[b-hebrew] Generation grammar and b-hebrew

dwashbur at nyx.net dwashbur at nyx.net
Sat Jun 19 23:17:51 EDT 2010

Something else I need to mention: I'm not mathematically inclined in any sense of the word.  
More precisely, you could take what I know about this kind of math, pour it into a thimble, 
and still have room for your foot.  I'll take a look at the paper you linked, but if it's as math-
theory-intensive as the paragraph below, I can just about guarantee it'll sail way over my 

On 19 Jun 2010 at 15:56, Eric Inman wrote:

> Dave,
> Here's a quick example. If you have rules which take A to a1, a2,
> and a3 in
> any order, you would have six (3 factorial, or 3!) rules: A -> a1 a2
> a3, A->
> a1 a3 a2, etc. The same if you had rules which take B to b1, b2 and
> b3 in
> any order. Then, if the components of A and B could be freely
> intermixed
> with each other, you would need 6! = 720 rules to describe that. In
> this
> example there is total freedom of word order, which probably rarely
> occurs,
> but hopefully it serves to show how quickly the number of
> permutations could
> rise even when the amount of freedom is less than 100%.
> Doing some quick googling I found that freedom of word order does
> present a
> significant issue in syntax description. See for example "Syntax
> Description
> of Free Word Order Languages"
> (http://acl.ldc.upenn.edu/C/C90/C90-3056.pdf).
> I'll rephrase my original question. Would Biblical Hebrew be
> considered a
> free word-order language or, if not, a language in which there is
> more
> freedom in word order than in English? If either case is true, are
> there any
> allowances that should be made for this when embarking on a
> generative
> grammar? From quickly scanning the few papers that I googled it
> looks like
> there should be.
> Eric
> -----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: Saturday, June 19, 2010 1:45 PM
> To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Generation grammar and b-hebrew
> Eric,
> Obviously I can't speak for anybody else, but I could use some
> examples to
> illustrate what you mean.
> On 19 Jun 2010 at 6:55, Eric Inman wrote:
> > 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 problem.
> > 
> > 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?
> Dave Washburn
> http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
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Dave Washburn


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