Types of Variation

This assignment is for you to show your understanding of the conventions and principles used in analyzing syntax, and reflect on the overall themes of this course. Part 1 is about applying a syntactic analysis to a text (identifying syntactic phenomena and applying syntactic tests). Part 2 contains two mini-essay questions asking you to reflect on how the different areas of linguistics we’ve studied relate to each other, and the role of variation in all areas of the linguistics of English.

Learning outcomes
Analyze and diagram sentence structures for commonly occurring types of English sentences.
Account for some of the structural characteristics that delimit various regional and social varieties of English.

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Part 1: Analyzing syntactic data (15 marks)

These questions are all about this paragraph: A comet is a ball of cosmic ice that moves in outer space. Comets are often described as dirty snowballs. Right now more than six thousand known comets are circling the sun. Humans have observed comets since ancient times. The Ancient Greeks gave comets their name. It comes from a Greek word which means ‘having long hair’. They have long ‘tails’ because the sun melts the ice. Sir Isaac Newton studied comets. He realized that comets made U-turns around the sun. Before he said this, people believed comets go into the sun then another comet comes out from behind the sun.

Find examples of the following syntactic phenomena in the text. Make sure you give enough of the text to give the full example, and nothing extra. For each one, explain how you identified it. (3 marks)
a. a passive sentence
b. a sentence in the progressive aspect
c. an adverbial clause of time
d. an object noun clause
e. an adverbial clause of reason
f. a sentence in the perfect aspect

Find an example of a transitive verb, an intransitive verb and a ditransitive verb in the paragraph. Explain why we use verb phrases (VP) in syntactic analysis, using evidence from the text or your own examples. (6 marks)

Find the biggest noun phrase (NP) you can in the paragraph (i.e. the noun phrase with the most words in it). Use syntactic tests to demonstrate that it is a single noun phrase, and draw a tree to illustrate its internal structure. (6 marks)

Part 2: Course reflection (10 marks)

Discuss how phonology, morphology and syntax relate to each other. Start by describing what you understand each term to mean, making clear the differences between them. Then explain the relationships between them, using linguistic examples to illustrate your points. (250 words, 5 marks)

Identify and discuss some types of variation that occur in varieties of English. Your discussion should distinguish between dialect variation, stylistic variation and individual variation. Provide examples from any areas of the grammar (phonetics and/or phonology and/or morphology and/or syntax). (250 words, 5 marks)

For more information on Types of Variation read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variation_(music)

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