Naturalness vs. Predictability: A Key Debate in Controlled Languages

Reference: P. Clark, P. Harrison, W. Murray, J. Thompson. Naturalness vs. Predictability: A Key Debate in Controlled Languages. To appear in Proc 2009 Workshop on Controlled Natural Languages (CNL'09), 2009.

Abstract: In this paper we describe two quite different approaches to controlled languages (CLs): A "naturalist" approach, in which CL interpretation is treated as a simpler form of full natural language processing, including ambiguity resolution; and a "formalist" approach, in which the CL interpretation is "deterministic" (context insensitive) and the CL is viewed more as an English-like formal/programming language. Despite the philosophical and practical differences, we suggest that a synthesis can be made in which a deterministic core is embedded in a naturalist CL, and illustrate this with our own controlled language CPL. We conclude that despite the philosophical differences, each approach has substantial benefits to be gained from the other.

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