LINGUIST List 5.586

Sat 28 May 1994

Qs: Attachment; EPG; Child language; Stemmer

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Directory

  1. , Cross-linguistic attachment variations
  2. James M Scobbie, Query: EPG, Affricates and Language Acquisition
  3. James M Scobbie, Query: non-instrumental work on affricate acquistion
  4. "Y. Shum", Good stemmer

Message 1: Cross-linguistic attachment variations

Date: Thu, 26 May 1994 17:23:00 Cross-linguistic attachment variations
From: <D.C.Mitchellexeter.ac.uk>
Subject: Cross-linguistic attachment variations

I am a psycholinguist looking at the extent to which human
sentence processing mechanisms may be language-specific rather
than universal. To address questions of this kind it is impor-
tant to work with sentence structures that turn up in a wide
range of languages. Together with various colleagues I have
been looking at one such example (see below) and I would be very
grateful to receive additional cross-linguistic information from
LINGUIST users. The sentences are of the form ..NP-PP-RC.., in
which there is ambiguity concerning the appropriate attachment
site for the Relative Clause as in this example:

(1) Someone shot the servant of the actress who was on the bal-
cony.

Focussing for the moment on the potential attachment sites within
the complex NP, there is ambiguity about whether the RC modifies
the first NP (N1) or the NP within the second (genitive) NP (N2).

Essentially the same ambiguity turns up in several different lan-
guages and the evidence suggests (I would maintain) that attach-
ment preferences vary in interesting and informative ways across
languages - with some showing an N2 bias and others an N1 prefer-
ence. To date the evidence has been restricted largely to vari-
ous Indo-European languages (e.g. English, French, Italian, Rus-
sian, German, Dutch, Spanish) plus some evidence from Japanese -
with different constituent orders, of course.

At this point I have two questions for LINGUISTs:

(i) Does the same kind of ambiguity reappear outside this rather
narrow class of languages? If so, is there a bias for N1 or N2
attachment? (Responses to me direct: I'll summarize later).

(ii) Are there languages in which a modifier (like an RC) can
always be attached unambiguously to one of two or more alterna-
tive host sites within a complex NP? (I know that in various
Bantu languages noun-class agreement would place considerable
constraints on potential ambiguity, but in such cases I would be
interested in what happens if N1 and N2 both belong to the same
class.) The ambiguity DOES seem to be removed in the Saxon
genitive form in English (i.e. "..the actress's servant who.."),
but I'd be interested to discover if there are languages in which
the ambiguity is eliminated for attachments to ANY kind of com-
plex NP - not just particular forms.

Don Mitchell
University of Exeter
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Message 2: Query: EPG, Affricates and Language Acquisition

Date: Thu, 26 May 94 18:18 GMT
From: James M Scobbie <SPSCOBmain.queen-margaret-college.ac.uk>
Subject: Query: EPG, Affricates and Language Acquisition

For a colleague: please reply to Fiona Gibbon, spgibbuk.ac.qmced.main

I have been unsuccessful in scanning FirstSearch and other sources
for papers, and am looking for some help.

I'm looking for references on EPG or other instrumental phonetic work
on the acquisition of affricates (in any language) by children either
with a function phonological disorder or otherwise.

For example, work showing how the English affricates, alveolar stops
and post-alveolar fricatives pattern in cases where the stop or
fricative is aticulated posteriorly.

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Message 3: Query: non-instrumental work on affricate acquistion

Date: Thu, 26 May 94 18:42 GMT
From: James M Scobbie <SPSCOBmain.queen-margaret-college.ac.uk>
Subject: Query: non-instrumental work on affricate acquistion

Does anyone know of any references to work on the patterning
of affricates, sibilants and stops in child language
acquisition?
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Message 4: Good stemmer

Date: Thu, 26 May 1994 20:23:07 Good stemmer
From: "Y. Shum" <shuychonmehta.anu.edu.au>
Subject: Good stemmer

Hi there,
 Porter's stemmer and the current stemmer I have does not reduce words
like 'prisoner' to 'prison', or 'australian' to 'australia'.

 If there is any stemmer which could do so, I will be very interested to
to get it.

Thank you very very much indeed.

shum
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