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Introduction to English Syntax Level 1 Course Ron Kuzar Department of English Language and Literature University of Haifa Chapter 8 Major Sentence Patterns:

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Presentation on theme: "Introduction to English Syntax Level 1 Course Ron Kuzar Department of English Language and Literature University of Haifa Chapter 8 Major Sentence Patterns:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction to English Syntax Level 1 Course Ron Kuzar Department of English Language and Literature University of Haifa Chapter 8 Major Sentence Patterns: Extraposition Sentence

2 Two More Word Classes Before we address the extraposition sentence pattern, we need to define two additional word classes: –The infinitive (Inf), –The gerund (Gd). Both express abstract notions of the verb, and in many cases they are syntactically interchangeable. The semantic and conceptual differences between them will not concern us here, only their syntactic behavior.

3 The Infinitive (Inf) The infinitive is formed by putting to before the bare verb form: to write, to eat, etc. The infinitive is sensitive to aspect: –Progressive:to be eating, to be writing. –Perfect: to have eaten, to have written. –Perf. Prog.:to have been eating, to have been writing. And it may be passivized: –to be eaten, to have been written.

4 The Infinitive Phrase (InfP) The InfP contains a predicate and other components associated with it (complements and adjuncts). It does not contain a subject. Here are some verbal InfP: –To eat a banana, to be writing a book, to have arrived, to rain. Here are some copular InfP. Copular InfPs contain the copula or linking verb and the predicate NP, AP, or PP): –To be a woman, to be well, to be on the roof, to sound hungry, to look pretty.

5 Terminological Note Some linguists view the InfP as optionally having a subject, preceded by for: –(For me) to eat bananas. –(For the cat) to be on the roof. –(for it) to rain. For reasons that cannot be gone into here, we will view this For-phrase in the extraposition pattern as part of the subordinating clause: – It’s good for him [to go],  – It’s good [for him to go].

6 Terminological Note Infinitive phrase or infinitive clause? Linguists who view the InfP as containing an optional subject, tend to call it an infinite (infinitival) clause, because it looks to them more like a full sentence. Since we do not include the subject in the Inf. construction, we prefer the term phrase, comparing it to a VP, not to the full clause.

7 Some Syntactic Positions of InfP The InfP may serve as Subj. or Obj.: –To read books makes me happy. –To read books is a good habit. –I hope to read one book every week. –I hope for him to win this game. It may serve as predicate of a Cop sentence: –My aim is to read one book every week. –To live is to love. It may serve as an adjunct purpose phrase: –I do it (in order) to please my parents.

8 The Gerund (Gd) The Gerund (Gd) has the –ing ending: –Going, finding, living, etc. The gerund is sensitive to perfect aspect: –Having gone, having found, having lived. –Not having lived there is something I hope to rectify. The gerund is sensitive to passivization: –Being shot, being written, being found. –Being shot is a quicker way to die than being mauled by a lion.

9 Some Syntactic Positions of GdP The GdP may serve as Subj., Obj., Obl., and PP adjunct. Subject: –Writing letters annoys me. Direct Object: –I hate writing letters. Oblique Object: –I usually refrain from writing letters. PP adjunct: –I could live without writing letters.

10 Terminological Note Since the InfP and GdP are nominalized and occupy mostly NP positions, they are called nominals. Another form of nominalization is the packaging of a sentence in a subordinate that-clause. It also often appears in NP positions: –I have found my keys. –I have found that I have water rights on this ditch.

11 Nominals in Valency The valency of a predicate may specify a nominal as an argument, instead of an NP. NP [person] find NP/That-Clause Ifoundmy keys. Ifoundthat I had water rights on this ditch. NP [person] want NP/InfP Iwantsoup. Iwantedto help them.

12 Extraposition (XP) sentences Examples: Group One: –It could be great to see you all in one place. –It is fun being in the same decade with you. –it is in order that we acknowledge their input. –It leaves me breathless to think about it. Examples: Group Two: –Yesterday, it was reported that they have been denied a filming permit in the shopping district. –It is well known that citric acid triggers coughing. –It has been rumored that she is recording a new album.

13 It is an expletive The initial element it is an expletive: It cannot be replaced with this. –*This could be great to see you all in one place. It cannot be stressed. –*IT could be great to see you all in one place. It cannot be asked about: –*What could be great to see you all in one place?

14 Caveat Without the nominal, it must be understood as a pronoun referring back to a real thing. It can be replaced with this. –Lets go to the pool. It/this could be great. It can be stressed. –IT could be great. It can be asked about: –What could be great?

15 The formula of the XP sentence Pattern Based on the example above, the formula has the following form (not final; to be updated) Note: V and Cop are represented separately: It(M) VNominal It(M)Cop N/A/PNominal The specific valency of each predicate determines which nominal is to be used.

