Syntax I - Linguistics 1AA3 Syntax I Syntax: the structure...

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Linguistics 1AA3 Syntax I
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2 Syntax: the structure of sentences Syntax is the system of rules and categories that underlies sentence formation in human languages. What do we need to know in order to interpret linguistic structures? Words? Their meaning? Grammatical properties? Rules of combining words into phrases? Anything else?
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3 How do we interpret language?
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4 What is structure? The meaning of a sentence depends on the meaning of the words. But it also depends on structure . She has what a man wants. She wants what a man has. Same words, different structure different meanings
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5 Structural ambiguity
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6 Synthetic buffalo hides two possible structures for the phrase "synthetic buffalo hides" 1. [synthetic {buffalo hides}] Meaning: "buffalo hides that are synthetic" "synthetic" has SCOPE over "buffalo hides" 2. [{synthetic buffalo} hides] Meaning: "hides from synthetic buffalo" "synthetic" has SCOPE only over "buffalo"
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7 Hierarchical structure… There is some kind of hierarchical structure hidden behind the linear order of words… Synthetic buffalo hides: synthetic buffalo hides synthetic buffalo hides
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8 More structural ambiguity…. Fish and chips or salad Fast cars and motorcycles Flying planes can be dangerous Time flies like an arrow
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9 Time flies like an arrow… Statement Command Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana” (Groucho Marks)
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10 The infinite nature of language We can form an infinite set of sentences out of a finite set of elements (words and morphemes). However, not every arrangement of words results in a grammatical sentence! *House painted student the the. The student painted the house. A grammatical sentence is what the native- speakers consider to be a possible sentence in their language.
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11 Grammaticality a. Zack believes Robert to be a gentleman. b. Zack believes to be a gentleman. c. Zack tries to be a gentleman. d. Zack tries Robert to be a gentleman. e. Zack wants to be a gentleman. f. Zack wants Robert to be a gentleman.
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12 Grammaticality a. Zack believes Robert to be a gentleman. b. Zack believes to be a gentleman. c. Zack tries to be a gentleman. d. Zack tries Robert to be a gentleman. e. Zack wants to be a gentleman. f. Zack wants Robert to be a gentleman. b and d seem to be odd. Why? We have to learn to express what we know about language intuitively….
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13 Grammaticality Look at the following sentences: The rabbit vanished suddenly. The rabbit vanished the watch. The boy opened the door. The door opened. The student wrote the exam. The exam wrote.
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14 What does NOT affect grammaticality? Grammaticality is not based on having heard a sentence before. The scarlet giraffe entered wearing a purple scarf.
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This note was uploaded on 07/23/2008 for the course HUMANITIES LINGUISTIC taught by Professor Thomas during the Winter '08 term at McMaster University.

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Syntax I - Linguistics 1AA3 Syntax I Syntax: the structure...

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