Note Curs Sintaxa, Anul 3, 2013-2014

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FOREWORDThe present course aims at providing further knowledge and insight into the syntax of contemporary English language by focusing on the second level of syntactic description, namely the transformational level. The main envisaged objectives are:

a. to revise basic concepts used within the general framework of Transformational Generative Grammar.

b. to revise knowledge concerning the constituent structure of the English sentence.

c. to introduce, discuss and illustrate the concepts which are held responsible for such syntactic phenomena as movement operations within transformations.

d. to analyze the basic types of transformations undergone by the English sentence.

These aims are to be achieved by both studying the theoretical part of each and every chapter and by doing the practical applications as suggested by the exercises.

ContentsChapter 1: The Transformational Level5

1.1. Basic Concepts5

1.2. Exercises7

Chapter 2: Basic Elementary Operations8

2.1. Deletions8

2.1.1. Constant Deletion8

2.1.2. Identity Deletion9

2.1.3. Gapping9

2.1.4. Equi-NPDeletion. Control Constructions11

2.1.5. Subcategorization of Control Verbs13

2.1.6. Exercises17

2.2. Insertions17

2.2.1. Exercises19

2.3. Substitutions19

2.3.1. Exercises21

2.4. Adjunctions21

2.4.1. Exercises23

Chapter 3: Movement Rules24

3.1. Raising24

3.1.1. Subject-to- Subject Raising24

3.1.2. Exercises26

3.2. Subject to Object Raising26

3.2.1. Exercises30

3.3. Cleft- Constructions30

3.3.1. Exercises31

Glossary of Terms36

References. Recommended Bibliography37

Chapter 1: The Transformational LevelThe first level of syntactic description is the Phrase Structure (PS) level operating with categories, a lexicon and phrase structure rules based on concatenation. The second level of syntactic description is the transformational level whose primitives are Phrase Markers (PMs) upon which elementary operations are performed.

1.1. Basic Concepts

The concept of transformation is understood as that formal linguistic operation which enables the two levels of structural representation, Deep(D)-Structure and Surface(S)-Structure to be interrelated by a set of movement rules. (see Figure 1.1.)

Figure 1.1.

Technically considered, a transformational rule (T-rule, transformation, transform) consists of a sequence of symbols which is rewritten as another sequence, according to certain conventions.

Each T-rule consists of an input, denominated Structural Description (SD), structural analysis or structure index, which defines the class of phrase-markers (PMs) to which the rule can apply; and an output, denominated Structural Change (SC) which refers to the operations involved in applying a T-rule upon the input. As an illustration, consider the phrase-structure tree representations (the PMs) in Figure1.2, resulted after applying T-passive to sentence (1) a :

(1) a. They painted the house.

b. The house was painted by them.

Figure 1. 2.

The passive transformation illustrated above can be formulated in terms of Aspects-style as it is seen in Figure 1.3.


NP1 Aux V NP2SD 1 2 3 4

SC 4 2+be 3+ed by+1

Figure1. 3.

The general property of transformations is that they are meaning-preserving i.e. the deep structure and the surface structure of a sentence are semantically equivalent irrespective of the operations performed. In this respect the meaning of 1.a, an active sentence, has not been changed by applying the passive transformation identified in 1.b. The difference is only formal, involving the movement of the NP occupying the place of the direct object in 1b to that of subject in 1a. The empty place is symbolized by in PM2 and the agent is introduced by the preposition by.

