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Word classification (was ...)

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Monday, July 14, 2008, 15:37

On Sat, 12 Jul 2008 10:46:42 +0100, And Rosta wrote:

> Jim Henry, On 09/07/2008 03:12: > [...] > > Do you mean distributional categories -- sets of words that are > > liable to occur in the same context as each other? > > After I sent that message I realized that what I was describing > is probably applicabe far more to predicate-based languages like > Lojban or Livagian than to more naturalistic ones.
Yes; especially considering that in natlangs and naturalistic conlangs, the same verb may often be used with differently many arguments (as for passive, antipassive, causative, etc.), or with different cases assigned to the arguments. In a loglang, it is advisable to eliminate such fluidities, or have "missing" arguments explicitly encoded as "dummy arguments" or whatever.
> In Livagian there is just one part of speech.
In a predicate-based language, there is no syntactic distinction between nouns, adjectives and verbs, yes; however, you will have a small closed class of elements such as junctors and quantors.
> I meant predicates involving the same set of participant roles > (in a system in which the inventory of possible participant > roles is not finite, and participant roles can be as > idiosyncratic as predicates are). Normally a predicate's > syntax-semantics has two parts: the set of participant roles, > and the residue. I find it kind of takes a conceptual weight > off my mind -- by making things simpler & tidier -- to group > together predicates involving the same set of participant roles > and that differ only in terms of the residue; the set of colour > predicates would be an example.
So you'd have such classes as "colour terms", "size terms", "verbs of motion", "verbs of perception", etc.? Such classes are indeed useful, I'd say.
> The grouping together of predicates that differ by residue alone > would I think precede other taxonomizing, so that the taxonomies > serve to classify sets of predicates that differ only by residue. > > Taxonomies are of limited use, because it is hard to classify > polyadic predicates in a taxonomy. For example, take a predicate > meaning "X drinks milk Y produced by lactator Z": it's hard > to see where the predicate as a whole would go in the hierarchy > (except as a daughter of some very general node such as Event); > it's easier to see how X, Y and Z could separately be classified, > but that would work for a thesaurus but not as a vocabulary > organization method (given the reasonable assumption that each > vocable should appear just once).
Indeed. I also feel that it is a bad thing to sort semantically closely related predicates away from each other because they have different argument structures. (In a loglang, however, it may be useful to encode aspects of the argument structure morphologically in the predicate words themselves, for example via the length of the morpheme as in X-1.) And your example "X drinks milk Y produced by lactator Z" are *three* clauses, not one: drink(X,Y); milk(Y); produce(Z,Y) or maybe two if one rolls up the latter two in "lactate(Z,Y)". Greetings, Jörg.


And Rosta <and.rosta@...>