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Syntax

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  1. Syntax Thestructureofsentences

  2. Learningobjectives Explainthenotions “language organ” and “UniversalGrammar” Explainthesimilaritiesanddifferencesbetweenlanguages (principlesandparameters) Explain how sentences are constructed

  3. Evidence for anindependentlanguagefaculty: Peopledisplay a knowledgeofgrammarthat is deeperthanwhattheycouldgetfromthelinguisticinputtheyreceive – thepoverty-of-thestimulus argument Languageimpairment (aphasia/Downsyndrome): languageindependentfromintelligence

  4. UniversalGrammar: Principles & parameters People – “pre-programmed” withprinciplesofgrammar – UniversalGrammar (UG) Universalgrammarhas a biologicalbasis– alanguage organ Principlesof UG are commonacross all languages One oftheseprinciples, which is considered as anessentialpropertyof human language, is recursion: thispropertyallowsindividuals to understandanunlimitednumberofsentenceswithoutmemorizingeach one ofthem (cf. povertyofstimulus)

  5. Principleofrecursion Grammars are finite but theynonethelessenableindividuals to produceandunderstandaninfinitenumberofsentences This is madepossiblethroughtheprincipleofrecursion Recursionmeansthatgrammaticalprocessescanapply more thanonce, whichenablesspeakers to producesentencesofindefinitelengthandcomplexity

  6. Mechanismsofrecursion Embedding: One canalwaysaddadditionalsubordinateclauseswithin a frameofthe sentence e.g. This is thehousethatJackbuilt<ThisisthecheesethatlayinthehousethatJackbuilt< Thisisthe mouse thatnibbledthecheesethatlayinthehousethatJackbuiltetc. Coordination: Wecan use coordinatingconjunctions (and, but, oretc.) to link anindefinitenumberofsentences e.g. Marywent to theairportandJohnwenttothe bus station but Joannacancelled her tripandwent to themall.

  7. Parametersof UG Some oftheprinciplesof UG are underspecified, whichmeansthattheycanberealizedthroughdifferentparametersindifferentlanguages Once all theparametershavebeencorrectly set for a particularlanguage, thenwehaveagrammar for thislanguage Example: everylanguage must have a subject – principle (underspecified); subjectcanbeexpressedindifferentways – parametervalues (pronounsinEnglishandItalian)

  8. Modularityoflanguage Principlesandparameters – partof a syntacticcomputationalmechanism Thismechanismfeedsboththearticulatory (phonetic) componentandtheinterpretative (semantic) component Eachofthesecomponentsfunctionsindependently - modularity Variousmodulescanfeedeachotherthroughinterfaces Phoneticform (PF) interfacewitharticulatory module; Logicalform (LF) – interfacewiththeinterpretative module

  9. Y-model: centralityofsyntax Syntaxdrawsinformationfromthelexiconand “feeds” both PF and LF PF LF Lexicon Syntax

  10. Table ofgrammaticalcategories

  11. Lexical vs. Functionalcategories Wordsthatbelong to lexicalcategories are semanticallyrichandcontributeprimarily to themeaningofthe sentence (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions) – opencategory Wordsinfunctionalcategories – semanticallyweak, andcontribute more to thegrammarofsentencesthan to themeaning (e.g. determiners) – closedcategory

  12. Determiners A new category, unknownintraditionalgrammar Functionalwordswhichalwaysappearbefore a nounanddeterminethe referent: articles(the, a),possesives (your, his) anddemonstratives (this, that)

  13. Compositionality Grammarofeverylanguage – compositionalandhierarchical Sentences are madeofsmallerconstituents (phrases), whichinturn are madeupofevensmallerconstituents (words)

  14. Compositionality: Constituencytests 1) nounreplacement (A girlwith a golden earring ate anapple > Sheateanapple vs. *Shewith a golden earring ate anapple)- onlyanentirenominalconstituentcanbereplacedwith a pronoun 2) verbreplacement (She ate anappleandsodid I vs. *She ate anappleandsodid I a pear)- onlyanentireverbalconstituentcanbereplacedwithdo Certain groups ofwordsform close units: constituents, e.g. Nominalconstituent (1) (NP=nounphrase), (2) verbalconstituent (VP=verbphrase)

  15. Hierarchy Eventhoughsentences are linear on thesurface, theirconstituents are organizedin a hierarchicalway

  16. Projection Composingthestructureof a sentence beginswithwordsthatbelong to categoriessuch as noun, verb, preposition, adjective, or determiner Thesewords – heads ofphrases Phrases are constructedbottom-up: wordsaredrawnfrom a lexicon – amentaldictionarystoredinpeople’s brain - andmergedintostructures Oncethey are insertedintostructuresthey project phrases (XPs) ofthe same category (e.g. NP, VP, DP) whichformlargerconstituentsthatcompose a sentence

