LINGUIST List 14.543

Sun Feb 23 2003

Qs: Quantitative Constraint, Discourse Markers

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  1. Leonard Okhotchinski, quantitative constraint?
  2. Jill Bergman, Discourse markers

Message 1: quantitative constraint?

Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2003 12:23:46 +0000
From: Leonard Okhotchinski <>
Subject: quantitative constraint?

In generative grammar it is usually taken for granted that, in theory,
any structure can be iterated endlessly, at least, potentially
endlessly, e.g. the top of the roof of the house of ...

I intuitively feel that very long chains of this type would be
*ungrammatical* in any language I know:

? ''my mother's father's doctor's son's fiancee's dog's...'' doesn't
seem an acceptable utterance, neither would its translations into
Russian, Hebrew or Polish, for instance.

''The House That Jack Built'' is often quoted as an example of the
structure in question. In my opinion, this poem *is* so amusing
because it contradicts the normal, grammatical state of affairs.
I have been told that this belongs to the performance domain, not to
competence. The only explanation I've heard so far was that such long
sequences are not usual, because our brains can operate only a limited
number of objects.
On the other hand, there seems to be no such constraint on the length
of lists, for instance:
	''I've bought 2lb of beef, a lemon, three onions...''
Therefore, there seems to be a difference between subordination and
coordination in this respect.
I will be very grateful for any insight on this issue. 
Leonard Okhotchinski,
Moscow State Institute of Foreign Relations 
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Message 2: Discourse markers

Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2003 14:11:12 +0000
From: Jill Bergman <>
Subject: Discourse markers

I am writing an essay on ''How people use dicourse markers in real
time chatroom conversation''. I am going to identify discourse markers
from my data that I have collected from two of MSN's chatrooms. The
problem is that I need a list of all English discourse markers so I
can identify them more easily in my text. I have read the works of
Schiffrin and Fraser (and a few other writers that have dealt with
disocurse markers in their books and articles ) but they only discuss
the most common discourse markers like ''oh'', ''and'', ''but'',
''because'' and so on and so forth, I need a more specific and
detailed list of discourse markers and was wondering where I can find
such a thing?

Best regards Jill Bergman 
	Subject-Language: English; Code: ENG 
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