IntroductionThis monograph is intended to introduce the English noun phrase, which is an important element in every English sentence whether it is a simple sentence or a complex one.
The first part introduces the theoretical framework upon which this paper is based. The second part deals with constituency, since the core of syntax is the constituent structure of sentences. This part focuses on the application of constituency tests. The third part examines the difference between the two concepts: category and function. Then it defines phrases and their types before digging deeply in the noun phrase which is the topic of this research.
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Noun phrases dependents are introduced thoroughly in terms of pre-head and post-head dependents and then different functions of the noun phrase are introduced in the following part. The last part is concerned with the transformations that involve the noun phrase. These transformations are passive, dative, equi NP and raising.Theoretical FrameworkTransformational Generative Grammar, upon which this paper is based, is a theory that was advocated by the linguist Noam Chomsky in his book Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, first published in 1965.Transformational Generative Grammar, henceforth TGG, has two main features:TGG is transformational:TGG is transformational in the sense that every sentence used in a given language is just a surface structure (or superficial structure).
Underlying the surface structure is a group of words called the deep structure (or the underlying structure). Every sentence has two levels of representation: the deep structure and the surface structure. The deep structure relates to semantic relations. On the other hand, the surface structure relates to the order of elements following the phonological form of the sentence.The deep structure passes through a number of transformational rules. In other words, we can say that it undergoes changes before reaching the final form which is the surface structure.
During the process of transformations, the meaning of the sentence does not change at all. Therefore, we can say that transformational rules are meaning preserving. Consider the following examples:Charlie read a book.A book was read by Charlie.The distinction between (1) and (2) is their surface structures not their meaning. They are two different surface structures of the same deep structure. In other words, different sentences that have different surface structures can have the same deep structure. It should be noted that one surface structure may have two different structures or even more depending on how the words of the sentence are grouped to form constituents.
Ambiguous sentences, for instance, have more than one interpretation: 3. The old man and woman have arrived.The sentence has more than one interpretation. The first one is that only the man is old whereas the second is that both man and woman are old. This type of ambiguity is called structural ambiguity. TGG is generative:TGG is generative in the sense that it generates an infinite set of grammatical sentences in a language using a finite set of rules. That is to say, with a limited set of phrase structure rules, we can generate an unlimited number of sentences. Furthermore, TGG generates only correct and well-formed sentences.
The grammar of a language consists of three components: the syntactic component, the semantic component and the phonological component.The syntactic component generates for every sentence a deep and a surface structure. The deep structure is the output of the PS rules of the syntactic component and the input to the semantic component, which gives the meaning of the sentence.
In the same way, the surface structure is the output of the transformational rules of the syntactic component and the input to the phonological component, which gives the phonological representation of the sentence.Syntactic ComponentBase: PS Rules and LexiconDeep Structure Semantic ComponentSemantic representation T- RulesPhonological representationSurface StructurePhonological ComponentConstituencyConstituency is the relation that holds a linguistic unit and the largest unit to which it belongs. In syntax, the term constituent stands for a word or a string of words that functions as a unit within a hierarchical structure. That is to say, it is a word or a group of words that forms a phrase built around a head.A sentence can be analyzed into two immediate constituents: a Noun Phrase and a Predicate Phrase.The boy went to the park.”The boy” is the noun phrase and it functions as the subject of the sentence.
The rest of the sentence “went to the park” is the predicate phrase.The two main units can also be analyzed into constituents, and the process keeps going on until no subdivisions are possible.Constituency Tests:We identify the constituent structures using constituency tests.
There are a number of tests we can apply to identify the constituents:Substitution:The test involves replacing the constituent we want to test with an appropriate pro-form. When we replace the constituent with a pro-form and as a result we get a grammatical sentence, then the sequence of words is a constituent.John knows the girl who is sitting on the bench.John knows her.The old lady with the scarf is my neighbor.She is my neighbor.
Notice that the noun phrases in (a) the girl sitting on the bench and (c) the old lady with a scarf have been replaced by the equivalent pronouns she and her without yielding an ungrammatical sentence. Therefore, the two sequences of words form a constituent.The Cleft:This test requires placing a group of words within the structure and changing the sentence into: It + be + constituent + relative clauseThey found the key under the table.It was the key they found under table.Mary feeds the little puppies every day.It is the little puppies that Mary feeds every day.A sentence can be divided into two parts. The first part contains background information whereas the other part contains the information which the sentence tends to focus on or emphasize.
