Possession and Grammar Theory [Split]

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Salmoneus
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Salmoneus »

Omzinesý wrote:
29 May 2020 22:21
"Possessive clause" is a semantic~ish term to me, "a clause that expresses possession". Apparently I should have said "a clause expressing clausal possession" or something.
"Existential clause" seems to be a syntactic label (in this discussion).
That's not how I was using it, no. I was using it as a semantic concept.


We can conceptually divide propositions into four kinds:
- existentials, which say that a description refers ("there is some X for which it is true that Y")
- classificatories, which say that the referents of a description are members of a certain set ("X is a Z")
- identificatories, which say that a certain set is coreferential with another set ("Zs are As")
- predicatives, which ascribe descriptions to the members of sets ("for any A, it is true that Y")

Possessive clauses, like "this house is mine", "this horse belongs to John", are a type of predicating clause (where "A" is "houses I'm pointing at" and "Y" is "it's mine").

But clauses like "I have a dog", although syntactically in English they are expressed as normal predicating clauses, are semantically actually existentials ("there is some dog for which it is true that it is mine").
I find existential clauses generally are semantically silly. If you can say something on X, it must exist. But now I get to Descartes's syllogisms on God's existence and that is not a good path.
I think you may be thinking more of Anselm there. But in any case, you should be thinking of Meinong!

But the general philosophical point here is that to avoid paradoxes, you need to make a distinction. The catchphrase "existence is not a predicate!" is one way of doing that. Another way is to distinguish the real from the actual. In any case, if you can meaningfully speak about X, there must 'be' an X in some sense, but that X need not be present in the actual world. [above, I've used 'refers' to mean 'present in the actual world', though of course you might want to say that other terms can refer to non-actual beings, non-being objects, etc etc].

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Omzinesý
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Omzinesý »

Salmoneus wrote:
30 May 2020 01:36
Omzinesý wrote:
29 May 2020 22:21
"Possessive clause" is a semantic~ish term to me, "a clause that expresses possession". Apparently I should have said "a clause expressing clausal possession" or something.
"Existential clause" seems to be a syntactic label (in this discussion).
That's not how I was using it, no. I was using it as a semantic concept.


We can conceptually divide propositions into four kinds:
- existentials, which say that a description refers ("there is some X for which it is true that Y")
- classificatories, which say that the referents of a description are members of a certain set ("X is a Z")
- identificatories, which say that a certain set is coreferential with another set ("Zs are As")
- predicatives, which ascribe descriptions to the members of sets ("for any A, it is true that Y")

Possessive clauses, like "this house is mine", "this horse belongs to John", are a type of predicating clause (where "A" is "houses I'm pointing at" and "Y" is "it's mine").

But clauses like "I have a dog", although syntactically in English they are expressed as normal predicating clauses, are semantically actually existentials ("there is some dog for which it is true that it is mine").
I find existential clauses generally are semantically silly. If you can say something on X, it must exist. But now I get to Descartes's syllogisms on God's existence and that is not a good path.
I think you may be thinking more of Anselm there. But in any case, you should be thinking of Meinong!

But the general philosophical point here is that to avoid paradoxes, you need to make a distinction. The catchphrase "existence is not a predicate!" is one way of doing that. Another way is to distinguish the real from the actual. In any case, if you can meaningfully speak about X, there must 'be' an X in some sense, but that X need not be present in the actual world. [above, I've used 'refers' to mean 'present in the actual world', though of course you might want to say that other terms can refer to non-actual beings, non-being objects, etc etc].
OK, I see. It is a proper semantic concept.
"Clausal possession" is functional typological label, semantic enough (in some prototype sense) to be comparable. It usually means "I have X" clauses.

My understanding on language theory seems to be worse than I have thought.
But, the less you know the more you learn.
It's apparently a discourse question how discourse-active (definite, mentioned, inferable...) the thing existing should be?
If I say "I have the house", it's apparently not an existential clause but just a predicative clause, which predicates a relation between "me" and "house".

EDIT
You have already discussed that.
Salmoneus wrote:
30 May 2020 00:39
...
You make my first point on definiteness better than I did in the beginning.
Maybe I don't just quite understand what "that of mine" means in English. Can it be something else but 'one of my Xs'?

