[b-hebrew] Generation grammar and b-hebrew

James Christian jc.bhebrew at googlemail.com
Sun Jun 20 14:24:20 EDT 2010


Hi,

on reflection I was wondering what your thoughts about NPs with a direct
object marker are. Clearly a generic NP rule would cause over generation as
subject NPs with a direct object marker would be generated.

James Christian

On 19 June 2010 21:59, <dwashbur at nyx.net> wrote:

> James,
>
> On 19 Jun 2010 at 14:37, James Christian wrote:
>
> >
> > Hi, by syntax I'm assuming you mean the constituent structure of the
> > sentence. e.g. things like:
> > S --> NP VP
> > VP --> V NP
> > NP --> (Det) N
> > In the LFG formalism such rules are referred to as the c-structure
> > of a sentence. What are your
> > feelings about functional distinctions? e.g. consider the following
> > sentences:
> > 1) Mary hit the dog on the head
> > 2) Mary hit the dog in the park
> > 3) Mary hit the dog on Monday
> > 4) Mary hit the dog on the head in the park on Monday
> > Sentences 1, 2 and 3 could be generated with similar c-structures
> > but the PP's in each clearly
> > have different functional meanings. That is to say that the PP in 1
> > indicates the part of the dog
> > that was hit, the PP in 2 indicates where the dog was and the PP in
> > 3 indicates the time the dog
> > was hit such that we can combine the three different functions and
> > produce unambiguous
> > sentence 4.
> > For this reason I find a c-structure definition of PP's to be
> > inadequate. Different PP's clearly have
> > different functions. The most common functions being temporal PP's
> > and locative PP's. We even
> > see that there is some grammatical structure to the way that these
> > PP's can be used. Consider
> > the following sentences:
> > 5) Mary hit the dog on Monday on the head in the park
> > 6) Mary hit the dog in the park on Monday on the head
> > 7) Mary hit the dog on the head on Monday in the park
> > While the common meaning behind sentences 4, 5, 6 and 7 can be
> > extracted by a native
> > speaker of English some version of the sentence is more acceptable
> > than others as ranking
> > experiments would show.
>
> This is precisely why I go with a strict separation between syntax and
> semantics.  The
> internal structure of the PP is the same regardless of what it "means":
>
> PP -> P NP
>
> This phrase structure rule (the same as your c-structure as far as I know,
> I just use an older
> term because I'm an older term myself ;-)  describes virtually all
> prepositional phrases in BH.
> Once we start looking at function or meaning, we're out of the realm of
> syntax.
> Syntactically, 5, 6 and  7 differ in the order of the PP's and nothing
> else.  The order of these
> PP's is determined by meaning/semantics, i.e. what makes the most "sense"
> to the speaker
> and hearer, but that is not a syntactic decision.  Syntactically all three
> are well-formed: NP
> subject, VP predicate with NP direct object followed by a string of
> properly formed adjuncts
> (in this case, PP's).
>
> Does that clear it up?  I believe this approach can be vastly useful for
> discovering a
> generative grammar of BH because it takes us down to the very basic
> structure of the
> language and, as you suggested in a separate post, works from the bottom up
> rather than
> the reverse.
>
>
> Dave Washburn
>
> http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
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