How Do We Identify Constituents Essay

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How Do We Identify Constituents? Tallerman: Chapter 5 Ling 222 - Chapter 5 1 Discovering the Structure of Sentences • Evidence of structure in sentences – Structural ambiguity • Black cab drivers went on strike yesterday – Black [cab drivers] went on strike. – [Black cab] drivers went on strike. • The boy and the girl’s uncle stayed to dinner. – [The boy and the girl]’s uncle stayed. – The boy and [the girl]’s uncle stayed. • Sometimes intonation distinguishes the two readings. Ling 222 - Chapter 5 2 – Constituent • A group of words that forms a phrase in a sentence – Constituent Structure • A particular grouping of words – A sequence of words which form a constituent in one environment, need not in another • The students wondered how simple textbooks could be obtained. • The students wondered how simple textbooks could be. – We need to manipulate the sentence to discover constituency, using formal constituency tests. • The students wondered how they could be obtained. • The students wondered how simple they could be. Ling 222 - Chapter 5 3 • Some syntactic tests for constituent structure – Sentence fragment test • A string of words that can be a sentence fragment must be a constituent. – But whose uncle stayed to dinner? » The boy and the girl’s. (one person stayed) » The girl’s. (two people stayed) – The boy and who stayed to dinner? » The girl’s uncle. – Who stayed to dinner? » The boy and the girl’s uncle. • [[The boy and the girl’s] uncle] • [ [The boy] and [ [the girl’s] uncle]] Ling 222 - Chapter 5 4 – Using constituency tests we can discover if two apparently similar sentences have the same structure. • Sue lost that book with the blue cover. Sue left that book with her best friend. N V D N P D A N • What did she lose? – [That book with the blue cover.] • What did she leave? – [That

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