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Syntax Wu Heping MA Program in Linguistics and Language Teaching

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1 Syntax Wu Heping MA Program in Linguistics and Language Teaching
Northwest Normal University Lanzhou·2006 © BTexact Technologies 2001

2 Key Points Highlighted
Syntax Types of Grammar American structuralism and its brief history IC Analysis Syntactic Categories Lexical Categories Chomsky and UG © BTexact Technologies 2001

3 Syntax Syntax: the study of the structure of sentences and the grammatical rules governing the way words are combined to form sentences. © BTexact Technologies 2001

4 Types of Grammar Prescriptive Grammar Descriptive Grammar
Universal Grammar © BTexact Technologies 2001

5 Prescriptive Grammar Traditional Grammar and the prescriptive approach: Grammar as ‘linguistic etiquette’, i.e. the identification of the best/proper structures to be used; © BTexact Technologies 2001

6 Descriptive Grammatical Rules
Descriptive rules are more general and more basic than prescriptive rules in the sense that all sentences of a language are formed in accordance with them, not just the subset of sentences that count as correct or socially acceptable. © BTexact Technologies 2001

7 Prescriptive Rules Grammar is a collection of rules concerning what counts as socially acceptable and unacceptable language use. These rules in question primarily concern the proper composition of sentences in written language. Don’t start a sentence with a conjunction Don’t end a sentence with a preposition Don’t use sentence fragments Don’t use dangling participles Don’t use a plural pronoun to refer back to a singular noun; etc. e.g. Over there is the guy who I went to the party with © BTexact Technologies 2001

8 Descriptive Grammar Rules of descriptive grammar have the status of scientific observations, and they are intended as insightful generalizations about the way that human language is used in fact, rather than about how it ought to be used. Articles precede the nouns they belong to Relative clauses follow the noun that they modify Prepositions precede their objects © BTexact Technologies 2001

9 Grammatical sentences
An ungrammatical sentence is conventionally prefixed with an asterisk (*) while the grammatical sentences are usually not specifically marked. ( ) Over there is guy the who I went to party the with ( )Over there is the man I went to the party with guy ( )Over there is the guy who I went to the party with ( )Over there is the guy with whom I went to the party © BTexact Technologies 2001

10 Prescriptive vs. Descriptive
Rules of etiquette or laws of society Rules about correct or socially accepted sentences Rules explicitly taught Based on the more favored variants …The verb SHOULD agree in number with the logical subject Rules of scientific observations Rules about all sentences of a language Rules followed effortlessly and consistently Document all variants without discrimination …the verb CAN agree in number with EITHER the expletive subject OR with the logical subject There’s some boxes left on the porch There are some boxes left on the porch © BTexact Technologies 2001

11 Universal Grammar Grammar as a form of internal linguistic knowledge that operates in the appropriate production and comprehension of natural languages. © BTexact Technologies 2001

12 Goals of a theory of grammar
Universality: a theory of grammar should provide us with the tools needed to describle the grammar of any natural language adequately. Descriptive adequacy: a grammar of a given language has descriptive adequacy if it explains observed language data and the intuitions of native speakers about the grammaticality of sentences of a language Explanatory adequacy: a theory of grammar has explanatory adequacy if it explains how native speakers of a language can arrive at the knowledge of that language. Learnability: an adequate linguistic theory must provide adequate grammars which are learnable by young children in a relatively short period of time. i.e., it must account for the uniformity and rapidity of language acquisition, given the poverty of stimulus. © BTexact Technologies 2001