Therefore, if a sequence of words appears as focus in the test, then it is a constituent.Coordination:This test assumes that only two constituents that belong to the same category can be coordinated. Coordination is the joining of words, phrases or clauses of the same type in order to make them equal in terms of importance and emphasis.a) I like to eat healthy food and I exercise every day.b) John went home and slept immediately.c) Mary likes cats and dogs.Notice that in (a), two sentences have been conjoined by the coordinating conjunction “and”. In (b), the two sequences of words that have been conjoined are verb phrases.
In (c), the conjoined words belong to the same part of speech. Both cats and dogs are nouns.There are seven coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or and so. They are also known as “FANBOYS”.It should be noted that two constituents that belong to different categories cannot be conjoined. For instance, we cannot say the following sentence:d) *Charlie is a student and happy.The two conjoined constituents belong to different categories. A student, in (d), is a noun phrase whereas happy is an adjective, therefore, conjoining them yields an ungrammatical sentence.
Movement:The movement test involves preposing or extraposing a sequence of words. If the movement does not affect the grammaticality of the sentence, then the sequence of words forms a constituent.a) She applied for a job to help her sick mother.b) To help her sick mother, she applied for a job.However, moving strings of words that do not form a constituent yields an ungrammatical sentence. For instance:c) I like cats with white, fluffy fur.d) *Cats with white, I like fluffy fur.Cats with white alone does not form a constituent because the preposition “with” has to have a noun phrase as a complement and not an adjective.
Therefore, the string that should be moved is cats with white fluffy fur.Omission:Omission or deletion is a test that serves to check whether we can delete a sequence of words without yielding ungrammatical sentences. This test works when we have sentences with modifiers not complements.
a) The visitors arrived at 7o’ clock.b) The visitors arrived.The fact that we can delete the prepositional phrase 7o’ clock means that the prepositional phrase forms a constituent.It should be noted that failing to pass a test does not mean that a string of words does not form a constituent. Furthermore, passing a test does not mean a string of words forms a constituent. Thus, many tests should be applied to a given unit so we can prove whether it is a constituent or not.
Category and FunctionCategory denotes what a word or a constituent is in a sentence. A category is a set of words that share the same grammatical properties. In English, words belong to categories called word classes or parts of speech. There are two word classes: the major class and the minor class.
The major class consists of nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs and the minor word class consists of determiners, prepositions, pronouns and conjunctions.Function stands for the syntactic role performed by a word or a constituent in a sentence. In English, the position of a word or a constituent determines its function and function has nothing to do with inflection or word endings.I met Jane.Jane is kind.The word “Jane” in (1) functions as a direct object whereas it functions in (2) as a subject.Endocentric Phrases vs.
Exocentric PhrasesIn syntax, there are two main types of phrases: endocentric phrases and exocentric phrases. The two types of phrases are distributed differently and the internal relation that holds between the elements made of that make up their respective constituents is different.The endocentric phrase is a construction where the head is the most important element.Noun phrases, adjective phrases and verb phrases belong to this category because the elements are linked to their heads. The head links the other words within the constituent and the constituent, therefore, derives its name from that head. The other elements in the endocentric phrase are optional. Removing them does not change the meaning of the phrase.
The head, however, cannot be removed because the meaning will be lost.An exocentric construction is a construction that does not contain any head element that can substitute for the whole construction. The prepositional phrase is an exocentric construction made of a preposition and a noun phrase. Neither of them may substitute for the whole phrase. The phraseA phrase is a constituent or a string of words that function as a unit.
It cannot stand alone so it is usually embedded in a clause or in a sentence. A phrase, furthermore, does not have a subject or a verb; therefore, it cannot form a complete idea. In terms of form, a phrase can be short or long:The kidThe child playing in the gardenA phrase derives its name from its head, the reason why we have several types of phrases: noun phrases, adjective phrases, prepositional phrases, adverb phrases and so on.For instance, a prepositional phrase is a constituent which is built around a preposition:On the desk Under the tree near the lakeAn adjective phrase is a constituent built around a head adjective:Much more beautifulToo hot to drinkA noun phrase is a constituent and it derives its name from its head which is the noun.
