Phrases and Labels

Some
Terminology
 

This is what the top of most of your trees should look like.

A sentence always starts with an NP (Noun Phrase) and a VP (Verb Phrase). Sentences without verb phrases will always earn you a deduction.

Tip: First try starting your your tree like this. It will usually work.

The "S" is a category label. All your trees must come labeled from now on (We've passed the point in the course where you use some unlabeled trees to get used top things).

What the label labels is called a node. The points in the tree the branches come from are called nodes. In this little incomplete tree, the S is the mother node. The NP and VP are the daughter nodes.

Let's finish the tree:

The NP node and the VP node now have daughters of their own. The NP node has two daughters, a Det ("Determiner") node and an N ("Noun") node. The VP node has one daughter, a V ("Verb") node. Generally speaking a Noun Phrase will have an N daughter and a verb phrase will have a V daughter. These are called their head words. So you should stop drawing trees that look like this:

Before you leave a tree check to make sure that all the labels make sense and that all the phrases have heads:

These trees are nonsense trees. There is an NP without a noun in it, a VP without a verb in it. If a string of words has no noun in it we do not call it a Noun Phrase (NP).

Every kind of phrase has a typical head.

Phrase Head pairs:

Are there exceptions? Always. But not too many we will worry about. One important class of exceptions, Pronouns and Proper Names. These are special kinds of Nouns, really, but we'll draw trees with them like this:

PhraseHeadCategory Name
NPNNoun
VPVVerb
PPPPreposition
APAAdjective
AdvPAdvAdverb

What does a
tree mean?
 

A tree makes some claims about the sentence you're drawing it for. The claim can be right or wrong.

There are two kinds of information a tree makes claims about:

  1. What the categories of the words and phrases in it are in context.
  2. What the labels of those words and phrases are in context.

What do I mean by "in context"? I mean in the context of the sentence. English words can be lots of categories, as we saw in lecture. Consider still

  1. Noun: We built a still in the woods.
  2. Verb: We stilled their voices.
  3. Adjective: It was a dark and still night.
  4. Adverb: We still haven't heard from John.
In each of these sentences still functions as a particular part of speech. In each of these sentences, there is a correct answer for how to label still in the tree.

The same is true for phrases. A sequence of words can be a phrase in one sentence and not in another.

Consider the box in the corner. A perfectly good noun phrase. Here's what it looks like as a Noun Phrase:

But sometimes box in the corner isn't a Noun Phrase! Here's an example:

First look at what the tree claims.

The tree claims that the box in the corner isn't a phrase! Why? Because there is no single node that covers exactly those words.

The tree:

  1. It claims that the the box is a phrase (there is an NP node covering those words).
  2. It claims that the in the corner is a phrase (there is an PP node covering those words).
  3. It claims that the put the box in the corner is a phrase (there is an VP node covering those words).
  4. But there is no node covering exactly the words the box in the corner
This tree says that those words are split up into two phrases in this sentence. And that's the right answer.

So next question: How do I know?

I'll tell you.

How to
tell an
NP: I
 

A phrase needs to be able to function as a unit. In a lot of your trees not even that requirement is satisfied. For example, I saw a lot of trees like this one:


Wrong structure for this sentence
This tree makes the claim that the ball to the wall is a phrase. That's wrong. A Noun Phrase should be able to be the subject of a sentence. This one can't be:
Test: * The ball to the wall was hit by Barry Bonds.
The right structure for this sentence is:


Right structure for this sentence
This says "the ball" can be a unit. And it CAN be the subject of a sentence.
The ball was hit to the wall.
How to
tell an
NP: II
 

Sometimes the thing you pick to be a phrase CAN be the subject of a sentence but it still isnt NP in the sentence you've chosen. Change the previous example a little:


Wrong structure for this sentence

Now the meaning we're interested in is something like this: "Barry Bonds hit the ball and it landed across the city." The right structure for this meaning is:


Right structure for this sentence
This time the ball across the city can be an NP; it's just sort of an unlikely one. So in a basball museum you might say:
The ball across the room was signed by Barry Bonds.
And if there happened to be two baseball museums in the town, each of which had one really famous ball; we might say:
The ball across the city was signed by Barry Bonds.
But the ball across the city is still not an NP in Barry Bonds hit the ball across the city.

Why not?

Because if it is an NP, it should be able to behave as a unit and keep the same meaning.

So the next test is: See if you can make the sentence passive and keep the same meaning.:

    Test: The ball across the city was hit by Barry Bonds.
Now this does NOT mean Barry Bonds hit the ball and it landed across the city. It might be used in the baseball museum situation when you're looking at a ball hit by Roger Maris and you want want to refer to another ball, the one hit by Barry Bonds. But it can't be used used to say that a ball was hit by Barry Bonds and landed across the city.