13 American Structuralism
A brief history How is descriptive linguistics done? IC Analysis © BTexact Technologies 2001

14 American Structuralism: A brief history
Descriptive linguistics is the study and analysis of spoken language. The techniques of descriptive linguistics were devised by German American anthropologist Franz Boas and American linguist and anthropologist Edward Sapir in the early 1900s to record and analyze Native American languages. Franz Boas: Handbook of American Indian Languages (1911 He saw grammar as a description of how human speech in a language is organized. A descriptive grammar should describe the relationships of speech elements in words and sentences. Leonard Bloomfield, best known for his commitment to linguistics as an independent science and his insistence on using scientific procedures. His major work, Language (1933) is regarded as the classic text of structural linguistics, also called structuralism. Norm Chomsky had studied structural linguistics, was seeking a way to analyze the syntax of English in a structural grammar. This effort led him to see grammar as a theory of language structure rather than a description of actual sentences. © BTexact Technologies 2001

15 How is descriptive linguistics done?
A corpus of data Segmentation Identification of the phonemes Which phonemes can combine to form morphemes How morphemes combine into phrases and sentences. © BTexact Technologies 2001

16 IC analysis The basic concern of the descriptive approach is to investigate the distribution of forms in a language. The method used is one of substitution. Constituent: a grammatical unit which is part of a larger grammatical unit -- e.g., sentence = noun phrase + verb phrase; noun phrase = determiner + noun; "subject", ”verb", "determiner" and "noun" etc. are constituents IC analysis is designed to show how small constituents in a sentence combine to form larger constituents. My || parents | bought ||| two tickets || at ||| Christmas. © BTexact Technologies 2001

17 More exercises on IC analysis
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously John found a fly in the soup the young king who gave up his throne the man from the city in the little country from Western Europe © BTexact Technologies 2001

18 Labelled Tree Diagram and Bracketing
Three aspects of a speaker’s syntactic knowledge are explicitly represented in tree diagrams: The linear order of the words in the sentence The groupings of words into syntactic categories The hierarchical structure of the syntactic categories © BTexact Technologies 2001

19 Syntactic categories A family of expressions that can substitute for one another without loss of grammaticality is called a syntactic category. The cat chases the mouse. The dog chases the mouse The policeman chases the mouse. The mother mouse chases the mouse. If words and phrases could not be assigned to a small group of categories, it would be very hard to learn or use a language. © BTexact Technologies 2001

20 Syntax: Lexical Categories
every word is a member of a category. a word’s category type determines the kind of phrase it can form a phrase is a word or string of words that functions as a unit in a sentence, built around a head Every language has specific phrase structure rules determining how phrases can be combined to form sentences © BTexact Technologies 2001

21 Syntax: Lexical Categories
Noun (N): real, imaginary, abstract things In English, if nouns refer to countable things, the regular plural is made by suffixing -s/-es In English they can be paired with articles and demonstratives EX: the book, this book, that book, etc. In English they can be modified with descriptive words (adjectives) © BTexact Technologies 2001

22 Noun Phrases (NP) Evidence that NPs are syntactic units comes from the fact they can often be replaced by a single word such as the pronoun they or it The students read the controversial book. The students read it. *The students read the controversial it. © BTexact Technologies 2001

23 Syntax: Lexical Categories
Verb (V): refer to states of affairs and events express time, in most languages take a specific forms corresponding to the time of the event EX English: walk expresses past by adding -ed express manner (aspect) of event, in many languages take a specific form corresponding to the completedness of event. EX English: walk expresses ongoing action by adding -ing © BTexact Technologies 2001

24 Verbal Phrase (VP) Evidence that VPs are syntactic units comes from the fact they can often be replaced by the word(s) did (it). The catcher dropped the ball, and the pitcher did (it) too. © BTexact Technologies 2001

25 Syntax: Lexical Categories
Preposisions (P): Express roles Instrument EX Eng: with, He cut the bread with the knife Possessor EX Eng: of, Monday is the best day of the week. Spatial, directional and Temporal relations EX English: The food was on the table before it fell to the floor. © BTexact Technologies 2001

26 Prepositional Phrase The substitution test confirms that PP is a unit since it can be replaced by a single word like there. The team practiced in the park, and Lisa practised there, too. *The team practiced in the park, and Lisa practised there the park, too. © BTexact Technologies 2001

