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Lecture Summary (12/21/2006)

The topic of this week was "Syntax (parts of speech categories & subcategories)". This topic is basically about structural relations (syntagmatic relations and paradigmatic relations) and sentence structure (syntactic categories: parts of speech, subcategories, phrasal categories).

The structure of language was the first aspect to deal with. It is determined by two kinds of constitutive relation:

  • structural relations: including syntagmatic relations as well as paradigmatic relations
  • semiotic relations: including realisation and interpretation

Further we took a closer look at paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations. Paradigmatic relations can be called relations of "choice". They are about similarities and differences of internal structure (simple stems vs. complex stems), external structure (functions in different word orders), meaning (synonymy, antonomy, hyponymy, etc.) and appearance (distinctive features). To point out that syntagmatic relations are combinatory relations Mr Gibbon called them "linguistic glue". They create larger signs from smaller signs. For example in phonology consonants and vowels form syllables.

Afterwards Mr Gibbon presented the syntactic categories which can be divided in lexical categories and glue categories. The lexical categories are nominals (nouns, pronouns, adjectives, determiners) and verbals (main verbs and auxiliary verbs). The glue categories contain prepositions, conjunctions and interjections.

Then we dealt in more detail with the different parts of speech.

First of all the noun categories, starting with determiners. The branches of determiners are articles, possesives, demonstratives, relatives/interrogatives and quantifiers. Adjectives can be scalar, polar, appraisive and ordinal. The special feature of scalar adjectives is that they can be modified by "adverbs" of degree like "very" or "extremely". There are basically two types of nouns: proper nouns (names of persons, products, places, etc.) and common nouns which are either countable or uncountable. The next category was pronouns. It contains personal pronouns, possesive pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, quantifier pronouns and relative pronouns (which are in fact more like conjunctions).

We moved on to the verb categories. The first part of speech to be considered in this respect is of course the verb itself. A verb is either a main verb (with finite and non-finite forms) or a periphrastic verb (auxiliary verb + non-finite main verb). The different kinds of periphrastic verbs are modal, aspectual or passive. The second verb category is formed by the adverbs. In this context we have to consider five types of adverbs: adverbs of time, adverbs of place and direction, adverbs of manner, adverbs of degree and deictic adverbs.

Last but not least we analysed the glue categories. The basic function of prepositions is to turn nominal expressions into adverbial expressions. The have almost the same categories as adverbs. The exception is the word "of" which is multi-functional phenomenon. The second glue category, namely conjunctions, consists of co-ordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions. Interjections are words like "hi" or "wow". They link parts of a dialogue together but the can also be (as in the case of "wow" ) an expression of subjective reactions.

31.1.07 22:18

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