Presentation on theme: "Sentences by students That she is talented and beautiful, everyone knows and sees, but besides that, she has a great and strong personality. Happened something."— Presentation transcript:
Sentences by students That she is talented and beautiful, everyone knows and sees, but besides that, she has a great and strong personality. Happened something completely different.
The process of inversion Essay written by Valeska Souza.
Inversion: morphology or syntax? Sentence structure is the object of interest in the studies of a branch of grammar named Syntax. The term “syntax” is from the Ancient Greek sýntaxis, a verbal noun which literally means “arrangement” or “setting out together”. When it comes to sentence “arrangement” or constituency, English is commonly described as a “fixed word-order language”, since the positions of subject, verb, object/complement are relatively fixed. It is usual for the verb phrases to follow the subject in declarative sentences, but some modifications of its basic constituency must be allowed for if we are to account for questions, negatives, and even complex and reduced sentences. There are different types of operations, such as conjunction, substitution and transposition; however, the focus of this essay will be on the sentence process called inversion.
Goals of the essay I intend to tackle the process of inversion from a functional perspective, trying to understand how the structures are organized in order to allow speakers and writers to make and exchange meaning. One way to do this will be to draw my examples from real world sources. I have opted to exemplify with excerpts from song lyrics, because of their poetic and emotive style, which may afford more occurrence of inverted clauses.
The commonality of inversion Subjects and verbs are inverted in a variety of situations in English. Inverted subjects occur more often in the formation of an interrogative sentence. When English speakers form a question with an auxiliary verb (also known as operator), the subject and auxiliary verb are usually inverted, such as in “Have you ever seen the rain?” (Creedence). To form a question when there is no stated auxiliary verb, the operators DO, DOES and DID may be used, for instance, “Do you miss me tonight?” (Elvis Presley).
Inverting for emphasis There are many other situations in English when subject and verb are inverted, such as when there is a place adverbial, for instance, “Here comes the sun” (The Beatles). However, as it can be noticed in the previous example, the process of fronting an element is generally associated with a shift in the focus on the clause/sentence constituents. This constituency modification is frequently used in literary and oratorical English especially to emphasize the clause/sentence. The three types of inversion we will examine more closely are (a) inversion after negative adverbials, (b) inversion after so that and such that, and (c) inverted conditional sentences.
Inversion after negatives Inversion can occur after certain negative adverbials and related expressions. When negative expressions such as no, not or never are placed at the beginning of a clause, the subject and verb are inverted. Certain words in English, for instance, hardly, barely, scarcely, rarely, seldom and only, act like negatives. When a negative expression appears in front of a subject and verb in the middle of a sentence, inversion occurs as well. This often happens with the negative words neither and nor. When the heavy metal lead singer from Rise Against says “I remember you telling me, never have I felt so cold”, he definitely wants to stress the feeling. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K97UCD5Rcgw
Inversion after so/such and conditionals We can use so + adjective/adverb at the beginning of a clause in order to give special emphasis to it. When we do this, the subject and verb are inverted. Following this constituency rule, the fronted structure of Jason Mraz’s “I tried to be chill, but you’re so hot that I melted” would be “…but so hot are you that I melted”. We can also use such + be or a noun at the beginning of a clause to emphasize the extent or degree of something. Instead of singing “You know that I’m just a fool…” (Grease soundtrack), Olivia Newton John could have sung “such a fool am I”. In certain conditional structures, the subject and verb may also be inverted, not only in literary and oratorical English, but also as an elevated style of persuasion. The auxiliary verbs that permit the inversion are HAD, WERE, SHOULD and less commonly COULD and MIGHT. The excerpt from a country song by Alan Jackson can be used to illustrate this structure: “I’d been alone for sure had it not been you”.
Complexity of the inversion process It is important to observe that the two last types of inversion (so/such and conditionals) are typical of complex sentences. I will come up with my own music- related examples to exemplify this. “So well did the singer perform that all the audience could not stop applauding” and “Such is the popularity of the band that the concert hall is likely to be full every night” are examples of complex subordinate sentences. When it comes to conditional sentences, the auxiliary verbs become the markers of subordination, such as in “Should you listen to me, you wouldn’t miss the concert” or “Were I a boy, I think I could understand” (modifying Beyonce’s If I were a boy).
Inversion in the teaching process I believe English teachers as a foreign or second language should be aware of formal and functional premises of inversion processes so that they are able to teach them more holistically. As an English as a foreign language teacher, I should know the terminology because it is very difficult to explain a grammar structure without metalanguage. Also, I should know the structure rules, simply because most learners are comparing those of English with their native languages. For instance, the proportion of errors caused by native language interference can range from about 30% to 65%.
Final thoughts Larsen-Freeman (2002) proposes more fluid and dynamic notions of reason-driven “grammaring”, which would be the ability to use grammar structures accurately, meaningfully and appropriately. Grammatical knowledge consists of knowing when to use the forms to convey meanings that match our intention in particular contexts and also to understand meanings conveyed by others. So, it is important to point out that grammar is not a straitjacket and English teachers should teach critically no matter what they are teaching and try to inspire criticality in students too.
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