Week 8 (Thursday): Characterizing NPs in the Data

All has not been idle on this front, though I did go through two very uncertain weeks, which were followed by two weeks of reorientating and conceptualizing.

I’m using this blog again to just sort out some thoughts from looking through the data I am compiling. I don’t think I will be able to exhaustively tag everything, but I need to note some general trends and describe how some of the categories are emerging.

Possessive Determiners

At least from a quick first look, possessive determiners (pd) are the most common NPs. Their properties tend to be [+def, +spec]. This preference is really quite evident. Possibly worth comparing to CoSiB corpus – actually may not be too difficult to implement a search, since pd is a closed class. If it is super common, this would be a variational feature of note, that definiteness gets marked this way preferentially, over the article.

Unusual nouns and N-Ellipsis

I haven’t been able to find that many unmarked bare common nouns which are ambiguously (in)definite. Many are mass or kind nouns, or seemingly proper nouns. A possible exception is ‘O’-level, which seems like a proper noun, but part of the case for interpreting it as a common noun being that it can be pluralized – but probably that won’t work. It usually means ‘~ results’ or ‘~ exams’, too, so it’s easier to interpret it as N-ellipsis (nominal ellipsis).


Pro-drop is very prevalent, even in mid-sentence. Comparing mid-sentence Pro-drop with the usual kinds of ellipsis in English, we see that it is usually verbs, modals, their respective phrases, dependent clauses, or entire clauses that are gapped or sluiced – but not NPs.

‘Got’ construction

Some sentences are structured, ‘Got NP?’, and it seems like pro drop applies, i.e. ‘e got NP?’ However, ‘Got NP’ can also be in the topic position, e.g. ‘Got one time they went KL.’ ‘Got’ in the latter construction functions in a way comparable to expletive-‘There’.


Abandoned this post half-way; I decided I probably should not do an exhaustive analysis of trends, since there are too many dimensions and too much data to tag.

Now it’s Week 10, essentially. I’m about 5k words in on the Overleaf document. Some ways to go.

Week 6 (Sunday): NVA

Read some of Baker 2008, and his proposal for a universal three-way distinction between nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Not hard to get behind. Interesting stuff about the unique situations you’ll find adjectives in as well. Makes it easier to talk about lexical items being flexibly recategorized, if there are categories we can assume exist. (Or to rule this out.)

Week 5 (Friday): Pro Drop

It’s been a long time since I’ve been here. It’s definitely not been a good three weeks for the thesis. Some non-thesis things got done, like getting my IPPT cleared, and Chinese New Year.

At the same time I did some peripheral things like making my Honours Thesis document template. I adapted the Carleton College comps project template to our department’s requirements. That’s some time saved somewhere down the line.

I also collected a range of interesting and potentially relevant Singlish utterances on a document sheet in gb4e (so at least I can copy the relevant ones easily to my document). I now have a modest array of data, an array which actually covers quite a nice spread of phenomena.

The elephant in my mental room however, is still in identifying and articulating their nexus of commonality. That feeling of not having made headway is accurate in at least this respect.

Today, I continued crunching through my data list, sorting it and writing some preliminary analyses. In the process I ended up reading about pro-drop, including Sato and Kim’s influential paper on radical pro drop in CSE.

Week 3, Thursday: Contact Situations, Characterizing SG

Mougeon et al. (2005) and De Garcia (2008) about contact situations and linguistic innovation. How best to demonstrate interference (intra-systemic transfer) (Mougeon et al.). What the relationship is between bilingualism and diglossia (De Garcia) (not the same thing, but related).

Bao (2004) on Lexifier Filter and Substrate Transfer, and the uniquely stable linguistic ecology here – insofar as these things are stable. Some challenges to Bao’s analysis based on the data, but the analysis can probably be extended and qualified, since LF and ST are constraints (ranked/violable). Interesting arguments about the consistency of productivity; the role of LF also would apply.

Week 3, Monday: Fire Drill

Attended semantics class again today, but spent a good part of it thinking about the overall goals and organization of the thesis – not because the lesson was uninteresting, but the content was not unfamiliar.

Attempted to continue developing these thoughts after dinner, when the fire drill happened, so I moved myself to Wah Chee to write.

Got back to look up a few more ideas in the library’s database.

Not much I feel like writing of today’s thoughts yet, I’ll work on putting them into a firmer shape tomorrow.

Week 2, Wednesday: Pensieve

So today I continued working through Sassoon’s paper. In the late afternoon I saw my supervisor and talked about how the threads are developing. I wrote yesterday about a fork in the road, but we also talked about the possibility of something common in the background. Theoretically it would be interesting to investigate the distribution of work between the morphological/syntactical/semantic systems, and it’s not been approached comprehensively before, but to attempt such an analysis is daunting. A scheme of chapters has been taking shape, and perhaps I should embark on that first. Also I need to look through the corpora again.