Language and Its Structure: Syntactic Systems

Learning Linguistics

In Ronald W. Langacker’s fifth chapter of Language and Its Structure, he focuses on Syntax and Syntactic Systems. In his overview he talks of syntax as a link between Surface Structures and Conceptual Structures. He then goes on to break Surface Structures down into linear arrangements, hierarchical arrangements, and the units that they contain. For linear and hierarchical arrangements, Langacker focuses on morphemes and how they can be organized in a sentence. He also uses this section to discuss basic grammar. He breaks down sentences into tree diagrams when he talks of constituent types, labeling each component of the sentence: the constituent, the noun phrase, the verb phrase, the article, the adjective, and so on. The order of the morphemes in any sentence determines the logic and meaning of the sentence. The ambiguity that is achieved in certain sentences can be cleared up by using these tree diagrams…

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