Syntax

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Syntax
Structures of sentences
Syntax is…
 Openness
 Ordering words in sequences to express meanings for which no
separate word exists.
 Meanings we want to express far outstretch the resources
provided by the lexicon & morphology
Syntax is…
 Openness
 Ordering words in sequences to express meanings for which no
separate word exists.
 Meanings we want to express far outstretch the resources
provided by the lexicon & morphology
 Though the lexicon & morphology are somewhat open (to
new members/meanings), syntax gives another way to
express new meanings/nuances/ precision/links between ideas
Syntax is…
 Openness
 Syntax enhances the creativity of expression
 All grammatical systems (phonology, morphology, the
lexicon) are open, however openness is a more salient feature
in syntax.
Syntax is…
 Sentences
 The largest linguistic unit showing grammatical structure (over
which patterns apply)*
 Opposite the morpheme – the smallest such unit
Syntax is…
 Sentences
 The largest linguistic unit showing grammatical structure (over
which patterns apply)*
 Opposite the morpheme – the smallest such unit
 Bloomfield: S= a string of words not included in any larger
form by virtue of grammatical structure
 John went home. I saw him.
 2 sentences; bec the 2 are gram’ly independent
Syntax is…
 A system of principles constructing & interpreting new
sentences (hence, it’s open)
 New sentences are quite common, more so than words.
They’re more likely to be considered unremarkable (vs.
words)
Syntax is…
 Grammaticality
 Not to be confused with ‘meaningfulness’
 Some grammatical sentences are nonsensical
 Some ungrammatical sentences are sensical
Syntax is…
 Grammaticality
 Not to be confused with ‘meaningfulness’
 Some grammatical sentences are nonsensical
 Some ungrammatical sentences are sensical
 Recognizing the ungrammatical tells us about the syntax of a
language.
 As across all science, finding ‘problems’ leads to insights
about the system.
Hierarchy: sentence structure
 Grouping
 ‘above’ the level of morphology and words (the lexicon) and
‘below’ the sentence, we have another unit which we need to
recognize in order to understand language.
Hierarchy: sentence structure
 Grouping
 ‘above’ the level of morphology and words (the lexicon) and
‘below’ the sentence, we have another unit which we need to
recognize in order to understand language.
 We find evidence for these ‘chunks’ of words in three tests:
movability, contractibility, & structural ambiguity.
Hierarchy: sentence structure
 Grouping:
 Movability
 If certain groups always move about together, they constitute a
single group
Hierarchy: sentence structure
 Grouping:
 Movability
 If certain groups always move about together, they constitute a
single group
 A reasonable criterion but imperfect:
 ‘on the fence’ ‘the fence….the net on’ (p 109)
Hierarchy: sentence structure
 Grouping:
 Movability
 If certain groups always move about together, they constitute a
single group
 A reasonable criterion but imperfect:
 ‘on the fence’ ‘the fence….the net on’ (p 109)
 However, words that don’t belong together don’t consistently
move around in concert
 Cf. ‘the net on’ (p 109)
Hierarchy: sentence structure
 Grouping:
 Contractability
 The potential for a string of words to be replaced by a single
word (if it is, that string = a gr’mtcl element)
Hierarchy: sentence structure
 Grouping:
 Contractability
 The potential for a string of words to be replaced by a single
word (if it is, that string = a gr’mtcl element)
 Also imperfect: are ‘through the mtns’ or ‘the line through
mtns’ replaceable?
Hierarchy: sentence structure
 Grouping:
 Contractability
 The potential for a string of words to be replaced by a single
word (if it is, that string = a gr’mtcl element)
 Also imperfect: are ‘through the mtns’ or ‘the line through
mtns’ replaceable?
 Again, groups of words which don’t belong together cannot be
replaced by a single word
 E.g. ‘chugged along the’
Hierarchy: sentence structure
 Grouping
 Meaning differences/structural ambiguity
 Sometimes a sentence/phrase which has ambiguous meanings
can be interpreted by alternative groupings (or construing the
structure differently)
 E.g. ‘to shoot the man with the rifle’
 This, thus, recognizes the various groups as valid units
Syntactic units
 Grammatical units showing unified behavior
 E.g. morphemes, words, sentences…clauses & phrases
Syntactic units
 Grammatical units showing unified behavior
 E.g. morphemes, words, sentences…clauses & phrases
 Clauses
 Simple sentences: just one verb and one event
 Complex sentences: combine simple Ss
Syntactic units
 Grammatical units showing unified behavior
 E.g. morphemes, words, sentences…clauses & phrases
 Clauses
 Simple sentences: just one verb and one event
 Complex sentences: combine simple Ss
Simples Ss or their modified versions = clauses
Syntactic units
 Clauses
 1. minor clause: basically no structure (e.g. interj.)
