Some of the sentences that turn up in discussions of syntax are rather exotic. On the one hand, that gives rise to skepticism on the part of some, who take this to mean that syntactic theory is based on artificial data that doesn't reflect real language use. On the other hand, the interest of some of these examples has been taken to be an argument against total reliance on corpora of naturally occuring utterances, since interesting and important data may never turn up there. So, as Phil Resnik mentioned, it is reassuring when, from time to time, one comes across a natural example of one of these exotic sentences.

Here's another example, one that I encountered years ago when I translated the manual
describing the implementation of the mathematical function library for a Japanese computer.
(In the glosses *A* stands for *accusative case*, which roughly speaking
indicates that the preceding Noun Phrase is the direct object.)

平法関数 | を | ニュートン・ラフソン法 | を | 正弦関数 | を | 羃級数法 | を | 使用して | 計算する。 |

heihookansuu | o | Nyuutonrahusonhoo | o | seigenkansuu | o | bekikyuusuuhoo | o | siyoosite | keisan suru |

square root function | A | Newton-Raphson method | A | sine function | A | power series method | A | using | computes |

The square root function is computed using the Newton-Raphson method; the sine function is computed using the power series method.The Japanese does not actually contain any passives but I've translated it using the passive because the Japanese clauses do not have overt subjects and it is not clear what the subject really ought to be. A more literal translation is:

The mathematical function library computes the square root function using the Newton-Raphson method and the sine function using the power series method.

This is a remarkable if not bizarre-looking sentence. It has four accusative Noun Phrases
followed by two verbs. **NP NP NP NP V V** is not something we expect to encounter.
What it is is a derivative of this:

ニュートン・ラフソン法 | を | 使用して | 平法関数 | を | 計算して | 羃級数法 | を | 使用して | 正弦関数 | を | 計算する。 |

Newton-Raphson method | A | using | sqrt function | A | computing | power series method | A | using | sine function | A | computes |

Here the two conjuncts have all their verbs and the "using" clauses come before the "computing" clauses. An intermediate step is to put the "using" clauses between the object and the main verb, like this:

平法関数 | を | ニュートン・ラフソン法 | を | 使用して | 計算して | 正弦関数 | を | 羃級数法 | を | 使用して | 計算する。 | |

sqrt function | A | Newton-Raphson method | A | using | computing | sine function | A | power series method | A | using | computes |

This yields a structure in which each of the two conjuncts ends in the sequence
"using computes". When you have a sequence of conjoined clauses of this type,
Japanese allows all but the verb of the last clause to be deleted. This is known
as *Right Node Raising*. As this sentence shows, Right Node Raising applies
not only to a single verb but to a clause final sequence. In our example,
both of the verbs at the end of the first conjunct have been deleted.

This sentence is quite natural and easy to read. It didn't even occur to me that it was remarkable when I first read it; it was only when I started to translate it that I realized that it was interesting. I haven't tried any Japanese parsers in quite a while, but the last time I did, none of them could handle such sentences.

Posted by Bill Poser at March 9, 2004 10:07 PM