An annotated corpus for the analysis of VP ellipsis

By Johan Bos and Jennifer Spenader

Abstract Examples Article Annotations

Verb Phrase Ellipsis (VPE) has been studied in great depth in theoretical linguistics, but empirical studies of VPE are rare. We extend the few previous corpus studies with an annotated corpus of VPE in all 25 sections of the Wall Street Journal corpus (WSJ) distributed with the Penn Treebank. We annotated the raw files using a stand-off annotation scheme that codes the auxiliary verb triggering the elided verb phrase, the start and end of antecedent, the syntactic type of antecedent (VP, TV, NP, PP or AP), and the type of syntactic pattern between the source and target clauses of the VPE and its antecedent. We found 487 instances of VPE (including predicative ellipsis, antecedent-contained deletion, comparative constructions, and pseudo-gapping) plus 67 cases of related phenomena such as do so anaphora. Our annotation is theory neutral, and has better coverage than earlier efforts that relied on automatic methods, e.g. simply searching the parsed version of the Penn Treebank for empty VP's achieves a high precision (0.95) but low recall (0.58) when compared with our manual annotation. The distribution of VPE source-target patterns deviates highly from the standard examples found in the theoretical linguistics literature on VPE, once more underlining the value of corpus studies. The resulting corpus will be useful for studying VPE phenomena as well as for evaluating natural language processing systems equipped with ellipsis resolution algorithms, and we propose evaluation measures for VPE detection and VPE antecedent selection. The stand-off annotation is freely available for research purposes.

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