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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What techniques are used to extract word usage patterns?

I am analyzing some text blobs at syntactical level. With a regular POS tagger one could get from a text the dependencies associated to a sentence. For example, given: In: text = word_tokenize("...
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Are there any cases of infinitives being used as a "patient nominal"?

Usually, when infinitives are used in the nominal position, they denote a situation, but I never met any languages that use infinitives to denote participants. The only exception is German "Essen&...
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Is there "adjunct indexation" in some languages?

The arguments of a verb may leave markers on the verb about the person and number features, which is commonly called as argument indexation. We know the distinction between arguments and adjuncts is ...
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Giving a technical description of Greek Circumstantial / Adverbial Participles

I am looking for a good way to articulate a technical description of the function of Greek circumstantial participles (alternately called adverbial participles). This is my first-pass attempt at doing ...
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What word-classes do the first three words of "One of what is desired." comprise? [closed]

I have been unable to acertain whether "One" is a predeterminer, (quantitative) determiner, or noun, and whether "what" is a determiner or noun. Please inform me. I am thankful.
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Can someone share with me an article that studies the decline of by-phrases in the passive?

Can someone share with me an article that studies the decline of by-phrases in the passive? Preferably a corpus-based study, but this is not that relevant
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Syntax X Bar Tree - Complements & Adjuncts

I am having some trouble to identify Complements and Adjuncts. I have the following sentence: "A picture of the accident of Gabriel is saved on the album with a pink cover with the white dots&...
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Why do languages evolve to make a certain marker obligatory?

Some languages don’t require articles. They presumably must have appeared at some point in the history of language. Why would a linguistic feature like “the” be mandatory rather than optional? If it ...
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What happens when a bilingual uses a grammatical subject with a different number system than the verb?

For example, Arabic has a ternary number system: singular, dual, and plural. If a bilingual speaker uses an English phrase as a subject that would have dual number in Arabic (but of course the ...
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What kind of phrase is "Bob reliable"

Consider the sentence: a. Betty considers Bob reliable. b. Betty considers Bob to be reliable. It is believed that "Bob reliable" is a small clause and it is an AGRP. However for sentence b,...
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How to recognize Heads [closed]

I'm reading "Introduction to English linguistics" and in the chapter 4, there is a paragraph that I don't understand : The other crucial cluster of properties of heads concern their ...
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Infinitive clauses in syntactic bracketing/trees [closed]

I am a little confused on how the bracketing of a sentence like “millie forced me to play” would look like when also breaking down the tenses within the phrase. Thank you!
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Are there practical rules for distinguishing between literal and nonliteral expressions?

I'm very much a layperson with respect to linguistics, but I do enjoy reading religious texts (Bible, Hadith, etc.) and talking with adherents about their particular meanings. A question which seems ...
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Why is 'before' a Downward Entailing Operator, but 'after' is not?

I'm a teaching assistant for a linguistics class and I'm having a hard time finding a clear and concise way to explain the difference between "before" and "after" re: entailment. ...
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Object of certain constructions

I am sure you have all come across constructions such as these: She slept a long sleep He lived a productive life. These verbs are traditionally intransitive verbs, and yet here are transitive. ...
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What are lexeme, word and phrase in HPSG?

In “Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar: The handbook” by Abeillé and Borsley, it says: lexeme, word, and phrase have a complex system of subtypes. The type lexical-sign, its subtypes, and the ...
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Languages with homophonous IF-clauses

In English, most grammars tacitly or explicitly recognise two types of if. One of these introduces subordinate interrogative clauses: I don't know [if I passed the exam]. The other introduces ...
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OVS in English dialogue

English is an SVO language. When writing dialogue, especially in literature, writing a sentence with the speech first is considered grammatically correct. Take for example this extract from Ursula K ...
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Is there such a thing as attributive vs. modifier uses of adj? Is un rojo carro vs. un carro rojo the same difference as 红房子 vs. 红的房子?

In teaching Spanish I often explain the difference between pre-nominal adjectives and post-nominal adjectives as the difference between an English noun phrase in which the adjective is stressed, and ...
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Which languages drop articles?

I was reading through a tutorial about an IT tool called Ansible and started wondering about the first language of the author, who tends to drop articles. Is it possible to guess a person's language ...
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Is there a language whose syntactic structure accepts a specifier of a PP?

We know a preposition (in X-bar theory) is the head of a prepositional phrase and it has a complement that is the sister of this very preposition. However I've never seen a language with a constituent ...
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Are there different "kinds" of meaningless sentences?

There is famous sentences by Chomsky ("Colorless green ideas sleep furiously") to show that syntactically sentences can by devoid of meaning, or at least have a very odd or dubious meaning. ...
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How common are "How" + infinitive interrogative sentence structures?

In English (or at least varieties with which I am familiar), if you want to ask how to do something, you can't just ask "How to do {something}?"--that's interpreted as a headless relative, ...
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Is derivation through valency change common cross-linguistically?

Sorry if this question doesn't make much sense, it's still a half-formed shower thought at this point. In my linguistics class yesterday we were going over ergative-absolutive alignment, and the ...
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how do we categorize verbs that come after copula verbs?

(1) The bird seems to eat. Would eat be a verb? I thought that it would be but now I'm having second thoughts about whether it's an adjective or a verb.
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"STARBUCKESE" syntax problem

In standard English, one can’t put a PP before a head noun that the preposition modifies. For example, the NP in (a) is completely ungrammatical. a) *The with milk coffee. But there is a major chain ...
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Does "Inchoative Construction" mean constructions with intransitive inchoative verbs?

