Aspectual Modifications to a LCS Database for NLP Applications

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Verbal and compositional lexical aspect provide the underlying temporal structure of events. Knowledge of lexical aspect, e.g., (a)telicity, is therefore required for interpreting event sequences in discourse (Dowty, 1986: Moens and Steedman, 1988; Passoneau, 1988), interfacing to temporal databases (Androutsopoulos, 1996), processing temporal modifiers (Antonisse, 1994), describing allowable alternations and their semantic effects (Resnik, 1996; Tenny, 1994), and selecting tense and lexical items for natural language generation ((Dorr and Olsen, 1996; Klavans and Chodorow, 1992), cf. (Slobin and Bocaz, 1988)). We show that it is possible to represent lexical aspect---both verbal and compositional---on a large scale, using Lexical Conceptual Structure (LCS) representations of verbs in the classes cataloged by Levin (1993). We show how proper consideration of these universal pieces of verb meaning may be used to refine lexical representations and derive a range of meanings from combinations of LCS representations. A single algorithm may therefore be used to determine lexical aspect classes and features at both verbal and sentence levels. Finally, we illustrate how knowledge of lexical aspect facilitates the interpretation of events in NLP applications. (Also cross-referenced as UMIACS-TR-97-21) (Also cross-referenced as LAMP-TR-007)