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Syntax I Checklist

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  1. Syntax I Checklist Grammar Formalisms Spring Term 2004

  2. Background • Facts about English that are typically covered in a first course (or maybe second course) on syntactic theory. • By people who were teaching generative linguistics in the 1970’s • More effective if taught as a course on problem solving and argumentation: • For each new piece of data, the students update the current set of grammar rules. • Spend class time evaluating alternative solutions.

  3. Parts of Speech • Categories of words: • Open class: you can make up new words in these categories • Noun, verb, adjective, adverb • Closed class: you can’t make up new words in these categories • Quantifier, determiner, preposition

  4. Parts of speech are defined by: 1. Distribution: • Determiners can go here: • He wrote ___ other works. • He wrote the/all/these/no/few/many other works. • *He wrote despair/be/have other works. • *He wrote student other works. • ?He wrote successful other works.

  5. Parts of speech are defined by: 2. Morphology

  6. Parts of speech are defined by: 3. Other criteria that are: • Falsifiable • Reproducible

  7. Parts of speech are not defined by squishy semantic notions • Definition: noun denote entities • Counter-example: assassination is a noun that denotes an event • Reply: no, it denotes the idea of the event, which is an entity • How do you tell the difference between an event and the idea of an event? • Without precise definitions, this theory cannot be disproved. • (In language technologies, imprecise definitions lead to poor intercoder reliability, which leads to poor training, etc.)

  8. Non-lexical categories • Noun Phrase (NP) • Verb Phrase (VP) • Prepositional Phrase (PP) • Adjective Phrase (AP) • Also defined by distribution, morphology, and other falsifiable, reproducible tests.

  9. Constituent Structure

  10. VP PP NP S Tree 1 NP N V P Det N Sam climbed up the ladder. S Tree 2 VP NP NP V N V P Det N Sam picked up the ladder.

  11. Tree Terminology • Mother • Daughter • Sister • Dominate • Immediately Dominate • Node (branching or non-branching) • Branch • Terminal Node/Leaf Node • Phrasal Nodes (non-terminal) • Lexical Nodes (pre-terminal)

  12. Constituent • A constituent is a string of words such that there is one node that dominates those words and no other words.

  13. The coordination test for constituency • Sam climbed [up the ladder] and [out the window]. • *Sam picked [up a ladder] and [out some new boots].

  14. Movement as a test for constituency • A constituent might appear in different positions in a sentence, but stay in one piece. • There are different movement rules that affect different constituents (NP, PP, AP, VP).

  15. Transformational Grammar and Movement Rules S S Meaning preserving tree-to-tree mapping NP VP NP VP The chocolate V PP The kids V NP was eaten by the kids ate the chocolate Surface Structure Deep Structure

  16. Movement is a useful metaphor at this stage in the course • Sam climbed up a ladder. • Up a ladder Sam climbed up a ladder. • Sam likes chocolate. • It is chocolate that Sam likes chocolate.

  17. Another movement rule(and an explanation of methodology) • Identify a meaning preserving movement rule and illustrate it with a non-controversial example: • He ran into the room. • It was into the room that he ran. • Apply the movement rule to the controversial examples that you want to test. • He climbed up a ladder. • It was up a ladder that he climbed. passes the test • He picked up a ladder. • *It was up a ladder that he picked. fails the test

  18. Be sure that you are testing the right thing • Are these sentences relevant in showing Tree 1 and Tree 2 have different structures? • It was a ladder that Sam climbed up. • It was a ladder that Sam picked up. • Sam climbed up a ladder and a wall. • Sam picked up a ladder and a rope. • ?*A ladder was climbed up by Sam. • A ladder was picked up by Sam. • A ladder he climbed up. • A ladder he picked up.

  19. Non-Constituent Coordination(Syntax II) • John found the letter and Bill signed the letter. • John found the letter and Bill signed the letter. Right Node Raising: If you conjoin two strings of words that have identical final constituents, delete the first instance of the identical constituent. S VP NP NP V Det N John found the letter

  20. Non-Constituent Coordination • I gave a book to Mary and gave a letter to Sue. • I gave a book to Mary and gave a letter to Sue. Left Peripheral Ellipsis: If you conjoin two strings of words that have identical initial constituents, delete the second instance of the identical constituent. S VP NP V NP PP I gave a book to Mary

  21. NP AP N-bar A-bar N-bar A-bar N-bar PP A-bar PP PP NP PP NP Det Adj N P NP P Det Adv Adj P NP P This smart student of linguistics with long hair So very fond of Sam in some ways Test for constituency: These [smart students of linguistics] and [clever students of chemistry] Tests for constituency lead you to discover structures that you might not have thought of otherwise.