The following is the sentence I extracted from a book, Binding Theory, written by Daniel Burning. The fact that a language like English, which lacks a simple reflexive, has extremely few reflexive ...
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Why is the PP, according to this derivation, directly moved from the lower (farther) DP, not the nearer one?

The sentence being parsed: De CHOMSKY varios libros han ganado premios internacionales, no de Trotsky. of Chomsky several books have won awards international-PL, not of Trotsky Why is the PP on top ...
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On the change of word order as languages develop?

While I understand the most common changes in word order, the whole SOV can go to OSV, SVO, and OVS, and so forth. But I do not exactly understand how and why word order would change. Can you explain ...
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Why is there a proxy reading in this sentence from Reuland (2011)?

For English, himself can function as proxy reading, for instance, One of the well-known properties of reflexive pronouns is their ability to have "proxy readings." This is illustrated in (1) ...
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Why is 'There are most of us in the party' ungrammatical?

Sentence a: There are many of us in the party. Sentence b: There are most of us in the party. Why is sentence b ungrammatical? Is it a matter of some kind of constraints?
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4 votes
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How does "own" affect binding?

How does own affect binding relationships? I am studying binding theory as it applies to English. I have learned that own can influence the binding relations. For example: (1) John is his boss. The ...
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Are there languages which restrict adverb usage to only one of either preceding or following a verb?

We have adverb sentences like this: I basically initially ran quickly. That means the same thing pretty much as: I basically initially quickly ran. First part of the question is, why do some ...
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What does it mean for something to be extracted from islands? [closed]

So I understand that something like a complex NP is an island. And some languages are "sensitive to islands" but what does that mean? What is being extracted from the island and why would ...
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Flesch-Kincaid reading ease formula coefficients [duplicate]

About the Flesch-Kincaid reading ease formula: F = 206.835 − (84.6 ∗ S) − (1.015 ∗ P) I don't understand the meaning of the coefficient choices. Why those specific numbers? Are the studies behind the ...
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theta role, infinitival phrase

What is the motivation to assume an unpronounced Pro when there is infinitival phrase in the context of phrase structure grammar? Eg. I hope to hit the target.
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How do you draw a x-bar tree with negative inversion? [closed]

For example: 'Never was I so offended' There is already a T to C inversion with 'was', where do we put the word 'Never'? And how should we label it? AdvP or Neg?
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Textbook: “grammar behaves as if something is left behind after movement” — How so?

From An Introduction to Language and Linguistics by Fasold and Connor-Linton, on auxiliary movement: It may seem strange that movement is done in two steps, copying and deletion of the original, ...
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In syntax trees, why aren't single-word phrases reduced to that word?

Why do phrases like "the car in Texas" break down into (NP (Det the) (N car) (PP (P in) (NP (N Texas)))) Why is the prepositional phrase "in Texas" constituted of the ...
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When are prepositional phrases sibling to leaf nodes?

In syntax trees in English, can prepositional phrases, modifying either verbs or nouns, ever be sibling to the verb or noun itself for example and not a verb phrase/noun phrase? I've heard the correct ...
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Can adjuncts modify nouns?

The Wikipedia page on adjuncts gives the example Yesterday, Lorna saw the dog in the garden. Notice that this example is ambiguous between whether the adjunct in the garden modifies the verb saw (in ...
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can a binder bind two bindees where one is in secondary predicate and the other is in third predicate

(1)[Zhangsan] zhidao [ta] zuo de dui. Zhangsan know he do right (2)??[Zhangsan] zhidao [ta] zuo le zhejian shiqing. Zhangsan know he do ASP this thing Huang1988 proposed that the ...
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5 votes
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Why do object pronouns precede the predicate in French, while R-expressions follow it?

How to explain the situation in French where an object pronoun needs to precede the predicate, while an object R-expression stands to the right of the predicate? Here is an example: a. Il le regarde. (...
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What is a trace dependency?

Just came across the Nested Dependency Condition - if two wh-trace dependencies overlap, one must contain the other. What does this mean?
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In the following sentence, why "slowly ate" fit the replacement test but is not considered a proper constituent

She slowly ate a donut, Where I was told that slowly ate a donut was a constituency, and ate a donut was a constituent,BUT slowly ate was not, since they are not under the same node... Which all make ...
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2 votes
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Understanding why Antisymmetry gives us SVO and not SOV

I'm trying to understand the theory of antisymmetry as described here. I know the slogan that it treats every language as underlyingly SVO and derives other surface orders through movement. I don't ...
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How to find the ambiguity in a sentence?

Let's say there's a sentence like "The ball I threw to the dog in the park got lost." Is there an ambiguity present in this sentence? My opinion is that "in the park" causes an ...
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How to diagram control sentence in Chinese?

For Chinese control sentence, "Zhangsan de fuqin ganxie Lisi bangzhu LE ta"' "Zhangsan 's father thank Lisi help PERFECT ASPECT he " Zhangsan's father thanks ...
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How should the Albanian "genitive" really be analysed?

The Albanian language is typically described as having a genitive case. In actuality, this "case" consists of an connective particle which agrees in number, gender AND CASE with the ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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what is the headword in this sentence? [closed]

"Before the Saturday kidnappings, professional associations and businesses in Port-au-Prince had called for an indefinite strike." How many noun groups are in the bold clause? and what is ...
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