Chapter 4: Syntax- The Sentence Patterns of Language

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Chapter 4: SyntaxThe Sentence
Patterns of Language
Presented by Alicia Kalberer,
Mirna Lopez, and Michelle D'Arpa
WHAT IS SYNTAX?
• The part of grammar that represents a speaker’s
knowledge of sentences and their structure is called
syntax.
• Syntax specifies the correct word order for a
language.
• All languages have mechanisms like syntax to make
a limitless number of sentences.
• This is a characteristic shared by all speakers of a
language.
RULES OF SYNTAX
•
• Combines words into phrases and phrases
into sentences.
•
Describes relationship between the meaning
of a particular group of words and the
arrangement of those words.
•
English is a Subject-Verb-Object [SVO]
language.
RULES OF SYNTAX (CONT.)
Syntax also specifies the
grammatical relationship of a sentence.
Examples: subject and direct object
Who is doing what to whom?
Grammatical: Corresponds to syntactic structure
for written communication.
Ungrammatical: Does not correspond to the
syntactic structure of written communication.
RULES OF SYNTAX (CONT. 2)
•
Our knowledge of syntax tells us how
words form groups in a sentence.
•
Syntactic rules reveal the grammatical
relations among words of a sentences as
well as the order of those words.
SYNTAX ACTIVITY
STRUCTURAL AMBIGUITY
•
Grammatically correct sentence
that can be perceived with
different meanings.
STRUCTURAL AMBIGUITY (CONT. 2)
Sherlock
saw
the
man
using
binoculars
saw
Sherlock
the
man
using
binoculars
DETECTING AMBIGUITY
• Being able to perceive the dual meaning of
homophones is the first skill that develops (Wankoff,
6).
• The lady was annoyed by her
in the doctor’s
office. It was six o’clock and her appointment was at
five.
• Students would need to know the definitions of
weight and wait in order to choose the correct
word.
AMBIGUOUS SENTENCES
• Being able to detect both meanings of an ambiguous
sentence is the skill that emerges next and indicates
advanced reading skills (Wankoff, 7).
• The waitress became upset when the glasses fell
on the floor and broke.
• Students would need to know the definitions of
glasses in order to detect both interpretations of
the sentence. Were the glasses for the thirsty
customers or were they prescription glasses for the
waitress to read the prices on the menu.
CONSTITUENTS AND
CONSTITUENCY TESTS
A natural grouping or parts of a sentence
are called constituents.
There are three different tests mentioned in our
textbook that help identify a constituent:
Stand Alone
Replacement by a Pronoun
Move as a Unit
STAND ALONE
This constituent can stand alone.
It can be used as the answer to a question.
Example:
I went to my room to look for my shoes.
Where did you go to look for your shoes? My room.
REPLACEMENT BY A PRONOUN
This constituent can be substituted by a
pronoun within the sentence.
Example:
Jonathan and Beth found the pencils on the desk.
Jonathan and Beth found them on the desk.
MOVE AS A UNIT
This constituent can be moved, as a whole
group, to another place in the sentence and
it does not change the meaning.
Example:
It was a bone that the dog found in the dirt.
The dog found a bone in the dirt.
EXERCISE 12
Using one or more of the constituency tests
discussed in this chapter, determine which
of the boldfaced portions in the sentences
are constituents.
Provide the grammatical category of the
constituents.
A.
MARTHA FOUND A LOVELY
PILLOW FOR THE COUCH.
•
It can stand alone. (What did she find?)
•
It can be replaced by a pronoun. (it)
If we moved it as a unit to another place it
would change the grammatical structure.
•
•
It is a noun phrase constituent. (NP)
B.
THE LIGHT IN THIS ROOM
IS TERRIBLE.
• It cannot stand alone. (What is terrible?)
(It needs “the”)
• It cannot be replaced by a pronoun.
(This “it” is terrible?)
• It cannot be moved. (If we move this chunk to
another part of the sentence it becomes
ambiguous.)
• (Ungrammatical) If we are allowed to consider the
C. I WONDER IF BONNIE HAS
FINISHED PACKING HER BOOKS.
• It can stand alone. (What do you wonder?)
• It cannot be replaced by a pronoun. (I wonder
(pronoun?).)
• It can be moved if we add additional words. (Thus,
if Bonnie has finished packing her books, we can
leave now.)
• It can be considered a noun phrase (NP) and a verb
phrase (VP).
D.
MELISSA SLEPT IN HER
CLASS.
It can stand alone. (Where did Melissa
sleep?)
•
•
It can be replaced by a pronoun. (It can
be replaced by “there”.)
It can be moved and we can add a
prepositional phrase. (In her class,
Melissa slept on her desk.)
E.
PETE AND MAX ARE
FIGHTING OVER THE BONE.
•
It can stand alone. (Who is fighting over
the bone?)
•
It can be replaced by the pronoun “they”.
•
It can be moved and the sentence is
transformed into a question. (Are Pete
and Max fighting over the bone?)
F.
I GAVE A BONE TO PETE AND
TO MAX YESTERDAY.
•
• It cannot stand alone. (It would an awkward
answer to a question.)
• It cannot be replaced with a pronoun.
• If it is moved it yields an ungrammatical sentence.
• It is not a constituent. ALTHOUGH, it could be a
constituent under the “stand alone” test if words
were allowed to be added to the phrase. (Did you
G.
I GAVE A BONE TO PETE AND
TO MAX YESTERDAY.
•
It cannot stand alone. (It would an
awkward answer to a question.)
•
It cannot be replaced with the pronoun.
•
If it is moved it yields an ungrammatical
sentence.
•
It is not a constituent.
LET'S SEE HOW WE DO WITH SOME
EXAMPLES FROM GREAT BRITAIN.
(THINK ABOUT ANY CLUES A CHILD MAY USE
TO HELP THEM WIN THE GAME.)
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
How does understanding syntax help the reader gather
meaning from the sentence?
Can teaching structural ambiguity be a good skill for
young learners to help them learn a language?
What is something new you have learned in this chapter
that you might try to incorporate into the classroom?
SYNTAX RESEARCH
Cognitive Linguistic Approach for the basis of
Language Acquisition
•
•
•
•
•
In order for any child or adult trying to learn a second language, they
must acquire and internalize the syntactic rules of the language.
The acquisition knowledge of syntax is acquired slowly as
lexemes are learned.
Different Linguistic Approaches argue the methodology of
learning the language lexemes
Analytical Linguistic Approach: Concerned with identifying,
categorizing and describing the patterns found in language.
Construction Approach: aim to account for the full range of facts
about language, without assuming that a particular subset of the
language is part of a privileged ‘core’.
C IS FOR ...
BBC © (2012) Kung- Fu Sentences [online game]
RESOURCES
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks1/literacy/making_sentences/play/
Fromkin, V., Rodman, R., and Hyams, N. (2011). An introduction to language
(9th ed.). Heinle
Goldberg, A.E. (1999) The Emergence of argument structure semantics.In
The Emergence of Language (MacWhinney, B., ed.),pp. 197–212, Erlbaum
Lamb, Sydney. M (1999) Cognitive Linguistic Pathway of the brain: The
Neurocognitive Basis for Language/Philadelphia
Spring Dance © PreTeena (May 4) Allison Barrows
Wankoff, L., & Cairns, H. (2009). Why Ambiguity Detection Is a Predictor of
Early Reading Skill. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 30(3), 183-192.
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