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Applied Linguistics 
syntax
•Chawin Maninun 
• Pitipong Senchoo
5.3 Sentential Semantics 
• Apart from parts of speech ( eg. N, V, Adj, Adv ) 
that are used to syntactically categorized a 
particular element of a clause or sentence, a 
certain element in a sentence can also be 
described semantically in terms of semantic 
categories, called “ thematic roles”
Thematic Roles 
• The relations of noun phrase subject of the sentence depend 
on the meaning of particular verb. 
• For example 
• The boy found a red brick 
• NP “ the boy “ called “agent” 
• The boy is a “ doer” of the action of finding
• The boy found a red brick 
•The NP “a red brick” is the “theme” and 
undergoes the action
• Part of the meaning “ find” is that its subject and 
direct object 
• Subject of find is called “ agent” 
• Direct object of find is called “ theme”
Goal 
• The noun phrases within a verb phrase whose head is 
the verb PUT have a relation of theme and GOAL. 
• In the VP “ put the red brick on the wall” 
• The red brick is a theme and on the wall is GOAL
Other thematic roles 
Thematic role description example 
Agent The one who performs an action Joyce ran 
Theme The one or thing that undergoes an action Mary called Bill 
Location The place where an action takes place It rains in Spain 
Goal The place where an action is directed Put the cat on the porch 
Source The place from which an action originates He flew from Iowa to Idaho 
Instrument The meaning by which an action is performed Jo cuts hair with razor 
Experiencer One who perceives something Helen heard Robert play the 
piano 
Causative A natural force that causes a change The wind damage the roof 
Possessor One who has something The tail of the dog got caught in 
the door.
• Thematic roles are the same in sentence that are 
paraphrases. In these both sentences 
• The dog bit the stick 
• The stick was bitten by the dog 
The dog is the agent and the stick is the theme
The examples illustrate the fact that English 
allows many different thematic roles. 
•The hotel forbids dogs. 
The hotel has the thematic role of location
The Theta-Criterion 
• A universal principle has been proposed call the Theta-criterion, 
a particular thematic role may occur only once in a 
sentence. 
• For example ; 
• The boy opened the door with the key with lock-pick.
Sentential Meaning 
• The meaning of the sentences is built. In part, from 
meaning of noun phrases and verb phrases. Adverbs 
may add to or qualify the meaning. 
• For example; 
• The boy found the ball yesterday “ adv. Of time” 
• It specify a time component to the meaning of the 
sentence.
The truth of sentences 
• The sense of a declarative sentence permits you to know 
under what circumstances that sentence is true. Those 
“circumstance” are called the TRUTH condition of the 
sentence. 
For example 
In the world as we know it, the sentence; 
The declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 “ true” 
The declaration of Independence was signed in 1976 “ false” 
We compare the with the real world or historical fact
Paraphrase 
• Two sentences are phrases if they have the same truth 
conditions. 
• For example 
• The horse threw the rider 
• The rider was thrown by the horse
Entailment 
• Sometimes knowing the truth of one sentence entails or 
necessarily implies the truth of another sentence. For 
example; 
• Corday assassinated Marat 
• Then we know that it is true that Marat is dead.
Contradiction 
Contradiction is negative entailment, that is, where the 
truth of one sematic necessarily implies the falseness of 
another sentence. 
Elizabeth II is Queen of England. 
Elizabeth II is a man. 
If the first sentence is true, the second is necessarily 
false. This relationship is called CONTRADICTION 
because the truth of one sentence contradicts the truth 
of the other.
When semantics and syntax meet 
• Syntax is concerned with how words are combined to form 
phrases and sentences; semantics is concerned with what 
these combinations mean. The theta-criterion. The semantic 
constraint that no thematic role may occur more than once 
has the effect of restricting the NPs and PPs that may follow 
the verb in a verb phrase.
When Passive Do Not Work 
• The relationship between actives and passives is 
based on syntax structure. However, some active 
sentences do not have a well-formed passive 
counterpart.
For example; 
• John resembles Bill 
• The book cost ten dollars 
• Cannot undergo the passive transformation to give 
• “ Bill was resembled by John “ 
• “Ten dollars was cost by the book”
Pronouns and Coreferentiality 
• Another example of how syntax and semantic interact has to 
do with reflexive pronouns, such as herself or themselves. 
