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Introduction to English Syntax Level 1 Course Ron Kuzar Department of English Language and Literature University of Haifa Chapter 2 Sentences: From Lexicon.

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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 2 Sentences: From Lexicon."— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction to English Syntax Level 1 Course Ron Kuzar Department of English Language and Literature University of Haifa Chapter 2 Sentences: From Lexicon to Syntax

2 Predicate: The Life Giving Component of the Sentence Consider the sentence: John bought a car. If we only had the phrase “John”, would we know anything about the structure of this sentence? NO! How about “a car”?NO! How about “bought”?YES! Buy is the predicate. –We know that the sentence will have the form: A buy B, where A and B are NPs. –Further we know that A=a person, B= (typically) a thing

3 Terminological Note Predicate Also: –Head (of the sentence) –Nucleus (of the sentence) Sometimes the term predicate (or predicate phrase) is used in a syntactic sense, meaning the verb and its following phrases (roughly =VP). This is NOT how we are using it here. We are using it here in a lexical–semantic sense (to be explained below).

4 Valency The information that we know about the predicate is its valency. Valency includes: The number of NPs participating in the sentence. These participants are called arguments. Their relation to the predicate (subject or object, without or with a preposition). Additional semantic information about the arguments (person, animate, inanimate, etc.)

5 Terminological Note: Valency Also: –Valence –Argument structure Argument Also: –Participant –Satellite

6 Word Class of Predicate Predicates may be V, N, A, or P. At this point, we only discuss verbs. Verbs are predicates par excellence, i.e. they are always predicates, not anything else. Only lexical verbs are predicates.

7 Grammatical and Lexical Verbs Grammatical verbs are: –Auxiliaries and modals: be, have, may, would, etc. Lexical verbs are all the others. Lexical verbs have valency, Grammatical verbs do not.

8 Grammar and Lexicon More generally, the grammar contains predictable information (rules), while the lexicon contains idiosyncratic information. The behavior of auxiliaries is rule-governed. It belongs to the grammar. The valency of a predicate is idiosyncratic information. It belongs to the lexicon. This is why we called the two types of verbs lexical and grammatical.

9 Sentence Production Sentence production may be viewed as: –selecting a predicate from the lexicon. E.g. rely. This verb comes with its valency: NP [person] rely PP [on NP]. Or simply: A rely on B. –selecting the right number and types of arguments from the lexicon according to this valency. E.g. A=my father, B=his experience). –Inserting them around the predicate in their appropriate syntactic positions. E.g. My father relies on his experience.

10 Number of Arguments A verb may have 0–3 arguments: One argument: cough, emerge. –E.g. Mary coughed. –A new problem has emerged. Two arguments: eat, look. –John is eating a banana. –Mary will look at the mountains. Three arguments: send (2 valencies of the same V). –The secretary sent the letter to Linda. –The secretary sent Linda the letter.

11 Terminological Note Predicates with 0/1/2/3 arguments are called Zero-/one-/two-/three-place predicates. One-place predicate Also: –intransitive predicate Two place predicate Also: –(Mono-) transitive predicate Three-place predicate Also: –Ditransitive predicate

12 Zero-Place Predicates Predicates with zero arguments are special. –They describe environmental conditions. (they are sometimes called “weather predicates”.) –They have a subject which is not an argument. Consider the sentence It is raining. The sentence has the subject it. Note, however, that you cannot ask: *Who/what is raining. There is no real entity behind this it. It is a dummy subject, called also expletive.

13 Terminological Note Expletive (subject) Also: –Dummy subject –Pleonastic subject

14 Expletive An expletive is not determined by the valency of the verb, it does not come from the lexicon. English grammar requires that every sentence should have a subject. Since the lexicon does not provide an argument in the subject position, grammar itself supplies it. The sentence It is raining has an expletive subject, but it has zero arguments.

15 Two Kinds of It Not every it at the beginning of a sentence is an expletive. –It tastes very good! –What tastes very good? –The soup. Here it is a regular pronoun, representing a real entity. This is why we CAN ask about its identity.

16 Case Have a look at the following sentences: –She likes us.– We like her. –They hate him. – He hates them. We have two sets of forms here: he, she, we, they = Pronouns in Nominative Case. him, her, us, them = Pronouns in Accusative Case. In the subject position we have Nom. In the object position we have Acc. Also after a preposition we have Acc.: to me, at her, in us, on him, etc.

17 Terminological Note Nominative case Also: –Subjective case Accusative case Also: –Objective case

18 Pronouns without case It and you do not have distinct Nominative and Accusative forms. To make a distinction, change you into a different person, or change it into they. –You found me.– I found you. –He found me.– I found him. ------------------------------------------------------ –It annoys me.– I love it. –They annoy me.– I love them. Nom. Acc. Nom. Acc.

19 Phrases without case In English, pronouns have Nom. and Acc. case, but lexical nouns and NPs do not. We might say: NPs have abstract case. If you are not sure about an NP’s abstract case, change it into a pronoun. –I found the books / them –The books and them are in the Acc. case

20 Subject, Direct Object, Oblique Object, Indirect Object Subject = Nom. NP argument. (Direct) Object = Acc. NP argument. Oblique (Object)= Acc. NP argument in PP. Indirect Object= Acc. NP argument; first in a double object construction Abreviations: Subject=Subj. Object=Obj. Oblique=Obl.

21 Examples subj.Indirect obj. –MaxfoundLinda –MarygaveJohna book. obj.oblique obj. –Jackrelieson Laura –Sallygavea bookto Jeff

22 Terminological Note Oblique (object) Also: –Indirect object (VERY CONFUSING) –Prepositional object Indirect Object –is sometimes considered a first direct object in a double (direct) object construction.

23 Adjuncts A sentence may contain other phrases that are not part of the valency of the predicate. These phrases are called adjuncts. Adjuncts may be NPs, PPs, or AdvPs. –John has read the book seven times (NP). –John read the book in his room (PP). –Yesterday (AdvP) John read the book. The subject, objects, and adjuncts are called the Parts of the Sentence.

24 Terminological Note The term Part of speech (=word class) indicates categorial affiliation. The term Parts of the Sentence indicates functional insertion. A phrase of type X is allowed to be inserted into syntactic position Y, e.g.: –An NP may serve as subj. –An NP or PP may serve as obj. etc.

25 Terminological Note Adjunct Also: –Adverbial (phrase) Note that the term Adverbial is confusing since it looks like it is associated with the adverb, but this is not necessarily so.

26 Summary: Sentence Structure Every sentence contains: –A predicate. –Arguments according to the predicate’s valency. –Any number of adjuncts.

27 A Sample Question In the following sentence, identify the valency of the verb (e.g. A drink B, A talk to B). Identify the arguments in the sentence by the terms subject, direct object, oblique object, indirect object. Identify adjuncts. –At 17:00, my boss phoned the aforementioned client from the car, for more information about the deal. Answer: Valency: A phone B Subject: My boss Direct object:the aforementioned client Adjuncts:at 17:00, from the car, for more information about the deal.

28 Homework Same instructions as in the sample question: –Accordingly, the minister has referred the case to the court for further processing. –It has been snowing for three hours. –After this incident, Kate playfully aimed the rifle at the crewmen. –The boss yelled at the secretary for no reason. –The boss asked the secretary for the list of applicants. –Farmers sprayed the chemicals on their fields at their own discretion on the specified day.

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