Talk:Government and binding theory

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I've made some minor changes. I'm not sure my new definition of R-expressions is entirely rigorous, but I think it may be a little clearer.--Nid Flocken 05:59, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

It was difficult to find a "government" deffinition. I suggest a link from this page <> to that page <> dont know how to do it... (talk) 11:05, 21 October 2009 (UTC) This last link was more helpfull to me than the original article section on Government ! (talk) 11:05, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 13:44, August 21, 2007 (UTC)

Why is the "b" in the title capital? If it's the title of Chomsky's book, it should be capitalized, but if it's a common noun, it should not. Wikipedia article titles do not usually capitalize common nouns. Michael Hardy 02:25, 15 Nov 2003 (UTC)

--- The above comment (re: capitalization in the title of the article) is, as I understand it, both misguided and mistaken. First, I think that the standards for capitalization are certainly satisfied by the properties of the usage of "binding" used here; i.e. i think it is perfectly acceptable to capitalize it, e.g. "Binding." But moreover, I think it atraditional and antiquated to say anything about whether a word "should not" be capitalized; perhaps Wikipedia article titles are usually not capitalized, but I think it strikingly presriptivist (cf. prescriptive) to assume that fact to entail that this one should not be. --snwright


I should really learn not to worry about these things. I had a read of the Naming conventions (capitalization), and had a look at usage on the internet. It appears anything goes. So, if you want to change the article back, I promise to leave the title alone. I'm still hoping to add to the content - it's on my mental to-do list. Regards Dduck 12:31, 15 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Making this article coherent[edit]

This page needs to show the various parse trees it discusses so readers can follow along. Instead of giving the four examples up front and then running through the binding principles, it should devote a subsection to each principle, and illustrate each with one or more examples.

Even while writing it, I felt the explantion of the c-command in "John saw his mother" was hand-wavy, so I'm not sure it's entirely correct. -- Beland 02:13, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Removal clean up tag[edit]

Have got rid of the above as I can not see the reason for it. The article may not be the clearest explanation ever of GB theory but its not bad enough to deserve the tag. Marcus22 17:49, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Tree Diagram[edit]

The tree is kind of weird. The "ming vase" DP should be a sister to V, and the PP an adjunct to V. Also, as it stands, with PP as a complement to DP, the reading must be something like, "He smashed the ming vase, and this ming vase owned a hammer." This looks like a botched double VP shell or something. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:22, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

I agree, the diagram for The mother of John likes himself is incorrect as well, there ought not to be any ternary branching. Here is the corrected version in bracketed notation [TP [DP [D' [D The] [N mother]] [PP [P of] [John1]]] [T' [T ~s] [VP [V like] [NP [N himself1]]]]]. Someone ambitious could draw it using phpSyntaxTree. Thiuda (talk) 14:49, 19 November 2010 (UTC)

I agree too. After 7 years, the constituency in the tree diagram for the "Ming vase" sentence still seems to be wrong. Mmahdavim (talk) 05:14, 13 November 2015 (UTC)


I got my graduate degree in Linguistics in the late '60s, as the Transformational model was vanquishing the Taxonomists. There were any number of theories of Deep Structure floating around at the time. (Since then I've been a computer guru.) This account does not explain to me what has happened since then; if we are to coherently account for third-person pronouns, then the semantic domain has to be the discourse, which was something many of us suspected at the time. But the article as it stands gives no hint of this. -- Craig Goodrich (talk) 02:24, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

If someone could define what a governor is it would be incredibly helpful —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:28, 8 May 2010 (UTC)

I second the anonymous commenter above. If the author of the article could elaborate on what he or she wrote, that would be helpful. Things that need explaining: the word "dominates" - this can mean so many different things... and it is not at all clear what it means here. How does government relation make case assignment unambiguous? At least a one line explanation? At the same time, can the first tree have a concrete example? What is A prime in it? Term "maximal projection" needs to be explained. Even a search through wiki doesn't help me to understand what is meant by it.

I find this sentence most frustrating as despite my best effort I can't understand it / it looks broken to me:

 Governors are heads of the lexical categories (V, N, A, P) and tensed I (T).

