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Title: Sequential ordering of nonverbal constituents in English and German sentences
Author: Buxton, Clive
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1975
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The task of Part One is to outline the historical background from the latter part of the 19th century and to establish a theoretical basis for the subsequent investigation in Part Two. Chapter I: Chapter 1 reviews the work on sentence organization of 19th and early 2oth century scholars. The notions psychological, subject' and 'psychological predicate', 'logical subject' and 'logical predicate', which they introduce are closely looked at and a clear distinction made between what is meant by the descriptive term 'psychological' on the one hand, and 'logical' on the other. It is noted that use of these terms does not always correspond to a distinction of separate notions, which suggests a confusion of levels of analysis which are later clearly distinguished from each other. Chapter II: In the first section of Chapter II the discussion presented in Chapter I is taken up again in the context of the approach of linguists of the Prague tradition, who sought to establish a more neutral linguistic theoretical framework as a basis for their investigations into the structure and organization of sentences. This approach has come to be known as 'functional sentence perspective (ESP). The contributions of various scholars to the theory of FSP are outlined and the distinction between various levels of analysis suggested in Chapter I further clarified. In the second section reference is made to the works of the German linguists Ammann, Boost and Drach. These are reviewed in the light of the discussion so far and various criteria relevant to the sequential ordering of elements are distinguished. Part Two. This part presents a detailed analysis of the various criteria relevant to the sequential ordering of non-verbal constituents in English and German sentences. Chapter III: Word order is analysed in terms of grammatical function and syntactic cohesion. A detailed analysis of the notion of syntactic cohesion is given and the relevance of this principle in determining the sequential ordering of elements investigated in detail in the light of a large corpus of neutral linguistic material from English. and German. A number of different grammatical sentence types are looked at and basic types postulated as instances of the 'syntactic norm' ('syntaktische Ruhelage'). Explication of these is sought in terms of underlying configurations of semantic categories realized on the level of surface strucure by various combinations of grammatical categories. This led to an important distinction being made between sentences which in the basic type manifest the basic neutral order dative-accusative and others where the relative order accusative-dative constitutes the syntactic norm, depending on the semantic class of verb and the 'syntactic meanings' of the nuclear constituents. Chapter IV: Semantic criteria are discussed and word order investigated in different types of sentences in terms of usual configurations of semantic categories. Semantic relations are related to the notion of syntactic cohesion and to the level of thematic structure. Special attention is paid to sentence patterns in German which manifest initial positioning of a surface dative constituent. Two basic configurations of case categories were found to have this particular surface structure realization. An analysis of high probability English equivalents reveals that English consistently makes use of the passive construction . to achieve similar distributions of semantic categories. Chapter V: The task of Chapter V is to investigate what modifications the basic sentence patterns undergo with the operation of contextual criteria. The notions of contextual dependence and 'givenness' are examined and the importance of distinguishing varying degrees of contextual dependence in accounting for the sequential ordering of contextually recoverable elements pointed out. Special reference is made in this respect to the function of the initial position in German sentences and the criteria which determine its selection. Consideration is also given to the interaction of the various criteria, especially to situations where they are 'in conflict' and the regularities and restrictions operative under such circumstances investigated. Reference is made to the so-called 'sentence bracket' in German and the extent to which this remains intact against the manipulation of sentence elements in adapting sentences to particular contexts. Conclusion: The various criteria are briefly reviewed and the main points emphasised. The notion recently put forward by some linguists of 'natural constituent structure' and 'natural serialization' are referred to and related to the concept of syntactic cohesion and hierarchical dependency relations discussed in Chapters III and IV. The relevance of the notion of 'natural serialization' for English and German is briefly investigated from the point of view of the basic ordering of nuclear constituents and adverbial categories.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available