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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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3
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1answer
436 views

Where to find examples of unique/uncommon syntax?

I've been immersed in the magic of languages since childhood (LOTR, Myst, Eragon) - and now that I'm dreaming up a world of my own, I'm interested in developing a unique and interesting language for ...
13
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9answers
7k views

Textbook suggestions for syntax, semantics/pragmatics and phonetics/phonology

I am coming to linguistics from a completely non-linguistic background; I was a mathematician. Next year I will start taking some serious (Master's level) linguistics courses and I would like to have ...
2
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1answer
3k views

What is syntactically wrong with these sentences?

I am currently analysing a poem, and I have come across two sentences that are obviously grammatically incorrect, but I can't figure out how to describe what is wrong with them. "Beside him, the ...
3
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1answer
574 views

Are there any languages with verbs that require more than three arguments?

Are there any languages some of whose verbs require more than three arguments? I was thinking of causative constructions, such that "Mike had John give Sally the ring" could be expressed with one ...
8
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1answer
488 views

How do languages with imperfect aspect typically convey distinctions between habitual, iterative, and progressive aspects?

How does languages with imperfect aspects typically convey distinctions between habitual, iterative, and progressive aspects? In English, which does not mark its verbs for imperfect aspect, we have ...
6
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3answers
851 views

Is there a syntactic term for finite verb + infinitive constructions such as "wants to paint"?

In the sentence "Pete wants to paint," "wants" is of course the finite verb, and "to paint" is of course the infinitive. But is there a syntactic term for a construction such as "wants to paint"? ...
9
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3answers
787 views

Mathematical preparation for postgraduate studies in Linguistics

I posted this question in https://math.stackexchange.com/ and it was suggested to me that it would be a good idea to submit the question here, too, as there might be more specialists on the matter. I ...
12
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1answer
1k views

What is this feature of British English called?

In British English you'll often hear them post-fixing expressions that American English tends to keep up front. For example, I've heard British English speakers (golf commentators in particular) say ...
2
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2answers
277 views

Does speech transcription change syntax/grammar?

Just a question out of curiosity. Before typing became commonplace, many writing communications must have been transcribed from dictation. My hypothesis is that certain syntax and grammar must change ...
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1answer
1k views

Having trouble drawing a tree diagram

I'm having trouble drawing a tree diagram for the following sentence: Chrissy believed that the earrings she bought for Sue were real silver. In the task we have to divide the sentence into its ...
7
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2answers
6k views

Basic syntax notation: noun phrase vs determiner phrase

I'm a first-semester student in linguistics and I need clarifications regarding the following trees: (1) and (2) My course notes seem to stick with the first kind of notation but when I read ...
4
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1answer
2k views

Syntax: How can this tree be built?

I am working through "Contemporary Linguistics" on my own. It's been going pretty well, but I have a question about building syntax trees. I understand the tree here for "The dog might bite that man"...
6
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1answer
291 views

What does it mean for a control verb to semantically select its arguments?

I'm attempting to better understand what a control verb is. The Wikipedia definition seems clear enough. But the definition in this other Wikipedia article, about Control, was harder for me to ...
9
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3answers
409 views

Can anyone point me toward articles/theory that syntax and morphology operate on the same principles?

Looking for articles and or theories that explore the idea that morphology and syntax are not separate but operate on the same principles; for example, that the sentence is just an extended ...
6
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1answer
311 views

What is the name of this grammatical construct: a sentence has two endings?

Consider the following sentence: Local Man Loses Pants, Life; Beaver Rescue Falls Short I've seen this named before where a sentence has two endings but I've been unable to find it on any grammar ...
3
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0answers
327 views

What's confusing about this sentence? [closed]

Consider the following sentence: Clean up the design database to initialize costing. I find the sentence to be confusing but I'm a native English speaker. I asked my wife about it and she ...
2
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1answer
397 views

Diagnostic tests for basic word order of subject-verb-object in a topic-comment language?

