Meaning text model

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The meaning-text model (formerly also known as the content-text model ) is a language model, the development of which was started in the 1960s by a group of Moscow linguists around IA Meľčuk , AK Žolkovskij , JD Apresjan and others. A model that emulates human language by translating a text (in written or spoken form) into the meaning that corresponds to it and vice versa. The model consists of two components, a grammar , namely a special dependency-oriented transformation grammar , and a special dictionary .

This language model is based on the investigation of many different languages ​​and is therefore in principle used to describe any natural, i.e. H. suitable for human languages. In the Meaning⇔Text model (BTM or also MST from model 'Smysl⇔Tekst' from the Russian модель «Смысл⇔Текст» or English MTT from 'Meaning⇔Text' Theory), dictionary and grammar are closely coordinated with one another the information they contain and the formal languages ​​used. The essential components of this model are therefore a special grammar and an equally special dictionary: The grammar acts as a translator, which translates texts of a natural language given in several stages into the meanings corresponding to these texts (Russian: cмыcл ) and vice versa. The lexicon includes information about the meaning and the combinability of lexemes. Accordingly, the model serves for translation in two directions: 1. From the meaning to the text: for the synthesis of language or for the production of texts, whereby the human ability to speak is modeled. 2. From text to meaning: for the analysis of texts, with which the ability of the human being to understand linguistic utterances or written texts is modeled.

Important aspects of the BTM are the following: 1. The BTM's approach to delivering a truly systematic description of natural languages; 2. the so-called lexical functions , which are applicable in all natural languages; 3. the Rection model (systematic representation of the valences of a word); 4. the semantic metalanguage that is used in the BTM to explain the meaning of words and also more complex expressions; 5. The points of contact between the BTM and the field of machine translation .


The first work on the development of the BTM was carried out in the 1960s by a group of Moscow linguists around Igor 'Aleksandrovič Meľčuk, Aleksandr Konstantinovič Žolkovskij and Jurij Derenikovič Apresjan (later Moscow Semantic School , Russian Circle). In 1974 the two basic monographs by Meľčuk and Apresjan were published, which offer a fairly comprehensive description of the BTM. Modifications that have been made to the model or modification proposals have been repeatedly described in more recent publications.

In the German-speaking area, the following names should primarily be mentioned in connection with the BTM: Tilmann Reuther has been dealing with the dictionary in the BTM, especially with certain lexical functions, since the late 1970s. Daniel Weiss takes a critical look at the theory of BTM. Leo Wanner uses lexical functions for automatic translation and has among other things published an anthology "Recent Trends in Meaning-Text Theory". In the 1980s, Klaus Hartenstein also dealt primarily with the lexical functions, not least with regard to their use for foreign language teaching, but also with theoretical questions in BTM. In 1983, Hartenstein and Peter Schmidt published an extensive, annotated bibliography on BTM.

The topicality of the BTM is shown not least in the fact that since 2003 international conferences on the subject of BTM have been held every two years. The first in Paris, then in Moscow (2005), Klagenfurt (2007), Montreal (2009), Barcelona (2011) and most recently in August 2013 in Prague.

A practical application of the BTM is, among other things, the implementation of the machine translation system ETAP . This system has been developed since 1978, first at the Moscow Institute "Informelektro" and then at the Institute for Problems of Information Transmission at the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (later the Russian Academy of Sciences ) and translates from English to Russian and vice versa.

The BTM has also been used in self-explanatory systems since 2014. Here, automatic decompositions are built using methods of artificial intelligence and thus parts of an explanatory-combinatorial dictionary are automatically created.

The two components of the BTM

The BTM dictionary, the explanatory-combinatorial dictionary (EKW, Russian тoлкoвo-кoмбинaтopный cлoвapь ), offers much more extensive information than a conventional dictionary. This information is distributed in the EKW to up to ten clearly structured zones for each dictionary entry. Some of these zones are also known from conventional dictionaries, but others convey information that cannot be found in ordinary dictionaries.

Three of these zones are particularly important: (a) the meaning explanation , which provides an exact explanation of the keyword with the help of the semantic metalanguage, (b) the section model , which contains all relevant information about the semantic and syntactic valences of the keyword as well as its syntactic properties and (c) a zone with the listing of all lexical functions of the headword, whereby the crucial information about all possibilities of the connection of the headword with other words are completed.

The grammar in the BTM is, on the one hand, a dependency grammar of Tesnière 's style and, on the other, a transformation or translation grammar that models the transition from meaning to text and vice versa. In order to make this transition, the model makes use of various intermediate levels. In detail, the following four main levels are used in the BTM, whereby the first-mentioned level, the semantic representation, corresponds to the meaning, the latter, the phonological or orthographic representation, corresponds to the text:

        Semantische Darstellung
        Syntaktische Darstellung
       Morphologische Darstellung
Phonologische/Orthographische Darstellung

The three last-mentioned display levels are each divided into two sub-levels, namely a surface and a depth level.



