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Syntactic Affixation and Performance Structures Steven Abney

Summary: Syntactic Affixation and Performance Structures
Steven Abney
1 Introduction
Functional elements (determiners, complementizers, modals, degree words) are
in many ways the syntactic analogues of affixes in morphology. Typically, func-
tional elements are bound elements. Phonologically, they are clitics: syntacti-
cally, they are unable to appear without an associated thematic element (noun,
verb, adjective). I would like to extend the analogy by showing that functional
elements also combine with their associated thematic elements to form word-
like units I call chunks. For example, the segment of a noun phrase from the
determiner to the head noun is a chunk. The ongoing destruction of documents,
for instance, consists of two chunks, the ongoing destruction and of documents.
Chunks resemble words on several counts. Like the morphemes that form
words, the words that form chunks are relatively tightly bound together. They
generally cannot be moved out of their chunk, and the order in which they occur
within the chunk is fixed. For example, the determiners, quantifiers, numerals,
adjectives, etc. that constitute a noun chunk cannot be extracted, and are
subject to elaborate and fairly rigid ordering constraints.
Further, in the same way that inflected forms cannot be embedded within


Source: Abney, Steven P. - School of Information, University of Michigan


Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences