Update: 2012-11-24 05:27 PM +0630


TIL Grammar Glossary


Compiled by U Kyaw Tun (UKT), M.S. (I.P.S.T., U.S.A.), and staff of TIL (Tun Institute of Learning, http://www.tuninst.net ), from various sources. Prepared for students of TIL Computing and Language Center, Yangon, Myanmar. Not for sale.

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Grammar Glossary - A

tag question (tail question) TAM (Tense-Aspect-Mood) tautology TEFL telicity template tense TESOL text thematic relation theme thesaurus thesis thesis statement third person thorn thread tone topic topic sentence transformational grammar transitional expression transitive verb trite expressions (clichs) two-word verb

UKT Notes
grammatical tense telicity thematic relation  tone sandhi transformational grammar transitive verb

Noteworthy passages in this file (always take care to check with the original source material):
Tenses cannot always be translated from one language to another. While verbs in all languages have typical forms by which they are identified and indexed in dictionaries, usually the most common present tense or an infinitive, their meanings vary among languages.

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tag question (or tail question)

UKT: Since "tag question" of LBH and "tail question" of UseE seem to be the same, I have grouped the two.

From LBH
A [tag] question attached to the end of a statement and consisting of a pronoun, a helping verb, and sometimes the word not:

It isn't raining, is it?
It is sunny, isn't it?

From UseE
A tail question can be made by making a statement and putting an auxiliary verb and a pronoun at the end:

She's coming, isn't she?
She wasn't there, was she?

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TAM (Tense-Aspect-Mood)

See grammatical tense in my notes.

Excerpt from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_tense  080526
The distinction between grammatical tense, aspect, and mood is fuzzy and at times controversial. The English continuous temporal constructions express an aspect as well as a tense, and some therefore consider that aspect to be separate from tense in English. In Spanish the traditional verb tenses are also combinations of aspectual and temporal information.

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From UseE
is where two near- synonyms are placed consecutively or very close together for effect: e.g.
 free gift ;  in this day and age ; lonely isolation ; new innovation

UKT: What about "true fact"?
A personal note: I seem to remember an incident back in late 1960s just about the time of the "Six-day War" in the Middle East. U Thant (1909-1974), the Burmese diplomat was the secretary-general of the United Nations. He pulled the UN forces stationed between the State of Israel and the Arab states. That was against the wishes of the American media. They seemed to be worried that without the UN forces, the State of Israel would be wiped out by the combined superior Arab forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria.  At about that time U Thant in a speech used the phrase "true fact", and the American media ridiculed him for being so ignorant of the English language. Soon after, the then US President used exactly the same phrase in a speech. However none of the American media took note of that! -- a "trivial" to be checked further -- UKT 080717

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From UseE
is an acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

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From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telicity 091221
In linguistics, telicity (from the Greek τέλοϛ, meaning "end" or "goal") is the property of a verb or verb phrase that presents an action or event as being complete in some sense. A verb or verb phrase with this property is said to be telic, while a verb or verb phrase that presents an action or event as being incomplete is said to be atelic.

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From LBH
A word-processing form for a letter, memo, or other document. (See p. 204.)

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See grammatical tense in my notes.

tense 2 n. Abbr. t. Grammar 1. Any one of the inflected forms in the conjugation of a verb that indicates the time, such as past, present, or future, as well as the continuance or completion of the action or state. 2. A set of tense forms indicating a particular time: the future tense. [Middle English tens from Old French time from Latin tempus]

From LBH
The form of a verb that expresses the time of its action, usually indicated by the verb's inflection and by helping verbs.

The simple tenses are:

I race /  you go  -- present
I raced / you went  -- past
I will race / you will go   --  future, formed with the helping verb will

The perfect tenses, formed with the helping verbs have and had, indicate completed action. They are :

I have raced / you have gone  -- present perfect
I had raced / you had gone --  past perfect
I will have raced / you will have gone  -- future perfect

The progressive tenses, formed with the helping verb be plus the present participle, indicate continuing action. They include:

I am racing / you are going  -- present progressive
I was racing / you were going  -- past progressive
I will be racing / you will be going --  future progressive

See p. 319 for a list of tenses with examples.

From UseE
is used to show the relation between the action or state described by the verb and the time, which is reflected in the form of the verb. There are two basic tenses in English; the present tense and the past tense. The present is like the base form, although the third person singular adds -s. Regular verbs add -ed or -d to show the past tense, while irregular verbs change in many different ways, or not at all in some cases.

From EC.com
For past and present, there are 2 simple tenses + 6 complex tenses (using auxiliary verbs). To these, we can add 4 "modal tenses" for the future (using modal auxiliary verbs will/shall). This makes a total of 12 tenses in the active voice. Another 12 tenses are available in the passive voice. So now we have 24 tenses.

The use of tenses in English may be quite complicated, but the structure of English tenses is actually very simple. The basic structure for a positive sentence is:

subject + auxiliary verb + main verb

UKT: The above structure is the syntax of English language: SVO (Subject-Verb-Object). In Burmese-Myanmar, the syntax is SOV.

An auxiliary verb is used in all tenses. (In the simple present and simple past tenses, the auxiliary verb is usually suppressed for the affirmative, but it can and does exist for intensification.) The following table shows the 12 tenses for the verb to work in the active voice.

* Technically, there are no future tenses in English. The word <will> is a modal auxiliary verb and future tenses are sometimes called "modal tenses". The examples are included here for convenience and comparison. -- EC.com

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From UseE
is an acronym for Teaching English as a Second Language or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

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From UseE
A text is a body of language; it could consist of a single word like 'Ladies' or 'Gentlemen' on a toilet door right up to a complete book and can be either written or spoken.

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thematic relations

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thematic_relation 080802
In linguistics, thematic relations express the meaning that a Noun phrase plays with respect to the action or state described by a sentence's verb. For example, in the sentence "Susan ate an apple", Susan is the doer of the eating, so she is an agent; the apple is the item that is eaten, so it is a patient.

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From LBH
The main idea of a work of literature. (See p. 798.)

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From UseE

A thesaurus is a book that organises words by categories and concepts, so synonyms and near-synonyms will be grouped together.

thesaurus n. pl. thesauri or thesauruses 1. A book of synonyms, often including related and contrasting words and antonyms. 2. A book of selected words or concepts, such as a specialized vocabulary of a particular field, as of medicine or music. [Latin thēsaurus treasury from Greek thēsauros]

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See topic

From LBH
The central, controlling idea of an essay, to which all assertions and details relate. (See p. 30.)

thesis n. pl. theses 1. A proposition that is maintained by argument. 2. A dissertation advancing an original point of view as a result of research, especially as a requirement for an academic degree. 3. A hypothetical proposition, especially one put forth without proof. 4. The first stage of the Hegelian dialectic process. 5. a. The long or accented part of a metrical foot, especially in quantitative verse. b. The unaccented or short part of a metrical foot, especially in accentual verse. 6. Music The accented section of a measure. [Latin from Greek from tithenai to put; See dh ē - in Indo-European Roots. Sense 5 and 6,Middle English from Late Latin lowering of the voice from Greek downbeat from tithenai to put]

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thesis statement 

See topic sentence

From LBH
thesis statement
A sentence or more that asserts the central, controlling idea of an essay and perhaps previews the essay's organization. (See pp. 3034.)