16 The Evaluative Sub-Pattern In the evaluative sub-pattern, the predicate is evaluative, and the nominal represents the situation evaluated: It(M)VNominal Itmaypayto go. It(M)CopN/A/PNominal Itwouldbegoodto go. EvaluativeEvaluated predicate situation

17 Terminological Note Evaluative means modal. However, modal is reserved in English for a verbal word class, so using the term separately for a class and a function might be confusing. Modality/evaluation has to do with the assessment of a situation as possible, necessary, advisable, preferable, cost- incurring, and some other similar assessment : –It is possible/necessary/advisable/preferable to do this. –It takes an hour/costs a dollar to do this.

18 The Quotative Sub-Pattern In the quotative sub-pattern, the predicate is quotative, and the nominal represents the report quoted: It(M)VNominal Ithas beendecidedto go. It(M)CopN/A/PNominal Ithasbeenin the starsthat we go. QuotativeQuoted predicatereport

19 Terminological Note The predicate may be active or passive: –It follows that… –It has been announced that… In either case, the quotation is anonymous in this pattern by definition (though the source can be restored in an adjunct by-phrase). –It has been announced by the government that… This is, of course, not the case with active V sentences, such as: –The Secretary of State announced that…

20 One or Two Meanings in the XP Pattern? The two sub-patterns have the same form. Supposedly, they have two distinct meanings. But there are some borderline cases: –It is well established that artichokes contain iron. Is this the speaker's evaluation of the situation or the speaker's quotation of the report? Could we, perhaps, include quotation in evaluation? Isn’t there always a measure of estrangement in anonymous quotation?

21 Adding another Component Let us have a look at the following sentences: Evaluative: –It is legal for her to raise my rent. –It is hard on him to change schools every year. –It annoys them that I refuse to reveal my age. Quotative: –It has been explained to the patient that we will only disclose relevant information. –It was suggested to me to use the IP address of the mail server. –it suddenly dawned on me that the summer was over.

22 The Affectee The added component is the entity affected by the evaluation or the quotation. Typically it is human (as in the examples above). –Exceptions do exist: It is best for the soup to be strained through a fine mesh strainer. We call it the affectee.

23 Updated Formula for XP With the affectee added, the formula of the XP sentence pattern is as follows: It(M)[ VP V NP/PP]Nominal Ithas been suggested to meto go. It(M)Cop[ NP/AP/PP N/A/P PP] Nominal Ithasbeen legalfor her to go.

24 That May be Omitted Under certain circumstances the word that may be omitted in the that-clause. Don't let this mislead you in identifying the pattern: –It's a good thing [that] you're not an octopus. –Well, it's clear [that] we're getting nowhere.

25 Is the Nominal a Subj./Obj.? It has been giving me much trouble to do this right. The VP has a double object: oblique “me” and direct “much trouble”. Now, verbs don’t have more than 2 objects. Hence, the nominal cannot be an object. Yet, it is not a straightforward subject either, since there is a subject: the expletive. Furthermore, nominals do not carry case, and cannot be replaced and tested by case carrying pronouns.

26 Sample Question Identify the XP sentences in the passage and classify them into their two sub-patterns: It's often been said that the best way to get in the game industry is through interviews. It requires the least amount of experience. After some failures, I realized my passion for game design wasn't enough to convince anyone to hire me. It didn't matter that I was a CS grad. It became obvious I needed to have a real game to show. It took me a couple of months to put one together, but then interviewers started paying attention to me. It was fascinating to see their reactions. It was absolutely fascinating.

27 Answer XP Quotative: –It's often been said that the best way to get in the game industry is through interviews. NOT XP: –It requires the least amount of experience. XP Evaluative: –It didn't matter that I was a CS grad. XP Quotative (that omitted): –It became obvious I needed to have a real game to show.

28 Answer Continued XP Evaluative: –It took me a couple of months to put one together. XP Evaluative: –It was fascinating to see their reactions. NOT XP: –It was absolutely fascinating.

29 Homework Identify the XP sentences in the following sentences and classify them into their two sub-patterns (evaluative and quotative): –It has come to my attention that students have not been aware of the regulations. –I have been informed that the event will take place after all. –It is unfortunate and certainly not my fault. –It might be best to just write to her again. –It’ll cost you a fortune to fix it. [Continued on next slide]

30 [Homework continued] –It could take days to restore water supplies. –It is useful to all members of the department. –It sounds awful to say this, but I will anyway. –It's great for us to end the weekend that way. –It’s so good you came today. –It’s been fun spending these days with you. –This is beneficial for the whole community that lives here. –It looks useful to me to download this program. –It has been decided, and that’s it!


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