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{{linguistics}}
   
'''Syntax''', originating from the [[Greek language|Greek]] words συν (''syn'', meaning "co-" or "together") and τάξις (''táxis'', meaning "sequence, order, arrangement"), can in linguistics be described as the study of the rules, or "patterned relations" that govern the way the words in a sentence come together. It concerns how different words (which, going back to [[Dionysios Thrax]], are categorized as [[noun]]s, [[adjective]]s, [[verb]]s, etc.) are combined into [[clause]]s, which, in turn, are combined into sentences.
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In [[linguistics]], '''syntax''' (from Ancient Greek {{lang|grc|συν-}} ''syn-'', "together", and {{lang|grc|τάξις}} ''táxis'', "arrangement") is the study of the principles and rules for constructing [[Sentence (linguistics)|sentences]] in [[natural language]]s. In addition to referring to the discipline, the term ''syntax'' is also used to refer directly to the rules and principles that govern the sentence structure of any individual language.
   
There exist innumerable theories of ''formal syntax'' — theories that have in time risen or fallen in influence. All theories of syntax at least share two commonalities: First, they hierarchically group subunits into constituent units (phrases). Second, they provide some system of rules to explain patterns of acceptability/grammaticality and unacceptability/ungrammaticality. Most formal theories of syntax offer explanations of the systematic relationships between syntactic form and [[semantic]] meaning. The earliest framework of [[semiotics]] was established by [[Charles W. Morris]] in his [[1938]] book ''Foundations of the Theory of Signs''. Syntax is defined, within the study of signs, as the first of its three subfields (the study of the interrelation of the signs). The second subfield is [[semantics]] (the study of the relation between the signs and the objects to which they apply), and the third is [[pragmatics]] (the relationship between the sign system and the user).
+
Modern research in syntax attempts to [[descriptive linguistics|describe languages]] in terms of such rules. Many professionals in this discipline attempt to find [[Universal Grammar|general rules]] that apply to all natural languages. The term ''syntax'' is also sometimes used to refer to the rules governing the behavior of mathematical systems, such as [[logic]], artificial formal languages, and [[computer programming]] languages.
   
In the framework of [[transformational-generative grammar]] (of which ''[[Government and binding|Government and Binding Theory]]'' and ''Minimalism'' are recent developments), the structure of a [[Sentence (linguistics)|sentence]] is represented by ''phrase structure trees'', otherwise known as ''phrase markers'' or ''tree diagrams''. Such trees provide information about the sentences they represent by showing how, starting from an initial category ''S'' (or, for [[ID/LP grammar]], ''Z''), the various [[syntactic categories]] (e.g. [[noun phrase]], [[verb phrase]], etc.) are formed.
+
== Early history ==
  +
Works on grammar were being written long before modern syntax came about; the ''Aṣṭādhyāyī'' of [[Pāṇini]] is often cited as an example of a premodern work that approaches the sophistication of a modern syntactic theory.<ref>{{cite book|last=Fortson IV|first=Benjamin W.|title=Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction|publisher=Blackwell|year=2004|isbn=1-4051-0315-9 (hb); 1-4051-0316-7 (pb)|page=186|quote=[The ''Aṣṭādhyāyī''] is a highly precise and thorough description of the structure of Sanskrit somewhat resembling modern generative grammar…[it] remained the most advanced linguistic analysis of any kind until the twentieth century.}}</ref> In the West, the school of thought that came to be known as "traditional grammar" began with the work of [[Dionysius Thrax]].
   
There are various theories as to how best to make grammars such that by systematic application of the rules, one can arrive at every phrase marker in a language (and hence every sentence in the language). The most common are [[Phrase structure grammar]]s and [[ID/LP grammar]]s, the latter having a slight explanatory advantage over the former.
+
For centuries, work in syntax was dominated by a framework known as {{lang|fr|''grammaire générale''}}, first expounded in 1660 by [[Antoine Arnauld]] in a book of the same title. This system took as its basic premise the assumption that language is a direct reflection of thought processes and therefore there is a single, most natural way to express a thought. That way, coincidentally, was exactly the way it was expressed in French.
   
