16 votes
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Can one sentence have two or multiple possible phrase structure grammars? And what is this called?

Yes, this is possible, and the phenomenon is called syntactic ambiguity. A classical example sentence is He saw the man with the telescope. which has two different readings and syntactic analyses.
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
11 votes

Why do object pronouns precede the predicate in French, while R-expressions follow it?

Words like je, le, lui are historically pronouns (meaning: they derive from Latin freestanding pronouns) and are treated orthographically as separate words, but from a synchronic point of view they ...
fdb's user avatar
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8 votes
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What kind of phrase is "until recently"?

Your 'rules' mix traditional and contemporary grammars. It's true in both traditional and contemporary grammars that a preposition phrase [PP] consists of a preposition and an object; but in ...
StoneyB on hiatus's user avatar
6 votes
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How VSO or SOV languages deal with nouns with lots of adjectives

There are two main ways that such languages deal with this problem. I'll be focusing specifically on SOV languages, since they're more common and I know more of them. The first solution is what Latin ...
Draconis's user avatar
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6 votes
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What other languages can get by in some cases without prepositions or particles like Somali?

Lots of languages, depending on exactly what you mean or are looking for. We have examples like your Somali examples in English: "middle of the road, outside of the town". Niger-Congo ...
user6726's user avatar
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5 votes
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Term For A Prepositional Phrase With A Verb?

I want him to run. "To" is not a preposition here but a subordinator that serves as a marker of to- infinitival clauses. "Want" is a catenative verb and this is a catenative construction where the ...
BillJ's user avatar
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5 votes

Can one sentence have two or multiple possible phrase structure grammars? And what is this called?

At the risk of redundancy, I'll offer the canonical example: Time flies like an arrow. Readings: Time passes rapidly in human experience. Those 'time flies' sure do like arrows. (Hey you:) Go (as ...
bmargulies's user avatar
3 votes

"but" usage (redundancy of "but")

I think you answered your own question! "but" is used to […] indicate that the first clause is contrastive to the second in a way In your first example, "I am not a teacher" contrasts with "I am a ...
Draconis's user avatar
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3 votes
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What is the difference in a constituent and a phrase?

A constituent is easly identified by a series of possible tests. Among them, the replacement of a phrase for a pronoun, thus working as a single unit, for instance: The good man drinks the water It ...
Ergative Man's user avatar
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3 votes
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Constituency grammar or Phrase Structure Grammar?

For most dependency grammarians, the terms phrase structure grammar and constituency grammar are synonymous. For those constituency grammarians who do not pay attention to dependency grammar, the ...
Tim Osborne's user avatar
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3 votes

The function of prepositional phrases

You're asking about both constituency and dependency. Constituency: Is "peek into" a phrasal verb or verb+preposition? So do we have [[peeking into][the alley]] or [peeking[into[the alley]]]? You ...
Rodrigo's user avatar
  • 283
3 votes

Evolution in number of words from Greek to Latin to modern languages

I'm assuming that the "we" in your question means "English speakers". (ETA: it actually seems to mean "speakers of modern European languages", but the difference doesn't substantially affect my ...
TKR's user avatar
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3 votes

Evolution in number of words from Greek to Latin to modern languages

An example of change in sentence length over time is discussed here. The number of words per sentence in English in the past 400 years has decreased, which is the opposite of what you predicted. Other ...
user6726's user avatar
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3 votes

How Nesting Verbs Works (and if it is Even Possible)

There are also very common examples of nesting in other languages, especially ones with a SOV word order, such as latin. In latin, because of the fact that the subject and object come before the noun, ...
Fergus Fisher's user avatar
3 votes

Why is the subject outside the VP in most theories of syntax?

First of all, it should be noted that in nearly all generative theories--even in ones which generate subjects inside the VP--the subject practically never stays there for long. Subjects generally move ...
Khove's user avatar
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3 votes
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Difference between primary and secundary predicates(/argument small clauses) and their (overt) 'heads', and transition/ambiguity between the two

I think it is appropriate to take a step back and consider what grammarians understand predicates to be. I have asked a number of established syntacticians directly how they use the term predicate. ...
Tim Osborne's user avatar
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3 votes
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Alternative sentence structures in historical languages

I'm interested in what is known about the structure of languages and how much they might differ. In Indo-European languages (and Hebrew as well), the basic sentence structure is (not necessarily in ...
Vegawatcher's user avatar
3 votes
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Do any languages have interlaced phrases?

This is known under the term Cross-serial dependencies and is considered a rare phenomenon among the languages of the world. A famous example of cross-serial dependencies comes from Swiss German and ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
2 votes
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How Nesting Verbs Works (and if it is Even Possible)

You have three distinct phenomena here. I bought farmed food. "Farmed" here is a participle: an adjective formed from a verb. You can use it anywhere you could use an adjective: "this food is ...
Draconis's user avatar
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2 votes
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How do noun-noun compounds fit into a noun phrase in syntax?

Noun-noun compounds are nouns: N -> N N. The structure of your example is [N [N [N [N chocolate] [N chip]] [N cookie]] [N dough]] or possibly [N [N [N chocolate] [N chip]] [N [N cookie] [N dough]]]...
Greg Lee's user avatar
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2 votes
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Does a generative grammar of the English language exist?

Unfortunately, there has never been a truly complete description of English (or any natural language) in generative terms—or in any formal system, in fact. Such a thing would be wonderfully useful, ...
Draconis's user avatar
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2 votes

Infinitive clauses referring to an adjective before a noun

(the question should be on ELU or ELL) In the first group (both sides), the infinitive action is done by the subject. In the second group (right side), the infinitive action is done by the main ...
amI's user avatar
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2 votes

The function of prepositional phrases

to peek - into the alley to look - into the mirror to go - into the house to fall - into the pit Such structures are verb + preposition group (a where-to indication). If you analyze the structure ...
rogermue's user avatar
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2 votes

What is the difference in a constituent and a phrase?

Contrary to the suggestive nature of the question, the answer already produced by Ergative Man, and a couple of the comments, there is an important difference between the constituent and the phrase. A ...
Tim Osborne's user avatar
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2 votes

What is the difference in a constituent and a phrase?

While a constituent is any proper subpart of a sentence (a morpheme, a word, a phrase, or even a clause), a phrase is typically a sequence of words built around a word class (the head) and existing as ...
Afzal ur Rahman's user avatar
2 votes
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How could you summarise the noun phrase of a certain language?

The list of "things that are useful when describing noun phrases" cannot be complete, because there is no one list of what is relevant to every analysis. That being said, here are a few relevant ...
matan-matika's user avatar
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2 votes
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Meaning of superscript numbering in phrase structure trees

Superscript 0 is universally the symbol for the head of a phrase - note how in your examples, it occurs only on T, Pred and V (as opposed to TP, PredP or VP). I can't say that I'm immediately familiar ...
agrm's user avatar
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2 votes
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Do all frameworks of syntax view the string following an inverted auxiliary verb in English as the complement of the auxiliary?

Most modern phrase structure grammars will assume that the string immediately after an inverted auxiliary is the complement of the auxiliary, as the question implies. This fact is largely due to the ...
Tim Osborne's user avatar
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2 votes
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what is the headword in this sentence?

Many approaches to syntax would view the finite auxiliary verb had as the head word of the entire sentence. The part in bold arguably contains four nominal groups (the Saturday kidnappings, ...
Tim Osborne's user avatar
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