To be and to be (1)

First up, “to be”.

Bi has three forms in the present tense, according to whether it’s positive, interrogative, negative or negative interrogative, all thanks to particles which I don’t know whether they’re a VMOD or a P or a what.

  • Positive: Tha mi sg?th (I am tired). Tha is independent so is (S/NP)/ADJ.
  • Negative: Chan eil mi sg?th (I am not tired). Eil is dependent, so its type will be ((S\VMOD)/NP)/ADJ.
  • Negative interrogative: Nach eil thu sg?th? (Are you not tired?) Same as above.
  • Interrogative: A bheil thu sg?th? (Are you tired?) Bheil is dependent again but whereas most verbs just have a dependent and an independent form in any one tense, bi has two dependent forms. So, what to do?

Whatever happens, we have a tree at the top which says something like (Vspec Vbar). I don’t especially like this because eil thu sg?th, the Vbar, isn’t a constituent. I’m willing to lay money that there are no song titles that begin “Eil”. A coordination test for constituency, incidentally, isn’t decisive in English because one thing that categorial grammar is good at is non-constituent coordination, say in “Mary loves pizza and Tim rice”.

So either we commit ourselves to a type S/Vbar for a or chan or nach, which is potentially good because you could parse the entire sentence with forward composition, of which more tomorrow, or to assign eil type ((S\Vspec_neg)/NP)/ADJ and bheil type ((S\Vspec_int)/NP/ADJ. More types will be needed for all of these forms, because bi isn’t just for adjectives!

Tomorrow: what is the simplest parser that could possibly work?

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