[b-hebrew] Generation grammar and b-hebrew

Eric Inman eric-inman at comcast.net
Sat Jun 19 07:55:56 EDT 2010

Here's why I think word order can be a problem. It's true that if you have
multiple word orders then you can define multiple rules. If you have a unit
of speech where the next-level components can occur in different orders,
then providing the multiple rules to represent the different orders is not a

Where I think there might be a problem is when you have two or more units of
speech whose components are intermingled with each other and can be
intermingled in many different ways. It's true that you can still define
multiple rules to handle this situation, but the problem is that the number
of rules required to represent all of the permutations can get out of hand.
At this point it appears that a generative grammar ceases to be a useful
model for describing the language, and I think there are probably other
models that would be more useful. I think this situation arises in Greek but
I don't know if it would arise in Hebrew.

I think whether or not this issue is premature would depend on whether or
not this is already known to be a problem in Hebrew. If it is, then bringing
it up now might allow people to avoid repeating steps that have already been
taken and instead move more directly to seeking a better approach to
handling what would be a known problem.

What do you think?

Eric Inman

-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of dwashbur at nyx.net
Sent: Friday, June 18, 2010 11:22 AM
To: b-hebrew
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Generation grammar and b-hebrew

Agreed.  In this vein I should also mention that I maintain a strict
separation between syntax and semantics/pragmatics/discourse/etc.  With the
earlier Chomsky, I see syntax as a distinct component of the internal
grammar, and approach it as such.

On 18 Jun 2010 at 14:46, James Christian wrote:

> Hi,
> word order isn't a problem. If you have multiple word orders you can 
> define multiple rules. You just define whatever rules the data 
> supports whatever the language. However, at a higher level of grammar, 
> the discourse level, word orders are not as arbitrary as they may 
> seem. Word order, in many languages, expresses what in English is 
> expressed by accenting an emphasised word or phrase. There may be 
> contextual reasons for producing this kind of emphasis. Defining a 
> contextual rule set that captures these nuances of a language would be 
> challenging. You raise a good point. However, this is all a little too 
> premature. If we've already got to the point where we are worrying 
> about rules at this level then you already have a pretty darn good 
> grammar. I foresee many lower level problems is properly defining 
> rules for smaller chunks of language before we could even dream of 
> being able to boast we are only left with these high level problems.
> James Christian
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> b-hebrew mailing list
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
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Dave Washburn

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