In order to both revise previously acquired knowledge and understand new concepts and phenomena we have resorted to a synthesis made by Chomsky in connection to the theory of transformational generative grammar : [] a general theory of linguistic levels is developed in an abstract and uniform way , with phrase structure and transformations each constituting a linguistic level. On each level ,markers are constructed that represent a sentence. In particular, derived phrase-markers and T-markers fill this function on the phrase-structure and transformational levels, respectively. Each level is a system of representation in terms of certain primes (elementary atomic symbols of this level ). On the level of phrase-structure, the primes are category and terminal symbols. On the level of transformations, the primes are base phrase markers and transformations. A marker is a string of primes or a set of such strings. Both phrase-markers and transformation-markers can be represented in this way. Levels are organized in a hierarchy , and we may think of the markers of each level as being mapped into the markers of the next lowest level and as representing the lowest level marker ( that is, the phonetic representation [] ),which is associated directly with an actual signal. [] ( 1969 : 54 ).After clarifying upon the two levels of syntactic description we again resort to Chomsky in order to underline the role played by the transformational rules in relating the dualistic concepts , deep structure and surface structure : The general requirement on a syntactic theory is that it define the notions deep structure and surface structure, representing the inputs to the semantic and phonological components of a grammar , respectively [], and state precisely how a syntactic description consisting of a deep and surface structure is generated by the syntactic rules. These requirements are met by the theory outlined above in the following way. [] We take a T-marker to be the deep structure; we take the derived phrase marker that is the final output of the operations represented in the T-marker to be the surface structure. (1969 :59 ). The theoretical considerations outlined above are supported by a series of exercises meant to increase students awareness of the most important concepts used in transformational generative grammar.


1. Explain what a PM is and give examples of your own.

2. Specify if true or false :

a. Deep Structure is the syntactic level upon which meaning is determined.

b. Surface Structure changes the form of the sentence.

3. Draw up the phrase-structure trees for the following sentences and discuss upon the constituents structure.

a. The blaze of light on her heart was too beautiful and dazzling.

b. But the summer drifted in with the silence of a miracle, she was almost always alone.

c. The Brangwens received a fair some of money from this trespass across their land.

d. The house stood bare from the road , approached by a straight garden path.

e. His life was shifting its centre , becoming more superficial.

4 .Apply T-passive to the following sentences by following the model given in Figure 1.2.

a. And he closed the door behind her.

b. Wendy and Michael fitted their trees at the first try.

c. She tied the unhappy dog up again.

d. They just tweaked Peters nose and passed on.

e. The children had discovered the glittering hoard.

Chapter 2: Basic Elementary OperationsTransformational rules can effect basic elementary operations such as movement, deletion, insertion and substitution. That is a T-rule can move, delete, insert or substitute constituents as represented in basic and derived PMs : The function of the transformational rules is to map generalized phrase-markers into derived phrase-markers. If the transformational rules map the generalized phrase-marker MD into the final derived phrase marker MS of the sentence X , then MD is the deep structure of X and MS is its surface structure ( Chomsky, 1969 : 69 ).

Movement operations reorder or permute the elements of the input PM. When this operation adjoins one of the moving elements to another constituent within the PM, it is called adjunction. Deletions eliminate elements from the input structure. Insertions add new structural elements to the input structure. Substitutions allow the moved category to replace an empty category of the same kind according to the structure-preserving constraint : [] which imposes the condition that a CONSTITUENT can be MOVED only into another CATEGORY of the same structural type, which has been independently generated.( Crystal, 1995: 332 ). Out of all these elementary operations, substitution and adjunction are the basic contributors to a wide range of transformations such as WH-movement, NP movement, V-movement , raising, extraposition , etc.

In this chapter we introduce and analyze deletions, substitutions, insertions and adjunctions. In the next chapter we shall consider other transformations, such as , raising and clefts.2.1. Deletions

Deletions eliminate a constituent of an input PM which must specify the elements to be deleted, while its effects must be clearly indicated in the output PM. All deletions must be recoverable, i.e. if something is deleted from a sequence it always has to be possible to tell what that something was: Deletion is a structure-destroying operation subject to a recoverability condition, which prohibits the elimination of information from a phrase marker that cannot be reconstructed from what remains after the operation.( Freidin,

in Brown & Miller, 2005: 122). Depending upon the approach, we can speak of several types of deletions: constant deletion, identity deletion, equi- NP deletion.2.1.1.Constant DeletionIn classical TG, constant deletion is accounted for imperative sentences following the rule : Given a sentence whose first element is IMP(erative), followed by the word you and a VP, you must delete the word you.The phrase-structure trees illustrating this rule are seen in Figure 2.1. with reference to sentence (1).(1) Run !

