Author Topic: What are nec and sufficient conditions for you to agree that a lang lacked adjs?  (Read 31772 times)

Offline Jase

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As an example of another theory, CCG has only two simple syntactic categories, N(oun) and S(entence), and an infinite number of complex categories that encode how words combine with each other. The categories are defined this way to build a close relationship between syntactic structure and semantic structure.

Could you just clarify what CCG is for me? Thanks.
Just getting into syntax. Appreciate any help I can find here.
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Offline Daniel

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combinatory_categorial_grammar
But jkpate can probably provide us with a better source to learn about it.
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Offline Daniel

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Zaba:

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Yeah, I may be a novice, but I kinda got that already…
Either way. I'm not judging you for it. But it is worth discussing, because you're not being very clear about this. You're asking questions about undefined concepts "noun" and "verb"-- we need a theory to even know what those words mean!

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Sure, but that decision is obviously based on some criteria, no? That's what I'm asking about.
It's based on whatever theory you choose-- based on personal preference, audience, experience, etc.

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Sure, but what I keep saying in nearly every post is that there are verbalizers and nominalizers.
Here's my logic in saying that there are only two categories:
- A noun must be verbalised to take verbal suffixes like tense, mood, or aspect.
- A verb must be nominalised to take nominal suffixes like declension
- A noun can never be nominalised
- A verb can never be verbalised
- An adjective must be verbalised to take verbal suffixes like tense mood and aspect.
- An adjective can never be nominalised.
Therefore, adjectives pattern with nouns. The only reason to postulate a category of adjectives is if we are influenced by indoeuro languages.
Alright. Sounds fine to me. That's exactly what "distributional criteria" means. But you're only looking at morphology there-- also look at syntax-- do adjectives and nouns function the same way in syntax? Are there some positions that only permit one or the other?

As MalFet said above, is it possible to (with the right context) have both of the following?
Blue book [the sort of book that is blue]
Book blue [the sort of blue that is book-like]
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Offline jkpate

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Briefly, Combinatory Categorial Grammar is an alternative to phrase structure grammar. In the simplest form, there are two syntactic categories, N(oun) and S(entence), and these will correspond to the semantic types Entity and Proposition. Complex categories are built by concatenating categories with a directed slash. S\N is a complex category that combines with a noun to the left, since the slash points to the left, and returns a sentence. In more common phrasing, this is (one possible) syntactic category for intransitive verbs. Each syntactic category is associated with a semantic category, in the lambda calculus, whose type is defined in terms of entities and propositions. The type of the semantic category for this proposition would from entitities to propositions, or <e,t> in Montague's notation. Modifiers typically have a syntactic category of the form X/X or X\X: they combine with the thing they modify but do not change the syntax.

There are other rules for combinations as well; for example, S/(S\N), an S looking for (S\N) on its right, can compose with (S\N)/N, (S\N) looking for N on its right, to yield the category S/N. This is useful for analyzing things like gapping. Here is a good short introduction, and this one also looks good. For a much (!) more comprehensive overview, have a look at this paper.

Here are some things to keep in mind when reading about CCG. First, sometimes people include apparent simple categories in their derivations besides S and N. Sometimes they are just abbreviating long complex categories (writing TV for transitive verb instead of the much longer category (S\N)/N), while other times they have really added new simple categories. Second, different applications will consider different combinatory rules. In particular, theoretical papers often include lots of type raising and compositional rules because these expand the expressive power beyond a context free grammar, but papers with computational implementations often omit those rules so the grammar can be implemented and evaluated as a context free grammar.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2014, 07:54:11 PM by jkpate »
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Offline MalFet

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to be honest, i'm kind of troubled that no one on this forum can give me necessary and sufficient conditions to determine if there are a category of adjectives in a language. Nothing personal guys, but I didn't think it was a tough question.  You can ask anything about the language and I can provide working translations... think of it as a fieldwork exercise!

Or is the training these days so much more theoretically-orientated?

There is no analysis without theory. That's not a pro-theory sentiment; it's a pro-fieldwork sentiment. Your questions have very different answers depending on the framework you presume. It's not that people are unable to answer. It's that any answer will carry baggage from theoretical commitments that aren't necessarily yours.

Instead, the responses you've been getting have been the ones that should help you to answer the question in your own terms.

Sure, but what I keep saying in nearly every post is that there are verbalizers and nominalizers.
Here's my logic in saying that there are only two categories:
- A noun must be verbalised to take verbal suffixes like tense, mood, or aspect.
- A verb must be nominalised to take nominal suffixes like declension
- A noun can never be nominalised
- A verb can never be verbalised
- An adjective must be verbalised to take verbal suffixes like tense mood and aspect.
- An adjective can never be nominalised.
Therefore, adjectives pattern with nouns. The only reason to postulate a category of adjectives is if we are influenced by indoeuro languages.

Typologically, something akin to a noun/adjective distinction is *extremely* common, so this isn't really an Indo-European bias. If anything, English (with its rather inexplicit morphology) should condition us for the opposite expectation.

The question here is a very simple one: does this language treat entity-like things differently from property-like things grammatically? If talking about "a blue that is book-like" feels strained, that's a good clue that your speakers intuit a difference. Some languages don't.

