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A term in formal language theory.


A construct C in some language L is said to be well-formed if it conforms to the syntactic rules of L.

Informally speaking, syntactic rules of a language specify the structure of the language.

Application to conceptual graphs

Conceptual graph-theory defines a language, namely the language of conceptual graphs. This language has some rules (syntactic rules):

  • One of the rules is that relations must always have at least one arc belonging to themselves; they cannot stand alone.

  • Another rule says that this is not necessary for concepts: Concepts can stand alone without needing any arcs attached to themselves.

  • A third syntactic rule specifies that a concept has a type and a referent, and they are separated by a colon.

  • A fourth "syntactic rule" specifies that the referent of a concept can be another conceptual graph, and then we have embedding.

There are other syntactic rules of conceptual graphs, but all of them are specified in Module I of this series of courses.