Questions tagged [grammar]

A body of rules, features, or generalizations which reliably differentiate between grammatical and ungrammatical constructions.

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69
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12answers
24k views

What characteristics are unique to English (or at least rare among language as a whole)?

After wondering about this today at work, I turned to the Internet. A short piece that focuses on pronunciation points toward "none". I've scoured ELU and Google (perhaps not as thoroughly or ...
45
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9answers
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What's the difference between syntax and grammar?

From what I've read, both terms have to do with the rules of formation of sentences. I've seen grammar used in mathematical contexts, in computability theory, where it has a precise definition. But ...
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4answers
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Why isn't "I've" a proper response?

Suppose someone asked me the question, "Have you completed the project?". A standard response would be "I have". Why does the equivalent "I've" sound so strange and never used as a replacement? I am ...
36
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8answers
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Are there languages that don't have this kind of ambiguity?

In the sentence "John told James that he's happy.", the pronoun "he" is ambiguous, since it could refer to either John or James. Are there any languages which try to solve this ...
30
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1answer
5k views

Is it unusual that English uses possessive for past tense?

When learning some basic French, I was somewhat surprised to learn that phrases of the form "I have found the cat" generally translate almost word-for-word from English (J'ai trouvé le chat). To me, ...
25
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2answers
3k views

Fourth person (in Slavey language)

I was reading a Wikipedia article about the Slavey (Slave) language in Canada, and it says that Slavey has first, second, third and fourth person. I've never heard about a language having a fourth ...
18
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7answers
5k views

Looking for a good beginners reference to learn computational linguistics

Recently in my work I came across the Backus–Naur Form (BNF), one way of describing a context-free grammar. Since then, I've been interested in learning how to deconstruct and parse not only computing ...
17
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3answers
2k views

Are word classes universal?

I'm working on an application that takes a special database of words and its word class and determines the such from a given sentence. I'm now working to see if word classes that are found in English ...
17
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5answers
3k views

Which language would be easiest for a computer to parse?

I have an idea for a programming language that would work more like a spoken language. "sentences" would have an initial context in which specific subjects, verbs, and objects would have meaningful ...
16
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2answers
3k views

Is there a well-established metric to measure the effectiveness of a parsing algorithm?

My understanding that 100% accurate parsing (analyzing a text and creating a syntactic tree) is an impossible task for computational linguistics at this moment. However, there are many heuristics or ...
14
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4answers
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Are there any papers etc analyzing Japanese as a language with noun cases rather than particles?

Japanese is often included in lists of agglutinating languages. Many (most?) agglutinating languages are analysed as having case systems. Of course cases and prepositions/postpositions fill the same ...
12
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6answers
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What is minimalist about the minimalist program?

The minimalist program seems to be very fashionable amongst linguists at present, but for the life of me I can't understand its appeal. As far as I can see - and I've read my fair share of the ...
12
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2answers
876 views

Besides logics, what mathematical tools are used in the study of linguistics?

I learned of connections between linguistics and category theory when I'm learning the application of category theory in quantum field theory. Being aware that axiomatic set theory (logics) is ...
12
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2answers
392 views

Why hasn't functional grammar been more popular?

It’s nearly 30 years since Michael Halliday first published ‘An Introduction to Functional Grammar’ and yet, at least in Britain and in the United States, functional grammar seems not to have entered ...
12
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3answers
2k views

What is an example of a syntactic structure that can't be represented by a BNF grammar?

The tools for working with BNF grammars are a little more discoverable (ANTLR, Gold, etc) and usable than for other types of grammars. What sort of sentences can't be represented with ordinary BNF ...
12
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3answers
255 views

Does writing influence grammar?

Do we know of any cases where the grammar of a language was influenced by the imperfection of its writing system? For example, has any language become isolating because it had a logographic writing, ...
11
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5answers
3k views

Are there any "simple" languages?

In all the languages I know, at least one of the following aspects is complex/difficult: Alphabet: Complex meaning a large alphabet like in Chinese. Pronunciation: Complex meaning that, for example, ...
11
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3answers
486 views

Do any languages have verbal inflection with a plural object?