Though definiteness is defined in the speech context: the adressee can figure out the object or not.
Logically it must be unspecified (if that's the correct term) beforehand because specifying it to be a fixed/specific object is what existential clauses do.
Last edited by Omzinesý on 31 May 2020 13:48, edited 1 time in total.

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Omzinesý
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Omzinesý »

Salmoneus wrote:
30 May 2020 00:59
Just to add: I don't agree that we need a theory to look at languages.

I think we do need concepts, but not necessarily a theory (not that snytactic theories are really theories anyway!).


As an analogy: let's say you tell me you like, say, the dance of the sugar plum fairy from The Nutcracker, and ask me what other pieces of classical music you might like. I suggest them, you try them, you tell me if you like them or not, and so it continues.

Well, it's really helpful for me in doing this if I have certain concepts: ballet; dance; Russian; conservative late Romanticism; orchestral; cute/sweet (etc). These concepts help me to analogise from what I know you like to what you might like. But I don't necessarily need to construct a coherent theory of your preferences to go about this task, even to perform well at the task - I just need to keep making individual analogies.
Wisely said.

But, theories tell as how we should see the relations between concepts.
If we use the concept of dependent, we implicitly presuppose some kind of Dependence Grammar, as well. The concept of dependent does not make sense if we don't suppose hierarchical relations between phrases. If we speak about subconstructions (or whatever they are called in construction grammar) we presuppose another kind of relation.

In every-day language, you can speak about ballet and other dances and let me infer what you like, but if we are professional ballet dancers, our concepts are much more theoretical, and the theory says what is the important distinction between this move and that move.

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Re: Possession and Grammar Theory [Split]

Post by Omzinesý »

The Turkish Nominal Phrase in Spoken Discourse 6.4.3 https://books.google.fi/books?id=LGSChe ... ic&f=false

seems to analyse that Genitive NP and Possessive Suffixes in Turkish are actually adverbials.

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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Salmoneus »

Omzinesý wrote:
31 May 2020 11:51
Salmoneus wrote:
30 May 2020 00:59
Just to add: I don't agree that we need a theory to look at languages.

I think we do need concepts, but not necessarily a theory (not that snytactic theories are really theories anyway!).


As an analogy: let's say you tell me you like, say, the dance of the sugar plum fairy from The Nutcracker, and ask me what other pieces of classical music you might like. I suggest them, you try them, you tell me if you like them or not, and so it continues.

Well, it's really helpful for me in doing this if I have certain concepts: ballet; dance; Russian; conservative late Romanticism; orchestral; cute/sweet (etc). These concepts help me to analogise from what I know you like to what you might like. But I don't necessarily need to construct a coherent theory of your preferences to go about this task, even to perform well at the task - I just need to keep making individual analogies.
Wisely said.

But, theories tell as how we should see the relations between concepts.
If we use the concept of dependent, we implicitly presuppose some kind of Dependence Grammar, as well.
No we don't. I can use the concept of dependents, and yet I have literally never read a page of Dependency Grammar theory!
The concept of dependent does not make sense if we don't suppose hierarchical relations between phrases.
That's not true, though. For instance, if you and the President are in a plane, and it crashes in a desert and he is badly injured, and you have to drag him out of the desert and feed and water him along the way, the President is dependent upon you. But that does not mean that there is a hierarchical relation between you. Dependency is a practical observation; hierarchy is an abstract metaphysical theory to explain or justify dependency.

So, taking the sentence "I quickly ate the bear", we can easily say that 'quickly' is dependent - for the simple reason that we can say "I ate the bear", but not "I quickly the bear". It cannot stand independently in that context, so in that context it is dependent on the presence of something else (a verb). But when you say "it is dependent on the verb because it is hierarchically subordinate to the verb", then you're imposing an additional level of theory (and a large dose of anthropomorphism!) beyond the observations.
In every-day language, you can speak about ballet and other dances and let me infer what you like, but if we are professional ballet dancers, our concepts are much more theoretical, and the theory says what is the important distinction between this move and that move.
You clearly know more about ballet than I do! But it must be said: in most artforms, the 'theory' far postdates the practice. The symphonies and quartets of Haydn and Mozart almost all follow quite closely the theoretical form of the classical symphony/quartet, and in particular their first movements typically closely obey the theory of 'sonata form'. But the theory of the symphony, and the theory of sonata form, were only invented half a century or more later - indeed, the theory of sonata form wasn't really fully developed until people had stopped obeying it.

