Written by a leading authority on the subject, the fifth edition of this bestselling book provides students with a thorough grounding in the essentials of sentence structure and the fundamentals of syntactic argumentation. Show More Written by a leading authority on the subject, the fifth edition of this bestselling book provides students with a thorough grounding in the essentials of sentence structure and the fundamentals of syntactic argumentation. Divided into four parts, it begins by examining the basic concepts that underpin the study of syntax, before moving on to more complex issues. The first part introduces the foundations of syntax, namely clauses and sentences; the second looks at the internal structure of phrases and the bridge between syntax and semantics; the third deals with syntactic argumentation; and the fourth focuses on argumentation and its application. Chapters feature clear explanations of technical terms, easy-to-follow examples and interactive exercises to illustrate key ideas.
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The texts are designed to engage the active partici-pation of the reader, favouring a problem-solving approach and includingliberal and varied exercise material. No reproduction, copy or transmission ofthis publication may be made without written permission. No paragraph of this publication may be reproduced, copied ortransmitted save with written permission or in accordance withthe provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act ,or under the terms of any licence permitting limited copyingissued by the Copyright Licensing Agency, 90 Tottenham CourtRoad, London W1T 4LP.
Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to thispublication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civilclaims for damages. ISBN 0———0 hardbackISBN 0———2 paperbackThis book is printed on paper suitable for recycling andmade from fully managed and sustained forest sources. A catalogue record for this book is availablefrom the British Library.
English language—Syntax. English language—Semantics. Persuasion Rhetoric I. It is inspiredby current Chomskyan theory, but it is not an introduction to it. However,having worked their way through this book, students should be able to pro-gress to a more advanced study of syntax, descriptive or theoretical. Naturally, all blunders, bloopers and other blem-ishes are entirely due to me.
The Scrabble tiles on the cover design are reproduced by kind permissionof J. When we speak, we utter a stream of sounds with a certainmeaning, which our interlocutors can process and understand, provided ofcourse they speak the same language. Apart from the spoken medium,language also exists in written form. It then consists of a string of letterswhich form words, which in turn make up sentences. If you have thoughtabout language, you will have realised that whether it is spoken or written, ithas structure, and that it is not a hotchpotch of randomly distributedelements.
Instead, the linguistic ingredients that language is made up of arearranged in accordance with a set of rules. This set of rules we call thegrammar of a language. Grammar is a vast domain of inquiry and it willbe necessary to limit ourselves to a subdomain. In this book we will only beconcerned with the part of grammar that concerns itself with the structure ofsentences. This is called syntax. How can we go about describing the structure of sentences?
First of all, one ofthe principal concerns of syntax is the order of words. In English we cannotstring words into a sentence randomly. For example, we can have 1 , butnot 2 or 3 : 1 The President ate a doughnut. The contrast between 1 and 2 shows that in English the word that denotesthe activity of eating ate must precede the word or string of words thatrefers to the entity that was being eaten a doughnut.
Furthermore, if wecompare 2 and 3 we see that not only must ate precede a doughnut, butwe must also ensure that the two elements the and a precede President and 3 ntroductiondoughnut, respectively. It seems that the and President together form a unit,in the same way that a and doughnut do. Our syntactic framework will haveto be able to explain why it is that words group themselves together. We willuse the term constituent for strings of one or more words that syntacticallyand semantically i.
Consider now sentence 4 : 4 The cat devoured the rat. It is possible to rearrange the words in this sentence as follows: 5 The rat devoured the cat. In 4 the agent perpetrator of the attack is the cat and theundergoer victim is the rat. In 5 these roles are reversed. Analternative ordering for 4 is given in 6 below: 6 The RAT, the cat devoured. Sentences of this type are commonly used for contrast. For example, 6 might be uttered in denial of someone saying The cat devoured the mouse.
Again, the syntactic rules of our grammar must be able to characterise theregrouping that has transformed 4 into 6 , and they must also be able toexplain why in this case there is no change in meaning. Let us look at some further simple sentences and see how we can analysethem in terms of their constituent parts. Consider 7 below.
How could weplausibly subdivide this sentence into constituents? One possible subdivision is to separate the sentence into words: 8 The — President — blushed Introduction 5However, clearly 8 is not a particularly enlightening way to analyse 7 ,because such a dissection tells us nothing about the relationships betweenthe individual words. Intuitively the words the and President together form aunit, while blushed is a second unit that stands alone, as in 9 : 9 [The President] — [blushed]We will use square brackets to indicate groups of words that belongtogether.