  17. Merge Structure building beginswiththepredicate, which is the central element of a clause Once a predicateprojectsitsphrase, it has to becombinedwith a phrase/s ofthetype it needs To do that, thegrammar must have a mechanismthatcombinesphrases This is done bymerging one phrasewithanother

  18. Merge: example (1) Thosechildrenwant a puppy Want – a transitiveverb or a two-place predicate, whichmeansthat it requirestwoNPsof a certaintype as arguments: an agent argument and a theme argument (thematic (theta) roles) It projectstwoemptypositionswhichneed to befilledbyNPs (e.g. Thosechildren - agent andapuppy - theme) Directobject (puppy) – internal argument because it forms a closerunitwithapredicate Subject (Thosechildren) – external argument; doesnotformthe same unit as predicateanddirectobject Substitution test: Thosechildrenwant a puppyandso do I; *Thosechildrenwant a puppyandso do I a cat

  19. Nominalconstituentmerge (DP) Eachofthenominalconstituentsthatthepredicateselects is a productofa separate mergeoperationwhichconsistsofmerging a nounandadeterminer Note thenominalconstituenta puppyinExample 1: Thedetermineraprojects a determinerphrase (DP), whichneeds a nounphrase (NP) as itscomplement Since DP selects NP andnotviceversa, DP is theheadofthenominalconstituent (e.g. a puppy)

  20. DP merge NP puppy is insertedinthecomplement NP nodeprojectedfrom D a to create DP a puppy DP NP D: a N: puppy

  21. VP merge DP a puppymergeswith V wantto create VP want a puppy VP DP NP V: want D: a N: puppy

  22. Merge: sentence construction So far thegrammarhascreated a new constituent (VP) bymerge Thenextstep is to mergethe VP withtheexternal argument (subject) to formthewhole sentence Theexternal argument cannotbedirectlymergedontothe VP (substitutionshowsthatthey do notformthe same constituent) Weneed a separate node (XP) above VP to mergethesubjectwith

  23. Tensephrase (TP) Semanticcoreofthe sentence is constitutedbytense Tenseprojectsits own phrase (TP) whichconnectsdifferentconstituentstogetherinto a sentence T-headcontainsinformationrelated to tense, as wellasagreement Tensephrases provide the central “scaffolding” for a sentence, a structure to whichthe more meaningfullexicalphraseswillbeattached External argument is linkedwith VP through TP

  24. TensePhrase (TP) Thosechildrenwant a puppy. TP DP VP those NP want DP children a NP puppy

  25. TensePhrase TP takes VP as itscomplement Theexternal argument (subject) is not a complement: it doesnotoccupy a complementposition but a specifierposition to theleftof TP (inEnglish) Twosyntacticlevels: VP – lexicalinformationpertaining to constituents; TP: grammaticalinformationpertaining to the sentence (tense+agreement) There is anevenhigherlevelofstructure, whichcontainsinformationpertaining to discourse: at thislevel, sentence type (e.g. declarative, interrogative) is encloded Thishigheststructurallevel is usuallydefined as CP (Complementizerphrase)

  26. Complementizerphrase (CP) Thebasicfunctionofcomplementizers is to turnanindependent sentence into a complement Thereforeeachsubordinateclause is headedbyanadditionalphraseprojectedbythecomplementizer (CP) Differenttypesofcomplementizersdepending on thetypeofsubordinateclause: indeclaratives, complementizers like that (I heardthatthosechildrenwant a puppy); ininterrogtives, comps like if (He wonderedif it wouldrain) A CP selects a TP inthiscontext

  27. Projectionof CP fromthat CP C: that TP thosechildrenwant a puppy

  28. CP insimplesentences Matrixclausescanalsobedividedindifferenttypes (e.g. declarative, interrogative, exclamative) Insubordinatecontexts, differenttypesofclauses are associatedwithdifferentcomplementizers, whichmeansthatclausetype is determined at the CP level Sincematrixclausescanalsobedividedalongthe same lines, CP is alsopresentanddeterminesclausetypeinmatrixcontexts (eventhoughthere is no overtcomplementizer)

  29. Adjunction Mergejoinsphrasesbyplacing one phraseintothecomplement or specifierofanotherphrase It is alsopossible to mergephrasesthat are notcomplements or specifiersoftheirhostphrase - this is calledadjunctionand it addsmodifiers to phrases Heads, complements, andspecifiersmakeupthecoremeaningof a phrase, whileadjunctsaddextradescription (Thoselittlechildreninthe park want a puppybadly)

  30. Adjunction Sinceadjoinedphrases are differentfromcomplementsandspecifiers, adjunctioncreates a site for Mergebycopyingthephrasalnodeofthehostphrase Alltheadjuncts are attached to theextendedstructures Inthiswaythe integral partsof a phrase,i. e. head, specifier, andcomplement, are distinguishedfromadjuncts There are restrictions on thenumberofcomplements or specifierswecanhaveinthe sentence but not on adjuncts: thephrasalnodecanbecopiedindefinitely