[[Dependency grammar]] is a class of syntactic theories separate from generative grammar in which structure is determined by the relation between a word (a head) and its dependents. One difference from phrase structure grammar is that dependency grammar does not have phrasal categories. [[Algebraic syntax]] is a type of dependency grammar.
+
However, in the 19th century, with the development of [[historical-comparative linguistics]], linguists began to realize the sheer diversity of human language, and to question fundamental assumptions about the relationship between language and logic. It became apparent that there was no such thing as a most natural way to express a thought, and therefore logic could no longer be relied upon as a basis for studying the structure of language.
   
A modern approach to combining accurate descriptions of the grammatical patterns of
+
The Port-Royal grammar modeled the study of syntax upon that of logic (indeed, large parts of the [[Port-Royal Logic]] were copied or adapted from the ''Grammaire générale''<ref>{{cite book|last=Arnauld|first=Antoine|title=La logique|year=1683|edition=5th|location=Paris|publisher=G. Desprez|url=http://visualiseur.bnf.fr/Visualiseur?Destination=Gallica&O=NUMM-57444|quote=''Nous avons emprunté…ce que nous avons dit…d'un petit Livre…sous le titre de Grammaire générale.''|pages=137}}</ref>). Syntactic categories were identified with logical ones, and all sentences were analyzed in terms of "Subject – Copula – Predicate". Initially, this view was adopted even by the early comparative linguists such as [[Franz Bopp]].
language with their function in context is that of [[systemic functional grammar]], an approach originally developed by Michael A.K. Halliday in the 1960s and now pursued actively in all continents. Systemic-functional grammar is related both to feature-based approaches such as Head-driven phrase structure grammar and to the older functional traditions of European schools of linguistics such as British Contextualism and the Prague School.
 
   
[[Tree adjoining grammar]] is a grammar formalism which has been used as the basis for a number of syntactic theories.
+
The central role of syntax within theoretical linguistics became clear only in the 20th century, which could reasonably be called the "century of syntactic theory" as far as linguistics is concerned. For a detailed and critical survey of the history of syntax in the last two centuries, see the monumental work by [[Graffi]] (2001).
   
==''Syntax'' in computer science==
+
== Modern theories ==
Another meaning of the term '''syntax''' has been evolved in the field of [[computer science]], especially in the subfield of [[programming languages]], where the set of allowed [[reserved word]]s and their parameters and the correct ''word order'' in the [[expression]] is called the syntax of language. This application of the word can apply to natural languages, as well, as through Latin's inflectional case endings.
 
   
In computer languages, syntax can be extremely rigid, as in the case of most assembler languages, or less rigid, as in languages that make use of "keyword" parameters that can be stated in any order. The syntax of expressions can be specified with parse trees. The analysis of [[programming language]] syntax usually entails the transformation of a linear sequence of ''tokens'' (a token is akin to an individual word or punctuation mark in a natural language) into a hierarchical ''syntax tree'' ([[abstract syntax tree|abstract syntax trees]] are one convenient form of syntax tree).
+
There are a number of theoretical approaches to the discipline of syntax. Many linguists see syntax as a branch of biology, since they conceive of syntax as the study of linguistic knowledge as embodied in the human [[mind]]. Others (e.g. [[Gerald Gazdar]]) take a more [[Philosophy of mathematics#Platonism|Platonistic]] view, since they regard syntax to be the study of an abstract [[formal system]].<ref>Ted Briscoe, [[2 May]] [[2001]], [http://www.informatics.susx.ac.uk/research/nlp/gazdar/briscoe/gpsg.html#SECTION00040000000000000000 Interview with Gerald Gazdar]. Retrieved 2008-06-04.</ref> Yet others (e.g. [[Joseph Greenberg]]) consider grammar a taxonomical device to reach broad generalizations across languages. Some of the major approaches to the discipline are listed below.
   