The verb in a language like English can inflect for person, for example: I see the cat > he sees the cat and the verb can inflect for tense: I see the cat > I saw the cat But do any languages ...
11
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1answer
249 views

What is the origin of the "redundant" pronouns in the Venetian language?

From the examples taken from Wikipedia: • Venetian: (Ti) te jèra onto or even Ti te jèri/xeri onto (lit. "(You) you were dirty"). • Venetian: El can el jèra onto (lit. "The dog he was dirty"). It ...
9
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2answers
972 views

Can one sentence have two or multiple possible phrase structure grammars? And what is this called?

After reading about syntactic structure and phrase structure grammar in Wikipedia and on the internet, I was wondering if there are any sentences with more than one possible phrase structure grammar? ...
9
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2answers
745 views

When does language "evolve" and when is it just wrong grammar?

Lately I seem to get into a lot of discussions about stuff that is "wrong" in a language and whether it's really wrong. In my last discussion there was a native Japanese saying you can use "verb x" ...
9
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5answers
303 views

Are there any known natural languages in which tense is never (or very rarely) expressed through the modification of verbs?

I should probably confess up front that I don't have a great deal of knowledge of foreign languages, but I have lately taken a strong interest in the structure and nature of language, and have spent a ...
9
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3answers
7k views

Non-Projective Example

I'm looking for an example sentence with a non-projective dependency parse. It doesn't have to be in English, though such an example would be nice.
9
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1answer
177 views

What is a half-transitivizer?

I've been learning Greenlandic and I came across this term, and I can't find anything about it online. Can anyone explain it in Layman's terms?
9
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1answer
353 views

Etymology of Latin infinitive verb endings

I was wondering, what the etymology of Latin infinitive verb endings -are, -ere and -ire was. I assume they are Indo-European, but I haven't found any information about it.
9
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3answers
358 views

Context-free grammars

What is a 'context-free grammar' in relation to natural languages? This Wikipedia article, gives a broad description, but it isn't clear exactly what features of a language would result in it not ...
9
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3answers
486 views

Is "sentence" a useful and/or clearly-defined term in linguistics

Further to comments against Do complex sentences always need a conjunction? as recently asked on ELU (and Complex sentence without a subordinating conjunction? here on Linguistics), I'd like to know ...
9
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2answers
171 views

What are the other types of grammatical numbers different from those determined by 'quantity of items'?

Different languages have different grammatical numbers. For most IE languages, these are Singular, Plural and, sometimes, Dual. Other languages have grammatical numbers differentiated by the quantity ...
8
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4answers
449 views

Has English caused any Languages to undergo Sound Change or Grammar Change?

French historically has caused the presence of several unique sounds in English that would not have been present otherwise. For example the "dʒ" sound in "garage". Similarly, I believe I've read ...
8
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4answers
603 views

Relationship between possession ("to have") and tenses ("I have seen")

In several Indo-European languages the verb that denotes possession (to have) is also used to construct verb tenses. Some examples: I have seen ... I have a dog. (English) Am văzut ... Am un câine. (...
8
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1answer
402 views

Is there a measure for grammatical similarity?

Something I see from time to time is the proportion of words from various sources, e.g. English has about 29% French, 29% Latin, 26% Germanic and 6% Greek words. I've never seen anything similar with ...
7
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3answers
1k views

I have my hair cut - "my hair" a Direct Object?

I am confused about the following sentence: I have my hair cut. Now here I am not sure whether "my hair" is the Direct Object (DO) of the verb "have", or if it is just the ...
7
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1answer
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Declensions in Polish

Declension, as far as I know, corresponds to the act of creating boxes where you can pile up nouns that follow the same rule when inflected (generally due to cases). Classical Latin is often said to ...
7
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5answers
400 views

Why are there such things as 'time adverbs'?