I'm trying to grok ASL's grammar. There seems to be a lot of folk grammar and the professional liguists haven't been studying it for very long so there is a lot of contradictory statments about what ...
6
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1answer
1k views

History of the verb positioning in German

In German, the word order is SVO (or V2, to be precise) in main clauses, while in subordinate clauses have the finite verb in final position; there is some discussion of the word order in "German is ...
3
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1answer
284 views

A syntactic approach to possessives

I am currently writing an essay in linguistic typology on possessives. I got stuck in the last part, in which I am supposed to present a syntactic approach to the structure of possessives. I should ...
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0answers
73 views

Which layers of the language is dealing with co-reference resolution and how to solve it computationaly?

Which layers of the language is dealing with co-reference resolution and what are the steps to solve this problem in NLP?
6
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1answer
319 views

Word order typology in Germanic

I am not a native speaker of English, but I study English and Dutch. I have noticed that the two languages differ in their degree of flexibility. The following sentence, for example, is not acceptable ...
19
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3answers
843 views

How are mathematical operators like "plus" and "cos" analyzed?

Consider the mathematical statement 1 + 2 = 3 It is read in English as One plus two equals three. One plus two is equal to three. In English at least, equals is obviously an ordinary verb, ...
3
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2answers
728 views

How are these diagrams read?

I naively picked up a book in which the author assumes that the reader has a background in linguistics, so she often uses abbreviations without first explaining what they mean. I don't have such a ...
0
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1answer
123 views

Analysis of "go there", "turn left", "move back", etc

How are phrases such as go there, turn left, move back etc. analysed syntactically? are they copula + predicate, verb + object, or something else? Neither of these solutions seem correct to me, so ...
4
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1answer
3k views

Main types of contrast involved in contrastive analysis of syntax?

What are the main types of contrast involved in contrastive analysis of syntax? I would appreciate a few examples. I tried to find an answer, but unfortunately I found nothing.
20
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7answers
2k views

What divides semantics from pragmatics?

To my understanding... Semantics is the raw meaning and connotations a word carries on it's own and pragmatics is the context-dependent meaning a word holds. Is this accurate? Can anyone explain it ...
8
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4answers
2k views

Indo-European prepositions: why prepositions?

In a related but different question to Indo-European prepositions: whence did they come?, why do just about all modern Indo-European languages have prepositions rather than postpositions? PIE is ...
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0answers
131 views

Gerund as a PP complement

What would be the structure for a phrase like, 'before speaking to him' ? Will 'before' take a CP as the complement and treat 'speaking' like a PRO-ing or is it something else? Somebody please help ...
3
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1answer
255 views

"Enumerators" and Approximate Inversion

There's a term that, as far as I know, goes back to traditional Celtic grammar called "enumerators". These are essentially words that inflect for number in weird ways when preceded by a numeral, that ...
69
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12answers
24k views

What characteristics are unique to English (or at least rare among language as a whole)?

After wondering about this today at work, I turned to the Internet. A short piece that focuses on pronunciation points toward "none". I've scoured ELU and Google (perhaps not as thoroughly or ...
4
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1answer
128 views

Could we apply Neo-Whorfianism to parameters in the P&P sense?

I am no expert on Sapir-Whorf lore. But I understand it usually concerns itself with semantics and the lexicon. Would it be possible, do you think, to look at languages with similar and different ...
12
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6answers
7k views

Why is English so much more simplified than other, similar languages?

English seems to have rules that are much more simple than its cousin German and its influencer French, as well as most of the languages that those are related to. What caused this? I suspect it's ...
3
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1answer
226 views

What markers can one use to automatically detect a prepositional phrase in an English sentence?

