Today What is syntax? Grammaticality Ambiguity Phrase structure

Today What is syntax? Grammaticality Ambiguity Phrase structure

Today What is syntax? Grammaticality Ambiguity Phrase structure Readings: 6.1 6.2

Productivity e.g., Laura ate two peanuts. Laura ate three peanuts. Laura ate forty-three million, five hundred and nine peanuts. Laura ate X peanuts. (where X = number) Productivity

We do not store whole sentences, but the words (mental lexicon) and the rules that combine them The set of rules is finite, but the set of possible sentences is not Syntax The study of the structure of phrases/

sentences and the rules governing how words are combined to form phrases/sentences These rules are acquired at a very young age and internalized. Grammaticality Sequences of words that conform to the rules of a language are grammatical (wellformed)

Grammatical is different from comprehensible Grammatical or ungrammatical? The cat is on the mat. The mat is on the cat. *The cat on is the mat. * = an ungrammatical or ill-formed sentence Word order is important.

Grammatical or ungrammatical? *This sentence no verb. *Contains a verb. Sentences need a subject and a verb *This sentence has cabbage six carrots. Grammatical or ungrammatical? Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. *Sleep furiously ideas green colorless. Grammaticality and sense/meaning can be independent of one another. This shows the independence of syntactic

rules. Ambiguity The property of having two or more meanings. Lexical ambiguity Structural ambiguity


Lexical ambiguity: when a word has more than one meaning Structural ambiguity I once shot an elephant in my pajamas.

Tonights program will discuss sex with Dr. Ruth Westheimer. We will not sell gasoline to anyone in a glass container. This mixing bowl is designed to please any cook with a round bottom for efficient beating. Structural ambiguity Ambiguity resulting from the structure of the phrase or sentence

e.g., discuss [sex with Dr. Ruth Westheimer] [discuss sex] [with Dr. Ruth Westheimer] e.g., a large [mans hat] [a large mans] hat Hierarchy and ambiguity large mans hat (un lock able) large mans hat (un lock able)

Phrase structure 1) Every word belongs to a lexical category 2) Lexical categories forms heads (main words) of phrases which can function as a unit 3) How phrases are formed is governed by rules (= phrase structure rules) Lexical categories

Nouns (N): Laura, peanut, house Verbs (V): eat, see, sleep, dive Adjectives (Adj): big, lazy, colorless Determiners (Det): the, a, those, every Prepositions (P): in, of, over, with Adverbs (Adv.): quickly, often A words lexical category determines what kind of phrasal category it can form

Phrases Built up from lexical categories (their heads) May consist of one or more words They function as a unit These units come together to form sentences

Types of phrases Noun phrase (NP) John the boy

a book about a boy a big picture of the boy in a bubble A friend that Ive known for a long time Types of phrases Verb phrase (VP)

fall fell slowly fell (slowly) into the pond buy the book *buy slowly the book buy the book with a credit card Types of phrases Prepositional phrase (PP):

in with a smile of my little teeth between a rock and a hard place at the store by my house

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