Talk:Phrase structure rules

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I noticed the comment on the following change:

(diff)  Phrase structure rules (3); 01:21 . . . Karl E. V. Palmen;
[link lexical class to part of speech (Please correct, if this is wrong)] 

While this is useful, and I'm leaving it alone for that reason, I'm not entirely certain that part of speech is the same thing as "lexical class". The phrase "part of speech" hearkens back to my school years, where "Noun" was defined as "a person, place, or thing"; "Adjectives" and "Adverbs" were never clearly distinguished other than that adverbs can modify both verbs and adjectives; and weird terms such as "helping verbs" were used to describe certain common auxiliaries that happen to be verbs, without clearly relating them to auxiliaries that aren't derived from verbs (such as "to" in English infinitives).

The notion of "lexical class" is somewhat more precise, and at the same time, a bit blurrier, because lexical classes are defined by the syntactic role of and syntactic relationship between words and phrases, rather than by the "dictionary definition" of what part of speech a given word belongs to. It also better accounts for abstract nouns and irreal [my term, not linguistic jargon] verbs (such as "to be" when used as a copula).

Certainly the two overlap and intersect. Whether (or to what degree) they are the same is something I'd like to see discussed.

Where's a specialist in syntax when you need one? *grin*


"Colorless green ideas..." example[edit]

Has anyone noticed that "colorles green ideas..." phrase may be parsed in more than one way? "Colorless green" is a pretty valid color to my tastes :-) Mikkalai 07:13, 21 Jan 2004 (UTC)

True, in fact Chomsky mentions this sort of thing in passing: " seems that interpretations are imposed on [these kinds of sentences] by virtue of analogies that they bear to nondeviant sentences" (Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, p 76), so he does not deny that they may have interpretations. I think that the meaning you derive is based on a very creative process which may not have anything to do with the meaning of the word "colorless" itself. So in order to make sense of this senseless phrase, you can interpret it as an ironic statement -- a green so boring that it barely counts as a color at all. But I think we would want a theory of semantics to tell us that "colorless green" is literally meaningless, because there are really no limits on the meanings you can give to a sentence if you are allowed to interpret contradictions as ironies, or that sort of thing. That's not to say that any interpretation of a literally meaningless sentence using this sort of method is "wrong" in some way, I just don't think it's part of semantics (maybe part of pragmatics, though). --Cadr
I re-added the example sentence which was deleted by Skal while leaving no note here and doing this with a remark (Improving the article) in the change log. I think he should tell us more why he thinks that deleting the example improves the article. Hirzel 19:07, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Open issues[edit]

  • Expand the article
  • Give a better account of the historical setting and the use today.
  • Make the article consistent
  • Which sense has the third rule (esp. when referring to AP?

Hirzel 19:30, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)


I'm sorry about the deletions that I made last August (referred to above—my username is Skal). I would take it upon myself to fix the damage I've done to what was otherwise a reasonably good article, were it not for the fact that this article is probably superfluous. I see little in this article (even as it was before I mutilated it) that is not there in the article on Phrase structure grammar (which redirects to Chomsky hierarchy). Even what little is (or was) here that is not there rightly belongs to that page. Therefore, I suggest that this page be merged with Phrase structure grammar. Any thoughts?

By the way, should Phrase structure grammar redirect to Chomsky hierarchy? It's been a while since I last read a book on syntax, but it may be useful to have a separate article detailing each of the concepts, as I believe that phrase structure grammar and Chomsky hierarchy are not the same thing.--Siva 20:42, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

I agree that this article should merge with phrase structure grammar, and that the PSG article should de-merge with the Chomsky hierarchy article. PSG and the Chomsky hierarchy are different enough concepts to merit their own respective articles. On a practical level, the easiest thing to do is to move this article to PSG and have phrase structure rules redirect to PSG. Then we can expand this current article to treat both topics. –jonsafari 18:23, 15 April 2007 (UTC)