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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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Feature values [+/- interpretable], how these values are set?

In Minimalist Program (Chomsky, 1995) and in Derivation by Phase (DbP) (Chomsky, 2000, 2005, 2008), call it Phase Theory, features enter narrow syntax with predefined values, these values are binary (-...
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What is the difference between trace and PRO?

Is it like the trace is the result of movement and has to be in the chain with the head, while PRO is just a null duplication taken the position but with no phonetic realization?
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Parallel coordination failures

Consider this sentence: You can manipulate lightning, mist, and wind; traffic with air creatures; and are resistant to electricity damage. This looks at first glance like a perfectly normal ...
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Problem Set Solutions to 'Semantics in Generative Grammar' (Heim & Kratzer)?

I'm working through Heim and Kratzer's 1998 textbook 'semantics in generative grammar' (Blackwell), which I understand is fairly standard for university level courses on semantics, but I can't find ...
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Question on move operation

I'm learning about minimalism at the moment. I'm not sure if I understand the move operation. I think I understand that in English the move operation takes place when you want to formulate a question....
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Theta Criterion Violation

Is the Theta Criterion violated in the following sentence: [I saw [the tall kid]] provided that: saw theta marks [the tall kid]--see is the main predicate (V). tall theta marks [kid] -- tall is ...
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Concept / function duplication

I'm looking for a name for the phenomenon whereby some languages like to put chains of words together that mean the same thing, while others don't - just some terminology that would help me search for ...
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“To whom” in pied-piped infinitive relative clauses

In English wh raised from, or in situ in, a direct object or prepositional object, you can almost always use "who" at least as well as "whom",1 and in some cases you can only use "who": Who/whom did ...
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Why is participial clause tenseless?

Participles, among the non-finite verbal inventory, most often appear to be taken by linguists as being tenseless or having the feature [-tense]. This is due to their interaction only with the Aspect ...
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Can we parse the hell out of this construction?

John only had the Ferrari for three months, but while he had it, he drove the hell out of it. I'm pretty sure I aced the hell out of that test. That last stuff you got us, we smoked the hell out of it....
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Past Participial Relatives are the sourse of Participial Adjectives, why?

I came across this statement in a work (Ph.D. Dissertation, p.158) by Asier Alcázar Estela in which he assumes that the Past Participial Relatives are the source of the Participial Adjectives. And he ...
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Which is the most accepted Dative Shift theory?

Which is the most accepted Dative Shift(Double Object Construction) theory?
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What is this method of drawing syntax trees?

I'm taking a course in generative grammar and I've reached a point where I don't know what's happening because I missed one class. Anyway, last time my tutor drew tree diagrams that I found a bit ...
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Is a quote a kind of parenthetical? How do we deal with direct quotes in syntax?

I'm working with discourse data that has a lot of dirct quotes in it. There are a lot of examples look like the following (this is a translation of a part of the discourse): Then they said, ‘‘What ...
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Conjunctions between complex clauses - which items do they coordinate?

In a sentence like: He had joined up for no other reason than to escape, [blank] hated army life. I would use the conjunction and. In the equivalent Thai sentence, though, it seems that native ...
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Use of the definite article in European vs. Brazilian Portuguese

When I started learning Portuguese years ago, all the books I used at the time told me that when using possessive adjectives you also have to put the corresponding definite article in front of the ...
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Is “coordination ambiguity” a subset of “attachment ambiguity”?

As I understand: “attachment ambiguity” is when a constituent could be legally attached to more than one parts of a sentence. “coordination ambiguity” is when a modifier could be attached to an ...
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Phrase structure trees for serial verb constructions

I have not found an example of a phrase structure tree for a serial verb construction like let’s go [and] see a movie The serialized verbs go and see would have to be sister nodes, I think, but I am ...
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Phrase structure trees for different languages

I am trying to get to the bottom of the difference between (1) and (2) below, and how the intended meanings would be reflected in a phrase structure tree: (1) If you think that $100 is too little you ...
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Markers that affect intensity of the imperative mood

I'm working on a project that explores how imperative mood varies in 'intensity'. For example, one can 'soften' the tone of a directive by including the speaker in the command: "Let's go to school"...
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1answer
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Minimalism - a question about a property of merge operation

Does anyone know what would it mean that the merge operation is asymmetrical? Would this mean that the order of merged objects is important?
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Why is *“Where did you move from Paris to?” ungrammatical?

If I'm not mistaken *"Where did you move from Paris to?", while "Where did you move to from Paris?" as well as both "You moved from Paris to London" and "You moved to London from Paris"(at least with ...
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What is configurational case assignment?

How does it differ with inherent case? I found this definition from Maria Polinsky and Omer Preminger paper; Noun phrases are assigned case by virtue of their structural position relative to certain ...
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Which is the most accepted case theory from a generative syntax perspective?

I've read about different theories but now I'm kind of confused between the different theories and the differences between structural case, non-structural, lexical/morphological case, inherent case, ...
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Is “indirect object” syntactically definable or useful, in English or generally?

In traditional English grammar, we're taught that phrases like those boldfaced below are "indirect objects": I gave the book to Ted. I gave Ted the book. But this appears to be based on semantics (...
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multiple raising verb in a sentence

how would the deep structure looks like for a sentence that has multiple raising verb like 'Tom happens to be believed to have wanted to like linguistics' ?
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1answer
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criteria to distinguish resultative from stative participles?

