The Generalized Upper Model

Definition   The Generalized Upper Model is a general task and domain independent `linguistically motivated ontology' that provides a semantics for natural language expressions. The categories of the ontology enforce a consistent modelling style on any domain which is also guaranteedly appropriate for flexible expression in natural language. The Generalized Upper Model attempts to be multilingual as far as possible. Several language technology components are defined for expressing information organized conformant with the Generalized Upper Model (e.g, KPML)

The Generalized Upper Model is now available in several forms, including a Semantic Web compatible OWL-DL version, and employs up to date ontological engineering principles. Axiomatization is being extended and particular detail is being provided for the area of spatial semantics. This is described in detail in the article:

John A. Bateman, Joana Hois, Robert J. Ross, and Thora Tenbrink (2010) A Linguistic Ontology of Space for Natural Language Processing. In Artificial Intelligence, 174 (14), pp. 1027-1071, 2010. link

The ontology is now maintained by the Bremen Ontology Research Group, More detailed information and downloads are available under the heading 'linguistic ontology'.

Availability   The current in progress OWL version can be downloaded from the development page here.

A simple signature generated from the in progress OWL revision (Jan 05) [and for comparison, a signature generated from the old Penman Upper Model by the same procedure, drawing on an OWL-version kindly provided by Leo Ferres]. See the current online version for the full story.


The Generalized Upper Model is a descendent of the Penman Upper Model, originally developed by Bill Mann, Christian Matthiessen and others at the USC/ISI in Los Angeles. The Penman Upper Model was later integrated via the Sensus model into the Cyc ontology.

For multilingual applications, the Penman Upper Model was merged in 1994 with a parallel German development; the results of that merger or described the paper "Merging the English and the German Upper Model" (Henschel, 1992-3, GMD-IPSI).

This was then further extended to become the initial version of the Generalized Upper Model in 1994 and as described in "The Generalized Upper Model 2.0" [bibtex ps ps.gz]
(John A. Bateman, Renate Henschel, Fabio Rinaldi: 1995).

In May, 2003, there was a revision to update for Loom 3 and 4 and loading independently of the KPML text generator source (Text)

Since 2007, the Generalized Upper Model has been maintained in OWL and the Common Algebraic Specification Language, CASL.

John Bateman
University of Bremen