A Semantic Approach to English Grammar / Edition 2

A Semantic Approach to English Grammar / Edition 2

by R. M. W. Dixon, Robert M. Dixon

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ISBN-10: 0199283079

ISBN-13: 9780199283071

Pub. Date: 10/15/2005

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

This book shows how grammar helps people communicate and looks at the ways grammar and meaning interrelate. The author starts from the notion that a speaker codes a meaning into grammatical forms which the listener is then able to recover: each word, he shows, has its own meaning and each bit of grammar its own function, their combinations creating and limiting the


This book shows how grammar helps people communicate and looks at the ways grammar and meaning interrelate. The author starts from the notion that a speaker codes a meaning into grammatical forms which the listener is then able to recover: each word, he shows, has its own meaning and each bit of grammar its own function, their combinations creating and limiting the possibilities for different words. He uncovers a rationale for the varying grammatical properties of different words and in the process explains many facts about English-such as why we can say I wish to go, I wish that he would go, and I want to go but not I want that he would go.

The first part of the book reviews the main points of English syntax and discusses English verbs in terms of their semantic types including those of Motion, Giving, Speaking, Liking, and Trying. In the second part Professor Dixon looks at eight grammatical topics, including complement clauses, transitivity and causatives, passives, and the promotion of a non-subject to subject, as in Dictionaries sell well.

This is the updated and revised edition of A New Approach to English Grammar on Semantic Principles. It includes new chapters on tense and aspect, nominalizations and possession, and adverbs and negation, and contains a new discussion of comparative forms of adjectives. It also explains recent changes in English grammar, including how they has replaced the tabooed he as a pronoun referring to either gender, as in When a student reads this book, they will learn a lot about English grammar in a most enjoyable manner.

About the Author:
R.M.W. Dixon is Professor and Director of the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology at LaTrobe University

Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
Oxford Textbooks in Linguistics Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
9.70(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

List of tables     xii
How to read this book     xiii
Preface     xiv
List of abbreviations     xvii
Introduction     1
Orientation     3
Grammar and semantics     5
Semantic types and grammatical word classes     7
Semantic roles and syntactic relations     9
The approach followed     12
Words and clitics     16
Notes to Chapter 1     18
Grammatical sketch     19
Pronouns     19
Verb and verb phrase     22
Forms of the verb     22
Verb phrase     24
Verbal systems     25
Noun phrase     26
Main clauses     11
Imperative clauses     29
Adverbial elements     30
Relative clauses     32
Complement clauses     36
Omission of be     53
Types of -ing clause     54
Word derivations     56
Clause derivations     58
Questions     58
Causatives     59
Passives     61
Promotion to subject     61
Reflexives     62
Reciprocals     65
Have a Verb, Give a Verb and Take a Verb     66
Clause linking     67
Syntactic preferences and constraints     71
Summary of omission conventions     74
Notes to Chapter 2     17
The Semantic Types     79
Noun, adjective and verb types     81
Types associated with the Noun class     82
Types associated with the Adjective class     84
Comparison of adjectives     91
Introduction to verb types     93
Subject and object     93
Grammar versus lexicon     95
Primary and Secondary verbs     96
Primary-A verb types     102
Motion and Rest     102
Affect     110
Giving     119
Corporeal     124
Weather     127
Others     128
Notes to Chapter 4     130
Primary-B verb types     131
Attention     131
Thinking     139
Deciding     143
Speaking     146
Liking     160
Annoying     164
Others     169
Secondary verb types     172
Secondary-A types     172
Modals and Semi-Modals     172
Beginning     177
Trying     183
Hurrying     186
Daring     187
Secondary-B types     188
Wanting     188
Postponing     195
Secondary-C types     196
Making     196
Helping     201
Secondary-D types     202
Seem     203
Matter     205
Notes to Chapter 6     206
Some Grammatical Topics     207
Tense and aspect     209
Basic distinctions     210
Generic     211
Future     212
Present and past systems     215
Perfective verus imperfective     215
Actual versus previous     217
Present versus past     219
Irrealis and aspect     222
Back-shifting     223
Occurrence     225
Notes to Chapter 7     229
Completeness clauses     230
Parentheticals     233
Meanings of complement clauses     238
that and wh-      238
that and ing     240
Modal (for) to, Judgement to, and that     242
The role of for in Modal (for) to complements     247
Omitting to from Modal (for) to complements     251
Omitting to be from to complements     253
ing and Modal (for) to     255
wh-to     255
(from) ing     257
Summary     258
Complement clauses with Secondary verbs     260
Modals and Semi-Modals     260
Beginning, Trying, Hurrying and Daring     261
Wanting and Postponing     264
Making and Helping     268
Seem and Matter     269
Complement clauses with Primary-B verbs, and with adjectives     270
Attention     270
Thinking     272
Deciding     274
Speaking     275
Liking, Annoying and Adjectives     279
Other Primary-B types     283
Notes to Chapter 8     285
Transitivity and causatives     286
The semantic basis of syntactic relations     287
Prepositions and transitivity     289
Verbs with an inherent preposition     290
Phrasal verbs      293
Inserting a preposition     297
Omitting a preposition before non-measure phrases     299
Omitting a preposition before measure phrases     303
Dual transitivity     305
S = A: transitive verbs that can omit an object     305
S = O pairs: which is basic?     309
Causatives     311
Notes to Chapter 9     315
Nominalisations and possession     317
Possession     317
Varieties of deverbal nominalisation     322
Nominalisations denoting unit of activity and activity itself     323
Nominalisations denoting a state or a property     327
Nominalisations describing a result     328
Object nominalisations     329
Locus nominalisations     332
Agentive nominalisations     333
Instrumental nominalisations     336
Possession of a nominalisation: summary     337
Derivational processes     338
Nominalisation of phrasal verbs     343
Agentive nominalisations     344
Unit and activity nominalisations     346
Nominalisation by semantic type     348
Primary-A types     348
Primary-B types      349
Secondary verbs     351
Notes to Chapter 10     352
Passives     353
The nature of passive     354
Which verbs from Primary types may passivise     360
How verbs from Secondary types passivise     364
Complement clauses as passive subjects     367
Prepositional NPs becoming passive subjects     369
Notes to Chapter 11     374
Adverbs and negation     375
Adverbs     376
Forms and types     379
Adjective types and derived adverbs     381
Positioning     385
Position 'A' and other medial positions     389
Positions 'F' and 'O'     392
Adverbs modifying NPs     394
Adverbs with sentential but not manner function     402
Time adverbs     405
Spatial adverbs     410
Adverbs with manner but not sentential function     413
Adverbs with both sentential and manner function     418
Adverbs modifying adjectives and adverbs     422
Other properties     423
Comparatives     423
An adverb as a complete utterance     426
Combinations of adverbs      427
Negation     432
Sentential and manner-type negation     432
Negative attraction     435
Constituent negation     436
Inherently negative verbs     441
Negation and sentential adverbs     441
Complex negators     443
Negative modifier to a noun     444
Notes to Chapter 12     445
Promotion to subject     446
General characteristics     446
The circumstances in which promotion is possible     449
Which roles may be promoted     451
Notes to Chapter 13     458
Give a Verb, have a Verb and take a Verb constructions     459
Criteria adopted     462
Syntax     467
Meaning     469
Occurrence     476
Notes to Chapter 14     483
List of adjective and verb types, with sample members     484
References     492
Books   R. M. W. Dixon     501
Index     503

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