By H. Koopman, D. Sportiche, E. Stabler
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Extra info for An Introduction to Syntactic Analysis and Theory
In general, English allows free noun compounding. Suppose there were just 2 nouns. Then we could make 4 noun compounds of length 2, 8 compounds of length 3, and so on. With 2 nouns, there are 2n compounds of length n. Human vocabulary sizes are difficult to estimate, but certainly every reader of this text knows many thousands of different nouns. Suppose you know 10, 000 nouns. Then your language would let you consider 10, 000 n compounds of length n. ): the appeared. If you know at least 10, 000 nouns, then each one can go in this frame, so there are at least 10, 000 sentences that are 3 words long.
Which one can occur depends on syntactic context. We should make this more precise, defining when one form or the other is required, and we would like to know why we have this alternation. This turns out to be enormously important, but we postpone further discussion of it until we have understood more about constituency. Substitution by a word can take us quite far regarding the structure of our example sentence, and now we have considered swapping constituents too, which is really just doing two replacements at once.
Substitution by a pronoun is, as you would expect, often called pronominalization. We can now redraw our tree with more labels and more structure: sentence DP D this T NP will N girl V put D PP P in DP a DP D A PP N P picture of DP the red coat ? DP before tomorrow Name on ? Bill N P P N your desk 2. SYNTACTIC ANALYSIS INTRODUCED 52 It is important to note that there are many substitutions that we are not interested in because they change the meaning of the constituents in some subtle or fundamental way.