27 Syntax: Lexical Categories
Adjectjective (A): describe things that nouns refer to In English can be used in a sentence with the verb be: EX English: He is happy. They should be ripe. In English can be modified with degree adverbs: EX English: He is very happy. They should be completely ripe. In English have comparative form by adding -er: EX English: happi-er rip-er © BTexact Technologies 2001

28 Adjectival Phrases (AP)
An adjectival phrase can be replaced by the word so. Linda is very intelligent, and Mark appears so too. * Linda is very intelligent, and Mark appears very so too. © BTexact Technologies 2001

29 Syntax: Lexical Categories
Adverbs (Adv): Manner of action Ex Eng: quickly, He ran quickly. Attitude of speaker EX Eng: unfortunately, Unfortunately,he cut the bread. Temporal frequency EX Eng: soon, They’ll be here soon. Can be modified by “very” in English © BTexact Technologies 2001

30 Syntax definitions, cont.
Determiner: a closed set of morphemes that “specify” nouns, indicating definiteness or indefiniteness. Includes articles plus other morphemes (a, an, the those, these, many,most, some) Degree word: very, completely (type of adverb) © BTexact Technologies 2001

31 Lexical categories Major Lexical categories Examples Noun (N)
Pierre, butterfly Verb (V) Arrive, discuss Adjective (A) Good, tall Preposition (P) To, in, near Other Lexical categories Examples Determiner (Det) The, this, these Auxiliary (Aux) Will, can, may Pronoun (Pro) He, she, her, his Adverb (Adv) Yesterday, silently Conjunction (Con) And, or © BTexact Technologies 2001

32 Syntax definitions, cont.
Head (of a phrase): The constituent fundamental to the phrase, from which the phrase derives its name. (e.g. a noun phrase is “headed” by a noun). Each phrase (NP, VP, etc) is the projection of the head. NP is headed by N VP is headed by V, etc. Complement: The other constituents contained in the phrase that complete its meaning is called complements. © BTexact Technologies 2001

33 General Phrase Structure (XP)
Key Points Highlighted © BTexact Technologies 2001

34 More exercises: tree-diagram or bracket the following the structures
The teacher put the answers on the board He ran towards the red post Colorless green ideas sleep furiously John found a fly in the soup the young king who gave up his throne the man from the city in the little country from Western Europe © BTexact Technologies 2001

35 Chomsky and UG Chomskyan revolution Universal Grammar (UG)
A historical review of UG From PS rules to X-bar theory Parameters and Cross-linguistic Variation From Transformation to Movement UG and language acquisition © BTexact Technologies 2001

36 Chomskyan revolution Chomsky,
has attracted worldwide attention with his ground-breaking research into the nature of human language and communication. has become the center of a debate that transcends formal linguistics to embrace psychology, philosophy, and even genetics. his "formulation of 'transformational grammar' has been acclaimed as one of the major achievements of the century. his work has been compared to the unraveling of the genetic code of the DNA molecule." his discoveries have had an impact "on everything from the way children are taught foreign languages to what it means when we say that we are human." is also an impassioned critic of American foreign policy, especially as it affects ordinary citizens of Third World nations. © BTexact Technologies 2001

37 Central Claims Main features of TG Grammar
Chomsky’s TG Grammar differs from the structural grammar in a number of ways: (1) rationalism; (2) innateness; (3) deductive methodology; (4) formalization; (5) emphasis on linguistic competence; (6) strong generative powers; (7) emphasis on linguistic universals. © BTexact Technologies 2001

38 Universal Grammar Knowledge of Language Universal Grammar
Lexicon Grammar Knowledge of words -Knowledge of rules Learned Innate Language specific Language Universal Universal Grammar The grammar which characterizes the innate predisposition to learn language. UG is a set of rules that all human possess by virtue of having certain common genetic features which sitinguish them from other species. © BTexact Technologies 2001

