Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Diagramming Sentences: The Syntactic Tree

The method of sentence diagramming(shown below) that most high school students still learn today is based on on the work of Alonzo Reed and Brainerd Kellogg from 1877.

The sentence diagrams preferred by linguists today are based on the work of Noam Chomsky and Ray Jackendoff and are called syntactic trees. Syntactic trees are preferred because they illustrate the dimensionality of sentences; in other words they show that sentences are more than just strings of words with a flat structure.
All people should be as happy as linguists.

3 comments:

NomenNescio said...

Hi I'm impressed by your notes, short but full of information at once...Look I'm working on my academic paper in linguistics and I'm looking for materials... my topic is: A characteristics, role and methodological aspects of Cleft sentences in English and now

At the moment I'm trying to describe an American structuralism from the point of view of syntax rather than phonology or morhoplogy, however I'm aware of their 'closeness' with each other but what is more important I would be grateful if you could give me some hints or I don't know...recommend me some books or links where I could find something sensible... It seems I searched hundreds of sites and books but still I would be grateful for your help...

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Jan said...

I was just told in a conversation with the son of a friend that diagramming sentences as I learned in the 1960's has changed, so it is good to so immediately see an example of each. Any suggestions for an intro book on linguistics?

Laura Payne said...

Hi Jan,
A great intro book is Victoria Fromkin's Introduction to Linguistic Theory. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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