19. 12. 2006 Grammar (syntax) - External Structure


19. 12. 2006 Types of lexical information: Grammar (syntax) – External structure


  • Wikipedia ( 2.1.07) : In linguistics, syntax is the study of the rules, or "patterned relations", that govern the way words combine to form phrases and phrases combine to form sentences. The word originates from the Greek words συν (syn), meaning "co-" or "together", and τάξις (táxis), meaning "sequence, order, or arrangement". The combinatory behavior of words is governed to a first approximation by their part of speech.

  • Syntax is the structure of sentences

  • Syntax= Grammar= the order of words in a sentence


  • Parts of speech (POS)

  • subcategories

  • phrasal categories

Main relations

  • structural relations

  • paradigmatic

  • syntagmatic

  • semiotic relations

  • interpretation

  • realisation


Words, Context, External Structure

Task: Identify the POS of each word in this text

Mr Bush( noun, name) accepted(verb, past tense) Mr Rumsfeld's (noun, name) resignation(abstract noun) after(preposition, defining the order) November(abstract noun) mid-elections(compound noun) in( preposition, defining the place) which( pronoun) the( definite article) Republicans( noun, name) lost(verb, past tense) control(abstract noun) of( preposition, belonging) both(pronoun, quantifier) the(definite article) House of Representatives( compound noun) and(conjunction, connection) the( definite article) Senate(noun). Public(adjective) discontent(abstract noun) over( preposition) the( definite article) conduct(abstract noun) of( preposition) the(definite article) Iraq war ( compound noun) was seen(verb, auxiliar verb + lexical verb) as(conjunction) a(indefinite article) major(adjective) factor(noun) in(preposition, place, location) the(definite article) defeat (abstract noun).


  • Articles ( definite „the“ / indefinite „a(n)&ldquo: define the relation between the reader and the writer, if a writer uses „the“, he or she expects the reader to know what he is writing about, either because it is obvious or because it was mentioned before

  • Possessives ( my, your, his, her, its, our, their): first element in nominal expressions

  • Demonstratives ( proximal (this) / distal (that) )

  • Quantifiers

  • cardinal numbers ( one, two, ...)

  • extencial: some (not many, depends on the set you are talking about), several ( 2 < several< 10), few, many

  • dual: both ( 2)

  • universal: each ( individually), every, all


  • scalar ( small, big, ...): you can say „very“ with scalar adjectives ( very small, very big)

  • polar ( dead, pregnant, ...): you normally cannot say „very“ with polar adjectives or it would have a special meaning ( „ very pregnant“: she has a very huge stomach)

  • appraisive ( good, wonderful, ...): you might use them with „very“ but then it might sound exaggerated or even ironic, no descriptive adjectives (only an attitude),

  • ordinal ( first, second, ...)

  • adverbs of degree ( can be used with scalar adjectives): very, highly, extremely, incredibly, ...


  • Proper nouns (names): Places, personal, product, ...

  • Common nouns: Countable nouns ( knife, fork, spoon, ...), uncountable nouns (bread ( a slice of bread), butter (a piece of butter), jam ( a spoonful of jam))

Task: What happens when you count „uncountable“ nouns

  • when you order something ( „two teas please&ldquo

  • when you mean different types of bread ( brown bread, toast, ...)


  • personal pronouns ( I / me, you, he / him, ...)

  • possessive pronouns ( mine, yours, his, ...)

  • demonstrative pronouns ( this ( proximal), that (distal))

  • quantifier pronouns ( cardinal numbers ( one, two, ...), existential (some, several, few, ...), dual (both), universal ( every, each, ...)

  • relative pronouns (like conjunctions)


Main Verbs

  • finite forms ( person, number, tense)

  • non- finite forms ( infinitives, participles)

Periphrastic Verbs (auxiliary verb + non- finite main verb)

  • modal ( can, will, ...)

  • aspectual ( be + prespart (continous), have + pastpart ( perfect))

  • passive: be + pastpart

It might have been being repaired“

  • might : modal verb ( -> attitude)

  • have: auxiliary verb

  • been: past participle ( have + been = present perfect)

  • being: continuous

  • repaired: main verb ( being + repaired= present perfect continuous)


  • Deictic

  • Time

  • Place

  • Direction

  • Manner

  • Degree

Deictic ( Wikipedia ( ) 3.1.07)

  • In linguistics, a deictic expression is an expression that refers to the personal, temporal, or spatial aspect of an utterance, and whose meaning therefore depends on the context in which it is used


  • make nominal expressions into adverbial expressions

  • categories: see adverbs

Task: What is the meaning of the preposition „of“ ?

