Introduction to Syntax

Syntax
Syntax is the study of the part of the human linguistic system that determines how sentences are put together out of words. Syntactic rules in a grammar account for the grammaticality of sentences, and the ordering of words and morphemes.

Syntax
Syntax involves our knowledge of structural ambiguity our knowledge that sentences may be paraphrases of each other our knowledge of the grammatical function of each part of a sentence, that is, of the grammatical relations.

Syntax
It is also concerned with speakers' ability to produce and understand an infinite set of possible sentences. The sentence is regarded the highest-ranking unit of grammar, and therefore that the purpose of a grammatical description is to define, making use of whatever descriptive apparatus that may be necessary (rules, categories, etc).

Sentence Clause Phrase/Group Word Morpheme

Grammatical Units and Scale

Sentence Structure
One aspect of the syntactic structure of sentences is the division of a sentence into phrases, and those phrases into further phrases, and so forth. Another aspect of the syntactic structure of a sentence is "movement" relations that hold between one syntactic position in a sentence and another.

Constituents
“A unit forming part of a larger structure” Chalker and Weiner 1998 Although the term string is often used technically to refer to sequences of words, sentences are not merely strings of words in a permissible order and making sense. They are structured into successive components, consisting of single words or groups of words. These groups and single words are called constituents (i.e. structural units), and when they are considered as part of the successive unraveling of a sentence, they are known as its immediate constituents.

Constituents
When we consider sentence My friend came home late last night, we find out that it consists of seven word arranged in a particular order. In syntax, the seven words in this model sentence are its ultimate constituents. This sentence and in general any sentence of the language may be represented as a particular arrangement of the ultimate constituents, which are the minimal grammatical elements, of which the sentence is composed. Every sentence has therefore what we will refer to as a linear structure. The small units are known as its immediate constituents.

Immediate Constituent Analysis
“One of the parts which a linguist unit is immediately divisible, by a process of immediate constituent analysis.” IC Chalker and Weiner Formal accounts of syntax are based on establishing the basic constituents, namely, categories, from which word strings are formed. Sentences are regarded as hierarchies of interlocking smaller units, or constituents. After a sentence is cut into its constituent elements, the two parts that are yielded are called immediate constituents. Then, we get the smallest grammatical unit obtained through the division, or segmentation, which is seen as the ultimate constituent.

The segmentation of the sentence up into its immediate constituents by using binary cuttings until its ultimate constituents are obtained is an important approach to the realization of the nature of language, called Immediate Constituent Analysis (IC Analysis). The analysis can be carried out in ways of tree diagrams, bracketing or any other. For example: (1) Poor| John║ ran |out.

Immediate Constituent Analysis

construction
A construction is a relationship between constituents. Constructions are divided into two types: endocentric constructions and exocentric constructions. Endocentric construction is one whose distribution is functionally equivalent to that of one or more of its constituents. A word or a group of words acts as a definable center or 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. There is no definable center or head inside the group.

Endocentric Construction
Some types of phrase contain a HEAD word and have the same formal function in their clause as the single head would:
 Too

dreadful  Rather more surprisingly  She who must be obeyed

Exocentric Construction
Containing no element that is functionally equivalent to the whole structure (non-headed or unheaded) Some phrases are always exocentric  The boy stood on the burning deck.  Who was the man in the iron mask? A basic English sentence (consisting of subject and predicate) is always exocentric, since neither part can stand for the whole:

The boy / stood on the burning deck.

Syntactic Rules
Three universal basic syntactic rules: Linear order of constituents Categorization of constituents Grouping of constituents into constituent structures

Sentence Types
Sentences in any language are constructed from a rather small set of basic structural patterns and through certain processes involving the expansion or transformation of these basic patterns. When we consider sentence types from another perspective, it can be shown that each of the longer sentences of a language (and these are in the majority usually) is structured in the same way as one of a relatively small number of short sentences which are impossible to reduce to a short form. These short sentences have the basic sentence types. There are different ways of dealing with sentence types.

Sentence Types
“ The structure of every sentence is a lesson in logic”.
John Stuart Mill

Simple Sentence Coordinate Sentence Complex Sentence

Simple Sentence
• • • • •

A simple sentence contains only one clause with a single verb group. Dora yelled. Christ resembled his father. Jack and Jill love each other. A runner from Ethiopia won the New York marathon this year. The students should have been working on the term paper.

