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
For most people, the study of language is in the domain of the humanities , when there is actually a
scientific componenent involved.
- 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
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