Floating Constraints in Lexical Choice Academic Article uri icon


  • Lexical choice is a computationally complex task, requiring a generation system to consider a potentially large number of mappings between concepts and words. Constraints that aid in determining which word is best come from a wide variety of sources, including syntax, semantics, pragmatics, the lexicon, and the underlying domain. Furthermore, in some situations, different constraints come into play early on, while in others, they apply much later. This makes it difficult to determine a systematic ordering in which to apply constraints. In this paper, we present a general approach to lexical choice that can handle multiple, interacting constraints. We focus on the problem of floating constraints, semantic or pragmatic constraints that float, appearing at a variety of different syntactic ranks, often merged with other semantic constraints. This means that multiple content units can be realized by a single surface element, and conversely, that a single content unit can be realized by a variety of surface elements. Our approach uses the Functional Unification Formalism (FUF) to represent a generation lexicon, allowing for declarative and compositional representation of individual constraints.

publication date

  • January 1, 1997