A noun phrase can be a noun or a pronoun:Shawn is a good cook.She went to the cinema.The Noun PhraseA noun phrase or a nominal phrase is a string of words that are built around a head noun or a pronoun. A noun phrase can be short which means it can be a single noun, a proper noun or a pronoun. For instance:Shawn is a good cook.
Kids are annoying.Mary likes him.In the first sentence, “Shawn” is a proper noun and it is a noun phrase that functions as the subject of the sentence. “Kids”, in the second sentence, is a single noun which also functions as the subject of the sentence. “Him”, in the third sentence, is a pronoun which functions as the direct object of the sentence.A noun phrase, furthermore, can consist of a group of words which means it can consist of a head and its dependents. That is to say, it can be pre-modified and, or post-modified. For example:The man.
People who treat others well.The kid who is playing in the park.A noun phrase is different from all the existing phrases because it can be replaced by a pronoun.
Pronouns are pro-forms that replace the noun and all the elements that cluster around it. The little girl ate an apple.She ate an apple.”The little girl” is a noun phrase and it can be substituted by the pronoun “she”.
Pronouns have to agree with their antecedent or the word they replace in number, gender, and person. Any sentence is divided into two main components: Noun Phrase and Verb Phrase. Sentence NP VP The sentence (1) is composed of a noun phrase and a verb phrase.
“The little girl” is the noun phrase and it head is the noun “girl”. The verb phrase is “ate an apple” and its head is the verb “eat”. Dependents in Noun Phrase Structure:When the dependent comes before the head noun, it is called pre-head dependent and when it comes after the head noun, it is called post-head dependent.Pre-head Dependent:Pre-head dependents are always modifiers. Among them, we find modifiers and determiners.Determiners:Determiners are a part of speech that belongs to the minor class. There are three types of determiners: pre-determiners, main determiners and post determiners.
A noun phrase can take one determiner or more. To illustrate: 3- The boy.The head noun “boy” is pre-modified by one main determiner, so we can say that it has one pre-head dependent. 4- All his many ideas.
The word “ideas” is pre-modified by three determiners. “All” is a pre-determiner, “his” is a main determiner and finally “many” is a post determiner. The head noun “ideas” has three pre-head dependents.Modifiers:Adjectives: 5- Her beautiful hair.The head noun is pre-modified by the determiner “her” and the adjective “beautiful”.
So the noun phrase has two pre-head dependents.Present Participle: 6- The sleeping beauty. 7- The falling prices.”Sleeping” is the present participle of the verbs “sleep” and “falling” is the present participle of the verb “fall”. Both modify the head nouns “beauty” and “prices”.Past Participle: 8- Predicted results. 9- The captured prisoners.
“Predicted” and “captured” serve as modifiers in (8) and (9) for the heads “results” and “prisoners”.Noun Modifier: 10- A cotton shirt.The head of the phrase is “shirt” and it is pre-modified by another noun. “Cotton” is giving specific information about the head.Adverb:Adverbs are a part of speech and they serve to modify verbs, adjectives, or another adverb. But sometimes, adverbs can modify noun phrases too. 11- Quite a noise. 12- Only Bill could give such a comment.
“Noise” is pre-modified by the adverb “quite” and “only” pre-modifies “Bill”.np: 13- Shawn has a Northern Manchester accent.”A Northern Manchester accent” is a noun phrase whose head is “accent”. The head is pre-modified by the determiner “a” and by a small noun phrase (np).Adjective Phrase: 14- A very intelligent student.The head “student” is pre-modified by an adjective phrase. The head of which is the adjective “intelligent” and it is pre-modified by the adverb “very”.Clause:15- He is a do it yourself person.
The noun phrase in (15) is “a do it yourself person”. The head noun is “person” and it is pre-modified by a clause which is “do it yourself”.Post-head dependent:Post head dependents are what occur after a noun phrase. They can be modifiers or complements.Prepositional Phrase:16- Mary is a student with short hair.17- Charlie is a student of Biology.
