An Introduction to Syntax

An Introduction to Syntax

An Introduction to Syntax

An Introduction to Syntax

Synopsis

Clearly organized and accessible, this comprehensive new textbook provides students with a thorough grounding in the analysis of syntactic structure using data from a typologically wide variety of languages. The book guides students through the basic concepts involved in syntactic analysis and goes on to prepare them for further work in any syntactic theory, using examples from a range of phenomena in human languages. It also includes a chapter on theories of syntax. Each chapter includes generous exercises and recommendations for further study.

Excerpt

If people encounter the term 'syntax', they usually think of 'grammar', and for many this term conjures up bad associations of schoolteachers' pronouncements about how one should and should not talk, of seemingly endless conjugations of verbs or declensions of nouns that must be mastered by rote, or of dreary repetitions of insipid phrases in a foreign-language class. This book is about none of these things. It is, rather, about the marvelous diversity of ways of expressing itself that the human mind has created during the evolution of human language. How does an Aborigine from central Australia, a Basque from Spain or an inhabitant of the island of Madagascar put a sentence together? Is it at all similar to the way an English speaker does it? Or a Spanish speaker? Or a Russian speaker? Or a Sioux speaker? Chinese and Japanese speakers use the same characters to write their respective languages; how similar is Chinese syntax to Japanese syntax? How does a scientist go about analysing the structure of all of these different languages?

These are just some of the questions that will be answered in this book.An Introduction to Syntax is first and foremost an exploration of the variety of human languages, with examples drawn from every part of the globe. It is also a guide to the analysis of these languages, teaching you the techniques that the practitioners of linguistic science use to reveal and understand the structure of human languages. This book also introduces you to some of the theories that have been proposed to explain how languages work. The study of language is one of the great intellectual challenges facing the cognitive sciences today, and it is an intellectual adventure of the highest order. This book takes you into the heart of one of the most important parts of this adventure, the investigation of the syntactic structure of human languages.

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