Linguistics 110 Linguistic Analysis: Sentences & Dialects
Lecture Number Four
Representing Phrase Structure

I really do not know that anything has ever
been more exciting than diagramming sentences.
–Gertrude Stein

  1. Syntax is Phrase Structure

    1. P(hrase) S(tructures) comprise
      1. CATEGORIES (NP, VP, AP, maybe PP) and
      2. their CONSTITUENTS. For example,
        the book that I have is an NP of which
        the book and that I have are constituents
        but not *book that or *that I.

    2. The purpose of PS-rules.
      1. to represent formally the relationships of the miminal meaningful elements of phrases
      2. in hopes of discovering
        1. the mental operations involved in uttering sentences and
        2. the relation between formal and semantic structures.

  2. Various Representations of Syntactic Structure

    1. Phrase Structure Rules
      1. The structure of all phrases in all languages seems to reduce to a single set of relations which hold for all categories:

        Universal Structure of All Phrases
        XP > Spec + X'
        (X' > AP + X') optional
        X' > X + Comp

      2. Assuming P(reposition) is a category, the English phrase structure grammar would look something like this:

        A Phrase-Structure Grammar of English
        (1) CP > C + S ADJUNCT RULES
        (2) S > NP + VP  
        (3) VP > Aux + V' (a) (X' > AP/PP + X')
        (4) V' > V (NP) (PP) (AP) (CP) (b) AP > Deg + A'
        (5) NP > Det + N' (c) A' > A (NP?) (PP) (CP)
        (6) N' > N (NP) (PP) (CP)  
        (7) PP > Deg + P'  
        (8) P' > P (NP) (PP) (CP)  

    2. Bracketing (where "S" = "sentence," "clause," or "phrase")
      1. S(entence)[I love caf food]S(entence)
        [you know that [I love caf food]S]S
        [I know that [you know that [I love caf food]S]S]S

      2. Full bracketing scheme
        S[ NP[I] VP[ V[love[NPcaf food] ] ]

    3. P(hrase) S(tructure) Trees

      Phrases are held together by a complementizer phrase, [CPs] (not to be confused with complement phrases) as illustrated in the following diagram of a verbal complement.

      What's this about caf food?

      Where CP = Complementizer Phrase, NP = "noun phrase", VP ="verb phrase", C = "complementizer", V, N, P, A ="verb, noun, preposition, and adjective".

  3. Conclusion

    Sentences are determined by a complementizer phrase containing an Complementizer (C) position and an S-node. All clauses comprise at least a VP. All English clauses must have an NP and a VP. Specifiers, complements and adjuncts are optional.
    The structure of all phrases within clauses is universal, comprising a specifier, optional heads and complements, and a recursive adjunct. The distribution of heads (X's) and phrases of the same category (XPs) are the same; that is, the NP position may be held by an NP or an N, a VP position may be held by a VP or a V and an AP position may be held by an AP or an A. All phrases in all languages exhibit this structure.

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