Unit 4

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Unit 4

《语言学概论(英)》备课笔记 讲授人:杨泓

    Unit 4 The Structures of English ----- Syntax

    Unit 4 Unit 5

    ? What is syntax?

    ? Two morphemes: /syn/ ----- together and /tax/----- to arrange

    The literal meaning a setting out together or arrangement

    Definition: Syntax is the study of how words are combined to form sentences and the rules

    that govern the formation of sentences.

    Different linguistic theories first differ in their treatment of sentence structure. There are

    some theories about syntax

    ? In this chapter, we will introduce four of the representative approaches to syntax.

4.1. What is a sentence?

    Traditionalism definition

    It is a group of words expressing a complete meaning or thought.

    Structuralism Definition

    It is structurally independent linguistic form or any group of words between two stops.

    TG: Transformational Generative

    ? A sentence is whatever native speakers know to be a sentence.

    4.2. The approaches to syntax

    ? 1) The Traditional Approach

    ? 2) The Structural approach

    ? 3)The generative approach

    ? 4) The functional approach

    4.2.1 The Traditional Approach

    ? Traditionally, a sentence is seen as a sequence of words.

    ? The study of sentence formation, therefore, involves a great deal of the study

    of the word, such as, the classification of words in terms of parts of speech,

    the identification of functions of words in terms of subject, predicate, etc.

    ? These parts of speech and functions are sometimes called categories.

    ? (See 4.2 Categories)

    A Word-level categories: classification of words

    ? Noun, verb, adjective, numerals, pronoun, adverb, articles, preposition, conjunction,


    ? And the interrelationship between the forms of the noun, verb, adjective, etc.

    concerning certain categories will be dealt with under the headings of concord and


    ? 1. Numbers, gender and case

    ? 2. Tense and aspect

    ? 3. Concord and government

    ? Concord and government

    ? Concord, also known as agreement, may be as the requirement that the forms of two


《语言学概论(英)》备课笔记 讲授人:杨泓

    of more words in a syntactic relationship should agree with each in terms of some


    ? e.g. this man, these men

    ? a book, some books

    ? He speaks English.

    ? They speak English

    ? Government: Is another type of control over the form of some words by other words

    in certain syntactic constructions.

    ? E.g. She gave him a book.

    ? She gave a book to him.

    ? 4. functions:

    ? SVO

    ? Adjective: word that indicates a quality of the person or thing referred to by a noun

    ? Preposition: word or group of words used esp. before a noun or pronoun to show

    place, position, time, method, etc

    B. Phrase categories and their structures

    ? Definition of Phrase:


    e.g. The brown dog chased the small cat.

     dog chased cat.

     S V O

    4.2.2 The Structural Approach to Syntax

    ? The STRUCTURAL approach to the analysis of Language was started by the Swiss

    linguist Ferdinand de Saussure in the beginning of the 20th century.

    ? In a sense, all the linguistic theories after his are structural in that they all regard

    linguistic units as interrelated with each other in a structure (or system), not as is

    isolated bits.

    ? Linguists try to find the value of a sign from its relation to others and its position in

    the system.

    ? There are syntactic conditions and semantic conditions the words must meet.

    ? E.g.

    ? A. The boy kicked the ball.

    ? B. *Boy the ball kicked the.

    ? C. *The ball kicked the boy.

    ? E.g. The ________ is smiling .

    ? Animate nouns semantic component of human in the singular

    ? Boy, girl, woman, student,

    ? immediate constituent analysis (IC)

    IC Analysis is to simply divide a sentence

     into its constituent elements without at


《语言学概论(英)》备课笔记 讲授人:杨泓

    first knowing what these elements are

    Traditionally, sentences are assumed to be made of individual words in a linear direction

    ? The structural linguists believe:

    ? THAT a sentence consists of individual words one after another in a line (a linear


    ? THAT a sentence is made up of layers of word groups( a hierarchical structure). The

    words in a sentence form into word groups first.

    ? The boy kicked the ball. The words are not of the same degree of closeness to each


    (1) How to do it?

    The principle is that we take a sentence and cut it into two and then cut these parts into

    two and continue with this segmentation until we reach the smallest grammatical unit, the


    ? E.g. Poor John ran away.

    (2) Its advantages

    Through IC analysis, the internal structure of a sentence may be demonstrated clearly,

    and ambiguities, if any, will be revealed.

    Eg.Leave the book on the shelf

    ? E.g. my small childs cot

    ? (a) my small cot for a child

    ? (b) my cot for a small child

    ? (c) the cot of my small child

    ? More practice:

    ? The love of God

    ? The girls hat (3) Its problems

    Any construction, at any level, will be cut into two parts. But this is not always possible

    ? E.g. trained men and woman

    ? (a) trained + men and women

    ? (b) trained men + and women

    ? three-way division:

    ? trained men + and + women

    4.2.3. TG Approach

    ? The TG approach to the analysis of Language was started by the American linguist

    Noam Chomsky in 1957.

    1. Why do people need TG approach?

    a.. IC analysis provided no basis for analysis of the differences between sentences

    whose patterns were the same but the relationships different

    ? A: John is easy to please.

    ? B: John is eager to please

    ? A: Others could please John.

    ? B: John sought to please others

    b. This problem comes into even sharper focus when ambiguous sentences are



《语言学概论(英)》备课笔记 讲授人:杨泓

    c. Similar problems:

    sentences having the same meaning but different structures.

    ? E.G.

    ? John painted the picture.

