Defining a verb taxonomy by a decision tree

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How useful can be decision trees for the construction, update and use of taxonomies of verbs? They are supposed to make the definition of classes more accurate. They are still little used in practice: devising and handling them involves formal logic and Boolean reasoning, which do not belong to a background in humanities. However, a better organization of interdisciplinarity in linguistic research might actually overcome such reluctance. We exemplify how the decision tree of the Lexicon-Grammar of French verbs led us to revise this taxonomy. We resolved an internal contradiction in eight classes: with some locative verbs, a content clause can occupy the theme argument, and we made the formalization of this feature consistent with the definitions of classes.


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