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third person

See person.

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From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorn 090102

Thorn, or orn (, ), is a letter in the Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic alphabets. It was also used in medieval Scandinavia, but was later replaced with the digraph th. The letter originated from the rune in the Elder Fuark, called thorn in the Anglo-Saxon and thorn or thurs (" giant") in the Scandinavian rune poems, its reconstructed Proto-Germanic name being *Thurisaz.

It has the sound of either a voiceless dental fricative, like th as in the English word thick, or a voiced dental fricative, like th as in the English word the. In Modern Icelandic the usage is restricted to the former. The voiced form is represented with the letter eth (, ), though eth can be unvoiced, depending on position within a sentence, in which case its IPA representation is given as θ (theta).

In its typography, the thorn is one of the few characters in the alphabets derived from the Latin where the modern lower case form has greater height than the capital in its normal (roman), non-italic form.

Usage in languages

In Old English

The letter thorn was used for writing Old English very early on, like ; but unlike , it remained in common usage through most of the Middle English period. A thorn with the ascender crossed () was a popular abbreviation for the word that.

In Middle and Early Modern English

The modern digraph th began to grow in popularity during the 14th century; at the same time, the shape of thorn grew less distinctive, with the letter losing its ascender (becoming similar in appearance to the old wynn , which had fallen out of use by 1300) and, in some hands, such as that of the scribe of the unique mid-15th century manuscript of The Boke of Margery Kempe, ultimately becoming indistinguishable from the letter Y. By this stage th was predominant, however, and the usage of thorn was largely restricted to certain common words and abbreviations. In William Caxton's pioneering printed English, it is rare except in an abbreviated the, written with a thorn and a superscript E. This was the longest-lived usage, though the substitution of Y for thorn soon became ubiquitous, leading to the common 'ye's as in 'Ye Olde Curiositie Shoppe'. One major reason for this is that Y existed in the printer's type fonts that were imported from Germany or Italy, and Thorn did not. The first printing of the King James Version of the Bible in 1611 used the Y form of thorn with a superscript E in places such as Job 1:9, John 15:1, and Romans 15:29. It also used a similar form with a superscript T, which was an abbreviated that, in places such as 2 Corinthians 13:7. All were replaced in later printings by the or that, respectively.

UKT: More in the original article.

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From LBH
In a discussion list, newsgroup, or Web forum, a series of messages on the same topic.
(See pp. 245, 24748.)

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See tone sandhi in my notes.

From LBH
The sense of a writer's attitudes toward self, subject, and readers revealed by words and sentence structures as well as by content.
(See pp. 1014, 15152, 173, 797.)

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From LBH
The subject of an essay, narrowed so that it is appropriately specific for the prescribed purpose, length, and deadline.

topic n. 1. The subject of a speech, an essay, a thesis, or a discourse. 2. A subject of discussion or conversation. 3. A subdivision of a theme, a thesis, or an outline. See note at subject . [Obsolete topic rhetorical argument, sing. of Topics title of a work by Aristotle from Latin Topica from Greek Topika commonplaces, from neuter pl. of topikos of a place from topos place]

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topic sentence 

See paragraph thesis statement

From UseE
The topic sentence is a sentence that sets out the main idea or topic of a paragraph. It is often the first sentence especially when arguing a point where it may well be followed by further information, examples etc.. If the writing is exploring a point, it frequently comes as the last sentence, drawing a conclusion from the argument.

topic sentence n. 1. The sentence within a paragraph or discourse that states the main thought, often placed at the beginning.

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transformational grammar

See transformational grammar in my notes

transformational grammar n. Abbr. TG Linguistics 1. A grammar that accounts for the constructions of a language by linguistic transformations and phrase structures, especially generative transformational grammar.

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transitional expression 

From: LBH
A word or phrase, such as thus or for example, that links sentences and shows the relations between them. (See pp. 8990 for a list.)
The error known as a comma splice occurs when two main clauses related by a transitional expression are separated only by a comma. (See pp. 37778.)

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transitive verb

Contrast intransitive verb
See transitive verb in my notes.

From LBH
A verb that requires a direct object to complete its meaning.
(See pp. 26061.)

From UseE
A transitive verb is one that takes an object.

He opened the door. -- Door is the object of the action; it is affected by the operation.
1. {thu tn-hka: ko hpwing.hk: t}
   literal: (he door-{ko} open-{hk.}{t} -- <He opened the door.>: the door may or may not be still open
2. {thu tn-hka: ko hpwing.hta:hk: t}
   literal: (he door-{ko} open-{hta:hk.}{t} -- <He has left the door open.>: the door is still open

transitive adj. 1. Abbr. t. tr. trans. Grammar Expressing an action that is carried from the subject to the object; requiring a direct object to complete meaning. Used of a verb or verb construction. 2. Characterized by or involving transition. n. Abbr. t. tr. trans. Grammar 1. A transitive verb. [Late Latin ānsitīvus passing over from trānsitus, past participle of trānsīreto go over; See transient ]

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trite expressions (clichs)

Compare with idiom jargon slang

From LBH
Stale expressions that dull writing and suggest that the writer is careless or lazy.
(See p. 576.)

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two-word verb 

See phrasal verb

From LBH  
A verb plus a preposition or adverb that affects the meaning of the verb:
e.g.  jump off  ;  put away ; help out

(See pp. 31617.)

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UKT notes

grammatical tense

From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_tense  accessed on: 080526, 091221

Grammatical tense is a temporal linguistic quality expressing the time at, during, or over which a state or action denoted by a verb occurs.

Tense is one of at least five qualities, along with mood, voice, aspect, and person, which verb forms may express.

Tenses cannot always be translated from one language to another. While verbs in all languages have typical forms by which they are identified and indexed in dictionaries, usually the most common present tense or an infinitive, their meanings vary among languages.

There are languages (such as isolating languages, like Chinese [and Burmese-Myanmar]) in which tense is not used, but implied in temporal adverbs when needed, and some (such as Japanese) in which temporal information appears in the inflection of adjectives, lending them a verb-like quality. In some languages (such as Russian) a simple verb may indicate aspect and tense.

UKT: For languages like Burmese-Myanmar (contrast with English-Latin), I'll have to use the term "non-past tense" or "nonpast tense", which I have first come across in Wikipedia. It is indicated by .

The number of tenses in a language may be controversial, since its verbs may indicate qualities of uncertainty, frequency, completion, duration, possibility, and even whether information derives from experience or hearsay.


Basic tenses in English

English has two tenses by which verbs are inflected, a non-past tense (present tense) and a past tense (indicated by ablaut or the suffix -ed). What is commonly called the future tense in English is indicated with a modal auxiliary, not verbal inflection.

The following chart shows how TAM (tense/aspect/mood) is expressed in English:

Since will is a modal auxiliary, it cannot occur with other modals, like can, may, and must. Only aspects can be used in infinitives.

Grammarians and linguists typically consider will  to be a future marker and give English two non-inflected tenses, a future tense and a future-in-past tense, marked by will and would respectively. In general parlance, all combinations of aspects, moods, and tenses [TAMs] are often referred to as "tenses".

UKT: What is the equivalent of <will> in Burmese? Let's consider the following:
He goes.
{thu thwa: t}
literal: {he go--{t} -- "go-" indicates the verb is non-past.

