Syntactic discontinuities are very frequent in classical Latin and yet this data was never considered in debates on how expressive grammar formalisms need to be to capture natural languages. In this paper I show with treebank data that Latin frequently displays syntactic discontinuities that cannot be captured in standard mildly context-sensitive frameworks such as Tree-Adjoining Grammars or Combinatory Categorial Grammars. I then argue that there is no principled bound on Latin discontinuities but that they display a broadly Zipfian distribution where frequency drops quickly for the more complex patterns. Lexical-Functional Grammar can capture these discontinuities in a way that closely reflects their complexity and frequency distributions.
Copyright (c) 2017 Dag Haug
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