Formal Description of Arabic Syntactic Structure in the Framework of the Government and Binding Theory

Hammo Bassam, Moubaiddin Asma, Obeid Nadim, Tuffaha Abeer


The research focus in our paper is twofold: (a) to examine the extent to which simple Arabic sentence structures comply with the Government and Binding Theory (GB), and (b) to implement a simple Arabic Context Free Grammar (CFG) parser to analyze input sentence structures to improve some Arabic Natural Language Processing (ANLP) Applications. Here we present a parser that employs Chomsky’s Government and Binding (GB) theory to better understand the syntactic structure of Arabic sentences. We consider different simple word orders in Arabic and show how they are derived. We analyze different sentence orders including Subject-Verb-Object (SVO), Verb-Object-Subject  (VOS),  Verb-Subject-Object (VSO),  nominal  sentences,  nominal  sentences beginning with inna (and sisters) and question sentences. We tackle the analysis of the structures to develop syntactic rules for a fragment of Arabic grammar. We include two sets of rules: (1) rules on sentence structures that do not account for case and (2) rules on sentence structures that account for case of Noun Phrases (NPs). We present an implementation of the grammar rules in Prolog. The experiments revealed high accuracy in case assignment in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) in the light of GB theory especially when the input sentences are tagged with identification of end cases.


Arabic syntax, Government and Binding theory, Arabic parser, Arabic natural language processing.

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