 2. major clause: refers to real/imaginary event & “has” a
verb and accompanying nouns
 A. Independent – stand alone
 B. Dependent – but correspond to ind. clauses
Syntactic units
 Phrases
 Intermediate-sized units b/w words & clauses
Syntactic units
 Phrases
 Intermediate-sized units b/w words & clauses
 Grouped by internal structure:
 NP & VP - found in most languages
 NB nouns & verbs are not separate p.o.s. in all languages
Syntactic units
 Phrases
 Intermediate-sized units b/w words & clauses
 Grouped by internal structure:
 NP & VP - found in most languages
 NB nouns & verbs are not separate p.o.s. in all languages
 PP, AdjP, AdvP – even less common
Syntactic units
 NPs
 Typically refers to some concrete/abstract entity
 May include: Determiner, Possessive Pron, Demonstrative,
Adjective
Syntactic units
 NPs
 Typically refers to some concrete/abstract entity
 May include: Determiner, Possessive Pron, Demonstrative,
Adjective
 VPs
 Refers to events that NPs are involved in
 Includes: lexical verb + gram &/or lex free/bnd morphemes
Clause structure
 Clauses – sequences of phrases of various types
 Similar to phrase structure
 Sample structures:
 NP VP
I ate
 NP VP PP I ate at home
 VP NP PP Are you at home?
Clause structure
 Clauses – sequences of phrases of various types
 Similar to phrase structure
 Sample structures:
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NP VP
I ate
NP VP PP
I ate at home
VP NP PP
Are you at home?
PP VP NP
In Norway lives a nysse
VP NP NP Are you my mother?
NP VP NP NP
I will give her something precious
INT VP NP What is that thing?
INT VP NP PP
When was the train in Voss?
Clause structure
 However….
 Consider questions which use auxiliaries:
 Should we go? Do you like me? Will you give that to him?
Clause structure
 However….
 Consider questions which use auxiliaries:
 Should we go? Do you like me? Will you give that to him?
 Notice the AUX and its VERB are split
Clause structure
 However….
 Consider questions which use auxiliaries:
 Should we go? Do you like me? Will you give that to him?
 Notice the AUX and its VERB are split
 We can ‘record’ such sentences but that would greatly increase the
number of sentence patterns that we store.
Clause structure
 However….
 Consider questions which use auxiliaries:
 Should we go? Do you like me? Will you give that to him?
 Notice the AUX and its VERB are split
 We can ‘record’ such sentences but that would greatly increase the
number of sentence patterns that we store.
 As you’ve noticed, linguistics:
 looks for ways to streamline all language-related units we store
Clause structure
 However….
 Consider questions which use auxiliaries:
 Should we go? Do you like me? Will you give that to him?
 Notice the AUX and its VERB are split
 We can ‘record’ such sentences but that would greatly increase the
number of sentence patterns that we store.
 As you’ve noticed, linguistics:
 & tries to do so by making generalizations/rules. (thus, this increase in
sentence patterns to be memorized is rejected in favor of formula
which capture pattern regularities)
Clause structure
 Grammatical relations
 Furthermore…the NP VP PP variety description, although
capturing generalizations about clause structure, fails to say
anything about meaning:
 Leaving out any acct of systematic sims & difs in mng
Clause structure
 Grammatical relations
 Furthermore…the NP VP PP variety description, although
capturing generalizations about clause structure, fails to say
anything about meaning:
 Leaving out any acct of systematic sims & difs in mng
 Such a description merely specifies possible formal shapes,
related only in that they involve similar component units
Clause structure
 Grammatical relations
 Furthermore…the NP VP PP variety description, although
capturing generalizations about clause structure, fails to say
anything about meaning:
 Leaving out any acct of systematic sims & difs in mng
 Such a description merely specifies possible formal shapes,
related only in that they involve similar component units
 Gr roles show differences in mng expressed by formally related
Ss & also deepens understanding
Grammatical relations
 Gr roles show differences in mng expressed by formally related Ss
& also deepen understanding:
Grammatical relations
 Gr roles show differences in mng expressed by formally related Ss
& also deepen understanding:
 …by recognizing gr’tcl roles or functions assoc’d w/ the formal
syntactic shapes it is possible not just to acct for differences of mng
expressed by formally re- lated Ss, but also to describe clausal
syntax beyond merely listing alternatives
Grammatical relations
 Gr roles show differences in mng expressed by formally related Ss
& also deepen understanding:
 …by recognizing gr’tcl roles or functions assoc’d w/ the formal
syntactic shapes it is possible not just to acct for differences of mng
expressed by formally re- lated Ss, but also to describe clausal
syntax beyond merely listing alternatives
 3 different types of gr’tcl functions:
 Experiential roles, Subj/obj, Theme
Grammatical relations
 Experiential roles
 NP VP PP etc tell us sthg @ a S’s structure
 But not @ meaning
Grammatical relations
 Experiential roles
 NP VP PP etc tell us sthg @ a S’s structure
 But not @ meaning
 1 The Northstar is leaving from track 2
 2 The Northstar is being shunted from track 2
Grammatical relations
 Experiential roles
 NP VP PP etc tell us sthg @ a S’s structure
 But not @ meaning
 1 The Northstar is leaving from track 2
 2 The Northstar is being shunted from track 2
Same phrase patterns (NP VP PP) but NP is an Actor ‘doers of
event’ (in 1) and an Undergoer ‘patient or sufferer’ (in 2)…
(Verb = Event)
Grammatical relations
 Subject/Object – needed in add’n to above 3 experiential
roles
 The sniper shot the tourist
 The tourist was shot by the sniper
Grammatical relations
 Subject/Object – needed in add’n to above 3 experiential
roles
 The sniper shot the tourist
 The tourist was shot by the sniper
 But note how the unfortunate tourist is ‘undergoing’ in both
but functions grammatically differently. i.e. it ‘moves’ to the
front, before the verb; verb ‘agrees’ w/ NP; NB use of
pronoun substitution for the NP and the use of tag Qs.
