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New Noun Phrase Scheme

From:Jim Grossmann <jimg@...>
Date:Monday, February 8, 1999, 22:47
1.    Noun phrases can each consist of a designator or a designator and some

2.    Designators are an open class of morphemes that do the work of names,
and pronouns.   They are inflected for permanence vs. ad hoc reference, and
are divisible into several subgroups, including those for male humans, for
female humans, for animals, plants, natural non-living things, and
artificial things and ideas.

For example, the designator Fido, inflected for permanence, would be the
name of a specific animal.   But the designator "Fido" inflected for ad hoc
usage could refer to any animal across contexts, and to certain animals only
according to context.

3.    Specifiers do the work of nouns and adjectives.   So, the noun phrase
that stands for Fido the terrier would be "Fido-perm. terrier."    The noun
phrase that stands for "the terrier we're talking about" would be "Fido-ad
hoc terrier."   It could also be any other designator plus the specifier
"terrier," e.g.  "Prince terrier," "Poochie terrier," etc.   However, in a
given conversation, one ad hoc designator would be used to refer to each
unique dog.   If discussing two terriers and using ad hoc designators,
"Fido-ad hoc" would have to refer to terrier-A and "Poochie-ad hoc" would
have to refer to terrier B consistently.

4.    Specifier order would be relatively free.   For instance, "Fido-ad hoc
big terrier" and "Fido-ad hoc terrier big" would mean the same thing.

5.    The equivalents to pronouns would be created by omitting specifiers
from the noun phrases, leaving the designators for reference.   Since
designators are an open class, there is no reason why reference with bare
designators would ever have to be ambiguous within a given text.   Reference
across texts would not be that problematic:   permanent designators would
not be interchangeable, and ad hoc designators could simply be read like
pronouns of a certain gender.

6.    Quantifiers could be used instead of designators to refer to all,
some, none of, etc. of the entities described by the specifiers.    e.g.

Fido-ad hoc big cat    =    this big cat we're talking about

ALL big cat  = big cats in general

7.    Pronominal reference to such classes could be accomplished with some
variable pronoun, possibly derived from the quantifier.