Questions tagged [syntax]

The study of the internal structure of expressions, especially between words and phrases, and the principles and processes that determine it. This includes words order, but also the grammatical relations that hold between words, as well as structural ambiguity, binding, reference, and similar issues. Common approaches are numerous phrase structure grammars (GPSG, HPSG, LFG, G&B, X-bar, Minimalism, ...) and, on the other hand, dependency grammars.

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How to find research questions in the field of generative grammar for a beginner? [closed]

Currently, as a graduate student, I am in the stage of reading textbooks, while I feel lost about how to find the research questions which are worth exploring in syntax.
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Did Proto-Indo-European put the adjective before or behind the noun?

Did PIE put the adjective behind the noun (like Romance languages usually do) or before the noun (like Germanic languages)?
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What limitations of generative grammar was Lakoff referring to?

In his keynote address in 2015, George Lakoff said the following (at 22:10) The whole idea of generative grammar fell apart. There were things that you could not do with it. Even if it was ...
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What's it called when someone makes a language mistake because of an unrelated phenomenon? [closed]

What’s it called when someone makes a mistake because of something else? For example, someone saying “there is a two version”. They should have used the null article instead of the indefinite article, ...
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Are there such things as verbs that are experiential AND ditransitive?

Does any natural language have verbs that are both ditransitive and experiential? I'm working on a conlang in which ditransitive experiential verbs exist. For example, we could have verbs that mean &...
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Inverse scope reading

It is well known that any sentence with two or more quantifiers will result in in multiple possible readings depending on the ordering of the quantifiers. To take a known example (1), there will be ...
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What language aptitude test do you recommend for kindergarten-grade 1? [closed]

I have read about the MLAT and PLAB language tests to test someone ability for learning languages. What test would be appropriate for a 5-6 year old? How do I choose such a test, I read that factors ...
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For English, is there a finite set of patterns for constructing sentences?

I am wondering about conlangs and thinking about English currently. I'm wondering does English have a finite set of patterns for constructing sentences? That is, could you build a computer program ...
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What other languages, apart from Latin, mix elements from different syntactic constituents? And why mixing?

Latin has a curious syntactic possibility, which is mixing elements from different constituents, like in the sentence Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando which is translated by Wiktionary as ...
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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 ...
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Tree Structures: Sentence breaks and TP vs. S as tree structure head

I am currently working on my Linguistics homework and I have to draw a tree diagram of the sentences: (1) Peter thinks Susan asked if she needs to resign. (2) Johnny said he wants to study French. The ...
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How do you distinguish verbs, nouns, and adjectives in Chinese?

I am messing around with a conlang and trying to figure out how to write sentences. Man this is hard, there are so many possibilities and I don't know where to start. But basically, I am looking at ...
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When does do-support apply in wh-questions?

For reference, I'm working off of Carnie's Syntax (2002). In the book's framework, T → C movement is triggered by a [+Q] feature in C. In the case we have an auxiliary verb, it can raise to T and then ...
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NP or DP for “that book”

When referring to phrases such as "that book", would it be considered a DP or a NP? I think it should be considered as a DP but I am not sure how to prove it using our given data. Some data ...
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1answer
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Is this phrase or clause a clause?

Is "lefty loosey, righty tighty" a clause? Or what is "lefty loosey, righty tighty"? Or what part of speech is "lefty loosey, righty tighty"? Or what part of speech is ...
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Kayne on Conjunctions and Chomsky's Labelling Algorithm

I'm reading on coordination structures in relation to Chomsky's proposal of the Labelling Algorithm and stumbled upon Kayne (1994) The Antisymmetry of Syntax. In it, Kayne takes the view that ...
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What kind of syntax diagrams are these, found in a book on legal writing?

These don't look like syntax trees in undergrad linguistics syntax textbooks. Do linguists use these diagrams? What are they called? Page 343.     Diagrams for grammatical analysis are visual aids to ...
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Languages with overt determiners AND pronouns/proper nouns

I am currently performing a cross-linguistic investigation of determiner phrases, and I was wondering if there are languages out there where an overt determiner can occur with a pronoun or proper noun,...
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Origin of English's phrasal possessive

This site claimed that the phrasal possessive in English came from French influence, while the synthetic possessive is Germanic. Germanic Pattern: the king’s son - cf. German "des Königs Sohn&...
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What exactly is a “garden path” sentence?

Is there a term for this type of ambiguous sentence? I think it's called a "Garden Path sentence"? Coastal Bank breached its loan commitment to the owner and the contractor threatened to ...
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Verb-ing after this phrase or clause “this is my first time”

Is the verb with '-ing' in the phrase or clause "this is my first time eating this" a gerund or a present participle verb? I think now I see that "this" probably is or means "...
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1answer
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Morpheme breakdown of the word 'classification'

For the word classification, would it break down to 'class-ify-ation' or 'class-ify-ic-ation'. I am confused between the two because for the second one, classific isn't a word.
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Which (of the Germanic) languages support resultative constructions?

my question regards resultative constructions. Which of the Germanic languages supports resultative constructions? It would be awesome if you could suggest any literature regarding any language. ...
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Adjunct vs complement with intransitive verb

Tony came from outside the traditional media Am I right in thinking because came is intransitive that "outside the traditional media" is an adjunct rather than a subject complement?
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What is the difference between surface structure and logical form?

I'm still confused about the difference between these two concepts. Could you explain it with some examples? Thank you in advance!:)
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How is the 什么…都 (shénme … dou) construction in Standard Chinese usually analyzed?