So the test was failed by The ball across the city. Let's try the ball. Because in what I called the right structure, the ball is claimed to be a phrase:

    Test: The ball was hit across the city by Barry Bonds.
This time it works. This sentence CAN mean "the ball was hit by Barry Bonds and landed across the city".
How to
tell an
NP: III
 

Next comes the pronoun replacement test.

Replace an NP with a pronoun and see if the sentence can mean the same thing in the right context. For example:

Test: Barry Bonds hit iti across the city.
In a context in which we understand it to be referring to the ball, this can mean the same as:
Test: Barry Bonds hit the balli across the city..
A pronoun can only replace a full phrase. This shows that that the full noun phrase representing what is hit is the ball and it shows that across the city is not part of that phrase
    Barry Bonds hit the balli across the city
      /\  
      ||  
    Barry Bonds hit iti across the city
Summary  

New example:

Barry Bonds hit the ball with a 30 ounce bat.

Let's try all 3 tests:

  1. The ball with a 30 ounce bat is in the museum. [Subject test, pretty weird NP]
  2. The ball was hit by Barry Bonds with a 30-ounce bat. [Subject test]
  3. The ball with a 30 ounce bat was hit by Barry Bonds.[Passive, meaning changes, and it's pretty weird anyway.]
  4. The ball was hit by Barry Bonds with a 30 ounce bat.[Passive]
  5. Barry Bonds hit it with a 30 ounce bat.[Pronoun]
All tests point to the following conclusions
  1. The ball with a 30-ounce bat is not an NP on the most natural reading
  2. The ball is an NP on its own in Barry Bonds hit the ball with a 30-ounce bat.

This means the right tree is:

Answers to
inclass
exercise
 

This means "I hate raw fish and raw onions."

Now consider:

This means "I hate onions and raw fish".

Part II.B

The price includes soup or salad and french fries.

Reading 1: The price includes either salad and fries or soup.

Reading 2: The price includes fries and either soup or salad.

Answers to
homework I
 

1. The student relied on his textbook

2. The elephant knocked the boy off the cliff.

Try our tests on this one:

  1. Subject: ?? The boy off the cliff was pretty smart.
  2. Passive: * The boy off the cliff was knocked by the elephant.
  3. Passive: The boy was knocked off the cliff by the elephant.
  4. Pronoun: The elephant knocked him off the cliff.
Conclusion: The boy is a phrase in this sentence.

The boy off the cliff is not.

3. Frank took the child from Boston

Reading one: The child was taken from Boston by Frank.

Reading one: The child from Boston was taken by Frank.

4. Every story has a moral.

Syntax
Assignment
II, Part I
answers
 

Points:

  1. The D-structure has all the same meaning elements as the S-structure but can be directly generated by the rules of merging (specifiers, heads, complements).
  2. The S-structure represents all the words of the actual sentence as pronounced in the order they are pronounced. So when I ask for the S-structure of the dog might bark at the mailman it should have the words the, dog, might, bark, at, the, and mailman in that order. Since this particular example can be generated directly from the merging rules there is no need for movement of any kind and the S-structure and D-structure are the same.
  3. S-structure is reached by movement, insertion, and morphological spell-out rules [bark + PST = barked]

  1. D-Structure: The dog barked
  2. intermediate-Structure: The dog barked
  3. S-Structure: The dog barked[no movement]
  4. D-Structure: Did the dog bark
  5. intermediate-Structure: Did the dog bark [do inserted]
  6. S-Structure: Did the dog bark [do inverted]
  7. D- and S- Structures: The dog might bark at the mailman.
  8. D-Structure: What did the dog bark at
  9. intermediate-Structure I: What did the dog bark at [do inserted]
  10. intermediate-Structure II: What did the dog bark at [do inverted]
  11. S-Structure: What did the dog bark at [what moved]
Syntax
Assignment
II, workbook
answers
 

Auxes
Midterm Note
 

You should knows what an Auxiliary is. Quick review:

  1. have and be are Auxes (Auxiliary verbs) when followed by a main verb or an Aux:
    1. John is going. ["is" is an Aux, "going" is the main verb]
    2. John has been going. [Both "has" and "been" are auxes, "going" the main verb]
    3. John has guts. ["have" is a main verb here, not an Aux]
  2. Modals are Auxes: (italicized)
    1. John may eat beans.
    2. John should eat beans.
    3. John might eat beans.
    4. John can eat beans.
    5. John could eat beans.
    6. John will eat beans.
    7. John would eat beans.
    8. John won't eat beans.
In the theory in our book Auxes always have the part of speech label "I" (for inflection).