Words like yesterday, today, and tomorrow are defined as adverbs. However, an adverb is a word modifying an adjective or verb (or another adverb). Words such as yesterday do not seem to modify ...
7
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3answers
150 views

Treatment of or collective term for constructions with no*, some*, any*, every*

Many languages have a little subsystem that uses a combination of particles of no*, some*, any*, every* or similar to create related question and negation words. This is what the system roughly ...
7
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4answers
219 views

Why is the subject outside the VP in most theories of syntax?

I'm trying to understand why in most theories of syntax, the subject of a sentence is the sister of the verb, and not the child eg: S -> NP VP instead of VP -> NP V (NP...) The latter feels more ...
7
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0answers
194 views

Does anyone know if there are plans for a 'successor' to Huddleston and Pullum (CamGEL or CGEL)?

Huddleston and Pullum's The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (CamGEL or CGEL) is widely considered a 'successor' to a previous 'great English grammar': Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik's ...
7
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0answers
168 views

Combinatory Categorial Grammar (комбинаторная категориальная грамматика) developments and lexicon for Russian language?

I am trying to apply Cornell Semantic Parsing framwork https://github.com/cornell-lic/spf (implementation of Combinatory Categorial Grammars CCG) to Russian language. This framework takes natural ...
7
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1answer
1k views

Agglutination in Proto-Indo-European

Based on numerous sources, it seems clear that Proto-Indo-European was Productively agglutinative with non-root morphemes (and perhaps some specific roots that are also able to act like bound ...
6
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3answers
458 views

What prevents certain grammatical forms to be analysed as one word?

When analysing a language, when do we analyse certain morphemes as one word as opposed to multiple, or is this arbitrary? For instance, I could make the claim that (in certain cases) 'a/an' is a ...
6
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2answers
484 views

Intuitive English example of why linguists think natural language grammar is stronger than CFL?

I have a decent understanding of regular languages, CFLs and r.e. sets from a course in computer science theory. I'm just learning about the Chomsky hierarchy. As an English speaker, I have a ...
6
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1answer
1k views

Are there languages where the tense depends on time elapsed between events?

In all the languages I am familiar with (mostly English and my native German as well as some rudimentary Italian and French, so all somewhat related.), the tense of a verb only indicates the time of ...
6
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2answers
3k views

need to understand infinitive

What is the easiest way to understand what an infinitive is? How do I know which verb in which sentence is an infinitive? For example, let us take this website: Infinitive This is the example I am ...
6
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2answers
254 views

Does the Dutch sentence "Waarschijnlijk deze zomer ga ik naar Spanje" follow the V2 structure?

This question would be better on Dutch Languages SE, but that site is still in Area 51. I was discussing Dutch grammar with a Dutch native and how I'd just learnt that Dutch is a V2 language (as are ...
6
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1answer
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How is category theory applied in linguistics?

I am learning monoidal category applied in quantum information and quantum field theory, and several references say that monoidal category is somehow related to linguistics via Hopf algebra of quantum ...
6
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1answer
385 views

Why in English can't two NPs in a relative clause be relativized?

John Ross's CNPC (Complex NP Constraint) describes the fact of English that after extracting one NP, corresponding to the relative pronoun from a relative clause, no other NP can be extracted from ...
6
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6answers
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How similar are Spanish and French?

I know that Spanish and French both belong to the Romance branch and they are very alike. But what I want to make clear is that how similar they are. I mean that if I have mastered one of them, how ...
6
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1answer
152 views

What is considered a grammatical case in the framework of turkic languages?

Let's take kazakh language as an example. In every source I've read there are 7 cases in kazakh language: nominative üi - a house, baqşa - garden; genitive üi-diŋ - of a house, baqşa-niŋ - of a ...
6
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1answer
393 views

The argument/complement marker prepositions

What is the name used to refer to the subset of particles (or prepositions) which mark sentence's arguments/complements in a language? For example, suppose that the prepositions sub, dir, and ind ...
6
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0answers
114 views

Are Rhyming, Alliterative Verse etc. forms of linguistic Error Detection/Correction Schemes?

Rhyme (Wikipedia) Alliterative verse (Wikipedia) Metre - Poetry (Wikipedia) Mechanisms such as these appear to help lower information corruption during long range communication, especially during pre-...

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