Monday, 30 August 2010

Co-ordination fail

One of the first topics in intro syntax classes is the notion of constituency, including a variety of tests which can be used to determine constituency. One of these tests is the co-ordination test: generally only items of the same syntactic category can be conjoined. Thus the following examples are fine: fresh and clean (coordination of adjectives), mad dogs and Englishmen (coordination of nouns [DPs]), (to) serve and protect (coordination of infinitive verbs). But verbs can't be conjoined in the same way with nouns, e.g. *I like mad dogs and to serve is bad; and prepositional phrases don't conjoin with nouns, e.g. *I like mad dogs and on top of the Empire State Building is also bad.

Here's a label I noticed which violates the co-ordination constraint:
*[DP Side Dish], [DP Soup Mix], [PP Over Rice]

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Computational approaches to understanding language evolution [video]

In her recent ILLS talk, Tandy Warnow discusses computational approaches for inferring language evolution and linguistic relationships:

Computational methods for inferring evolutionary histories of languages

A page with links to various publications associated with this project (and the datasets used) is available here:

One of the interesting points of this study is the relationship of Germanic with respect to the other branches of Indo-European. Germanic, at least when the morphological data is given more weight, is not particularly closely related to Italic or Celtic, though it shares a number of lexical similarities with these groups. This is suggestive of a later migration of Germanic-speaking peoples into an area where they came into contact with Italo-Celtic speakers. In any case, it's an interesting approach to historical data.

For more ILLS2 videos, see this link: