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Re: 30-day project and stack depth

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  • Jörg Rhiemeier
    Hallo conlangers! ... Only superficially. I have been maintaining for long that RPN is a word order type in itself that is actually very different from the
    Message 1 of 22 , Jan 4, 2013
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      Hallo conlangers!

      On Friday 04 January 2013 07:36:27 Gary Shannon wrote:

      > My 30-day language is SOV, which is similar to RPN it seems.

      Only superficially. I have been maintaining for long that RPN is
      a word order type in itself that is actually very different from
      the SOV word order found in about one half of all human languages.

      Before tackling the problems you are discussing below, first make
      up your mind which of the two your conlang is meant to be: SOV
      or stack-based. From the discussion below I get the impression
      that you are going for the latter.

      > Now I'm debating some different constructions like: (stripped down to
      > bare bones)
      >
      > Ria ki juko se naga uro. (man this sees, that boy runs.) S ki V se SV
      >
      > vs.
      >
      > Ria naga uro juko. (man boy runs sees.) S(SV)V with (SV) as O
      >
      > In the first case the construction ki..se puts "ki" in the direct
      > object slot as a place holder, and "se" introduces the deferred object
      > clause "the boy runs". In the second case the the object clause is
      > embedded in-line forcing two verbs at the end. This second
      > construction is a sort of garden path sentence in that it mislead the
      > reader into believing, momentarily, that "boy" is the direct object
      > after the subject "man", rather than a possible second subject of
      > another verb. I find it confusing.

      Is case marking out of the question? In a case marking language,
      it would be obvious that 'boy' is not the direct object because it
      is marked with nominative/ergative/whatever. But I think that
      constructions of the type "man boy runs sees" are typical of SOV
      languages.

      > And yet the deferred "ki..se"
      > construction becomes confusing with deeper sentence/clause nesting.
      >
      > I'm uncomfortable putting a marker on the object clause (man THAT boy
      > runs sees) even though that solves the garden path problem. But
      > somehow putting the marker first doesn't feel right in SOV with
      > NOUN-ADJ order and VERB-ADV order. A pre-positioned marker feels out
      > of place, and a post-positioned marker comes too late to prevent
      > misunderstanding.

      A preposed marker indeed seems out of place in a rigorously SOV
      language (but those languages also usually have adjectives before
      nouns and adverbs before verbs, unlike your language).

      > Since I am not fluent in my 3-day old conlang, the question is, could
      > I ever become fluent in a language that potentially could put two, or
      > three, or four verbs on the stack and dump them all at the end?

      Who will ever become fluent in a stack-based language? Such
      beasts are outside what the human language facility can cope
      with in real time, I think. Stack-based grammars are very
      economical with regard to rules (which is the reason they are
      sometimes used in computing), but require a prodigious short-
      term memory in order to handle the stack properly (which
      computers of course have).

      > Or is
      > it better to put two or three "ki..se" pairs on the stack and dump the
      > deferred clauses at the end? (Or would the "ki..se" clauses daisy
      > chain together rather than nest deeply? I'm not sure.)
      >
      > In English I have no trouble with a bunch of verbs leaving up to five
      > prepositions on the stack and dumping them out at the end: "Daddy,
      > what did you bring that book that I don't want to be read to out of up
      > for?" So apparently human brain stacks are at least five items deep.

      I must confess that your example is confusing and when I read it,
      I completely lost track.

      > Or will I have to resort to decomposition into shorter sentences? "Boy
      > runs." "Man this sees." That sounds like a less than useful language!

      It sounds like what one may expect from _Homo erectus_, or whatever.

      > I've never worked with an SOV language, and I don't really want to
      > just copy some other SOV grammar. Nor do I want to write an RPN
      > language. I had enough of that programming inf FORTH.

      Also, Jeffrey Henning has done it in Fith.

      > I want my
      > language to be naturalistic, and I want it to be at least
      > theoretically possible to become fluent in the language.

      Two strong reasons to forsake a stack-based approach! Stack-based
      languages are not naturalistic, and you'll never become fluent in
      them!

      > So I guess my
      > question is this: In natlangs, how deep does the deferred elements
      > stack generally go? What depth does it never exceed? Does anybody have
      > a handle on these questions?

      At any rate, "stack depth" (I sincerely doubt that "stack" is the
      right concept here, we are rather dealing with tree structures here)
      in human languages is quite limited, and deep center-embedding is a
      no-no. Most people feel uncomfortable with clauses embedded more
      than three deep, I think, though some people are capable of handling
      more.

      If you want to make a naturalistic conlang, don't get too hung up
      with "stack depths". Rather study natlangs. (But it is certainly
      difficult to come up with a naturalistic language in just 30 days,
      unless you just apply sound changes to a source language, which can
      be done quite quickly.)

      --
      ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf
      http://www.joerg-rhiemeier.de/Conlang/index.html
      "Bêsel asa Éam, a Éam atha cvanthal a cvanth atha Éamal." - SiM 1:1
    • And Rosta
      ... Why is it actually very different? RPN has consistent dependent--head ordering, and S & O are normally considered dependents of head V. ... Are there any
      Message 2 of 22 , Jan 4, 2013
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        Jörg Rhiemeier, On 04/01/2013 13:18:
        > On Friday 04 January 2013 07:36:27 Gary Shannon wrote:
        >
        >> My 30-day language is SOV, which is similar to RPN it seems.
        >
        > Only superficially. I have been maintaining for long that RPN is
        > a word order type in itself that is actually very different from
        > the SOV word order found in about one half of all human languages.

        Why is it actually very different? RPN has consistent dependent--head ordering, and S & O are normally considered dependents of head V.

        >> Since I am not fluent in my 3-day old conlang, the question is, could
        >> I ever become fluent in a language that potentially could put two, or
        >> three, or four verbs on the stack and dump them all at the end?

        Are there any adequately understood natlangoid lgs whose grammars never require a list, of unlimited length, of items to be held in memory before they can be integrated into the sentence structure? Head--adjunct ordering doesn't impose a memory load, but requires a load of extra pragmatically-informed processing to resolve attachment ambiguities ("police shot the man with a rifle").

        > Who will ever become fluent in a stack-based language? Such
        > beasts are outside what the human language facility can cope
        > with in real time, I think. Stack-based grammars are very
        > economical with regard to rules (which is the reason they are
        > sometimes used in computing), but require a prodigious short-
        > term memory in order to handle the stack properly (which
        > computers of course have).

        I don't want to repeat the several lengthy threads on this topic that appear to have left no impression on Joerg's memory, so let me essay a quick summary for Gary's benefit:

        The available evidence (i.e. what has been adduced in previous discussions) indicates that humans parse natlangoid lgs using stacks. So in one sense, a stack-based conlang grammar would just be a grammar formulated in a way that takes into account how sentences will be parsed, and there's nothing obviously unnatural about it. However, previous discussion of Fith, which is a stack-based conlang (in the above sense) revealed that the language was also intended to be parsed in way that went straight from phonology to semantic interpretation, without a level of syntax: when the parser combined an operator and operand, the output would be a semantic rather than a syntactic object. This is logically independent of the stack-basedness, but the previous discussion revealed that some (Ray and Joerg) were using the term _stack-based_ to mean "stack-based and syntaxless". To my mind, syntaxfulness is a necessary property of languagehood -- in its very essence, a language is a system of
        correspondences between phonology and syntax -- so "stack-based language" in Joerg's extended ("syntaxless") sense of "stack-based" is oxymoronic and fundamentally misleading.

        >> In English I have no trouble with a bunch of verbs leaving up to five
        >> prepositions on the stack and dumping them out at the end: "Daddy,
        >> what did you bring that book that I don't want to be read to out of up
        >> for?" So apparently human brain stacks are at least five items deep.

        In "I gave the place where tomorrow the princess the * bishop will crown instead of the prince a quick once over", by the time you hit *, the stack contains (i) _gave_, waiting for the direct object (_a quick once over_), (ii) _where_, waiting for _will_, (iii) _tomorrow_, waiting for _will_, (iv) _the princess_, waiting for _will_, (v) _the_ waiting for _bishop_ and for _will_.

        But I don't see what "Daddy, what did you bring that book that I don't want to be read to out of up for?" shows. You speak of "a bunch of verbs leaving up to five prepositions on the stack and dumping them out at the end", which suggests you see the stack not as something involved in parsing but rather as something involved in generating, but I don't understand your intention well enough to comment on the nitty-gritty of the example. In the model where phonological words are parsed using a stack, the stack at the point before the final five prepositions is two deep not five deep (_read_, waiting (arguably) for _to_ and _out_, and _bring_, waiting (arguably) for _up_ and _for_).

        >> I want my
        >> language to be naturalistic, and I want it to be at least
        >> theoretically possible to become fluent in the language.
        >
        > Two strong reasons to forsake a stack-based approach! Stack-based
        > languages are not naturalistic, and you'll never become fluent in
        > them!

        You (Joerg) should find an apter and less misleading term than "stack-based". In the most literal and obvious sense of "stack-based", natlangs are "stack-based". "Stack-based languages" in your extended sense are indeed not naturalistic, and indeed aren't even languages, but because of the syntaxlessness, not the stack-basedness.

        --And.
      • Jim Henry
        ... gjâ-zym-byn, which is mostly OVS, does something very similar: že mĭ-i gju-môj kyn, hǒŋ suw-fwa ŋĭn-i ƥ lĭw-i fru. this topic-at talk-V.RECP
        Message 3 of 22 , Jan 4, 2013
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          On Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 1:36 AM, Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...> wrote:
          > My 30-day language is SOV, which is similar to RPN it seems.
          >
          > Now I'm debating some different constructions like: (stripped down to
          > bare bones)
          >
          > Ria ki juko se naga uro. (man this sees, that boy runs.) S ki V se SV

          > In the first case the construction ki..se puts "ki" in the direct
          > object slot as a place holder, and "se" introduces the deferred object
          > clause "the boy runs". In the second case the the object clause is

          gjâ-zym-byn, which is mostly OVS, does something very similar:

          že mĭ-i gju-môj kyn, hǒŋ suw-fwa ŋĭn-i ƥ lĭw-i fru.

          this topic-at talk-V.RECP parent that awwww!-CAUS comment-at 3
          relationship-at child

          "The parents talked about how cute their children were."

          "že" is a cataphoric pronoun, specifically forward-referencing a
          clause that hasn't been uttered yet or more generally a situation that
          hasn't been described yet; it contrasts with anaphoric "ce".

          --
          Jim Henry
          http://www.pobox.com/~jimhenry/
          http://www.jimhenrymedicaltrust.org
        • Gary Shannon
          Thanks to everyone for the interesting ideas. I do want to stay far away from RPN. It just doesn t feel natural. On the other hand, I want something unique, so
          Message 4 of 22 , Jan 4, 2013
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            Thanks to everyone for the interesting ideas.

            I do want to stay far away from RPN. It just doesn't feel natural.

            On the other hand, I want something unique, so I'm not going to worry
            about "rules" like "SOV languages usually put adjectives before their
            nouns." I've already broken that rule, and I'm happy with the way it's
            working out so far.

            The problem, as I see it, is that SOV _can_ result is putting a lot of
            distance between the arguments of the verb and the verb itself.

            Consider: The boy saw a dog that had a bone that had cracks that were
            filled with dirt.

            If I just move all the verbs to the end I get:

            The boy a dog that a bone that cracks that with dirt were filled had had saw.

            Or I could try to move the relative clauses before their nouns:

            The boy {that (it bone had) a dog} saw.

            That seems to require a resumptive pronoun, and doesn't seem natural.

            So what I need are strategies to break up the clauses and keep the
            reader from having to wait so long to see the verb. What was it that
            Mark Twain said about German? Something about swimming the Atlantic
            Ocean underwater and finally putting his head above water in New York
            to spit out the long-awaited verb.

            What I think I will do is play around with some bare-bones sentences
            and shuffle and permute the elements adding whatever markers are
            needed to make sense of them. I may end up inflecting nouns for case.
            That would be interesting.

            So how many ways can I permute the elements of these?

            Boy dog saw.
            Boy dog bone had saw.
            Boy dog bone cracks had had saw.
            Boy dog bone cracks dirt filled had had saw.

            This is becoming and interesting project. :-)

            --gary
          • MorphemeAddict
            ... For relative clauses you could use something like this: The boy a bone-having (-hadding?) dog saw. stevo
            Message 5 of 22 , Jan 4, 2013
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              On Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 12:23 PM, Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...> wrote:

              > Thanks to everyone for the interesting ideas.
              >
              > I do want to stay far away from RPN. It just doesn't feel natural.
              >
              > On the other hand, I want something unique, so I'm not going to worry
              > about "rules" like "SOV languages usually put adjectives before their
              > nouns." I've already broken that rule, and I'm happy with the way it's
              > working out so far.
              >
              > The problem, as I see it, is that SOV _can_ result is putting a lot of
              > distance between the arguments of the verb and the verb itself.
              >
              > Consider: The boy saw a dog that had a bone that had cracks that were
              > filled with dirt.
              >
              > If I just move all the verbs to the end I get:
              >
              > The boy a dog that a bone that cracks that with dirt were filled had had
              > saw.
              >
              > Or I could try to move the relative clauses before their nouns:
              >
              > The boy {that (it bone had) a dog} saw.
              >
              > That seems to require a resumptive pronoun, and doesn't seem natural.
              >

              For relative clauses you could use something like this:

              The boy a bone-having (-hadding?) dog saw.

              stevo

              >
              >
              >
            • Logan Kearsley
              ... [...] ... Optimal parsing algorithms like PCKY certainly make no use of a stack structure, but aren t 100% cognitively plausible because a) they assume
              Message 6 of 22 , Jan 4, 2013
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                On 4 January 2013 08:18, Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...> wrote:
                > Hallo conlangers!
                >
                > On Friday 04 January 2013 07:36:27 Gary Shannon wrote:
                [...]
                >> So I guess my
                >> question is this: In natlangs, how deep does the deferred elements
                >> stack generally go? What depth does it never exceed? Does anybody have
                >> a handle on these questions?
                >
                > At any rate, "stack depth" (I sincerely doubt that "stack" is the
                > right concept here, we are rather dealing with tree structures here)
                > in human languages is quite limited, and deep center-embedding is a
                > no-no. Most people feel uncomfortable with clauses embedded more
                > than three deep, I think, though some people are capable of handling
                > more.

                Optimal parsing algorithms like PCKY certainly make no use of a stack
                structure, but aren't 100% cognitively plausible because a) they
                assume unbounded memory and b) it's simple to observe that humans are
                not optimal parsers.
                I have seen one example (though I'm sure there are probably more) of
                research into a general-purpose parser with human-like memory
                constraints (http://www-users.cs.umn.edu/~schuler/paper-jcl08wsj.pdf)
                which assumes that parsing occurs mainly in short-term working memory,
                you can have only 3-4 "chunks" (containing partial constituents) in
                working memory at any given time, and memory can be saved by
                transforming partial trees to maximize how much stuff you can put into
                one chunk by ensuring that you never have to store complete but
                unattached constituents. The parser is actually implemented as a
                hierarchical hidden markov model where shirt-term memory locations are
                represented by a small finite set of random variables whose values are
                partial syntactic trees, but access patterns look the same as access
                patterns for a stack structure, such that it could be equivalently
                represented by a bounded push-down automaton with a maximum stack
                depth of 3-4.
                That model can explain why some examples of center-embedded sentences
                cause interpretation problems in human while other
                structurally-identical models don't because the probability of
                constructing a certain syntactic structure changes in different
                contexts; thus, garden-path constructions that you are very familiar
                with (and thus which have been programmed into the transition
                probabilities of the HHMM) don't feel like garden-path constructions
                anymore.

                -l.
              • Gary Shannon
                Here s an idea for a mixed word order. My conlang was initially set up to be SAOVI where A is an optional aux marking tense/aspect/mood, and I is an optional
                Message 7 of 22 , Jan 4, 2013
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                  Here's an idea for a mixed word order.

                  My conlang was initially set up to be SAOVI where A is an optional aux
                  marking tense/aspect/mood, and I is an optional indirect object. So in
                  a sense, my word order is already SVOV where the verb is split into
                  its root and its TAM marker.

                  The presence of an aux marks both the subject and object by lying
                  between them, eliminating the need for an attached (or detached) case
                  marker on the noun. But suppose that a relative clause used SVO where
                  the aux was assumed to be the same as for the main verb, and so the
                  clause verb is promoted to the aux position. Then we would have
                  something like:

                  Boy did dog see. SAOV
                  Boy did dog have bone see. SA(SVO)V

                  In case the relative clause had a different tense ("The boy WILL SEE
                  the dog that HAD a bone.") then both verb would have their own aux's:

                  Boy will dog did bone have see.

                  So there are two approaches:

                  1) Make nested clauses SAOV, or if no A, SVO.
                  2) Require a TAM aux even for present tense indicative.

                  Boy did dog see.
                  Boy now dog see.
                  Boy will dog see.

                  Boy did dog will bone have see.
                  Boy now dog now bone have see.
                  Boy will dog will bone have see.

                  It seems like the duplicated TAM aux is redundant, but simply dropping
                  it causes ambiguity, or at least difficulty:

                  Boy will dog bone have see.

                  But if the relative clause is permitted to promote the V to the A slot:

                  Boy will dog have bone see.

                  which seems perfectly clear.

                  But then there's:

                  The boy that the dog I just saw barked at was scared.

                  Oh dear! What now?

                  --gary
                • Charles W Brickner
                  ... From: Constructed Languages List [mailto:CONLANG@LISTSERV.BROWN.EDU] On Behalf Of MorphemeAddict For relative clauses you could use something like this:
                  Message 8 of 22 , Jan 4, 2013
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                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: Constructed Languages List [mailto:CONLANG@...] On Behalf Of MorphemeAddict

                    For relative clauses you could use something like this:

                    The boy a bone-having (-hadding?) dog saw.
                    ==========================

                    Senjecas can do that. There is an active and a passive participle for each of the three tenses.

                    paútus ósþom e-údante čénem e-óĸ̌a:

                    paút-us ósþ-om e-úd-ante čén-em e-óĸ̌-a

                    boy-NOM.sg bone-ACC.sg PST-have-PRES.PTCP dog-ACC.sg PST-see-IND

                    Charlie
                  • R A Brown
                    ... If by head you mean operator and by dependent you mean operand . Let us be clear that RPN is a method which was developed for both unambiguous
                    Message 9 of 22 , Jan 4, 2013
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                      On 04/01/2013 15:30, And Rosta wrote:
                      > Jörg Rhiemeier, On 04/01/2013 13:18:


                      >>
                      >> I have been maintaining for long that RPN is a word
                      >> order type in itself that is actually very different
                      >> from the SOV word order found in about one half of all
                      >> human languages.
                      >
                      > Why is it actually very different? RPN has consistent
                      > dependent--head ordering,

                      If by head you mean 'operator 'and by dependent you mean
                      'operand'. Let us be clear that RPN is a method which was
                      developed for both unambiguous mathematical expression and
                      for their evaluation. It was to avoid the artificial
                      convention of what we used to call BODMAS when I was at
                      school and, indeed, the need for ever using brackets within
                      an expression.

                      Though strictly speaking it was the so-called "Polish
                      notation" (PN) devised by Jan Łukasiewicz that was devised
                      to achieve this. In this operator comes first and the
                      operands follow. However, it was noticed by computer
                      scientists that if you did things the other way round, then
                      the expression could be built up using a stack and
                      immediately evaluated, which is why RPN became so widely
                      used in computing.

                      (Strictly RPN is not the reverse of PN, as the operands are
                      still put in the same order, e.g. "5 - 2" is "- 5 2" in PN
                      and "5 2 -" in RPN - not "2 5 -").

                      So does that mean all SOV languages are expressed as RPN,
                      and all VSO languages as PN? Certainly not.

                      > and S & O are normally considered dependents of head V.

                      Yes. If we spoke with nothing more complicated than "man
                      bites dog", then indeed "bites man dog" is PN, and "man dog
                      bites" is RPN.

                      The trouble us we humans like to add a few adjectives around
                      the place, together with maybe the odd determiner or two; we
                      even stick in an adverb or two and maybe one or more dratted
                      prepositional and/or postpositional phrases; then we have
                      the temerity to add relative clauses and various other
                      subordinate clause, etc.

                      I cannot think of any natlang that conforms solely to PN or
                      RPN ordering.

                      But let us take a simple RPN example. First we'll have to
                      recast it so that operators are replaced by a verb in such a
                      way that the first operand is a grammatical subject and the
                      second an object. I must confess I haven't found a neat way
                      of doing this. The best I can manage is to have the
                      operators as passive verbs; this allows the first operand to
                      be the subject of the verb; the second operand is then the
                      object of "by" or, if you prefer, the verbal phrase.

                      Thus I rephrase "5 2 -" as: five two diminished-by.

                      OK. Here is a pretty simple RPN expression:
                      three five augmented-by seven two diminished-by multiplied-by.

                      Which you easily evaluate as 40! Or not?

                      [snip]

                      >> Who will ever become fluent in a stack-based language?
                      >> Such beasts are outside what the human language
                      >> facility can cope with in real time, I think.

                      I agree.

                      >> Stack-based grammars are very economical with regard to
                      >> rules (which is the reason they are sometimes used in
                      >> computing), but require a prodigious short- term memory
                      >> in order to handle the stack properly (which computers
                      >> of course have).

                      I also agree with this.

                      > I don't want to repeat the several lengthy threads on
                      > this topic that appear to have left no impression on
                      > Joerg's memory,

                      On the contrary, I can assure you that they have left an
                      impression both on Jörg's mind and on mine.

                      > so let me essay a quick summary for Gary's benefit:
                      >
                      > The available evidence (i.e. what has been adduced in
                      > previous discussions) indicates that humans parse
                      > natlangoid lgs using stacks.

                      IMO all that has been adduced is that a fairly trivial use
                      of stack is possibly involved in human language processing.

                      > So in one sense, a stack-based conlang grammar would just
                      > be a grammar formulated in a way that takes into account
                      > how sentences will be parsed, and there's nothing
                      > obviously unnatural about it.

                      I have yet to see convincing examples where a sentence
                      parsing of human usable language can be done solely in ways
                      analogous to the use of stacks as a computer data structure.

                      > However, previous discussion of Fith, which is a
                      > stack-based conlang (in the above sense) revealed that
                      > the language was also intended to be parsed in way that
                      > went straight from phonology to semantic interpretation,
                      > without a level of syntax:

                      Not sure what you mean by this. In any case this part of
                      the thread is really about RPN. Is there no syntax in the
                      expression "5 2 -" (five two diminished-by)?

                      > when the parser combined an operator and operand, the
                      > output would be a semantic rather than a syntactic
                      > object.

                      Obviously - that's what RPN is all about.

                      > This is logically independent of the stack-basedness,

                      Maybe - but, with respect, you're putting the cart before
                      the horse. Stacks are used to evaluate RPN because it's the
                      obvious way to do it. By all means use the stack for
                      something else if you wish. But, as a computer scientist, I
                      use a stack when it is useful to do so, and some other
                      appropriate data structure when it is useful to do so. Data
                      structures are tools.

                      > but the previous discussion revealed that some (Ray and
                      > Joerg) were using the term _stack-based_ to mean
                      > "stack-based and syntaxless".

                      No - we were both using stack-based in the way that computer
                      scientists and programmers use the term.

                      > To my mind, syntaxfulness is a necessary property of
                      > languagehood --

                      Have you ever tried writing a natural language parser?

                      [snip]

                      > In "I gave the place where tomorrow the princess the *
                      > bishop will crown instead of the prince a quick once
                      > over", by the time you hit *, the stack contains (i)
                      > _gave_, waiting for the direct object (_a quick once
                      > over_), (ii) _where_, waiting for _will_, (iii)
                      > _tomorrow_, waiting for _will_, (iv) _the princess_,
                      > waiting for _will_, (v) _the_ waiting for _bishop_ and
                      > for _will_.

                      Er? Could you evaluate this *as a stack* beginning with "I'
                      and proceeding to the next word and so on?

                      [snip]
                      >
                      >>> I want my language to be naturalistic, and I want it
                      >>> to be at least theoretically possible to become
                      >>> fluent in the language.
                      >>
                      >> Two strong reasons to forsake a stack-based approach!
                      >> Stack-based languages are not naturalistic, and you'll
                      >> never become fluent in them!
                      >
                      > You (Joerg) should find an apter and less misleading term
                      > than "stack-based".

                      No - stack-based means _based_ on a stack, i.e. the stack is
                      the main or, as in the case of RPN, only data structure used.

                      > In the most literal and obvious sense of "stack-based",
                      > natlangs are "stack-based".

                      If only! That has not been my experience with natural
                      language processing. Natlangs are rather more complicated.

                      > "Stack-based languages" in your extended sense are indeed
                      > not naturalistic, and indeed aren't even languages, but
                      > because of the syntaxlessness, not the stack-basedness.

                      Why is "5 2 -" syntaxless?

                      --
                      Ray
                      ==================================
                      http://www.carolandray.plus.com
                      ==================================
                      There ant no place like Sussex,
                      Until ye goos above,
                      For Sussex will be Sussex,
                      And Sussex won't be druv!
                      [W. Victor Cook]
                    • Jörg Rhiemeier
                      Hallo conlangers! ... Right. ... Just that. English-speaking people had their difficulties with Łukasiewicz notation , so they just called it Polish
                      Message 10 of 22 , Jan 4, 2013
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                        Hallo conlangers!

                        On Friday 04 January 2013 21:38:23 R A Brown wrote:

                        > On 04/01/2013 15:30, And Rosta wrote:
                        > > Jörg Rhiemeier, On 04/01/2013 13:18:
                        > >> I have been maintaining for long that RPN is a word
                        > >> order type in itself that is actually very different
                        > >> from the SOV word order found in about one half of all
                        > >> human languages.
                        > >
                        > > Why is it actually very different? RPN has consistent
                        > > dependent--head ordering,
                        >
                        > If by head you mean 'operator 'and by dependent you mean
                        > 'operand'. Let us be clear that RPN is a method which was
                        > developed for both unambiguous mathematical expression and
                        > for their evaluation. It was to avoid the artificial
                        > convention of what we used to call BODMAS when I was at
                        > school and, indeed, the need for ever using brackets within
                        > an expression.

                        Right.

                        > Though strictly speaking it was the so-called "Polish
                        > notation" (PN) devised by Jan Łukasiewicz that was devised
                        > to achieve this. In this operator comes first and the
                        > operands follow. However, it was noticed by computer
                        > scientists that if you did things the other way round, then
                        > the expression could be built up using a stack and
                        > immediately evaluated, which is why RPN became so widely
                        > used in computing.

                        Just that. English-speaking people had their difficulties with
                        "Łukasiewicz notation", so they just called it "Polish notation".
                        The same way as we call Sun Zi's theorem the "Chinese remainder
                        theorem", even though _Sun Zi_ is actually an easier name for
                        English-speakers than _Łukasiewicz_, if we ignore the tones
                        (which I haven't found on Wikipedia).

                        > (Strictly RPN is not the reverse of PN, as the operands are
                        > still put in the same order, e.g. "5 - 2" is "- 5 2" in PN
                        > and "5 2 -" in RPN - not "2 5 -").
                        >
                        > So does that mean all SOV languages are expressed as RPN,
                        > and all VSO languages as PN? Certainly not.

                        Indeed not!

                        > > and S & O are normally considered dependents of head V.
                        >
                        > Yes. If we spoke with nothing more complicated than "man
                        > bites dog", then indeed "bites man dog" is PN, and "man dog
                        > bites" is RPN.
                        >
                        > The trouble us we humans like to add a few adjectives around
                        > the place, together with maybe the odd determiner or two; we
                        > even stick in an adverb or two and maybe one or more dratted
                        > prepositional and/or postpositional phrases; then we have
                        > the temerity to add relative clauses and various other
                        > subordinate clause, etc.
                        >
                        > I cannot think of any natlang that conforms solely to PN or
                        > RPN ordering.

                        Nor can I! A conlang that does is Fith, but that one lacks the
                        sophistication of a natlang. It is nothing more than a sketch
                        which covers only the very basics of syntax. I have never seen
                        a longer text in Fith; I am pretty sure that once one was to
                        translate a sophisticated literary text into it, it would show
                        its limits and fall apart.

                        > But let us take a simple RPN example. First we'll have to
                        > recast it so that operators are replaced by a verb in such a
                        > way that the first operand is a grammatical subject and the
                        > second an object. I must confess I haven't found a neat way
                        > of doing this. The best I can manage is to have the
                        > operators as passive verbs; this allows the first operand to
                        > be the subject of the verb; the second operand is then the
                        > object of "by" or, if you prefer, the verbal phrase.
                        >
                        > Thus I rephrase "5 2 -" as: five two diminished-by.
                        >
                        > OK. Here is a pretty simple RPN expression:
                        > three five augmented-by seven two diminished-by multiplied-by.
                        >
                        > Which you easily evaluate as 40! Or not?

                        I arrive at the same result. But this is just arithmetics, and
                        languages can do much more than that. The same way human minds
                        can do much more than computers (which has nothing to do with
                        raw computing power - on that bill, computers have left us in
                        the dust decades ago!).

                        > [snip]
                        >
                        > >> Who will ever become fluent in a stack-based language?
                        > >> Such beasts are outside what the human language
                        > >> facility can cope with in real time, I think.
                        >
                        > I agree.
                        >
                        > >> Stack-based grammars are very economical with regard to
                        > >> rules (which is the reason they are sometimes used in
                        > >> computing), but require a prodigious short- term memory
                        > >> in order to handle the stack properly (which computers
                        > >> of course have).
                        >
                        > I also agree with this.
                        >
                        > > I don't want to repeat the several lengthy threads on
                        > > this topic that appear to have left no impression on
                        > > Joerg's memory,
                        >
                        > On the contrary, I can assure you that they have left an
                        > impression both on Jörg's mind and on mine.

                        Indeed they have left a lasting impression, which is reinforced
                        by the current iteration of this debate. There really is no
                        need to repeat those lengthy threads again, though for different
                        reasons than what And assumes to be ;)

                        > > so let me essay a quick summary for Gary's benefit:
                        > >
                        > > The available evidence (i.e. what has been adduced in
                        > > previous discussions) indicates that humans parse
                        > > natlangoid lgs using stacks.
                        >
                        > IMO all that has been adduced is that a fairly trivial use
                        > of stack is possibly involved in human language processing.

                        Certainly, some kind of memory is involved here which in some
                        way tags the stored syntax tree nodes according to where they
                        occur; whether it is a "stack" is another matter.

                        > > So in one sense, a stack-based conlang grammar would just
                        > > be a grammar formulated in a way that takes into account
                        > > how sentences will be parsed, and there's nothing
                        > > obviously unnatural about it.
                        >
                        > I have yet to see convincing examples where a sentence
                        > parsing of human usable language can be done solely in ways
                        > analogous to the use of stacks as a computer data structure.

                        I have yet to see such examples, too.

                        > > However, previous discussion of Fith, which is a
                        > > stack-based conlang (in the above sense) revealed that
                        > > the language was also intended to be parsed in way that
                        > > went straight from phonology to semantic interpretation,
                        >
                        > > without a level of syntax:
                        > Not sure what you mean by this. In any case this part of
                        > the thread is really about RPN. Is there no syntax in the
                        > expression "5 2 -" (five two diminished-by)?

                        Certainly there is syntax in it! There is a rule which states
                        which of the arguments of "-" is to be subtracted from which.

                        > > when the parser combined an operator and operand, the
                        > > output would be a semantic rather than a syntactic
                        > > object.
                        >
                        > Obviously - that's what RPN is all about.

                        Yep. The stack of an RPN calculator never holds anything else
                        than *numbers*, i.e. "semantic objects". The human language
                        faculty, in contrast, certainly stores not only words but also
                        phrases and clauses, i.e. syntactic objects. (But the stack
                        of a Fithian also holds syntactic objects. The language is
                        thus not "syntax-free", its syntax is only vastly simpler
                        - but more taxing on short-term memory - than that of human
                        languages.)

                        > > This is logically independent of the stack-basedness,
                        >
                        > Maybe - but, with respect, you're putting the cart before
                        > the horse. Stacks are used to evaluate RPN because it's the
                        > obvious way to do it.

                        Right.

                        > By all means use the stack for
                        > something else if you wish. But, as a computer scientist, I
                        > use a stack when it is useful to do so, and some other
                        > appropriate data structure when it is useful to do so. Data
                        > structures are tools.

                        And that is the right way of using it. It is a useful tool
                        for some purposes; for others, it is less so, and you better
                        use something else.

                        > > but the previous discussion revealed that some (Ray and
                        > > Joerg) were using the term _stack-based_ to mean
                        > > "stack-based and syntaxless".
                        >
                        > No - we were both using stack-based in the way that computer
                        > scientists and programmers use the term.

                        Yes.

                        > > To my mind, syntaxfulness is a necessary property of
                        > > languagehood --

                        A truism - but nobody ever doubted it!

                        > Have you ever tried writing a natural language parser?
                        >
                        > [snip]
                        >
                        > > In "I gave the place where tomorrow the princess the *
                        > > bishop will crown instead of the prince a quick once
                        > > over", by the time you hit *, the stack contains (i)
                        > > _gave_, waiting for the direct object (_a quick once
                        > > over_), (ii) _where_, waiting for _will_, (iii)
                        > > _tomorrow_, waiting for _will_, (iv) _the princess_,
                        > > waiting for _will_, (v) _the_ waiting for _bishop_ and
                        > > for _will_.
                        >
                        > Er? Could you evaluate this *as a stack* beginning with "I'
                        > and proceeding to the next word and so on?

                        I am completely lost in And's example ;)

                        > [snip]
                        >
                        > >> Two strong reasons to forsake a stack-based approach!
                        > >> Stack-based languages are not naturalistic, and you'll
                        > >> never become fluent in them!
                        > >
                        > > You (Joerg) should find an apter and less misleading term
                        > > than "stack-based".
                        >
                        > No - stack-based means _based_ on a stack, i.e. the stack is
                        > the main or, as in the case of RPN, only data structure used.

                        Yes. And I doubt that it is sufficient to parse a human
                        language.

                        > > In the most literal and obvious sense of "stack-based",
                        > > natlangs are "stack-based".
                        >
                        > If only! That has not been my experience with natural
                        > language processing. Natlangs are rather more complicated.

                        I don't have much practical experience with natural language
                        processing (I once tinkered with a parser for Zork-style games,
                        which, however, only understood a restricted subset of a human
                        language), but at any rate, human languages are much more
                        complex than most programming languages!

                        > > "Stack-based languages" in your extended sense are indeed
                        > > not naturalistic, and indeed aren't even languages, but
                        > > because of the syntaxlessness, not the stack-basedness.
                        >
                        > Why is "5 2 -" syntaxless?

                        It can't be syntaxless when a reordering changes the meaning:
                        _2 5 -_ gives a different result, and _5 - 2_ gives again a
                        different result which even depends on what is currently on
                        the stack, or a syntax error if the stack is empty ;)

                        --
                        ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf
                        http://www.joerg-rhiemeier.de/Conlang/index.html
                        "Bêsel asa Éam, a Éam atha cvanthal a cvanth atha Éamal." - SiM 1:1
                      • Elena ``of Valhalla''
                        ... Don t you need lots of short-term memory to parse complex SOV sentences such as those common in *literary* German? Actually, in my youth I ve been guilty
                        Message 11 of 22 , Jan 5, 2013
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                          On 2013-01-04 at 23:02:41 +0100, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
                          > On Friday 04 January 2013 21:38:23 R A Brown wrote:
                          > > On 04/01/2013 15:30, And Rosta wrote:
                          > > > Jörg Rhiemeier, On 04/01/2013 13:18:
                          > > >> Stack-based grammars are very economical with regard to
                          > > >> rules (which is the reason they are sometimes used in
                          > > >> computing), but require a prodigious short- term memory
                          > > >> in order to handle the stack properly (which computers
                          > > >> of course have).

                          Don't you need lots of short-term memory to parse complex
                          SOV sentences such as those common in *literary* German?

                          Actually, in my youth I've been guilty of a few monstruosity in
                          Latin influenced written Italian, and they did require
                          quite some short-term memory to parse, even if they were "simple"
                          SVO.

                          > Yep. The stack of an RPN calculator never holds anything else
                          > than *numbers*, i.e. "semantic objects". The human language
                          > faculty, in contrast, certainly stores not only words but also
                          > phrases and clauses, i.e. syntactic objects. (But the stack
                          > of a Fithian also holds syntactic objects.

                          the stack of an RPN *programming language* interpreter can hold
                          list of expressions (used to define functions, for conditional
                          clauses, etc.)

                          e.g. in postscript (the only RPN language I have used)::

                          /Square {
                          moveto
                          0 1 4 {
                          dup 2 mod 0 eq {
                          100 0 rlineto
                          } {
                          0 100 rlineto
                          } ifelse
                          } for
                          } def

                          0 0 Square stroke

                          (this defines a function that draws a square and calls it.)

                          Once the interpreter gets to the ``def`` the actual function is
                          stored elsewhere, but everything else is kept and used in the stack.

                          --
                          Elena ``of Valhalla''
                        • R A Brown
                          ... [snip] ... Amen! ... Yes, indeed - and I will keep my reply short for that reason. [snip] [snip] ... Indeed not. [snip] ... Me too - in any case, as far as
                          Message 12 of 22 , Jan 5, 2013
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                            On 04/01/2013 22:02, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
                            > Hallo conlangers!
                            >
                            > On Friday 04 January 2013 21:38:23 R A Brown wrote:
                            >
                            >> On 04/01/2013 15:30, And Rosta wrote:
                            [snip]
                            >>> I don't want to repeat the several lengthy threads on
                            >>> this topic that appear to have left no impression on
                            >>> Joerg's memory,
                            >>
                            >> On the contrary, I can assure you that they have left
                            >> an impression both on Jörg's mind and on mine.
                            >
                            > Indeed they have left a lasting impression, which is
                            > reinforced by the current iteration of this debate.

                            Amen!

                            > There really is no need to repeat those lengthy threads
                            > again, though for different reasons than what And
                            > assumes to be ;)

                            Yes, indeed - and I will keep my reply short for that reason.

                            [snip]
                            [snip]
                            >
                            >>> To my mind, syntaxfulness is a necessary property of
                            >>> languagehood --
                            >
                            > A truism - but nobody ever doubted it!

                            Indeed not.

                            [snip]
                            >>
                            >>> In "I gave the place where tomorrow the princess the
                            >>> * bishop will crown instead of the prince a quick
                            >>> once over", by the time you hit *, the stack
                            >>> contains (i) _gave_, waiting for the direct object
                            >>> (_a quick once over_), (ii) _where_, waiting for
                            >>> _will_, (iii) _tomorrow_, waiting for _will_, (iv)
                            >>> _the princess_, waiting for _will_, (v) _the_ waiting
                            >>> for _bishop_ and for _will_.
                            >>
                            >> Er? Could you evaluate this *as a stack* beginning
                            >> with "I' and proceeding to the next word and so on?
                            >
                            > I am completely lost in And's example ;)

                            Me too - in any case, as far as I can see, it has nothing
                            whatever to do with RPN.

                            [snip]

                            >>> "Stack-based languages" in your extended sense are
                            >>> indeed not naturalistic, and indeed aren't even
                            >>> languages, but because of the syntaxlessness, not
                            >>> the stack-basedness.
                            >>
                            >> Why is "5 2 -" syntaxless?
                            >
                            > It can't be syntaxless when a reordering changes the
                            > meaning: _2 5 -_ gives a different result, and _5 - 2_
                            > gives again a different result which even depends on
                            > what is currently on the stack, or a syntax error if the
                            > stack is empty ;)

                            Exactly!! I really do not understand what And is on about
                            with all this "syntaxless" business. Of course both PN and
                            RPN must have syntax, particularly with regard to the
                            subtraction and dividing operators!

                            --
                            Ray
                            ==================================
                            http://www.carolandray.plus.com
                            ==================================
                            There ant no place like Sussex,
                            Until ye goos above,
                            For Sussex will be Sussex,
                            And Sussex won't be druv!
                            [W. Victor Cook]
                          • Jan Strasser
                            ... This is similar to how my conlang Buruya Nzaysa handles relative clauses, except that the head-initial parts of BNz syntax conform to a VSO pattern rather
                            Message 13 of 22 , Jan 5, 2013
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                              On Fri, 4 Jan 2013 11:46:16 -0800, Gary Shannon wrote:
                              > From: Gary Shannon<fiziwig@...>
                              > Subject: Re: 30-day project and stack depth
                              >
                              > Here's an idea for a mixed word order.
                              >
                              > My conlang was initially set up to be SAOVI where A is an optional aux
                              > marking tense/aspect/mood, and I is an optional indirect object. So in
                              > a sense, my word order is already SVOV where the verb is split into
                              > its root and its TAM marker.
                              >
                              > The presence of an aux marks both the subject and object by lying
                              > between them, eliminating the need for an attached (or detached) case
                              > marker on the noun. But suppose that a relative clause used SVO where
                              > the aux was assumed to be the same as for the main verb, and so the
                              > clause verb is promoted to the aux position. Then we would have
                              > something like:
                              >
                              > Boy did dog see. SAOV
                              > Boy did dog have bone see. SA(SVO)V
                              >
                              > In case the relative clause had a different tense ("The boy WILL SEE
                              > the dog that HAD a bone.") then both verb would have their own aux's:
                              >
                              > Boy will dog did bone have see.
                              >
                              > So there are two approaches:
                              >
                              > 1) Make nested clauses SAOV, or if no A, SVO.
                              > 2) Require a TAM aux even for present tense indicative.
                              >
                              > Boy did dog see.
                              > Boy now dog see.
                              > Boy will dog see.
                              >
                              > Boy did dog will bone have see.
                              > Boy now dog now bone have see.
                              > Boy will dog will bone have see.
                              >
                              > It seems like the duplicated TAM aux is redundant, but simply dropping
                              > it causes ambiguity, or at least difficulty:
                              >
                              > Boy will dog bone have see.
                              >
                              > But if the relative clause is permitted to promote the V to the A slot:
                              >
                              > Boy will dog have bone see.
                              >
                              > which seems perfectly clear.
                              >
                              > But then there's:
                              >
                              > The boy that the dog I just saw barked at was scared.
                              >
                              > Oh dear! What now?
                              >
                              > --gary

                              This is similar to how my conlang Buruya Nzaysa handles relative
                              clauses, except that the head-initial parts of BNz syntax conform to a
                              VSO pattern rather than a SVO one. BNz syntax can thus be characterised
                              as AuxSOV, with noun modifiers following their head. The semantic verb
                              at the end is uninflected; the initial Aux marks both tense/aspect/mood
                              of the clause and person/number/role of both subject and object. (This
                              polypersonal agreement system surely simplifies parsing, but I believe
                              the syntax would work well without it too.)

                              Like you suggested for your system, the auxiliary is in fact mandatory
                              for all clauses in BNz, including subclauses of any type. Complement
                              clauses are introduced by a subordinating conjunction similar to the
                              English "that" (but note that this conjunction cannot be dropped in
                              BNz). Relative clauses are introduced by a different conjunction which
                              actually acts (and inflects) like an auxiliary in most situations. If
                              the TAM of the subclause is saliently different from that of the matrix
                              clause, an additional aux may be introduced right before the semantic
                              verb (giving A(S)OAV word order for the subclause).

                              Another additional detail is that BNz uses case-marking articles on
                              every noun phrase. Like polypersonal marking on the aux, this makes
                              parsing significantly easier, but it probably wouldn't be entirely
                              necessary for the syntactic system to work.

                              Here's how BNz would handle the example sentences you gave:

                              did.3s>3 the.NOM boy the.ACC dog see
                              AuxSOV
                              "The boy saw the dog."

                              did.3s>3 the.NOM boy the.ACC dog which.3s>3 a.ACC bone have see
                              AuxSO(AuxOV)V
                              "The boy saw the dog that had a bone."

                              will.3s>3 the.NOM boy the.ACC dog which did.3s>3 a.ACC bone have see
                              AuxSO(AuxAuxOV)V
                              "The boy will see the dog that had a bone."


                              The last sentence you gave can either be built according to the same
                              syntax rules, which results in two levels of center-embedding...:

                              did.3s the.NOM boy [which.3s towards.3 him.ACC the.NOM dog [which.1s>3
                              just see] bark] be_scared
                              AuxS(AuxOblS(AuxAuxV)V)V
                              "The boy that the dog I just saw barked at was scared."

                              ...or else, either or both of the heavy subclauses may be postposed to
                              after the verb of their matrix clause:

                              did.3s the.NOM boy be_scared [which.3s towards.3 him.ACC the.NOM dog
                              bark [which.1s>3 just see]]
                              AuxSV(AuxOblSV(AuxAuxV))
                              "The boy that the dog I just saw barked at was scared."


                              -- Jan
                            • Jan Strasser
                              ... Oops, that s ungrammatical in Buruya Nzaysa! :P The following sentence would be correct: will.3s 3 the.NOM boy the.ACC dog which.3s 3 a.ACC bone did have
                              Message 14 of 22 , Jan 5, 2013
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                                On Sat, 5 Jan 2013 13:39:51 +0100, Jan Strasser wrote:
                                > will.3s>3 the.NOM boy the.ACC dog which did.3s>3 a.ACC bone have see
                                > AuxSO(AuxAuxOV)V
                                > "The boy will see the dog that had a bone."

                                Oops, that's ungrammatical in Buruya Nzaysa! :P The following sentence
                                would be correct:

                                will.3s>3 the.NOM boy the.ACC dog which.3s>3 a.ACC bone did have see
                                AuxSO(AuxOAuxV)V
                                "The boy will see the dog that had a bone."

                                -- Jan
                              • Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
                                ... That rule is broken by Basque as well, and Basque speakers don t seem any worse for it! :) My Moten is also strictly SOV with adjectives following nouns,
                                Message 15 of 22 , Jan 5, 2013
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                                  On 4 January 2013 18:23, Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...> wrote:

                                  > Thanks to everyone for the interesting ideas.
                                  >
                                  > I do want to stay far away from RPN. It just doesn't feel natural.
                                  >
                                  > On the other hand, I want something unique, so I'm not going to worry
                                  > about "rules" like "SOV languages usually put adjectives before their
                                  > nouns." I've already broken that rule, and I'm happy with the way it's
                                  > working out so far.
                                  >
                                  >
                                  That rule is broken by Basque as well, and Basque speakers don't seem any
                                  worse for it! :)

                                  My Moten is also strictly SOV with adjectives following nouns, something I
                                  specifically copied from Basque ;) .


                                  > The problem, as I see it, is that SOV _can_ result is putting a lot of
                                  > distance between the arguments of the verb and the verb itself.
                                  >
                                  >
                                  True. I did notice that SOV languages tend to be more parsimonious in their
                                  use of subclauses than non-verb-final languages. Quite often, subclauses
                                  are actually absent, and are replaced by nominalised phrases. And when
                                  subclauses do exist, they are kept quite short, and deep embedding is not
                                  common in speech. Written text is another matter :) .


                                  > Consider: The boy saw a dog that had a bone that had cracks that were
                                  > filled with dirt.
                                  >
                                  > If I just move all the verbs to the end I get:
                                  >
                                  > The boy a dog that a bone that cracks that with dirt were filled had had
                                  > saw.
                                  >
                                  > Or I could try to move the relative clauses before their nouns:
                                  >
                                  > The boy {that (it bone had) a dog} saw.
                                  >
                                  > That seems to require a resumptive pronoun, and doesn't seem natural.
                                  >
                                  >
                                  Actually, that's exactly what Japanese does, and it doesn't use any
                                  resumptive pronoun. It doesn't even mark relative subclauses in any special
                                  way: the subclause is just put in front of the noun it completes, with the
                                  verb in its neutral form. There's no resumptive pronoun, nor any other form
                                  of syntax to infer what the role of the head is in the subclause. Somehow,
                                  the Japanese don't seem to have a problem with that.


                                  > So what I need are strategies to break up the clauses and keep the
                                  > reader from having to wait so long to see the verb.


                                  My only question here is: why? Natlangs exist that actually do exactly
                                  that, have the reader wait quite a long time to find the verb, so why are
                                  you so intent on avoiding that issue? Having that issue *is* naturalistic.
                                  Trying to twist your language to prevent it isn't.
                                  --
                                  Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.

                                  http://christophoronomicon.blogspot.com/
                                  http://www.christophoronomicon.nl/
                                • R A Brown
                                  On 05/01/2013 09:26, Elena ``of Valhalla wrote: [snip] ... Those long Ciceronian-type periods! Not sure how fluent German readers do it :-) I remember
                                  Message 16 of 22 , Jan 5, 2013
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                                    On 05/01/2013 09:26, Elena ``of Valhalla'' wrote:
                                    [snip]
                                    > Don't you need lots of short-term memory to parse
                                    > complex SOV sentences such as those common in *literary*
                                    > German?

                                    Those long Ciceronian-type periods! Not sure how fluent
                                    German readers do it :-)

                                    I remember when many years back I was researching for my
                                    M.Litt. degree, I had to read quite a bit of source material
                                    in German. I recall one particular sentence that went on,
                                    and on, and on and on - while I was understanding less and
                                    less and less and less. Eventually I got to the full stop
                                    (period) half-way down the page. The only thing I could do
                                    was to take the sentence apart and analyze it, as we do way
                                    back in my schooldays.

                                    Oh yes, it was beautifully constructed with balancing
                                    clauses etc, worthy of anything Cicero had done. But it
                                    certainly was not a stack I used or any similar structure
                                    for the analysis. The resultant parse was quite an
                                    elaborate *tree* (not a nice neat binary tree).

                                    If anything goes on in the human brain analogous to anything
                                    that goes on in a Von Neumann machine, it is surely more
                                    likely to be tree structures (or even neural _networks_).

                                    [snip]
                                    >
                                    > the stack of an RPN *programming language* interpreter
                                    > can hold list of expressions (used to define functions,
                                    > for conditional clauses, etc.)

                                    Yep - there's an interesting article about real stack-based
                                    or, more properly, stack-oriented languages here:
                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stack-oriented_programming_language

                                    But while, because of the limitations of the Von Neumann
                                    architecture of (home) computers, stack oriented processing
                                    is very convenient, there's no reason to suppose that the
                                    human brain, which has evolved over zillions of years, is so
                                    limited.

                                    --
                                    Ray
                                    ==================================
                                    http://www.carolandray.plus.com
                                    ==================================
                                    There ant no place like Sussex,
                                    Until ye goos above,
                                    For Sussex will be Sussex,
                                    And Sussex won't be druv!
                                    [W. Victor Cook]
                                  • Tim Smith
                                    ... There s a group of West African languages, including Maninka and its close relatives, that have the same basic SAOV order that yours does. The way they
                                    Message 17 of 22 , Jan 5, 2013
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                                      On 1/4/2013 2:46 PM, Gary Shannon wrote:
                                      > Here's an idea for a mixed word order.
                                      >
                                      > My conlang was initially set up to be SAOVI where A is an optional aux
                                      > marking tense/aspect/mood, and I is an optional indirect object. So in
                                      > a sense, my word order is already SVOV where the verb is split into
                                      > its root and its TAM marker.
                                      >
                                      > The presence of an aux marks both the subject and object by lying
                                      > between them, eliminating the need for an attached (or detached) case
                                      > marker on the noun. But suppose that a relative clause used SVO where
                                      > the aux was assumed to be the same as for the main verb, and so the
                                      > clause verb is promoted to the aux position. Then we would have
                                      > something like:
                                      >
                                      > Boy did dog see. SAOV
                                      > Boy did dog have bone see. SA(SVO)V
                                      >
                                      > In case the relative clause had a different tense ("The boy WILL SEE
                                      > the dog that HAD a bone.") then both verb would have their own aux's:
                                      >
                                      > Boy will dog did bone have see.
                                      >
                                      > So there are two approaches:
                                      >
                                      > 1) Make nested clauses SAOV, or if no A, SVO.
                                      > 2) Require a TAM aux even for present tense indicative.
                                      >
                                      > Boy did dog see.
                                      > Boy now dog see.
                                      > Boy will dog see.
                                      >
                                      > Boy did dog will bone have see.
                                      > Boy now dog now bone have see.
                                      > Boy will dog will bone have see.
                                      >
                                      > It seems like the duplicated TAM aux is redundant, but simply dropping
                                      > it causes ambiguity, or at least difficulty:
                                      >
                                      > Boy will dog bone have see.
                                      >
                                      > But if the relative clause is permitted to promote the V to the A slot:
                                      >
                                      > Boy will dog have bone see.
                                      >
                                      > which seems perfectly clear.
                                      >
                                      > But then there's:
                                      >
                                      > The boy that the dog I just saw barked at was scared.
                                      >
                                      > Oh dear! What now?
                                      >
                                      > --gary
                                      >
                                      There's a group of West African languages, including Maninka and its
                                      close relatives, that have the same basic SAOV order that yours does.
                                      The way they handle relative clauses strikes me as very elegant. The
                                      head noun of the relative clause is kept within the relative clause, but
                                      the relative clause is not nested within the matrix clause; instead,
                                      it's preposed, with a special relative particle marking the head, and a
                                      resumptive pronoun marking the position that the head would have
                                      occupied in the matrix clause if it hadn't been relativized.

                                      So your first example would be (where REL is the relative particle and
                                      THAT is the resumptive pronoun):

                                      Dog REL did bone have, boy did THAT see.
                                      "The boy saw the dog that had the bone."

                                      This structure makes it possible to relativize on positions other than
                                      subject, which I don't see how either of your alternatives would do
                                      without ambiguity, e.g., to relativize on "bone" instead of on "dog":

                                      Dog did bone REL have, boy did THAT see.
                                      "The boy saw the bone that the dog had."

                                      It can also be applied recursively, as in your last example:

                                      I did dog REL just see, THAT did boy REL bark-at, THAT was scared.
                                      "The boy that the dog I just saw barked at was scared."

                                      OR, a little more like real Maninka, which puts only the direct object
                                      between the auxiliary and the lexical verb, but puts oblique objects
                                      with postpositions after the lexical verb:
                                      I did dog REL just see, that did bark boy REL at, that was scared.

                                      (Or maybe that should be "scared was" instead of "was scared" -- I don't
                                      know whether Maninka treats a copula like an auxiliary or like a lexical
                                      verb, or even whether it has a copula at all.)

                                      This system of extraposed head-internal relative clauses is an extremely
                                      powerful relativization strategy. But I don't know how compatible it is
                                      with your vision of this conlang; I must admit I haven't been following
                                      this thread closely.

                                      - Tim
                                    • Gary Shannon
                                      ... [---snip---] ... [---snip---] ... @Jan: I really like the idea of putting a required Aux at the front of the sentence or clause. Consider the two pieces of
                                      Message 18 of 22 , Jan 5, 2013
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                                        On Sat, Jan 5, 2013 at 4:39 AM, Jan Strasser <cedh_audmanh@...> wrote:
                                        > On Fri, 4 Jan 2013 11:46:16 -0800, Gary Shannon wrote:
                                        >>
                                        >> From: Gary Shannon<fiziwig@...>

                                        >> My conlang was initially set up to be SAOVI where A is an optional aux
                                        >> marking tense/aspect/mood, and I is an optional indirect object. So in
                                        >> a sense, my word order is already SVOV where the verb is split into
                                        >> its root and its TAM marker.
                                        [---snip---]
                                        >
                                        > Here's how BNz would handle the example sentences you gave:
                                        >
                                        > did.3s>3 the.NOM boy the.ACC dog see
                                        > AuxSOV
                                        > "The boy saw the dog."
                                        >
                                        > did.3s>3 the.NOM boy the.ACC dog which.3s>3 a.ACC bone have see
                                        > AuxSO(AuxOV)V
                                        > "The boy saw the dog that had a bone."
                                        [---snip---]
                                        >
                                        > -- Jan

                                        @Jan:

                                        I really like the idea of putting a required Aux at the front of the
                                        sentence or clause.

                                        Consider the two pieces of information:

                                        Did boy dog see.
                                        Did dog bone have.

                                        Now if we nest them by replacing the object "dog" with the sentence
                                        that describes the dog we get:

                                        Did boy [did dog bone have] see.
                                        Did boy did dog bone have see.

                                        Somehow that feels a lot easier to parse to me. I understand the two
                                        sequential verbs at the end more readily.

                                        -----------------------------------------------------------------------

                                        On Sat, Jan 5, 2013 at 8:32 AM, Tim Smith <tim.langsmith@...> wrote:
                                        > On 1/4/2013 2:46 PM, Gary Shannon wrote:
                                        [---snip---]

                                        @Tim:

                                        That's very interesting. I'm going to have to study your examples and
                                        see what more I can learn about those languages. It strikes me as a
                                        very elegant solution.

                                        --gary

                                        >>
                                        > There's a group of West African languages, including Maninka and its close
                                        > relatives, that have the same basic SAOV order that yours does. The way they
                                        > handle relative clauses strikes me as very elegant. The head noun of the
                                        > relative clause is kept within the relative clause, but the relative clause
                                        > is not nested within the matrix clause; instead, it's preposed, with a
                                        > special relative particle marking the head, and a resumptive pronoun marking
                                        > the position that the head would have occupied in the matrix clause if it
                                        > hadn't been relativized.
                                        >
                                        > So your first example would be (where REL is the relative particle and THAT
                                        > is the resumptive pronoun):
                                        >
                                        > Dog REL did bone have, boy did THAT see.
                                        > "The boy saw the dog that had the bone."
                                        >
                                        > This structure makes it possible to relativize on positions other than
                                        > subject, which I don't see how either of your alternatives would do without
                                        > ambiguity, e.g., to relativize on "bone" instead of on "dog":
                                        >
                                        > Dog did bone REL have, boy did THAT see.
                                        > "The boy saw the bone that the dog had."
                                        >
                                        > It can also be applied recursively, as in your last example:
                                        >
                                        > I did dog REL just see, THAT did boy REL bark-at, THAT was scared.
                                        >
                                        > "The boy that the dog I just saw barked at was scared."
                                        >
                                        > OR, a little more like real Maninka, which puts only the direct object
                                        > between the auxiliary and the lexical verb, but puts oblique objects with
                                        > postpositions after the lexical verb:
                                        > I did dog REL just see, that did bark boy REL at, that was scared.
                                        >
                                        > (Or maybe that should be "scared was" instead of "was scared" -- I don't
                                        > know whether Maninka treats a copula like an auxiliary or like a lexical
                                        > verb, or even whether it has a copula at all.)
                                        >
                                        > This system of extraposed head-internal relative clauses is an extremely
                                        > powerful relativization strategy. But I don't know how compatible it is
                                        > with your vision of this conlang; I must admit I haven't been following this
                                        > thread closely.
                                        >
                                        > - Tim
                                      • Jörg Rhiemeier
                                        Hallo conlangers! ... Sure. There is not much to say on this matter any more. ... Indeed not! ... Surely, an RPN language has a syntax, even if it is one that
                                        Message 19 of 22 , Jan 5, 2013
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                                          Hallo conlangers!

