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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:32 pm 
Lebom
Lebom

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I have often read that non-configurational languages frequently allow discontinuous expressions, such as separating a demonstrative or adjective from its corresponding noun. Yet nominal coordination (phrases such as "pickles and tea" where two nouns function as one constituent) would seem to make that property unworkable. Imagine something like "house and river ... big" with the adjective separated from either possible head. One could hardly tell whether the adjective modifies "house" or rather "river" and the sentence becomes unparseable. Does this mean that non-configurational languages simply revert to configurationality when dealing with coordination, requiring all expressions involved to remain continuous?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:39 pm 
Šriftom
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This is where noun-adjective, noun-determiner, and noun-verb agreement come into play. By having agreement by things such as number, gender/noun class, and definiteness, languages have variables by which individuals can associate disparate parts of a clause, allowing listeners to associate words which are not continguous with one another.

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Dibotahamdn duthma jallni agaynni ra hgitn lakrhmi.
Amuhawr jalla vowa vta hlakrhi hdm duthmi xaja.
Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:59 pm 
Lebom
Lebom

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Travis B. wrote:
This is where noun-adjective, noun-determiner, and noun-verb agreement come into play. By having agreement by things such as number, gender/noun class, and definiteness, languages have variables by which individuals can associate disparate parts of a clause, allowing listeners to associate words which are not continguous with one another.


Sure, but depending on the language, plenty of coordinated nouns would have the same gender or noun class. Imagine talking about green tea and black coffee, which could easily share the same noun class (inanimate or liquid for instance). Agreement could disambiguate in many circumstances, but falls short of comprehensively solving the problem.

Furthermore, it remains unclear from my research whether non-configuration applies within clauses alone, or whether it applies across entire sentences regardless of complexity. The latter case would obviously complicate the parsing of non-configurational syntax even further. Imagine having to parse a sentence describing several coordinated actions, with adverbs free to appear anywhere regardless of which verb they modify.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:20 pm 
Šriftom
Šriftom

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Context is very important, and can disambiguate a wide range of cases (to illustrate how context can be important, consider the case of how Japanese can be perfectly understandable even though typically a wide range of things are omitted when it is spoken), but even aside from context, consider a language with just two numbers and two genders - that already gives four different possible combinations by which things can agree with one another. With more genders or, even moreso, a full noun class system, and also agreement by definiteness, you get even more combinations by which things can agree, further reducing potential ambiguity; e.g agreement by two numbers, three genders, and definite versus indefinite gives 12 possible combinations.

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Dibotahamdn duthma jallni agaynni ra hgitn lakrhmi.
Amuhawr jalla vowa vta hlakrhi hdm duthmi xaja.
Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:39 pm 
Avisaru
Avisaru

Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:28 pm
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malloc wrote:
Travis B. wrote:
Imagine having to parse a sentence describing several coordinated actions, with adverbs free to appear anywhere regardless of which verb they modify.

One may not hypothesise. Such ambiguity can strike in English with 'not', and the target of 'just' can be uncertain.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:01 pm 
Sumerul
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I think the gender marking thing is important.

It's not as if ambiguous adjectives don't crop up in other languages too. So e.g. the famous example pretty little girls' school (pretty girls? pretty school? little girls? little school?).

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:09 am 
Smeric
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I don't think agreement is that important. Turkish is fairly non-configurational and has no gender agreement whatsoever. Even number agreement is fairly optional for third person subjects, and there's no marking of for example objects on the verb. There is both head and dependent marking of possessives, which helps, but generally I think it's disambiguated by context.

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كان يا ما كان / يا صمت العشية / قمري هاجر في الصبح بعيدا / في العيون العسلية

tà yi póbo tsùtsùr ciivà dè!

short texts in Cuhbi

Risha Cuhbi grammar


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 2:21 pm 
Smeric
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Users of non-configurational languages just figure out the meaning pretty intuitively even in cases of "ambiguity," because usually one of the possible interpretations is so obviously wrong as to not even occur to the listener. Humans simply do not require absolute unambiguity in language.

Also keep in mind that even in non-configurational languages, word order is never truly random; there is always one or more pragmatic factors governing word order. So even if they do "resort to configurationality" (i.e. use word order) to make clear whether it's the house or the river that's big...they are constantly using word order for one purpose or another anyway. So this is no different.


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