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Bootstrapping (linguistics) - Wikipedia

Sep. 7: Is punctuation and capitalization included among the "prescriptive" rules? Yes. Generally, when we're talking about syntax, we're talking about language rather than language (despite the fact that we write out all of the examples). This isn't to say that there isn't anything interesting or universal about writing systems, just that we won't be dealing with them in this class.

Bootstrapping is a term used in language acquisition in the field of linguistics

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Instead of being forced to distinguish three separate syntacticcategories (articles, demonstrative adjectives, and demonstrativepronouns), the DP hypothesis allows us to make do with a singlecategory D.

What we need is a synthesis that resolves the contradictionbetween the thesis and the antithesis without giving up any of theinsights that we have gained so far.

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Let me add one final note about this: Part of why I think of this way is that there are many languages where you can have a sentence with no verb, just something like (meaning "Bill is a doctor") and in cases it is clear that gets its theta role from . However, things quickly become very, very tricky. If we broaden our horizons to things like , where it really seems like has taken on the role of predicate, equating the two DPs. A real question left open at this point is whether has the same structure as . What I suggested in the trees above says that they're different: in the sentence, is the predicate and in the sentence, is the predicate. It is not completely clear to me what the best analysis is going to be in the end. We've entered the realm here of asking -- there are several possibilities, and the next step would be to see which of the two analyses runs into less trouble with other sentences. The analysis I propose above has some strange side effects I think. For fun, you might ponder what you think the structure of might be (I said "for fun", but actually, this sentence is guaranteed to give you a headache). Very thorny questions arise, and half the fun of syntax is trying to think of a clever analysis that can accommodate all of the facts. Usually this is the point where people start inventing things like AgrOP and so forth, based on examples that a simpler theory doesn't seem able to capture. We will not be able to come up with a fully satisfactory theory of DPs and this semester I think.

Generative Syntax with Professor Caroline Heycock is a series of eleven videos, and was created for the School of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh.

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Sep 20: What's going on with NP and DP again? And why didn't we just with the DP rule instead of spending two weeks with NPs we'll never use again? There seems to have been some confusion about what we were doing there when we suddenly came up with the DP structure to use instead of the NP, and what it means, where we'll use it and so forth. Let me see if I can justify the methods and clarify the point (I will return to this in the next class as well). The whole enterprise we are embarked upon is one of scientific investigation and discovery; as you might recall from the first class, the scientific method goes like this: We observe data, we draw generalizations and form hypotheses, and then we collect more data to see if the predictions of the hypotheses are met. To the extent that the predictions are met, we rejoice, but to the extent that the predictions are met, we have to modify our hypotheses to reflect this. To that end, we started out observing that things like seem to have as their most central element the noun, , and we progressively worked through some hypotheses about what a noun phrase can contain. Moving to binary branching "X-bar" structures is just one step further in this process; noticing that some parts (and not other parts) of the noun phrase can be replaced by , we determined that we needed to have (nested) constituents the noun phrase, which we named N-bar. To come back to the point, the way to look at this is not as though we had a rule for how to form NPs which you were to learn, but which was then immediately discarded (wasting your time)—rather, we have had several hypotheses, each one hopefully a closer approximation to the truth than the previous one, but each revision made on the basis of evidence we had found that the previous hypothesis did not correctly predict the facts. To simply start with the "final rule" would allow you to have the benefit of the many years of research in syntax and might perhaps save a little bit of time, but it would miss one of the most important parts of subject: the scientific method for with the rule in the first place. As for DP, we initially supposed that a noun phrase like the subject contained the determiner, but further data (particularly data from possessive constructions) indicated that we are closer to the truth if we assume that , , and are determiners which are the projection headed by the noun. This doesn't change the fact that is still perfectly good as the subject of a sentence, it's just that when we originally called it an "NP" we had applied the wrong label to it, since the head of the phrase is in fact ( being an NP which is the complement of the D ). This means that, for example, in our "TP rule", where we allowed an "NP" to be the subject in the specifier, we need to apply the newly corrected label to the subject and instead allow a DP to be the subject in the specifier. Note that there . There are nouns, and they are heads of an NP which contains both an N and an N-bar node. Moreover, most of what we discovered about them is still true; the haven't changed, after all. The only real change is that the places where we thought NPs occurred in the structure are actually places where occur in the structure. The only place we find real NPs under this new and improved view is as the complement of a head D. The subject of a sentence, the object of verb, or the object of a preposition are all DPs.

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Sep 20: Isn't there something funny about DP and the "Golden Rule of Modifiers"? Well, kind of. The Golden Rule of Modifiers says that a modifier and the thing modified have to be in the same phrase, and in class we basically extended that early on to say that pretty much everything in a phrase (except the head) modifies the head of the phrase. The "funny thing" about DP here is that there's kind of an intuitive feeling that the determiner in some sense modifies (or "specifies" might be a better term) the noun, making us suspect that the determiner should be inside the NP after all. And, in fact, I have no doubt that this has a lot to do with why people didn't realize at the very outset of generative syntax that is headed by , instead of . But we have pretty good evidence for this now (and there's even better evidence out there in the linguistic literature which we aren't really prepared to understand yet), and so we might just have to accept this as a failure of the Golden Rule of Modifiers. Honestly, though, this use of The Golden Rule of Modifiers is taking a bit beyond what it was designed to do anyway; The Golden Rule of Modifiers really works for nouns and verbs and adjectives—for the "open class" items (categories in which we can readily create new words). For the "closed class" items (also known as "functional categories" sometimes), our intuitions about what modifies what sort of disappear. Think about PPs, for example (P being very nearly a closed class—if you don't believe that, your homework is to invent a new preposition and introduce it into the language); we know that a P like takes a DP complement like to form the P-bar and ultimately the PP. There's no question about this; but how strong is your intuition that is somehow modifying ? Not very strong, I'd wager. D is just like P in that it is a closed-class, functional category, and we aren't going to be able to rely on an intuitive feeling of what modifies it to determine what is in its phrase with it—instead, we'll have to rely on other evidence, like that reviewed in class.

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