L103 Discussion: Week 13

L103 Discussion, Week 13:
Compositionality and sentences
Learning syntax
Language differences

Compositionality and sentences

On what bases do we figure out the meaning of a sentence?

  • The lexical entries for the words in the NPs (referring to participants)
  • The lexical entry for the verb (or predicate adjective/noun).
  • The grammatical rule for the abstract syntactic pattern
  • World knowledge
  • Analogy
  • The lexical entry for the whole sentence or a phrase that's a subpart of the sentence (for idiomatic sentences)

Learning word order

  • Rigid vs. flexible word order
  • Word order vs. world knowledge
  • Novel verb experiment with English and Italian learners

Syntactic roles: more language differences

  • English
    • Word order is a very good cue for core syntactic roles. Prepositions mark others.
    • Sentences must have explicit subjects, and transitive sentences must have explicit direct objects.
    • Personal pronouns have explicit case, nouns do not.
    • Prepositions mark peripheral roles.
    • Verbs agree with subjects in limited cases.
  • Spanish
    • Word order is not a very good cue for core syntactic roles.
    • Sentences do not have to have explicit subjects, but transitive sentences must have explicit direct objects.
    • Personal pronouns have explicit case; human noun direct objects also do.
    • Prepositions mark peripheral roles.
    • Verbs always agree with subjects.
  • Amharic
    • Word order is not a very good cue for core syntactic roles.
    • Sentences do not have to have explicit subjects, and transitive sentences do not have to have explicit direct objects.
    • Personal pronouns have explicit case; definite noun direct objects also do (accusative suffix).
    • Prepositions and postpositions mark peripheral roles.
    • Verbs always agree with subjects. Transitive verbs agree with definite objects. Verbs may also agree with peripheral roles, marking BENEFACTOR, SUFFERER, LOCATION, INSTRUMENT.
  • Japanese
    • Word order is not a very good cue for core syntactic roles.
    • Sentences do not have to have explicit subjects, and transitive sentences do not have to have explicit direct objects.
    • Noun phrases have explicit case (with some exceptions).
    • Postpositions mark peripheral roles.
    • There is no agreement on verbs with any syntactic roles.
  • Inuktitut
    • Word order is a very bad cue for core syntactic roles.
    • Sentences do not have to have explicit subjects, and transitive sentences do not have to have explicit direct objects.
    • Noun phrases have explicit case (with some exceptions): suffixes.
    • Case suffixes mark peripheral roles.
    • Verbs always agree with subjects. Transitive verbs agree with direct objects. Indefinite direct objects are expressed intransitive sentences.
    • Core and peripheral participants (if non-referential) may be incorporated into the verb itself.

Transitive and intransitive sentences again

  • Accusative languages
  • Ergative languages