Grammatical relations
 Subject/Object – needed in add’n to above 3 experiential
roles
 The sniper shot the tourist
 The tourist was shot by the sniper
 But note how the unfortunate tourist is ‘undergoing’ in both
but functions grammatically differently. i.e. it ‘moves’ to the
front, before the verb; verb ‘agrees’ w/ NP; NB use of
pronoun substitution for the NP and the use of tag Qs.
 Thus subject differs from actor
Subject/Object: not so easy
 Is it (the S or O) just a formal gr’tcl role assoc’d w/ an NP in
a particular structural position?
Subject/Object: not so easy
 Is it (the S or O) just a formal gr’tcl role assoc’d w/ an NP in
a particular structural position?
 Or is it also a meaningful gr’tcl reln? (like actor,etc)
Subject/Object: not so easy
 Is it (the S or O) just a formal gr’tcl role assoc’d w/ an NP in
a particular structural position?
 Or is it also a meaningful gr’tcl reln? (like actor,etc)
 If yes, consider:
 Subject = perspective clause is viewed from
 Viewed from sniper/tourist’s p.o.v.
Subject/Object: not so easy
 Is it (the S or O) just a formal gr’tcl role assoc’d w/ an NP in
a particular structural position?
 Or is it also a meaningful gr’tcl reln? (like actor,etc)
 If yes, consider:
 Subject = perspective clause is viewed from
 Viewed from sniper/tourist’s p.o.v.
 (or) Sub= the thing about which the truth of the proposition
can be evaluated
Subject/Object: not so easy
 Is it (the S or O) just a formal gr’tcl role assoc’d w/ an NP in
a particular structural position?
 Or is it also a meaningful gr’tcl reln? (like actor,etc)
 If yes, consider:
 Subject = perspective clause is viewed from
 Viewed from sniper/tourist’s p.o.v.
 (or) Sub= the thing about which the truth of the proposition
can be evaluated
 (or) Sub= cognitive prominence; …events are profiled from
the subject’s perspective
Subject/Object: not so easy
 So, if it’s also a meaningful gr’tcl reln? (actor, etc)
 …then, what of Object?
Subject/Object: not so easy
 So, if it’s also a meaningful gr’tcl reln? (actor, etc)
 …then, what of Object?
 Perhaps it represents the secondary vantage pt
Subject/Object: not so easy
 So, if it’s also a meaningful gr’tcl reln? (actor, etc)
 …then, what of Object?
 Perhaps it represents the secondary vantage pt
 NB ditransitive verbs (e.g. ‘give’ …takes 2 objects)
 Which ever is fronted takes on secondary prominence
Subject/Object: not so easy
 Hence S/O are not the construal of the world of
experience/experiential meaning;
Subject/Object: not so easy
 Hence S/O are not the construal of the world of
experience/experiential meaning;
 S/O = selecting perspectives that the speaker wants to
represent…which leads perhaps to the hearer adopting the
same angle.
Subject/Object: not so easy
 Hence S/O are not the construal of the world of
experience/experiential meaning;
 S/O = selecting perspectives that the speaker wants to
represent…which leads perhaps to the hearer adopting the
same angle.
 AKA ‘the establishment of a shared perspective… Lx as
interactive; mng as interpersonal
Grammatical relations
 Theme (AKA ‘topic’)
 Can be either what the clause is about, or establish a setting for
it: it anchors the message, fixing a pt from the message can be expanded
 Cf German example on p 121
Grammatical relations
 Theme (AKA ‘topic’)
 Can be either what the clause is about, or establish a setting for
it: it anchors the message, fixing a pt from the message can be expanded
 Cf German example on p 121
 ‘Der Priester’ & ‘Den Bischof’ are S & O respectively
Grammatical relations
 Theme (AKA ‘topic’)
 Can be either what the clause is about, or establish a setting for
it: it anchors the message, fixing a pt from the message can be expanded
 Cf German example on p 121
 ‘Der Priester’ & ‘Den Bischof’ are S & O respectively
 The 4 examples have same experiential & interper-sonal mngs;
& NPs maintain roles (NOM & ACC)
 But the theme hinges on which NP comes first
 Undergoer – indicates patient or sufferers

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