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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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Transformational generative grammar

Based on the theory of transformational generative grammar .what is the difference between complements and modifiers
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Microactivities/decomposition of natural language processing and translation - NLP agent?

Computer systems usually consider and implement natural language processing (understanding (i.e. translation to formal semantics in the form of mathematical formulas, e.g. lambda expressions), ...
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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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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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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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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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149 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
82 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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1answer
49 views

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
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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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1answer
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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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1answer
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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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3answers
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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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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 ...
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Is generative grammar a theory or an approach?

I am trying to understand the first sentence of Wikipedia's page on generative grammar: Generative grammar is a linguistic theory that regards grammar as a system of rules that generates exactly ...
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157 views

Dissecting an unknown language sample with nothing but an interpretation thereof?

So let's just say that one acquired a sample of an unknown tongue (let's just pretend it's Japanese,) and they wanted to dissect it word for word without knowing anything about it based off an ...
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Does L-Vocalisation exist in South African English? [duplicate]

For words with a dark L like "milk, help; golf; wolf" etc I don't have contact between the tip of my tongue and the alveolar region. My tongue touches nothing. However. I have spoken to South ...
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Linguistics concept about meaning of words according to a context

Several linguistics questions about the meaning in context of words: How is called in linguistics the fact some words have a meaning only with other words? How is it called when a word changes ...
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Transitive nouns (and adjectives) evidences from early Indo-Aryan languages

I search info and explanations about "transitive nouns", I didn't read Chomsky yet. I know he talks about "transitive nouns". Transitivity is typically thought of as a property of verbs, and ...
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1answer
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Vowel harmony as epiphenomenon?

I have seen references in the literature on vowel harmony to the possibility of it being a mere epiphenomenon rather than a phonological phenomenon in its own right (e.g. using alignment, agreement or ...
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Introductory linguistic theory books [duplicate]

I'm wondering where a good place (or good places) to start learning about linguistic (grammar, syntactic and semantic) theories would be. I'm essentially a complete novice in this domain. Any sort ...
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What parts of linguistics deal with the differences between text types?

There are different types of texts, for I stance: manuals short stories novels recipes love letters testaments contracts fines books for teaching children to read political speeches motivational ...
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How does the description of the grammar of a language differ between a traditional and scientific approach?

Let me clarify the question, There are traditional grammars to describe the working and structure of languages, mostly with the purpose of teaching someone to speak the languages. So, it is approach ...
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2answers
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Could you point out some theories on how the names for numbers developed?

At this point I don't want to explain my personal crackpot theories on how names for numbers emerged and I assume that anything remotely connected with the origin of language is highly speculative and ...
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Is there a language that uses some kind of second layer traits (signs of a two-dimensional character)?

I've just read about the Saussure's second primordial principle that states that language is linear. This is sometimes interpreted as the notion of one-dimensioness of language. The second dimension ...
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1answer
209 views

Chomsky's Syntactic Structures: Why is {a^n b^n : n ∈ ℕ} not a finite state language?

In (10) (i) of Chomsky's Syntactic Strucures (1957), the set of sentences of a specific language is defined as ab, aabb, aaabbb, ..., and in general, all sentences consisting of n occurrences of ...
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208 views

Are there any good theories explaining the language aspect of the Zipf Mystery?

The Zipf mystery: In (presumably all from what I have read) natural languages, the number of times any specific word shows up in the language as a whole, or any particular piece is approximately ...
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French Auxiliary Selection. Theoretical explanations?

I've heard that Generative Approaches trying to explain Auxiliary Selection are mostly focused in Italian, because its a language which intransitive verbs respond pretty well to unaccusativity ...
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Which linguists from the 1940s–1970s believed that language comprised two distinct parts, “lexis” and “grammar”?

I’m looking for information about the linguists and/or researchers from before the 1970s who at the time believed that vocabulary and grammar should be taught as two completely separate entities, that ...
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Moving past a simplistic conceptualization of linguistic units

Clearly, in some simplistic, "common sense" way, it is true that speech components are "nested": Phonemes comprise syllables, Syllables comprise words, Words comprise phrases, Phrases comprise ...
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What does “generative” mean? Can a linguistic theory be non-generative?

If we ignore the political distinction "theories of those who generally agree with Chomsky" vs "theories of those who generally disagree with him" (which is better described by "Chomskian" vs "non-...
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2answers
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Merging phonetics and phonology

Ohala 1990, Halle (1954) and a few other very notable scholars have suggested that phonetics and phonology should be unified, denying an interface between the two. I naively imagine there are three ...
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How do language differences develop? [closed]

What are all the ways a group of people can start to pronounce or say things differently? And what are the factors that can affect those "mutations" apart from a random shift in pronunciation of the ...
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1answer
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Is case of PRO always the same as its controller?

I have a question about empty category PRO. I'd like to know if PRO is always bearing the same case as its controller, or not? Are there any lingusitics laws that clames such a thing? Many Thanks ...
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930 views

How is category theory applied in linguistics?

I am learning monoidal category applied in quantum information and quantum field theory, and several references say that monoidal category is somehow related to linguistics via Hopf algebra of quantum ...
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371 views

Besides logics, what mathematical tools are used in the study of linguistics?

I learned of connections between linguistics and category theory when I'm learning the application of category theory in quantum field theory. Being aware that axiomatic set theory (logics) is ...
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108 views

When were empty constituents introduced into linguistics?

Sag and Fodor (1995) claim that "Bresnan's [1971] proposal was made prior to the introduction of empty constituents into syntactic theory." So when were empty constituents introduced? Sag, Ivan A &...
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Is “focus on verbs” a well-known aphorism in linguistics?

In a technical mailing list where I participate, someone asked: A famous linguist once said that "to understand a new language, that you should focus on the verbs first." Who said that? One ...
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what are natural classes and how are they classified?

I know the general concept behind natural classes but what is the philosophy for some classes like syllabic? and are there any relationship between any two classes (like being sonorant and being ...
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How was De Saussure's Langue and Parole different from Chomsky's Competence and Performance?

Ferdinan De Sassure has proposed Langue and Parole long before Chomsky proposed his Competence and Performance system of linguistic knowledge? I know that they are different but how?
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Saying words aloud to confirm/disprove accuracy of written language

I had a really interesting thought the other day: Is oral language dominant/superior in some way to written language? I bring this up because every time I need to correct or edit my written words (I ...
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Do languages affect the focus of a society/civilization? [closed]

As I have come into contact with different languages in life I began to wonder whether some languages are more geared toward science, efficiency, literature or whatever. It seems like certain ...
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How far is Natural semantic metalanguage really natural?

The theory of Natural semantic metalanguage states there are about 70 words we need to describe anything. However, for example DEAD we could express like NOT LIVING and for instance Russian often ...
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Is there any neurological/biological evidence of Merge?

To my understanding, there are some linguists that would claim Merge is a cognitive mechanism which came about suddenly at some point in our evolutionary history. Is there any neurological evidence to ...