Estou abrindo esta postagem para fornecer informações aos alunos de graduação da PUC-SP sobre o curso de sintaxe do inglês que farão no segundo semestre de 2009. Atualizarei esta postagem semanalmente, com informações de bibliografia, exercícios e resumo dos itens abordados nas aulas.
Discussão e dúvidas sobre os textos:
- 1) Grammar and Types of Grammars
- 2) Propositional Content
- 3) Thematic Roles and Levels of Representation
Important points: verb selection (predicates and argument selection), propositional content (Alecs seems quite happy about the definition)
For next class (15/09/09): Read the text "introduction to phrase structure" and answer the exercises at the end. We will also continue the discussion of the three texts above.
Discussion of Grammar and Types of Grammar.
- The predicate and its selecting role.
- In Latin there used to be declensions. As languages develop, sometimes, declensions disappear and the word order becomes more stable. In this context, the order of the words in a sentence, as determined by syntax, reflects the role they have in a given sentence. (thematic roles and levels of structure.
- Introduction to Case. Case is assigned to NPs by transitive verbs, prepositions and verb inflections.
- Concepts that need revising:
Subject pronouns and object pronouns. (In fact, we are talking about nominative pronouns and object pronouns)
Null subjects are never allowed in English sentences. (In fact, this assumption refers to finite sentences=sentences n which the verb is conjugated)
·Help students become more aware of what grammar really is.
·Help students become more critical of grammar books and their simplified grammar explanations.
·Enhance students’ background knowledge of grammar.
·Provide students with the opportunity to discuss the effects that their newly acquired grammar knowledge can have on their understanding of the structure of English.
TYPES OF GRAMMAR
What the Letras student needs to know:
The term grammar is used in a lot of different senses. Here it is of our interest to discuss three senses, or three kinds of grammars.
·Grammar is used to refer to the rules and principles native speakers use in producing and understanding their language. These rules and principles are almost all acquired in childhood and are “in the heads” of native speakers. Such a grammar might be called a mental grammar. No one knows the precise form a mental grammar takes because it cannot be directly observed. What can be observed is the output of a mental grammar – the utterances that speakers use and recognize as sentences of their language.
·The term grammar is also used to refer to the set of generalizations (and exceptions to them) formulated by grammarians, who examine grammatical utterances, perhaps compare them with other logical possible strings of words, and then try to determine the properties that differentiate the well-formed strings of words (or sentences) from those that speakers reject as ill-formed. This kind of account of the language is referred to as descriptive grammar. Descriptive grammars are attempts by grammarians to provide visible analogs to the invisible mental grammars of native speakers.
·In a third sense, the term grammar refers to certain kinds of language rules not necessarily based on usage by the ordinary native speaker but on the kind of English believed characteristic of the most educated speakers of the language. Sometimes these rules have less to do with English usage than with the grammar of Latin, notions of logic, or even irrational feelings as to how we should speak and write. This kind of grammar is known as prescriptive grammar, because the grammarian is attempting to prescribe certain ways of speaking and writing. Prescriptive grammars have their uses, especially in education, where they are often referred to as school grammars. School grammars, if based on accurate observation of contemporary usage, can be helpful in guiding writers toward clearer expressions. Textbooks for non-native speakers and grammars for computers processing a particular human language require a prescriptive approach. They are really telling us what the learners or computers ought to say if they are to use English as a well-educated native speaker would.
But this prescriptive approach to grammar can be abused by those who seek to impose outdated conventions or what the prescriber thinks a form ought to mean rather than the meaning understood in general sense.
Let’s see how this works
Compare the two forms:
It’s me! It is I!
When personal pronouns occur after forms of the copula verb be, the subjective forms I, he, she, we, they should be used instead of the objective forms me, him, her, us, them.
What we teach students:
Since prescriptive grammars are really grammars for learning and teaching some version of a language, they serve pedagogical or teaching functions, and are often referred to by grammarians as pedagogical grammars. The better grammars of this type provide an understanding of English language principles and processes and are based on research in the descriptive, scientific tradition; but for good pedagogical reasons, they do not offer comprehensive coverage of the grammar of the language. Furthermore, because such a grammar has to be selective and easily understood, its generalizations are often “tidied up” and abbreviated.
JACOBS, R. A. (1995) English Syntax – A Grammar for English Language Professionals. Oxford American English
readings for next class:
1 - Grammar and types of grammar
3 - Thematic Roles and Levels of Structure
(the two texts are at the C.A. de Letras)
- A description of the major areas of linguistics:
Phonetics and Phonology
This description is important for the students to understand where syntax stands in relation to the other areas of linguistics, and also how it relates to the other areas, especially with morphology. The important contribution of morphology that we are considering in this course is "grammatical categories." The grammatical category of a word ( noun, adjective, verb, determiner, modal, etc.) does not change according to its position in the sentence. The function that this word may have, depending on where it is placed along the sentence, changes according to its position (remember S V O examples discussed in class).
Concepts that students have learned before and that need revising:
- Remove the subject and what's left of the sentence is what we call predicate (NO!!)
- A verb is an action word (NO! Remember examples like fall, arrive, think, etc.)