The Proposition Bank project takes a practical approach to semantic representation, adding a layer of predicate-argument information, or semantic role labels, to the syntactic structures of the Penn Treebank. The resulting resource can be thought of as shallow, in that it does not represent coreference, quantification, and many other higher-order phenomena, but also broad, in that it covers every instance of every verb in the corpus and allows representative statistics to be calculated.

We discuss the criteria used to define the sets of semantic roles used in the annotation process and to analyze the frequency of syntactic/semantic alternations in the corpus. We describe an automatic system for semantic role tagging trained on the corpus and discuss the effect on its performance of various types of information, including a comparison of full syntactic parsing with a flat representation and the contribution of the empty “trace” categories of the treebank.

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Author notes

Department of Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania, 3330 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Department of Computer Science, University of Rochester, PO Box 270226, Rochester, NY 14627.