Olivier
  • Member for 8 years, 11 months
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What characteristics are unique to English (or at least rare among language as a whole)?
40 votes

English commonly resorts to post-auxiliary ellipsis as in (1) They arrived late, as I thought they would. This is already pretty rare among the world languages. But, as far as I know, English is ...

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Are Old French and French mutually intelligible?
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22 votes

The closest natural experiment we can make is to expose an untrained contemporary French speaker to a reading of a text from that period. Conveniently, the poems of Chrétien de Troyes are only a few ...

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What are the counterpart of Genotype and phenotype in a language?
11 votes

The assumption that language evolution is in any way analogous to darwinian species evolution seems to me to be completely incorrect. Here are two among the major differences: 1) Species evolution is ...

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What empirical evidence can be produced that all syntactic structure is binary branching?
8 votes

I think that even the most ardent supporter of minimalism should recognize that this is an important and deep question: indeed, even though Patrick Elliott is right to recall that the hypothesis of ...

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What is minimalist about the minimalist program?
7 votes

There seems to be at least two quite distinct questions there: what is minimalist about the minimalist program? and Is there a sensible reason for the existence of the lumbering structures it deals ...

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Where did Latin and its descendants retain a case system most recently?
6 votes

Old French most certainly retained a fully functional case system (cas sujet et cas régime) at least up to the XIVth century, perhaps up to the XVth century in eastern parts of France (and of course ...

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What is the difference between "Topic" and "Focus"
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6 votes

I am slightly puzzled by the fact that you seem to know Rizzi's work but not the answer to this question, but anyway. This answer entirely presupposes the framework in which L.Rizzi is working. Rizzi'...

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Isn´t there a contradiction between 'feature-checking' and 'no tampering'?
4 votes

Isn't there a contradiction between 'feature-checking' and 'no tampering'? Yes, there is, for the reasons you outlined. I do not know whether 'no tampering' remains an important principle of ...

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Are phrase structure grammar and/or dependency grammar legitimate theories for describing the cognitive structure of syntax?
4 votes

The question in the title seems rather different from the two questions in the body of the text, and these two in turn are not synonymous either (the original purpose of a tool may be quite different ...

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Universal "grammar" for mathematics
4 votes

Is it thought that there is universal (the universe being humans) structure of mathematics that is the result of the structure of the human brain? Yes, if we are speaking about basic mathematical ...

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Grammar framework features that are not supported cross-linguistically
3 votes

I agree with the premise of the question that the first task of a scientist is to devise a framework that makes potentially false predictions, and thus that looking for false predictions is good ...

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How do formal theories analyse the syntax of polysynthetic languages?
3 votes

The question is too broad to answer completely (to start with, it presupposes a shibboleth to distinguish formal theories of syntax), but the answer is easy for minimalism. The comment in the ...

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Chomsky's Universal grammar and Evolution of human languages
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3 votes

People working on language evolution in the intellectual tradition you describe believe the following things (I limit myself to give an accurate rendering of their positions; as none of the opinons ...

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Pro-Drop Typology in Indo-European Languages
3 votes

Regarding the bonus question, contemporary variants of spoken French, for instance the dialect of French you would expect urban dwellers in their 20s or early 30s to speak, is arguably topic prominent,...

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Would it be possible to discover through linguistics if any non-human languages influenced known language families?
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3 votes

The proposal is complete science-fiction. Not only is it too far in time (and it is, by almost an order of magnitude, as the proto-language we know the most about was maybe spoken in 3500BC whereas ...

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Are there any languages that don't have/use auxiliaries?
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3 votes

The precise answer to that question will depend highly on what is the precise meaning intended for auxiliary verb. If you insist that an auxiliary verb is a separate word which expresses a precise ...

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What motivates / allows preposition stranding in English, but disallows it in other languages, like Mandarin?
Accepted answer
3 votes

I write this as an answer because the comment thread is too long already for (what I take to be) the spirit of SE sites. The language used by the author of the question (parameter, wh-movement and the ...

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Usage of definite articles in Germanic and Romance languages
3 votes

As a native speaker of French, my feeling is that your premise that the phenomenon is primarily of cognitive origin is most likely false. It is not the case, I think, that I conceptualize water ...

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How are topic-phrases represented in X-bar trees
Accepted answer
3 votes

UPDATE: This update aims at clarifying many points which were raised in comments. Many thanks to dainichi for correcting the Japanese (all remaining embarrassing errors of course remain solely my own)....

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Syntax-semantics interface
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2 votes

Within the framework that grew from Chomsky's post-70s work, the answer to the question Does that mean that syntax-semantics interface interacts with our "faculty of language" constantly? ...

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Can a language have both nominative/accusative and ergative/absolutive syntactic systems in its syntactic structure?
2 votes

Sticking to the question of the title, yes, some languages exhibit clearly both a nominative-accusative syntactic systems and an ergative-absolutive system. A famous example of such a language is ...

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Language shift because of contact or interest
2 votes

There are many examples of languages spreading more through cultural influence than through the force of arms: Koine Greek is an important cultural example for Western civilization. However, Koine ...

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Are there any specific traits in Italian which make it different from other Romance languages?
2 votes

Among the phenomena which could reasonably fit your requirement of being about subject/object relation, Italian allows passivization of causatives. I believe this is quite rare among Romance languages....

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In cultures where genders speak different language varieties, how do genders quote each other?
2 votes

In my anecdotal experience, in Japanese: 1) In a retelling situation, the speaker would usually avoid gender-marked words or syntax but rather use gender-neutral equivalents. 2) same as 1). 3) Of ...

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What languages have been documented using Minimalism?
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1 votes

The Syntax of French by P.Rowlett (see here) would be a canonical answer for French. That said, I think it is worth pointing out that the project of writing a full grammar of a given language (...

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in the definion of government, why can't we allow asymmetrical c-command while we accept symmetrical c-command?
1 votes

I have troubles parsing the question unambiguously. My answer assumes the question means "Why are symmetrical c-commanding nodes not barriers to government whereas asymmetrically c-commanding nodes ...

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Binding theory - coindexes that produce grammatical sentences
1 votes

A purely syntactic answer starts by pointing out that Principle C of binding theory, as the other ones, should not be confused with a law of nature. It is more properly a rather vague description of a ...

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Head to head movement
Accepted answer
1 votes

Your question seems to presuppose the framework of minimalist syntax as it has been practiced in the last 20 years, so my answer is in this framework as well. In this framework, categories like N, D ...

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Am I a native English speaker? (born I Hungary, lived in US from age 3)
1 votes

It has been famously shown (by Emmanuel Dupoux, among others) that the ability to differentiate phonemes markedly decreases after the age of 2. Consequently, you presumably have less ability to ...

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Contingent grammaticality
1 votes

The general question asked Has anybody come across this line of argument before? hasn't really been considered in the two existing very interesting answers. If by that you mean the study of frames ...

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