I'm currently working on a project for which I have a need to identify certain aspects of a sentence. What markers can I use to algorithmically detect a prepositional phrase in a sentence? Obviously, ...
3
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2answers
273 views

"Like" in English (and perhaps other languages)

How is English "like" — as in "you look like a monkey" — generally analyzed these days? I can think of two ways to go here. I'm tempted to call it either a preposition, or some sort of ...
9
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2answers
516 views

What is the historical basis for the use of this type of phrasal verb in English but less so in Spanish?

For example, English uses phrases like to look for and to look at, which (I believe) are considered phrasal verbs. Spanish, however, would under normal circumstances use some derivation of buscar and ...
14
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2answers
19k views

What is the difference between "anaphora" and "deixis"?

I've been trying to understand an answer from another SE site (Japanese Language & Usage) where the answer involves the differences between anaphora and deixis. Here is the link. What would be ...
2
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0answers
345 views

What are some theoretical motivations for do-support?

I've been attempting to put together an overview of the various theoretical motivations that have been proposed for do-support in the literature, but the topic has been frustratingly difficult to ...
17
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8answers
3k views

Are there any languages in which verbs are a closed class?

In English, the verb "do" can be a transitive verb whose object stands for an action. So, we English speakers can "do a somersault," "do a back flip," and "do a cartwheel." The productivity of this ...
5
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2answers
513 views

Are there languages without valency changing rules?

Most languages have valency changing rules. In English and many other languages, we have passive constructions, which change transitive verbs into intransitive ones: "The man ate the hot dog," ...
11
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0answers
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 ...
9
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2answers
2k views

Can the word "said" be a determiner in written English?

Consider sentences like this one. "Reluctant to place the dog and the children in the same houses as caretakers affected by the slobbering sickness, the authorities decreed that said children would ...
10
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4answers
2k views

Italian passato prossimo agrees with subject with 'essere' but not 'avere'. Why?

Another question about Italian grammar aside from this one which has bugged me for ages. In Italian, when forming the passato prossimo with an intransitive verb, we use forms of the auxiliary verb ...
3
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1answer
109 views

Do any languages have clear morpho-syntactic constructions that mark backgrounding and foregrounding?

According to this article, http://www.ntdiscourse.org/2010/03/background-and-foreground-an-introduction/, "grounding" in discourse analysis refers to the difference between "core elements that advance ...
3
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1answer
369 views

Do clause chaining languages have complement clauses? If so, what syntactic roles can they play?

Do clause chaining languages have complement clauses? If so, what syntactic roles can they play? If not, what structures do clause chaining languages have that are commonly translated into English ...
4
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1answer
1k views

What is pragmatic strengthening?

The term "pragmatic strengthening" has been tossed around in a lot of papers I've been looking at for a project I'm doing on idioms, and I can't seem to find a simple definition anywhere. Is anyone ...
10
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1answer
561 views

Why exactly is *“I Am America (And So Can You!)” ungrammatical?

Stephen Colbert wrote a book entitled “I Am America (And So Can You!)”. As discussed in a question on English Language and Usage, the title is an intentionally strange way of saying "I am America, and ...
11
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5answers
1k views

Is there anything analogous to grammatical gender for verbs?

Grammatical gender often seems arbitrary from a semantic point of view. When I was taking French many years ago, we were told that one must simply memorize the gender for each noun. Are there any ...
5
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1answer
162 views

What are the contrasts between classifiers in isolating languages and genders in highly inflected ones?

Both isolating languages and inflected languages can have ways of marking noun classes like masculine nouns, nouns that stand for flat things, etc. Some isolating languages, like Chinese, have ...
6
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2answers
248 views

How does aspect condition an ergative split?

I've never heard of a natural language that has ergative-absolutive marking alone. From what I've read, languages with said marking also have nominative-accusative marking, with the choice or "split"...
18
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1answer
409 views

Are there any languages that don't permit instrumental subjects?

In English, and no doubt in many other languages, instruments can be subjects. We can speak not only of John (an agent) cutting the canvas, but also of the knife (an instrument) cutting the canvas. ...