Contents • Syntactic Relations • Grammatical Construction and Its Constituents • Syntactic Function • Category • Phrase Clause and Sentence • Recursiveness • Beyond the Sentence
Syntax is the study of the rules governing the ways different constituents are combined to form sentences in a language, or the study of the interrelationships between elements in sentence structures.
1. Syntactic relations • Syntactic relations can be analysed into three kinds: • relations of position • relations of substitutability • relations of co-occurrence
1.1 Relations ofPosition • For language to fulfill its communicative function, it must have a way to mark the grammatical roles of the various phrases that can occur in a clause. • The boy kicked the ball NP1 NP2 Subject Object
Positional relation, or WORD ORDER, refers to the sequential arrangement of words in a language. • If the words in a sentence fail to occur in a fixed order required by the convention of a language, one tends to produce an utterance either ungrammatical or nonsensical at all. • For example,
The boy kicked the ball • *Boy the ball kicked the • *The ball kicked the boy • The teacher saw the students • The students saw the teacher
Positional relations are a manifestation of one aspect of Syntagmatic Relations observed by F. de Saussure. • They are also called Horizontal Relations or simply Chain Relations.
Word order is among the three basic ways (word order, genetic and areal classifications) to classify languages in the world: • SVO, VSO, SOV, OVS, OSV, and VOS. • English belongs to SVO type, though this does not mean that SVO is the only possible word order.
1.2 Relation of Substitutability • The Relation of Substitutability refers to classes or sets of words substitutable for each other grammatically in sentences with the same structure. • The ______ smiles. man boy girl
It also refers to groups of more than one word which may be jointly substitutable grammatically for a single word of a particular set. strong man • The tallest boy smiles. pretty girl yesterday. • He went there last week. the day before.
This is also called Associative Relations by Saussure, and Paradigmatic Relations by Hjemslev. • To make it more understandable, they are called Vertical Relations or Choice Relations.
1.3 Relation of Co-occurrence • It means that words of different sets of clauses may permit, or require, the occurrence of a word of another set or class to form a sentence or a particular part of a sentence. • For instance, a nominal phrase can be preceded by a determiner and adjective(s) and followed by a verbal phrase.
Relations of co-occurrence partly belong to syntagmatic relations, partly to paradigmatic relations.
2. Grammatical construction and its constituents 2.1 Grammatical Construction • Any syntactic string of words ranging from sentences over phrasal structures to certain complex lexemes. • an apple • ate an apple • Mary ate an apple
2.2 Constituents and Phrase Structure • Constituent is a part of a larger linguistic unit. Several constituents together form a construction: • the girl (NP) • ate the apple (VP) • the girl ate the apple (S)
Immediate Constituent Analysis(IC Analysis) The girl ate the apple
Phrase StructureTree diagram S NP VP Det N V NP Det N The girl ate the apple
Bracketing • Bracketing is not as common in use, but it is an economic notation in representing the constituent/phrase structure of a grammatical unit. • (((The) (girl)) ((ate) ((the) (apple)))) • [S[NP[Det The][N girl]][VP[V ate][NP[Det the][N apple]]]]
2.3 Endocentric and Exocentric Constructions • Endocentric construction is one whose distribution is functionally equivalent to that of one or more of its constituents, i.e., a word or a group of words, which serves as a definable centre or head. • Usually noun phrases, verb phrases and adjective phrases belong to endocentric types because the constituent items are subordinate to the Head.
Exocentric construction refers to a group of syntactically related words where none of the words is functionally equivalent to the group as a whole, that is, there is no definable “Centre” or “Head” inside thegroup, usually including • the basic sentence, • the prepositional phrase, • the predicate (verb + object) construction, and • the connective (be + complement) construction.
The boysmiled. (Neither constituent can substitute for the sentence structure as a whole.) • He hidbehindthe door. (Neither constituent can function as an adverbial.) • Hekickedthe ball. (Neither constituent stands for the verb-object sequence.) • Johnseemedangry. (After division, the connective construction no longer exists.)
2.4 Coordination and Subordination • Endocentric constructions fall into two main types, depending on the relation between constituents:
Coordination • Coordination is a common syntactic pattern in English and other languages formed by grouping together two or more categories of the same type with the help of a conjunction such as and, but and or . • These two or more words or phrases or clauses have equivalent syntactic status, each of the separate constituents can stand for the original construction functionally.
Coordination of NPs: • [NP the lady] or [NP the tiger] • Coordination of VPs: • [VP go to the library] and [VP read a book ] • Coordination of PPs: • [PP down the stairs] and [PP out the door ] • Coordination of APs: • [AP quite expensive] and [AP very beautiful] • Coordination of Ss: • [S John loves Mary] and [S Mary loves John too].
