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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Do "only if..." and "if... only then..." have the same LF representation?

I'm currently writing a term paper where I am comparing if... then..., only if..., and if... only then... statements. I've noticed that only if p q and if p, only then q have the same truth conditions ...
acattle's user avatar
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Positive & Negative Polarity Items, and Interrogatives

There are certain items in some languages that tend to occur largely in negative clauses. In English, one such item might be the word ever: *I have ever been to Paris. I haven't ever been to Paris. ...
Araucaria - him's user avatar
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What are the current views on the existence of a "zero article" in English?

As is well known, under certain circumstances in English, there can be acceptable noun phrases (NPs) that lack a determiner. Some cases include: (i) "indefinite uncountable nominals" (There ...
linguisticturn's user avatar
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I'm confused by the term 'adjunct' as used in A Student's Introduction to English Grammar (2nd Edition 2022)

According to the authors of the book, adjuncts are divided into two kinds: modifiers, which are thoroughly integrated into the syntactic structure of clauses, and supplements, which are much more ...
IMissedmyflight's user avatar
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Are there any languages where the first person cannot be an object?

In some languages, nouns low on the animacy hierarchy, particularly inanimates cannot surface as A, and if a situation arises where they are underlyingly A, some reparative strategy such as a passive ...
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In which non-Sinitic languages do negative clauses retain older constituent order in SVC-derived complex predicates?

Many complex predicates are historically derived from serial verb constructions. This is not only true of the Sinitic family. For example, in Saramaccan (Byrne 1987, as cited in Givón 2009): (1) a ...
WavesWashSands's user avatar
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What currency does the term "flip sense verb" have in linguistics?

In a recent comment on the question Ergative Verbs and some discussion about them, jlawler introduced a term I had not previously encountered: The rose smells good is completely different; this ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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Formal Language theory (context free grammars, pushdown automata)

Does anyone know any good introductions to Formal Language theory and Formal Grammar, that covers the mathematical basis of Syntax and things like context free grammars and pushdown automata? In ...
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Aside from coordination, subordination, and clause-chaining, how else do natural languages create multi-clause sentences?

Most of us know that sentences and clauses can be coordinated, and that subordinating clauses can modify nouns (see restrictive relative clauses), modify verbs (see adverbial clauses) and serve as ...
James Grossmann's user avatar
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Different ways languages use adjectives as arguments?

I'm not sure how to word this. I'm not talking about languages where adjectives can act as nouns on their own. I'm talking about when 'states' are used as arguments. An example in this is the phrase; ...
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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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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 ...
O.Ceren's user avatar
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Is there any difference in meaning or nuance when the adjective follows the noun in Georgian?

Many languages allow the order of adjectives compared to nouns to vary, but for different reasons: Some languages have very free word order in which case there is little difference between adj + noun ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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Are there languages where grammatical parallelism does not matter?

English has a strong preference for parallelism (Wikipedia link), even though sentences lacking parallelism are still considered grammatically correct: Good: She likes cooking, jogging, and reading. ...
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Why are reflexives prohibited in partitive constructions?

In a partitive construction, reflexives do not usually occur: Julie and Bob are talking about the two of them/*themselves. The following example is from COCA: The men, all of them, stared into ...
Buffoon's user avatar
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In X-Bar theory, what could the Specifiers of PPs and AdvPs ever be?

In X-Bar theory, do prepositional phrases, adverbial phrases, adjectival phrases etc. ever have specifiers? What could they be? The only phrases I know the possible specifiers for are: Noun Phrases, ...
minseong's user avatar
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Stacking of prepositions in English?

The Cambridge Grammar Of The English Language recognises the existence of intransitive prepositions (p. 612): The case for allowing prepositions with no complements is most compelling where the same ...
Eric's user avatar
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Do sentences that mutually entail each other have similar predicate-argument structures?

An active sentence entails its passive counterpart, and vice versa. Thus, the two sentences John likes Joan and Joan is liked by John mutually entail each other. My question in this regard concerns ...
Buffoon's user avatar
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Dataset for distribution of different systems for 'yes' and 'no' cross-linguistically?

The Wikipedia article for 'Yes and no' lists various distinct, common, systems for expressing the affirmative and the negative, ranging from no explicit terms (instead relying on echo responses) to ...
Geza Kerecsenyi's user avatar
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What is the syntactic function (if there is any) of the prefix in some German verbs?

Consider the following sentence: "Ich rufe dich an". It is a very simple Standard German sentence with the verb "anrufen", the unusual thing about it is this prefix that comes ...
Ergative Man's user avatar
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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-...
Greg Nisbet's user avatar
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Usage of the implicit objective subordinate clause in English

I'm not a fluent english speaker. While speaking this language, we usually prefer the implicit objective subordinate clauses (with subject in the accusative case, if it exists) to the corresponding ...
Matteo Spadetto's user avatar
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Understanding Symbols in Chomsky's *Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory*

I've been reading Chomsky's The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory, and have come up rather suddenly against a stumbling block. On page 133, he uses without explanation some notation that's ...
Bob Offer-Westort's user avatar
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Are there any natural languages in the subordination of a clause is marked only in the matrix clause?

In English, and many other languages, subordination is often marked in the subordinate clause. So complement clauses can, for example, begin with a complementizer such as English "that." e.g. "I ...
James Grossmann's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
210 views

Why must adversative coordination be binary?

