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Syntax. The Structure of Sentences Asian 401. Syntactic Categories. = Word Classes = Parts of Speech All languages have syntactic categories. The syntactic category of a word determines the role it can play in a sentence. Only a noun can complete the sentence “ Give a __________ to me .”.

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syntax

Syntax

The Structure of Sentences

Asian 401

syntactic categories
Syntactic Categories
  • = Word Classes = Parts of Speech
  • All languages have syntactic categories. The syntactic category of a word determines the role it can play in a sentence.
  • Only a noun can complete the sentence “Give a __________ to me.”
lexical vs nonlexical
Noun

Verb

Adjective

Preposition

Adverb

Clearly identifiable meanings

Determiner (a, the, this, etc.)

Conjunction (and, or, but, etc.)

Degree word (too, very, etc.)

Functional

Lexical vs. Nonlexical
identifying categories
Identifying Categories
  • Native speakers may have a good intuition about the syntactic category of a word.
  • But linguists require more objective ways of determining syntactic categories.
  • There are two tests one can use:
test 1 inflection
Test 1: Inflection
  • Certain inflectional paradigms apply only to one syntactic category.
  • For example, if a word can take the inflectional suffix -ed in English, it must belong to the verb category.
  • Problem 1: What about sing?
  • Problem 2: Analytic languages
test 2 distribution
Test 2: Distribution
  • The words with which a word may co-occur can be used to determine its syntactic category.
  • Example: only nouns can come after a or the in English.
  • All languages have such distributional restrictions on syntactic categories.
other languages
Other languages
  • Different languages have different syntactic categories.
  • Some Asian languages have no adjectives. They have verbs meaning “to be red”, “to be happy”, etc.
  • Many Asian languages have a syntactic category called classifier.
classifiers
Classifiers
  • Also called measure words.
  • In Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, etc.
  • Co-occur with counted nouns
  • Examples: “one student”, “two students”; “one book”, “two books”
  • Different classifiers co-occur with different nouns
distribution tests
Distribution tests
  • Distribution tests for syntactic categories are different in all languages.
  • Chinese has no articles like a, the. So you can’t test for nouns with them.
  • But in Chinese, only nouns co-occur with classifiers. If a word can come after a classifier, it must be a noun.
sentence structure

devaporize

vaporize

de-

vapor

-ize

Sentence Structure
  • Recall from morphology that words are not simply strings of morphemes. They have a hierarchical structure that we can represent with trees.
sentence structure11
Sentence Structure
  • Similarly, sentences do not consist of a string of words. They also have an internal hierarchical structure.
  • The structural elements of sentences are called syntactic constituents.
constituents
Constituents
  • The following sentence is not just a string of eleven words:Bill and John ate all the cookies yesterday at the park.
  • It is made up of four basic constituents:Bill and Johnate all the cookiesyesterdayat the park.
constituency tests
Constituency tests
  • I can demonstrate that these are constituents by movement and substitution tests.
  • Only constituents can be moved to another part of the sentence; only constituents can be substituted for in a sentence.
test 1 movement
Test 1: Movement

Bill and Johnate all the cookiesyesterdayat the park.

  • We can move at the park:

Bill and Johnate all the cookies at the parkyesterday.

  • We can’t move at the:

*Bill and Johnate all the cookiesat the yesterdaypark.

test 2 substitution 1
Test 2: Substitution (1)
  • Bill and Johnate all the cookies at the parkyesterday.
  • Substitute theyfor Bill and John:
  • Theyate all the cookies at the parkyesterday.
substitution 2
Substitution (2)
  • Bill and Johnate all the cookies at the parkyesterday.
  • Substitute did sofor ate all the cookies:
  • Bill and Johndid soat the parkyesterday.
substitution 3
Substitution (3)
  • Bill and Johnate all the cookies at the parkyesterday.
  • Substitute therefor at the park:
  • Bill and Johnate all the cookies thereyesterday.
substitution 4
Substitution (4)
  • Bill and Johnate all the cookies at the parkyesterday.
  • Substitute thenfor yesterday:
  • Bill and Johnate all the cookies at the parkthen.
substitution 5
Substitution 5
  • Can’t substitute across boundaries:
  • Bill and Johnate all the cookies at the parkyesterday.
  • Substitute did sofor ate all the:
  • *Bill and Johndid so cookies at the parkyesterday.
substitution 6
Substitution 6
  • Can’t substitute across boundaries:
  • Bill and Johnate all the cookies at the parkyesterday.
  • Substitute themfor cookies at:
  • *Bill and Johnate all the themthe parkyesterday.
constituents are phrases
Constituents are phrases
  • all the cookies is a noun phrase. We can substitute any noun phrase for it:
  • Theyatecookiesyesterday.
  • Theyatesome cookiesyesterday.
  • Theyatethe cookies left over from dinner last weekyesterday.
  • Theyatethe cookies that their mother told them several times not to eatyesterday.
sentence structure22
Sentence structure
  • We form sentences by combining words into phrasal constituents, phrases into larger constituents, and these constituents into sentences.
  • All phrases have the same basic structure:
phrase structure
Phrase Structure