I was recently reading an article by David Embick (2004) in which he makes a ternary distinction among passive participles: 1. stative 2. resultative 3. eventive, contra. Wasow (1977) who ...
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Generative vs Constructionist POV on Imperative's null subject

How might a constructionist approach to Imperative sentences respond to a Generative frammework in regards to an implied subject (;subject-less' sentences. (Based on the focus point from the ...
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1answer
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Drawing case specified trees for english gerunds

I'm reading Adger's Core Syntax book and am having a tough time with Exercise 1 of the functional categories chapter. The exercise is about gerunds. Gerunds are specified by the form of suffixing -...
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What is the proper terminology for “I touch” in this sentence?

I am trying to diagram this sentence for a personal project: Everything I touch with tenderness pricks like a bramble. From what I understand, Everything is the subject, and pricks is the ...
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1answer
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What's the difference between V2 word order and OVS word order?

Is there any difference between the two? They seem the same to me, c.f.: Fußball spielten die Kinder vor der Schule im Park. Football played the kids before school in the park. (...
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Triggering emotions with language

Emotional responses to certain words is often argued to be a result of nurture(acquired through development), while emotional responses to Tone is largely attributable to nature(born with). Shouldn't ...
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Why is the preposition treated as the head of a prepositional phrase?

What are the theoretical reasons for treating the preposition as the head of a prepositional phrase? (Noun as head of NP sounds fine intuitively, but the same does not apply to prepositions in ...
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Misunderstanding quantifier floats

I'm reading Core Syntax by Adger and there is an exercise to analyze the following data. *The dragons were slain all. *The Greeks arrived all. Now I know the phenomena of floating quantifiers comes ...
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“Peter sang a song to Julie”, Is “to Julie” is an adjunct or complement?

Peter sang a song to Julie. It seems that the verb "sang" selects the preposition, but to Julie is optional. And if we apply it to an X' Schema, how shall we do it? To Julie is the dependent of sang ...
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If there are cases of tense or plural as separate words like particles

I am looking for stranger particle-like things, like the Japanese wa particle, or determiners like the. So wondering if there are any cases of pluralizing or changing to past/future tense that is not ...
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System for intermixing IPA with Orthography

So in English the word hi sounds like /haɪ/, but can be spelled "hi", "high", etc. So if you wanted to define the word "high" in English you would have to write two things: high (the spelling/...
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Understanding the property of complementhood

In the following sentence: They can both speak French. How can French be the complement of the V-bar speak French? I have the following definition of the complement: A constituent X is the ...
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List Of Common English Syntax Ambiguities?

For an example of ambiguous syntax: John likes Adam more than Eve. Such a construction could mean that: Comparing Adam and Eve, John likes Adam more. Compared to Eve's liking of Adam, John likes ...
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How do we set comparative adverbs, from expressions like “more than x” on the syntax tree?

I'm trying to figure something out from Portuguese, but if you can answer me that based on English, it will help a lot. Thanks.
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“there” and “everything” in linguistics is a “pronoun” or “noun”?

Regarding to drawing a syntax tree, "there" and "everything" in linguistics is a "pronoun" or "noun"? For example, 1. There is an apple. 2. It is not everything.
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Do English passive verbs assign case? (Government and Binding Theory)

I'm trying to think things through regarding case and passive verbs, within the framework of Government and Binding Theory. As starting point, I'll use this statement/principle (based on what I've ...
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1answer
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Determining the head of the sentence

I'm having difficulties in determining the heads of phrases/sentences. I know that the head determines the syntactic function of the whole phrase and I understood some simple examples but in the ...
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Why can 'that' be included in that-clauses, but must be omitted whenever constituents are questioned?

Linguistics: An Introduction to Language and Communication (2017 7 ed). p. 196 Middle. Barring past tense, why does [that]complementizer hinder questioning of constituents, when [that]...
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Syntax relative clause

For example: "An apple that my mother bought yesterday" In the example, "An apple" is a noun phrase and "that my mother bought yesterday" is a complementiser phrase. Are the noun phrase––"An apple"––...
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How do you draw a syntax tree for a sentence with a dummy subject?

I encounter difficulties when drawing a syntax tree for a sentence of expletive contruction. Should I mark the dummy subject "there" as a noun? Thx
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Parsing a sentence with the noun as the Predicator

Can the sentence "That professor is a syntactician," in which the DP "a syntactician" is the predicator, be parsed like a normal sentence, using x-bar theory, the Predicate Shell and the DP Hypothesis?...
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Complete NL formalisms w/out syntax

What are the natural language formalisms that, roughly speaking, do away w/ syntax as a separate level of description? Cf. Steedman's "The Syntactic Process" (2000): "...syntactic structure is ...
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How can you test whether a word is being used as a conjunction?

It's been a couple years since I've taken a syntax class, and I've forgotten - what tests can you use to check whether a speaker uses a word as a conjunction? I seem to remember something about ...
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Transposition of words in questions

In English, the following is grammatically correct: Am I going to the cinema today? In contrast, the assertion that this is true is grammatically correct only with the first two words reversed. ...