Questions tagged [theoretical-linguistics]

Refers either to abstract and often mathematical theories focused more on explanation and generalization than on application, or the discussion of these theories' properties.

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32 views

What is a markedness constraint in Optimality Theory?

Here is my answer but I'm not sure whether it is correct or put in a formal way. Could you help me see this? Markedness constraints allow the markedness of a feature based on universal principles of ...
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2answers
63 views

Some questions about counterbleeding

Here are two words, "writing" and "riding". I know that there are two rules for them, as in the pictures. But in the first picture, can I say the /ai/ raising rule counterbleeds ...
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50 views

A question about connotation meaning and denotation meaning

Here is a word, "flightless" which means "(of a bird or an insect) naturally unable to fly". So should we say it refers to the word's denotation meaning or connotation meaning? ...
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51 views

What are the phonological rules or constraints for these pairs of words?

Mongol-Mongolia Arab-Arabia Babylon-Babylonian Boston-Bostonian comedy-comedian colony-colonial I know that the vowel in the second syllable is lengthened, but what are the rules or constraints for ...
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53 views

What are the target and source domain of this metaphor

The metaphor is: "the shower of arrows was over". Could "War" the source domain? And the target domain could be "water"? It doesn't make sense to me. I have read the ...
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1answer
54 views

What is the general term for linguistic categories?

I have been trying to understand the division of "properties of items within a grammar or language" as wikipedia calls it into the following sets (among a few others): Grammatical category Lexical ...
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2answers
57 views

Are there approaches to/theories of grammar that do not deal with the acceptability problem?

As I understand, grammars boil down to the acceptability problem: Is an utterance acceptable to the users of some language X? How to differentiate acceptable from non-acceptable utterances? Those who ...
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52 views

Are there formal linguistic understandings of misspelled words?

For example, I will assume that people make mistakes in spelling because, often, the misspelled words look similar enough to the intended words, so the communication can be made smoothly, but I wonder ...
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What are cyclic and non-cyclic application in Phonology?

I'm still confused about the two abstract definitions. Can you give some examples to explain?
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443 views

A question about C-command

Does "John" c-command "himself" in this sentence? "Mary talked to John about himself."
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36 views

A question about Binding Theory

In Binding Theory, Principle B says a pronoun must be free in its binding domain. But I wonder if there are any other constraints? For example, "He says her is great". In this way, "her" is free in ...
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29 views

What is the relation between sonority and stress?

Are there any relations between stress and sonority? Does stress denote high sonority?
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41 views

Population models in language formation

In the same way that there are population models in epidemiology, for example the spread of diseases, is there anything equivalent in linguistics to model the dynamics of language formation? These ...
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47 views

How can we explain “head feature” of a phrase? [closed]

For example, how can we explain the head feature of an adjective phrase?
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How can we understand Anaphoric Agreement Principle?

In Binding Theory, Anaphoric Agreement Principle says "Coindexed NPs should agree". It excludes the situation like "I(i) like himself(i)". But what confuses me is if two NPs are coindexed, they ...
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What is the difference between tense vowel and vowel with diacritic “:”?

I'm learning the vowel part of phonology. It says the cardinal vowel "i" is tense. But what is the difference between this cardinal "i" and "i:"? They are both tense, right?
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174 views

What is non-headed phrase?

I know most of the phrases in English are headed phrases, like noun is the head of NP. But what is non-headed phrase?
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68 views

What is case for pronouns in different positions? [closed]

Can we say "the case of subject in a sentence is nominative, the direct object of a verb is accusative, the second object of a ditransitive verb is accusative, the objective of a preposition is ...
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31 views

What's the difference between coindexing and coreferential? [closed]

Here is a sentence. I(i) enjoy yourself(i). Can we say "I" and "yourself" are coindexed but not coreferential?
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What should the phonological rules be for this alternation?

I'm a graduate student from Korea. :) May I ask you guys a question about phonology? In the data, divinity and divine, what are the phonological rule and phonological mechanisms for the alternation ...
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4answers
236 views

Is linguistics a superset of programming language theory?

If not, why is it? What delineates the difference between the study of language and the study of programming languages? Programming languages define syntax and semantics of code. Does this mean ...
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3answers
514 views

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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3answers
62 views

Is there a specific name for the area of linguistics studying external constructs as encoded/embedded in languages?

I've recently become curious about this area of language/linguistics. I'm thinking about how mental, environmental and societal constructs are encoded within languages. Also about what a language ...
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111 views

Which factors influence the linguistic conservatism of a language, and to what extent?

