First semester Instructor: Kiki Nikiforidou Outline of lecture 8

Department of English Studies
Introduction to Linguistics I – First semester
Instructor: Kiki Nikiforidou
Outline of lecture 8: Syntax
Syntactic (structural) differences may result in differences in meaning:
Salome danced for Herod.
Herod danced for Salome.
*Danced for Salome Herod
Traditional vs. structural definitions for the parts of speech: e.g, a noun names
an entity (=traditional definition) vs. a noun is the part of speech that can occur
after an article (=structural definition). Test frames are used to define
structurally the parts of speech (e.g. The_________________ fell down.)
 Syntactic description requires also reference to categories like number,
person, tense, gender:
e.g. The girli washes heri car every Sunday.
*The girli wash hisi car every Sunday.
Test frames can be further used to define larger units:
________________ fell down.  NP (the tree, a tree, the old tree, trees, she,
Mary, sugar, the tree with the broken branch, the tree which was in the garden)
The boys _______________.  VP (kicked the ball, slept, slept soundly, put
the flowers in the vase, gave Mary a book)
The boys put the flowers __________.  PP (in the vase, on the table, under the
He is _____________.  AP (wrong, very wrong, full of arrogance)
Practice: Divide the following sentences into phrases, putting each phrase into square
1. The man slept in his bed.
2. The man in the brown hat ran away.
3. Trees fell on the parked cars.
4. Blood spilled over the floor.
5. She placed the necklace in the box.
6. Some boys put the very frightened animal in the cage.
Tree diagrams are a way of representing the hierarchical structure of a
Art N
gave the bone to the puppy
Phrase structure rules are the rules that generate the well-formed (grammatical)
phrases and sentences of a language. For example, the basic phrase structure
rules of English include the following:
 S  NP VP (The boy slept)
 NP  Art (Adj) N (a tall boy)
 NP  Proper N (Mary)
 NP  Pro (she)
 NP  Pl N (trees)
 NP  Mass N (blood)
 NP  Art N PP (the boy with the big nose)
 VP  V (adv) (sleep soundly)
 VP  V NP (kick the ball)
 VP  V NP PP (put the flowers in the vase)
 VP  V NP NP (gave me the book)
 PP  P NP
 AP  (adv) Adj (very big)
 ΑP  (adv) Adj PP (fond of chocolate)
Lexical rules indicate which words are appropriate fillers for a particular
syntactic category (tree node). The lexical rules of English include the
N  {boy, girl, satisfaction,…}
V  {kick, eat, sleep, love,…}
P  {on, in, under,…}
A  {big, small, tall,…}