The meaning of a reflexive pronouns always refers back to 
some antecedent. In Jane bit herself, herself refers to Jane. 
Syntactically, reflexive pronouns and their antecedents must 
occur within the same S in the phrase structure tree.
Compare the phrase structure tree of 
Jane bit herself with that of 
Jane said that herself slept. 
• S S 
NP VP NP VP 
Jane V NP Jane V NP 
bit pronoun said that S 
herself NP VP 
pronoun V 
herself slept
When rules are broken 
• The rules of language are not laws of nature. Only by a 
“miracle” can the law of nature be broken, but the rules of 
language are broken every day by everybody.
3 kinds of rule violation 
•Anomaly 
•Metaphor 
•idioms
Anomaly: No sense and Nonsense 
• Don’t tell me of a man’s being able to talk sense; 
everyone can talk sense. 
Can he talk nonsense? 
William Pitt
For example; 
• My brother is an only child. 
• You might think that he was making a joke or that he 
did not know the meaning of the words he was using. 
It is strange or anomalous, but it is certainly an English 
sentence. It conforms to all the grammatical rules of 
the language.
Uninterpretable 
• Other English sentences make no sense at all because they 
include words that have no meaning. 
• Jabberwocky is probably the most famous poem in which 
most content words have no meaning. They do not exist in the 
lexicon of the grammar.
Metaphor 
• Sometimes the breaking of semantic rules can be used convey 
a particular idea. 
• Wall have ears 
• It is a certainly anomalous, but it can interpreted as meaning 
• “ you can be overheard even when you think nobody is 
listening.
Idioms 
• Knowing a language includes knowing the 
morphemes, simple words, compound words, and 
their meanings. In addition it means knowing fixed 
phrases, consisting of more than one word, with 
meaning that cannot be inferred from the meanings of 
the individual words. The usual semantic rules for 
combining meanings do not apply. Such expressions 
are called “IDIOMS”
Idioms 
• For example 
• Sell down the river 
• Eat my hat 
• Let their hair down 
• Cut it out
• Many Idioms may have originated as metaphorical 
expressions that established themselves in the language and 
became frozen in their form and meaning.
Thank you for your attention.

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Applied linguistics; syntax

  • 2. •Chawin Maninun • Pitipong Senchoo
  • 3. 5.3 Sentential Semantics • Apart from parts of speech ( eg. N, V, Adj, Adv ) that are used to syntactically categorized a particular element of a clause or sentence, a certain element in a sentence can also be described semantically in terms of semantic categories, called “ thematic roles”
  • 4. Thematic Roles • The relations of noun phrase subject of the sentence depend on the meaning of particular verb. • For example • The boy found a red brick • NP “ the boy “ called “agent” • The boy is a “ doer” of the action of finding
  • 5. • The boy found a red brick •The NP “a red brick” is the “theme” and undergoes the action
  • 6. • Part of the meaning “ find” is that its subject and direct object • Subject of find is called “ agent” • Direct object of find is called “ theme”
  • 7. Goal • The noun phrases within a verb phrase whose head is the verb PUT have a relation of theme and GOAL. • In the VP “ put the red brick on the wall” • The red brick is a theme and on the wall is GOAL
  • 8. Other thematic roles Thematic role description example Agent The one who performs an action Joyce ran Theme The one or thing that undergoes an action Mary called Bill Location The place where an action takes place It rains in Spain Goal The place where an action is directed Put the cat on the porch Source The place from which an action originates He flew from Iowa to Idaho Instrument The meaning by which an action is performed Jo cuts hair with razor Experiencer One who perceives something Helen heard Robert play the piano Causative A natural force that causes a change The wind damage the roof Possessor One who has something The tail of the dog got caught in the door.
  • 9. • Thematic roles are the same in sentence that are paraphrases. In these both sentences • The dog bit the stick • The stick was bitten by the dog The dog is the agent and the stick is the theme
  • 10. The examples illustrate the fact that English allows many different thematic roles. •The hotel forbids dogs. The hotel has the thematic role of location
  • 11. The Theta-Criterion • A universal principle has been proposed call the Theta-criterion, a particular thematic role may occur only once in a sentence. • For example ; • The boy opened the door with the key with lock-pick.
