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EA0916: Morphosyntax

An introduction

What the hell is morphosyntax anyway?


Morphology = study of the structure of morphemes: root words, word stems, affixes Syntax = rules and principles governing sentence structure Morpho/syntax = study of the internal structure of words and the way in which they are put together to form phrases and sentences Basically, its grammar in a more formal linguistic sense

VARIATIONS OF THE LANGUAGE


Registers, dialects, standard, non-standard

CHOICE
Whenever we speak we are faced with two important choices:

What to say How to say it

CHOICE
Factors influencing choice: Purpose Setting Participants Mode of communication
(e.g. speaking or writing)

CHOICE
When studying grammar it is important to see: The possibilities made available by the language system Why the speaker/writer has opted for that particular possibility and not another

DESCRIPTIVE GRAMMAR
Describes real language use, not idealised use
how it is used, not how it should be used

Not correct vs. incorrect


user frequency / preference (more or less)

Accounts for preference and frequency Accounts for language variation:


Register Dialect Standard

PREFERENCE AND FREQUENCY


In some cases the language system offers different options:
The bicycle was stolen They stole my bicycle

Why is one option preferred over the other? Possible factors:


Informational emphasis Expressiveness

LANGUAGE VARIATION
There is an underlying system of grammar, but each different user uses the system differently to meet their communicative needs

LANGUAGE VARIATION
Register: variation responding to the communicative situation and communicative purpose
Relationship between participants Setting

Dialect: variation depending on the individual


Gender Geography Age Social variables

REGISTER
Register is closely related to pragmatics, the study of how language is used. Often, how you say something depends on:
who you are talking to (relationship) where you are (context) what you want (intention)

How we choose to say something affects the results of saying it

REGISTER
Imagine that your intention is to obtain a book, how would you ask for it in the following contexts?
Your brother has had it for 3 weeks and you are angry with him You need to borrow it from someone in your university class who you dont know very well You need it to finish your TFG and you have to ask your supervisor to lend it to you

DIALECT
A dialect is not just a different accent Linguists define dialects as sub-forms of languages which are mutually comprehensible You probably already know the difference between British English (BrE) and American English (AmE) How many other major English dialects can you think of?

DIALECT
Just in English English (not even BrE!!) there are: Cheshire Cumbrian (Cumbria including Barrow-in-Furness) Geordie (Tyneside) Lancastrian (Lancashire) Mackem (Sunderland) Mancunian-Salfordian (Manchester & Salford) Northumbrian (rural Northumberland) Pitmatic (Durham and Northumberland) Scouse (Liverpool) Smoggie (spoken in Teesside) Yorkshire (also known as Broad Yorkshire) (Spoken in Yorkshire)

DIALECT
East Midlands Black Country English Brummie (Birmingham) Potteries (north Staffordshire) Telford accent East Anglian Norfolk dialect Suffolk dialect Southern Received Pronunciation (also known as Queen's English or BBC English) Cockney (working-class London and surrounding areas) Estuary (Thames Estuary) Kentish (Kent) Multicultural London English (Inner London) Sussex Anglo-Cornish Bristolian dialect

STANDARD VS. VERNACULAR


Grammar tends to focus on standard language (presented in usage manuals, dictionaries and media) Conversation contains many features that are considered non-standard (not everybody considers acceptable)

STANDARD VS. VERNACULAR


Is there only one way to speak English? Why use the standard? Who owns English? Why use the standard? ;) Is it possible to speak more than one dialect? Why might you switch between dialects? Exercise: Standard and Non-Standard English

GRAMMATICAL UNITS A basic introduction

GRAMMATICAL UNITS
are meaningful elements combine in a systematic and structured way combine to create bigger units

GRAMMATICAL UNITS
UNIT
SENTENCE

EXAMPLE
My car is broken, so I will take it to the garage My car is broken

DEFINITION
Unit of written discourse

CLAUSE

Smallest independent unit Complete description of an event or state of affairs Group of words Behave like a unit Single lexical unit

PHRASE

My car

WORD

car

MORPHEME

Car/s (plural morpheme)

Part of a word Smallest meaningful unit

PHRASES
Group of words (or simply one word) that behaves like a unit Identifiable by substitution and movement tests
My poor cat died yesterday It died yesterday Yesterday died my poor cat

PHRASES
Can be embedded into another phrase
The house of my dreams

Different phrase structure cause differences in meaning


[Mary] [hit] [the man] [with the umbrella] [Mary] [hit] [the man with the umbrella]

PHRASES
Phrase structure can be represented by tree diagrams

PHRASES
As tree diagrams can get a bit messy, we can also use brackets [[[Happy (adj)] [linguists (n)] (np)] [[make (v)] [[a (det)] [diagram (n)] (np)] (vp)] (s)]

[[[Happy (adj)] [linguists (n)] (np)] [[make (v)] [[a (det)] [diagram (n)] (np)] (vp)] (s)]

PHRASES
Still confused? [Happy linguists make a diagram(s)] [[Happy linguists (np)] [make a diagram (vp)] (s)] [[Happy linguists (np)] [[make (v)] [a diagram (np)] (vp)] (s)] [[[Happy (adj)] [linguists (n)] (np)] [[make (v)] [[a (det)] [diagram (n)] (np)] (vp)] (s)]

PHRASES
Brackets can also be helpful to define other aspects of the phrase:
My favourite uncle (sub) gave (v) me (i.o) the keys to his house (d.o)

[My favourite uncle] [gave] [me] [the keys to his house]

PHRASES
Phrases can perform different syntactic roles: object, subject, etc
My expensive Ferrari drives down the street (subject) I love my expensive Ferrari (object)

In written language embedding is more frequent and phrases are longer


Because they inadvertently write in ways that often use technical jargon, lengthy noun strings, and the passive voice, engineers often have problems communicating with nonspecialists.

