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Syntax

The analysis of sentence structure

Dr. Alok K Das http://www.freewebs.com/alokdas/

Syntax in Linguistic Tree


Linguistics Sounds of language

Grammar

Meaning

Phonetics

Phonology

Morphology

Syntax

Semantics

Pragmatics

Syntax Dr Alok K Das

Why syntax?
Its part of Linguistics Its part of the grammar of every language And the grammar of a language is part of a native speakers linguistic knowledge
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Reasons for studying syntax


Infinity of expressions
There is an infinite number of possible utterances in every language It is obvious that all these utterances cannot be stored in our brains A finite number of words (the lexicon; the dictionary in your head), and Rules (the grammar of the language)

Our knowledge of a language consists of

It is the job of the syntactician (and the morphologist) to find out what these rules are
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Language acquisition
Everyone who can speak knows how to use the rules
and it is amazing that children can do it so fast

But nobody can really state exactly what the rules are! Understanding syntax (and morphology) can help researchers to understand how young children learn their native language
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Universal grammar
Theory of Chomsky UG has Principles, true of all languages
All languages have the same underlying structure
e.g. all languages have nouns and verbs

and Parameters, whose setting varies from language to language


English and Chinese SVO; Japanese SOV Spanish and Chinese pro-drop; English not pro-drop
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All languages have constituents


Take a simple sentence Johnny danced We can call the sentence S, and label the syntactic categories N and V

N
Johnny
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V
danced

Phrase structure grammar


N and V arent always very good labels Johnny is similar to the handsome student, because they are both the same kind of constituent They are both Noun Phrases We can remove Johnny and add the handsome student, and the sentence structure is still similar
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NP
The handsome student

VP
danced

Different sentence, same constituents


S
Now lets add an object danced the lambada is the same kind of constituent as danced a VP You can swap danced for danced the lambada and the basic structure is the same

NP
The handsome student

VP
danced the lambada

Syntax Dr Alok K Das

What are the NP and VP?


The frog ate the lizard. The frog sat on the lilypad. The fat frog ate the long lizard slowly. The fat frog with a lizard in its mouth sat on the lilypad. The fat frog who was sitting on the lilypad with a lizard in its mouth danced the lambada.
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Phrase structure rules


Now, you know this phrase structure rule: S NP VP (a Sentence comprises a Noun Phrase followed by a Verb Phrase) Draw a tree for the phrase Emma drinks Here are two more phrase structure rules: VP V NP NP N Think about that carefully Now, draw a tree with more detail For the sentence Emma drinks whisky
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Now lets change the NP rule


First, DET means determiner
Function words like the, a, this, several

NP (DET) N
That means a noun phrase can have a determiner, and it must have a noun

Now you can diagram Johnny danced the lambada in a bit more detail than I did on the other slide Remember:
S NP VP VP V NP)
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Now lets change the NP rule again


Such that we have
S NP VP VP V NP NP (DET) (ADJ) N

Now you can diagram this sentence


The unhappy book ate the green lambada The sentence is syntactically well-formed, by the way
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Grammatical or Ungrammatical:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. The boy found the ball The boy found quickly The boy found in the house The boy found the ball in the house Disa slept the baby Disa slept soundly

Find: Transitive verb (with object) Sleep: Intransitive verb (no object)
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Syntactic Categories

Lexical categories Noun (N) Verb (V) Adjective (A) Preposition (P) Adverb (Adv)

Examples moisture, policy melt, remain good, intelligent to, near slowly, now

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Syntactic Categories

Non-lexical categories Determiner (Det) Degree word (Deg) Qualifier (Qual) Auxiliary (Aux) Conjunction (Con)

Examples the, this very, more always, perhaps will, can and, or

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Indicate the category of each word in the following sentences.

a. The glass suddenly broke.


Det / N / Adv / V

b. A jogger ran towards the end of the lane.


Det / N / V / P / Det / N / P / Det / N

c. The peaches never appear quite ripe.


Det / N / Qual / V / Deg / A

d. Gillian will play the trumpet and the drums in the orchestra.
N / Aux / V / Det / N / Conj / Det / N / P / Det / N

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Phrases
NP : Noun Phrase The car, a clever student VP : Verb Phrase study hard, play the guitar PP : Prepositional Phrase in the class, above the earth AP : Adjective Phrase very tall, quite certain

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Phrase Structure Rules


NP (Det) N (PP) PP P NP
The bus in the yard NP N Det N P Det The
Syntax Dr Alok K Das

The bus (NP) Det

PP NP N yard
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The

bus

bus

in

the

Phrase Structure Rules


VP V (NP) (PP) S NP (Aux) VP
took the money (VP) V Det NP N took the money from the bank VP V Det

NP N P

PP NP Det N bank
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took

the

money

took
Syntax Dr Alok K Das

the

money

from

the

Draw the tree diagram.


1. repaired the telephone 2. the success of the program

3. a film about pollution


4. move towards the window

5. cast a spell on the broomstick


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The main structure rules

1. S NP (Aux) VP 2. NP (Det) (AP) N (PP)

3. VP V (NP) (PP) (Adv)


4. PP P NP 5. AP A (PP)

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Example
The old tree swayed in the wind S NP Aux VP

Det

Adj

V
P

PP
NP Det N wind
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The

old

tree

past

swayed

in

the

Syntax Dr Alok K Das

Example
The children put the toy in the box S NP Det VP

V
Det

NP
N P

PP
NP Det N box
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The

children

put

the

toy

in

the

Syntax Dr Alok K Das

Ambiguity: a word, phrase or sentence with multiple meanings


Synthetic buffalo hides (NP) Synthetic buffalo hides (NP)

Synthetic

buffalo hides

Synthetic buffalo

hides

Buffalo hides that are synthetic.

Hides of synthetic buffalo.

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Ambiguities often lead to humorous results


For sale: an antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers. what does thick legs and large drawers refer to? The desk or the lady?

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Structural Ambiguity The boy saw the man with the telescope
S
NP Aux VP

Det

V
Det

NP
N P

PP
NP

Det
The boy past saw the
Syntax Dr Alok K Das

man with the telescope


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Structural Ambiguity The boy saw the man with the telescope
S NP Det N Aux V Det N P Det The boy past saw the VP NP PP NP N

man with the telescope


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Syntax Dr Alok K Das

Draw two phrase structure trees representing the two meanings of the sentence: The magician touched the child with the wand.
Be sure you indicate which meaning goes with which tree.

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Declarative Interrogative
The boy will leave. S NP Aux VP

Move the auxiliary to the left of the subject.


Will the boy leave? S Aux NP VP

Det

N
will

V
leave Will

Det
the

The boy

boy leave

The deep structure

The surface structure

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The Wh Movement
Surface structure: Which car should the man repair? Deep structure: S

NP Det N

Aux V

VP NP Det N

The

man

should repair
Syntax Dr Alok K Das

which

car
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Draw the deep structure of the following sentences


1. Will the boss hire Hillary?
2. Is that player leaving the team? 3. Who should the director call? 4. What is Joanne eating?

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