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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2k views

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 ...
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212 views

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. ...
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63 views

Languages with nominalized verbs that specify the thematic relation of its possessor

In English, nominalized verbs have only one form regardless of the thematic relation of its possessor: The robot's destruction (of the city) terrified authorities. The robot's destruction (by the ...
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84 views

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 ...
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113 views

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 ...
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286 views

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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276 views

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 ...
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99 views

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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144 views

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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1answer
133 views

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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140 views

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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215 views

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 ...
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39 views

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 ...
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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 ...
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134 views

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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1answer
220 views

Difference between PRO and OP

What's the difference between PRO and OP? For example, on p. 142, the book "The Syntax of Chinese" presents the following tree (which is an analysis of indirect passives in Chinese): In this ...
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244 views

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 ...
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401 views

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 ...
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110 views

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 ...
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2answers
713 views

Meaning of "Prejacent"?

I have seen the word "prejacent" in many linguistics related papers. However, none of them explains what exactly a prejacent is. Could someone elaborate more on this?
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1answer
201 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....
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55 views

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 ...
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75 views

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 ...
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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 - ...
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38 views

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 ...
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94 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 ...
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91 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 ...
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55 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 ...
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40 views

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 ...
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84 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 ...
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1answer
1k views

Phrase structure tree of a Wh question

The sentence would be "Whose dirty underwear is this?". I assume that the base (is that called deep structure sentence?) would be "This is whose dirty underwear" but I'm not sure what ...
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55 views

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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50 views

Specification of Dependency Grammar

My understanding is that, while natural languages aren't completely context-free, you can get a good approximation of a specification of English in Backus-Naur form, in that if you look at a given ...
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100 views

Are there any languages that have words for open and closing quotation marks in speech?

It seems to me that most languages have some way of bounding quotations in written form. European languages have their apostrophe quotes and angle-brackets, while eastern Asian languages have those ...
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86 views

Is there a phrasal verb corpus somewhere online?

I'm working on a project where I have syntactic frames in the form of something like "N.agent V PP.stimulus", where each PP consists of a P and a N. I have a set list of verbs, and a list of PPs for ...
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54 views

Test for function or content word? (LFG)

This might only apply to LFG, but are there any tests for if a word is functional or content/lexical? I have been trying to ascertain whether or not there is a lexical 'be' in English. The active '...
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80 views

On +/-Pied-Piping of A's in AP's containing wh-degree words

When a degree wh-word (e.g., E. how, G. wie, F. que, Sp. qué, It. come, Port. como, etc.) grades an adjective, in some languages (= the 'Pied-Piping Type') the adjective must accompany the degree ...
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164 views

Syntactic ambiguity of adjective/adverb

"The bleak cadance of last month's inauguration was still in the air, when Trump lobbed the first Molotov cocktail of policies and executive orders against the capital’s brilliant-white porticos....." ...
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377 views

Copulas and theta roles

Hi I was wondering if and if so which theta roles are being discharged to the DPs/NPs in sentences such as "these are French men". Also I was asking myself what kind of structure one would give to ...
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The Syntax of 'Only'

The adverb 'only' is known to be able to come in a variety of positions. The following examples demonstrate that it may be generated in positions that aren't so simple to syntactically analyse. The ...
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200 views

Head to head movement and features in Minimalism

Consider 2 heads a and b. b moves to head a. Does the feature [X] get on a1 by virtue of b merging to a2 by head movement? Is this kind of feature percolation still allowed in the Minimalist program?...
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990 views

Why is 'internal Merge' possible at all in a theory that rests on Economy and Strict Cyclicity?

In his March 2014 MIT lectures, Chomsky continues to claim that 'internal Merge', which yields the traditionally problematic 'displacement' property, is, in fact, the simplest and most economical ...
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181 views

Resource that gives examples of many different sentences described in tree diagrams

I've devoured the book "Beginning Syntax" by Linda Thomas, but there are areas it doesn't go into in enough depth (presumably to keep it simple). For example, modal auxiliary "ought to" - it doesn't ...
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93 views

Are there any natural languages with exclusively asyndetic coordination?

Are there any languages with exclusively asyndetic coordination, i.e. in which constituents are coordinated solely by juxtaposition, with disjunctive (or) or adversative (but) meaninigs communicated ...
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89 views

Resources/papers on Portuguese nominal syntax and determiners?

I'm vaguely aware that the (definite) determiner has a much freer distribution in Portuguese than in other languages, e.g. it can come before personal names: A Maria lê um livro. The Maria reads a ...
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1answer
57 views

Are there any studies on marked adjective order in the NP in head initial languages like Spanish or Albanian?

For example, Spanish unmarked NP order is Noun-Adjective ("libro rojo", "casa grande"). However, there are many situations where the order is reversed ("un rojo atardecer", "es un buen libro", "tienes ...
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1answer
58 views

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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26 views

How can echo questions be explained in a feature-based analysis?

There are some analyses that argue that wh-fronting is driven by a strong interrogative feature on the wh-word. However in echo questions, the wh-word does not move and stays in position. "What ...
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43 views

When can FOR be used as a preposition and a complementiser?

This question is based on several suppositions: For as a preposition is able to be transformed into a wh- question with the wh- phrase preposed with for, as below with senators John acting as the ...
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39 views

Are there generative theories of grammar with privative features outside of phonology?

By "generative grammar", I take the widest interpretation and do not mean "Chomsky's theory of syntax today", thus HPSG and LFG would be instances of GG(broad). Phonology has a ...

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