He will go.
{thu thwa: laim.m}
  literal: (he go- {laim.m}) -- <will> and {laim.m} are equivalent.
  You will notice that {t} has been changed to {laim.m} to indicate the future.

He is about to go.
{thu thwa: tau.m}
  literal: (he go- {tau.m}) -- <about to> and {tau.m} are equivalent.
  You will notice that {t} has been changed to {tau.m} to indicate the immediate future.

Future tenses
The more complex tenses in Indo-European languages are formed by combining a particular tense of the verb with certain verbal auxiliaries, the most common of which are various forms of "be", various forms of "have", and modal auxiliaries such as English will. Romance and Germanic languages often add "to hold", "to stand", "to go", or "to come" as auxiliary verbs. For example, Spanish uses estar ("to be") with the present gerund to indicate the present continuous. Portuguese uses ter ("to have") with the past participle for the perfect aspect. Swedish uses kommer att ("come to") for the simple future. These constructions are often known as complex tenses or compound tenses (a more accurate technical term is periphrastic tenses).

periphrastic adj. 2. Grammar Constructed by using an auxiliary word rather than an inflected form; for example, of father is the periphrastic possessive case of father but father's is the inflected possessive case, and did say is the periphrastic past tense of say but said is the inflected past tense. -- AHTD

Examples of some generally recognized Indo-European and Finnish tenses using the verb "to go" are shown in the table below.

Tense, Aspect, Mood (TAM)

The distinction between grammatical tense, aspect, and mood is fuzzy and at times controversial. The English continuous temporal constructions express an aspect as well as a tense, and some therefore consider that aspect to be separate from tense in English. In Spanish the traditional verb tenses are also combinations of aspectual and temporal information.

Going even further, there's an ongoing dispute among modern English grammarians (see English grammar) regarding whether tense can only refer to inflected forms. In Germanic languages [e.g. English] there are very few tenses (often only two) formed strictly by inflection, and one school contends that all complex or periphrastic time-formations are aspects rather than tenses.

The abbreviation TAM, T/A/M or TMA is sometimes found when dealing with verbal morphemes that combine tense, aspect and mood information.

In some languages, tense and other TAM information may be marked on a noun, rather than a verb. This is called nominal TAM.


Classification of tenses

Tenses can be broadly classified as:

absolute tense: indicates time in relationship to the time of the utterance (i.e. "now"). For example, "I am sitting down", the tense is indicated in relation to the present moment.

relative tense: in relationship to some other time, other than the time of utterance, e.g. "While strolling through the shops, she saw a nice dress in the window". Here, the "saw" is relative to the time of the "strolling". The relationship between the time of "strolling" and the time of utterance is not clearly specified.

absolute-relative: indicates time in relationship to some other event, whose time in turn is relative to the time of utterance. (Thus, in absolute-relative tense, the time of the verb is indirectly related to the time of the utterance; in absolute tense, it is directly related; in relative tense, its relationship to the time of utterance is left unspecified.) For example, "When I walked through the park, I saw a bird." Here, "saw" is present relative to the "walked", and "walked" is past relative to the time of the utterance, thus "saw" is in absolute-relative tense.

All of the following tenses may occur in either an absolute or a relative frame.

Tenses can be quite finely distinguished from one another, although no language will express simply all of these distinctions. As we will see, some of these tenses in fact involve elements of modality (e.g. predictive and not-yet tenses), but they are difficult to classify clearly as either tenses or moods.

Many languages define tense not just in terms of past/future/present, but also in terms of how far into the past or future they are. Thus they introduce concepts of closeness or remoteness, or tenses that are relevant to the measurement of time into days (hodiernal or hesternal tenses).

Some languages also distinguish not just between past, present, and future, but also nonpast, nonpresent, nonfuture. Each of these latter tenses incorporates two of the former, without specifying which.

Some tenses:

Future tenses. Some languages have different future tenses to indicate how far into the future we are talking about. Some of these include:
Near future tense: in the near future, soon
Hodiernal future tense: sometime today
Post-hodiernal future tense: sometime after today
Remote future tense: in the more distant future
Predictive future tense: a future tense which expresses a prediction rather than an intention, i.e. "I predict he will lose the election, although I want him to win". As such, it is really more of a mood than a tense. (Its tenseness rather than modality lies in the fact that you can predict the future, but not the past.)

Nonfuture tense: refers to either the present or the past, but does not clearly specify which. Contrasts with future.

Nonpast tense: refers to either the present or the future, but does not clearly specify which. Contrasts with past.

Not-yet tense: has not happened in present or past (nonfuture), but often with the implication that it is expected to happen in the future. (As such, is both a tense and a modality). In English, it is expressed with "not yet", hence its name.

Past tenses. Some languages have different past tenses to indicate how far into the past we are talking about.
Hesternal past tense: yesterday or early, but not remote
Hodiernal past tense: sometime earlier today
Immediate past tense: very recent past tense, e.g. in the last minute or two
Recent past tense: in the last few days/weeks/months (exact definition varies)
Remote past tense: more than a few days/weeks/months ago (exact definition varies)
Nonrecent past tense: not recent past tense, contrasting with recent past tense
Nonremote past tense: not remote past tense, contrasting with remote past tense
Prehesternal past tense: before hesternal past tense
Prehodiernal past tense: before hodiernal past tense
Preterite: past, conceived as a whole

Present tense

Still tense: indicates a situation held to be the case, at or immediately before the utterance

Absolute-relative tenses
future perfect tense: by some time in the future, before some time in the future
future-in-future tense: at some time in the future, will still be in the future
future-in-past tense: at some time in the past, will be in the future
future-perfect-in-past tense: by some time which is in the future of some time in the past,
   e.g., Sally went to work; by the time she should be home, the burglary would have been completed.
past perfect tense: at some time in the past, was already in the past

Wikipedia Bibliography
Bybee, Joan L., Revere Perkins, and William Pagliuca (1994) The Evolution of Grammar: Tense, Aspect, and Modality in the Languages of the World. University of Chicago Press.
Comrie, Bernard (1985) Tense. Cambridge University Press. [ISBN 0-521-28138-5]
Downing, Angela, and Philip Locke (1992) "Viewpoints on Events: Tense, Aspect and Modality". In A. Downing and P. Locke, A University Course in English Grammar, Prentice Hall International, 350--402.
Guillaume, Gustave (1929) Temps et verbe. Paris: Champion.
Hopper, Paul J., ed. (1982) Tense-Aspect: Between Semantics and Pragmatics. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Smith, Carlota (1997). The Parameter of Aspect. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Tedeschi, Philip, and Anne Zaenen, eds. (1981) Tense and Aspect. (Syntax and Semantics 14). New York: Academic Press.

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From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telicity 091221

In linguistics, telicity (from the Greek τέλοϛ, meaning "end" or "goal") is the property of a verb or verb phrase that presents an action or event as being complete in some sense. A verb or verb phrase with this property is said to be telic, while a verb or verb phrase that presents an action or event as being incomplete is said to be atelic.

