Link grammar

Link grammar

Link grammar (LG) is a theory of syntax by Davy Temperley and Daniel Sleator which builds relations between pairs of words, rather than constructing constituents in a tree-like hierarchy. There are two basic parameters: directionality and distance. Dependency grammar is similar to link grammar, but dependency grammar includes a head-dependent relationship, as well as lacking directionality in the relations between words.

For example, in an Subject Verb Object language like English, the verb would look left to form a subject link, and right to form an object link. Nouns would look right to complete the subject link, or left to complete the object link.

In an Subject Object Verb language like Persian, the verb would look left to form an object link, and a more distant left to form a subject link. Nouns would look to the right for both subject and object links.


Rightward links are represented as a +, and leftward links with a -. Optional links are contained in curly brackets {...}. Undesirable links are contained in any number of square brackets [...] . Multiple links are joined either by a conjunction & or a disjunction or. Each rule ends with a semicolon ;.


Example 1

A basic rule file for an SVO language might look like:

:: D+;:: {D-} & S+;:: {D-} & O-;:: S- & {O+};

Thus the English sentence, “The boy painted a picture” would appear as:

+-----O-----+ +-D-+--S--+ +--D--+
| | |
The boy painted a picture

Example 2

While a rule file for a null subject SOV language might consist of the following links:

:: S+;:: O+;:: {O-} & {S-};

And a simple Persian sentence, "man nAn xordam" (من نان خوردم) 'I ate bread' would look like:

man nAn xordam


AbiWord, a free word processor, uses Link Grammar for on-the-fly grammar checking. [] Words that cannot be linked anywhere are underlined in green.

The [ RelEx semantic relationship extractor] , layered on top of the Link Grammar library, makes explicit the semantic relationships between words in a sentence. It also provides framing/grounding, anaphora resolution, head-word identification, lexical chunking, part-of-speech identification, and tagging, including entity, date, money, gender, etc. tagging.

Link Grammar has also been employed for information extraction of biomedical texts [Cite conference
author = Jing Ding, Daniel Berleant, Jun Xu, Andy W. Fulmer
title = Extracting biochemical interactions from MEDLINE using a link grammar parser
booktitle = Tools with Artificial Intelligence, 2003. Proceedings. 15th IEEE International Conference on
year = 2003
month = November
pages = 467–471
isbn = 0-7695-2038-3
url =
] and events described in news articles [Cite conference
author = Harsha V. Madhyastha, N. Balakrishnan, K. R. Ramakrishnan
title = Event Information Extraction Using Link Grammar
booktitle = 13th International WorkShop on Research Issues in Data Engineering: Multi-lingual Information Management (RIDE'03)
pages = 16
doi = 10.1109/RIDE.2003.1249841
year = 2003
] , as well as experimental machine translation systems from English to German and Turkish.


The Link grammar syntax parser is a library for natural language processing written in C. It is available under the BSD license, which is compatible with the GNU General Public License. The parser is an ongoing project, [ located here] . Recent versions include improved sentence coverage, various bug and security fixes, and Java language bindings.

There are also Perl, Ruby, and OCaml bindings available. [] [] []

The "link-grammar" program along with rules and word lists for English may be found in standard Linux distributions, e.g., as a Debian package. [ [ Debian - Package Search Results - link-grammar ] ]


Further reading

*cite paper
author = Schneider, Gerold
title = A Linguistic Comparison Constituency, Dependency, and Link Grammar
date = 1998
url =
version = Masters Thesis, University of Zurich
accessdate = 2007-12-26

*Cite conference
author = Sleator, Daniel & Davy Temperly
year = 1993
title = Parsing English with a Link Grammar
booktitle = Third International Workshop on Parsing Technologies
url =

External links

* [ The Link grammar homepage] :* [ Online English demonstration] :* [ Link Grammar Forum]
* [ AbiWord Link Grammar Project]
* [ LinkGrammar-WN] , lexicon expansion for the Link Grammar Parser

Language Extensions

* [ Arabic Link Grammar extension] ( [ Source package] )
* [ Persian Link Grammar extension] :* [ Online Persian demonstration]
* [ Russian Link Grammar demonstration]

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