Syntactic Processes

By introducing various dependent elements into the subject-predicate skeleton of a sentence we can derive expanded structures. The ways of introduction of these dependent elements are called syntactic processes. They are:extension, modification, completion, enlargement (expansion), contamination (fusion), replacement, ellipsis,inversion, parcellation, etc. They are comparable to transformational procedures, distinguished by transformational grammar: addition, substitution, permutation,deletion.

Completion consists in adding subjective and objective complements to complete the meanings of transitive verbs of incomplete predication and copulative (связочные) verbs. In the sentence He seemed tired. The element tired is added to the copulative verb seem, otherwise a sentence would not be complete. In the sentence I consider him clever. The adjective clever is indispensable as the verb consider is that of incomplete predication. Extension means adding adverbial modifiers. Expansion (enlargement) is the amplification of a sentence structure. Modification is adding an attribute to the subject or the object. Contamination (стяжение) is fusing elements into a whole which results in a double predicate (The moon rose red) or a predicate of double orientation(He is said to havedone it). Syncretism consists in combining two functions within one and the same form ( She is not a girl to marry => She is not a girl who would marry somebody. She is not the girl somebody would marry).

Ellipsis consists in omitting a principal or a subordinate element or both which can be restored from the context (He capitulated. Without the honours of war. Wanted a governess. Must possess knowledge of French, Italian, Russian, Romanian, music and mining engineering. (= A governess is wanted). This phenomenon frequently occurs in conversation, ads, newspaper headings where expanded structures are customarily ellipticized. There are structures which produce the impression of being elliptical (She beautiful! He a general!). These are logically and grammatically complete sentences, they are to be analysed the way they are. Their expansion would destroy their spontaneous scream style.

O. Jespersen was against the ellipsomania of those grammarians which speak of ellipsis in season and out of season as a sort of panacea to explain all the structures which deviate from the pattern subject-predicate-object-adverbial modifier with a finite verb. The surface and deep structures of such sentences do not coincide( He a general! => He is a general. I do not believe that).

Inversion, when understood broadly, consists in placing a part of a sentence into an uncustomary position for it to be rhematized, to become a new communicative centre (Economics Mary just doesn’t know. Jealous I have never been). Narrow inversion consists in placing the predicate before the subject (There comes a mournful procession).

Parcellation is a new syntactic process, characteristic of the XX-th century syntax. It is a break of the chain of elements on the syntagmatic level (He was interrupted at that point. By me. There is a cloud in the sky. Grey (Joyce. Ulysses). Any element can be extracted from the maternal structure and turned into an independent structure (Shame of death. They hide. My handkerchief. They threw it). Parcellated elements in any function can be in pre- or post position or distanced from the maternal structure.

A simple sentence has a grammatical structure which is analysed in terms of principal and secondary parts. It has a semantic structure which is analysed in terms of the predicate, arguments and deep cases. It has a communicative structure which is analysed in terms of communicative dynamism, that is in terms of the rheme and the theme. The theme is the starting point while the rheme is the goal of discourse. We can analyse the sentence I opened the door in grammatical, semantic and communicative terms. Its grammatical structure is subject+ predicate+ object, its semantic structure is agent + action + object, its communicative structure is theme + rheme.

There is a hierarchy of dependencies in a simple sentence which expresses itself in the principal and secondary parts of a simple sentence.

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