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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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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 ...
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886 views

Verb-attraction parameter in Portuguese

Prof. John McWorther, in his course on Linguistics, said, in a lecture about principles and parameters: "if a language is pro-drop, the verb attraction parameter is always set on. If a language ...
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885 views

Languages with different open and closed word classes

The prototypical example of languages with unusual open and closed categories, which is mentioned almost every time that the topic comes up, is Japanese, where pronouns are an open category and verbs ...
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262 views

Syntax of exceptives (generative syntax)

How would you analyse the following sentence (in generative syntax): No one but John attended the meeting? (an example is taken from von Fintel's 1993 paper on exceptive constructions). I'm ...
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432 views

Is there a grammatical construction found in one Germanic language that isn't found in other Germanic languages?

If I recall correctly, Portuguese is unique among Romance languages for having infinitives that take pronoun clitics and so form equivalents to English constructions such as "for you to (do X)" or "...
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343 views

What's the "state of the art" for methodology in syntactic/semantic experiments

I'm looking for good recent books or articles on experimental methodology in syntax or semantics. Ideally they'd be geared towards working formal linguists who don't know much about psycholinguistics ...
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55 views

Why is "addressing" discontinuity/nonprojectivity important?

I was reading about dependency grammars on Wikipedia, and then, following up on the term "(non-)projectivity", was lead to the page about discontinuity. Now, the concept is quite easy to ...
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What is the difference in a constituent and a phrase?

From Wikipedia: In syntactic analysis, a constituent is a word or a group of words that functions as a single unit within a hierarchical structure. A phrase is a sequence of one or more ...
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231 views

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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213 views

Have generative grammarians abandoned the notion of transformations?

When I peruse this site and others, I find references to apparent operations that change either one surface structure to another (as with passivization) or a deep structure to a surface structure (as ...
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Has there been cross-linguistic work on differential adjective-noun order?

In recent years, a massive amount of attention in linguistics has been devoted to the variation within language varieties of grammatical structures caused by semantic and discourse-pragmatic factors, ...
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360 views

Corpus Linguistics: Is it possible to add a tag for "sentence ending"?

I'm new to Corpus Linguistics and I'm writing a paper about the English and Portuguese "because noun", a type of construction such as "I'm going home because GTA5". However, when I try to search this ...
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Split-INFL Hypothesis and X-Bar Theory

According to the Split-INFL hypothesis, the subject of a sentence moves from the specifier of the predicate to SpecTP to satisfy the EPP and lastly to SpecAgrSP to obtain NOM case. Is there any reason ...
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295 views

Why can I coordinate direct object + verbal adjuncts?

I am coming up with constituency tests to distinguish between complements and adjuncts. But I was thrown off by the fact that I can coordinate "the jam to Pam on a holiday" as if it is a constituent. ...
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346 views

Are there languages, other than Mandarin, in which negation differs depending on the time interval at which a non-event fails to occur?

Assuming that languages do not create complexities in vain, the existence in Mandarin of two different propositional negation devices - via “bù”, an adverb, and “méi” or “méiyou” (verbs) - seems to ...
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Adverbial free relative clauses, in early Indo-European languages and generally

By "adverbial free relative clause" (maybe there's a better term for this) I mean a relative clause which (a) is headed by an indefinite fused relative pronoun, e.g. English whoever, whatever, and (b) ...
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Do applicative verbs ever govern the cases of their objects?

From what I've read (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instrumental_case) applicative voice occurs when an oblique noun phrase becomes an argument of the verb when the verb takes some applicative morpheme....
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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," ...
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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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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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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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439 views

Is the agent in an ergative language a subject or an object?

Imagine a language with PVA/APV dominant word order and SV in intransitive clauses. We see that it's tightly PV and SV whereas both VA and AV are possible. We also know that P and S are both ...
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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 ...
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Is there any sentence structure that English has but Chinese (Mandarin) does not?

Chinese (Mandarin) translation of my question may be an example of the sentence structure that both English and Chinese share: [Is there any] [sentence structure] (that) [English has but Chinese (...
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Is there a term for "the number of words that must follow a given word to complete a phrase"?

I've been struggling, for a couple of months now to find the term for a concept from computational linguistics. It means something like: the minimum number of words that need to be placed after a ...
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Is there a significance to word order in ASL?

Going on the general assumption that ASL is loosely rooted in English (only in the sense that it was developed in a country dominated by native English speakers, this is not to say that ASL is derived ...
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Can one noun phrase follow another in English?

