3.1 Grammatical Units

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1 Lengua Inglesa II Topic 3: Grammatical Units Subtopic 1: Units and Boundaries Subtopic 2: The Noun Phrase Mick O Donnell VI-bis Units and rank scale Unit: any stretch of language which constitutes a semantic whole and which has a recognised pattern that is repeated regularly in speech and writing (Downing & Locke, 1992:9) Rank-scale: units arranged from biggest to smallest a clause is made up of phrases a phrase is made up of words a word is made up of morphemes 1

2 3. Boundaries between units UNIT BOUNDARY MARKER EXAMPLES Clause // // the effects of the accident are very serious // Phrase / / the effects of the accident / are / very serious/ Word a space the effects of the accident are very serious 3. Boundaries between units Boundaries between units are not always easy to identify: Mary saw the man with a pair of binoculars a) Mary / saw / the man with a pair of binoculars. b) Mary / saw / the man / with a pair of binoculars. Tests to identify boundaries: Fronting: Can you say with a pair of binoculars, Mary saw the man? Does it have the same meaning? Wh-questions: Who did Mary see? Clefting: it was X that Mary saw. Passivisation: 2

3 3. Boundaries between units Identify the boundaries in the following units (a) Wait! (b) People who live in the North tend to be taller. 4. Types of Words Types of words Closed class words: a limited number of words in the class (pronouns, articles, conjunctions, intensifiers, etc.) Sometimes called: grammatical words, function words Open Class words: an unlimited number of words in the class, and new ones can be created: nouns, verbs, adjectives, descriptive adverbs. Sometimes called: lexical words, content words 3

4 5. Types of Phrases Types of Phrases Phrases are classified, depending on the head, into: NP, VP, AdjP, AdvP, PP. Phrases perform various syntactic functions: Subject (S), Predicator, Direct Object (Od), Indirect Object (Oi), Prepositional Object (Oprep), Complement of the Subject (Cs), Complement of the Object (Co), Adjunct (A), Disjunct (D), Conjunct (Conj). Form Function (syntactic) By chance a policeman witnessed the accident 1. What is a Noun Phrase? A noun phrase (or NP) is a grammatical unit which has a noun or pronoun as its head. NPs usually refer to a person, thing, place or time. Can refer to an event (the bombing of Bagdad) Can include: Proper nouns: Sir John Oswald, M.D. Common nouns: my doctor 4

5 1. The Structure of the Noun Phrase Structure of the Common Noun Phrase: Determiner^Quantifier^Epithet^Classifier^Thing^Qualifier the seven large electric car from China Det Quantif Epith Classif Thing Qualif men Thing John s Deictic car Thing 2. The Head of the Noun Phrase (Thing) The head of an NP: Almost always a noun (book, tree, etc.) May be an abstract noun (my love, true colours) May be a process, sometimes realised by a gerund noun (the running of the bulls) Sometimes an adjective can act as the head: the quick survive he sunk a red 5

6 2. The Head of the Noun Phrase (Thing) Nouns and Agreement: NUMBER AGREEMENT: The Head has to agree in number with determiner (a cat, some cats). But note: the is neutral: the cat / the cats The head of an NP acting as Subject has to agree in number with the Finite verb: The boy swims/the boys swim No agreement with the adjective premodifiers: A beautiful girl / two beautiful girls NO GENDER AGREEMENT: unlike Spanish, English does not inflect for gender. INFLECTION FOR CASE: only with pronouns (he/him/his) 3. The Determiner slot The Determiner specifies WHICH ONE? the : one which you can identify from context (the heading) this : one which you can identify from context, close by (e.g., this slide) that : one which you can identify from context, not so close (e.g., that desk) my : the one that belongs to me. a : one that has not yet been introduced ( along came a dog ) 6

7 3. The Determiner slot Specific: Definite article: the Demonstratives: this, that, these, those Possessive: my, your, his... Wh-determiners: which, what, whose... General: Indefinite article: a, zero article Negative: no Universal: every, each Existential: some, any Dual: neither, either Quantitative: enough 3. The Determiner slot The English Genitive Possessive genitive: John s car ( John has a car) Subjective genitive: Objective genitive: Genitive of origin: The boy s application ( The boy applied) The family s support ( X supports the family) The girl s story ( The story the girl told) Descriptive genitive: Women s college ( A college for women) Genitive of measure/partitive genitive: 10 days absence ( The absence lasted 10 days) 7

8 4. The Quantifier slot Cardinal: Specific: seven boats Nonspecific: many boats Ordinal: I liked the first one 5. Epithets and Classifiers Epithets provide qualities of the Head: Colour (red), Size (big), Texture (smooth), Quality (good), material (steel) etc. Answer the question: what is it like? Classifiers provide the class of thing. An electric car, a used car salesman, legal consul Answer the question: what kind of thing is it? Epithets are generally realised by adjectival phrases Classifiers often realised by NPs (car salesman) Same words can serve both functions: A sick person vs. Sick leave Epithets nearly always come before Classifiers: a large car seller NOT a car large seller 8

9 5. Epithets and Classifiers Epithets can be objective or subjective: Objective a medieval castle a sheer cliff a provincial city pure wool Subjective a medieval state of sanitation sheer nonsense a provincial attitude pure chance If the Classifier is an NP, generally is singular and has no determiner of its own: the (used car) seller the (used cars) seller the (cat) burglar the (the cat) burglar 6. Qualifiers Qualifiers are post-modifiers: Prepositional Phrase: the man from Australia Finite clauses: Clauses introduced by temporal conjunctions: The days before he died Relative clause: the man who I saw wh clause: the question whether there is life on Mars that-clause: the claim that there is life on Mars Non-finite clauses: Infinitive clause: Pres. participle clause Past participle clause Temporal NP the desire to be free the man driving the car the man driven by hunger the show this morning 9

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