This process, called ''parsing'', is in some respects ''analogous to'' syntactic analysis in [[linguistics]]; in fact, certain concepts, such as the [[Chomsky hierarchy]] and [[context-free grammar|context-free grammars]], are common to the study of syntax in both linguistics and computer science.
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=== Generative grammar ===
  +
{{main|Generative grammar}}
  +
The hypothesis of [[generative grammar]] is that language is a structure of the human mind. The goal of generative grammar is to make a complete model of this inner language (known as ''[[i-language]]''). This model could be used to describe all human language and to predict the [[grammaticality]] of any given utterance (that is, to predict whether the utterance would sound correct to native speakers of the language). This approach to language was pioneered by [[Noam Chomsky]]. Most generative theories (although not all of them) assume that syntax is based upon the constituent structure of sentences. Generative grammars are among the theories that focus primarily on the form of a sentence, rather than its communicative function.
   
==See also==
+
Among the many generative theories of linguistics, the Chomskyan theories are:
*[[Phrase]]
+
* [[Transformational Grammar]] (TG) (Original theory of generative syntax laid out by Chomsky in ''Syntactic Structures'' in 1957<ref>Chomsky, Noam. 1957. Syntactic Structures. The Hague/Paris: Mouton, p. 15.</ref>)
*[[Phrase structure rules]]
+
* [[Government and binding theory]] (GB) (revised theory in the tradition of TG developed mainly by Chomsky in the 1970s and 1980s).<ref>Chomsky, Noam (1981/1993). Lectures on Government and Binding: The Pisa Lectures. Mouton de Gruyter.</ref>
*[[x-bar syntax]]
+
* [[Linguistic minimalism|The Minimalist Program]] (MP) (revised version of GB published by Chomsky in 1995)<ref>Chomsky, Noam (1995). The Minimalist Program. MIT Press.</ref>
*[[Syntactic categories]]
+
*[[Grammar]]
+
Other theories that find their origin in the generative paradigm are:
*[[Algebraic syntax]]
+
* [[Generative semantics]] (now largely out of date)
  +
* [[Relational grammar]] (RG) (now largely out of date)
  +
* [[Arc Pair grammar]]
  +
* [[Generalised phrase structure grammar|Generalized phrase structure grammar]] (GPSG; now largely out of date)
  +
* [[Head-driven phrase structure grammar]] (HPSG)
  +
* [[Lexical-functional grammar]] (LFG)
  +
<!--Commenting out until explained: the link seems to be about something unrelated.
  +
HPSG and LFG also fall into the category of [[unification]] grammars.-->
  +
  +
=== Categorial grammar ===
  +
{{main|Categorial grammar}}
  +
[[Categorial grammar]] is an approach that attributes the syntactic structure not to rules of grammar, but to the properties of the [[syntactic categories]] themselves. For example, rather than asserting that sentences are constructed by a rule that combines a noun phrase (NP) and a verb phrase (VP) (e.g. the [[phrase structure rule]] S → NP VP), in categorial grammar, such principles are embedded in the category of the [[head (linguistics)|head]] word itself. So the syntactic category for an [[intransitive]] verb is a complex formula representing the fact that the verb acts as a [[functor]] which requires an NP as an input and produces a sentence level structure as an output. This complex category is notated as (NP\S) instead of V. NP\S is read as " a category that searches to the left (indicated by \) for a NP (the element on the left) and outputs a sentence (the element on the right)". The category of [[transitive verb]] is defined as an element that requires two NPs (its subject and its direct object) to form a sentence. This is notated as (NP/(NP\S)) which means "a category that searches to the right (indicated by /) for an NP (the object), and generates a function (equivalent to the VP) which is (NP\S), which in turn represents a function that searches to the left for an NP and produces a sentence).
  +
  +
[[Tree-adjoining grammar]] is a categorial grammar that adds in partial [[tree structure]]s to the categories.
  +
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=== Dependency grammar ===
  +
[[Dependency grammar]] is a different type of approach in which structure is determined by the [[relation]]s (such as [[grammatical relation]]s) between a word (a ''[[head (linguistics)|head]]'') and its dependents, rather than being based in constituent structure. For example, syntactic structure is described in terms of whether a particular [[noun]] is the [[subject]] or [[Agent (grammar)|agent]] of the [[verb]], rather than describing the relations in terms of phrases.
  +
  +
Some dependency-based theories of syntax:
  +
* [[Algebraic syntax]]
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* [[Word grammar]]
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* [[Operator Grammar]]
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* [[Meaning-Text Theory]]
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  +
=== Stochastic/probabilistic grammars/network theories ===
  +
Theoretical approaches to syntax that are based upon [[probability theory]] are known as [[stochastic grammar]]s. One common implementation of such an approach makes use of a [[neural network]] or [[connectionism]]. Some theories based within this approach are:
  +
* [[Optimality theory]]
  +
* [[Stochastic context-free grammar]]
  +
  +
=== Functionalist grammars ===
  +
Functionalist theories, although focused upon form, are driven by explanation based upon the function of a sentence (i.e. its communicative function). Some typical functionalist theories include:
  +
* [[Functional grammar]] (Dik)
  +
* [[Prague Linguistic Circle]]
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* [[Systemic functional grammar]]
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* [[Cognitive grammar]]
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* [[Construction grammar]] (CxG)
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* [[Role and reference grammar]] (RRG)
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* [[Emergent grammar]]
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  +
  +
=== Syntactic terms ===
  +
<div style="-moz-column-count:3; column-count:3;">
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* [[Adjective]]
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** [[Attributive adjective and predicative adjective]]
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* [[Adjunct (grammar)|Adjunct]]
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* [[Adverb]]
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* [[Antecedent-contained deletion]]
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* [[Appositive]]
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* [[Article (grammar)|Article]]
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* [[Grammatical aspect|Aspect]]
  +
* [[Auxiliary verb]]
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* [[Grammatical case|Case]]
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* [[Clause]]
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* [[Closed class word]]
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* [[Comparative]]
