Brownian thought space

Cognitive science, mostly, but more a sometimes structured random walk about things.

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Chronically curious モ..

Saturday, May 27, 2006

English is not Pro-Drop

It's probably the living in Italy; I'm most sensitive to the Pro-Drop parameter. Basically, there is a difference in languages of the world that has an impact on several structural properties. This Pro-Drop parameter refers to the fact that in some languages like Italian, one can say merely "Piove" to mean "(It's) raining". In English you need the overt subject even if it doesn't stand for anything. Which, by the way, is a great example for a purely abstract, structural requirement in language. Anyhow, here is a passage from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by that amazing Lewis Carroll.
`--I proceed. "Edwin and Morcar, the earls of Mercia and Northumbria, declared for him: and even Stigand, the patriotic archbishop of Canterbury, found it advisable--"' `Found WHAT?' said the Duck. `Found IT,' the Mouse replied rather crossly: `of course you know what "it" means.' `I know what "it" means well enough, when I find a thing,' said the Duck: `it's generally a frog or a worm. The question is, what did the archbishop find?' The Mouse did not notice this question, but hurriedly went on...

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