Slides1 - Syntax Andrew Carnie The web page for this...

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Syntax Andrew Carnie
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The web page for this textbook http://www.blackwellpublishers.co.uk/carnie
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Topic 1: Syntax: some background What is syntax? Syntax as a (cognitive) science Rules prescriptivism vs. descriptivism Evaluating Grammars Language as an instinct
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Q. What is Syntax?? The scientific study of sentence structure Perspective : The psychological (or cognitive) organization of sentence structure in the mind.
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Q. What is a sentence?? A hierarchically organized structure of words that maps sound to meaning and vice versa. sounds sentences meaning
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Scientific Method Study of syntax is a science . Uses the scientific method Observe some data Make some generalizations Develop a hypothesis Test against more data
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Scientific method 1) John loves himself 2) Mary loves herself 3) John and Mary love themselves Generalization : The form of the “Xself” seems to be dependent upon the gender/number of the noun they refer to. Hypothesis : Anaphors (Xself) agree with the noun they refer to in number and gender. 4) The boy loves himself/*herself/*themselves Anaphor: A noun that refers back to a previously mentioned noun: “self” nouns.
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Rules: A kind of hypothesis In this class, we will encode our hypotheses about sentence structure using rules . A group of rules are called a Grammar . Grammar is a scary word. But it doesn’t mean what you think it does. A grammar in the linguistic sense is a cognitive structure. It is the part of the mind that generates and understands language.
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Prescriptive vs. Descriptive Rules We are always told to never split infinitives. Who(m) did you give the book to? Hopefully, we’ll never learn the rules of grammar!
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Prescriptive vs. Descriptive Prescriptive rules prescribe how we should speak Descriptive rules describe how we actually speak. Which is more scientific?
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Prescriptive Rules These are made up by so called language mavens These are made up by so called language mavens! Who are they to tell you how to speak?!? Prescriptive rules are often based on the rules of Latin or “logic”. Who says Latin is so great? Why should language be logical? Descriptive rules are the way to go! Descriptive rules are the way to go!
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The rules we will use are said to generate the sentences of the languages we are looking at. They actually build the sentences we produce. They are sentence building rules. The kind of grammar we are looking at
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This note was uploaded on 11/27/2010 for the course ESD 212 taught by Professor Ardat during the Winter '10 term at King Saud University.

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Slides1 - Syntax Andrew Carnie The web page for this...

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