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* [[Complement (linguistics)|Complement]]
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* [[Compound (linguistics)|Compound noun and adjective]]
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* [[Differential Object Marking]]
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* [[Grammatical conjugation|Conjugation]]
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* [[Grammatical conjunction|Conjunction]]
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* [[Dangling modifier]]
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* [[Declension]]
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* [[Determiner]]
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* [[Dual grammatical number|Dual]] (form for two)
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* [[Expletive]]
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* [[Function word]]
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* [[Grammatical gender|Gender]]
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* [[Gerund]]
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* [[Infinitive]]
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* [[Measure word]] (classifier)
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* [[Modal particle]]
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* [[Movement paradox]]
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* [[Grammatical modifier|Modifier]]
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* [[Grammatical mood|Mood]]
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* [[Nanosyntax]]
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* [[Noun]]
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* [[Grammatical number|Number]]
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* [[Object (grammar)|Object]]
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* [[Open class word]]
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* [[Parasitic gap]]
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* [[Part of speech]]
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* [[Grammatical particle|Particle]]
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* [[Grammatical person|Person]]
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* [[Phrase]]
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* [[Phrasal verb]]
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* [[Plural]]
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* [[Predicate (grammar)|Predicate]] (also verb phrase)
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* [[Predicative (adjectival or nominal)]]
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* [[Preposition]]
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* [[Personal pronoun]]
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* [[Pronoun]]
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* [[Restrictive clause|Restrictiveness]]
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* [[Sandhi]]
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* [[Sentence (linguistics)]]
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* [[Grammatical number|Singular]]
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* [[Subject (grammar)|Subject]]
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* [[Superlative]]
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* [[Grammatical tense|Tense]]
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* [[Uninflected word]]
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* [[Verb]]
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* [[Grammatical voice|Voice]]
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* [[Wh-movement]]
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* [[Word order]]
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</div>
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== See also ==
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{{col-begin}}
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{{col-break}}
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* [[Algebraic syntax]]
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* [[Discourse analysis]]
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* [[Grammar]]
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* [[List of syntactic phenomena]]
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* [[Morphology (language)]]
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* [[Musical syntax]]
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{{col-break}}
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* [[Phrase]]
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* [[Phrase structure rules]]
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* [[Phonology]]
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* [[Semantics]]
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* [[Sentence structure]]
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* ''[[Simpler Syntax]]'' (book)
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* [[Syntactic category]]
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* [[Syntax (programming languages)]]
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* [[Tansformational generative grammar]]
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* [[X-bar theory]]
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{{col-end}}
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  +
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== Notes ==
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{{reflist}}
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== References ==
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* {{cite book|last=Brown|first=Keith|coauthors=Jim Miller (eds.)|title=Concise Encyclopedia of Syntactic Theories|publisher=Elsevier Science|location=New York|year=1996|isbn=0-08-042711-1}}
  +
* {{cite book|last=Carnie|first=Andrew|year=2006|title=Syntax: A Generative Introduction|location=Oxford|publisher=Wiley-Blackwell|isbn=1405133848}}
  +
* {{cite book|last=Freidin|first=Robert|coauthors=Howard Lasnik (eds.)|title=Syntax|series=Critical Concepts in Linguistics|publisher=Routledge|location=New York|year=2006|isbn=0-415-24672-5}}
  +
* {{cite book|last=Graffi|first=Giorgio|year=2001|title=200 Years of Syntax. A Critical Survey|location=Amsterdam|publisher=Benjamins|series=Studies in the History of the Language Sciences 98|isbn=90-272-4587-8}}
  +
  +
== External links ==
  +
* [http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~beatrice/syntax-textbook The syntax of natural language] (Beatrice Santorini & Anthony Kroch, University of Pennsylvania)
  +
* {{cite book | first=Daniela | last=Isac | coauthors= Charles Reiss | title= [http://linguistics.concordia.ca/i-language/ I-language: An Introduction to Linguistics as Cognitive Science] | year=2008 | publisher=Oxford University Press| isbn=978-0199534203}}
  +
* Various syntactic constructs used in [http://merd.sourceforge.net/pixel/language-study/syntax-across-languages/ computer programming languages]
  +
* [http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=1368-0005&site=1 The journal Syntax]
  +
* [http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-syntax.htm What is Syntax?] at WiseGeek
   
