbal and Compositional Lexical Aspect for NLP Applications 115
8 A Computational Model of the Semantics of Tense and Aspect 129
Part II Temporal Reasoning 159
Introduction to Part II 161
9 A Temporal Logic for Reasoning about Processes and Plans 173
10 A Logic-based Calculus of Events 217
11 Extending the Event Calculus with Temporal Granularity and Indeterminacy 241
12 Towards a General Theory of Action and Time 251
13 A Critical Examination of Allen's Theory of Action and Time 277
14 Annotating and Reasoning about Time and Events 301
Part III Temporal Structure of Discourse 317
Introduction to Part III 319
15 The Effects of Aspectual Class on the Temporal Structure of Discourse: Semantics or Pragmatics? 333
16 Temporal Interpretation, Discourse Relations, and Commonsense Entailment 353
17 News Stories as Narratives 397
18 Tense as Discourse Anaphor 411
19 Tense Interpretation in the Context of Narrative 431
20 An Empirical Approach to Temporal Reference Resolution 443
21 Tense Trees as the 'Fine Structure' of Discourse 461
22 Algorithms for Analysing the Temporal Structure of Discourse 475
Part IV Temporal Annotation 485
Introduction to Part IV 487
23 A Multilingual Approach to Annotating and Extracting Temporal Information 505
24 The Annotatin of Temporal Information in Natural Language Sentences 513
25 Assigning Time-Stamps to Event-Clauses 523
26 From Temporal Expressions to Temporal Information: Semantic Tagging of News Message 533
27 The Specification Language TimeML 545
28 A Model for Processing Temporal References in Chinese 559
29 Using Semantic Inferences for Temporal Annotation Comparison 575
Index 585
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