Testing for telicity in English

One common way to gauge whether an English verb phrase is telic is to see whether such a phrase as in an hour, in the sense of "within an hour", (known as a time-frame adverbial) can be applied to it. Conversely, a common way to gauge whether it's atelic is to see whether such a phrase as for an hour (a time-span adverbial) can be applied to it.(telicity-wikip01) (telicity-wikip02) (telicity-wikip03) (telicity-wikip04) This can be called the time-span/time-frame test. According to this test, the verb phrase built a house is telic, whereas the minimally different built houses is atelic:

Fine: "John built a house in a month."
Bad: *"John built a house for a month."
built a house is telic
Bad: *"John built houses in a month."
Fine: "John built houses for a month."
built houses is atelic

Other phrases can be tested similarly; for example, walked home is telic, because "John walked home in an hour" is fine, while "John walked home for an hour" is bad, and walked around is atelic, because "John walked around in an hour" is bad, while "John walked around for an hour" is fine.

In applying this test, one must be careful about a number of things.

Defining the relevant portion of "completeness"

Having end points

One often encounters the notion that telic verbs and verb phrases refer to events that have endpoints, and that atelic ones refer to events or states that don't have endpoints. The notion of having endpoints applies to events in the world rather than the expressions that refer to them. This is the most criticized property of this definition. (telicity-wikip05) In fact, every event or state in the world begins and ends at some point, except, perhaps, for states that can be described as "the existence of the universe." Certainly, John's being angry has a beginning, and, unless John is somehow eternally angry, it also has an endpoint. Thus, it is doubtful that one can define telic expressions by means of properties of the events or states that they refer to (a very similar problem arises with the notion that mass nouns refer to things that can't be counted). Thus, recent attempts at making the notion explicit focus on the way that telic expressions refer to, or present events or states.

Put differently, one can simply define telic verbs and verb phrases as referring to events conceptualized or presented as having endpoints, and atelic verbs and verb phrases as those conceptualized or presented as lacking endpoints.

This type of exercise can serve as a reminder of the futility of trying to link linguistic semantics to the real world without considering the intermediary agent of human cognition.

Tending towards a goal

According to Garey who introduced this term, telic verbs are verbs expressing an action tending towards a goal envisaged as realized in a perfective tense, but as contingent in an imperfective tense; atelic verbs, on the other hand, are verbs which do not involve any goal nor endpoint in their semantic structure, but denote actions that are realized as soon as they begin. (telicity-wikip06)

Quantization and cumulativity

Perhaps the most commonly assumed definition of telicity nowadays is the algebraic definition proposed by Manfred Krifka. Krifka defines telic expressions as ones that are quantized. Atelic ones can be defined in terms of cumulative reference. An expression 'P' can be said to be quantized if and only if it satisfies the following implication, for any choice of x and y:

If x can be described by `P`, and y can also be described by 'P', then x is not a (mereological) proper part of y.

Suppose, for example, that John built two houses. Then each of the two building events can be described as built a house. But the building of the one house isn't, and indeed cannot be thought of a proper part of the building of the second. This contrasts with states describable as, say, walk around aimlessly. If John walked around aimlessly for two hours, then there will be many proper parts of that, that last, say 10 minutes, or 1 hour, etc. which also can be described as walk around aimlessly. Thus, for walk around aimlessly, there will be many choices of x and y, such that both can be described as walk around aimlessly, where x is a proper part of y. Hence, build a house is correctly characterized as telic and walk around aimlessly as atelic by this definition. Quantization can also be used in the definition of count nouns.

An expression 'P' is said to have cumulative reference if and only if, for any choice of x and y, the following implication holds:

If x can be described as 'P', and y can also be described as 'P', then the mereological sum of x and y can also be described as 'P'.

For example, if there is an event of John walking around from 1pm to 2pm, and another event of his walking around from 2pm to 3pm, then there is, by necessity, a third event which is the sum of the other two, which is also an event of walking around. This doesn't hold for expressions like "built a house." If John built a house from time 1 to time 2, and then he built another house from time 2 to time 3, then the sum of these to events (from time 1 to time 3) is not an event that can be described by "built a house." Cumulativity can also be used in the characterization of mass nouns, and in the characterization of the contrast between prepositions like "to" and "towards," i.e. "towards" has cumulative reference to (sets of) paths, while "to" does not. (telicity-wikip07)

Telicity as an aspect

Telicity or telic aspect has been reading as a grammatical aspect lately, indicating a reached goal or action completed as intended. Languages that contrast telic and atelic actions are Pirah and Finnic languages such as Finnish and Estonian; Czech also has a perfective suffix pre-, which is additionally telic.

In Finnish, the telicity is mandatorily marked on the object: the accusative is telic, and the partitive is used to express atelicity. It should be noted that the terms telic and atelic are not traditionally used in Finnish grammatical description; instead, it is customary to speak of resultative and irresultative sentences.

An example of the contrast between resultative and irresultative in Finnish:

Kirjoitin artikkelin.
  wrote-1sg article-accusative "I wrote the article (and finished it)"

Kirjoitin artikkelia.
  wrote-1sg article-partitive "I wrote/was writing the article (but did not necessarily finish it)"

The telic sentence necessarily requires finishing the article. In the atelic sentence, it is not expressed whether or not the article is finished. The atelic form expresses ignorance, i.e. atelic is not anti-telic: Kirjoitin artikkelia ja sain sen valmiiksi "I was writing the article-[partitive] and then got it-[accusative] finished" is correct. What is interpreted as the goal or result is determined by the context, e.g.

Ammuin karhun
  "I shot the bear (succeeded)"; i.e., "I shot the bear dead". ← implicit purpose

Ammuin karhua
  "I shot (towards) the bear"; i.e., "I shot at the bear (but it did not die)".

There are many verbs that correspond to only one telicity due to their inherent meaning. The partitive verbs are the same as atelic verbs in Garey's definition, that is, the action normally does not have a result or goal, and it would be logically and grammatically incorrect to place them in the telic aspect. However, even inherently atelic verbs such as rakastaa "to love" can in semantically unusual constructions, where a kind of result is involved, become telic:

Hn rakastaa minua.
  (s)he love-3sg me-partitive "(s)he loves me"

Hn rakastaa minut kuoliaaksi.
  (s)he love-3sg me-accusative dead-translative "(s)he loves me to death"

Furthermore, the telicity contrast can act as case government, so that changing the case can change the meaning entirely. For example, nin hnet (I saw him-acc) means "I saw him", but nin hnt (I saw him-part) means "I met him". This is often highly irregular.

The use of a telic object may implicitly communicate that the action takes place in the future. For example,

Luen kirjan.
  "I will read the book"; the action can only be complete in the future.

Luen kirjaa.
  "I am reading a book" or "I will be reading a book"; no indication is given for the time.

Often telicity is superficially similar to the perfective aspect, and one can find descriptions such as "roughly perfective/imperfective". However, lexical pairs of perfective and imperfective verbs are found in Finnish, and this contrast can be superimposed with the telicity contrast.


