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Syntax

This is a very basic introduction to some of the key concepts related to syntax.
by

Andrew Bayles

on 29 January 2014

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Transcript of Syntax

Syntax
Semantics
Morphology
Phonology
Phonetics
individual speech sounds
and how they are made
sound patterns
in specific languages
word structure
and formation
sentence structure
and formation
meaning of words, phrases
and sentences
voicing, speech, and
manner of articulation
phonemes
and allophones
morphemes: bound/free;
inflectional/derivational
(words), phrases,
and clauses
synonym/antonym,
connotation/denotation
Pragmatics
how we actually
use language
real-world
context
Syntax
word order, case marking, constituency, & recursion
SVO
English
I like pizza
Subject
Verb
Object
Mandarin
I speak Mandarin
Subject
Verb
Object
Japanese
Yamaguchi-san ga nihongo o hanashimasu.
Mr. Yamaguchi
Japanese
speaks
Subject
Verb
Object
SOV
OSV
Yoda
Try you must
Subject
Verb
Object
*
But technically speaking, this isn't actually OSV,
since ‘try’ is a verb—not an object.
VSO
VOS
OVS
Hebrew
B'rêshîth, bara’ ’Elohîm, ’eth ha-Shamayim, w’eth ha’aretz.
Subject
Verb
Object
in-beginning created God the-heaven and the-Earth.
Arabic
yaqra'u l-mudarrisu l-kitāba
Subject
Verb
Object
reads the-teacher the-book
Irish (Gaelic)
kissed Mary the leprechaun
Subject
Verb
Object
Phóg Máire an lucharachán
Malagasy
saw the student the woman
Subject
Verb
Object
Nahita ny mpianatra ny vehivavy.
‘The woman saw the student.’
‘Mary kissed the leprechaun.’
Hixkaryana
fish caught boy
Subject
Verb
Object
‘The boy caught a fish.’
Apuriña
pineapple I fetch
Subject
Verb
Object
Anana nota apa
‘I fetch a pineapple.’
(from Wikipedia > Word Order)
?
How many different possible combinations are there of Subject, Verb, and Object?
Write a sample sentence (in English) for each combination you come up with.
Does it still make sense?
German
Die Frau küsst den Mann.
the woman kisses the man
Die Frau küsst der Mann.
the woman kisses the man
‘The man kisses the woman.’
‘The woman kisses the man.’
!
Same word order—opposite meaning
Die Frau küsst der Mann.
the woman kisses the man
Subject
Verb
Object
‘The man kisses the woman.’
Gladiātōr senātōrem aspexit.
Latin
gladiator senator looked-at
‘The gladiator looked at the senator.’
Senātōrem aspexit gladiātōr.
‘The gladiator looked at the senator.’
senator looked-at gladiator
! Different word order—same meaning
Senātōr aspexit gladiātōrem.
senator looked-at gladiator
Subject
Verb
Object
‘The senator looked at the gladiator.’
?
?
What's going on here?
?
cf.
English
I like you.
You I like.
Like I you.
etc.
You like me.
Me you like.
Like you me.
etc.
Subject
Object
I
you
he
she
it
we
they
me
you*
him
her
it*
us
them
Case marking lets you know who's doing what to whom regardless of word order.
Languages with lots of case marking have much freer word order as a result.
… really like pizza.
… Chicago-style pizza.
… the deep-dish Chicago-style pizza with extra cheese that they sell at that place called Paisano’s Pizza next to the French bakery on 4th Street.
My best friend Fred, who is from Cincinnati, and his wife Nancy, who I’ve known since High School, really like the deep-dish Chicago-style pizza with extra cheese that they sell at that place called Paisano’s Pizza next to the French bakery on 4th Street.
VERB
OBJECT
Key terminology
case marking
use of affixes or completely different morphemes (rather than word order) to indicate the subject (nominative), direct object (accusative), indirect object (dative), possessive (genitive), or other roles within a sentence (instrumental, ablative, inessive, etc.)
constituent
a word or group of words (such as a phrase or clause) that act as a single unit within a larger syntactic structure
recursion
the ability to go back and add infinitely more internal structure (more constituents) to a larger syntactic structure
… deep-dish Chicago-style pizza with extra cheese.
… deep-dish Chicago-style pizza.
I like pizza.
hate
really
detest
I absolutely can't stand pizza.
^
despise
it
this class
this dude who thinks Prezis are cool
You need an oven to cook pizza.
Pizza, you need an oven to cook.
Cook pizza, you need an oven to.
To cook pizza, you need an oven.
Oven to cook pizza, you need an.
An oven to cook pizza, you need.
Need an oven to cook pizza, you
(You get the idea.)
?
Copy these sentences in your notes.
Identify which sentences sound normal and write a check next to them.
Identify which sentences are impossible and write an next to them.
With a partner, talk about why these sentences are impossible.
do.
x
X
X
X
X
?
He likes pizza.
Fred likes pizza.
My friend Fred likes pizza.
My best friend Fred, who is from Cincinnati, likes pizza.
My best friend Fred, who is from Cincinnati, and his wife Nancy like pizza.
My best friend Fred, who is from Cincinnati, and his wife Nancy, who I've known since high school, like pizza.
SUBJECT
SUBJECT
VERB
OBJECT
UG
(Universal Grammar) linguistic elements that (in theory) are the same in every language; this may consist of entire structures or may simply refer to recursion
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