  • 12. Sentential Meaning • The meaning of the sentences is built. In part, from meaning of noun phrases and verb phrases. Adverbs may add to or qualify the meaning. • For example; • The boy found the ball yesterday “ adv. Of time” • It specify a time component to the meaning of the sentence.
  • 13. The truth of sentences • The sense of a declarative sentence permits you to know under what circumstances that sentence is true. Those “circumstance” are called the TRUTH condition of the sentence. For example In the world as we know it, the sentence; The declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 “ true” The declaration of Independence was signed in 1976 “ false” We compare the with the real world or historical fact
  • 14. Paraphrase • Two sentences are phrases if they have the same truth conditions. • For example • The horse threw the rider • The rider was thrown by the horse
  • 15. Entailment • Sometimes knowing the truth of one sentence entails or necessarily implies the truth of another sentence. For example; • Corday assassinated Marat • Then we know that it is true that Marat is dead.
  • 16. Contradiction Contradiction is negative entailment, that is, where the truth of one sematic necessarily implies the falseness of another sentence. Elizabeth II is Queen of England. Elizabeth II is a man. If the first sentence is true, the second is necessarily false. This relationship is called CONTRADICTION because the truth of one sentence contradicts the truth of the other.
  • 17. When semantics and syntax meet • Syntax is concerned with how words are combined to form phrases and sentences; semantics is concerned with what these combinations mean. The theta-criterion. The semantic constraint that no thematic role may occur more than once has the effect of restricting the NPs and PPs that may follow the verb in a verb phrase.
  • 18. When Passive Do Not Work • The relationship between actives and passives is based on syntax structure. However, some active sentences do not have a well-formed passive counterpart.
  • 19. For example; • John resembles Bill • The book cost ten dollars • Cannot undergo the passive transformation to give • “ Bill was resembled by John “ • “Ten dollars was cost by the book”
  • 20. Pronouns and Coreferentiality • Another example of how syntax and semantic interact has to do with reflexive pronouns, such as herself or themselves. The meaning of a reflexive pronouns always refers back to some antecedent. In Jane bit herself, herself refers to Jane. Syntactically, reflexive pronouns and their antecedents must occur within the same S in the phrase structure tree.
  • 21. Compare the phrase structure tree of Jane bit herself with that of Jane said that herself slept. • S S NP VP NP VP Jane V NP Jane V NP bit pronoun said that S herself NP VP pronoun V herself slept
  • 22. When rules are broken • The rules of language are not laws of nature. Only by a “miracle” can the law of nature be broken, but the rules of language are broken every day by everybody.
  • 23. 3 kinds of rule violation •Anomaly •Metaphor •idioms
  • 24. Anomaly: No sense and Nonsense • Don’t tell me of a man’s being able to talk sense; everyone can talk sense. Can he talk nonsense? William Pitt
  • 25. For example; • My brother is an only child. • You might think that he was making a joke or that he did not know the meaning of the words he was using. It is strange or anomalous, but it is certainly an English sentence. It conforms to all the grammatical rules of the language.
  • 26. Uninterpretable • Other English sentences make no sense at all because they include words that have no meaning. • Jabberwocky is probably the most famous poem in which most content words have no meaning. They do not exist in the lexicon of the grammar.
  • 27. Metaphor • Sometimes the breaking of semantic rules can be used convey a particular idea. • Wall have ears • It is a certainly anomalous, but it can interpreted as meaning • “ you can be overheard even when you think nobody is listening.
  • 28. Idioms • Knowing a language includes knowing the morphemes, simple words, compound words, and their meanings. In addition it means knowing fixed phrases, consisting of more than one word, with meaning that cannot be inferred from the meanings of the individual words. The usual semantic rules for combining meanings do not apply. Such expressions are called “IDIOMS”
  • 29. Idioms • For example • Sell down the river • Eat my hat • Let their hair down • Cut it out
  • 30. • Many Idioms may have originated as metaphorical expressions that established themselves in the language and became frozen in their form and meaning.
  • 31. Thank you for your attention.