English Syntax: From Word to Discourse

English Syntax: From Word to Discourse

English Syntax: From Word to Discourse

English Syntax: From Word to Discourse

Synopsis

English Syntax: From Word to Discourse is a clear and highly accessible descriptive grammar of English with a strong semantic and discourse/functional focus. Designed for beginning graduate students and advanced undergraduates in linguistics, it is also suitable for use in TESOL/ESL programs and in English departments. The text explains the basics of English syntax while providing students with a comprehensive view of the richness and complexity of the system. Each structure is discussed in terms of its syntactic features, its meaning, and its uses in discourse, and each discussion is extensively illustrated by examples from written texts of all kinds and by excerpts of spoken language. While the presentation has been influenced by a number of theories, the book presumes no theoretical background on the part of the student and the approach is relatively informal. Syntactic structures are graphically illustrated by means of nesting boxes rather than tree diagrams. Historical information illuminates some particularly problematic constructions, and the book is punctuated with intriguing facts about English syntax. All terminology is carefully explained and most terms are defined again in the extensive glossary. Berk anticipates areas where students are likely to have trouble, warns them of pitfalls, and shows them how to avoid common mistakes. English Syntax: From Word to Discourse provides a unique alternative to the formal, generative approach of other texts in the field.

Excerpt

Although English Syntax: From Word to Discourse has been influenced by a number of syntactic theories, my overall goal is to provide a descriptive grammar of English and my overall approach is loosely discourse/functional. This book presumes no theoretical background on the part of the student and the material should be completely accessible to anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of English grammar. Grammatical constructions are discussed in terms of their form, meaning, and function in discourse. I have tried to ensure that students learn the basics of English grammar but that at the same time they come to understand the richness and complexity of the system.

English Syntax: From Word to Discourse is filled with examples; some are my own creation, many come from literary and other print sources, and others from actual conversations. Most sections also conclude with a summary chart containing at least one example of each structure discussed. Whenever a new term is introduced, it appears in boldface. Most boldface terms also appear in the extensive glossary at the end of the book.

Sometimes the nature of a particular construction can be illuminated by a look at its linguistic history. This text includes some very brief forays into the history of the English language, especially in cases where constructions have been influenced by language contact between the English and the Norman French.

I field-tested earlier drafts of this book in a number of sections of English Syntax at Florida International University. This introductory M.A.-level course serves Linguistics majors, TESOL students, and a few English majors. The examples, ideas, and critical comments provided by these students were invaluable in shaping this textbook.

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