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Syntactic Properties

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by

Katie Dicken

on 21 October 2013

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Transcript of Syntactic Properties

Syntactic Properties
File 5.2

What are syntactic properties?
Syntactic properties determine how we combine lexical expressions to form sentences.

There are two kinds of syntactic properties:
Word order
Co-occurrence
Word Order
Word order is the linear order of words in a phrasal expression or sentence.

Certain languages follow certain patterns of word order.

Generally, deviations from the pattern result in ungrammaticality.
Co-occurrence
Co-occurrence must also be considered to determine syntactic well-formedness.

One lexical expression can dictate the structure of the rest of the sentence.

There are three components of co-occurrence: arguments, adjuncts, and agreement.
Arguments
An argument is a linguistic expression that must occur in a sentence as a result of another expression.

Consider the verb 'devoured.'
Adjuncts
Adjuncts
are linguistic expressions whose occurrence in a sentence is
optional
.

There may be several adjuncts for one expression while still maintaining grammaticality; however, the sentence works without them, too.

Adjuncts are also called
modifiers.

Agreement
Agreement refers to certain expressions being inflectionally marked for the same gender, number, and person.

(16) a. Emma likes Rupert.
b. *[I/you/we/they] likes Rupert.
c. *Emma like Rupert.
d. [I/you/we/they] like Rupert.

(17) a. This girl went.
b. *This girls went.
c. *These girl went.
d. These girls went.
See you on Friday!
Turn in your bonus assignment today and read File 5.3 for class on Friday.
(1) a. Sally walked.
b. *Walked Sally.

(2) a. Sally ate an apple.
b. *Sally an apple ate.
c. *Ate Sally an apple.
d. *Ate an apple Sally.

English is an SVO (Subject-Verb-Object) language.
While languages are classified according to word order in this way, there are always exceptions.

The word order in English is fairly strict, but certain contexts can change it.

(4) a. Is Sally a student? (VSO)
b. Sally: I know you don't like apples, Polly, so I made you a pecan pie instead of an apple pie.
Polly: Oh,
apples, I like
. It's pears I can't stand. (OSV)
Word order restrictions apply to more than subjects, verbs, and objects.

(5) a. Sally still didn't receive
that letter
.
b. *Sally still didn't receive
letter that
.

(6) a. Sally finally met
with that person
.
b. *Sally finally met
that person with
.
(7) a. Sally devoured an apple
b. *Sally devoured.
c. *Devoured an apple.

'Devoured' requires an
object
('an apple') and a
subject
('Sally'). The use of 'devoured' triggers the need for an object and a subject in order to be grammatical, so
'an apple'
and
'Sally'
are both
arguments
of 'devoured.'

Note: Non-subject arguments are also called
complements
. 'An apple' would be a complement of 'devoured,' but not 'Sally.'
Different lexical expressions require different arguments. What works for one might not work for another.
(8) a. Sally devoured an apple.
b. *Sally wondered an apple.
c. Sally wondered about Bob.
d. *Sally devoured about Bob.

Some expressions require more than one argument.
(9) a. Sally put the book on the desk.
b. *Sally put the book.

Verbs are not the only expressions that can require arguments.
(10) a. Sally is fond of parties.
c. *Sally is fond.
(11) a. Emma likes dogs.
b. Emma likes
small
dogs.
c. Emma likes
small

fluffy
dogs.
d. Emma likes
small

fluffy

brown
dogs.

(12) a. Emma went to France.
b. Emma went to France
last year
.
c. Emma went to France
last year

in July
.
d. Emma went to France
last year

in July

with some friends
.
e. Emma went to France
last year

in July

with some friends

to study French
.
The same expression can be an argument in one sentence and an adjunct in another one. It depends on how the expressions are syntactically combined.

(13) a. Emma urged Rupert
to study French
. (argument of urged)
b. Emma went to France
to study French
.(adjunct)

(14) a. Emma's cat seemed
cute
. (argument of seemed)
b. Emma has a
cute
cat. (adjunct)

(15) a. Emma put the book
on the desk
. (argument of put)
b. Emma's cat was sleeping
on the desk
. (adjunct)
Full transcript