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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106 views

Does this sentence violate Principle A of Binding Theory?

In the sentence John(i) wanted to buy himself(i) a pair of shoes. With (i) to mark co-indexation. Is the anaphor "himself" bound in its binding domain? Or is the binder in a separate domain ...
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In X Bar Theory where can "ne" and "pas" be found?

I have read past papers on French negation and it says that it is accepted that the NegP in French is null, and "pas" is specifier to NegP. So what would "ne" be then? I haven't been able to find ...
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What is some good literature about the different parameters between languages?

I'm looking for some reading material on the technical differences regarding parameters and structures between languages. I'm trying to understand how languages like Turkish word on a syntactical ...
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What are the limitations of CCGs?

I've read that context free grammar (CFG) has a wide variety of natural language phenomena that it can't model, such as ellipsis I gave Tom a cake, and John an hamburger And that combinatory ...
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63 views

Syntactic models than span across multiple sentences

I hope this question is not too broad. I've been reading quite a lot about grammars, and it seem that all of the models I encountered focus on a single sentence level syntax. It seems pretty obvious ...
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1answer
70 views

How do we distinguish a preposition from an adverb?

Huddleston and Pullum analyze the final word in each of these as a preposition, where traditional grammar would define them as adverbs. How can we tell which is the correct analysis? the sky above ...
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Is there merit to the claim that recursive embedding was invented recently and spread horizontally?

(“Recently”: during the Classical period in Europe) This isn’t a meta-post; I’m linking to a ling.se answer because it’s the only place I know of where this idea is expressed: Why did early Indo-...
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why is syntax interesting? [closed]

I hear a lot the argument that "language is just a way of communication, therefore it is not "really" interesting to waste the time on studying aspects such as syntax, rather the truly interesting ...
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Relationship between complexity of a sentence and the average distance between the tokens in which we relate

I am a PhD student in Statistics and I need more understandings in Linguistics for my PhD research. Say we are given two sentences of SAME LENGTH -- sentence A and B. Sentence A is simple (simple ...
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Does this English exercise test syntactic or semantic knowledge of a student?

I am confused in how to distinguish a syntactically oriented language exercise from semantically oriented language exercise. For example, suppose a teacher gave the English exercise below to his ...
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Relationship between semantical understanding of a text and the level of language used in the text

I am a Machine Learning researcher who is doing research in the Natural Language Processing (NLP). I need better understanding about human language for my new research, so I decided to write this ...
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What is a good introduction to formal language theory for linguistics?

I know formal languages are widely used in linguistics, especially for computational linguistics. However, I do not understand where this connection started - Wikipedia says that formal language ...
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1answer
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Is there a term for syntactically and semantically linked modifying phrases?

What I'm talking about is when a string of prepositional phrases take the object of the previous one as their antecedent, and where the entire string is linked back to the original antecedent, a noun ...
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What are wish and if-clause called as a group?

I'm not sure about the grammatical category of wish and if-clause. I have found some names like hypothetical sentences, conditional, subjunctive mood. But I don't think they are the academic name for ...
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Subcategorisation Frame with DPs

I want to construct a subcatagorisation frame for some words, for example that take a DP complement. Take the preposition "between" as example. I arrive at this point: Form: "...
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1answer
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V to T movement in German

Consider the the embedded clause "du Schach gespielt hast" in this sentence Ich glaube dass du Schach gespielt hast. I think that you chess played have ‘I think that you have ...
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In English, is the use of the -ing participle verb form as adjectives or subjects or objects an example of conversion (a.k.a. zero-derivation)?

This is a pretty straight forward question. But here are some examples: Baking is my hobby. (used as a subject thing, or as some would call it, a gerund or verbal noun) I will be a contestant in the ...
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1answer
132 views

I can't draw trees with X-bar theory [closed]

I'm taking Introduction to Syntax as an elective course in my department, English language teaching. On Tuesday, our instructor addressed X-bar theory and drawing trees with it. I couldn't understand ...
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1answer
170 views

What are the semantic functions of a complementizer phrase (CP)

What does semantic functions mean? and what are they for a CP? Thank you
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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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3answers
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How can we call a word that matches a few criteria in the question?

What fits the criteria: ah, okay, good, better, best, green, child, children, student, to study, slow What does not fit the criteria: greener, greenest, students, studying, studied, slow down Why: ...
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731 views

Chains of nouns in English

English is becoming so indifferent to the proper roles of parts of speech that I have been finding longer and longer chains of nouns in written materials. I am under the impression that chaining ...
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Effect of culture on language [closed]

What are some examples of cultures where the language spoken in that culture strongly reflects aspects of that culture
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153 views

Context-Free grammars and Language

As someone trained in neither, how could you explain the analogies between context free grammars / languages and certain programming languages in computer science? Have I misunderstood whether there ...
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172 views

Usage of the implicit object-subordinate clause in Italian (i.e. Usage of the implicit objective subordinate clause in English - part II)

In a sense, the following question is a sequel of this one: Usage of the implicit objective subordinate clause in English. In that question I asked some information about the usage of the implicit ...
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1answer
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What's the equivalent of the reciprocal pronoun 'each other' in Taqbaylit Berber (spoekn in Northern Algeria)? [closed]

Berber languages spoken in Northern Africa show some degree of variation in relation to the reciprocal, but not the reflexive pronoun. For example, in northern Moroccan Berber (Tarifit), they say ...
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Why do adjectives come before nouns in English?

