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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
languag
e

Phonetics

Syntax
Dr Alok K Das

Phonolog
y

Grammar

Morpholog
y

Syntax

Semantic
s

Meanin
g

Pragmatic
s

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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Dr Alok K

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

Our knowledge of a language consists of


A finite number of words (the lexicon; the
dictionary in your head), and
Rules (the grammar of the language)

It is the job of the syntactician (and the


morphologist) to find out what these rules
are
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Dr Alok K

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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Dr Alok K

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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Dr Alok K

All languages have constituents


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

Syntax

Johnny

danced
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Dr Alok K

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

VP

The
handsome
student

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

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Dr Alok K

NP

VP

The
handsome
student

danced the
lambada

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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Dr Alok K

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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Dr Alok K

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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Dr Alok K

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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Dr Alok K

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)
Syntax
Das

Dr Alok K

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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

Syntax
Das

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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

Syntax
Das

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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

Syntax
Das

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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

Syntax
Das

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Phrase Structure Rules


NP (Det) N (PP)
PP P NP
The bus in the yard
NP

The bus (NP)


Det

The

bus

Det

PP
P

The
Syntax
Das

Dr Alok K

bus

in

NP
Det

the

yard
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Phrase Structure Rules


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

took the money (VP)


V

NP
Det

took

the

V
N

NP
Det

PP
N

money

took
Syntax
Das

the
Dr Alok K

money

from

NP
Det

the

bank
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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
Syntax
Das

Dr Alok K

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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)

Syntax
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Example
The old tree swayed in the wind
S
Aux

NP
Det

Adj

VP

PP
P

The

old

tree

past

Syntax
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swayed

Dr Alok K

in

NP
Det

the

wind
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Example
The children put the toy in the box
S

NP
Det

VP
N

NP
Det

The

children

put

the

Syntax
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Dr Alok K

PP
N

toy

in

NP
Det

the

box
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Ambiguity: a word, phrase or


sentence with multiple meanings
Synthetic buffalo hides (NP)

Synthetic

Synthetic buffalo hides (NP)

buffalo hides

Synthetic buffalo

Buffalo hides that are synthetic.

hides

Hides of synthetic buffalo.

Syntax
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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?

Syntax
Das

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Structural Ambiguity
The boy saw the man with the telescope
S
NP
Det

Aux
N

VP
V

NP
Det

PP
N

NP
Det

The

boy

past

saw the

Syntax
Das

man with the telescope

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Structural Ambiguity
The boy saw the man with the telescope
S
NP
Det

Aux
N

VP
NP

V
Det

PP
P

NP
Det

The

boy

past

saw

Syntax
Das

the

man with the telescope

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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.

Syntax
Das

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Declarative Interrogative

Move the auxiliary to the left of the subject.


The boy will leave.
S
NP

Det

Aux

VP

The boy

Will the boy leave?


S
Aux

V
will

leave

Will

NP

VP

Det

the

boy leave

The surface structure

The deep structure

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

NP
Det

The

Aux
N

man

VP
NP

should repair
Syntax
Das

Det

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?

Syntax
Das

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