39 A historical review of UG
Standard theory Extended Standard Theory Rule-based 80s Government and Binding Theory Principle and Parameter Theory (PPT) Principle-guided 90s Minimalism Program Economy-driven © BTexact Technologies 2001

40 Generative-Tranformational Grammar
TG developed in the 1950s in the context of “cognitive revolution”, which marked a shift of focus from a concern with human behaviour to the mental processes underlying human behaviour. © BTexact Technologies 2001

41 Deep Structure and Surface Structure
© BTexact Technologies 2001

42 Principle and Parameter Theory
knowledge of language comprises a lexicon, together with a set of innate principles (that means, X-bar Theory, -Theory and Case Theory, etc.) and set parameters.  Principle and Parameter (P&P) approach has proved fruitful for constraining the core of innate grammatical knowledge (Pprinciples) defining the differences found between individual languages (parameters) describing diachronic change (parameter resetting) and the investigation of first and second language acquisition (parameter setting and resetting). . © BTexact Technologies 2001

43 Minimalism Program Central Claims Language is basically simple
The working hypothesis is that there should not be any redundant elements in a linguistic theory and that the computational system of language (CHL) operates optimally. CHL is so designed that its outputs are naturally ‘well-formed’ and ‘economical’. the minimisation of linguistic levels; the economy principles of derivation and representation. © BTexact Technologies 2001

44 From PS-Rules to X-bar Theory
set up the general configurations of the phrasal structures of a language the arragement of the elements that make up a phrase Rewrite rules S NP VP NP (Det) N (PP) VP (Aux) V (NP) AP (Deg) A (PP) PP (Adv) P (NP) CP (Spec) C S © BTexact Technologies 2001

45 Tests of Phrase Structure
Substitution The cow attacked him (the man with the gun) The cow attacked him (the man) with it (the gun) Q: Who attacked the man with a gun? A: The cow did. (attacked the man with a gun) What did he do? Run up the hill and up the mountain. *Ring up his mother and up his sister. Deletion The cow was planning to. (attack the man with the gun) © BTexact Technologies 2001

46 Tests of phrase structures
Movement The cow will attack whoever is in the field. Whoever is in the field, the cow will attack Who will the cow attack (the man with a gun)? Who will the cow attack (the man) with a gun? What will the cow attack the man with (the gun)? © BTexact Technologies 2001

47 Phrase types in other languages
Prepositional Phrase (Japanese): (PP) PP --> P NP © BTexact Technologies 2001

48 Syntax definitions, cont.
Head (of a phrase): The constituent fundamental to the phrase, from which the phrase derives its name. (e.g. a noun phrase is “headed” by a noun). Each phrase (NP, VP, etc) is the projection of the head. NP is headed by N VP is headed by V, etc. Complement: The other constituents contained in the phrase that complete its meaning is called complements. © BTexact Technologies 2001

49 Generalizing the rules
S NP VP XP (Specifier) X (Complement) where X = {N, V, A, P, etc} Fundamental insight about the architecture of sentence structrure: Sentences do not simply consist of word strings. Rather, within any sentence, words are grouped together to form phrases, which then combine with each other to form still larger phrase. © BTexact Technologies 2001

50 General Phrase Structure –X’ category
According to this viewpoint, all phrases have the tri-level structures as shown in the tree diagram, in which the head and its complement form an X’-level constituent and the specifier is attached at the higher XP level. The existence of X’ categories can be verified with the help of the same sort of tests for phrase structure Deletion tests Substitution tests Movements tests © BTexact Technologies 2001

51 © BTexact Technologies 2001

52 Adjuncts Can be loosely defined as an extension of a category
a big red car of his © BTexact Technologies 2001

53 © BTexact Technologies 2001

54 More exercises: tree diagram the following with tri-structure and explain the ill-formedness of the starred sentences Mary’s solution to the problem *Mary’s the solution to the problem Mary’s latest solution to the problem the student of archeology from Canada the students from Canada and (from) the U.S *the student of archeology and from Canada *the student from Canada of archeology The man found a fly in the soup The lady found the man in blue jacket © BTexact Technologies 2001

