Syntax as phonology: Syntactic constraints as string constraints

🕑 12 min • 👤 Thomas Graf • 📆 September 29, 2019 in Tutorials • 🏷 subregular, syntax, locality, c-command, constraints, islands

The previous post in this series discussed the lay of the (is)land from the perspective of TSL (I’m so disappointed in myself for not making this pun last time; better late than never). I mentioned that the TSL view cannot handle all island constraints. Sometimes, we need an alternative approach. But this alternative approach doesn’t come out of nowhere. It is also what we need for all kinds of licensing constraints, and it also handles restrictions on movement that are not island constraints.


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Islands are unexpectedly expected

🕑 6 min • 👤 Thomas Graf • 📆 September 23, 2019 in Tutorials • 🏷 subregular, syntax, locality, Move, islands

In the previous post we saw Merge is SL-2 over dependency trees, and Move is TSL-2. For every movement feature f we project a separate tier that contains only lexical items that have a licensor feature f+ or a licensee feature f-. A tier is well-formed iff every lexical item with a licensee feature has a mother with a licensor feature, and every lexical item with a licensor feature has exactly one lexical item among its daughters that carries a licensee feature. It’s a pretty simple system. Despite that simplicity, it predicts a fundamental aspect of movement: island effects!


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The subregular complexity of Merge and Move

🕑 9 min • 👤 Thomas Graf • 📆 September 18, 2019 in Tutorials • 🏷 subregular, syntax, locality, strictly local, tier-based strictly local, Minimalist grammars, Merge, Move

Alright, syntax. Things are gonna get a bit more… convoluted? Nah, interesting! In principle we’ll see a lot of the same things as in phonology, and that’s kind of the point: phonology and syntax are actually very similar. But syntax isn’t quite as exhibitionist as phonology, it doesn’t show off its subregular complexity in the open for the world to see. So the first thing we’ll need is a suitable representation. Once we have that, it’s pretty much phonology all over again, but now with trees.


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A final stroll through the complexity zoo in phonology

🕑 8 min • 👤 Thomas Graf • 📆 September 09, 2019 in Tutorials • 🏷 subregular, phonology, locality, strictly piecewise, strictly local, tier-based strictly local, typology, learnability

After a brief interlude, let’s get back to locality. This post will largely act as a recap of what has come before and provide a segue from phonology to syntax. That’s also a good time to look at the bigger picture, which goes beyond putting various phenomena in various locality boxes just because we can.


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Full non-locality: Strictly piecewise

🕑 7 min • 👤 Thomas Graf • 📆 August 24, 2019 in Tutorials • 🏷 subregular, phonology, locality, strictly piecewise

We’re continuing our stroll through the subregular locality zoo, still in the service of ultimately being able to say something about syntax and its interface with PF and LF. We started out with SL as the most restrictive kind of locality. The step to the TSL region corresponds to a relativized notion of locality where it’s not absolute locality that matters, but your position relative to other elements of a specific type. TSL is actually a cluster of different classes, with standard TSL at the very bottom. Depending on what context information the TSL tier projection may take into account, TSL expands to ITSL, OTSL, or IOTSL. While IOTSL has a very liberal notion of locality that can even accommodate insane patterns like nati, it still involves some level of locality. That’s in stark contrast to the strictly piecewise (SP) dependencies of Rogers, Heinz, Bailey, Edlefsen, Vischer, Wellcome, and Wibel (2010), which throw locality out the window.


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Extensions of TSL

🕑 8 min • 👤 Thomas Graf • 📆 August 22, 2019 in Tutorials • 🏷 subregular, phonology, locality, tier-based strictly local

The previous post covered the essentials of strictly local (SL) and tier-based strictly local (TSL) dependencies over strings. We saw that even though TSL generalizes SL to a relativized notion of locality, it is still a restrictive model in the sense that not every non-local dependency is TSL. In principle that’s a nice thing, but among those non-local dependencies beyond the purview of TSL we also find some robustly attested phenomena like unbounded tone plateauing. Fair enough, but that does not mean that unbounded tone plateauing is entirely non-local.


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The subregular locality zoo: SL and TSL

🕑 10 min • 👤 Thomas Graf • 📆 August 19, 2019 in Tutorials • 🏷 subregular, phonology, locality, strictly local, tier-based strictly local

Omer has a recent post on listedness. I have a post coming up that expands on my comments there, but it isn’t really fit for consumption without prior knowledge of subregular complexity and how it intersects with the linguistic concept of locality. So I figured I’d first lead in with a series of posts as a primer on some of the core concepts from subregular complexity. I’ll start with phonology — for historical reasons, and because the ideas are much easier to grok there (sorry phonologists, but it’s a playground compared to syntax). That will be followed by some posts on how subregular complexity carries over from phonology to syntax, and then we’ll finally be in a position to expand on Omer’s post. Getting through all of this will take quite a while, but I think it provides an interesting perspective on locality. In particular, we’ll see that the common idea of “strict locality < relativized locality < non-local” is too simplistic.

With all that said, let’s put on our computational hats and get going, starting with phonology. Or to be more specific: phonotactics.


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You've got something ready to submit, now what?

🕑 4 min • 👤 Thomas Graf • 📆 April 22, 2019 in Tutorials • 🏷 backend, github

Alright, let’s assume you’ve followed the instructions in the previous two posts on pandoc and the metadata header. You have a beautiful article that’s ready to be posted on the Outdex. But how do you get it there? The simplest option is to email it as an attachment to submissions@outde.xyz. One of the maintainers (probably me) will handle the backend stuff and send you a link to a preview version. If you’re happy with the preview, your article goes live. Otherwise, you mail in a revised version.

This process should work fine for simple documents that don’t need a lot of revising. But for those of you who are familiar with Github, we have a much slicker alternative.


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Adding metadata to your article

🕑 4 min • 👤 Thomas Graf • 📆 April 20, 2019 in Tutorials • 🏷 backend, metadata, YAML

This is the second post on how to write submissions for the Outdex. The first one covered the use of pandoc for the actual content of your submission. However, a blog post is more than just its content. It also involves crucial metadata such as the author(s), the date it was published, or topic tags. Metadata also allows you to enable some advanced features. It’s a very powerful tool, but also very easy to use. All you have to do is add a short YAML-header at the very top. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, don’t despair, it only takes 4 minutes to learn.


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Authoring articles with pandoc

🕑 7 min • 👤 Thomas Graf • 📆 March 09, 2019 in Tutorials • 🏷 backend, markdown, pandoc

This is the first post in an ongoing series of mini-tutorials for Outdex contributors. I’ll give a brief overview of some of the lovely pandoc features that authors can use for their outdex articles: formatting with markdown, syntax highlighting, Latex-style math, bibtex-style citations, and example numbering.

In the near future, there will be follow-up posts that cover the use of YAML headers for metadata, how to submit articles via Github, and some aspects of the talkyard commenting system we use. If anything’s unclear, please leave a comment.


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