NL Understanding with a Grammar of Constructions
We present an approach to natural language understanding based on a computable grammar of constructions. A "construction" consists of a set of features of form and a description of meaning in a context. A grammar is a set of constructions. This kind of grammar is the key element of Mincal, an implemented natural language, speech-enabled interface to an on-line calendar system. The system consists of a NL grammar, a parser, an on-line calendar, a domain knowledge base (about dates, times and meetings), an application knowledge base (about the calendar), a speech recognizer, a speech generator, and the interfaces between those modules. We claim that this architecture should work in general for spoken interfaces in small domains. In this paper we present two novel aspects of the architecture: (a) the use of constructions, integrating descriptions of form, meaning and context into one whole; and (b) the separation of domain knowledge from application knowledge. We describe the data structures for encoding constructions, the structure of the knowledge bases, and the interactions of the key modules of the system.