Author Topic: How to make a syntactic tree for this sentence?  (Read 268 times)

Offline łania

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How to make a syntactic tree for this sentence?
« on: October 02, 2019, 12:00:00 PM »
Hi guys! I have a big problem with dividing this complex sentence into parts to build a syntactic tree. Can anyone help me? This is not a homework, this is one of questions for the final exam on my studies and these questions are published on my University website, so there's nothing wrong in asking you for help here :) The case is not actually to build a tree but to indentify the phrasal categories, however, the form of a tree is easier for me to learn and understand it. That's why I struggle to do that.

This is the sentence:

The central assumption underpinning syntactic analysis in traditional grammar is
that phrases and sentences are built up of a series of constituents, each of which
belongs to a specific grammatical category and serves a specific grammatical
function.

Online Daniel

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Re: How to make a syntactic tree for this sentence?
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2019, 01:04:45 PM »
It's still much better if you can do this exercise yourself to practice rather than us giving you 'the answer'.

But here I think I can help by getting you started. The biggest challenge with drawing a tree for a sentence that large is probably fitting it on the page and at the same time not mixing up any of the structural relationships. You can probably identify any individual component by itself, but might get lost in the larger context. But this provides a good opportunity for another excise that will help: try substitution where you identify constituents (phrases) within the sentence by substituting functionally equivalent words. For example, what is the subject, and can the whole phrase be replaced with a pronoun? Do that for several complex parts of the sentence, and then draw a tree for that simplified version. That can then work as the outline for your tree of the original sentence, so try that next.
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Offline łania

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Re: How to make a syntactic tree for this sentence?
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2019, 01:45:56 AM »
Please, correct me if I'm wrong.
The sentence may be devided into three parts:
S1 - The central assumption underpinning syntactic analysis in traditional grammar is
that phrases and sentences are built up of a series of constituents
S2 - each of which belongs to a specific grammatical category
S3 - (and) serves a specific grammatical function

S1 consists of:
NP [The central assumption underpinning syntactic analysis in traditional grammar]
and VP [is that phrases and sentences are built up of a series of constituents]
The NP consists of:
NP: (det. - the); (NP: Adj - central N - assumption); (AP: Adj - underpining NP - Adj - syntactic, N - analysis) PP: (Prep - in); (NP - Adj - traditional; N - grammar)
The VP consists of:
(verb - is); (conj. - that); (NP: N - phrases; Con. - and; N - sentences); (VP: aux - are, verb - built, adv - up; (PP: prep. - of; det. - a; NP: N - series; prep - of; N - constituents).

How does it look like so far? I would be very greatful if you could tell me what is correct and what is not.

Online Daniel

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Re: How to make a syntactic tree for this sentence?
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2019, 08:42:34 AM »
What is "correct" depends on the rules of analysis you're using. It would vary for different classes. For example, you write "Adj" but some classes would just use "A". In terms of content what you wrote looks OK overall.

Your "S1" actually should contain everything. Embedded within it, you can also separate out "S2" and "S3", but if you're trying to understand how everything fits together you should start by distinguishing whole constituents (including everything inside them). So personally I'd probably start by separating out the subject (your "NP"), then working on what you're calling the "VP" above, including also "S2" and "S3" within that.
(But again, maybe there's a reason based on how you've been taught or expectations for you class about how you should approach this. For this kind of detail-oriented analysis with "correct" answers, asking online is generally NOT very helpful. We can discuss big ideas, but it won't necessarily get you to the "correct" answer for your class.)
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Offline łania

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Re: How to make a syntactic tree for this sentence?
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2019, 11:46:15 AM »
What I'm trying to do is just to identify the phrasal categories and their constituents. I did it for S1 and before moving to S2 and S3 I wanted to check if I am not mixing up these categories. It's not a very complicated task but the sentence is so complex that it is difficult for me to divide it. That's why I am asking here, I looked for a person who have much more knowledge of this topic.

Online Daniel

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Re: How to make a syntactic tree for this sentence?
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2019, 03:15:28 PM »
I'm trying to be careful with how I reply, because as I've said, there is no single "correct" answer, except the specific expectations of your instructor. Different classes would have different (similar) answers, such as the labels used.

Generally you seem to have labeled the words correctly, if that's your goal. Regarding the structure of the sentence, see my previous reply.
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Offline panini

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Re: How to make a syntactic tree for this sentence?
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2019, 08:49:06 AM »
You might try a word-deletion version of the substitution test. For example (to take something that seems non-problematic), you can reduce "traditional grammar" to "grammar" while maintaining grammatical(ity) and thematic relations, and this is what you predict under what seems to be your analysis of this structure, that "traditional grammar" is some kind of noun-like phrase (well, the only credible question is whether we are looking at an NP or a DP). When you clear away some of the extra words that merely say e.g. what kind of grammar, it may be clearer how to integrate the things you call S2 and S3 with your S1.


The central assumption underpinning syntactic analysis in traditional grammar