Presumably the number of speakers is a factor, as a language cannot change if nobody speaks it (is this even true in absolute?)1, but it does not necessarily follow that more speakers results in ...
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111 views

Discrepancy between Classical Logic, Set Theory, Propositional Logic and Languages [closed]

In logic, "Or" strictly refers to logical disjuntion, while "And" strictly refers to logical conjuction. But in common parlance, both can fill the role of Logical Disjunction I understand that one ...
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Is there a theorem for the completeness of a language? [duplicate]

In computer science, there is a theorem that says any machine able to perform six basic primitives can compute any computable problem. Is there a similar theorem in linguistics that specifies certain ...
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112 views

What English words can not be motivated and are arbitrary? [closed]

What is the evidence for the arbitrariness of the sign? Continuing this question, what English words can not be motivated and should be considered arbitrary? I think only the natural meanings would ...
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119 views

Grammatical category definition

Can anyone provide a good formal definition of the notion of grammatical category? I am primarily referring to morphological categories, such as case, tense, gender etc., rather than to syntactical ...
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1answer
57 views

Verb processess

I am studying Discourse Analysis and I need to analyze a text regarding its verbal processes. Everything was going well until I saw this sentence that is burning my head completely!! : I am ...
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135 views

Can we predict language death just by looking at grammar?

Is it possible to predict that a language is about to die out just by looking at its structure? So without taking into account the number of native speakers it has and other external factors? If so, ...
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62 views

Understanding Linguistic Categories

One of the key tenets of contemporary linguistic theory, at least so far as I understand it, is that linguistic units can be categorized into categories at different levels of description. So a ...
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Transformational generative grammar

Based on the theory of transformational generative grammar .what is the difference between complements and modifiers
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3answers
232 views

How to define colors in the Natural Semantic Metalanguage?

The Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) attempts to reduce the semantics of all lexicons down to a restricted set of semantic primitives. But in NSM, colors are not semantic primitives. How then to ...
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138 views

Linguistic theoretical frameworks

When discussing politics, politicians use trigger words to insinuate a specific meaning or topic. Ex. urban-blacks, middle eastern-muslim... Are there any specific theories that focuses on (or how ...
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1answer
330 views

Drawing case specified trees for english gerunds

I'm reading Adger's Core Syntax book and am having a tough time with Exercise 1 of the functional categories chapter. The exercise is about gerunds. Gerunds are specified by the form of suffixing -...
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Drawing trees for DP's and Sentences

I'm reading Adger's book Core Syntax and am having trouble with one of the sentences in the last exercise in the Functional Categories chapter. The task is to draw and annotate the tree (bar level and ...
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123 views

Would anything bad happen if we made our alphabet represent the phonemes more accurately?

Using it to represent phones is of course bonkers, it would make much more likely for an unitary language to be split apart. When we are dealing with phonemes that problem is inexistent in my opinion, ...
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207 views

The Theory Against Syllables

I've seen people mention that some theoretical linguists even dispute the idea of syllables. Maybe, too, it is related to the problem Nuxalk poses to the theory of syllables, since they can have large ...
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1answer
129 views

If there is a version of linguistics that doesn't break sentences into tree structures

All linguistics I've seen breaks sentences into tree structures like this: The gloss is sort of a more flattened, chain-like structure, but it is much less formal than the syntax tree: Wondering if ...
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Why long vowels are considered vowels and not 2 vowels

Wondering why long vowels are not treated as simply two letters, for example. So eː becomes ee.
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How would a simple efficient language look like?

Let's imagine that for some reason we had to create an artificial language from scratch and we wanted this language to be both simple and efficient. By that I mean that the language was easy to learn ...
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1answer
151 views

What is the Theta Role of “It” in “It seemed that …”

How do I identify the theta role of "It" in "It seemed that there was no escape."? I understand theta roles such as THEME, AGENT, LOCATION, GOAL, FORCE, EXPERIENCER etc. However, I cannot work out ...
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How to quantify and compare different ways of segmenting and transliterating (reading) a text in terms of uncertainty/leeway?

I. Let us say we have a syllabary of n symbols. II. Let us have three ways or methods of transliterating a text written using the symbols of the syllabary: The first method considers the syllabary ...
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Language aesthetics [closed]

This is my first post on this site. My question is this: are there any theories developed (or simply thoughts put on paper) by language/linguistic theorists as to the aesthetical aspect of language? ...
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86 views

Merging languages depending on arbitrary ratios (lerping between languages)

This probably seems like a strange question so I'll get to the point first. Main Point I essentially want to be able to take two input languages and create sentences by using vocabulary from both ...
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159 views

How to proceed with this Maasai translation?

The problem statement is as follows: Question: Indicate which translation goes with each Maasai sentence. My current approach: The word {word1} appears a total of 8 times in the Maasai sentences ...
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Are these phrases downward entailing?

Please consider the following phrases with respect to downward entailment: Mary remembers that French students saw her. Mary remembers that tall French students saw her. (in my opinion, this is not ...
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655 views

To what extent does this image accurately express the modularity of linguistic units?

This is a popular image floating around the internet, but like many things floating there, it seems like a gross simplification and just plain inaccurate. However, I’m more of an armchair linguist ...
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Are there any languages that either effectively don't have verbs or that somehow get around using a “standard” verb system?

By this, I'm asking whether there are languages (natural or constructed) which somehow function without verbs, relying instead upon other types of words like prepositions or something like that. ...
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95 views

Does Reduplication oppose any Gricean Maxim?

Reduplication (a natural language feature) which changes meaning, pluralize, emphasize etc. is basically doubling of the word, partially doubling it or doubling it with phonetic constraints. Grice's ...