What is the speaker referring to when, talking about two phrasal verbs, they say

They may be equivalent as far as the DMV is concerned, but they're not equivalent from the point of view of language.

I looked up DMV and I think it is an initialisation of the Dependency Model with Valence, I found a reference and an explanation (of sorts) in a book titled Grammatical Inference for Computational Linguistics but despite reading its description, I still cannot get to grips with it, i.e. I don't understand.

DMV. The Dependency Model with Valence (DMV) is an unsupervised dependency parser. Instead of a one-to-many mapping between non-terminals (on the left-hand side) and terminals or non-terminals (on the right-hand-side) in, for instance, context-free grammar, dependency models are a one-to-one mapping. Essentially, dependencies describe head-dependent relationships between the words in a sentence. This results in directed acyclic graphs; for instance, like the one depicted in Figure 4.6.

Unfortunately, Figure 4.6 is missing from my preview.

Could someone please explain, in layman's terms, what DMV is and provide examples where a verb with two different prepositions can have very similar meanings, which can be equivalent to DMV, but not equivalent from a language point of view.

For example, would go round and go around OR look through and look over be equivalent to DMV but not from a language point of view? Why?

  • 1
    Lucky that we have people like this, to explain English to us!
    – Jelila
    Jan 18, 2018 at 13:00
  • Wouldn't this be better asked on linguistics.stackexchange.com
    – user 66974
    Jan 18, 2018 at 13:18
  • @user159691 fair point but this site is also for "linguists" and "etymologists" I don't want to join SE Linguistics for one question, there are a number of linguists on EL&U who might be able to explain DMV, in simple terms, to a numbskull like myself.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 18, 2018 at 13:21
  • I see, actually there is n Etymology site on SE, unlike Linguistics.
    – user 66974
    Jan 18, 2018 at 13:25
  • @user159691 I know but the description on the tour page hasn't changed, it still says that EL&U is a site for linguists etc. etc.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 18, 2018 at 13:26

1 Answer 1


A simple way of thinking about a DMV is as a kind of tree-like representation of a parsed phrase. Here is an example taken from the Wikipedia page for "Dependency Grammar."

enter image description here

This is an "unordered tree" of the sentence:

That thing I will never forget.

However, you would get the same tree if you were parsing the sentence:

I will never forget that thing.

So comparing those two sentences, one might say:

They may be equivalent as far as the DMV is concerned, but they're not equivalent from the point of view of language.

I'm not sure whether or not this example will help you understand the comment addressed to you without knowing more detail.

  • Thanks for making it simpler for me to get to grips with. You did a good job.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 18, 2018 at 21:42
  • The two sentences in your answer, their meanings are the same, aren't they? If I said "We went round the block" vs "We went around the block" would they be equivalent as far as... blah, blah, blah ? Or, for example, "Please look through your form" vs "Please look over your form" if I were to say they mean the same, i.e there is no difference in meaning, would the speaker's response make sense?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 18, 2018 at 21:47
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA to me, if the preposition is changed, then the speaker's response is less clear. Perhaps they mean that the structure (or "shape") of the DMV would look the same, if not the actual words. Perhaps their point was "This has subtle differences in meaning even though its structure is the same," or something along those lines Jan 18, 2018 at 22:04

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