  1. ^ telicity-wikip01. Verkuyl, Henk. 1972. On the compositional nature of aspects. Dordrecht:Reidel. telicity-wikip01b
  2. ^ telicity-wikip02. Dowty, David. 1979. Word meaning and Montague Grammar. Dordrecht: Reidel. ISBN 9027710090. telicity-wikip02b
  3. ^ telicity-wikip03. Krifka, Manfred 1989. Nominal reference, temporal constitution and quantification in event semantics. In Renate Bartsch, Johan van Benthem and Peter van Emde Boas (eds.), Semantics and Contextual Expression: 75-115. Dordrecht: Foris. ISBN 9067654434. telicity-wikip03b
  4. ^ telicity-wikip04. Verkuyl, Henk. 1993. A theory of aspectuality: the interaction between temporal and atemporal structure. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521564522 telicity-wikip04b
  5. ^ telicity-wikip05. Borik, Olga. 2002. Aspect and Reference Time. Oxford University Press. 2006. ISBN 0199291292. Aspect and reference time. Based on Ph.D. thesis, Utrecht University, 2002. telicity-wikip05b
  6. ^ telicity-wikip06. Garey, Howard B. 1957. "Verbal aspects in French." Language 33:91110. telicity-wikip06b
  7. ^ telicity-wikip07. Zwarts, Joost. 2005. "Prepositional Aspect and the Algebra of Paths." Linguistics and Philosophy 28.6, 739-779. telicity-wikip07b.

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thematic relation

From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thematic_relation 080802

In linguistics, thematic relations express the meaning that a Noun phrase plays with respect to the action or state described by a sentence's verb. For example, in the sentence "Susan ate an apple", Susan is the doer of the eating, so she is an agent; the apple is the item that is eaten, so it is a patient.

Major thematic relations
Here is a list of the major thematic relations.

Agent: deliberately performs the action (e.g. Bill ate his soup quietly)
Experiencer: receives sensory or emotional input (e.g. The smell of lilies filled Jennifer's nostrils).
Theme: undergoes the action but does not change its state (e.g. Bill kissed Mary). (Sometimes used interchangeably with patient)
Patient: undergoes the action and has its state changed (e.g. The falling rocks crushed the car) (Sometimes used interchangeably with theme)
Instrument: used to carry out the action (e.g. Jamie cut the ribbon with a pair of scissors).
Natural Cause: mindlessly performs the action (e.g. An avalanche destroyed the ancient temple).
Location: where the action occurs (e.g. Johnny and Linda played carelessly in the park).
Goal: what the action is directed towards (e.g. The caravan continued on toward the distant oasis).
Recipient: a special kind of goal associated with verbs expressing a change in ownership, possession. (e.g I sent John the letter)
Source: where the action originated (e.g. The rocket was launched from Central Command).
Time: the time at which the action occurs (e.g. The rocket was launched yesterday)
Beneficiary: the entity for whose benefit the action occurs (e.g. I baked Reggie a cake)

There are no cast-iron boundaries between these relations. For example, in "the hammer broke the window", some linguists treat hammer as an agent, some others as instrument, while some others treat it as a special role different from these.

Relationship of case to thematic relations
In many languages, such as Finnish and Hungarian and Turkish, thematic relations may be reflected in the case-marking on the noun. For instance, Hungarian has an instrumental case ending, (-val/-vel) which explicitly marks the instrument of a sentence. Languages like English often mark such thematic relations with prepositions.

Conflicting terminologies
The term "thematic relation" is frequently confused with theta role. Many linguists (particularly generative grammarians) use the terms interchangeably. This is because theta roles are typically named by the most prominent thematic relation that they are associated with. To make matters more confusing, depending upon which theoretical approach one assumes, the grammatical relations of subject and object etc, are often closely tied to the semantic relations. For example, in the typological tradition agents/actors are tied closely to the notion of subject (S). Here is a way to distinguish these ideas, when they are used distinctly:

Thematic relations are purely semantic descriptions of the way in which the entities described by the noun phrase are functioning with respect to the meaning of the action described by the verb. A noun may bear more than one thematic relation. Almost every noun phrase bears at least one thematic relation (the exception are expletives). Thematic relations on a noun are identical in sentences that are paraphrases of one another.
Theta roles are syntactic structures reflecting positions in the argument structure of the verb they are associated with. A noun may only bear one theta role. Only arguments bear theta roles. Adjuncts do not bear theta roles.
Grammatical relations express the surface position (in languages like English) or case (in languages like Latin) that a noun phrase bears in the sentence.

Thematic relations concern the nature of the relationship between the meaning of the verb and the meaning of the noun. Theta roles are about the number of arguments that a verb requires (which is a purely syntactic notion). Theta roles are a syntactic relation that refers to the semantic thematic relations.

For example, take the sentence "Reggie gave the kibble to Fergus on Friday."

Thematic relations: "Reggie" is doing the action so is the agent, but he is also the source of the kibble (note Reggie bears two thematic relations!); "the kibble" is the entity acted upon so it is the patient; Fergus is the goal or recipient of the giving. Friday represents the time of the action.
theta roles: The verb "give" requires three arguments (see valency). In generative grammar, this is encoded in terms of the number and type of theta roles the verb takes. The theta role is named by the most prominent thematic relation associated with it. So the three required arguments bear the theta roles (confusingly!) named the agent (Reggie) the patient (or theme) (the kibble), and goal/recipient (Fergus). "On Friday" does not receive a theta role from the verb, because it is an adjunct. Note that "Reggie" bears two thematic relations (Agent and Source), but only one theta role (the argument slot associated with these thematic relations).
grammatical relations: The subject (S) of this sentence is "Reggie", the object (O) is "the kibble", the indirect object is "to Fergus", and "on Friday" is an oblique.

Wiki references
Carnie, Andrew. 2006. Syntax: A Generative introduction. 2nd Edition. Blackwell Publishers.
Dowty, David. 1979. Word meaning and Montague grammar. The semantics of verbs and times in Generative Semantics and in Montague's PTQ: Synthese Language Library. Dordrecht: Reidel.
Fillmore, Charles. 1968. The Case for Case. In Universals in Linguistic Theory, eds. Emmon Bach and R.T. Harms. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Fillmore, Charles. 1971. Types of lexical information. In Semantics. An interdisciplinary reader in philosophy, linguistics and psychology, eds. D. Steinberg and L. Jacobovitz: Cambridge University Press.
Frawley, W. (1992). Linguistic Semantics. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0805810749.  (Chapter V. Thematic Roles, pp. 197-249)
Gruber, Jeffrey. 1965. Studies in lexical relations, MIT: Ph.D.
Harley, Heidi. 2007. Thematic Roles. In Patrick Hogan, ed. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Cambridge University Press.
Jackendoff, Ray. 1983. Semantics and cognition. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Jackendoff, Ray. 1990. Semantic structures. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

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tone sandhi

See also sandhi in sandhi in S01.htm.
From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tone_sandhi 080729

Tone sandhi is the change of tone that occurs in some languages when different tones come together in a word or phrase. It is a type of sandhi, or fusional change, from the Sanskrit word for "joining".

UKT: The Sanskrit संधि on conversion to Burmese-Myanmar gives: {thn-Di}.
However, MLC Myanmar-Myanmar Dictionary, p337 gives:
Notice the difference in spelling between that derived from Sanskrit-Devanagari and Pali-Myanmar

For example, Mandarin Chinese has a sandhi rule whereby a low-tone becomes a rising tone when it is followed by another low tone. Thus the greeting written nǐhǎo in pinyin, composed of the low-tone words (你) "you" and hǎo (好) "well", is pronounced nhǎo and is indistinguishable from a word which inherently has those tones. That is, tone sandhi is a phonemic and not just phonetic change in tone.