  • K. Hartenstein: Conceptions of the Soviet and Russian semantics. In: H. Jachnow (Hrsg.): Handbook of Linguistic Russian Studies and its Border Disciplines . Wiesbaden 1999, pp. 910-953.
  • K. Hartenstein, P. Schmidt: Annotated bibliography on the "Smysl ⇔ Tekst" model. In: Wiener Slawistischer Almanach 11. 1983, pp. 355–409.
  • IA Melʹčuk: Opyt teorii lingvističeskich modelej «Smysl ⇔ Tekst» . Moscow 1974.
  • IA Melʹčuk: A linguistic model of the type 'Smysl ⇔ Tekst' [content ⇔ text]. In: W. Girke, H. Jachnow (Ed.): Theoretical Linguistics in Eastern Europe . Tübingen 1976, pp. 49-67.
  • IA Melʹčuk: Russkij jazyk v modeli «Smysl ⇔ Tekst» . Moscow / Vienna 1995.
  • IA Melʹčuk: Vers une linguistique Sens texts . Leçon inaugurale. Collège de France, Chaire internationale, Paris 1997.
  • D. Weiss: Soviet language models and their continuation. In: H. Jachnow (Hrsg.): Handbook of Linguistic Russian Studies and its Border Disciplines . Wiesbaden 1999, pp. 873-909.
  • R. Zangenfeind: The meaning-text model. Dictionary and grammar of an integral language description . Munich / Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86688-083-2 .
  • J. Fähndrich et al .: Formal Language Decomposition into Semantic Primes. In: ADCAIJ: Advances in Distributed Computing and Artificial Intelligence Journal. 3.8, 2014, pp. 56-73.

Explanatory-combinatorial dictionary

  • Ju. D. Apresjan (Ed.): Novyj obʺjasnitelʹnyj slovarʹ sinonimov russkogo jazyka . (= Vienna Slavic Almanac. Special Volume 60) 2. izd., Ispr. i dop. Moskva 2004.
  • K. Hartenstein: The explanatory-combinatorial dictionary in the 'Smysl ⇔ Tekst' model. Studies on the lexicological foundations of meaning explanation and its lexicographical usability. (= Slavic Contributions, Volume 148). Munich 1981.
  • IA Melʹčuk, A. Clas, A. Polguère: Introduction à la lexicologie explicative et combinatoire . Duculot, Paris 1995 ISBN 2-8011-1106-6 .
  • IA Melʹčuk, AK Žolkovskij, Ju. D. Apresjan et al: Tolkovo-Kombinatornyj slovarʹ sovremennogo russkogo jazyka. (= Vienna Slavic Almanac. Special Volume 14). Opyty semantiko-sintaksičeskogo opisanija russkoj leksiki. Vienna 1984.
  • IA Melʹčuk et al .: Dictionnaire explicatif et combinatoire du français contemporain . Recherches lexico-sémantiques I-IV. Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal, Montréal 1984, 1988, 1992, 1999 ISBN 2-7606-1738-6 .
  • T. Reuther: Function verbs in an explanatory-combinatorial dictionary: Possibilities of generalization. In: HR Mehling (Ed.): Slavistische Linguistik 1993 . (= Slavic contributions. Volume 319). Munich 1994, pp. 279-291.


  • Ju. D. Apresjan: Leksičeskaja semantika . Sinonimičeskie sredstva jazyka. Moskva 1974.
  • Ju. D. Apresjan: The semantic language as a means of explaining lexical meanings. In: W. Girke, H. Jachnow (Ed.): Theoretical Linguistics in Eastern Europe . Tübingen 1976, pp. 22-48.


  • Ju. D. Apresjan, IM Boguslavskij, LL Iomdin, VZ Sannikov: Teoretičeskie problemy russkogo sintaksisa. Vzaimodejstvie grammatiki i slovarja . Moskva 2010.
  • IA Melʹčuk: Dependency syntax. Theory and Practice. SUNY, Albany, NY 1988, ISBN 0-88706-450-7 .
  • IA Melʹčuk: Actants in Semantics and Syntax. I, II, In: Linguistics. 2004, 42: 1, pp. 1-66; 42: 2, pp. 247-291.
  • IA Melʹčuk, NV Pertsov: Surface syntax of English. A formal model within the Meaning-Text framework. Benjamin, Amsterdam, Philadelphia 1987, ISBN 90-272-1515-4 .


  • IA Melʹčuk: Course de morphologie générale. vol. 1-5. Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal / Paris: CNRS Éditions (русск. Перевод: Курс общей морфологии), Montréal 1993-2000, ISBN 2-7606-1548-0 .
  • IA Melʹčuk: Aspects of the Theory of Morphology . Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2006, ISBN 3-11-017711-0 .


  • Ju. D. Apresjan and others: Lingvističeskoe obespečenie sistemy ĖTAP-2 . Moskva 1989.
  • Ju. D. Apresjan et al: Lingvističeskij processor dlja složnych informacionnych sistem . Moskva 1992.
  • T. Reuther: The CALLex project (Computer-Aided Learning of Lexical Functions). In: P. Kosta, E. Mann (Ed.): Slavistische Linguistik 1996 . (= Slavic contributions. Volume 354). Munich 1997, pp. 283-307.


  • L. Wanner (Ed.): Lexical Functions in Lexicography and Natural Language Processing . Amsterdam, Philadelphia 1996.
  • L. Wanner (Ed.): Recent Trends in Meaning-Text Theory. J. Benjamin Pub, Amsterdam, Philadelphia 1997, ISBN 1-55619-925-2 .
  • L. Wanner (Ed.): Selected Lexical and Grammatical Issues in the Meaning-Text Theory . Amsterdam, Philadelphia 2007.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ J. Fähndrich et al .: Formal Language Decomposition into Semantic Primes. In: ADCAIJ: Advances in Distributed Computing and Artificial Intelligence Journal. 3.8, 2014, pp. 56-73.