Essay on Structure of English

Submitted By dauzszeto312
Words: 1643
Pages: 7

School of Languages and Area Studies
The Structure of English
Level 2

Assignment 1

To be submitted by Thursday 15 March 2012 at 12:00 noon


This is a pair assignment.

In answering each item in each question, you have the following two options:

a) provide one answer, common to both of you;

b) provide two answers, one per student; in this case, make sure you clearly indicate who has given which answer by writing A and B as specified above.

This assignment is composed of four questions.

Please submit ONE script and attach TWO cover sheets to it, one per student.

1. What is the difference between morphology and syntax? Is English a predominantly morphological or syntactic language? Support your answer with examples.

A dictionary lists words; the building blocks of a language but it does not list sentences, which according to Fromkin, Rodman and Hyams (2010) are equal constituents of a language. They add that in order to produce an infinite set of sentences, speakers use a finite set of rules. These rules are outlined in the grammar of a language. Fromkin, Rodman and Hyams (2010) define morphology as ‘the rules of word formation’ while syntax outlines ‘the rules of sentence formation’. In laymen’s terms, morphology is the study of words starting from morphomes, the minimal units of a word to compounds. It also outlines word hierarchy. How does the adjective, short, become a noun? It becomes a noun when you add the suffix, -ness, shortness; a noun. When does the verb, read, become an adjective? It becomes an adjective with the addition of the suffix, -able; readable. With similar intents but on a different plane, syntax draws into the construction of sentences. It answers the question how do words group together to make phrases and sentences. Tallerman (2011) states that syntax is also used to refer to ‘the study of syntactic properties of a language’. English is predominantly a syntactic language. This is due to the fact that word order is given more emphasis than word form to convey meaning. Fromkin, Rodman and Hyams (2010) express that although, the meaning of a sentence is partly situated in the meaning of individual words, the meaning of the sentence is beyond the summary of meanings of individual words. For example, the sentence, Susan played the piano for the children, does not share a similar meaning with the sentence, the children played the piano for Susan, but the sentence, piano played for the the children Susan, does not carry any linguistic meaning even though it is composed of meaningful words. On the contrary, the sentence, colorless green ideas sleep furiously, fails to make any sense but successfully conveys humor because it is syntactically well formed This also explains why Lewis Caroll’s Jabberwocky, despite its individual units that do not denote any meaning is grammartical. The first two lines outlined below, conform to syntactic rules of English.Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;Sentences in English are not a random placement of words instead are governed by various syntactic rules which determine the order of words and word hierarchy. For example, it is known that in English, articles precede the noun, a, an and the, cannot be placed after noun, house the, the correct use would be the house. Similarly, a sentence consists of a subject, verb and object, and sometimes an adverbial. In the sentence, Buffalo buffalo buffalo. The first word, Buffalo, signifies the agent, the city of Buffalo in New York, United States of America. The second word, buffalo signifies the verb, which means to bully, confuse, deceive or intimidate. The third word signifies the patient, the animal buffalo. The reason why the reader is able to decode the meaning of this sentence is mainly because English is an SVO language. Syntactic categories in English include noun phrases,…