What is morphosyntax?

Morphosyntax is another word for grammar.

Grammar can be divided into morphology and syntax. Morphology is the study of words and their rules of formation. And syntax is the study of sentences and their rules of formation. Essentially, morphology and syntax are studies of the same thing – formation rules of a language – but at differing “levels”.

By calling it by the transparent term morphosyntax we are highlighting this dualism.

When we talk about word-formation (morphology) we use terms like

  • Noun
  • Verb
  • Adjective
  • Adverb
  • Pronoun
  • Determiner
  • Preposition
  • Conjunction

And when we talk about sentence-formation (syntax) we use terms like

  • Subject
  • Verb
  • Object
  • Complement
  • Adverbial

The term verb unfortunately has “double duty” for word-forming and sentence-forming. So when using the term be careful and clear to your reader/listener as to which meaning of the verb you are trying to convey.

Note also that the sentence-formation terms do not appear in dictionary definitions, indicating most clearly the idea that dictionaries are about words, and not sentences.

文法用語の最低限語彙

私の考え方では文法用語は大事なのに十分教えていると思わない。または教えてもただ日本語訳だけ与える。それは教えていると言えない。

全て知るも必要ではない。幾つかの役に立つ用語だけで良いと思う。どれが役に立つだろう?そして幾つの用語が必要だろう?私にとってはたったの13だけで十分と思う。二種類で一つの種類は8、もう一つの種類は5。これです。一種類目は

  • 名詞
  • 動詞
  • 形容詞
  • 副詞
  • 代名詞
  • 冠詞
  • 前置詞
  • 接続詞

と二種類目

  • 主語
  • 動詞
  • 補語
  • 目的語
  • 副詞句

気づいてほしいのは【動詞】が両方の種類に入っていること。その理由は用語では動詞少なくても二つの意味がある。なぜこういう風に種類を二つに分ければとわかってたら動詞の二つの意味も覚えるだろう。

一つ目の種類は「語彙の変化仕方」タイプと考えれば良いだ。もう一つの種類は「文の中の役割」タイプと考えれば良いだ。

語彙を辞書に引くと一つ目の用語しか出てこない。なぜかというと名詞は主語のところでも、目的語のところでも(文の中の役割関係なく)同じ名詞のだ。このワンポイント覚えておきましょう。

collocation

How words (collocates) relate to a particular word (keyword or node). In corpus, this usually means within a certain distance from the node. For example, ±5 words to either side of the node which are then collated and summed for quick comprehension.

Words often come together with greater-than-chance regularity. This can either be within the same phrase, clause, sentence or even between sentences, that is, over sentence boundaries.

KWIC

Short for Key Word In Context. It is a way of looking at a search term (type) in a concordance program with the keyword centred so as to see the patterns created by the other words, its context.

Below is an example of a concordance search of the term ‘violence’ in a corpus.

violence kwic

The words ‘domestic’, ‘TV’ and ‘of’ seem to stand out and warrants further investigation. This is even before the surrounding text has been sorted.

Other Corpus Linguistic Terms:

type

The unique form of the tokens (words) in a corpus. Often accompanied by frequency data.

Meaning is treated as secondary. Corpus linguistic analysis does not directly reveal the various meanings of a word. This must be inferred from its usage. In corpus linguistics this usually done by concordancing, collocations, clusters, etc.

token

The individual forms (words) of a corpus. The sum of the tokens is the size of the corpus. The term contrasts with type in order to distinguish how we are observing the form, whether as one instance in the corpus (token), or as combined instances relating to its frequency within a corpus (type).

Neighbours, highlighting and hiding

Consider this conversation:

Tom: This is my neighbour, David.
David: Hi. I’m his neighbour. Call me Dave.
Harry: Harry. Nice to meet you, Dave.

David is Tom’s neighbour from Tom’s perspective. So the focus of the conversation is with Tom. But in reality we tend to forget (or in Lakoff and Johnson’s term hide) the fact that Tom is also David’s neighbour.

Any piece of dialogue must assume a perspective. If it didn’t they would be difficult to understand. It must highlight some facts and hide others. Sometimes this highlighting and hiding is deliberate. Sometimes it is unavoidable.