Syntax

Syntax – an indepth look

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Human communication in all its forms almost always uses words. We could say that communication is essentially the expression of thought. Every time we speak or write we are faced with a myriad of choices to explain ourselves. Within this information transmission that uses thought, we use words to express our beliefs and judgments, intentions and desires, etc. The words are used in a combination to make others understand our desired thoughts. Human languages are among several systems of human communication (some others such as gestures, symbol systems), but language has immeasurably greater communicative power than the others. The grammar we use to communicate, the context, the people with whom we are communicating with and whether we are writing or speaking have to be in a form that is fully recognized. Sentences are not unordered strings of words; rather the words and morphemes are grouped into functional constituents such as subject, predicate, direct object, noun phrase, verb phrase, and so on. It means that we take a finite number of discrete elements (words) and combine them to create larger structures that are different in meaning from the original words themselves. The choices for expression make use of many patterns in the English language. All human languages have very similar underlying structures; they all have phrase structure rules and transformational rules. The use of these words is systematized according to syntax. It is Syntax that this paper is concerned with. In this paper, I will take a deeper look at how English language syntax helps us form the complete understandable sentences that help us communicate so well.

It is clear to see that the sentence ‘Man hits animal’ is not the same as ‘Animal hits man’.  We know this because we use a code, or set of rules, to translate between orders of words and combinations of thoughts. Generally speaking, this set of rules is called generative grammar. Syntax works on a prescriptive use of grammar although spoken English is not as formal as we think and works along the lines of a more descriptive method. Descriptive syntax is about understanding the rules that a speech community employs by examining the way that the members of that community actually do talk. I will try to show in this paper syntax as comprehensively as possible while recognizing that the coverage of all the details is impossible.

 The English language holds rules that can create larger more complex structures. It is by learning phrase and clause structures that give us a clearer picture of syntax. These structures are what make the syntax rules. We find that it is possible to create an infinite number of sentences, all of which can express meaningful thought. Thus it is possible to construct sentences that the speaker has never used before. It can be said that English has a finite number of rules which facilitate an infinite number of sentences. Syntax shows that sentences and the relationship of their component parts works in English. To understand a sentence one cannot merely pay attention to the order of words. Communication is grounded on getting our point across. The study of language is of the formal interrelations that exist between the elements of a language (i.e., sounds, words) themselves. Syntax is the system that speakers and writers use when they combine words into phrases and clauses, ultimately creating meaning in their structures. Thus, the point of us using words is to be comprehended. English speakers show this in their syntax that is used by every English-speaking person.  The old definition of a sentence was ‘a complete expression of thought’, although today this may seem a bit vague to be helpful. An English-speaking person may say ‘beautiful day!’ which is not a grammatically complete sentence, but it is our knowledge of the sentence ‘it is a beautiful day!’ that we are able to understand the utterance. So, although a person takes the language and uses it to different extremes it is our fundamental knowledge of the original grammar that allows us to comprehend incomplete sentences.

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Syntax – a Reflective Essay

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I see syntax as an important part of language study and reading books like The Language Instinct by Stephen Pinker has inspired me to take a closer look at how we use our language and how a sentence is formed. I hope with this essay I can give a little insight into how syntax is used.

Words are used in a combination to make others understand our desired thoughts. The grammar we use to communicate, the context, the people with whom we are communicating with and whether we are writing or speaking has to be in a form that is fully recognized. Sentences are not unordered strings of words; rather the words and morphemes are grouped into functional constituents such as subject, predicate, direct object, noun phrase, verb phrase and so on. It means that we take a finite number of discrete elements (words) and combine them to create larger structures that are different in meaning from the original words themselves. The choices for expression make use of many patterns in the English language. All human languages have very similar underlying structures; they all have phrase structure rules and transformational rules. The use of these words is systematized according to syntax.

It is clear to see that the sentence ‘Man hits animal’ is not the same as ‘Animal hits man’.  We know this because we use a code, or set of rules, to translate between orders of words and combinations of thoughts. Generally speaking, this set of rules is called a generative grammar. Syntax works on a prescriptive use of grammar although spoken English is not as formal as we think and works along the lines of a more descriptive method. Descriptive syntax is about understanding the rules that a speech community employs by examining the way that the members of that community actually do talk.

English language holds rules that can create larger more complex structures. It is by learning phrase and clause structures that gives us a clearer picture of syntax. These structures are what make the syntax rules. We find that it is possible to create an infinite number of sentences, all of which can express meaningful thought. Thus it is possible to construct sentences that the speaker has never used before. It can be said that English has a finite number of rules which facilitate an infinite number of sentences. Syntax shows that sentences and the relationship of their component parts works in English. To understand a sentence one cannot merely pay attention to the order of words. For example, in the class we learnt about complex, compound and simple sentences and components in them.

1. They were the boys who arrived to see and I knew all of them who came.

And = FANBOYS (For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So)

Independent Clause (x2) = They were the boys / I know all of them

Dependent Clause (x2) = who arrived to see / who came

Who arrived = the WHO is subjective case

Infinitive phrase = to see

Sentence type = compound complex

As above, syntax is the system that speakers and writers use when they combine words into phrases and clauses, ultimately creating meaning in their structures.

To conclude I have noticed that all sentences have basic patterns. I can now say that in many respects there is a mechanical basis in the brain, and all thought has a syntax, or code. So, we see that our utterances represent this internal coding by way of our common syntax.

