Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session


From the preface: "The purpose of this material is to give the beginning student the means to analyze the basic grammatical structures of previously unanalyzed languages. No former study of a foreign language or prior linguistic training is presupposed. In conjunction with practice in problem solving, the lessons guide the beginning student in doing basic grammatical analysis and prepare him for applying in a field situation the grammatical concepts he has acquired.

"The theory on which this course is based is Standard Transformational Grammar with some modifications and differences in emphasis. The standard theory facilitates grammatical descriptions which are abstract enough to be interesting and insightful, but not so abstract as to be impractical for the beginning student. The standard theory covers a wide range of phenomena in language, a central need of the field linguist; however, we have found it necessary to develop an informal, modified version of the standard theory which gives a central role to grammatical functions such as subject and object. In describing languages with certain basic word orders (Verb-Subject-Object or Object-Subject-Verb), grammatical function needs to be made explicit in the syntactic rules so as to avoid the awkwardness arising from the way the standard theory defines "subject of" and "object of" in terms of phrase-marker configurations. Another consideration is that changes in grammatical function in some languages can only be described in a natural way by making direct reference to grammatical function. Our modified theory is one step toward the study of a more adequate, but also more abstract, theory of grammar in which grammatical relations play a central role.

"There is, furthermore, an important difference in the way we have applied the standard theory to specific data. In particular, we have given greater emphasis to levels of analysis such as word, phrase, and clause than is usually the case in the application of the theory. Such a level oriented analysis, apart from theoretical considerations, we consider to be pedagogically effective and to meet more adequately the practical needs of the field linguist."

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