Why does the attributive adjective come before a noun in English? In most languages, the adjective comes always after a noun. For example, white car is written as the equivalent of car white in Latin ...
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89 views

the relation between the transitivity and intransitivity of a verb

I had a problem with understanding the following question: Try to determine for each case how the 'intransitive' use relates to the transitive use and whether it reflects (i) an idiosyncratic ...
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2answers
962 views

Is there a strict difference between syntax and semantics? [duplicate]

On many places I may read that syntax is about structure, and semantics is about meaning, and this makes sense. But, lets think of the canonical example Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. said ...
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202 views

why can't we have two main verbs in a sentence in syntax

Would you please exlain to me why can't we have two main verbs in a sentence in syntax? Thank you so much
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Thematic structures of a clause

As a student of linguistics, I'd want to know that what a concept of thematic structures of a clause actually is.
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How definitive are "patterns" in grammar across languages?

So when you learn a new language from English like Spanish in school, they make it seem like "hey there's these clear patterns and rules once learned you'll master spanish". So you learn the verb ...
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3answers
184 views

What is the 'best' language, and by what metrics, why those metrics...? [closed]

This is sort of the old question that you'd see whispered about a lot in Western academia, and shouted out by linguists of the past, who had their own circumstances, own canons, own less-connected (?) ...
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5answers
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Is the order of words purely based on convention?

So after looking at a a few glosses across languages it looks like words can be in any order. Is it just based off convention then for each language or what? I ask because of what it means to ...
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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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42 views

Are there any V2 languages that allow/prohibit movement of the non-finite part of the VP to the first position?

I'm curious about what the space of attested V2 languages looks like, particularly what happens to the part of the VP besides the finite verb. I'm especially curious whether moving the non-finite ...
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1answer
123 views

How does the Thai language express the instrumental?

In English and many European languages the instrumental is expressed with a preposition: I eat noodles with chopsticks. (But "with" is not dedicated to this function and has other uses such as the ...
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3answers
172 views

In which languages could a phrase like "We went to lunch with Bob" signify an event in which exactly two people took part?

I'm sorry for the perhaps weirdly worded question, but here's my attempt to explain better what I mean: In English, if I say "We went to lunch with Bob" means that the people involved are me, Bob, ...
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2answers
290 views

Should I conjoin two AdjP or two Adj inside one AdjP?

In an NP like "stronger but smaller storm", when drawing a tree, how do I know if I should conjoin two AdjP or two Adj inside one AdjP? I'm working in the framework of Carnie's book (3rd edition). ...
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0answers
60 views

"Kim wants John to stop" -- does a VP in this example contain another VP?

I'm trying to draw the syntax tree for the TP "Kim wants John to stop" (in the setting of Carnie's first three chapters). I guess it contains the NP "Kim" and the VP "wants John to stop". The VP ...
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1answer
757 views

Confusion about the CP and TP rule in Carnie

In the NP "the book that lies on the table", there is a CP ("that lies on the table"). Carnie has the following rule for CP:s: CP-> (C) TP and the following rule for TP: TP -> {NP/CP} (T) VP So ...
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1answer
68 views

Syntax tree for "the Middle East"

Does the NP "the Middle East" contain only the determiner "the" and the proper name (noun) Middle East? Or does it contain the AdjP which is the adjective "Middle"? Or is "the Middle East" a noun (a ...
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2answers
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SV Constituent Structure (Syntax)

so here's the set-up: In a sentence like "Bill went to the store," several accepted constituency tests can produce "Bill went" as a constituent. These tests include the question test (What happened? ...
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What is the relationship between 'Government and Binding Theory', 'Principles and Parameters', and 'Minimalism?

As I understand it, P&P and Minimalism are "programs", which are like different ways of thinking about syntax. G&B is the generative grammar that is based on P&P. (I think that's all ...
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A question about Carnie's subcategories and features

From Carnie's "Syntax: A Generative Introduction": This notation is not explicitly explained. What does it mean? (I'll write my conjecture below) Recall that T is defined as follows: So I guess the ...
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4answers
821 views

Is "imperatives have invisible subjects" a universal?

In English, it's widely held that imperative verbs have "invisible" subjects, on the syntactic level. For example, we see look at yourself in the mirror, rather than *look at you in the mirror, which ...
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Why isn't "I've" a proper response?

Suppose someone asked me the question, "Have you completed the project?". A standard response would be "I have". Why does the equivalent "I've" sound so strange and never used as a replacement? I am ...
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718 views

Why is the passive voice more prevalent in English than in other Indo-European languages?

Although the active voice is predominant in the English language the ‘ideal’ proportion of recommended passive sentences is still regarded as between 5% and 10%(source1) ( source2). Which is ...
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282 views

Is Wikipedia's argument for Universal Grammar completely fallacious?

Wikipedia's article about Chomsky makes the following argument for Universal Grammar: For example, although children are exposed to only a very small and finite subset of the allowable syntactic ...
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Do any languages mention the top limit of a range first?

In many languages we usually say "between min and max" (e.g., grades "between 1 and 10"). Are there any languages where the reverse construction ("between max and min", e.g. grades "between 10 and 1")...

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