MORPHOSYNTAX Prof John Corbett USP-CAPES International Fellow GRAMMATICAL SYSTEMS Each grammatical system is a set of meaningful choices with formal consequences. Today we will look at: Case: a 3-part system in PDE pertaining to nouns/pronouns (nominative/genitive/objective) Degree: a 3-part system pertaining to adjectives/adverbs (positive/comparative/superlative) Definiteness: a 2-part system pertaining to nouns (definite/indefinite) Each choice can be marked by changes in the form/inflection of words and/or what they combine with.
CASE: DEFINIITON Case can be defined as the function of a NP in relation to a VP or another NP. The nominative case indicates that the NP functions as the subject of the VP (= has a relationship of agreement or concord with the VP). The objective case indicates that the NP has no agreement with the VP (usually the verb acts on or through the object NP). The genitive case indicates that the NP possesses another NP. The dogs are chasing (the girls balloon). WHAT IS YODA ACTUALLY SAYING? Stormtroopers the rebels have attacked!
WHAT IS YODA ACTUALLY SAYING? The stormtroopers the rebels have attacked! The stormtroopers have rebels have attacked the rebels? stormtroopers? The attacked the WHAT IS YODA ACTUALLY SAYING? Stormtroopers the rebels have attacked! They the rebels have attacked! (Stormtroopers = nominative pronoun)
or Them the rebels have attacked! (Stormtroopers = objective pronoun) MEMO TO YODA Dear Yoda, You are an intelligent being. Please note that when you are speaking a language that does NOT formally inflect nouns for nominative or objective case, WORD ORDER IS IMPORTANT! Love and kisses, Darth
CASE:THE PRONOUN SYSTEM Case 1P sing 1P plural 2P sing 2P plural 3P sing 3P plural
Wh- Nominative I we you you he, she, it
they who Objective me us you you him, her, it
them whom Genitive: pn det mine my ours our yours your
yours your his, hers, its his, her, its theirs their -whose CASE: THE NOUN SYSTEM Case
Singular Plural Common case (Nom/Obj) cat, man cats, men Genitive case cats, mans cats, mens
DO OTHER CASES EXIST IN PRESENT-DAY ENGLISH? There is no formal evidence for other cases in PDE. You can make an argument for dative case: Jill gave Tony a book. Both Tony and a book are objects (indirect and direct). The sentence can be transformed as Jill gave a book to Tony. You could argue, then, that Tony is dative case, ie if the object is expandable to a prepositional phrase, then the case is dative rather than objective. CASE IN OLD ENGLISH (FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT) God cw to Abrahame: 'Nim inne sunu Isaac, and far to
m dunum, and geoffra hine r uppan dune.' God said to Abraham: 'Take your son Isaac, and go to the hills, and offer [ie sacrifice] him there upon a hill.' a aras Abraham on re nihte, and ferde mid twm cnapum to m dunum, and Isaac samod. Hie ridon on assum. a on one riddan dg, a hie a dune gesawon, a cw Abraham to m twm cnapum us: 'Andbidia eow her mid m
assum!' Then Abraham arose in the night, and went with two servants to the hills, and Isaac as well. They rode on asses. Then on the third day, when they saw the hills, then Abraham said to the two servants thus: 'Wait here with the asses!' CASE IN OLD ENGLISH (FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT) God cw to Abrahame: 'Nim inne sunu Isaac, and far to
m dunum, and geoffra hine r uppan dune.' a aras Abraham on re nihte, and ferde mid twm cnapum to m dunum, and Isaac samod. Hie ridon on assum. a on one riddan dg, a hie a dune gesawon, a cw Abraham to m twm cnapum us: 'Andbidia eow her mid m assum!' the in Old English CASE IN OLD ENGLISH (FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT)
to m dunum: dative plural (f) on re nihte: dative singular (f) on one riddan dg: instr. sing. (m) hie a dune gesawon: acc. plural (f) mid m assum: dative plural (m) DEGREE IN PRESENT DAY ENGLISH Degree is a three-part system relating to adjectives and adverbs: Positive: smart
Comparative: Superlative: stupid smarter slowly quickly more stupid more slowly more quickly smartest most stupid most slowly most quickly Q: What is the rule for deciding whether to add -er/-est or more/most
? DEGREE IN PRESENT DAY ENGLISH Degree is a three-part system relating to adjectives and adverbs: Positive: smart stupid slowly quickly Comparative: smarter more stupid more slowly more quickly Superlative: smartest most stupid most slowly most quickly Q: What is the rule for deciding whether to add -er/-est or more/most? A: Monosyllabic forms take -er/-est and most polysyllabic forms take more/ most. But some disyllabic forms also take -er/-est eg adjs ending in y,
holy/holier/holiest. IRREGULAR FORMS: SUPPLETION AND INFLECTION Positive: good Comparative: Superlative: bad better best
well (adverb.) worse worst better best badly worse worst What happened with the old inflected adjective: nigh/near/next? IRREGULAR FORMS: SUPPLETION AND INFLECTION
Positive: good bad Comparative: well (adverb.) badly better worse better worse Superlative: best worst best worst Q: What happened with the old inflected adjective: nigh/near/next?
