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Book: Machine-Aided Linguistic Discovery

Chapter: Inferring Plausible Laws/Patterns I: UNIVAUTO and the Problem of Language Universals

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.25579


In this chapter is described a discovery program, called UNIVAUTO (UNIVersals AUthoring TOol), which discovers and verbalizes in English its discoveries. Accepting as input information about languages, presented in terms of feature-values, the discoveries of another human agent arising from the same data, as well as some additional data, the program discovers the universals in the data, compares them with the discoveries of the human agent and, if appropriate, generates a report in English on its discoveries. Running UNIVAUTO on the data from the paper by Greenberg (1966a) on word order universals, the system has produced several linguistically valuable texts, two of which were published in a refereed linguistic journal. Other discoveries of the system that do not involve verbalization will also be sketched in the chapter.

Chapter Contributors

  • Vladimir Pericliev ( - book-auth-510) 'Bulgarian Academy of Sciences'