A Categorial Grammar View of Syntactic Categories: Evidence from Coordination
Pauline Jacobson
November 2023
 

This paper argues that under a rather natural view of syntactic categories compatible with the general theory of Categorial Grammar (CG), some hitherto undiscussed (to my knowledge) facts about coordination fall out. It is standard in CG to maintain that there is a small set of primitive categories and a recursive definition of others; these others are often referred to as 'function' categories. Here we advocate a view in which each such category literally corresponds (oversimplifying slightly here) to a mapping from strings to strings. Combined with some other independently motivated mechanisms that have been proposed within CG, we show that taking the notion of functions in this sense seriously, we limit the ways in which strings can combine which in turn makes some striking predictions. In particular, the view advocated here automatically accounts for sentences like (1), sentences along these lines were first noted in Maxwell and Manning (1996): (1) a. Barry plays the dulcimer, the standup bass, and does magic tricks. b. Sarah studies syntax in the morning, semantics in the afternoon, and (she) practices the violin in the evening. c. Barry plays the dulcimer, the standup bass, does magic tricks, and he builds treehouses. . Note that we can construct cases like where the last S doesn't even have the same subject: (2) Barry plays hammered dulcimer, the bass, does magic tricks, and Patty plays the flute. But an additional surprise not noticed by Manning and Maxwell is the fact that when there is a chain of such coordinations, the 'bigger' ones can only be on the right. Thus notice that in all the above cases the constituents 'grow' as we move right. For example, (1c) and (2) are of the form NP, NP, VP, and S. But we cannot mix these to give the order VP, VP and NP for example: (3) * Barry plays the dulcimer, does magic tricks, and the standup bass. We also turn briefly to the placement of 'either' showing that some known surprising facts about its distribution fall out immediately from the account here, although there remain some open questions about the full distribution.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/007707
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: in submission
keywords: categorial grammar, function composition, null coordination, "non-constituent coordination", left looking chains, syntax
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