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Tijd om de syntactische boom om te hakken

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Time to fell the syntactic tree. Long-distance dependencies without transformations or filler gaps

Long-distance dependencies belong to the most controversial challenges in linguistics. These patterns seem to contain constituents that have left their original position in a sentence and that have landed in a different place. A typical example is the relative clause the person I have talked to yesterday, in which the direct object (the person) is not situated in an argument position following the verb, but instead is located at the beginning of the utterance. Upon closer inspection, however, all problems related to long-distance dependencies can be reduced to the limits of phrase structural analyses. A phrase structure tree is a rigid data structure in which information is shared between local nodes. These analyses therefore need to resort to more complex formal machinery in order to overcome this locality constraint, such as using transformations or positing filler-gap constructions. However, there exists a more intuitive alternative within the tradition of cognitive-functional linguistics in which long-distance dependencies do not require special treatment. Instead, these patterns are simply the side effect of how grammatical constructions combine with each other in order to satisfy the communicative needs of language users. Through a computational implementation in Fluid Construction Grammar, this article demonstrates that it is perfectly feasible to formalize this alternative in a model that is capable of both formulating and comprehending utterances.
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Keywords: cognitive-functional grammar; formalization; generative grammar; long-distance dependencies; phrase structure grammars

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Remi van Trijp, Sony Computer Science Laboratory Paris, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2016-03-01

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  • Het tijdschrift Nederlandse Taalkunde publiceert bijdragen aan de wetenschappelijke studie van de Nederlandse taal in de ruimste zin van het woord. Nederlandse Taalkunde streeft ernaar bijdragen te publiceren vanuit zoveel mogelijk verschillende vakgebieden van de Nederlandse taalkunde en vanuit zoveel mogelijk verschillende benaderingen binnen die vakgebieden. Alle soorten bijdragen (artikelen, squibs en boekbesprekingen) kunnen in het Engels of het Nederlands geschreven zijn. Artikelen van Nederlandse Taalkunde verschijnen in Open Access, na een periode van drie jaar.

    Nederlandse Taalkunde publishes scholarly articles in both Dutch and English about linguistics, concerning the Dutch language, and in the broadest sense. The journal aims to include contributions from all subdisciplines within linguistics. In addition to research articles Nederlandse Taalkunde also publishes overviews and discussions on contemporary subjects within the field. Articles in Nederlandse Taalkunde are published in Open Access, after a period of three years.
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