Ic Analysis

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In linguistics, Immediate constituent analysis or IC Analysis is a method of analyzing a sentence. This was first explicitly introduced by American linguist Leonard Bloomfield in his book Language in 1933.

What is IC Analysis?

Sentence is the largest constituent. And this sentence formation (in other words, largest constituent formation) can be attributed to smaller constituents (which are phrases, words& morphemes), i.e., Morphemes combine to form words. Words combine to form Phrases which in turn combine to form Sentence. Thus, they become the smaller constituents of the larger constituent, sentence. Diagrammatically, representing this formation:

Morphemes ( Words ( Phrases ( Sentence

|( Denotes combine to form |

A sentence is divided up into major divisions or “immediate constituents”, and these constituents are in turn divided into further immediate constituents, and this process continues until irreducible constituents are reached, i.e., until each constituent consists of only a word or meaningful part of a word. This is called IC analysis. The end result of IC analysis is often presented in a visual diagrammatic form that reveals the hierarchical immediate constituent structure of a sentence.

Steps involved in IC Analysis

The following procedure is used in analyzing a sentence

i) Sentences are divided into their principal parts, called immediate constituents.

ii) Each of these parts are then divided and subdivided until the ultimate constituents of the sentence are reached.

iii) Some times until morphemes are reached.

iv) A binary division is applied and a tree diagram or bracketing is used.

Example (i)

Poor David read three books this semester.


LAYER III Poor David read three books this semester

LAYER II Poor David read three books this semester

Subject Verb Object Adjunct

(Noun Phrase) (Main Verb) (Noun) (Prep. Phrase Structure)

LAYER I Poor David three books

(Qualitative Adj.) (Noun) (Quantitative Adj.) (Noun)

The above sentence, when analyzed, results in three layers. In the I layer, it is found that ‘Poor’ joins with ‘David’ to form subject (Noun Phrase), ‘Poor David’. While ‘three’ combines with ‘books’ to from object (Noun) ‘three books’. Thus ‘Poor’ and ‘David’ are the immediate constituents of ‘Poor David’ while ‘three’ and ‘books’ are the immediate constituents of ‘three books’. In the II layer, it is found that words Poor David (S), read (V), three books(O), this semester (A) are the individual ‘ immediate constituents’ of the sentence “Poor David read three books this semester”, which in turn becomes the III layer. Thus, the III layer becomes the final layer (sentence) in the above example.

For sentences whose structures are unusual, this diagramming may become excessively complex; in such cases verbal description is used.

Example (ii)

The girl is happy.

This can be divided into immediate constituents “The girl” and “is happy”. These in turn can be analyzed into immediate constituents (the+girl) and (is+happy).

Representation of IC Analysis by different linguists

IC analysis has been presented by different linguists by applying different diagrams.

i) Nida uses a series of arrows drawn below the sentence.

ii) Nelson Francis uses box diagrams for IC analysis. In his presentation ultimate constituents are indicated in small boxes which are themselves enclosed in larger boxes.

iii) Pike has used slot and filler diagram in which...
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