At Glottopedia we read that adversative coordination expresses semantic contrast between the coordinands. In English, adversative coordination is usually accomplished with “but,” as in these sentences....
James Grossmann's user avatar
3 votes
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Is this phrase a CP or another DP?

If I were to have a DP, such as "the car which I had washed in the garage", the "which I had washed in the garage" sounds a lot like a CP. However, I have never seen CP's embedded ...
NuitBirdy's user avatar
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Dependent-marking on adpositions?

Is there a language such that an adposition is dependent-marked so that one can infer that it depends on head X but not Y? As a possible example, an affix is attached to an adposition to show that it ...
Shpekard's user avatar
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Under the DP hypothesis, does anything ever go in the Spec of NP?

I attach Carnie's illustration of "several people who she kissed" below: My question is on the NP to N' branch (red boxed). I was taught that restrictive relatives clauses are adjuncts to ...
Jenny's user avatar
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Corpus studies on the frequency of subject questions in English

Are there any corpus studies which show the relative frequency of different types of interrogative main clauses in English, in particular the relative frequency of subject questions (which do not ...
user43197's user avatar
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Is there a "Range" Phrase?

Is anyone aware of any discussion in linguistics of the possibility of a "range" phrase? As I tentatively conceive of the range phrase, a true range phrase refers to a readily identifiable ...
Matthew Rips's user avatar
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What is the argument position of a noun in vocative case in a sentence?

What is the argument position (e.g. subject, direct object, ...) of a noun in vocative case in a sentence, for example, in Latin?
Tim's user avatar
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What is an unaccusative or an ergative adjective?

When I was reading papers, I found these expressions. So what is an unaccusative adjective and an ergative adjective? And what is their relationship with the distinction between raising and non-...
Rongrong's user avatar
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Exception to word order in quotative situations

I'm very uneducated in syntax, so I apologize if this question is something really basic that everyone already knows. English is a subject-verb-object language, and it is known to follow that pattern ...
Graham H.'s user avatar
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syntactic analysis under Split INFL Hypothesis

I'm a beginner in linguistics, and so here is my problem under the early theory of Split INFL Hypothesis (Pollock, 1989; Belletti, 1990; Haegeman, 1994). Here are the sentences. a.They must have been ...
T.-J. Wu's user avatar
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0 answers
72 views

Conditional followed by imperative

In English, we have often sentences like so: If you are interested, send me a message WHEN you are ready to do it, start with the laundry To my understanding these are a conditional followed by an ...
tryst with freedom's user avatar
3 votes
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67 views

Can clauses with transitive verbs that stand for experiences be passivized across the attested languages that have passive voice?

In English, verbs that stand for experiences (e.g. see, hear, sense, notice, realize) can occur in passive forms and clauses as we see in these examples: "Tommy sees the baby sloth." --&...
James Grossmann's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
63 views

How do languages without passive voice foreground constituents that don't stand for agents?

one: Passive voice can be used to foreground noun phrases that don't stand for agents by putting those noun phrases in subject position. e.g., in English, "The man bit the dog." --> &...
James Grossmann's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
125 views

Inherently reflexive verbs

What is the status of herself in the following sentence? Mary behaved herself during the class. Is herself an internal argument? I'm a bit confused.
Buffoon's user avatar
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How can you 'test' for grammatical properties in A Student's Introduction to English Grammar?

According to the book A Student's Introduction to English Grammar (2005), grammatical terms, e.g., subject, object, noun, verb, adjective, etc. should not be defined by meaning, but by grammatical ...
Guest1023854's user avatar
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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,...
Yili Xia's user avatar
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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. ...
Eric's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
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When are complementisers implied, but not present, and when are they actually not present?

I have recently been learning about complementisers and relative clauses etc. and how they relate to x-bar theory. It is a feature of English that some complementisers are optional, especially in ...
Tree Hill's user avatar
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Was there a tendency of Indo-European languages to avoid syntactical ambiguity by introducing more complex morphology?

In (Peškovskij, 1914, p. 246) I stumbled upon the following (Russian) assertion: Opisannoe vytesnenie predikativnogo imenitel'nogo tvoritel'nym možno rassmatrivat' kak častnyj slučaj obščego ...
Damiaan Reijnaers's user avatar
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Syntax as error-correction-code

I vaguely recall from my academic studies that a professor mentioned that the syntax of sentence could be seen as error-correction-code in signal processing. In other words, from a pragmatic view - ...
Uri Goren's user avatar
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Are there tests for conditionality?

I am looking for ways to test whether something that (at least superficially) looks like a conditional actually has the necessary properties to qualify as one. Are there any such established semantic ...
schoekling's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
793 views

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 ...
BritishLinguist's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
94 views

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 ...
Amrith Krishna's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
119 views

Can first order logic represent a past occurring adverbial dependent clause with a present main clause to form the perfect tense?

Can first order logic represent a past occurring adverbial dependent clause with a present main clause to form the perfect tense? Is this the way to represent an adverbial dependent clause with first ...
user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
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vocabulary and notation for syntactic changes

As a layman I have picked up the terminology and notation for changes in phonology. But I know very little about diachronic changes in syntax other than that they happen: things like shift from SOV ...
Anton Sherwood's user avatar
3 votes
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117 views

Confusion over Adverbial Adjuncts (X' Bar Theory)

For my Syntax class this semester, we've been asked to look at a language more in depth and try to develop X-Bar compatible rules for it. In doing so, I've come across a reoccurring problem that may ...
klamont15's user avatar
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