Linguistics 110 Class 17 (11/25/02) Constituent Structure (1) Lessons learned from the word-chain exercise: • We identify categories such

as noun, verb, adjective, etc.

Zhang/Öztürk/Quinn

• The word categories are not linearly pieced together, there must be an overarching structure to the sentence. (2) Some word categories: Noun (N) → boy, girl, balloon, ideas, ice cream, candy, basketball, dam, exam Verb (V) → eats, likes, play, pass, build, turn, write, attack, fall, burglarized Adjective (A) → happy, big, colorless, green, wonderful, erudite, tall, beautiful Adverb (Adv) → carefully, slowly, very, never, again, luckily Determiner (D) → a, the, one, this, that Preposition (P) → at, about, for, on, in onto, under, of Pronoun (Prn) → I, me, we, we, us, you, he, him, she, her, it, they, them (3) Constituent—a group of words function together as a unit; overarching structure beyond word categories • What’s in common between the big white balloon and a colorless green idea? Preliminary rule notation: NP → Det A* N Preliminary tree structure: NP rgu D A N | | | the big balloon • What’s in common among play basketball, pass the exam, build a dam, turn the doorknob, and write a book? Preliminary rule notation: VP → V NP Preliminary tree structure: (to be revised) (to be revised)

1

VP ei V NP | ty pass D N | | the exam • What’s in common among the following grammatical sentences? Two students passed the difficult exam. The beavers built a dam. An invisible man turned the doorknob. The erudite historian wrote a wonderful book. Preliminary rule notation: S → NP VP Can you draw the tree for: Two students passed the difficult exam. The erudite historian wrote a wonderful book. (4) Properties of constituent structures: • Constituent structure is hierarchical: (a) Words combine to form constituents. (b) Constituents combine to form larger constituents. I.e., constituents may be contained within other constituents. • A constituent consists minimally of just a head, and maximally of a head and several dependents. [ badgers ] [ large brown badgers ] [ those large brown badgers ] [ those large brown badgers from Wisconsin ] The head of a constituent determines the environment where that constituent can occur—this captures long distance dependency. Environments for different constituents: Noun Phrase: Can be the subject of a sentence [ badgers ] came into the room [ large brown badgers ] came into the room [ those large brown badgers ] came into the room [ those large brown badgers from Wisconsin ] came into the room [ Carlos ] came into the room [ we ] came into the room Verb Phrase: Can come after auxiliaries like “must” Gunther must [ leave ] Gunther must [ leave right now ] 2

Gunther must [ finish the assignment ] Gunther must [ eventually finish the assignment ] Prepositional Phrase: Can come after the direct object of the verb “put” Gunther put the book [ outside ] Gunther put the book [ on the table ] Gunther put the book [ right beside the window ] Exercise: Identify the head of the constituent and assign it its proper label: this book David’s older brother on the table extremely fat just above the bookcase kill the cobra with a stick the destruction of the city dance all night long an old wrinkled newspaper come slowly into the ballroom (5) How is recursion handled in constituent structure? • Recursion: A syntactic category can contain a category of the same type which can contain a category of the same type which can contain a category of the same type which … • How should the if-then, either-or sentences be expressed structure-wise? • Can you draw the tree for: If the boys eat ice cream, then the girls eat candy? • How about: Either if the boys eat ice cream, then the girls eat candy, or if the girls eat ice cream, then the boys eat candy. • What is the constituent structure for: on the desk; in the pond; next to the garden; for Jason. • What is the constituent structure for: the book on the desk; the fish in the pond; the tall building next to the garden; a beautiful cake for Jason. • What kind of recursion do we have now? • Can you draw the tree for: the lizard on the rock in the grass near the pond in the park …

3

(6) How is ambiguity handled in constituent structure? I saw the man with a telescope. • What are the two readings? • What does “with a telescope” modify in the two readings? • Can you account for the ambiguity for different constituent structures? (7) Interim conclusion: • Sentences are formed by putting constituents together. • Constituents refer to word categories. • The head of a constituent determines where it can occur. ➥ Handles long-distance dependency • Constituents are hierarchically structured. ➥ Allows recursion ➥ Handles ambiguity (8) Where are we heading? • How to identify constituents. • Detailed structure within a constituent—Trees. Constituency Tests (9) Questions: • How do we access our knowledge of constituent structure? • How do you know if a particular string of words is a constituent or not? — Sentence fragment test — Movement (displacement) test — Coordination test — Deletion/replacement test — Pseudocleft test (10) Sentence fragment test Only constituents may occur as utterances by themselves. Q: “Why do I have to eat my vegetables?” A: “You have to eat your vegetables because I said so.” A: “Because I said so.” More examples: Q: “Who did you run into yesterday?” A: “A man with a wooden leg and a scar on his left cheek”

4

Q: A: Q: A: Q: A:

“Where did you meet him?” “By the loading docks.” “How did he seem to you?” “Half crazy.” “What was he doing when you saw him?” “Selling cocaine to the police commissioner.”

A difference in constituency: “We will walk up the hill.” “We will give up our citizenship.” In both cases, we have “up” + NP. Is this string a constituent? More problematic case: Q: “Where are you guys going on your date?” A: “To the movies” A: “The movies.”

5