Syntax - Syntax The Structure of Sentences LIN 306 Syntax...

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Syntax: The Structure of Sentences LIN 306 February 29, 2008
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Syntax Greek: syn- “together” + taxis “arrangement” The study of how sentences are built from words. Syntactic competence: knowledge of how sentences are built in your language.
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Our Goals To describe the rules that govern the syntax of a language (grammar). To account for ambiguity in language. To account for infinitude in language.
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Grammaticality a) The cat purred. b) *The purred cat. c) *Cat the purred. d) *Cat purred the. e) *Purred cat the. f) *Purred the cat.
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Grammaticality Grammatical sentences need not be: True Meaningful Appropriate Prescriptively accurate Elegant
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The Jabberwocky ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogroves, And the mome raths outgrabe. Grammatical or not?
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Grammaticality Ungrammatical sentences may be interpretable. *John kisses often Mary. *The boy quickly in the house the ball found.
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Grammatical or not? a) The boy found. b) The boy slept. c) The boy found the baby. d) The boy slept the baby.
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Grammatical or not? a) Jack and Jill ran up the bill. b) Jack and Jill ran up the hill. c) Jack and Jill ran the bill up. d) Jack and Jill ran the hill up.
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Ambiguity Ambiguity - open to multiple interpretations Sources of ambiguity: Lexical: a word has two or more meanings “I’ll meet you by the bank.” Structural: a sentence has two or more interpretations due to different structures “Mr. Jones helped the dog bite victims.”
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Infinitude Infinite number of possible sentences Infinitely long sentences (theoretically) “I know that you know that I know that you know that I’m busy.”
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Syntactic Categories Different kinds of words: Nouns (N) Verbs (V) Adjectives (Adj) Prepositions (P) Adverbs (Adv) Pronouns Determiners (D) Auxiliaries (Aux) Conjunctions (Conj)
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