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USAGE: Garden paths

From:Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 15, 2000, 4:53
J Matthew Pearson wrote:
> Ambiguity is not the issue, since "The horse raced past the barn fell down" is not > ambiguous: AFAIK, it has only one possible interpretation.
Well, up to the "fell down" it is ambiguous.
> But getting to your main point: I suspect that your requirement that a > complementizer or relative pronoun be present in the cases you mention is not a > rule of your mental grammar, but rather a 'meta-rule' designed to avoid a potential > parsing problem. The reason I say that is because your requirement is not > dependent on the structure of the relative clause per se, but rather on the > (accidental) morphological properties of the verb which happens to be contained > within the relative clause.
I wouldn't say "accidental morphological properties", it's verbs that can take a noun or verb phrase as objects require "that", and verbs that may be transitive or intransitive, I'd say that that's a syntactic property. Perhaps that second part could be considered such a "meta-rule", but the first part is definitely connected with syntax, and not morphology.
> Garden path sentences demonstrate that *acceptability* > and *grammaticality* are two entirely different things! A sentence can be > unacceptable without being ungrammatical.
Well, maybe, but it seems to be making an artificial distinction, to me. If a structure is unacceptable, and is not produced, how do you know that it's NOT simply a grammatical rule? In other words, if your conception of the grammar says that it is grammatical, but it's not acceptable, how can you be sure that you haven't misanalyzed the grammar, perhaps it really is ungrammatical? For that matter, why can't "meta-rules" as you described earlier be part of the grammar? What justification is there in considering them outside of the grammar, when they affect what kind of sentences are produced and what kinds of sentences are considered acceptable? -- "Their bodies did not age, but they became afeared of everything and anything. For partaking in any activity at all could threaten their precious and ageless bodies! ... Their victory over death was a hollow one." ICQ: 18656696 AIM Screen-Name: NikTailor