E 360K • English Grammar
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
We are inspired by Noam Chomsky's hypothesis that language is a physical organ, like breathing or vision, a part of the genetic inheritance of all human beings, so that under the grammar of an individual language like English lurks a Universal Grammar.
But if this is so, why does English differ at all from other languages like Spanish or Chinese? (The expected answer is that they don't differ very much!)
More empirically, how does the grammar of English work? Why do we say "John loves Mary" and "Mary, John loves" but not "Loves John Mary"? Why can we say "you know someone" and "Who do you know?" but not "Someone, you know", "You know who?" or "Who you know?".
We will study the "Phrase Structure Rules" which derive the simple sentences of English and the "Transformational Rules" which change a simple sentence into various new ones, transforming an active sentence into a passive or an indicative sentence into an interrogative by manipulating the parts of the sentence, the way a child moves blocks around in playing.
Two one-hour tests 20% each
Final Exam 40%
Homework, quizzes, and class participation 20%
R. Huddleston, English Grammar: an outline, Cambridge University Press, 1988
M. Kolin & R. Funk, eds., Understanding English Grammar, Allyn & Bacon
L. Haegeman & J. Guéron, English Grammar, Blackwell, 1999
A. Radford, Transformational Grammar, >Cambridge University Press, 1988