Subordination • Subordination refers to the process or result of linking linguistic units so that they have different syntactic status, one being dependent upon the other, and usually a constituent of the other. • The subordinate constituents are words which modify the head. Consequently, they can be called modifiers.
two dogs Head • (My brother)can drink (wine). Head • Swimming in the lake(is fun). Head • (The pepper was) hot beyond endurance. Head
Subordinate clauses • Clauses can be used as subordinate constituents. There are three basic types of subordinate clauses: • complement clauses • adjunct (or adverbial) clauses • relative clauses
John believes [that the airplane was invented by an Irishman].(complement clause) • Elizabeth opened her presents [before John finished his dinner].(adverbial clause) • The woman [that I love] is moving to the south.(relative clause) subordinate clause
3. Syntactic Function • The syntactic function shows the relationship between a linguistic form and other parts of the linguistic pattern in which it is used. • Names of functions are expressed in terms of subjects, objects, predicators, modifiers, complements, etc.
3.1 Subject • In some languages, subject refers to one of the nouns in the nominative case. • The typical example can be found in Latin, where subject is always in nominative case, such as pater and filius in the following examples. • pater filium amat(the father loves the son) • patrum filius amat (the son loves the father)
In English, the subject of a sentence is often said to be the agent, or the doer of the action, while the object is the person or thing acted upon by the agent. • This definition seems to work for these sentences: • Maryslapped John.■ A dogbit Bill.
but is clearly wrong in the following examples: • Johnwas bitten by a dog. • Johnunderwent major heart surgery. • In order to account for the case of subject in passive voice, we have two other terms “grammatical subject” (John) and “logical subject” (a dog).
Another traditional definition of the subject is “what the sentence is about” (i.e., topic). • Again, this seems to work for many sentences, such as • Bill is a very crafty fellow. • but fails in others, such as • (Jack is pretty reliable, but) Bill I don’t trust. • As for Bill, I wouldn’t take his promises very seriously.
All three sentences seem to be “about” Bill; thus we could say that Bill is the topic of all three sentences. • The above sentences make it clear that the topic is not always the grammatical subject. • What characteristics do subjects have?
Word order • Subject ordinarily precedes the verb in the statement: • Sally collects stamps. • *Collects Sally stamps.
Pro-forms • The first and third person pronouns in English appear in a special form when the pronoun is a subject, which is not used when the pronoun occurs in other positions: • He loves me. • I love him. • We threw stones at them. • They threw stones at us.
Agreement with the verb • In the simple present tense, an -s is added to the verb when a third person subject is singular, but the number and person of the object or any other element in the sentence have no effectat all on the form of the verb: • She angers him. • They anger him. • She angers them.
Content questions • If the subject is replaced by a question word (who or what), the rest of the sentence remains unchanged, as in • John stole the Queen’s picture from the British Council. • Who stole the Queen’s picture from the British council?
When any other element of the sentence is replaced by a question word, an auxiliary verb must appear before the subject. • What would John steal, if he had the chance? • What did John steal from the British Council? • Where did John steal the Queen’s picture from?
Tag question • A tag question is used to seek confirmation of a statement. It always contains a pronoun which refers back to the subject, and never to any other element in the sentence. • John loves Mary, doesn’t he? • Mary loves John, doesn’t she? • *John loves Mary, doesn’t she?
3.2 Predicate • Predicate refers to a major constituent of sentence structure in a binary analysis in which all obligatory constituents other than the subject were considered together. • It usually expresses actions, processes, and states that refer to the subject. • The boyis running.(process) • Peterbroke the glass. (action) • Janemust be mad!(state) • The word predicator is suggested for verb or verbs included in a predicate.
3.3 Object • Object is also a term hard to define. Since, traditionally, subject can be defined as the doer of the action, object may refer to the “receiver” or “goal” of an action, and it is further classified into Direct Object and Indirect Object. • Mother boughta doll. • Mother gavemy sistera doll. IO DO
In some inflecting languages, object is marked by case labels: the accusative case for direct object, and the dative case for indirect object. • In English, “object” is recognized by tracing its relation to word order (after the verb and preposition) and by inflections (of pronouns). • Mother gavea doll to my sister. • John kickedme.
Modern linguists suggest that object refers to such an item that it can become subject in a passive transformation. • John brokethe glass. The glasswas broken by John. • Peter sawJane. Janewas seen by Peter.
Although there are nominal phrases in the following, they are by no means objects because they cannot be transformed into passive voice. • He diedlast week. • The match lastedthree hours. • He changed trains at Manchester. (*Trainswere changed by him at Manchester.)
4. Category • The term category refers to the defining properties of these general units: • Categories of the noun: number, gender, case and countability • Categories of the verb: tense, aspect, voice
4.1 Number • Number is a grammatical category used for the analysis of word classes displaying such contrasts as singular, dual, plural, etc. • In English, number is mainly observed in nouns, and there are only two forms: singular and plural, such as dog: dogs. • Number is also reflected in the inflections of pronouns and verbs, such as He laughs: They laugh, this man: these men.