TYPES OF PHRASES
(pp. 41-45) NOUN PHRASES VERB PHRASE ADJECTIVE PHRASE ADVERB PHRASE PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE

NOUN PHRASES
Head can be:
Common or proper noun Pronoun Nominalised adjective

Optionally preceded by a determiner Optionally preceded or followed by a modifier (classifies or describes the head) Usually functions as subject or object in the clause (so pay attention to 3rd person singular!)

VERB PHRASE
The head is a verb Head can be preceded by an auxiliary verb Verbs can be finite (tense distinction) or nonfinite (no tense) Verbs are the main element in the clause They denote states or actions They determine what other elements can appear in the clause

ADJECTIVE PHRASE
Adjective as head Optional modifier, following or preceding head (usually expresses degree) Syntactic function:
Modifier of a noun inside a NP Predicative = attribute (after verb to be)

ADVERB PHRASES
Head is an adverb Optional modifier, following or preceding head (usually expresses degree) Syntactic function:
Modifiers in adjective and adverb phrases Adverbial: adds information to the clause regarding place, time, manner, extent, attitude

PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE
Preposition + noun phrase Sometimes preceded by adverb:
Exactly at three

Syntactic function:
Adverbial Modifier of a noun in a NP Stranded prepositions: not followed by NP, this is omitted because it can be inferred.

COMPLEMENTS
Modifiers of different heads of phrases can sometimes be other phrases or clauses (embedding) Noun Phrase:
Infinitive to- clauses: Her refusal to come That-clauses: The man that came yesterday

Adjective Phrase:
Guilty of a crime Easy to follow

COMPLEMENTS
Adverb Phrase:
So fast you dont even notice

Prepositional Phrase:
Wh clauses: Instructions on how to do it Ing clauses: After studying so hard for the exam

EXERCISES
Recognising phrase types: They could have signed that check
[They (np)] [could have signed (vp)] [that check (np)]

In which form is the verb phrase? (p.43)

EXERCISES
Embedded phrases (p.38): She stayed for a few days. This, in my view is totally wrong. She stayed [for [a few days]]. This, [in [my view]], is totally wrong. Describe the structure of the phrases between brackets.

EXERCISES
Clause elements and patterns: My dislike of the man returned. [My dislike of the man (s)] [returned (v)]. Now deconstruct the subject (s). [My dislike [of [the man]]] [np [pp [np ]]] [adj][noun ][pr][det][noun]

CLAUSE PATTERNS
Intransitive: S+V
The spirit vanished

Monotransitive: S+V+DO
I washed the dishes

Copular: S+V+SP and S+V+A


She was so beautiful The book lay on the table

Ditransitive: S+V+IO+DO
You gave me a fright

Complex transitive: S+V+DO+OP and S+V+DO+A


The news made her so happy They put their coats on the bed

CLAUSE ELEMENTS
Verb phrase Long verb phrase (pp. 51-52) Subject Object:
Direct Indirect

Predicative
Subject predicative Object predicative

Adverbial
Obligatory Optional

VERB PHRASE (V)


Expresses action or state The rest of the elements relate to it Determines what other elements are possible

SUBJECT
Noun Phrase Occurs with all verbs Usually precedes the verb Determines person and number of verb Generally doer or agent (semantic point of view)

OBJECT
Noun phrase Usually follows the verb Occurs with transitive verbs Direct object: entity affected by the action Indirect object: receives something or benefits from the action of the verb

S.V.O.C
This highlights the importance of SVOC! subject+verb+object+compliment I left the keys in the car (correct) I left in the car the keys (incorrect)

PREDICATIVE (p.50)
Can be a noun phrase, an adjective phrase or a prepositional phrase

Characterizes a preceding noun phrase

PREDICATIVE (p.50)
Subject predicative:
Refers to the NP subject Immediately follows a copular verb

Example: They looked tired

PREDICATIVE (p.50)
Object predicative:
Refers to the direct object NP and immediately follows it. Example: They are making the road wider

ADVERBIALS (p.51)
Obligatory:
Occur with copular verbs and complex transitive verbs
Your book is on the table The receptionist treated us very rudely

Optional:
Can occur with any type of verb Usually adverb, prepositional or noun phrases There can be more than one They appear in different positions

EXERCISES
Practice your diagrams: I cant see you
[I (np)+ *cant see you (vp long)] [I (np)+ *cant see (vp)] [you (np)] [I (pron)] [ca/nt (modal neg)] [see (lex v: trans)] [you (pron)]

EXERCISES
He couldnt see very clearly Identify: np vp adv-p Identify: pron mod neg v adv

EXERCISES

Now complete the exercises on page 20 of the workbook