  22. X-bar theory • Chomsky (1970) “Remarks on Nominalizations” • Jackendoff (1977) X-bar Syntax • Looking at lots of phrase structure rules for different languages, make observations about what they have in common. • Rome destroyed the city. • Rome’s destruction of the city

  23. Xn X’’ X’’ Xn X’ Xn X’YP X YP YP Xn XnYP YP X YP X’ Adjunct Specifier This student of linguistics with long hair This smart student of linguistics So completely in the wrong Argument/complement So fond of Mary in some ways So very fond of Mary

  24. NP AP N-bar A-bar N-bar A-bar N-bar PP A-bar PP PP NP PP NP Det Adv Adj P NP P Det Adj N P NP P This smart student of linguistics with long hair So very fond of Sam in some ways Test for constituency: These [smart students of linguistics] and [clever students of chemistry] Tests for constituency lead you to discover structures that you might not have thought of otherwise. Specifiers

  25. NP AP N-bar A-bar N-bar A-bar N-bar PP A-bar PP PP NP PP NP Det Adv Adj P NP P Det Adj N P NP P This smart student of linguistics with long hair So very fond of Sam in some ways Test for constituency: These [smart students of linguistics] and [clever students of chemistry] Tests for constituency lead you to discover structures that you might not have thought of otherwise. Heads

  26. NP AP N-bar A-bar N-bar A-bar N-bar PP A-bar PP PP NP PP NP Det Adv Adj P NP P Det Adj N P NP P This smart student of linguistics with long hair So very fond of Sam in some ways Test for constituency: These [smart students of linguistics] and [clever students of chemistry] Tests for constituency lead you to discover structures that you might not have thought of otherwise. Adjuncts

  27. NP AP N-bar A-bar N-bar A-bar N-bar PP A-bar PP PP NP PP NP Det Adv Adj P NP P Det Adj N P NP P This smart student of linguistics with long hair So very fond of Sam in some ways Test for constituency: These [smart students of linguistics] and [clever students of chemistry] Tests for constituency lead you to discover structures that you might not have thought of otherwise. Complements/Arguments

  28. Verbs and their arguments • From Fillmore and Kay, lecture notes, Chapter 4: • The children devoured the spaghetti. • *The children devoured. • *The children devoured the spaghetti the cheese. • She handed the baby a toy. • *She handed the baby. • *She handed the toy. • Problems exist. • *Problems exist more problems.

  29. Valency • (Linguists took this term from chemistry – how many electrons are missing from the outer shell.)

  30. Valency • Verbs (and sometimes nouns and adjectives) describe events, states, and relations that have a certain number of participants. • Devouring generally involves two participants. • Handing generally involves three particpants. • Existing generally involves one participant. • The number of participants is called the verb’s valence or valency. • Devour has a valency of two. • Hand has a valency of three. • Exist has a valency of one. • The participants are referred to as arguments of the verb. (Like arguments of a function.)

  31. Subcategorization: Remember this word • Verbs are divided into subcategories that have different valencies. • Here is how the terminology works: • Exist, devour, and hand have different subcategorizations. • Devour subcategorizes for a subject and a direct object. • Devour is subcategorized for a subject and a direct object. • Devour takes two arguments, a subject and a direct object (or an agent and a patient).

  32. Arguments are not always Noun Phrases • The italicized phrases are also arguments: • He looked pale. • The solution turned red. • I want to go. • He started singing a song. • We drove to New York.

  33. Optional and Obligatory Arguments • The children ate. • The children ate cake. • Patient/theme argument is optional • *The children devoured. • The children devoured the cake. • Patient/theme argument is not optional • The dog ran. • The dog ran from the house. • The dog ran to the creek. • The dog ran from the house to the creek through the garden along the path.