UKT: I have come across "something" like tone sandhi in Mandalay by the locals:
{htan: ping} --> {htaping} (note {a} used as IPA [ə] schwa) (See my note under liaison in L01.htm .)
{nwa: ma.} --> {nama.}
As one from the Yangon (Lower Myanmar), I would not say what the people in Mandalay (Upper Myanmar) would say and these two examples may be treated as region variation in pronunciation. Because of such local dialects we can usually pin point the origin of a person whether he was a local or not.

Languages with tone sandhi
Not all tone languages have tone sandhi. Sandhi rules are found in many of the Oto-Manguean languages of Mexico. Cherokee has a robust tonal system in which tones may be combined in various ways, following subtle and complex tonal rules that vary from community to community.

Many Chinese languages have tone sandhi, some of it quite complex. While Mandarin sandhi is simple, Amoy Min has a more complex system, with every one of its tones changing into a different tone when it occurs before another, and which tone it turns into depends on the final consonant of the syllable that bears it.

Amoy has five tones, which are reduced to two in syllables which end in a stop consonant. (These are numbered 4 and 8 in the diagram above.) Within a phonological word, all syllables but the last one change tone. Among unstopped syllables (that is, those which do not end in a stop), tone 1 becomes 7, tone 7 becomes 3, tone 3 becomes 2, and tone 2 becomes 1. Tone 5 becomes 7 or 3, depending on dialect. Stopped syllables ending in /p/, /t/, or /k/ take the opposite tone (phonetically, a high tone becomes low, and a low tone becomes high), whereas syllables ending in a glottal stop (written h in the diagram above) drop their final consonant to become tones 2 or 3.

The seven or eight tones of Hmong demonstrate several instances of tone sandhi. In fact the contested distinction between the seventh and eighth tones surrounds the very issue of tone sandhi (between glottal stop (-m) and low rising (-d) tones). High and high-falling tones (marked by -b and -j in the RPA [Romanized Popular Alphabet] orthography, respectively) trigger sandhi in subsequent words bearing particular tones. A frequent example can be found in the combination for numbering objects (ordinal number + classifier + noun): ib (one) + tus (classifier) + dev (dog) => ib tug dev (note tone change on the classifier from -s to -g).

What is and is not tone sandhi
Tone sandhi is compulsory as long as the environmental conditions which trigger it are met. It is not to be confused with tone changes that are due to derivational or inflectional morphology. For example, in Cantonese, the word "sugar" (糖) is pronounced thng (/tʰɔːŋ˨˩/), whereas the derived word "candy" (also written 糖) is pronounced tng (/tʰɔːŋ˧˥/). This has nothing to due with the phonological environment of the tone, and therefore is not sandhi.

In Taiwanese, the words kiaⁿ (high tone, meaning "afraid") and lng (curving upward tone, meaning "person") combine to form two different compound words with different tones. When combined via sandhi rules, kiaⁿ is spoken in basic tone and lng in original tone (written in POJ as kiaⁿ-lng). This means "frightfully dirty" or "filthy". This follows the basic tone sandhi rules. However, when kiaⁿ is spoken in original high tone, and lng rendered in low tone (written kiaⁿ--lng), it means "frightful". This derivational process is distinct from the semantically empty change of tone that automatically occurs when kiaⁿ is followed by lng, and so is not tone sandhi.

Tones may also affect each other phonetically without becoming different phonemes. This is the case, for example, in the tone terracing of languages such as Twi. As the changes are not phonemic, this is not considered to be tone sandhi.

End of Wikipedia article
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transformational grammar

From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transformational_grammar 080719

In linguistics, a transformational grammar, or transformational-generative grammar (TGG), is a generative grammar, especially of a natural language, that has been developed in a Chomskyan tradition. Additionally, transformational grammar is the Chomskyan tradition that gives rise to specific transformational grammars. Much current research in transformational grammar is inspired by Chomsky's Minimalist Program (tr-gramm-fn01b).

Deep structure and surface structure
In 1957, Noam Chomsky published Syntactic Structures, in which he developed the idea that each sentence in a language has two levels of representation a deep structure and a surface structure (tr-gramm-fn02-b1) (tr-gramm-fn03). The deep structure represented the core semantic relations of a sentence, and was mapped on to the surface structure (which followed the phonological form of the sentence very closely) via transformations. Chomsky believed that there would be considerable similarities between languages' deep structures, and that these structures would reveal properties, common to all languages, which were concealed by their surface structures. However, this was perhaps not the central motivation for introducing deep structure. Transformations had been proposed prior to the development of deep structure as a means of increasing the mathematical and descriptive power of Context-free grammars. Similarly, deep structure was devised largely for technical reasons relating to early semantic theory. Chomsky emphasizes the importance of modern formal mathematical devices in the development of grammatical theory:

But the fundamental reason for [the] inadequacy of traditional grammars is a more technical one. Although it was well understood that linguistic processes are in some sense "creative", the technical devices for expressing a system of recursive processes were simply not available until much more recently. In fact, a real understanding of how a language can (in Humboldt's words) "make infinite use of finite means" has developed only within the last thirty years, in the course of studies in the foundations of mathematics. -- Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, p. 8 (tr-gramm-fn02-b2) 

Development of basic concepts
Though transformations continue to be important in Chomsky's current theories, he has now abandoned the original notion of Deep Structure and Surface Structure. Initially, two additional levels of representation were introduced (LF Logical Form, and PF Phonetic Form), and then in the 1990s Chomsky sketched out a new program of research known as Minimalism, in which Deep Structure and Surface Structure no longer featured and PF and LF remained as the only levels of representation.

To complicate the understanding of the development of Noam Chomsky's theories, the precise meanings of Deep Structure and Surface Structure have changed over time by the 1970s, the two were normally referred to simply as D-Structure and S-Structure by Chomskyan linguists. In particular, the idea that the meaning of a sentence was determined by its Deep Structure (taken to its logical conclusions by the generative semanticists during the same period) was dropped for good by Chomskyan linguists when LF took over this role (previously, Chomsky and Ray Jackendoff had begun to argue that meaning was determined by both Deep and Surface Structure) (tr-gramm-fn04) (tr-gramm-fn05).

Innate linguistic knowledge
Terms such as "transformation" can give the impression that theories of transformational generative grammar are intended as a model for the processes through which the human mind constructs and understands sentences. Chomsky is clear that this is not in fact the case: a generative grammar models only the knowledge that underlies the human ability to speak and understand. One of the most important of Chomsky's ideas is that most of this knowledge is innate, with the result that a baby can have a large body of prior knowledge about the structure of language in general, and need only actually learn the idiosyncratic features of the language(s) it is exposed to. Chomsky was not the first person to suggest that all languages had certain fundamental things in common (he quotes philosophers writing several centuries ago who had the same basic idea), but he helped to make the innateness theory respectable after a period dominated by more behaviorist attitudes towards language. Perhaps more significantly, he made concrete and technically sophisticated proposals about the structure of language, and made important proposals regarding how the success of grammatical theories should be evaluated.

Chomsky goes so far as to suggest that a baby need not learn any actual rules specific to a particular language at all. Rather, all languages are presumed to follow the same set of rules, but the effects of these rules and the interactions between them can vary greatly depending on the values of certain universal linguistic parameters. This is a very strong assumption, and is one of the most subtle ways in which Chomsky's current theory of language differs from most others.