  31. Adjunction VP VP AdvP DP badly NP V:want D: a N:puppy

  32. Movement Oncephraseshavebeenbuiltbyprojectionandmerge (includingadjunction) thegrammarcanapplyfurtheroperations Besides building phrasestructures, syntaxcanalsomovepartsofphrasestructuresaround, bydetachingthemfromthepositioninwhichtheywereoriginallyinsertedinthestructure, andmovingthemsomewhereelse

  33. Movementanddeletion Movementfunctionsbycopyinganiteminto a new location, leaving a copyinthe original position (sometimesdescribed as a trace (t). Thiscopy must laterbedeleted, becausebothcopiescannotbepronounced at the same time Syntaxdistinguishesbetweentwotypesofmovements: headmovement (e.g. auxiliarymovementinquestions) andphrasalmovement (e.g. wh-movementinquestions)

  34. Auxiliarymovement Auxiliary (Aux) movementcomesintoplaywhenwewant to generate a simplequestioninEnglish e.g. Doestheman like movies? Theauxiliarydo is originallyinsertedunder T, acquiringtenseandagreementfeatures, andthenmoves to C CP hasanemptycomplementizer C as itsheadand it has a TP as itscomplement. Auxmovementinthecaseofsimplequestionstakeswhateverthere is under T (do+tense/agreement=does)andmoves it to thepreviouslyemptyheadposition, C

  35. Illustration CP TP C does T VP DP [PRES/AGR] theman V DP like movies Move

  36. WH-movement Wh-questions (e.g. What do you like?), unlikesimplequestions, exhibittwodifferentmovements to CP: headmovementoftheauxiliary (T-C) andphrasalmovementofthe wh-phrase (i.e. wh-movement) Therefore, inquestionssuch as “What do you like?”, CP must containtwoemptypositions to hostthemovedelements: the C-headposition for theauxiliaryandthespecifierpositionforthe wh-phrase

  37. WH-movement Whatappearsaftertheverblike, as itscomplement. Like is a transitiveverbandrequiresadirectobjectcomplement, andwhatstandsin for themissingthingthatyouwould like (e.g. What do you like? I like coffee). First, auxmovementapplies . Theauxiliarydo undergoesheadmovementfrom T to C. Then, wh-movementapplies. The wh-phrasemovesfromits original complementposition (since it replacedthecomplementoftheverblike) to thespecifierof CP.

  38. WH-movement CP SpecCP WhatC TP do SpecTP you VP T V DP auxmovement like what wh-movement

  39. Wh-Parameter Wh-questions are realizeddifferentlyindifferentlanguages Englishfronts one (andonlyone) wh-phrase: Who sawwhat? Chineseleaves wh-phrasesin situ: Ni kanjian-le shei? yousawwhat Slaviclanguagesmove all wh-phrases Tko što vidi? (Croatian) who whatsees

  40. Summary Muchofgrammaticalstructuredoesnothave to be “learned” People “know” a lotaboutwhat is or isn’t a possiblegrammaticalstructurewithouthavingbeentaught, or evenhaving had therightkindofexperience to havelearned it: theyknowitbecauseprinciplesof UG are innate Theprincipleofrecursionenablesindividuals to produceandunderstandaninfinitenumberofsentencesbased on a limitedinput (cf. Povertyofstimulus)

  41. Summary One principleofthestructureofsentences – compositionality: sentences are composedofclausesandphrases, whichinturnaremadeupofsmallerclausesandphrases or words Compositionality - achievedbyprojectionofsimplephrasesfromwordsfromthementallexicon Thephrasesprojectedtake on thelexicalandfunctionalcategoriesofthewordsthat project them

  42. Summary Some phraseshavecomplementand/or specifierbrancheswhichmergewithphrasesthathavebeenprojectedfromotherwords A specialkindofmerge – adjunction, whichallowsmodifiers (e.g. adjectivesandadverbs) to beincludedin a phrase Oncephrases are constructedbyprojectionandmerge, theycanbefurthermodifiedbyvarioustypesofmovement (e.g. headmovementandphrasalmovement)

  43. Summary Formalsyntax - based on deducingabstractgrammaticalprinciplesfromobservingwhatsentences are possibleandnotpossible, withoutregard to how they are used Formalapproachesinsist on thecentralityofsyntaxwhithinthe human languagefaculty; othertypesofapproaches (e.g. functionalperspectives) put greateremphasis on semantics or languageusage

  44. Keyterms Adjunction Anaphor Aux(iliary) movement BindingTheory Complement Complementizer Complementizerphrase compositionality

  45. Keyterms Continuous (discontinuous) reference Coordination Determinerphrase Formalsyntax Functionalcategory Gender Head Inflection Inflectionphrase

  46. Keyterms Language organ Lexicalcategory Merge Povertyofthestimulus Projection Pronoun Recursion Specifier

  47. Keyterms UniversalGrammar WH-movement WH-question