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plural suffix with singular referent


Martin Shields
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Is it possible to search for plural pronominal suffixes which refer to singular (or collective) antecedents using the syntax module?

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Is it possible to search for plural pronominal suffixes which refer to singular (or collective) antecedents using the syntax module?

 

Martin,

 

The antecedent searching is the last item to be programmed into the searching. Currently we are extremely close to fully accurate clause and phrase searching. After that is perfected, the antecedent searching will be addressed.

 

Now, when the antecedent searching is implemented, the question is whether the kind of cross-referenceing we have used is what you're looking for. We limited cross-referencing to constructions in which the cross-reference was syntactically necessary: relative clause resumption, left- and right-dislocation (i.e., casus pendens) resumption, and ellipsis. More general antecedent-anaphor relations were deemed to lie more in the realm of discourse than syntax proper (and it was clear how much a nightmare it would be to tie each anaphor to its antecedent -- imagine tying each subsequent pronoun back to God or David or whomever in long stretches of narrative!).

 

So, if you're asking about an agreement mismatch in relatives, dislocation, or ellipsis, I think you will eventually be able to find these in our syntax modules. But for more general mismatches, there will be a variety of work arounds, but no direct way to find these.

 

By the way, I've not forgotten your early question on searching for null copula ("verbless") clauses. Numerous times I've thought we had the syntax searching at a point that I could finally respond with specific directions, but each time I've decided to wait just a bit longer. It does look like were very close, though. By way of explanation, it may help to know that the first year and a half of this project was consumed with designing the tagging scheme. That was essentially finished last Summer/early Fall. Now we're in the overlapping second stage of complexity -- perfecting the searching. And we're about a year into it, so if we could ask for another 6 months patience, I think everyone will be happy with the results. In the meantime, we continue adding texts!

 

Cheers,

Robert

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Now, when the antecedent searching is implemented, the question is whether the kind of cross-referenceing we have used is what you're looking for. We limited cross-referencing to constructions in which the cross-reference was syntactically necessary: relative clause resumption, left- and right-dislocation (i.e., casus pendens) resumption, and ellipsis. More general antecedent-anaphor relations were deemed to lie more in the realm of discourse than syntax proper (and it was clear how much a nightmare it would be to tie each anaphor to its antecedent -- imagine tying each subsequent pronoun back to God or David or whomever in long stretches of narrative!).

 

 

And, of course, a pronoun may also refer to a proposition in the previous discourse and not to a specific participant represented by an NP. Someone is going to have a fun time trying to figure out how to tag those if such a layer ever becomes desirable.

 

Pete

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Robert,

 

Thanks for the details. Seems I only ask questions about things I can't do (yet), but I should add that I've had lots of fun with the syntax modules and I'm really looking forward to their completion! (And I'm glad that the null copula hasn't been forgotten!

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