Is there a syntactically valid situation when 2 noun phrases are next to each other in English within the same sentence? I am building a bottom-up parser for English. I need to know if [NP][NP] ...
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Is the adverbial phrase and adverb phrase identical?

context I understand there are different theories of grammar. There is the a set of traditional pragmatic grammars aiming at teaching languages, which might not even have names for themselves. Then, ...
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390 views

Can predicate adjectives take more modifiers than attributive adjectives in English? Across languages?

Witness this noun phrase that has an attributive adjective: "the angry girl" Witness this sentence that has a predicate adjective: "The girl is angry." Both adjectives in the last two ...
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575 views

Is "be" always a copular verb or there are instances of it being the predicate?

Is the verb "be" in this sentence: "I am". copular with an implicit predicate "here" or "now" or non-copular, as the predicate of the sentence?
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924 views

How do contractions work in syntactic movement?

Specifically when the surface structure uncontracted would be ungrammatical. Eg: "Don't turtles live forever?" (Do turtles not live forever/*Do not turtles live forever). EDIT - Sorry if it's broad ...
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Syntax Trees examples

I just try syntax trees and realize that I have a few problems. I have a problem especially with two examples because I am very unsure how to handle the cases. In case 1, I do not know how to deal ...
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In languages with robust case systems, such as Latin, Russian, and Finnish, is there a case in which appositives commonly occur?

In English appositive constructions, noun phrases can be juxtaposed to convey the fact that they are co-referential. "I, Don Quixote," "John, the baker," "the art-object, a bronzed umbrella," and "...
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Is the commutative CFG in the mathematical linguistics literature?

I am shocked that Linguists have not given a reasonably small canonical computationally precise representation of any natural language yet, so I wrote a recent EL&U post to explain how one does ...
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Is the concept of grammatical function related to inflexion?

Studying the book Understanding Morphology by Martin Haspelmath, I arrived at this fragment: The importance of the latter part of the definition is seen in paradigms like insula. Although there are ...
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528 views

Is the lowercase first letter of a proper noun common in the Swazi language?

Swaziland has been renamed to Kingdom of eSwatini, it is Swazi meaning "place of the Swazi". But I'm pretty interested in the lowercase "e" starting the proper noun of eSwatini. I know in the west we ...
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287 views

Is there a term for a finite verb which cannot be followed by an infinitive verb, in English?

For example, the verb "enjoy" cannot be followed by an infinitive. I enjoy to eat – ungrammatical I enjoy eating – grammatical Perhaps this question relates to the area of transitivity. This ...
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763 views

What is the difference between mediopassive VP's and anti-causative VP's?

[I've overhauled this question.] I guess I'm asking about the semantic differences, if any, between mediopassives and anticausatives. Here's a definition of anticausative verb from ...
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NP or DP for "that book"

When referring to phrases such as "that book", would it be considered a DP or a NP? I think it should be considered as a DP but I am not sure how to prove it using our given data. Some data ...
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Syntactic and semantic ambiguity

Does syntactic (structural) ambiguity always come with semantic ambiguity, or is semantic ambiguity always due to syntactic ambiguity? Or are both statements correct?
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Where can I find a list of abbreviations used in tree diagrams of sentences?

When I visited the EzTreeSee website at http://eztreesee.coli.uni-saarland.de/ and entered "Mary had a little lamb," I immediately encountered abbreviations that I had never seen before, to wit... ...
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why can't quotative "be like" be fronted?

Consider the following data (spoken American English): John said "I'll come." John was like "I'll come." What John said was: "I'll come." ?What John was like was: "I'll come." Does anyone have an ...
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What's the difference between 'parts of speech' and 'syntactic categories'?

As far as I can tell, the only difference between these two ways of describing classes of words is that 'syntactic categories' actually relies on evidence of use for determining categories, while '...
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Is Conversion syntactic or morphological?

Conversion, such as: permit (verb): I permit you to do so permit (noun): Take this permit Can be considered to be a morphological (i.e. lexical) process. But there are arguments for it being a ...
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What's this structure called? (prepositional relative clauses)

I'm looking for more information on a particular construction. It seems to be sort of a relative clause made by a PP, but not entirely. I am mostly looking for a name by which I could find it in the ...
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278 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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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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if vs. whether (complementizer)

I'm studying syntax with 'Introduction to government and binding theory' by Haegeman by myself and I encountered something I don't understand. According to PRO theorem, PRO must be ungoverned. And ...
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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 ...
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Is "matrix clause" synonymous with "main clause"? What exactly is a matrix clause?

A lot of people seem to understand "matrix clause" as a synonym for "main clause". For instance, a comment I just chanced upon on a language SE site states: It's a synonym for ...

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