Intuitions About Grammaticality Syntax a system whose primitive terms are non-semantic and non-discourse derived and whose principles of combination make no reference to system external factors.
Autonomy of Syntax Syntax and Semantics are independent. The structure of language is autonomous from the meaning. “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” Compare: “Furiously sleep ideas green colorless.” “Revolutionary new ideas occur infrequently.”
Autonomy of Syntax He is likely going to be late. He is probably going to be late. He is likely to be late *He is probably to be late. He allowed the rope to go slack. *He let the rope to go slack. He isn’t sufficiently tall. *He isn’t enough tall.
Autonomy of Syntax We all share a strong sense as speakers of English that these sentences are ill formed, but that they are also clearly interpretable. So whatever it is that lets us know that they are structurally flawed is autonomous from whatever it is that let's us understand their intended meaning.
Autonomy of Syntax Sometimes sentences have two meanings, leading us to believe that they must have two structures. Ambiguous sentences: Kate saw the man with the telescope Visiting relatives can be tedious. The President gave the Chinese dolls.
Trees in Syntax M N O D E F H I J The lines in the trees are branches. The end of any branch is a node. M is the root node (no branches above it) N is the mother of D, E, and F. D, E, F, H, I, and J are terminal nodes (no branches below them).
Trees in Syntax Syntactic trees are just a graphical variant of labeled brackets. N [N D E F ]N = D E F Dominance is another way of expressing inclusion in a set.
Phrasal Structure Consider: Kate saw the man with the telescope. It’s pretty intuitive that the telescope is a linguistic unit: NP noun art What did Kate see the man with? the telescope
Phrasal Structure The basic idea is that the is classified as an article, and telescope is a noun, and the entire thing is a Noun Phrase. This is a constituent NP noun art the telescope
Phrasal Structure Let’s take a slightly larger unit: This is a Prepositional Phrase (PP), with the preposition with (P). The constituent the telescope is contained within the PP. PP NP N P art the telescope with How did Kate see the man?
Phrasal Structure Continuing to build up the structure: NP Who did Kate see? PP NP NP N P art N art the telescope with man the
Phrasal Structure Continuing up: VP What did Kate do? NP PP NP NP N P art N art V the telescope with man saw the
Phrasal Structure S VP Constituent NP PP NP NP NP N P art N art V N the telescope Kate with man saw the “Kate saw the man carrying a telescope.”
Phrasal Structure S No constituent that dominates only the man with the telescope. VP PP NP NP NP N P art N art V N the telescope Kate with man saw the “Kate used a telescope to see the man.”
Memory I said that Markov Grammars have no ability to explain dependencies that are non-local: The dog sleeps. The dogs sleep. Subject-verb agreement. But what about: The dog in the kennel sleeps.
Phrasal Structure S VPsing NPsing PP NP NP N P V art N art sleeps the kennel in dog the
Phrasal Structure S VPpl NPpl PP NP NP N P V art N art sleep the kennel in dogs the
Phrase Structure Rules The sentence (clause): S NP VP
This rule says that every sentence consists of a noun phrase (NP) and a verb phrase (VP).
Rule (1) corresponds to the traditional notion of subject and predicate.
Divide these short sentences into NP and VP:
This is a novel. He feels empty. So that was that. Unfair’s unfair. Nat was Nat. Work was his life. Creators are workaholics. Music was my refuge. Space was the real problem. I was all humility. Tufte, pp. 10-13
This is a novel. S NP VP NP N art N V is This a novel
He feels empty. S NP VP AP Adj N V feels He empty
Creators are workaholics. S NP VP NP N N V are Creators workaholics
Exercise Draw trees for the following sentences: Nat was Nat. Work was his life. Music was my refuge. I was all humility.
A Question Why do we group the V with the second NP in the sentence? What’s the evidence for that? Constituency tests: NP V never acts as a unit. What did he do? Feel empty. (Question) What did empty? *He feel. It was feel empty that he was. (Cleft) *It was he feel that (was) empty.
Productivity We are able to make infinitely long sentences. Markov Grammars gave us a way to do that: very ● snores dog old The ● ● ● ● dogs snore ●
Productivity Different kinds of productivity: The very, very, very, …, old dog snores. The dog that chased the cat that ate the rat… I believe that you know that she thinks that they doubt… The apple on the table in the house on the street in the town by the lake in the country on the planet…
Trees and Rules NP = art N N N art
Trees and Rules We’ve seen trees that represent the following set of rules: S NP VP N art N VP V NP VP V AdjP AdjP Adj VP V NP PP PP P NP
Exercise Draw the Phrase Structure tree that is defined by the PS rules below: S NP VP NP Art N VP V NP PP NP Art N PP P NP NP Art N
Be sure to apply the rules in order (1-6).
Lexicon The terminal nodes can be replaced with lexical items: Nouns = cat, dog, ice cream, bananas, avocados Verbs = like(s), eat(s), Art = a, the, my, this, that, one, all P = in, on, at, under, with Add lexical items to your tree structure.
Exercise Consider the following sentences: Space was the real problem. War remains the decisive human failure. The myth of war creates a new, artificial reality. What rule are we missing to account for these sentences?
NP Art Adj N S NP VP NP Art N Adj N V real the problem was Space
Phrase Structure Rules Productivity in a PS grammar comes from the ability of rules to combine into an infinite sequence: NP NP PP PP P NP NP NP PP NP P NP PP NP P …
Phrase Structure Rules This can apply to different types of rules: S NP VP VP V S S NP VP S V NP VP S V …
Exercise What rules would you use to account for this type of productivity? The dog that chased the cat that ate the rat…
More Ambiguities Draw phrase structure trees for the following ambiguous sentences: Visiting relatives can be tedious. The President gave the Chinese dolls. The hungry bear fishes.