Characteristics of the Italian language in AX Semantics

fundamentals

Italian needs gender of nouns for determiners and this is especially important for preposition and determiner contraction. There are two gender: masculine and feminine. And there are two numbers: singular and plural. As for other Romance languages there is only one case for nouns: nominative. But for personal pronouns Italian has additionally accusative, genitive and dative.

grammatical namevaluesexamples
gendermasculinela casa rossa (the red house)
feminineil grande porto (the big harbor)
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numbersingularuna casa rossa (a red house)
pluraldue grandi porti (two big harbors)
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cases (noun)nominativecasa (Haus)
cases (pronoun)nominativeMaria sta costruendo una casa. Lui sta costruendo una casa.
(Maria is building a house. He is building a house.)
accusativeMaria sta costruendo una casa. Maria lo costruisce.
(Maria is building a house. Maria builds it.)
genitiveFIXME
dativeMaria regala un libro a Luigi. Maria gli regala un libro.
(Maria gives Luigi a book. Maria gives him a book.)
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adjective positionspre-noungrandi porti (large ports)
post-nouncasa rossa (red house)
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verb tensespresentlui parla (he speaks)
imperfectlui parlava (he talked)
gerundparlando (speaking)
futurelui parlerĂ  (he will speak)

lexicon

nouns

For Italian nouns the lexicon need to encode gender, preposition changes and if a determiner is present. If the lexicon entry is missing we try to find the most probable gender based on heuristics.

examples

The lexicon entry for casa contains

  • gender: female
  • plural_form: case

The lexicon entry for Australia contains

  • gender: female
  • remove the definite determiner for the preposition in

And the lexicon entry for Malta contains

  • remove all definite determiners
  • replace preposition in with a

note

All lexicon entries for countries are already in the platform for Italian - so all examples below work by using the global lexicon.
(actually not at the moment)

adjectives

For adjectives the lexicon can encode gender for singular and plural and the adjective position (before the noun or after the noun).

For position the default is after the noun. When an adjectives should be before the noun, this has to be encoded in the lexicon.

The most important cases, i.e. grande, is already annotated as before noun. But others may need a lexicon entry.

verbs

The most common verbs are encoded in our software. If a verb inflects the wrong way, you should add it to the lexicon.

container settings

We automatically join prepositions with determiners for the following prepositions: a, da, di, in and su.

examples

example 1

In the sentence

Stavano viaggiando dall'Australia a Parigi.
(They were traveling from Australia to Paris.)

the particle da is joined with the female definite article and the article is adapted to the following vowel a to dall'.

On our platform the settings for the container dall'Australia are: preposition="da" and determiner=definite. The lexical information about gender and the vowels following each other (dalla A -> dall'A) results automatically in correct inflection.

example 2

When Australia is used with the particle in no article is used, i.e.

Vivono in Australia.
(They live in Australia.)

On our platform the noun container is used the same way as in the first example: preposition="in" and determiner=definite. The lexical information about the removal of the determiner when the preposition is in is automatically applied by using the lexicon. The determiner=definite is important for other nouns that could be inserted here, i.e. if the inserted noun is always plural (plurale tantum), then in+definiteness is changed to nelle

Vivono nelle Emirati Arabi Uniti.
(They live in the United Arab Emirates.)

example 3

Another case here is the preposition switch from in to a for (mostly) islands. Lets use Malta as an example here. The sentence would be

Vivono a Malta.
(They live in Malta.)

so the preposition changes to a and there is no determiner. So Malta has no gender in the lexicon, but two switches: replace preposition in with a and don't use any determiners with prepositions.

Defaults: Some best practices for Italian nouns with switches

  • If there are definite determiners (i.e. for country names) possible for a noun phrase we activate them for the container and remove the determiner via the lexicon. This assumes "with definite article" is the default.
  • The default for the preposition switch (only used for in -> a in Italian) is in as in most other languages.