Who or what is tensed? What do the letters after the word "tensed" mean? What do the parenthesis mean here? Are they punctuation or are they a mathematical notation, tuples, intervals... maybe something else? I.e. I can read this sentence in two ways:

  1. Governors are parts of speech, which are tensed to be "I (T)", whatever "I (T)" means, with further interpretations of I to be either the Roman numeral, or the first letter of some word, and then it must read as "tensed by I to be [of] T[ense]"?
  2. Governors are parts of speech, and, in addition to it, there are such governors, which are the tensed "I (T)", whatever "I (T)" means. (talk) 12:58, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
I have only contributed one sentence to this article, but I will nevertheless try to answer a couple of your questions. First, however, note that there has been very little action on this article for a long time. Someone who knows GB well needs to redo the article entirely.
The I stands for inflection. In GB, the root node (highest node) in the tree for a declarative sentence for a long time was IP, indicating that the sentence was an inflection phrase. The category tense was introduced into the framework around 1990. One saw the need to split IP into two categories, tense (T) and agreement (Agr), which led to tense phrases (TPs) and agreement phrases (AgrPs). The term tensed is applied to verbs and clauses. A finite verb is always tensed, and a clause that contains a finite verb is a finite or tensed clause. When the author(s) of this article wrote "I (T)", he/she was trying to take these changes into account, i.e. trying to indicate that the relevant functional category that heads the clause is I or T, depending on which version of GB you want.
The parenthesis do not indicate tuples or intervals. GB is not computational linguistics. Most grammarians who adopt and work with the GB framework are theoreticians, not computational people. The parenthesis have no special meaning.
There were various definitions of government (and governor) produced in the GB framework, none of which was really clear in my view, and all of which seemed to be subject to change. See the article on government (linguistics). If one states that a governor is "tensed", one is probably referring to the finite verb or to a projection of the finite verb, since the finite verb is the only word in a clause that can indisputably bear tense. The concept of government is clearer in dependency grammar (my opinion), where specific words govern other words, e.g a preposition governs its object, a finite verb governs a non-finite verb, a noun governs a determiner, etc. --Tjo3ya (talk) 15:37, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
Thank your for the explanation, Tjo3ya! I really wish there were more links on the page itself linking to the terms used here. While I still have some struggle understanding the article, I did some more research and am trying to read the relevant literature (I'm a math/CS student collecting information for a course in natural language processing). Here's one more thing that makes absolutely no sense to me: the "maximal projection". I've found this article: Projection Principle, which may be related. But the article is really very vague all by itself and never mentions that projections can be maximal and... what other kinds may there be? I've found a single other mention on Wiki, here: Stripping (linguistics) , which also mentions a "minimal projection". There are three other mentions not qualified with size/strength, all point to X-bar theory, which, unfortunately, doesn't mention projections at all (there is only one instance of the verb "project" there, which may or may not be related). (talk) 14:14, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
A maximal projection is the highest projection of a given category (word). One distinguishes between minimal projections, intermediate projections (= bar-level projections), and maximal projections. These distinctions are the most pronounced in X-bar theory. X-bar theory assumes that every lexical or functional category has all three of these projection levels. For the most part, the maximal projection of a noun is NP, the maximal projection of a verb is VP, the maximal projection of a preposition is PP, etc.
For an example, take a look at the big tree in the article on X-bar Theory. Every lexical and functional category has at least three projections according to the X-bar schema. The subject pronoun he, for instance, has the minimal projection N, the bar-level projection N', and the maximal projection NP. The finite verb studies has four projections, the minimal projection V, the first bar-level projection V', the second bar-level projection V', and the maximal projection VP.
By distinguishing between the projections of a given category, one can acknowledge lesser and greater groupings of words. Minimal projections always correspond to single elements (usually words). Intermediate projections often correspond to two or more words, and maximal projections will correspond to even more words. Various phenomena of syntax are sensitive to these distinctions.
Interestingly however, the distinction between projection levels is mostly absent from dependency grammar (DG) structures. A word in a DG tree has a single projection only, and that projection corresponds to all three levels of X-bar theory.
Your question suggests that an article on syntactic projections is needed.
Sorry for long time between responses. Yes, an article, or even just a note on what is meant when the word "projection" is used would be helpful. After all it's a word that has many other meanings in other contexts. There was also a discussion on the page dedicated to c-command, which argued for a separate page dedicated to government relation. Which made me think that if there was a glossary of terms, on, say the page dedicated to the grammar or linguistic (although these two seem too unspecific) similar to how this page: is the glossary of all terminology used in set theory. It is otherwise difficult to infer a hierarchy of terms / other relations established between the terms. (talk) 08:42, 8 June 2013 (UTC)