                                          On Saturday 05 January 2013 12:13:43 R A Brown wrote:

                                          > On 04/01/2013 22:02, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
                                          > > Hallo conlangers!
                                          > [...]
                                          > > There really is no need to repeat those lengthy threads
                                          > > again, though for different reasons than what And
                                          > > assumes to be ;)
                                          >
                                          > Yes, indeed - and I will keep my reply short for that reason.

                                          Sure. There is not much to say on this matter any more.

                                          > [...]
                                          >
                                          > > I am completely lost in And's example ;)
                                          >
                                          > Me too - in any case, as far as I can see, it has nothing
                                          > whatever to do with RPN.

                                          Indeed not!

                                          > [snip]
                                          >
                                          > >>> "Stack-based languages" in your extended sense are
                                          > >>> indeed not naturalistic, and indeed aren't even
                                          > >>> languages, but because of the syntaxlessness, not
                                          > >>> the stack-basedness.
                                          > >>
                                          > >> Why is "5 2 -" syntaxless?
                                          > >
                                          > > It can't be syntaxless when a reordering changes the
                                          > > meaning: _2 5 -_ gives a different result, and _5 - 2_
                                          > > gives again a different result which even depends on
                                          > > what is currently on the stack, or a syntax error if the
                                          > > stack is empty ;)
                                          >
                                          > Exactly!! I really do not understand what And is on about
                                          > with all this "syntaxless" business. Of course both PN and
                                          > RPN must have syntax, particularly with regard to the
                                          > subtraction and dividing operators!

                                          Surely, an RPN language has a syntax, even if it is one that can
                                          be parsed very efficiently by von Neumann machines. But I have
                                          a hunch that such a syntax is too simple to cope with the
                                          complexity necessary for a language with the same expressive
                                          power as a human language. As I have observed yesterday, I'd
                                          expect Fith to break down when it comes to translating long,
                                          sophisticated literary texts. Talking with people is just not
                                          the same as giving orders to a computer. Confusing the two
                                          vastly overestimates what computers can do, and underestimates
                                          what it means to be sapient. But I have met many IT nerds in
                                          my life who indeed get this wrong ;)

                                          On Saturday 05 January 2013 15:09:19 R A Brown wrote:

                                          > On 05/01/2013 09:26, Elena ``of Valhalla'' wrote:
                                          > [snip]
                                          >
                                          > > Don't you need lots of short-term memory to parse
                                          > > complex SOV sentences such as those common in *literary*
                                          > > German?
                                          >
                                          > Those long Ciceronian-type periods! Not sure how fluent
                                          > German readers do it :-)

                                          They balk at too complex constructions ;) There *are* things
                                          that are syntactically correct in theory but overload one's
                                          short-term memory in practice.

                                          > [...]
                                          >
                                          > If anything goes on in the human brain analogous to anything
                                          > that goes on in a Von Neumann machine, it is surely more
                                          > likely to be tree structures (or even neural _networks_).

                                          Yep.

                                          > [snip]
                                          >
                                          > > the stack of an RPN *programming language* interpreter
                                          > > can hold list of expressions (used to define functions,
                                          > > for conditional clauses, etc.)
                                          >
                                          > Yep - there's an interesting article about real stack-based
                                          > or, more properly, stack-oriented languages here:
                                          > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stack-oriented_programming_language
                                          >
                                          > But while, because of the limitations of the Von Neumann
                                          > architecture of (home) computers, stack oriented processing
                                          > is very convenient, there's no reason to suppose that the
                                          > human brain, which has evolved over zillions of years, is so
                                          > limited.

                                          Indeed there isn't. I fancy that the human mind is actually a
                                          *quantum* information system of some kind, but I admit that this
                                          idea is sheer speculation. But I seriously doubt that it is a
                                          von Neumann machine!

                                          --
                                          ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf
                                          http://www.joerg-rhiemeier.de/Conlang/index.html
                                          "Bêsel asa Éam, a Éam atha cvanthal a cvanth atha Éamal." - SiM 1:1
                                        • Alex Fink
                                          ... On a quick skim, this looks really neat, though I really know nothing about the literature in this area and perhaps it d seem less comparatively neat once
                                          Message 20 of 22 , Jan 7, 2013
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                                            On Fri, 4 Jan 2013 14:01:18 -0500, Logan Kearsley <chronosurfer@...> wrote:

                                            >On 4 January 2013 08:18, Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...> wrote:
                                            >> Hallo conlangers!
                                            >>
                                            >> On Friday 04 January 2013 07:36:27 Gary Shannon wrote:
                                            >[...]
                                            >>> So I guess my
                                            >>> question is this: In natlangs, how deep does the deferred elements
                                            >>> stack generally go? What depth does it never exceed? Does anybody have
                                            >>> a handle on these questions?
                                            >>
                                            >> At any rate, "stack depth" (I sincerely doubt that "stack" is the
                                            >> right concept here, we are rather dealing with tree structures here)
                                            >> in human languages is quite limited, and deep center-embedding is a
                                            >> no-no. Most people feel uncomfortable with clauses embedded more
                                            >> than three deep, I think, though some people are capable of handling
                                            >> more.
                                            >
                                            >Optimal parsing algorithms like PCKY certainly make no use of a stack
                                            >structure, but aren't 100% cognitively plausible because a) they
                                            >assume unbounded memory and b) it's simple to observe that humans are
                                            >not optimal parsers.
                                            >I have seen one example (though I'm sure there are probably more) of
                                            >research into a general-purpose parser with human-like memory
                                            >constraints (http://www-users.cs.umn.edu/~schuler/paper-jcl08wsj.pdf)
                                            >which assumes that parsing occurs mainly in short-term working memory,
                                            >you can have only 3-4 "chunks" (containing partial constituents) in
                                            >working memory at any given time, and memory can be saved by
                                            >transforming partial trees to maximize how much stuff you can put into
                                            >one chunk by ensuring that you never have to store complete but
                                            >unattached constituents. The parser is actually implemented as a
                                            >hierarchical hidden markov model where shirt-term memory locations are
                                            >represented by a small finite set of random variables whose values are
                                            >partial syntactic trees, but access patterns look the same as access
                                            >patterns for a stack structure, such that it could be equivalently
                                            >represented by a bounded push-down automaton with a maximum stack
                                            >depth of 3-4.
                                            >That model can explain why some examples of center-embedded sentences
                                            >cause interpretation problems in human while other
                                            >structurally-identical models don't because the probability of
                                            >constructing a certain syntactic structure changes in different
                                            >contexts; thus, garden-path constructions that you are very familiar
                                            >with (and thus which have been programmed into the transition
                                            >probabilities of the HHMM) don't feel like garden-path constructions
                                            >anymore.

                                            On a quick skim, this looks really neat, though I really know nothing about the literature in this area and perhaps it'd seem less comparatively neat once I understood it in more context.

                                            I wonder if this also works well for right-branching languages. They mention work on Japanese so presumably they've thought about it. (Japanese must also have a tagged corpus somewhere, no?)

                                            I don't understand this right-corner transform in actual detail from the meager exemplification given there (in which points am I allowed to generalise the couple rewritten trees displayed?); all that I managed to get out of it is that it lets them have just one item on the processing stack for each time we switch from being a left child to a right and back to a left as we read from root to current node. (Is the number of times that happens the only thing they're claiming a bound on?)

                                            What I'd eventually like to do, in the unutterably distant future, is use something like this in my language generation project, as one has to model parsing to know which structures are subject to replacement for being difficult to parse. But it also seems clear that I won't have just binary trees to work with at that point: I'll have many operations that branch binarily, but some that don't, instead branching ternarily or introducing a big idiom template or doing something more alternation-like or any of the various possibilities that paradigm and/or template based morphological approaches allow (esp. as the dividing line between morphology and syntax can't be assumed to actually exist). I wonder how well this sort of idea of bundling a sequential bunch of partial template-expansions into one stack-consuming operation (and working probabilistically with them) extends to that.

                                            Alex
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