16 votes
Accepted

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.
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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 ...
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10 votes

Why is constituency needed, since dependency gets the job done more easily and economically?

As a proponent of construction grammar, I am perhaps the wrong person to answer this. But I can see at least two non-computational advantages of a constituency parsing: It lets you directly encode ...
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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 ...
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7 votes

Why is constituency needed, since dependency gets the job done more easily and economically?

I hope I correctly understand the question as being a general one, rather than particularly about automated parsing. Here's what I was taught in Syntax and believed ever since (but maybe I missed ...
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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 ...
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5 votes

Why is constituency needed, since dependency gets the job done more easily and economically?

My answer is partially motivated by Dominik Lukes's answer and some of the things I read in the comments that follow it. Chunking is a kind of constituency parsing. The theoretical motivation for ...
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  • 3,537
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 ...
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  • 780
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 ...
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4 votes

Why is constituency needed, since dependency gets the job done more easily and economically?

I don't think that constituency is necessary, although I acknowledge the notion of "constituent" (I just don't think it's the central notion on which language structure is built). Of course, I have to ...
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  • 1,404
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 ...
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  • 10.5k
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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 5,290
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 ...
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  • 263
3 votes
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What heads can an adverbial phrase have?

in, when and on are the syntactic heads of the respective examples. The second and the fourth example are PPs, so we can expect a preposition to appear as the head. The third example is a subordinated ...
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  • 1,404
3 votes
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Drawing tree diagrams of ambiguous sentences generated by a CFG

If you are looking for parse trees according to your grammar, the first tree seems correct, up to the missing N symbols, and a missing NOM above fleas. However your second diagram should look as ...
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  • 1,497
3 votes
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Is there a paradigmatic formalism for dependency grammars?

Some remarks are necessary before answering such a question. CFGs have been an important step in the history of formal grammars, but it is not exactly the example we want to follow in DG and in ...
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3 votes

Is there a paradigmatic formalism for dependency grammars?

The formalizations of dependency theory exist. In fact I have a colleague who specializes in mathematical formalizations of principles of syntax, and he is more a DG guy (dependency grammar) than a ...
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  • 5,290
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, ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 1,189
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. ...
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  • 5,290
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 ...
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2 votes
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NPs as adverbials; how to parse them?

I would render the X' node as NP; the noun feet is head of the phrase 5 feet. So yes, the NP 5 feet appears as a predependent of the adjective tall, i.e. it appears on a left branch underneath the ...
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  • 5,290
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 ...
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  • 448
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]]]...
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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, ...
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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 ...
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