Representing Time in Natural Language

Representing Time in Natural Language

The Dynamic Interpretation of Tense and Aspect

By Alice G.B. ter Meulen

A Bradford Book





Alice ter Meulen integrates current research in natural language semantics, with detailed analyses of English discourse, and logical tools from a variety of sources into an information theory that provides the foundation for computational systems to reason about change and the flow of time. The topic of temporal meaning in texts has received considerable attention in recent years from scholars in linguistics, logical semantics, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence. Representing Time in Natural Language offers a systematic and detailed account of how we use temporal information contained in a text or in discourse to reason about the flow of time, inferring the order in which events happened when this is not explicitly stated. A new representational toolkit is designed to formalize an appropriately context-dependent notion of situated inference. Dynamic Aspect Trees representing temporal dependencies constitute a novel and important dynamic temporal logic that makes it easy to see what follows when from the information given in an ordinary English text. Ter Meulen makes use of some of the fundamental assumptions of Situation Semantics and incorporates the dynamic methodology embodied in Discourse Representation Theory and in other dynamic logics into her temporal logic. The result is a computational inference system that can be applied across the board to fragments of natural languages.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262200998 156 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$5.75 S | £4.99 ISBN: 9780262700665 156 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • Representing Time in Natural Language will become a standard reference for graduate students, researchers in linguistics, and also for computer scientists who are interested in representing time in knowledge bases and in natural-language understanding systems. Finally, it will be of interest to philosophers of logic and language who wish to understand the phenomena surrounding tense and aspect.

    Jeff Pelletier

    University of Alberta