Offline Daniel

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Quote
Typologically, something akin to a noun/adjective distinction is *extremely* common, so this isn't really an Indo-European bias.
Just to add to that: it's somewhat common for languages to lack a distinction between verb and adjective. This appears to be the case (in some ways at least) for Japanese, and more clearly for other languages. So finding a N+A vs. V distinction might be unexpected for that reason as well.
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Offline zaba

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I guess I naively assumed that terms like "noun" and "adjective" would have a consensual definition within linguistics. After all, phoneme and phone (see my previous discussions on this topic) were definable across language without resort to theoretical analyses (though surely there is much debate on e.g. distinctive features, feature geometry and the like).  The point is, we have a clear method to determine if a sound is a phoneme in a language (just like for minimal pairs and test) but not one to determine what a category of a word is. That surprises me.

Anyway, as for book blue and blue book story, perhaps it's interesting to note that a modifier like (in English) "very/much" can mean "good" when the head of a NP (though there are other words for "good" too). This sort of evidence further strengthens my claim.

1. very/much + big = 'very big' & 'many big.ones'
2. want.1sg + very/much-ACC = 'I want many'
3. very/much-verbalizer-1sg = 'I am good/fine'

Anyway, thanks for your help, all y'all.

Offline MalFet

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I guess I naively assumed that terms like "noun" and "adjective" would have a consensual definition within linguistics. After all, phoneme and phone (see my previous discussions on this topic) were definable across language without resort to theoretical analyses (though surely there is much debate on e.g. distinctive features, feature geometry and the like).  The point is, we have a clear method to determine if a sound is a phoneme in a language (just like for minimal pairs and test) but not one to determine what a category of a word is. That surprises me.

You're making a category error here, though. The morphosyntactic equivalent of phoneme isn't "noun" or "verb" but rather "lexical class". A particular lexical class (like "noun") would be more analogous to a particular phoneme (like /p/ or /b/). Particular phonemes are not definable across languages, at least not pre-theoretically.

Offline zaba

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The morphosyntactic equivalent of phoneme isn't "noun" or "verb" but rather "lexical class". A particular lexical class (like "noun") would be more analogous to a particular phoneme (like /p/ or /b/). Particular phonemes are not definable across languages, at least not pre-theoretically.

Thanks for that distinction. It seems reasonable. But the point remains. If I want to know if a language has /p/ /b/ distinction, there's a good way to check (mininmal pairs, e.g.) -- but how can I check if a language has a NOUN ADJECTIVE distinction?(according to some consensusal definition of nouns and adjs; akin to the consensual definition of /p/ and /b/)

Offline Daniel

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(according to some consensusal definition of nouns and adjs; akin to the consensual definition of /p/ and /b/)
That's inaccurate. P and B are given as labels for distinctive sounds because they seem generally like the sound in English (etc.) with those labels. They are not defined beyond that. There are two sounds (phonemes), and we know that through minimal pairs. Then we give them names out of convenience, but not because they "are" those labels. As an example of this, just consider the use of "R" across various languages, or the /a/ phoneme as well-- lots of variation. To say there "are nouns in languages" or there "are Bs in languages" is imprecise.

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Thanks for that distinction. It seems reasonable. But the point remains. If I want to know if a language has /p/ /b/ distinction, there's a good way to check (mininmal pairs, e.g.) -- but how can I check if a language has a NOUN ADJECTIVE distinction?
You've already stated the answer: you need to search for a minimal pair. If you cannot find a minimal pair, then they are not contrastive.

After this, you can arbitrarily apply labels "noun" and/or "adjective" as needed based on criteria like whether the class typically refers to properties or things, but that's just out of convenience.
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Offline jkpate

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Thanks for that distinction. It seems reasonable. But the point remains. If I want to know if a language has /p/ /b/ distinction, there's a good way to check (mininmal pairs, e.g.) -- but how can I check if a language has a NOUN ADJECTIVE distinction?(according to some consensusal definition of nouns and adjs; akin to the consensual definition of /p/ and /b/)

Again, we're getting into a question of definitions. When you say "consensual definition" what you really mean is "theoretic definition" of /p/ and /b/. How do you know what /p/ and /b/ are if they are not shorthands for stuff that you saw in some language data? If /p/ and /b/ are universal feature specifications, then you are assuming a theory of segments that ignores gradation. If /p/ and /b/ are shorthands for articulatory sequences, then you are assuming a motor theory of segments. If, on the other hand, you have been writing "p" and "b" as a convenient shorthand for yourself, then the use of two symbols is a fact about you and your perception, not the language; there's no pre-theoretic reason to draw a correspondence between sounds that you have labeled "p" when listening to one language and sounds that you have labeled "p" when listening to another language.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2014, 10:43:08 PM by jkpate »
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Offline zaba

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You've already stated the answer: you need to search for a minimal pair. If you cannot find a minimal pair, then they are not contrastive.

So what is the minimal pair in e.g English that shows adjectives exist as a separate category from nouns?

Offline zaba

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When you say "consensual definition" what you really mean is "theoretic definition" of
Well, I'm not sure about that. We agree that the prototypical /p/ is not voiced, for example.

Offline MalFet

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When you say "consensual definition" what you really mean is "theoretic definition" of
Well, I'm not sure about that. We agree that the prototypical /p/ is not voiced, for example.

That's a handy simplification, but it's rarely actually true if you get down and dirty in the phonetics. There's a reason, for example, that English doesn't have a word "sbin".

Offline zaba

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That's a handy simplification, but it's rarely actually true if you get down and dirty in the phonetics. There's a reason, for example, that English doesn't have a word "sbin".
OK, we're getting of track here -- simplification or not, the fact is phoneticians agree that the prototype of the phoneme /p/ is not voiced. It does not have the distinctive feature for voice.

Anyway, while we're on the topic for distinctive features, what are the "distinctive features" for adjectives in e.g. English that make them distinct from nouns in the same language?