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Recursion in phrase structure grammar is where an expression of some type contains an expression of that same type. Under this definition, chains of relative clauses count as an instance of recursion. We can see this more clearly by drawing a (simplified) Phrase Structure Tree of your example (note i'm abstracting away from irrelevant details, e.g. the ...


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(my slightly incoherent ramblings on recursion, Merge, and embedding) Recursion as self-embedding In some generative theories of syntax, recursion is usually understood as self-embedding, in the sense of putting an object inside another of the same type (Fitch 2010, Kinsella 2010, Tallerman 2012). However, Tallerman 2012 argues that HFC 2002 used ...


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Things are rendered a bit murky by the fact that the notion of 'category' began to get a bit fuzzy with the introduction of features into trees with Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965) and especially Remarks on Nominalization (1971), where NP, VP etc were treated as [+N, +'double bar'], [+V, +'double bar'], etc, and people were also treating case, etc as ...


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Just because a language or all languages are capable of recursion does not prove that grammatical recursive sentence structure is hard-wired into the brain. These are examples of logical fallacy: Recursive sentence structure is hard-wired into the brain because all languages are capable of recursion. Playing games is hard-wired into the brain because all ...


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Even if Everett's analysis is correct (and I found his arguments convincing), it doesn't. It might well be the case that Pirahã doesn't make use of recursion but most languages clearly do. Note that there are varying levels of recursion. For example, the Andean languages use possessive recursion ("the house of my Dad's aunt") but no verbal recursion (there ...


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McCawley argues that recursively generated past tenses do exist in English. See discussion beginning about page 221 in Syntactic Phenomena of English. Past is a predicate of a sentence which may itself predicate Past of some sentence.


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I take the word "appear" literally, that is, it's a question about the evidence. Almost all of the publicly available evidence comes from Everett. You can consult the other works on listed Glottolog (please only consult those where it is probable that the author personally worked with speakers of the language); you can also consult Everett's thesis from 1983,...


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This is not exactly recursive because the recursion stops after one level, but it comes close to recursion: There is a formation termed Doppeltes Perfekt in German. Similar formations are also known from French and from Northern Italian dialects. Basically, it extends the usual formation of the perfect tense auxilliary + past participle into auxilliary + ...


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I think rather than saying that the recursive capability of Merge "demonstrate[s] the productivity of human language", it would make more sense to say that it explains the productivity that we see. The idea of "Merge" acts as a kind of explanation; I might be misunderstanding the wording of your question, but I don't think it makes sense to say that an ...


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Now that you've substantially fleshed out your question it's easy to answer. I want to know whether a language without recursion, which would generate only a finite number of well-formed sentences, could still generate a potentially infinite amount of discourse. Yes of course! The linguistic theory of recursion is about syntax, within the sentence. It ...


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A definition which appeals to what is being defined is recursive. For instance, a phrase structure rule for coordination of sentences which defines an S using S in the definition, S -> S "and" S (A sentence may consist of a sentence followed by "and" followed by a sentence), is recursive. It is possible for a set of rules to be recursive, even no single ...


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I'm making this post pretty much just to link to something that seems relevant. I don't really understand the definition of recursion or its relevance to language. This may be a bit dangerous, but hopefully someone will tell me in the comments if I've mis-summarized something or if none of what I've linked to is worth anything. The answers and comments to ...


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