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Grammar in Context

Class at Faculty of Arts |


Topics (not necessarily presented in this order):

1.      Grammar and Context (grammaticality, prescriptive and descriptive approach, unit of description in written and spoken language; types of context)

2.      Variation (situation/linguistic features, dimensions of variation, multidimensional approach); Grammar in the narrative: clause and phrase complexity

3.      Grammar in informal dialogue: The Friends sitcom and natural conversation

4.      Grammar in "Cinderella Texts" - recipes, menus, TV programmes, etc.

5.      Grammar and FSP - linearity: syntactic constructions signalling FSP (existential construction, passive, cleft and pseudo-cleft, clauses with a locative subject etc.)

6.      Grammar and FSP - context and semantic factor: definiteness and FSP, focalizers (articles and other devices signalling context dependence, focusing subjuncts)

7.      Ditransitive complementation: syntactic and semantic analysis

8.      Negation: clausal / local negation, double negation, words negative in meaning but positive in form etc.

9.      Grammar in newspaper reports

10.  Morpho-syntactic analysis of selected texts

11. Students’ presentations


It is a truth universally acknowledged that we use different words in different contexts - when writing an essay, talking to grandparents, or texting one’s friends; Jane Austen’s words are likely to be different from those of today’s Sun Showbiz web pages. What we are less sensitized to are the context-related differences in grammar.

The seminar will illustrate the way the context (socio-cultural or linguistic) influences the grammatical choices we make, and on the other hand, the way grammar shapes the context. The course complements the English morphology and syntax seminars in aiming at a more complex grammatical analysis and pointing out the relations between the grammatical structure of the sentence and the organization of larger language units.

The first seminar provides a general background, the following ones deal with specific grammatical phenomena in relation to a variety of contexts and language functions.