In (16), the bracketed string of words is a noun phrase and the head noun is the word “student”. The prepositional phrase “with long hair” is the post head dependent. It is a modifier because the preposition is not selected by the noun. In such case, the preposition can be changed.
Mary is a student without long hair.We can also use a relative clause instead of the prepositional phrase and say:Mary is a student who has a long hair.Relative clauses function as adjective modifiers and adjectives can be omitted without yielding a change in meaning. In (17), the head “student” has also a prepositional phrase as a post head dependent. However, in this case, the preposition is selected by the noun and we cannot change it and say:*Charlie is a student at biology.
We cannot change the prepositional phrase into a relative clause and say:*Charlie is a student who has biology.So the prepositional phrase in this case is a complement. Another piece of evidence in favor of analyzing the prepositional phrase “of biology” as a complement is the fact that it has an analogue in VP structure: Charlie studies biology.Clause:18- The idea that she suggested is very interesting.19- The idea that we should be there early was rejected.20- The person to consult is her.21- The boy sitting next to me is my friend.
22- His hope to pass the exam was fulfilled.In (18), the head noun has a post head dependent and it is a that-clause. This clause is a relative clause in which “that” is the object of the verb “suggested”. We can change “that” with “which” and say:The idea which she suggested is very interesting.Thus, the post head dependent of the head noun “idea” is a that-clause modifier.
In (19), we have a that-clause as post head dependent but in this case, it is not a modifier because we cannot say:*The idea which we should be there early was rejected.This that-clause is a complement because it completes the meaning. “That” is a complementizer and the clause is attached to the head noun.In (20), we have a to-infinitive-clause and it is a modifier because we can make it a relative clause and say:The person whom you should consult is her.In (21), we have a present participle clause and it functions as a modifier. We can change it into a relative clause and as a result we get:The boy who is sitting next to me is my best friend.In the sentence (22), the head noun “hope” has a to-infinitive-clause as a post head dependent.
However, it is not a modifier because there is an equivalent in a VP structure. Consider the example below:He hopes to pass the exam.This to-infinitive-clause in (22) is a complement because it completes the meaning.Functions of The NPIn English, noun phrases have several functions. These functions are as follow:SubjectThe book you gave me is interesting.The little girl was in the park.Subject complementCharlie is a brilliant studentShe is a doctor.Direct objectJohn did his homework.
The kids ate the whole cake.Object complementHe considers his friends brothers.Mary calls the pet her baby.Indirect objectCecilia sent her parents a letter.John gave the girl sitting next to him a flower.Complement of prepositionI went to the library.Mary is a student with a beautiful long hair.AppositiveJane, my friend, is very kind.
Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer, was born in the Republic of Genova. AdjunctSarah is coming back next week.I have an exam the day after tomorrow.Determinatives:The young boy’s writing is quite beautiful.That red car is my mother’s.Transformations:This part of the paper is concerned with the transformational rules that involve the Noun Phrase.PassivizationPassivization involves transforming a sentence from the active voice to the passive voice.
That is to say, when this transformation applies, the object of the sentence becomes the subject of the derived sentence. The function of passivisation is to topicalize the patient who experiences the action in the sentence rather than the agent who performs the action.The driver hit the boy on the bicycle.The boy on the bicycle was hit by the driver.In (a), the agent who performs the action is “the driver” and it is the subject of the sentence.
“The boy on the bicycle”, on the other hand, is the patient, who experiences the action and it is the object of the sentence.In (b), “the boy on the bicycle” is the subject; however, it is not the agent. The one who performs the action is still “the driver” although it no longer functions as the subject of the sentence.
(a) and (b) are represented in the following tree diagrams: a. Deep Structure Tree-Diagram S NP Pred Ph Aux VPThe driver Tense V NP past hit NP PP the boy on the bicycle b. Surface Structure Tree-Diagram S NP Pred Ph Aux VPThe boy on the bicycle Tense Passive V PP past be hit by the driverThe two sentences, (a) and (b), mean exactly the same thing. However, they differ in their viewpoints. (a) focuses on the action that is performed by the subject of the sentence. It is a neutral viewpoint in that the action is described from the viewpoints of both the agent and the patient. In (b), on the other hand, the action is described from the patient’s point of view.Passivization promotes the object (the patient) of the sentence by moving it to the beginning of the sentence and giving it the role of the subject.
