In computer science and linguistics, parsing, or, more formally, syntactic analysis, is the process of analyzing a text, made of a sequence of tokens (for example, words), to determine its grammatical structure with respect to a given (more or less) formal grammar. Parsing can also be used as a linguistic term, for instance when discussing how phrases are divided up in garden path sentences.
Parsing is also an earlier term for the diagramming of sentences of natural languages, and is still used for the diagramming of inflected languages, such as the Romance languages or Latin. The term parsing comes from Latin pars (ōrātiōnis), meaning part (of speech).
Parsing is a common term used in psycholinguistics when describing language comprehension. In this context, parsing refers to the way that human beings, rather than computers, analyze a sentence or phrase (in spoken language or text) "in terms of grammatical constituents, identifying the parts of speech, syntactic relations, etc." This term is especially common when discussing what linguistic cues help speakers to parse garden-path sentences.
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