  34. Complements:Remember this word • Arguments are sometimes called complements of the verb. • However, just to confuse you, the word complement also refers to complement clauses – embedded clauses that are arguments of a verb. • Examples of complement clauses: • The children think that the book is interesting. • The children told the teacher that the book is interesting. • The children want to read the book. • The children expect the teacher to read the book.

  35. Motivation for the existence of Semantic Roles • John opened the door with a key. • The key opened the door. • The door opened. • The door was opened by John with a key. • Semantic roles explain what the meanings of these sentences have in common even though their grammatical relations and subcategorization frames are different. • The key fills the instrument role, whether it is the subject of the sentence or a prepositional phrase. • John fills the agent role, whether he is the subject or in a prepositional phrase. • The door fills the theme or patient role, whether it is a subject or direct object.

  36. Semantic Roles are different from Grammatical Relations • Subjects that are not agents: • The clothes were washed by the woman. • The clock broke. • The rock shattered the window. • The window shattered. • The ship sank. • The students received awards.

  37. Examples of Semantic Roles • Agent: an agent acts volitionally or intentionally • The students worked. • Sue baked a cake.

  38. Examples of Semantic Roles • Experiencer and Stimulus: An experiencer is an animate being that perceives something or experiences an emotion. The stimulus is the thing that the experiencer perceives or the thing that caused the emotional response. • The students like linguistics. • (emoter and stimulus) • The students saw a linguist. • (perceiver and stimulus) • Linguistics frightens the students. • (emoter and stimulus) • The students thought about linguistics. • (cognizer and stimulus)

  39. Examples of Semantic Roles • Patient: A patient is affected by an action. • Sam kicked the ball. • Sue cut the cake. • Beneficiary: A beneficiary benefits from an event • Sue baked a cake for Sam. • Sue baked Sam a cake. • Malefactive: Someone is affected adversely by an event. • My dog died on me. • Instrument: • The boy opened the door with a key. • The key opened the door.

  40. Semantic Roles for Directed Motion: Ray Jackendoff • Theme: changes location, is located somewhere, or exists • Source: the starting point of the motion. • Goal: the ending point of the motion. • Path: the path of the motion.

  41. Examples of Location and Directed Motion • Many problems still exist. • The clock sits on the shelf. • The ball rolled from the door to the window along the wall. • Same walked from his house to town along the river. • Sue rolled across the room. • The car turned into the driveway.

  42. Being in a state or changing state • The car is red. • The ice cream melted. • The glass broke. • Sam broke the glass. • The paper turned from red to green. • The fairy godmother turned the pumpkin into a coach.

  43. Having or Changing possession • The teacher gave books to the students. • The teacher gave the students books. • The students have books.

  44. Exchange of Information • The teacher told a story to the students. • The teacher told the students a story.

  45. Extent • The road extends/runs along the river from the school to the mall. • The string reaches the wall. • The string reaches across the room to the wall.

  46. Problems with Semantic Roles • The definitions are vague: • If themes are things that moved, is his hand a theme in John moved his hand? • Linguists keep making up new role names without proper motivation. Proper motivation would be a test. • Linguists keep writing about the same small set of verbs that have clearly identified roles. Many roles are not clearly covered. (Fillmore and Kay, pages 4-22) • He risked death. • We resisted the enemy. • She resembles her mother.

  47. Predicate-Specific Role Names • It is ok to use predicate-specific role names when you want to avoid the vagueness of semantic role names. • E.g., devourer and devouree

  48. Adjuncts • Locations, times, adverbs, and other things that can go with almost any sentences are called adjuncts. • The children ate the cake quickly at 2:00 in the kitchen. • Predicates specify how many arguments they take and also specify the grammatical functions, semantic roles, and case markings of their arguments. • Predicates do not specify the semantic roles, grammatical functions, or case markings of adjuncts.

  49. How to tell arguments from adjuncts • There are some general guidelines that are not always conclusive. • Adjuncts are always optional. • (but some arguments are optional too) • Repeatability: • The children devoured the cake at 2:00 on Monday. (Two temporal adjuncts) • The children devoured the cake in Pittsburgh in a restaurant. (Two locative adjuncts) • *The children devoured the cake the dessert. (arguments are not repeatable)

  50. S NP VP VS-bar S COMPNPVP We thinkthat they have left. Embedded Clauses Matrix Clause Embedded Clause