Project: description of language X
Aim of this project is to give you a taste of the experience of
working on the formalization of a language other than English/Dutch.
Students are supposed to work in groups of max. 8 people.
If there are
native speakers of a language other than English/Dutch, that language
can be chosen for the project, otherwise it is possible to chose among
one of the following languages:
Students can use reference grammars and are encouraged to find native
speakers of the language they have chosen in order to carry out the
You can ask a native speaker to produce simple sentences, involving
translations of the following sentences:
For each sentence give a morpheme-by-morpheme gloss followed by an
idiomatic gloss. Feel free to construct additional examples,
especially if you have problems with these examples for an unforeseen
- The king found some books.
- He did not read any books to his son.
- The three soldiers stirred the soup.
- They will stirr it for three hours.
- Every soldier was old and ugly.
- The castle is on a hill near a lake.
- Antonio has lived in Venice for three years now.
- No one arrived at the castle yesterday.
- Most of Prospero's books will arrive next week.
- The kind man gave a book to his daughter.
- She will put the book on a chair.
- Macbeth may find them in the forest (assume that them refers to people).
- Falstaff drank a glass of beer.
- Falstaff drank because he was thirsty.
- Miranda knew that Prospero had many books.
- Hamlet said that his mother was disloyal.
- Portia told Shylock that he should be kind to Antonio.
- Macbeth tried to kill the king.
- Macbeth tried to meet a witch.
- Prospero has promised to give her all the books.
Construct a lexicon based on the example sentences for language X, with a
translation for each word. Organize the lexicon in terms of lexical category.
If you believe that some of the words in your lexicon contain
more than one morpheme, try to identify the meaning of each morpheme
and formulate morphological rules for combining the morphemes to form
Does language X have pronouns? Can they be null? Can they be optional?
Which function do they have (subject, object, etc)?
Does language X have definite and/or indefinite articles?
Does language X allow for tensed sentences to occur as embedded
clauses? If so, what changes, if any, do you observe between a main
clause and an embedded clause, in terms of word order,
complementizers, special suffixes, etc.? Cite examples.
- Does language X have any auxiliary verbs, or does it just use
affixes on the main verb? Illustrate.
Does language X have any kind of case marking to indicate which DP is
the subject, the object, the indirect object, etc? Explain, citing
Does language X exhibit any kind of subject-verb agreement? What
about object agreement? Is there any other kind of agreement?
Try to identify the basic constituent order for language X,
identifying the position of the subject, object, indirect object,
Try to formulate phrase structure rules for each type of phrase that
occurs in these data. Illustrate each rule with an example drawn form
Draw tree diagrams for sentences 1,2,6,9,15 and 20.
Identify the categorial selection and the semantic selection
properties of each verb in your lexicon for language X.
Does language X have determiners? If so, give five examples, and
specify their truth conditions in terms of a relation between two
Give at least three examples of prepositional constructions in
language X that involve a difference in preposition choice for
language X and English/Dutch, and establish a comparison in semantic
Establish whether language X has negative polarity expressions. If it
does, give at least three examples of such expressions, and illustrate
their negative polarity status with examples. Is the distribution of
these expressions the same as in English/Dutch? Motivate your answer
The answer to these questions have to be written down in html
format. The html format provides the basis of the presentation, and
will be made accessible on the internet page for this class. Specify
the sources that you have used to get the information you have collected.
Please specify names and numbers (studentnummers) of all participants of the
group. Please specify also the division of tasks.
Deadline planning and division of tasks: 27-2
Deadline project submission: 19-3
- Duration: max 30 min.
- Support: there will be a beamer so you can use your own webpage
- What do I have to show? You should be able to give an impression
of the main properties of the language you have analyzed. Probably the
best way is to go through the various points you have discussed in the
project, but you might also decide to concentrate on the most crucial
Groups and languages
- ten Tije
- de Roon
- van Gemeren
- van Polen
- van Appelen
- van der Heide
- van Vliet
Finnish or Sumeric
- R. Jacobs
- den Uyl
- van Tienen
- de Graaf
- A. Jacobs
- Koen ??
- R. van Erk
- B. van der Vijgh
- R. Jansen
- R. Kuipers
- P. Schouten
- G. Karimi
- I. van den Bosch