A Study of Phonology/Syntax/Morphology

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Language is one of man’s greatest abilities. It is a human instinct. Where would we be without language? Language is a complex system that is used in all its complexity in many facets around the world. The function of language is to build symbols for concepts by means of sounds. We can wonder, predict, order, and ask, from the myriad of verbal uses. One language may have various dialects, which is seen by those who use them as languages in their own right. There are about 6,000 languages spoken worldwide. These languages around the world still use the same kinds of grammar although different patterns were formed from the many races of people. This is what we come to recognize, as our own colloquial methods of using language, be it by rules or duplication of others. All known languages have words or word-like elements combined in accordance with certain rules into sentences. Nouns and verbs are the two fundamental grammatical categories that appear in all these language around the globe. Nouns and verbs are used in grammar which is the branch of language study or linguistics. It deals with the means of showing the relationship between words in use. It seems so simple to speak but underneath that simplicity marks rules that show how all the vocal sounds fall into place. It is below the surface of language that I will talk about in this paper. I will focus on syntax (order of words), morphology (the form of words), and phonology (speech sounds) which are some of the specific rules inside of language/grammar. I would like to show how language works in its fascinating way, looking at these three linguistic usages.

There are rules for grammar that, if some of us can remember, were studied at school. This is what we call prescriptive grammar that lays down rules of usage. Such prescriptions amount to a kind of linguistic etiquette that we are supposed to uphold but actually bear little to the underlying grammar that makes communications possible. On the other side, there are descriptive colloquial methods that are characterized in different dialects in conversation. ‘I seen’ or ‘I done’ may not conform to the standard of correctness demanded of cultivated speech, but these expressions cultivate a meaning. This is the study of how people communicate despite the rules. Wherever we live, in each person we are given the ability to say an endless amount of sentences that may never have been said by anyone before. Linguists study this language, their aim is to describe all the permissible patterns of combinations and formulate them as abstract rules that underlie everyday linguistic behavior. These studies notice the language’s syntax, morphology, and phonology. It is noticed that between human individuals, there can be wide differences in cognitive strategies and specifically in modes of perception or action. These differences between individuals, generalized to a language community, provide the basis for differences between the lexicons and syntaxes of different languages.

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A linguistics class reflection

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Six days of attending linguistic lectures spread over three weeks can not be a major amount of time to achieve a solid and complete knowledge of linguistics, but all the same, this essay will try to establish how I accomplished a relative level of understanding through my studies. I tried hard to combine items raised in these lectures, my classmates’ comments, further reading away from the class, and clarity added by my focus group. I will try to highlight some of the points that stuck in my mind regarding linguistics while giving a little insight into the further ideas into the subject.

To begin with, would be to give my general view of linguistics. So, as I researched I found that linguistics is the study of human languages, where within this the science examines not only the structure of language but also its use and the structure in the mind. A layman may think that a linguist, the person who is skilled in linguistics, only looks at rules and grammar, but it is so much more than this. The subject takes in such fields as humanity, science, society, philosophy and literary criticism. Language is not as routine as some may think, and it is astonishing to think that language came from one source which spread across the world to create 6000 more. A learner of linguistics then would be amazed how many branches of linguistics have been created. So, without language where would we be?

My first recognisable factor about the classes was the highlighting of daily use of language which has to be the main dynamic in anyone’s scaffolding of knowledge. The more any speaker uses it, the more they will be able to use their fresh available knowledge of language. The lecturer actually mentioned that reading and writing inspire to make you more creative with your writing and speaking. This, I found to be a sensible choice to further one’s linguistic knowledge. The path that I followed on this course was not the one that I thought and as such I would like to draw attention to some of the further points.

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Language Acquisition

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Language is a unique medium by which speakers, once it has been acquired, can communicate their thoughts and feelings to others. This powerful tool with which people can conduct their business or the government of millions of people, the vehicle by which science and philosophy have been transmitted, is truly remarkable. This sui generic verbal expression used by humankind is surely worth studying, I will try in this essay to put forward ideas, about the study and mastery of the English language focusing on first language acquisition. The English language has in its time gone through many diversities of cultures. The expression is a reminder that the history of the English language is a story of cultures in contact during the past 1500 years of communication between people. This amalgamation of the English language must be considered through the mixed character of its vocabulary. This lexis is prominent among the assets of the English language. Most notably this modeling makes for a language that has been acquired through various means, including borrowing from other languages, the words that it needs. The English language is forever changing as the years go by. The English language we arrive at today is distinctly different from the days of [1]Geoffrey Chaucer’s English and Latin is all but forgotten.

To begin with, scholars in the field of language acquisition, work on many theories in their theoretical basis, as being a child’s language acquisition process. Two notable theories are that language is just like any other behavior, the child acquires. The behavior, which is mostly under the control of, forces acting on external stimulations. The child’s personal character is molded with the language. Also, other scholars assume that language is innate and that no real learning situation is there. We can certainly take for granted that a child’s language acquisition appears to develop in mostly all children under normal circumstances, either as a unilingual or multilingual skill, crucially between the ages of one and five and a necessary interplay of innate and environmental factors. Their new language is acquired through no actual official training; any child can learn any language, under suitable conditions that allow the child to develop embracing voice and kinesthetic stimulation. The child will also follow facial movements. Certain innateness can be seen in a newborn baby’s character, for example, a baby will happily suckle the mum’s breast for milk on the first day, which shows that a child has a natural tendency to do specific behavioral tasks. The connection between the significant physiological and cognitive stages in the maturational history of a child leads several [2]scholars to argue that there might be the biological ability in man that makes the human form of communication uniquely possible for our species and in this sense language is innate. From the moment they enter the world to eight weeks, babies start the process of language acquisition. They begin to cry and make little sounds; this exercises the vocal organs and gives them practice in controlling the flow of air through their mouth and nose. These movements are the preliminary steps towards speech. Right-minded parents will help their child with their initial language even though the child will spontaneously acquire language himself while progressively developing his motor coordination.

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