Phrase (XP)

Specifier Head (X) Complement(s)

  • The specifier narrows the meaning of the head. The complements give more information about the head.
phrase types
Phrase types
  • Noun Phrase (NP): Functions like a noun, head is noun (N)
  • Verb Phrase (VP): Functions like a verb, head is verb (V)
  • Adjective Phrase (AP): Functions like an adjective, head is adjective (Adj)
  • Prepositional Phrase (PP): Head is preposition (Prep) [in, on, with, etc.]
exercise 1
Exercise 1
  • On your handout, identify the specifier, head, and complement(s) of each phrase.
  • Hint: In English, specifiers come before the head, complements come after the head.
exercise 2
Exercise 2
  • On your handout, say whether each phrase is a noun phrase, verb phrase, adjective phrase, or prepositional phrase.
  • Then identify the specifier, head, and complements of each phrase.
  • Warning: Some phrases have other phrases inside them!
specifier types
Specifier types
  • In NPs, specifiers are determiners like a, the, this, that, these, those.
  • In VPs, specifiers are adverbs like always, never, seldom, often.
  • In APs, specifiers are degree words like very, quite, too, so.
  • In PPs, specifiers are adverbs like almost, nearly.
complement types
Complement types
  • In NPs, complements can be PPs: cabin by the lake, book on the table.
  • In VPs, complements can be NPs or PPs: ate the cookies, ate at the park.
  • In APs, complements can be PPs: happy about the new job.
  • In PPs, complements are NPs: at the park.
sentence structure29
Sentence structure
  • The basic English sentence structure is:

S

NP (Subject) VP (Predicate)

  • For this course, we ignore the I (for “inflection”) found in your textbook.
simple sentence
Simple Sentence
  • The NP and VP might only contain a head (no specifiers or complements):

S

NPVP

NV

Billswam

more complex sentence 1
More complex sentence 1

S

NPVP

Det NV

The boyswam

more complex sentence 2
More complex sentence 2

S

NPVP

DetNV PP

Prep NP

Det N

The boyswam in the stream

more complex sentence 3
More complex sentence 3

S

NPVP

Det N PPV PP

Prep NPPrepNP

NDetN

The boy from Ohioswam in the stream

exercise 3
Exercise 3
  • On your handout, draw trees illustrating the constituent structure of sentences.
  • Start by labeling all the syntactic categories. First identify main subject NP and predicate VP of the sentence. Then move from right to left, arranging [Specifier Head Complement(s)] groupings into phrases.
syntax in asian languages
Syntax in Asian languages
  • In all languages, sentences are formed from constituent phrases.
  • We often say that “word order” is different in different languages.
  • More accurate to say that “constituent order is different”.
syntax in asian languages36
Syntax in Asian languages
  • Languages differ in the order of these constituents.
  • In particular, languages can differ in the order of specifier, head, and complement within a phrase.
  • Consider the basic order of constituents in a simple sentence:
slide37
SVO

S

NPVP

NV (head)NP (comp)

N

JohnspeaksEnglish

[Subject][Verb][Object]

sov japanese
SOV (Japanese)

S

NPVP

NP (comp)V (head)

John-gaeigo-ohanasemasu

[Subject][Object] [Verb]

np head complement
NP (head-complement)

NP

N (head) PP (complement)

Prep NP

N

boy from Tacoma

np complement head
NP (complement-head)

NP

complement N (head)

Tacoma lái denánhár

main points 1
Main Points (1)
  • Words belong to syntactic categories. They determine the role a word plays in a sentence.
  • Sentences have hierarchical structure. They are composed of constituents.
  • The most basic constituents are phrases.
main points 2
Main Points (2)
  • Phrases have three types of components: head, specifier, complement. All phrases have a head.
  • In English, specifiers precede heads and complements follow.
  • Specifiers are single words; a complement may itself be a phrase with internal structure.
main points 3
Main Points (3)
  • Languages differ in their syntactic categories.
  • Languages differ in the order of constituents in a sentence.
  • Languages differ in the order of elements within a phrase.
  • We will learn more about the syntax of Asian languages in Week 9.