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Grammar of English: Introduction. Eng 314 26 August 2013. Goals. Be able to determine the category of each word in a text. Be able to find the major phrases in a sentence and their functions (again in any text).

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grammar of english introduction

Grammar of English:Introduction

Eng 314

26 August 2013

  • Be able to determine the category of each word in a text.
  • Be able to find the major phrases in a sentence and their functions (again in any text).
  • Be able to comment on a text (including your own writing): Are there many embeddings, many PPs and AdvPs, etc.
  • Be able to justify your answers in a grammatically sophisticated way.

This course is unlike many other English classes. You don't have to read a lot but you need to practice! For that reason, you need to come to class as well and there will be lots of assessment.

possible honors projects

Possible Honors’ Projects

History of Tree diagramming

Order of adjectives (more next time)

Comparing the syntax of English and ?? by looking at a translation

Measuring function words:

forensic linguistics

Create a Grammar Game

chapter 1 what do we know
Chapter 1What do we know?







(1) a nice person, a treasure

(2) an object, an artist

(3) ovrite, cham

(4) a union, a university

(5) a house, a hospital

(6) an uncle

  • an hour
  • The – the …
  • kleptocracy,
  • cyberspace,
  • antidisestablishmentarianisms
  • floccinaucinihilipilification

(9) Drunk Gets Ten Months In Cello Case.

(10) Eye drops off shelf.

(11) British left waffles on Falkland Islands.

  • Teacher strikes idle kids.

(13) Speaker A: I just saw someone carrying a monkey and an elephant go into the circus.

Speaker B: Wow, that someone must be pretty strong.

(14) Flying planes can be dangerous.

hierarchical rather than linear
Hierarchical rather than linear

More on this after the ppt

chomsky s questions
Chomsky’s questions

What is the knowledge of language?

How do we acquire it (as kids)?

How did the species get to have it?

Universal Grammar



(Scottish English, Western Navajo, etc)


I-language E-language

Our innate language faculty (or Universal Grammar) enables us to create a set of rules, or grammar, by being exposed to (rather chaotic) language around us.

The set of rules that we acquire enables us to produce sentences that we have never heard before. These sentences can also be infinitely long (if we have the time and energy).

Language acquisition, in this framework, is not imitation but an interaction between Universal Grammar and exposure to a particular language. "Learning is primarily a matter of filling in detail within a structure that is innate" (Chomsky 1975: 39). "A physical organ, say the heart, may vary from one person to the next in size or strength, but its basic structure and its function within human physiology are common to the species.
  • Individuals in the same speech community may acquire grammars that differ somewhat in scale and subtlety. … These variations in structure are limited ..." (1975: 38).
descriptive prescriptive

What people do – what books say

Examples of prescriptive rules

split infinitives

negative concord

real as adverb; like as conjunct, etc


chapter 1
Chapter 1

What is grammar?

What do we know?

How come?

Non-linguistic knowledge.

Now a little more on hierarchies, p. 4