Grammatical theories
In the 1960s, Chomsky introduced two central ideas relevant to the construction and evaluation of grammatical theories. The first was the distinction between competence and performance. Chomsky noted the obvious fact that people, when speaking in the real world, often make linguistic errors (e.g. starting a sentence and then abandoning it midway through). He argued that these errors in linguistic performance were irrelevant to the study of linguistic competence (the knowledge that allows people to construct and understand grammatical sentences). Consequently, the linguist can study an idealised version of language, greatly simplifying linguistic analysis (see the "Grammaticalness" section below). The second idea related directly to the evaluation of theories of grammar. Chomsky made a distinction between grammars which achieved descriptive adequacy and those which went further and achieved explanatory adequacy. A descriptively adequate grammar for a particular language defines the (infinite) set of grammatical sentences in that language; that is, it describes the language in its entirety. A grammar which achieves explanatory adequacy has the additional property that it gives an insight into the underlying linguistic structures in the human mind; that is, it does not merely describe the grammar of a language, but makes predictions about how linguistic knowledge is mentally represented. For Chomsky, the nature of such mental representations is largely innate, so if a grammatical theory has explanatory adequacy it must be able to explain the various grammatical nuances of the languages of the world as relatively minor variations in the universal pattern of human language. Chomsky argued that, even though linguists were still a long way from constructing descriptively adequate grammars, progress in terms of descriptive adequacy would only come if linguists held explanatory adequacy as their goal. In other words, real insight into the structure of individual languages could only be gained through the comparative study of a wide range of languages, on the assumption that they are all cut from the same cloth.

"I-Language" and "E-Language"
In 1986, Chomsky proposed a distinction between I-Language and E-Language, similar but not identical to the competence/performance distinction (tr-gramm-fn06). I-Language is taken to be the object of study in syntactic theory; it is the mentally represented linguistic knowledge that a native speaker of a language has, and is therefore a mental object from this perspective, most of Linguistics is a branch of psychology. E-Language encompasses all other notions of what a language is, for example that it is a body of knowledge or behavioural habits shared by a community. Thus, E-Language is not itself a coherent concept ((tr-gramm-fn07), and Chomsky argues that such notions of language are not useful in the study of innate linguistic knowledge, i.e. competence, even though they may seem sensible and intuitive, and useful in other areas of study. Competence, he argues, can only be studied if languages are treated as mental objects.

Chomsky argued that the notions "grammatical" and "ungrammatical" could be defined in a meaningful and useful way. In contrast an extreme behaviorist linguist would argue that language can only be studied through recordings or transcriptions of actual speech, the role of the linguist being to look for patterns in such observed speech, but not to hypothesize about why such patterns might occur, nor to label particular utterances as either "grammatical" or "ungrammatical". Although few linguists in the 1950s actually took such an extreme position, Chomsky was at an opposite extreme, defining grammaticality in an unusually (for the time) mentalistic way (tr-gramm-fn08). He argued that the intuition of a native speaker is enough to define the grammaticalness of a sentence; that is, if a particular string of English words elicits a double take, or feeling of wrongness in a native English speaker, it can be said that the string of words is ungrammatical (when various extraneous factors affecting intuitions are controlled for). This (according to Chomsky) is entirely distinct from the question of whether a sentence is meaningful, or can be understood. It is possible for a sentence to be both grammatical and meaningless, as in Chomsky's famous example " colorless green ideas sleep furiously". But such sentences manifest a linguistic problem distinct from that posed by meaningful but ungrammatical (non)-sentences such as "man the bit sandwich the", the meaning of which is fairly clear, but which no native speaker would accept as being well formed.

The use of such intuitive judgments permitted generative syntacticians to base their research on a methodology in which studying language through a corpus of observed speech became downplayed, since the grammatical properties of constructed sentences were considered to be appropriate data on which to build a grammatical model. Without this change in philosophy, the construction of generative grammars, when conceived of as a some kind of representation of mental grammars, would have been almost impossible at the time, since gathering the necessary data to assess a speakers mental grammar would have been prohibitively difficult.

In the mid-1990s to mid-2000s, much research in transformational grammar was inspired by Chomsky's Minimalist Program. (tr-gramm-fn09). The "Minimalist Program" aims at the further development of ideas involving economy of derivation and economy of representation, which had started to become significant in the early 1990s, but were still rather peripheral aspects of TGG theory.

Economy of derivation is a principle stating that movements (i.e. transformations) only occur in order to match interpretable features with uninterpretable features. An example of an interpretable feature is the plural inflection on regular English nouns, e.g. dogs. The word dogs can only be used to refer to several dogs, not a single dog, and so this inflection contributes to meaning, making it interpretable. English verbs are inflected according to the grammatical number of their subject (e.g. "Dogs bite" vs "A dog bites"), but in most sentences this inflection just duplicates the information about number that the subject noun already has, and it is therefore uninterpretable.

Economy of representation is the principle that grammatical structures must exist for a purpose, i.e. the structure of a sentence should be no larger or more complex than required to satisfy constraints on grammaticality.

Both notions, as described here, are somewhat vague, and indeed the precise formulation of these principles is controversial. (tr-gramm-fn10) (tr-gramm-fn11). An additional aspect of minimalist thought is the idea that the derivation of syntactic structures should be uniform; that is, rules should not be stipulated as applying at arbitrary points in a derivation, but instead apply throughout derivations. Minimalist approaches to phrase structure have resulted in "Bare Phrase Structure", an attempt to eliminate X-bar theory. In 1998, Chomsky suggested that derivations proceed in "phases". The distinction of Deep Structure vs. Surface Structure is not present in Minimalist theories of syntax, and the most recent phase-based theories also eliminate LF [Logical Form] and PF [Phonetic Form] as unitary levels of representation.

Mathematical representation
Returning to the more general mathematical notion of a grammar, an important feature of all transformational grammars is that they are more powerful than context free grammars (tr-gramm-fn12). This idea was formalized by Chomsky in the Chomsky hierarchy. Chomsky argued that it is impossible to describe the structure of natural languages using context free grammars. (tr-gramm-fn13). His general position regarding the non-context-freeness of natural language has held up since then, although his specific examples regarding the inadequacy of CFGs in terms of their weak generative capacity were later disproven. (tr-gramm-fn14) (tr-gramm-fn15).

The usual usage of the term 'transformation' in linguistics refers to a rule that takes an input typically called the Deep Structure (in the Standard Theory) or D-structure (in the extended standard theory or government and binding theory) and changes it in some restricted way to result in a Surface Structure (or S-structure). In TGG, Deep structures were generated by a set of phrase structure rules.

For example a typical transformation in TG is the operation of subject-auxiliary inversion (SAI). This rule takes as its input a declarative sentence with an auxiliary: "John has eaten all the heirloom tomatoes." and transforms it into "Has John eaten all the heirloom tomatoes?". In their original formulation (Chomsky 1957), these rules were stated as rules that held over strings of either terminals or constituent symbols or both.

-- where, NP = Noun Phrase;  AUX = Auxiliary)

In the 1970s, by the time of the Extended Standard Theory, following the work of Joseph Emonds on structure preservation, transformations came to be viewed as holding over trees. By the end of government and binding theory in the late 1980s, transformations are no longer structure changing operations at all, instead they add information to already existing trees by copying constituents.