  • The „Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English“, 7th edition, distinguishes between 13 (!) different meanings for the word „of“.

  • belonging to sb „the paintings of Monet“

  • belonging to sth, being part of sth „ the director of the company“

  • coming from a particular background „ the people of Wales“

  • concerning or showing sth/ sb „ a photo of my dog“

  • used to say what sb/ sth is, consists of „ the city of Dublin“

  • used with measurements and expressions of time „2 kilos of potatoes“

  • used to show that sth/ sb belongs to a group „some of his friends“

  • used to show the preposition of sth/ sb in place or time „ just north of Detroit“

  • used after nouns formed from verbs „the arrival of the police“

  • used after some verbs before mentioning sth/ sb in volved in the action „ He was cleared of all blame“

  • used after some adjectives before mentioning sb/ sth that a feeling relates to „to be proud of sth“

  • used to give your on sb' s behaviour „it was kind of you to offer“

  • used when one noun describes a second one „ Where's that idiot of a boy?“

Construct prepositional phrases corresponding to the types of adverbs

  • Deictic ( here, there, now, then): „

  • Time: „ after the match“ ,

  • Place: „above the house“, „a fence around the garden“, „the fox escaped into his hole“

  • Direction: „he hit against his leg“

  • Manner: „ without a trace“ , „like any other day“, „with great enthusiasm“

  • Degree: „the water is warm enough for swimming“


  • co- ordinating conjunctions ( and, but)

  • sub- ordinating conjunctions: make sentences (clauses) into adjective-like noun modifiers

  • basically: make sentence (clauses) into adverb-like verb modifiers

Task: Find examples of conjunctions of each type


  • Interjections link parts of dialogues together ( Hi, ehh, huh)

  • They may also be expressions of subjective reactions ( Ouch, wow)

Task: Find 5 more interjections ( 3.1.07 )

  • ay, aye

  • come on

  • damn

  • gosh

  • oh dear

The structure of language

The sign hierarchy: Ranks

  • Signs are structured in terms of their position in a size hierarchy; the positions in the hierarchy are sometimes referred to as ranks.

Main ranks

Each sign has a structure ( internal/ external) and a semiotic relation ( function and realisation)

  • Dialogue

  • monologue/ text

  • sentence

  • word

  • morpheme

  • phoneme

SIGN rank

Internal Structure

External Structure




Turns, texts

Social interaction


Prosody, gesture



Components of dialogues

Speech acts

Prosody, gesture


Phrases, words

Parts of narrative, argumentative, etc texts


Prosody, rhythm


Stems, affixes

Functional parts of sentences

Complex states, properties, events, ...

Phonemes, word prosody


Phonemes, syllables

Parts of words

Simple states, properties, events, ...



Distinctive features


Encoding of morphemes into sounds

Phonetic segments, allophones of phonemes

Distinctive features: for example voicing or nasality

Encoding: the meaning of a morpheme

Prosody: speech melody, rhythm, accentuation, ...

Text structure

News homepage

  • the hole page consists of a text structure

  • the smaller articles and links ( texts) embedded in the document are texts as text parts

Structure and Constitutive Relations

Constitutive Relations

Structural relations

  • Syntagmatic relations ( „glue“, combinatory relations which create larger signs (and their realisations and interpretations) from smaller signs (and their realisations and interpretations)

  • Paradigmatic relations ( „choice“, classificatory relations of similarity and difference between signs)

Semiotic relations

  • realisation: ( the visual appearance or acoustic representation of signs (other senses) may also be involved)

  • interpretation: the assignment of meaning to a sign

Syntagmatic relations

  • combinatory relations which create larger signs (and their realisations and interpretations) from smaller signs (and their realisations and interpretations)

  • Phonology: Consonants and vowels are glued together as core and periphery of syllables

  • Morphology: lexical morphemes and affixes are glues together into stems, stems are glued together into compound words, stems and inflections are glued together into words

  • Syntax: verbs and nouns are glued together as the subject and verb of sentences

Structures and syntagmatic relations













Morphological Syntagmatic Relations



C- Stem










Syntactic Dyntagmatic relations













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