Syntax

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LECTURE 7: SYNTAX. BASIC SYNTACTIC NOTIONS.

1.General characteristics of syntax.
The grammatical structure of language comprises two major parts – morphology and syntax. The two areas are obviously interdependent and together they constitute the study of grammar.
Morphology deals with paradigmatic and syntagmatic properties of morphological units – morphemes and words. It is concerned with the internal structure of words and their relationship to other words and word forms within the paradigm. It studies morphological categories and their realization.

Syntax, on the other hand, deals with the way words are combined. It is concerned with the external functions of words and their relationship to other words within the linearly ordered units – word-groups, sentences and texts. Syntax studies the way in which the units and their meanings are combined. It also deals with peculiarities of syntactic units, their behavior in different contexts.

Syntactic units may be analyzed from different points of view, and accordingly, different syntactic theories exist.

2. Kinds of syntactic theories.

Transformational-Generative Grammar. The Transformational grammar was first suggested by American scholar Zelling Harris as a method of analyzing sentences and was later elaborated by another American scholar Noam Chomsky as a synthetic method of ‘generating’ (constructing) sentences. The main point of the Transformational-Generative Grammar is that the endless variety of sentences in a language can be reduced to a finite number of kernels by means of transformations. These kernels serve the basis for generating sentences by means of syntactic processes. Different language analysts recognize the existence of different number of kernels (from 3 to 39). The following 6 kernels are commonly associated with the English language: (1) NV – John sings.

(2) NVAdj. – John is happy.
(3) NVN – John is a man.
(4) NVN – John hit the man.
(5) NVNN – John gave the man a book.
(6) NVPrep.N – The book is on the table.
It should be noted that (3) differs from (4) because the former admits no passive transformation. Transformational method proves useful for analysing sentences from the point of their deep structure: Flying planes can be dangerous.

This sentence is ambiguous, two senses can be distinguished: a) the action of flying planes can be dangerous, b) the planes that fly can be dangerous. Therefore it can be reduced to the following kernels: a) Planes can be dangerous b) Planes can be dangerous X (people) fly planes Planes fly Constructional Syntax. Constructional analysis of syntactic units was initiated by Prof. G.Pocheptsov in his book published in Kyiv in 1971. This analysis deals with the constructional significance/insignificance of a part of the sentence for the whole syntactic unit. The theory is based on the obligatory or optional environment of syntactic elements. For example, the element him in the sentence I saw him there yesterday is constructionally significant because it is impossible to omit it. At the same time the elements there and yesterday are constructionally insignificant – they can be omitted without destroying the whole structure. Communicative Syntax. It is primarily concerned with the analysis of utterances from the point of their communicative value and informative structure. It deals with the actual division of the utterance – the theme and rheme analysis. Both the theme and the rheme constitute the informative structure of utterances. The theme is something that is known already while the rheme represents some new information. Depending on the contextual informative value any sentence element can act as the theme or the rheme: Who is at home? - John is at home. Where is John? – John is at home. Pragmatic approach to the study of syntactic units can briefly be described as the study of the way language is used...
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