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eldin raigmore
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Re: Possession and Grammar Theory [Split]

Post by eldin raigmore »

We’re not talking about the kind of possession that might require an exorcism, are we?

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Re: Possession and Grammar Theory [Split]

Post by Creyeditor »

eldin raigmore wrote:
02 Jun 2020 23:38
We’re not talking about the kind of possession that might require an exorcism, are we?
Most people working on Grammar Theory seem to be possessed in some way? [:D]
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Omzinesý »

Salmoneus wrote:
02 Jun 2020 14:28
Omzinesý wrote:
31 May 2020 11:51
Salmoneus wrote:
30 May 2020 00:59
Just to add: I don't agree that we need a theory to look at languages.

I think we do need concepts, but not necessarily a theory (not that snytactic theories are really theories anyway!).


As an analogy: let's say you tell me you like, say, the dance of the sugar plum fairy from The Nutcracker, and ask me what other pieces of classical music you might like. I suggest them, you try them, you tell me if you like them or not, and so it continues.

Well, it's really helpful for me in doing this if I have certain concepts: ballet; dance; Russian; conservative late Romanticism; orchestral; cute/sweet (etc). These concepts help me to analogise from what I know you like to what you might like. But I don't necessarily need to construct a coherent theory of your preferences to go about this task, even to perform well at the task - I just need to keep making individual analogies.
Wisely said.

But, theories tell as how we should see the relations between concepts.
If we use the concept of dependent, we implicitly presuppose some kind of Dependence Grammar, as well.
No we don't. I can use the concept of dependents, and yet I have literally never read a page of Dependency Grammar theory!
The concept of dependent does not make sense if we don't suppose hierarchical relations between phrases.
That's not true, though. For instance, if you and the President are in a plane, and it crashes in a desert and he is badly injured, and you have to drag him out of the desert and feed and water him along the way, the President is dependent upon you. But that does not mean that there is a hierarchical relation between you. Dependency is a practical observation; hierarchy is an abstract metaphysical theory to explain or justify dependency.

So, taking the sentence "I quickly ate the bear", we can easily say that 'quickly' is dependent - for the simple reason that we can say "I ate the bear", but not "I quickly the bear". It cannot stand independently in that context, so in that context it is dependent on the presence of something else (a verb). But when you say "it is dependent on the verb because it is hierarchically subordinate to the verb", then you're imposing an additional level of theory (and a large dose of anthropomorphism!) beyond the observations.
In every-day language, you can speak about ballet and other dances and let me infer what you like, but if we are professional ballet dancers, our concepts are much more theoretical, and the theory says what is the important distinction between this move and that move.
You clearly know more about ballet than I do! But it must be said: in most artforms, the 'theory' far postdates the practice. The symphonies and quartets of Haydn and Mozart almost all follow quite closely the theoretical form of the classical symphony/quartet, and in particular their first movements typically closely obey the theory of 'sonata form'. But the theory of the symphony, and the theory of sonata form, were only invented half a century or more later - indeed, the theory of sonata form wasn't really fully developed until people had stopped obeying it.
It seems we are arguing on how obvious things should be called theorethical. That is a semantic question, in the pejorative sense of the term (which I would like to call something else).
Language theories are not theories in the strict philosophical sense. You cannot falsify them. I think they cannot be right or wrong either. They are just tools to describe and abstrahate things. I think they could be called models, if one wants to.

I call all abstract thinking theorethical, and it appears to me that my thinking is more abstract than that of most others, on average. I have had a course on philosophy of science but I don't remember how they defined theory in the broad sense.

It is a miserable fact that your thinking is heavily affected by theories you have never heard of yourself. "Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back." Keynes

I decided not to say anything about art. Conlangs are an interesting exception because you can discuss them as if they were something you study scientifically.

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