Disclaimer: I am assuming that the example sentences listed here have been vetted by a native speaker, but since I'm not totally sure of this, I'll use a leading @ sign to show my uncertainty. If I am ...
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What is Hierarchy of Projections?

I know that Hierarchy of Projections for VP is T > (Neg) > (M) > (Perf) > (Prog) > v > V, but what does this mean? Does it mean in a tree "T is always higher than Neg, and Neg ...
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How do I know if ECM happens in a foreign language?

I have learned about ECM and how it works within the English language, but I don't understand it thoroughly. How would we be able to decide whether a language has ECM?
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Is it possible to produce a list of syntactic rules for a language?

I recently started a new job as an applied linguist engineer and one of the first tasks I was ask to do was to provide a list of syntactic rules that can produce French sentences (for an ...
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128 views

Is “Since + clause” a noun clause or adverbial clause in this phrase?

I wanted to know if "since + clause" was an adverbial clause or noun clause in the phrase or after the phrase "it's been a while since I've seen you.". I was thinking “it's been … ...
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1answer
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What do the numbers 206.835, 1.015, 84.6, 0.39, 11.8, 15.59 mean in the Flesch reading ease and Flesch-Kincaid grade level formulas?

I am looking to understand what do these numbers mean in the formulas, and how do they affect results, and why they were specifically chosen. Here are the formulas: Flesh reading Ease = 206.835 - 1....
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Help with syntax analysis

Good day to everyone! Could somebody explain me why in the following sentence "that he was disappointed" is S (subject)? (It)-S (must be confessed)-V (that he was disappointed)-S.
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VSO languages and generative grammar

I'm wondering how generative grammar handles VSO languages It seems to me that the subject splits up the verb phrase, and so you're going to have to have some sort of movement going on and a different ...
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realation with Clause, parts of speech and Syntax

first, I would like to say sorry for my English. I have been learning English for a year and I’m not still good at it. I think you will have trouble for understanding my words. I’ve been learning ...
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Is there evidence of a disposition for certain races to learn certain languages? [closed]

For example would those of Chinese descent have a disposition to learn Chinese? Chinese is a quite different language being logographic then say English which is alphabetic. Another example would be ...
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Does the stem of a word carry the sense information of its inflections?

From what I understand the lexeme or lemma of a word carries the sense information of the word, and hence for an inflected form like tablets, it can have a different lemma, each one for each sense of ...
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How does syntax of our language affect our thoughts?

Our language affects the way we perceive the world. I know it is not only because the words that don’t exist in one of the languages may exist in the other ones, but also because of the grammar. We ...
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Across languages, what, if any, syntactic or semantic differences distinguish compound verbs from serial verb constructions?

Across languages, what semantic or syntactic differences distinguish serial verb constructions from compound verbs? Let's disregard phonological differences for the purposes of this question. Let's ...
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“The more the merrier”

What is the linguistic status of utterances like "The more, the merrier"? In English it would not be considered a sentence because there is no verb. Yet, it fully stands on its own ...
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What would count as a counterexample to the Final-Over-Final Constraint?

I'm interested in what the constraints are on head-directionality and, in particular, which combinations of features are disfavored, unstable, or thought to be impossible. I came across the final-over-...
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Why do even completely illiterate persons, who speak their national language poorly, speak their local dialect with perfection?

Disclaimers: I have no linguistic knowledge whatsoever, I'm just fascinated by these subjects. Also, I will use the word "dialect" due to my lack of a better word, although I see that the ...
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How can you distinguish between “topic,” “focalized,” or just vanilla subjects?

How do you differentiate phrases which are topics, focalized, or just plain subjects? What tests can you use? I am looking at the data below-- the capitalized Hawaiian phrases have been claimed to be ...
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How to draw the tree diagram for this sentence? [closed]

Here is the sentence "That toy, I think they gave to the dog". Should "gave to the dog" be considered as VP and "to the dog" as PP?
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Substantivized Adjectives and the NP vs. DP Debate

At least since the 80s linguists have debated whether simple phrases like the cake are NPs with determiners in the specifier position or DPs with NP complements. Substantivized adjectives seem to me ...
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Cartographic diagnostics for being in SPEC-FocP?

What are some good Cartographic diagnostics for whether a constituent has moved to SPEC-FocP in the left periphery, versus somewhere else (like SPEC-TP or another position in the left periphery)? In ...
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Are there single-word and generally accepted terms for the referents of the arguments in comparative clauses?

AFAIK, in any statement comparing two entities, there are typically at least three terms: NPa stands for the thing compared VG stands for nature of comparison NPb stands for the thing that the ...
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1answer
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Is there any case in English where a noun phrase is not the subject of a sentence, or a complement of a verb, or the object of a preposition?

It's a simple question but limited to how noun phrases function in English sentences. Time phrases like last week, are an example of noun phrases functioning adverbially but they are still verb ...
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1answer
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How can one best formalize dependency structures in terms of rules?

I am looking for guidance in forming mathematically-inspired rules for dependency syntax. I know about the rewrite rules for dependency structures produced by Hays (1964), but I am wondering whether ...
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63 views

What is shallow semantic processing?

What exactly is "shallow semantic processing", and how is it related to syntactic analysis? Is it correct to say that syntactic processing of a text is the preliminary step for shallow semantic ...
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68 views

How do movement-based theories account for extraposition?

I'm looking at this example of Extraposition from Wikipedia: Then under Theoretical Accounts (of discontinuity in general) it is written that "[m]odern theories of transformational grammar ... assume ...

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