[MUD-Dev] English grammar thoughts

Par Winzell zell at skotos.net
Fri Oct 19 19:29:34 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


Here's a question for those of you who have played with parsers and
grammars and all that fun stuff. I'm trying to coerce the Skotos
parser into a single syntactic model -- a fairly simple one; most
everything should be on the form

  'carefully put the frog in the bag'


  'wave at the sky angrily with my sword'


  'fill my mug with water'

The one extension beyond this is "evokes", which allos free-form text
inside quotes;

  'nod at the man, "I understand what you're saying."'

So, like many before me have surely done, I'm trying to figure out
the smallest set of grammatical constructs required to represent
precisely this set of expressions. I'm a little weak on the
terminology and I'd love some help.

So, first, what I think I know: in English, the direct object is the
answer to the question 'What did you put? wave? fill? nod?' and thus
invariant under word-order juggling -- in

  'wave my sword at the sky'


  'wave at the sky with my sword'

the direct object is the sword in both cases. If this were true,
it'd mean that direct objects can have prepositions in front of
them, which I had previously thought they could not.

The other object is easier -- I'm going to call it 'indirect' even
in those cases where apparantly it might more correctly be referred
to as 'object of the preposition'.

Can anybody confirm or deny the assumptions made here?

Next, I believe the following configuration parameters would specify
a verb's expressive possibilities completely:

  Evoke:               Forbid/Allow/Require
  Direct Object:       Forbid/Allow/Require
  Direct Preposition:  Forbid/Allow/Require
  Indirect Object:     Forbid/Allow/Require

    [ I think there's always a preposition before the direct object ]

  List of Direct Object Prepositions:    [list]
  List of Indirect Object Prepositions:  [list]

Does this rhyme with anybody elses design?

Finally, does anybody know what the relationship is between the
notions of on one hand direct and indirect objects and the object of
the preposition, and on the other hand noun cases like nominative,
accusative, dative, etc?

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