Coordinate Sentence (Compound Sentence)
A coordinate sentence has two clauses conjoined into one by a coordinating conjunction. (and, but, or). They hold equal status. • Christ resembled his father, but his brother resembled his mother. • Mark loves Dora, and she feels it.

Complex Sentence
A complex sentence is composed of two clauses with one holding main status (matrix clause) and the other incorporated or embedded into it (embedded clause), which is often introduced by a subordinator (who, that, though, when, because, as, since, although)
Mark denied that Dora yelled.  The murderer escaped when the police arrived at the scene.

Syntactic Function
The traditional approach to syntactic function identifies constituents of the sentence, states the part of speech each word belongs to, describes the inflexion involved, and explains the relationship each word related to the others. According to its relation to other constituents, a constituent may serve certain syntactic function in a clause.

Constituency and Hierarchy
A constituency refers to the whole body of a sentence which is made up of lexical items (constituents) that are hierarchically ordered with respect to each other

Constituency and Hierarchy diagram
A B C D E
This diagram formally reads as 1. B and C are constituents of A 2. D and E are constituents of C. 3. D and E are not constituents of B as they are not linked to B.

Tree Diagrams
Who climbs the Grammar-Tree distinctly knows Where Noun and Verb and Participle grows.
John Dryden

In describing the constituent of a structure, a tree diagram is employed as a tool to link members of a structure.

I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree

Joyce Kilmer

Phrase Structure Rule
A rule which states that a phrase of a specific category. E.g. a rule = NP+VP, S must consist of a NP followed by VP Phrase Marker: “a string of elements” Phrase structure tree: a tree diagram which shows the division of a form into successively smaller constituents and labels each as belonging to one or more categories Also labelled bracketing boys play well

Phrase-markers can be related to each other by dominance and precedence.

Tree Diagrams and PhraseMarkers

Dominance 1. VP node dominates all the other nodes. 2. VP node immediately dominates the nodes labeled V and PP.

Tree Diagrams and PhraseMarkers

Precedence 1. V node precedes the nodes labeled PP, P, NP, det, and N as well as in, the and house. 2. V node immediately precedes the PP, P and in.

Grammatical Categories: Number and Gender
Number is a grammatical category for the analysis of such contrasts as singular and plural of certain word classes. In English, number is a feature of nouns and verbs. Gender demonstrates such contrasts as "masculine, feminine, and neuter", and "animate: inanimate", etc. for the analysis of certain word classes. In most languages, grammatical gender has little to do with the biological sex. For instance, in French, the moon, which has nothing to do with the biological sex, is grammatically feminine.

Case
Inflectional category, basically of nouns, which typically marks their role in relation to other parts of the sentence. The case category is often used in the analysis of word classes to identify the syntactic relationship between words in a sentence.

Tense and Aspect
Inflectional category whose basic role is to indicate the time of an event etc. in relation to the moment of speaking Divided notionally: present, past, future Inflectional distinction: past , present loved, love Verbal categories that distinguish the status of events, etc. in relation to specific period of time, as opposed to their simple location in the present, past, or future I am reading your paperI have read your pap

Chomskyan Syntax
Syntax is seen to be a fundamental principle for encoding and decoding meaning and is the part of grammar shared by speakers and listeners in communication. In 1957, the American linguist Chomsky proposed the transformationalgenerative grammar (TG), thus providing a model for the description of human languages. The goal of TG is to find out a system of rules to account for the linguistic competence of native speakers of a language to form grammatical sentences.

Chomskyan Syntax
It is called "transformational-generative" grammar because it attempts to do two things: to provide the rules that can be used to generate grammatical sentences how basic sentences can be transformed into either synonymous phrases or more complex sentences.

Deep Structure and Surface Structure
Abstract ‘syntactic representation’ posited to explain the way in which actual sentences are interpreted
 Visiting

aunts can be boring  John is eager to please  John is easy to please  Flying planes can be dangerous

Surface structure is the actually produced structure. directly observable actual form of sentences as they are used in communication

The relationship between deep structure and surface structure is that of transformation. Since the relationship is usually a complicated one, we can best use transformational rules in the total process of relating deep structure to surface structures.

Thanks for your patience

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful