LINB06H3-SYNTAX - Lecture 1.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Juvenal Ndayiragije

LINB06H3- SYNTAX I What is syntax? - Linguistics is the scientific study of language. The goal is to understand how language works - Syntax deals with one aspect of how language works – how sentences are structured - Three other linguistic subfields o Phonetic : phonology: how speech sounds are produced and grouped into syllables o Morphology: how groups of sounds are organized into morphemes and words o Semantics: how groups of words and sentences generate meaning o syntax how to arrange things together , how to organize (arrange) words together to create sentences. Deals with the structure of sentences. Language vs. language - most people who hear the term language immediately think of some type of language such as English, French, Mandarin , etc. - biolinguistics- biology of the language. - Linguists make a distinction between Language (with capital L) and language (with lower case) - Language is also known as (i-language) (internal language) is the ability of humans to speak language. Noam chompsky calls it the Human language faculty the part of the brain that allows us to speak a particular language - Language is also known as e-language (external language) in as instantation of the human capacity For most people, the study of language is in the domain of the humanities , when there is actually a scientific componenent involved. Scientific Method - The scientific method dates back to Ancient greek scientists, such as Aristotle , etc. - Gather and observe data make generalizations develop hypothesis (cycle repeats itself) - Syntax applied the method to sentence structure o We first observe the data from the language under study o We ten make generalizations about patterns, (subject precedes the verb) o We then generate a hypothesis and text it against most syntactic data o A hypothesis is only useful if it makes a prediction o A hypothesis that makes no predictions or predicts everything is usesless o Finally the hypothesis must be falsifiable. o Grammar  set of rules , which structure and organize language o Syntax looks at the rules of grammar to create a theory o We can tell from a set of data that the hypothesis is wrong or true o In syntax we call the hypotheses rules, and the set of rules for a given language is called grammar o There are often two types of rules :  Prescriptive rules: which prescribe how people should speak or write  Descriptive rules: which describe how people speak, whether they are speaking correctily  Syntax is interested in descriptive rules - Application of the scientific method o In English anaphors are those words that end in –self (himself, herself, itself, etc) o Note that * means that the sentence is ill formed o Bill killed himself o *Bill kissed herself  Bill is a Boy , so cant use herself o Sally kissed herself o *Sally kissed himself  Sally is a girl, cant use himself o Robot killed itself o Kissed / itself/himself/herself  SENTENCE needs an antecedent - An anaphor mush have an antecedent and II agree in gender (masculine, feminine, or neuter) with the antecedent - STEP
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