Constituency - anish@efluniversity.ac.in BA-Paper-II-...

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anish@efluniversity.ac.in BA-Paper-II- Structure of English-II: SYNTAX Winter Semester, 2012 What is syntax? o Syntax deals with the structuring of sentences; the organization of words into phrases and sentences o Syntax, studies the level of Language that lies between words and the meaning of utterances: sentences. It is the level that mediates between sounds that someone produces (organized into words) and what they intended to say. o Syntax attempts to know how we subconsciously get from sounds to meaning. o Looks at language as a psychological or cognitive property of humans: Syntax as a cognitive science o As a cognitive science, syntax aims to describe and explain human being’s ability to think o The use of productive, combinatory language sets us apart from all other animals o Language plays a crucial role in our ability to think; sentences become the medium of how we get to express our abstract ideas Chomskyan Syntax/Generative Grammar : o The dominant theory of syntax is due to Noam Chomsky and his colleagues, starting in the mid 1950s and continuing to this day. o Different names: Transformational Grammar (TG), Transformational Generative Grammar, Standard Theory, Extended Standard Theory, Government and Binding Theory (GB), Principles and Parameters approach (P&P) and Minimalism (MP); is often given the blanket name Generative Grammar. o The particular version of generative grammar that we will mostly look at here is roughly the Principles and Parameters approach. o The underlying thesis of generative grammar: sentences are generated by a subconscious set of procedures (like computer programs). These procedures are part of our minds (or of our cognitive abilities). o The goal of syntactic theory: model these procedures, attempt to figure out what we subconsciously know about the syntax of our language. o In generative grammar, the means for modeling these procedures is through a set of formal grammatical rules. o These rules are thought to generate the sentences of a language, hence the name generative grammar. Syntax as a Science : o Linguistics is a science on the basis of its methodology of investigation o Science refers to a particular methodology for study: the scientific method. o The method involves observing some data, making some generalizations about patterns in the data, developing hypotheses that account for these generalizations, and testing the hypotheses against more data. Finally, the hypotheses are revised to account for any new data and then tested again. All hypotheses must be falsifiable .
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Do rules really exist ? – They are only means of modeling and not necessarily real existing entities. o
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Constituency - anish@efluniversity.ac.in BA-Paper-II-...

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