The subject (agent), however, becomes a constituent of the by-phrase. To illustrate, let’s look at (c) and (d)The young boy ate the apple pie.The apple pie was eaten by the young boy.Passive transformation is applicable only when the main verb of the sentence is transitive. Sentences with intransitive verbs cannot be passivized. For instance:Shawn slept in his bedroom.*In his bedroom was slept by Shawn.Mary left.
*Was left by MaryThe verbs “sleep” and “leave” are intransitive verbs. They cannot undergo the passive transformation. Dative MovementDative movement, also referred to as dative shift, is a transformational rule that relates a prepositional indirect object construction to a double object construction. This rule concerns sentences that have an indirect object only.Usually, sentences with two objects follow one of the two patterns below:Charlie bought a flower to his mother.Charlie bought his mother a flower.The first pattern is called the prepositional pattern because the indirect object is a prepositional phrase (to his mother). (a) is represented below: S NP Pred Ph N Aux VP Charlie Tense V NP PP past buy a flower Prep NP to his motherThe second pattern, on the other hand, is called the dative movement pattern.
In this pattern, the indirect object (his mother) is placed between the verb (brought) and its direct object (a flower) and the preposition “to” is deleted.(b) is represented below: S NP Pred Ph N Aux VP Charlie Tense V NP NP past buy his mother a flower We assume that the sentence (b) is the outcome of the dative movement that is applied to the sentence (a). The difference between the two sentences is the fact that the indirect object in (a) has moved to the position between the verb and the direct object and the preposition to has been deleted. To illustrate more, let’s look at the examples below:John sent a letter to Mary.John sent to Mary a letter.I bought a notebook for my little cousin.I bought for my little cousin a notebook.
It should be noted that the dative movement is rule governed. That is to say, it is possible to apply the transformation when we have specific verbs. Consequently, verbs like “send”, “give”, “buy”, “tell”, and “throw” allow the Dative Movement. On the other hand, their synonyms do not allow the Dative Movement. For instance:Mary relayed the message to her boss.*Mary relayed her boss the message.In the deep structure, the verb “send” is subcategorized as +dative whereas the verb “relay” is -dative.
Equi NP DeletionEqui NP Deletion or Equivalent NP Deletion stands for that transformational rule in syntax which deletes one of the two identical noun phrases in a sentence. In other words, Equi NP deletes the underlying subject of the subordinate complement clause, but only if it is coreferential with either the subject or the object of the main clause.Equi NP Deletion under identity with the NP subjectEqui NP obligatory deletes the subject of a clause that begins with for-to when it is coreferential with the subject of the main sentence. For example:I would like for me to attend the concert with you. Equi NP DeletionI would like for ___ to attend the concert with you.
Mary¡ wants for Mary¡ to spend her vacation in Japan. Equi NP DeletionMary wants for ___ to spend her vacation in Japan.It should be noted that the same subscripts used for the two noun phrases “Mary” indicate that they refer to the same person; that is to say, they are coreferential.If we assume that the rule functions as shown in the examples where (a) and (c) yield (b) and (d) respectively after the Equi NP Deletion takes place, then we get an ungrammatical sentence. For that reason, after Equi NP Deletion, another transformation takes place deleting “for” when it is immediately followed by “to”. Consequently, the sentences become as follow:I would like for ___ to attend the concert with you. For DeletionI would like ___ ___ to attend the concert with you.Mary wants for ___ to spend her vacation in Japan.
For DeletionMary wants ___ ___ to spend her vacation in Japan.The examples above show that a sentence like John wants to join the book club is the result of the Equi NP Deletion. The underlying subject of the complement clause has been deleted because it is coreferential with the main subject of the sentence. However, Equi NP Deletion does not apply in sentences like: Connor wants Cecelia to be happy.I want for my brother to study abroad.The underlying subject of the complement clause is not coreferential with the subject of the main sentence. Therefore, Equi NP Deletion cannot be applied in such cases.
