LINGUIST List 10.1674

Thu Nov 4 1999

Qs: re&Particle Delete,Info Retrieve/Knowledge Base

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  1. Roderick McGuire, "re-" morphology and particle deletion
  2. Corinne Moore, Information Retrieval, Knowledge Bases and Controlled Language

Message 1: "re-" morphology and particle deletion

Date: Wed, 03 Nov 1999 21:39:19 -0500
From: Roderick McGuire <>
Subject: "re-" morphology and particle deletion

I came up with this example the other day and have questions about it.

To me it seems that "rethink" is derived from "think out" (not directly
from "think"). The problem then is to explain how/why the particle "out"
does not appear in the surface morphology of "rethink".

Reasons favoring this derivation are 1) conceptual: "rethink" means more
"think out again" than "think again", 2) the argument structures shown
in the examples:

 John thought that he was Irish *John thought his options
 *John thought out that he was Irish John thought out his options
 *John rethought that he was Irish John rethought his options

and 3) the strong preference for "rethink" over the synonymous "rethink

Is there any literature on this sort of morphological "deletion"?

What factors are relevant to why "rethink" is preferred to "rethink
out"? Note that this question is independent of whether the claimed
derivation exists.

What other examples are there? Maybe "rezipped" as in "John rezipped his
pants" is derived from "zip up" and so is "unzipped". And the verb in
"John zipped his pants" is a back formation from "zip up".

Now somewhere I've seen discussions emphasizing that units have
differing conceptual and morphological structures (could someone send me
references to refresh my memory?) E.g. for formal purposes I could
represent "rethought" with the logical structures:

 conceptual: Past(re(out(think())))
 morphological: re(Past(think()))

If I had a theory it might also use theory internal representations:

 deep-morph: out(re(Past(think())))
 surf-morph: 0(re(Past(think())))

where 0 is a zero morpheme. On the other hand a theory might just omit
the "out" in the process of turning the conceptual representation inside

I welcome any references, answers, alternative analyses, or comments on
my misguidedness. As always, please email direct to me and I will
summarize for the list.

 -- Roderick McGuire -
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Message 2: Information Retrieval, Knowledge Bases and Controlled Language

Date: Wed, 03 Nov 1999 07:52:00 -0500
From: Corinne Moore <>
Subject: Information Retrieval, Knowledge Bases and Controlled Language

I have an extensive database that covers company-specific terminology
and thesaurus information. Does anyone have information about how this
resource might fit into information retrieval or knowledge base systems?


Corinne Moore
Diebold, Incorporated
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