Figure 2.1.Imperative construction is a coding property , universally targeting subjects. In this construction the second person subject is interpreted as the addressee in a speech-act( SA ) indexing a declarative affirmative sentence as represented in the PMs in Figure 2.1. The element PRO is omitted under constant deletion.2.1.2. Identity Deletion

In identity deletion recoverability is insured by the condition that the surface structure must contain an element identical to the element deleted from the deep structure. For example, there is the rule of VP-deletion, which will apply to derive sentence 2b from 2a as formalized in (2) in the labeled .bracketed representations following the sentences.

(2)SS a. Susan drank juice and Doris drank coffee.

DS b. Susan drank juice and Doris coffee.


[S[NP[NSusan]] [VP[Vdrank][NP[Njuice]]]] and [S[NP[NDoris]][VP[V][NP[Ncoffee]]]]

Every native speaker of English knows that the sentence Susan drank juice and Doris coffee can only mean that the two subjects performed the activity of drinking, (e.g. Susan drank juice and Doris drank coffee) and thus the deletion is recoverable. This rule cannot apply to a SS sentence like Susan drank juice and Doris made coffee, because deletion of made would immediately change the meaning. We cannot interpret Susan drank juice and Doris coffee to mean Susan drank juice and Doris made coffee under no circumstances whatsoever. Cornilescu 1995 supports the idea that the effect of deleting certain lexical material follows from the optionality of lexical insertion such as the case of complementizers deletion ,e.g. We hope that the weather will be fine /vs/ We hope the weather will be fine .2.1.3. Gapping If the deleted constituents are not recoverable, there would come out a change of meaning with the violation of the recoverability condition as exemplified in (3).

(3).a. Mary watered the flowers and John watered the drinks.

b. Mary watered the flowers and John the drinks.

The simple reading of sentence 3a proves the violation of the recoverability condition by a disregard of selectional restrictions rules. The meaning of

water in the second clause to dilute is different from its meaning in the first clause which is to nourish and the deletion operated in 3b brings about a humorous effect. This type of deletion has been called gapping. Such contexts as provided by the sentences under (3) and (4) can first elude the listener into a perfect understanding of the message, followed by an immediate non-understanding transposed into amazement and laughter :

(4) a. Mr Brown took his hat and his leave.

b. All the girls were in tears and in muslin.

c. He was in high feather and spirits.

d. The young lady went straight home in a roar of laughter and a sedan chair.

Gapping is a sentence-bound ellipsis and its functional province is the interface between the syntax, semantics and the information structure of ellipsis.

As a syntactic phenomenon gapping was first proposed by Ross (1967 b) with reference to the Complex NP - Constraint and Coordinate Structure Constraint and it has been succeedingly treated under various headings : VP Anaphora ( Jackendoff, 1972 ); Derived Conjunction ( Stockwell, Schachter, Partee, 1973 ); Deletion ( Sag, 1977; Tancredi, 1992); Coreference and the Complement System ( Jackendoff, 1972, Reinhart, 1983 ); Coordination (Cornilescu, 1986); the Phonological Deletion Account ( Chomsky, 1995); Ellipsis ( Radford, 1992; Hardt, 1993; Lobeck, 1995; Johnson, 2001; Winkler, in Brown, 2006).

The characteristic feature of gapping is the parallelism requirement (Winkler, 2006) according to which it must occur in coordinate structures and must trigger a contrastive relationship between the remnants and their antecedents, as seen under (5):

(5) Doris speaks German and Ann [ VP[v speaks ] Japanese].

Violation of this requirement leads to anomalous sentences as shown under (3) and (4), thus creating puns.

As a semantic phenomenon gapping focuses on selectional restrictions imposed upon by the semantics of the verb in the first conjunct of the examples under (4): a. take b. be c. be d. go. The verbs quoted operate at the level of the sentence both as single word forms and as multi-word forms as represented under (6):

(6) - single verb form + D.O. => denotative meaning

a. first conjunct : took his hat - single verb form + Adjunct => denotative meaning

b. second conjunct : (were) in white muslin.

c. (went straight home in ) a sedan chair - multi-word form => figurative meaning

b. first conjunct : were in tear...