Equi NP Deletion under identity with the NP ObjectEqui NP Deletion applies also when the underlying subject of the complement clause is coreferential with the object of the main sentence. To explain this, let’s consider the following example:The boss forced the employees to come early.To identify the status of the underlying noun phrase his employees, we can apply Passive transformation.*The employees to come early were forced by the boss.The employees were forced by the boss to come early.If we consider that the complement clause “the employees to come early” forms a constituent and we make it the subject of the passive sentence, the ungrammatical sentence (i) will be derived.On the other hand, if we assume that the noun phrase “the employees” is the object of the sentence and we make it the subject of the passive sentence, we get the grammatical structure (ii).
The noun phrase “the boss” is the agent of the sentence whereas the noun phrase “the employees” is the patient. In other words, “the boss” is the subject of the verb “force” and it is the one who performs the action of the verb. “The employees”, however, is the object of the verb “force” who receives the action.
At the same time, the object of the verb “force” is the subject of the verb “to come”. Therefore, we can say that the underlying subject of the complement clause is coreferential with the object of the main sentence. Consequently, Equi NP Deletion takes place deleting the subject of the subordinate complement clause under identity with the object of the higher sentence.
(g) is represented below: S NP Pred Ph Aux VPThe boss Tense V NP S past force the employees Comp S for the employees to leave early S NP Pred Ph Aux VPThe boss Tense V NP S past force the employees Aux VP to leave early RaisingThe word Raising, in syntax, stands for moving an argument from a subordinate complement clause to the main clause. A Raising verb is followed by the semantic argument of the verb of the subordinate clause rather than its semantic argument. Raising verbs, furthermore, do not select their dependents.There are verbs which raise the subject and verbs which raise the object of the sentence:John seems to be happy.Bill believes Mary to be a liar.The verb “seem” is a raising-to-subject verb whereas the verb “believe” is a raising-to-object verb.
Raising to subjectJohn seems to be happy.The infinitive clause “to be happy” in the example (a) above is not the object of the verb “seem” although it occurs immediately after it. The verb “seem” in is an intransitive verb and it cannot take an object. To prove the fact that “seem” cannot take an object, let us apply the passive transformation:*To be happy is seemed by John.The fact that the passive transformation yields an ungrammatical sentence proves that the to-infinitive clause is not the complement of the verb “seem” but, in fact, it is a part of the subject as shown in the Deep Structure below: S NP Pred PNP S Aux VP Pro Comp S Tense V It for John to be happy present seems The deep structure shows that the noun phrase “John” is not the real subject of the verb “seem” but, in fact, it is the subject of the complement clause (It seems that john is happy).Consequently, Raising transformation takes place raising the subject of the complement clause “John” to be the subject of the main clause. The to-infinitive clause, being the discontinuous subject, is placed after the verb “seem”.
S NP Pred P N Aux VP John Tense V S Present seems Comp S for to be happy Raising to objectBill believes Mary to be a liar.If we applied the Passive transformation to (b), we will get the grammatical sentence below:Mary is believed to be a liar by Bill.(i) shows that the noun phrase “Mary” is the object of the verb “believe” because it appears as the subject of the passive sentence. However, if we insert the existential there in a sentence where believe is the main verb we get:Bill believes there to be a spy in the room.
The existential there always have a subjective function so it cannot be the object of the sentence. The noun phrase “Mary” cannot act at the same time as the subject of the subordinate complement clause and the object of the main clause. One possible solution is to consider that Raising applies with the effect of raising “Mary” from the subject position of the complement clause to the object position of the main clause as shown in the tree-diagram (b) below: SNP Pred P N Aux VPBill Tense V NP S Present believes NP Pred P Mary Aux VP To V NP be a liarConclusionNoun phrases are an important element in every grammatical English sentence. They can be pronouns, nouns or a string of words that have one function (subject, object, complement of preposition…). This paper has introduced the dependents and the fact that post-heads can be complements or modifiers. Different transformational rules involving the noun phrase were introduced in details.
This enables us to show how the sentences are in the deep structure and to what extent they change in the surface structure when the transformations take place. Each transformational rule is unique and has its own impact on noun phrases as a part of the sentence.Noun phrases have always been a debatable topic in linguistics and explaining their structures and functions and how the transformational rules apply would need books in which thorough explanations would be considered. BibliographyAkmajian, A., & Heny, F. W.
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