[Lingtyp] Right node raising cross-linguistically
Adam James Ross Tallman
ajrtallman at utexas.edu
Wed Sep 29 19:08:35 UTC 2021
Ha! Apparently, my email doesn't automatically cross-reference very well,
so here are my numbered examples / points in case that was confusing
(1) Adam read the book and skimmed the article
(2) Adam read and Tony skimmed the article
(3) Adam [ read the book ] and [ skimmed the article ]
(4) [ Adam read ] and [ Tony skimmed ] the article
(5) Adam*i* read the book and _____*i* skimmed the article
(6) Adam read _____*i* and Tony skimmed the article*i*
(7) *Why *should (1) and (2) be interpreted differently?
(8) How do I tell the difference between gapping and constituent
coordination *in general?*
On Wed, Sep 29, 2021 at 8:43 PM Adam James Ross Tallman <
ajrtallman at utexas.edu> wrote:
> Dear Adam,
> I think you’ve missed the point and some other people did too, so I’ll
> restate it.
> Take the following sentences.
> (1) Adam read the book and skimmed the article
> (2) Adam read and Tony skimmed the article
> Many (not all)syntacticians give radically different structural
> interpretations to these sentences vis-à-vis constituency structure. If you
> are the type of linguist who thinks you have to develop a theory of RNR, I
> understand you are one of these syntacticians.
> One sentence gets a *constituency coordination *interpretation, the other
> a *gapping *interpretation.
> Here’s a constituency coordination interpretation - under this
> interpretation the structurally repeated part is a constituent. Imagine
> giving such an interpretation to both sentences.
> (3) Adam [ read the book ] and [ skimmed the article ]
> (4) [ Adam read ] and [ Tony skimmed ] the article
> Here’s the gapping interpretation of the same sentences.
> (1) Adam*i* read the book and _____*i* skimmed the article
> (2) Adam read _____*i* and Tony skimmed the article*i*
> Under the gapping interpretation we either have to say there’s some sort
> of movement (and thus the gapped part is a constituent) or there’s some
> sort of deletion (maybe its phonological), or as Larson has argued
> <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/stul.12060> the sentence is
> actually nongrammatical and some sort of special online parsing sentence
> repair mechanism accounts for its acceptability. Either way, the
> interpretation is different vis-à-vis constituent structure.
> (3) Adam*i* read the book and _____*i* skimmed the article
> (4) Adam read _____*i* and Tony skimmed the article*i*
> (Many) syntacticians give sentence (1) the constituent coordination
> interpretation in (3), and sentence (2) the gapping interpretation in (6).
> They *don't *assign both interpretations to the sentences as I have here.
> After this all sorts of formal models can be conjured up to capture the
> facts as we see them - and it's difficult to do and the papers trying to do
> so uncover interesting facts, some of the models are clever etc. But I’m
> not saying “formal models are bad”, which seems to be Adam’s interpretation
> of my claim. I also didn’t mean ‘syntactic theory’ in the sense of *any
> formal model whatsoever*, which again, seems to be Adam’s interpretation
> of my statement. I meant ‘syntactic theory’ in the sense of developing
> testable hypotheses about what all languages are like. If you want to have
> testable hypotheses you have to know what your models are actually supposed
> to explain. Your models have to be independent from the phenomena they
> capture, otherwise you have a tautology, not a theory.
> So, I’m just asking first …
> (5) *Why *should (1) and (2) be interpreted differently?
> The answer to (7) seems to be that *not *interpreting these differently
> would result in a bracketing paradox vis-à-vis what we already think we
> know about English and that constituents are always perfectly nested. But
> what if I have fewer pieces of evidence for supporting a V-OBJ constituency
> in a specific language? So I’m wondering if there is something else I could
> rely on … and whether anyone could bring typological evidence to bear on
> the question.
> The other related question is as follows.
> (6) How do I tell the difference between gapping and constituent
> coordination *in general? *
> If I can’t tell the difference between constituent coordination and
> gapping, then I suppose I could never use (co(sub))ordination structures as
> constituency tests. If I can’t tell the difference between constituent
> coordination and gapping then I would never be able to meaningfully test
> any claim about how gapping is supposed to work or coordination is supposed
> to work cross-linguistically. Sa, I’m interested in testing some claims
> about gapping/RNR phenomena in Tupari or Chácobo, how do I start? How do I
> know that what I refer to as gapping isn’t constituent coordination and
> So, it's not about formalisms *in general.* It's about how to formulate
> claims about gapping / constituent coordination so they aren’t self-sealing
> / self-justifying tautologies. Somewhere along the line you will have to
> say something about how to compare languages, whether you use the term
> „comparative concept“ or not. (Unless of course, you are fine with having
> just a theory about English.) But I'm interested in how to interpret
> gapping / constituent coordination in same/different subject clauses in
> Pano, and the current literature is *just. simply. not. helpful. *for
> that question ...
> Of course, this assumes that what we call “theories” *should *make
> testable claims, and maybe that’s where the disagreement lies between
> myself and confessional “generativists” … If you are happy with a "theory"
> that states "some gapping theory accounts for gapping phenomena and we
> identify gapping phenomena as such because it is what is predicted from
> gapping theory", then we have different views of what a theory is...
> On Wed, Sep 29, 2021 at 6:24 PM Adam Singerman <adamsingerman at uchicago.edu>
>> Dear Adam,
>> I don't believe that the RNR issue is as damning for syntactic theory
>> as you do (this shouldn't surprise anyone who's talked with the both
>> of us, as we generally have different takes on the successes/failures
>> of syntactic theory). On the contrary, I think the RNR issue nicely
>> illustrates the fact that there will be empirical generalizations in
>> individual languages that require some kind of formalization to be
>> stated in the first place, whatever the ultimate verdict is on the
>> formal apparatus that the generalizations are first couched in. Even
>> if we take Chaves's analysis as correct (namely, that RNR is really
>> the conflation of three separate phenomena: VP/N' deletion,
>> extraposition, backward periphery deletion), we will still need a
>> formal apparatus to define these phenomena. A formal syntactician
>> would probably say that the crosslinguistic version of RNR is not
>> capturable as a comparative concept in the sense of Haspelmath because
>> what defines RNR — whether it's taken to be a phenomenon in of itself
>> or a conflation of three separate phenomena, as Chaves argues — is
>> still ultimately formal. So this is probably a good example of how
>> there are parts of speakers' linguistic competence which need to be
>> described, analyzed and theorized, but which do not lend themselves in
>> an obvious way to cross-linguistic comparison outside of a formal
>> framework. Unless of course I have misunderstood Martin's point about
>> comparative concepts...?
>> Lingtyp mailing list
>> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> Adam J.R. Tallman
> Post-doctoral Researcher
> Friedrich Schiller Universität
> Department of English Studies
Adam J.R. Tallman
Friedrich Schiller Universität
Department of English Studies
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