SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.18 issue3On-line and Off-line Chinese-Portuguese Translation Service for Mobile ApplicationsSemantic Hyper-graph Based Representation of Nouns in the Kazakh Language author indexsubject indexsearch form
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links

  • Have no similar articlesSimilars in SciELO


Computación y Sistemas

Print version ISSN 1405-5546

Comp. y Sist. vol.18 n.3 México Jul./Sep. 2014 

Artículos regulares


Formal Description of Arabic Syntactic Structure in the Framework of the Government and Binding Theory


Hammo Bassam1, Moubaiddin Asma2, Obeid Nadim1, and Tuffaha Abeer1


1 KASIT, CIS Department.,,

2 Department of Linguistics, The University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan.


Article received on 06/01/2014.
Accepted on 06/02/2014.



The research focus in our paper is twofold: (a) to examine the extent to which simple Arabic sentence structures comply with the Government and Binding Theory (GB), and (b) to implement a simple Arabic Context Free Grammar (CFG) parser to analyze input sentence structures to improve some Arabic Natural Language Processing (ANLP) Applications. Here we present a parser that employs Chomsky's Government and Binding (GB) theory to better understand the syntactic structure of Arabic sentences. We consider different simple word orders in Arabic and show how they are derived. We analyze different sentence orders including Subject-Verb-Object (SVO), Verb-Object-Subject (VOS), Verb-Subject-Object (VSO), nominal sentences, nominal sentences beginning with inna (and sisters) and question sentences. We tackle the analysis of the structures to develop syntactic rules for a fragment of Arabic grammar. We include two sets of rules: (1) rules on sentence structures that do not account for case and (2) rules on sentence structures that account for case of Noun Phrases (NPs). We present an implementation of the grammar rules in Prolog. The experiments revealed high accuracy in case assignment in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) in the light of GB theory especially when the input sentences are tagged with identification of end cases.

Keywords: Arabic syntax, Government and Binding theory, Arabic parser, Arabic natural language processing.





1. Al-Bayaty, J. (1990). Adjunction in Arabic, case and chain theory. Ph.D. thesis, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada.         [ Links ]

2. Bataineh, B.M. & Bataineh, E.A. (2009). An efficient recursive transition network parser for Arabic language. Proceedings of the World Congress on Engineering, London, UK, 2, 1307-1311.         [ Links ]

3. Black, C.A. (1999). A step-by-step introduction to the government and binding theory of syntax. SIL-Mexico Branch and University of North Dakota. Retrieved from         [ Links ]

4. Brihaye, P. (1993). AraMorph morphological analyzer for Arabic. Retrieved from         [ Links ]

5. Chomsky, N. (1993). Lectures on government and binding: The Pisa lectures (7th ed.). Berlin; New York: Mouton de Gruyter.         [ Links ]

6. Daimi, K. (2001). Identifying syntactic ambiguities in single-parse Arabic sentence. Computers and the Humanities, 35(3), 333-349.         [ Links ]

7. Diab, M., Hacioglu, K., & Jurafsky, D. (2007). Automatic processing of modern standard Arabic text. Arabic Computational Morphology (159-179). Dordrecht, The Netherlands.         [ Links ]

8. El Hadj, Y.O.M., Al-Sughayeir, I.A., & Al-Ansari, A.M. (2009). Arabic part-of-speech tagging using the sentence structure. Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Arabic Language Resources and Tools, Cairo, Egypt, 241-245.         [ Links ]

9. El-Yasin, M.K. (1985). Basic word order in classical Arabic and Jordanian Arabic. Lingua, 65(1-2), 107-122.         [ Links ]

10. Greenberg, J.H. (1963). Some universals of grammar with particular reference to the order of meaningful elements. In J. Greenberg, ed., Universals of Human Language (73-113). Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.         [ Links ]

11. Habash, N. & Rambow, O. (2004). Extracting a tree adjoining grammar from the Penn Arabic Treebank. JEP-TALN 2004, Session Traitement Automatique de l'Arabe.         [ Links ]

12. Haegeman, L.M.V. (1991). Introduction to government and binding theory. Oxford, UK; Cambridge, Mass., USA: B. Blackwell.         [ Links ]

13. Homeidi, M.A. (2003). The notion of governor in modern standard Arabic (MSA) and English: a contrastive perspective. Journal of King Saud University-Science, 15, 49-62.         [ Links ]

14. Jurafsky, D. & Martin, J.H. (2000). Speech and language processing: an introduction to natural language processing, computational linguistics, and speech recognition. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.         [ Links ]

15. Lobeck, A. (2000). Discovering grammar: an introduction to English sentence structure. New York: Oxford University Press.         [ Links ]

16. Moubaiddin, A., Tuffaha, A., Hammo, B., & Obeid, N. (2013). Investigating the syntactic structure of Arabic sentences. 1st International Conference on Communications, Signal Processing, and their Applications (ICCSPA), Sharjah, UAE.         [ Links ]

17. Othman, E., Shaalan, K., & Rafea, A. (2004). Towards resolving ambiguity in understanding Arabic sentences. International Conference on Arabic Language Resources and Tools, NEMLAR, Cairo, Egypt. 118-122.         [ Links ]

18. Othman, E., Shaalan, K., & Rafea, A. (2003). A chart parser for analyzing modern standard Arabic sentence. Proceedings of the MT Summit IX Workshop on Machine Translation for Semitic Languages, 37-44.         [ Links ]

19. Riemsdijk, H. & Williams, E. (1986). Introduction to the theory of grammar. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.         [ Links ]

20. Shaalan, K.F. (2005). Arabic GramCheck: A grammar checker for Arabic. Software: Practice and Experience, 35(7), 643-665.         [ Links ]

21. Swedish Institute of Computer Science. (1988). SICStus prolog user's manual.         [ Links ]

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License