 
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[[Category:Philosophy of language]]
   
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In linguistics, syntax (from Ancient Greek συν- syn-, "together", and τάξις táxis, "arrangement") is the study of the principles and rules for constructing sentences in natural languages. In addition to referring to the discipline, the term syntax is also used to refer directly to the rules and principles that govern the sentence structure of any individual language.

Modern research in syntax attempts to describe languages in terms of such rules. Many professionals in this discipline attempt to find general rules that apply to all natural languages. The term syntax is also sometimes used to refer to the rules governing the behavior of mathematical systems, such as logic, artificial formal languages, and computer programming languages.

Early history Edit

Works on grammar were being written long before modern syntax came about; the Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini is often cited as an example of a premodern work that approaches the sophistication of a modern syntactic theory.[1] In the West, the school of thought that came to be known as "traditional grammar" began with the work of Dionysius Thrax.

For centuries, work in syntax was dominated by a framework known as grammaire générale, first expounded in 1660 by Antoine Arnauld in a book of the same title. This system took as its basic premise the assumption that language is a direct reflection of thought processes and therefore there is a single, most natural way to express a thought. That way, coincidentally, was exactly the way it was expressed in French.

However, in the 19th century, with the development of historical-comparative linguistics, linguists began to realize the sheer diversity of human language, and to question fundamental assumptions about the relationship between language and logic. It became apparent that there was no such thing as a most natural way to express a thought, and therefore logic could no longer be relied upon as a basis for studying the structure of language.

The Port-Royal grammar modeled the study of syntax upon that of logic (indeed, large parts of the Port-Royal Logic were copied or adapted from the Grammaire générale[2]). Syntactic categories were identified with logical ones, and all sentences were analyzed in terms of "Subject – Copula – Predicate". Initially, this view was adopted even by the early comparative linguists such as Franz Bopp.

The central role of syntax within theoretical linguistics became clear only in the 20th century, which could reasonably be called the "century of syntactic theory" as far as linguistics is concerned. For a detailed and critical survey of the history of syntax in the last two centuries, see the monumental work by Graffi (2001).

Modern theories Edit

There are a number of theoretical approaches to the discipline of syntax. Many linguists see syntax as a branch of biology, since they conceive of syntax as the study of linguistic knowledge as embodied in the human mind. Others (e.g. Gerald Gazdar) take a more Platonistic view, since they regard syntax to be the study of an abstract formal system.[3] Yet others (e.g. Joseph Greenberg) consider grammar a taxonomical device to reach broad generalizations across languages. Some of the major approaches to the discipline are listed below.