55 The ill-formedness of the NP
The ill-formedness of the NP *Mary’s the solution to the problem lies in the observation that both Mary’s and the are candidate specifiers of solution but they can’t occupy the [Spec] position of NP simultaneously. © BTexact Technologies 2001

56 the ungrammaticality of the NP
the ungrammaticality of the NP *the student from Canada of archeology lies in the fact that candidate compliment of archeology can’t be adjacent to the head N and can’t occupy the [Comp] position because of another PP from Canada, which is more eligible as an adjunct. © BTexact Technologies 2001

57 Note: the ungrammaticality of the NP
Note: the ungrammaticality of the NP *the student from canada and of archeology can be verified by the observation the grammatical status of the two PPs are different: while the PP of archeology is a candidate compliment for the NP the student, the PP from Canada is more eligible for an Adjunct. These two PPs functioning differently can’t be joined as a larger PP by the conjunction word and. © BTexact Technologies 2001

58 These two sentences otherwise identical differ in underlying structure in that the two PPs functions differently, one as an adjunct of VP and the other as a complement of NP, as illustrated in the tree diagram. © BTexact Technologies 2001

59 Parameters and Cross-linguistic variation
Principles: those aspects of syntactic structures which are invariant across languages XP is the maximal projection of the head X. Parameters: those aspects of structure which vary from one language to another head-first: English-type language Kazu ate sushi, to Tokyo head-last: Japanese-type language Kazu sushi ate; Tokyo to. A head-first language applies the headfirst rule to all of its phrases: NPs, VPs, PPs. Everything. Similarly, a head-last language applies the head-last rule to all of its phrases: NPs, VPs, PPs © BTexact Technologies 2001

60 Japanese English © BTexact Technologies 2001

61 © BTexact Technologies 2001

62 From transformation rules to Movement
Transformation rules: part of TG grammar, functions to convert a surface structure to deep structure I can solve this problem. This problem, I can solve. (Move) The dog chases the mouse. The mouse is chased by the dot (Move and Insert) Move alpha: Move any category anywhere. © BTexact Technologies 2001

63 Movement Head movement Wh- movement
The movement of a word from the head position of one phrase to the head position of another phrase The president was lying Was the president – lying? Wh- movement The movement of an operator expression into the specifier position within CP You can speak what languages What languages can you speak __? © BTexact Technologies 2001

64 Movement The voters would choose who Who would the voters __ choose __
© BTexact Technologies 2001

65 Movements are structurally dependent
The man who kicked him escaped the scene. Did the man who kicked him __ escape the scene? * Did the man who ___ kick him escaped the scene? © BTexact Technologies 2001

66 Movement are constrained
The senator knew the voters would choose who The senator knew who the voters would choose__ *The senator knew who would the voters choose__ The man might wonder the detectives found whose shoes at which house *Whose shoes might the man wonder which house the detectives found__ at__? *Which house might the man wonder whose shoe the detectives found __at__ ? NP and an embedded S containing a wh-phrase appear to create islands. © BTexact Technologies 2001

67 UG and Language Acquisition
Logical Problem: is our knowledge of grammar given, or learned? Nature vs. nurture Learning the grammar = setting the parameters. Our competence in syntax is given in part by UG, in part by parameters defined by UG. The parameters are set in the process of language acquisition on the basis of exposure to a particular language switchbox Traffic rules © BTexact Technologies 2001

68 Parameters [value] [+] Language A Principle [-] [value] Language B
© BTexact Technologies 2001

69 The notion of modularity
Central Processes Language module UG Grammar Memory Belief Pragmatics Real-word Knowledge Problem-solving abilities Language Parser Langauge Learning principles Perceptual module vision, hearing, etc. © BTexact Technologies 2001

70 UG and L2 acquisition © BTexact Technologies 2001


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