A: 1. nigh became obsolete, and near took its place as the positive form. 2. The adjective then became regular: near/nearer/nearest. 3. The adjective next no longer has corresponding degree forms (*nexter, *nextest) but is similar in meaning to nearest: She is next/nearest to the door. PRESCRIPTIVIST ALERT! For semantic reasons, not all adjectives can be inflected for degree, such as perfect, unique, round, full, empty, married, and dead. These adjectives are incomparable because they express absolute qualities. Something is either dead or not; it cannot be more or less dead. Superlatives such as most unique are thus logically impossible, though one frequently hears such forms, where either most can only be understood as na emphatic, or unique can be understood as meaning unusual.
-- Brinton and Brinton, page 122 Strong words. But are they true? CHECK A CORPUS TO TEST THE CLAIMS RESULTS DISTRIBUTION OF MOST UNIQUE ACROSS REGISTERS DEFINITENESS It should be easy. Definiteness is a two part system (definite/indefinite) relating to nouns. In Present Day English definiteness is a covert category, that is, it is not indicated by the
noun itself but by the choice of article to go with it. DEFINITENESS It should be easy. Definiteness is a two part system (definite/indefinite) relating to nouns. In Present Day English definiteness is a covert category, that is, it is not indicated by the noun itself but by the choice of article to go with it. That is when it gets complicated. THE COMPLEXITIES OF ARTICLE USE IN ENGLISH English users are faced with a choice of three articles for their twopart system: the definite article, the the zero-article: the indefinite article, a/an Usage varies and is sometimes arbitrary. Dialect is also a factor
ROUGHLY WHEN TO USE THE DEFINITE ARTICLE 1. When the referent has been mentioned and therefore is recoverable from the linguistic context: Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess. The princess lived in a palace. 2. When the referent is unique and therefore is recoverable from your knowledge that it is the only one in existence: The princess looked up. The moon was rising... 3. When the referent is generic, in that you know you are talking about all the members of the set: The princess spent her long nights worrying about the unemployed. 4. When you can guess the presence of the referent from the context, again by using your real-world knowledge: At times like this, she went into the palace kitchen and put on the kettle. 5. When you can identify the referent because it is specified by a modifier either before or after the noun. She decided that she would wear the silver crown with the shoes
that she had bought from the village cobbler. 6. When you are converting a proper noun into a common noun that is a specific member of a newly-created set: She thought of herself as the Princess Diana of her generation. BUT!!! THE ZERO ARTICLE IS USED... -- with institutions (He attends university from eight till noon.) -- with means of transportation (I come to USP by train.) -- with certain times of the day (Ill phone you at noon/midnight...not in the morning). -- with meals (Ill give you time to finish breakfast.) -- with illnesses and diseases (I think Im beginning to suffer from amnesia.) -- with some leisure activities (I love watching football; she prefers playing video games; I adore gardening.)
BUT!!! THE ZERO ARTICLE IS USED... -- with institutions (He attends university from eight till noon.) -- with means of transportation (I come to USP by train.) -- with certain times of the day (Ill phone you at noon/midnight...not in the morning). -- with meals (Ill give you time to finish breakfast.) -- with illnesses and diseases (I think Im beginning to suffer from amnesia.) -- unless youre Scottish: Ill get you at the school!! THE INDEFINITE ARTICLE TENDS TO BE USED
1. When a referent is not recoverable from context and you mention it for the first time. Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess. The princess lived in a palace. 2. When there is no need to specify or identify a particular referent. She just wanted a boyfriend. Anyone would do. 3. When the reference is generic in that you know you are talking about any representative member of a set. Ideally, of course, her boyfriend would be a prince. 4. Similar to 2&3 above, the indefinite article can be used instead of any (eg an unspecified member of a given set). Pick a card. Any card. 5. Sometimes a is used with the meaning of one. Ill see you in a weeks time. 6. When you are converting a proper noun into a common noun that is any member of a newly-created set: She thought of herself as a proper Mother Teresa. LOOKING AHEAD We have looked at how grammatical systems are realised with
reference to nouns in English: Number Gender Person Case Degree Definiteness In the next session we turn to systems of the verb.
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