The earliest conceptions of transformations were that they were construction-specific devices. For example, there was a transformation that turned active sentences into passive ones. A different transformation raised embedded subjects into main clause subject position in sentences such as "John seems to have gone"; and yet a third reordered arguments in the dative alternation. With the shift from rules to principles and constraints that was found in the 1970s, these construction specific transformations morphed into general rules (all the examples just mentioned being instances of NP movement), which eventually changed into the single general rule of move alpha or Move.

Transformations actually come of two types: (i) the post-Deep structure kind mentioned above, which are string or structure changing, and (ii) Generalized Transformations (GTs). Generalized transformations were originally proposed in the earliest forms of generative grammar (e.g. Chomsky 1957). They take small structures which are either atomic or generated by other rules, and combine them. For example, the generalized transformation of embedding would take the kernel "Dave said X" and the kernel "Dan likes smoking" and combine them into "Dave said Dan likes smoking". GTs are thus structure building rather than structure changing. In the Extended Standard Theory and government and binding theory, GTs were abandoned in favor of recursive phrase structure rules. However, they are still present in tree-adjoining grammar as the Substitution and Adjunction operations and they have recently re-emerged in mainstream generative grammar in Minimalism as the operations Merge and Move.

Wikipedia references

tr-gramm-fn01  Chomsky, Noam (1995). The Minimalist Program. MIT Press. tr-gramm-fn01b

tr-gramm-fn02 Chomsky, Noam (1965). Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. MIT Press. tr-gramm-fn02-b1  tr-gramm-fn02-b2

tr-gramm-fn03  The Port-Royal Grammar of 1660 identified similar principles; Chomsky, Noam (1972). Language and Mind. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. tr-gramm-fn03b

tr-gramm-fn04  Jackendoff, Ray (1974). Semantic Interpretation in Generative Grammar. MIT Press. tr-gramm-fn04b

tr-gramm-fn05  May, Robert C. (1977). The Grammar of Quantification. MIT Phd Dissertation. (Supervised by Noam Chomsky, this dissertation introduced the idea of "logical form".) tr-gramm-fn05b

tr-gramm-fn06  Chomsky, Noam (1986). Knowledge of Language. New York:Praeger. tr-gramm-fn06b

tr-gramm-fn07  Chomsky, Noam (2001). "Derivation by Phase". In other words, in algebraic terms, the I-Language is the actual function, whereas the E-Language is the extension of this function. In Michael Kenstowicz (ed.) Ken Hale: A Life in Language. MIT Press. Pages 1-52. (See p. 49 fn. 2 for comment on E-Language.) tr-gramm-fn07b

tr-gramm-fn08  Newmeyer, Frederick J. (1986). Linguistic Theory in America (Second Edition). Academic Press. tr-gramm-fn08b

tr-gramm-fn09  Chomsky, Noam (1995). The Minimalist Program. MIT Press. tr-gramm-fn09b

tr-gramm-fn10  Lappin, Shalom; Robert Levine and David Johnson (2000). "Topic ... Comment". Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 18: 665671. doi:10.1023/A:1006474128258.  tr-gramm-fn10b

tr-gramm-fn11  Lappin, Shalom; Robert Levine and David Johnson (2001). "The Revolution Maximally Confused". Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 19: 901919. doi:10.1023/A:1013397516214.  tr-gramm-fn11b

tr-gramm-fn12  Peters, Stanley; R. Ritchie (1973). "On the generative power of transformational grammars". Information Sciences 6: 4983. doi:10.1016/0020-0255(73)90027-3.  tr-gramm-fn12b

tr-gramm-fn13   Chomsky, Noam (1956). "Three models for the description of language". IRE Transactions on Information Theory 2: 113124. doi:10.1109/TIT.1956.1056813.  tr-gramm-fn13b

tr-gramm-fn14   Shieber, Stuart (1985). "Evidence against the context-freeness of natural language". Linguistics and Philosophy 8: 333343. doi:10.1007/BF00630917.  tr-gramm-fn14b

tr-gramm-fn15   Pullum, Geoffrey K.; Gerald Gazdar (1982). "Natural languages and context-free languages". Linguistics and Philosophy 4: 471504. doi:10.1007/BF00360802. tr-gramm-fn15b

See also
Antisymmetry Generalised phrase structure grammar Generative semantics Head-driven phrase structure grammar Heavy NP shift Lexical functional grammar Parasitic gap Phrase structure rules Syntax

External links
The Syntax of Natural Language an online textbook on transformational grammar.

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transitive verb

From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transitive_verb 080610

In [English] syntax [SVO (Subject-Verb-Object)] , a transitive verb is a verb that requires both a subject (S) and one or more objects (O). Some examples of sentences with transitive verbs (analysis of equivalent Burmese-Romabama sentences are mine):

Harry sees Adam. -- Adam is the direct object of "sees"
  {h-ri -dam-ko mring-t}
  literal: (harry adam-{ko} see-{t})

You lifted the bag. -- bag is the direct object of "lifted"
1.  {ming: ait-ko ma.hk.t}
  literal: (you bag-{ko} lift-{hk.}{t} -- lift-{hk.} indicates the past
2.  {ming: ait-ko ma.leik-t}
  literal: (you bag-{ko} lift-{leik}{t} -- lift-{leik} indicates completion of lifting but implies that the bag is still being lifted

I punished you. -- you is the direct object of "punished"
  {nga ming:-ko dan-p:hk.t}
  literal: (I you-{ko} punish-{hk.}{t} -- punish-{hk.} indicates the past

I give you the book. -- book is the direct object of "give" and "you" is the non-prepositional indirect object of "give"
  {nga ming:-ko sa-oap p:t}
  literal: (I you-{ko} book give-{t} -- "book" does not need a suffix such as {a:}

Those transitive verbs that are able to take both a direct object and an indirect object are called ditransitive; an example is the verb give above. Verbs that require a single object are called monotransitive. There are a few verbs that may be called "tritransitive" (tr-verb-fn01b) (Wiki-fn01).

Verbs that don't require an object are called intransitive, for example the verb to sleep. Since one cannot "sleep" something, the verb acts intransitively.

Verbs that can be used in a transitive or intransitive way are called ambitransitive; an example is the verb eat, since the sentences I am eating (with an intransitive form) and I am eating an apple (with a transitive form that has an apple as the object) are both grammatically correct.

There are languages which distinguish verbs based on their transitivity, which suggests that this is a salient linguistic feature. For example, in Japanese:

Jugyō ga hajimaru.
The class starts.

Sensei ga jugyō o hajimeru.
The teacher starts the class.

However, the definition of transitive verbs as those which have one object is not universal and is not used in grammars of many languages. For example, it is generally accepted in Polish grammar that transitive verbs are those which:

accept a direct object (in accusative in the positive form, and in genitive in the negative form), OR
undergo passive transformation.

Both conditions are fulfilled in many instances of transitive verbs, ex. Maria widzi Jana (Mary sees John; Jana is the accusative form of Jan) - Jan jest widziany przez Marię (John is seen by Mary). However, there are exceptions, and verbs with one or even two objects may also be intransitive.

See also
Transitivity (grammatical category) Intransitive verb Verb Valency (linguistics) Morphosyntactic alignment Verb argument

Wikipeda references
tr-verb-fn01 Wiki-fn01 Kittila, Seppo (2007). "A typology of tritransitives: alignment types and motivations". LINGUISTICS 45 (3): 453-508. Germany: Walter de Gruyter. doi:10.1515/LING.2007.015.  tr-verb-fn01b

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