The idea that we have some strict "correct" parsing rules which we use to parse sentences seems a bit wrong to me. Here's why. Consider these sentences:
- Yesterday I went to the beach.
- I, yesterday, went to the beach.
- I went, yesterday, to the beach.
- I went to, yesterday, the beach.
- I went to the beach yesterday.
Each of these sentences is perfectly understandable (if a little weird.) The only place where placing the word "yesterday" won't make sense is this:
- I went to the yesterday Beach.
Because it implies there is a type of beach called a "Yesterday Beach".
To me it seems like we have some sort of frame with a slot for the time period and it is not very important at which point in the sentence this slot gets filled with this knowledge.
On the other hand other grammar rules are important such as SVO rules and adjectives before nouns etc.
If we had a strict set or parsing rules most of these sentences wouldn't make sense. But the fact that they do suggests something else is going on.
Is there a way to explain this phenomenon in generative grammar models where sentences seemingly in the wrong order still make sense? Or is there a way to express the grammar rules where the placing of this word "yesterday" can go almost anywhere and still be understood?
e.g. The rule seems to be: "The sentence must contain Subject, Verb, Object, Time. The SVO order must apply but the Time can appear at any place". In fact I think we could also add a phrase "for a swim" at almost any place too and the sentence still be understood.