[b-hebrew] Generation grammar and b-hebrew

James Christian jc.bhebrew at googlemail.com
Sun Jun 20 03:47:47 EDT 2010


Hi Eric,

in my honest opinion there is no such thing as a free word order language.
Yes. It is true that when we compare English word order with that of Koine
Greek then the Koine Greek does exhibit more 'freedom' in its word order.
But just what exactly do we mean by 'freedom'. Were the composers of Koine
Greek documents just randomly throwing out declined noun phrases? Hardly!
There are clearly patterns which are more dominant and patterns which are
less dominant and guided decisions were made when these documents were
generated. We even see similar phenomenon in English, a language we consider
to not have free word order. Consider the following:

1) Mary went to school
2) To school went Mary
3) To school did Mary go
4) To school Mary went

Sentence 1 is clearly the variant we would most likely encounter and yet
there are contexts were 2, 3 and 4 could be naturally produced. However,
this is certainly not a random pattern. There are clear reasons described by
patterns which dictate when form 4 would be preferred over form 1.

In any case, I cannot emphasize to you enough. Don't worry about the number
of rules. This is not necessarily a bad thing. What you should be worrying
about is whether your rule set over or under generates. Once you've got a
rule set which doesn't over or under generate *then* is the time to start
worrying if you could achieve the same thing with a more compact
representation. However, I promise you this. If you give this experiment a
go you will soon see that being in such an ground breaking position is far
greater a problem than it may seem.

I would rather have 1 million well defined rules that neither over nor under
generate than 1 all embracing rule that produces every conceivable
permutation of words both acceptable and unacceptable.

James Christian



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