Similarly, the word blushed has a clear function in that it tells us whathappened to the President. Let us now turn to a slightly more complex example. Consider thesentence below: 11 Our vicar likes fast cars. If we want to set about analysing the structure of this sentence, we can ofcourse divide it up into words, in the way we did in 8 , as follows: 12 Our — vicar — likes — fast — carsBut again, you will agree, this is of limited interest for the same reason asthat given above: an analysis into strings of individual words leaves therelationships between words completely unaccounted for.
Intuitively the words our and vicar belong together, as do fast and cars. Theword likes seems to stand alone. Why would that be? There are a number of reasons for thiswhich will be discussed in detail in later chapters, but we will look at oneof them now. In 11 that constituent is fast cars. Notice that blush in 7 does not require the presence ofanother constituent to complete its meaning. Giving motivated reasons for adopting certain structures and rejectingothers is called syntactic argumentation.
One aim of this book is to trainyou in the art of being able to set up a coherent syntactic argument. Wewill almost exclusively be concerned with the syntax of English, notbecause other languages are not interesting, but because studying thesyntactic properties of other languages requires a wider framework thanwe can deal with here. The general syntactic framework I have adopted isinspired by the theory of language developed by the American linguistand philosopher Noam Chomsky.
The main aim of the book is to makeyou familiar with the basics of English syntax and, as noted above, withthe fundamentals of syntactic argumentation. A further aim is to enableyou to move on to more advanced books and articles on theoreticalsyntax. Introduction 7Key Concepts in this Chapterstructuregrammarsyntaxconstituentsyntactic argumentation unctionIn the last chapter we saw that sentences are not random collections ofwords, but strings of words which are organised according to certain rules.
It is the task of syntax to give an account of those rules. We saw thatsentences can be analysed into subparts which we referred to as constituents. In this chapter we will look at how these constituents function in thesentences of which they are a part.
In 3 and 4 distinct entities, namely the cat and the rat respectively, carry out the actiondenoted by the word devoured. We will call words that denote actions verbs. Also, notice that we could say that 3 is concerned with telling us more aboutthe cat, while 4 is concerned with telling us more about the rat. The second bracketed units in the sentences in 3 and 4 are devoured therat and devoured the cat, respectively.
These constituents tell us more aboutthe Subject of the sentence, namely what it was engaged in doing or, tobe more precise, what its referent was engaged in doing. In 3 the Subject 8 ject and Predicate 9 the cat was engaged in eating a rat, whereas in 4 the Subject the rat wasengaged in eating a cat.
We will use the term Predicate for the unit in asentence whose function is to specify what the Subject is engaged in doing.
The notion Predicate is therefore a second type of grammatical function. In any given sentence the Predicate is everything in the sentence except theSubject. ExerciseIn each of the following sentences determine what is the Subject and what isthe Predicate: i The police arrested the bank robber. The Subjects are: the police, this factory, that stupid waiter, the stuntmanand she.
You will no doubt have noticed that the subdivision of sentences intoSubjects and Predicates is very rough-and-ready and can be establishedquite mechanically. In each of the sentences we looked at so far the referent of the Subjectwas indeed engaged in performing the action denoted by the verb, and theSubject also indicated what the sentence was about.
However, referentsof Subjects need not always be doing something. What these sentences show, then, is that Subjects can also precedestative Predicates. The Predicates we have encountered up to now, by con-trast, were dynamic. Consider the following: 9 It is raining in England. The element it in 9 and 10 is often called weather it, because it is used inexpressions which tell us about the weather. It is also called nonreferential it. This second term brings out the important fact that this element does notrefer to anything in the way that referential it in 13 does: 13 Where did I put my hat?
Ah, I put it in the car. Here it refers back to the string of words my hat which in its turn refers to aconcrete object in the real world. There in sentences 11 and 12 is called existential there because it is usedin propositions that have to do with existence.
There it is! It would be odd to say that it and there tell us what 9 — 12 are about. Anticipating the discussion in the next chapter, we will callsuch words nouns. Furthermore, we will refer to groups of words such as thecat, that stupid waiter, the girl with the red hair etc. The generalisation we can now make is to say that Subjects are usuallyNoun Phrases.
Secondly, in straightforward run-of-the-mill sentences, i. Thirdly, Subjects are obligatory. Fourthly, Subjects determine the form of the verb in such cases as thefollowing: 15 She never writes home. We say that the Subjects in these sentences she, James, this book, ourneighbour agree with the verbs write, sulk, sadden, take. This agreement isvisible through the -s ending on the verbs. Such agreement occurs only if wehave a third person singular Subject.
Such a Subject does not denote thespeaker or the hearer i.
english syntax and argumentation 2001
English Syntax and Argumentation