Surface form is defined as the literal meaning of a word or phrase, without taking into account any context clues that could alter its meaning. This is in contrast to deep form, which takes into account contextual information in order to better understand the meaning of a word or phrase.
Surface form can be thought of as the most basic level of meaning for a word or phrase. It is the starting point from which all other levels of meaning are derived. This is why it is so important for text analytics applications. Without a clear understanding of the surface form of a word or phrase, it would be very difficult to accurately analyze its meaning.
Examples of Surface Forms
Inflected Forms. A surface form is the base form of a word to which inflectional affixes have been added. For example, the surface form of the English word “cats” is “cat,” to which the plural suffix “-s” has been added to create the inflected form.
Synonyms . Surface forms can also be thought of as synonyms. This is because they have the same basic meaning as the word or phrase they are derived from. For example, the surface form of the English word “cat” is “feline.”
Misspellings. A surface form can also be thought of as a misspelling. This is because it has the same basic meaning as the word or phrase it is derived from, but it has been spelled incorrectly. For example, the surface form of the English word “cat” is “kat.”
Unprocessed Input Text and Surface Form
When text is unprocessed, it can be difficult to understand. This is because there is no context for the words and phrases. In order to better understand the text, it is necessary to break it down into smaller pieces and look at the surface form of each word and phrase.
For example, consider the following sentence:
The cat sat on the mat.
When this sentence is unprocessed, it is difficult to understand what is happening. However, when we break it down and look at the surface form of each word and phrase, it becomes easier to understand:
The surface form of “the” is a “definite article.”
The surface form of “cat” is “feline.”
The surface form of “sat” is “past tense of sit.“
The surface form of “on” is “preposition.”
The surface form of “the” is “definite article.”
The surface form of “mat” is “floor covering.“
As you can see, looking at the surface form of each word and phrase can help to understand the text.