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IBM Journal of Research and Development  
Volume 22, Number 5, Page 560 (1978)
IBM Scientific Centers
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Interpretation of Natural Language in an Information System

by H. Lehmann
This paper discusses some of the linguistic problems encountered during the development of the User Specialty Languages (USL) system, an information system that accepts a subset of German or English as input for query, analysis, and updating of data. The system is regarded as a model for portions of natural language that are relevant to interactions with a data base. The model provides insight into the functioning of language and the linguistic behavior of users who must communicate with a machine in order to obtain information. The aim of application independence made it necessary to approach many problems from a different angle than in most comparable systems. Rather than a full treatment of the linguistic capacity of the system, details of phenomena such as time handling, coordination, quantification, and possessive pronouns are presented. The solutions that have been implemented are described, and open questions are pointed out.
Related Subjects: Compilers and interpreters; Data, structures and accessing; Databases, relational; Programming, programs, and programming languages