Generative grammar Edit

Main article: Generative grammar

The hypothesis of generative grammar is that language is a structure of the human mind. The goal of generative grammar is to make a complete model of this inner language (known as i-language). This model could be used to describe all human language and to predict the grammaticality of any given utterance (that is, to predict whether the utterance would sound correct to native speakers of the language). This approach to language was pioneered by Noam Chomsky. Most generative theories (although not all of them) assume that syntax is based upon the constituent structure of sentences. Generative grammars are among the theories that focus primarily on the form of a sentence, rather than its communicative function.

Among the many generative theories of linguistics, the Chomskyan theories are:

Other theories that find their origin in the generative paradigm are:

Categorial grammar Edit

Main article: Categorial grammar

Categorial grammar is an approach that attributes the syntactic structure not to rules of grammar, but to the properties of the syntactic categories themselves. For example, rather than asserting that sentences are constructed by a rule that combines a noun phrase (NP) and a verb phrase (VP) (e.g. the phrase structure rule S → NP VP), in categorial grammar, such principles are embedded in the category of the head word itself. So the syntactic category for an intransitive verb is a complex formula representing the fact that the verb acts as a functor which requires an NP as an input and produces a sentence level structure as an output. This complex category is notated as (NP\S) instead of V. NP\S is read as " a category that searches to the left (indicated by \) for a NP (the element on the left) and outputs a sentence (the element on the right)". The category of transitive verb is defined as an element that requires two NPs (its subject and its direct object) to form a sentence. This is notated as (NP/(NP\S)) which means "a category that searches to the right (indicated by /) for an NP (the object), and generates a function (equivalent to the VP) which is (NP\S), which in turn represents a function that searches to the left for an NP and produces a sentence).

Tree-adjoining grammar is a categorial grammar that adds in partial tree structures to the categories.

Dependency grammar Edit

Dependency grammar is a different type of approach in which structure is determined by the relations (such as grammatical relations) between a word (a head) and its dependents, rather than being based in constituent structure. For example, syntactic structure is described in terms of whether a particular noun is the subject or agent of the verb, rather than describing the relations in terms of phrases.

Some dependency-based theories of syntax:

Stochastic/probabilistic grammars/network theories Edit

Theoretical approaches to syntax that are based upon probability theory are known as stochastic grammars. One common implementation of such an approach makes use of a neural network or connectionism. Some theories based within this approach are:

Functionalist grammars Edit

Functionalist theories, although focused upon form, are driven by explanation based upon the function of a sentence (i.e. its communicative function). Some typical functionalist theories include:


Syntactic terms Edit

See also Edit


Notes Edit

  1. Fortson IV, Benjamin W. (2004). Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, Blackwell. "[The Aṣṭādhyāyī] is a highly precise and thorough description of the structure of Sanskrit somewhat resembling modern generative grammar…[it] remained the most advanced linguistic analysis of any kind until the twentieth century."
  2. Arnauld, Antoine (1683). La logique, 5th, 137, Paris: G. Desprez. "Nous avons emprunté…ce que nous avons dit…d'un petit Livre…sous le titre de Grammaire générale."
  3. Ted Briscoe, 2 May 2001, Interview with Gerald Gazdar. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
  4. Chomsky, Noam. 1957. Syntactic Structures. The Hague/Paris: Mouton, p. 15.
  5. Chomsky, Noam (1981/1993). Lectures on Government and Binding: The Pisa Lectures. Mouton de Gruyter.
  6. Chomsky, Noam (1995). The Minimalist Program. MIT Press.

References Edit

  • Brown, Keith; Jim Miller (eds.) (1996). Concise Encyclopedia of Syntactic Theories, New York: Elsevier Science.
  • Carnie, Andrew (2006). Syntax: A Generative Introduction, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Freidin, Robert; Howard Lasnik (eds.) (2006). Syntax, New York: Routledge.
  • Graffi, Giorgio (2001). 200 Years of Syntax. A Critical Survey, Amsterdam: Benjamins.

External links Edit

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