    ? The picture was painted by John

    d. Still other structures are recognized as similar by speakers of English. 2. TG analysis :

    The S rule : S NP VP


     NP VP

     Det N Vt NP

     Det N

     The boy studied the book.

    3. Two Aspects of TG Grammar

    a. Generative Aspect

    This means that a grammar must generate all and only grammatical sentences of a


    b. Transformational Aspect

    Chomsky proposes the idea of transformation which refers to a kind of process that

    transforms one sentence into another.

    One aspect: Transformations

    1. Auxiliary movement also called head movement:


    2. Do insertion Move Infl to the left of the subject NP

4. Surface Structure and deep structure

    Surface Structure are sentences or phrases that are pronounced or written

    Deep Structure refers to the structure that contains all the units and relationships that

    are necessary for interpreting the meaning of the sentence

    ? I gave him a book.

    ? I gave a book to him.

    ? It is him I gave a book.

    ? It is a book I gave to him.

    ? A book was given to him by me.

    ? ……

    ? All the sentences share the same meaning, come from the same sentence (the same

    deep structure)


《语言学概论(英)》备课笔记 讲授人:杨泓

    ? I saw him on the bus.

    ? Ambiguous sentences have the same structure, but have different meanings, come

    from different Deep structures.

    5. Transformations

    Transformations are done according to transformational rules.

    Transformations cannot change meaning. They can do four things: delete, copy, add and


    a. Deletion

    “You will be quiet.” is transformed into “Be quiet!” by deletion

    In “Be quiet”, “you” and “will” are assumed to exist only in deep structures

    b. Reordering (Tough Movement rule Move the infinitive after the “tough” words to the

    position immediately before the subject.)

    e.g. John is easy to please. To please John is easy

    John is eager to please

    c. Addition

    The application of T-there insertion inserts there into the underlying string

     e.g. A fish is swimming in the pond

    is a fish swimming in the pond

    There is a fish swimming in the pond.

    d. Copying

    According to Chomsky, the question tag does not exist in the deep structure. When the

    T-tag is applied, the subject of the main clause as well as the first auxiliary verb is

    copied on to the tag.

    e.g. He is coming.

    He is coming, is(nt) he? Move “alpha”

     There is a general rule for all the movement rules. Alpha is a cover term for any

    element that can be moved from one place to another


    4.2.4 Functional Approach to Syntax Though the generative approach has been very influential in the past 40 odd years,

    we cannot ignore another important approach to the study of language: the

    functional approach

     These two approaches, represented by Chomsky nowadays, and the other

    functional, to be discussed below, has always been in existence ever since the study of

    language began thousands of years ago. One of the main ideas is that a sentence may

    be analyzed from the functional side as well as the grammatical side.

    a. They held that apart from the analysis of a sentence in terms of subject and predicate

    from the formal point of view, there may also be a functional analysis in terms of

    THEME() and RHEME(). the first term refers to “that which is known or at least obvious in the given situation and

    from which the speaker proceeds” ? ,


《语言学概论(英)》备课笔记 讲授人:杨泓

    ? the second refers to “what the speaker states out, or in regard to, the starting point

    of the utterance”

    ? ,.

    b. In English, word order has a grammatical function, and theme and rheme are often expressed by the grammatical subject and predicate.

    ? (a) This letter was written by father.

    ? (b) It was this letter that father wrote.

    ? (c) Father wrote this letter.

    c. Hallidays ideas()

    There are three general functions of language: ideational(),interpersonal(), and



    4.3.1 English paragraphs

    4.3. 2 English texts

    4.3.3. Cohesion in English texts

    ? Sentence connection

    a. Conjoining (coordination)

    b. Embedding (subordination

    ? Means of cohesion(: a. Lexically ( repetition, synonymy, antonymy, hyponymy--reiteration)

    b. Grammatically (ellipsis, substitution, reference)

    c. Logically (connectives)

    ? Reference deserves further elaboration here. The first distinction can be drawn

    between endophoric reference and exophoric reference. While the former points to a

    relation between an entity in the situational context and a linguistic item in the text

    (as in He is the man you want to see! said when the mentioned person comes over

    to the speaker), the latter refers to the relation between two linguistic items in the

    same text.

    ? For endophoric reference, further distinction is attempted between anaphoric

    reference and cataphoric reference. The former involves a relation between a

    preceding referential expression or an antecedent and the current pronominal item

    (as in John loves Jane. He takes great care of her. This is known to all.) , whereas

    the latter denotes a relation between the current pronominal item and the later

    occurring expression (as in This is what John does for Jane: he sends a bunch of

    roses to her every day.) .

4.3.4 Turn taking in English conversations

    ? In conversation, dialogue rather than monologue dominates. Conversationalists take

    turns speaking. The chance to speak is technically termed as floor. The current

    speaker may try to maintain the floor, or give up the floor. While the next speaker

    may opt to interrupt in order to seize the floor, he or she can wait to be nominated

    by the current speaker, or take the hints from him such as a long pause, a gesture, a

    gaze, etc.


    《语言学概论(英)》备课笔记 讲授人:杨泓

    ? An initiation, say a question or a request, by the first speaker and the response by

    the second speaker, like an answer to the question and a compliance with the request,

    form an adjacency pair. If the second part of the adjacency pair is positive, it is

    preferred; if the second part of the adjacency pair is negative, it is dispreferred. The

    latter is characterized by the use of such signals as “well”, hesitation markers like

    erm, pauses, explanations or accounts, etc.


    (endophoric reference)(exophoric



     Anaphoric reference cataphoric reference


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