A study of appositive phrases in English in comparison to Vietnamese

In traditional English grammar, words and sentences (morphology and syntax) were considered as two basic grammatical elements that built up the grammar theory and most of studies about grammar were set around these two phenomena. However, right from that time, there have also been new linguistic issues indicating the fact that there are other linguistic items lying between words and sentences, even overlapping these two items, or lying beyond sentences. The need for studies about those phenomena has led to new schools of grammar with more reasonable concepts established. According to these concepts, apart from words and sentences, phrases are also one of the most essential linguistic factors in the grammar of the English language. A phrase is a syntactic construction which typically contains more than one word, but which lacks the subject-predicate structure found in a clause(David Crystal – The Cambridge Encyclopeadia of the English Language, 1995). So, a phrase is just a group of words forming a grammatical unit which can appear in different places in a clause or a sentence and hold various functions one of which is apposition whose function indicates the relation between two or more phrases (appear in the same clause or sentence) of the same reference and the same grammatical status. In fact, when studying English grammar, appositive phrases are not focused as much as the other phrases. Moreover, they are sometimes mistaken to relative phrases which cause lots of difficulties to language learners. A detail study about appositive phrases, therefore, may partially deal with those problems and suggest some ways of acquiring and applying the so-called English appositive phrases.

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                                             !"#$% & '() *+,$-(  .'(/0               ! "     Declaration I certify that all the material in this minor thesis which is not my own work has been identified and acknowledged, and that no material is included for which a degree has already been conferred upon me.   Acknowledgements I would like to express my great gratitude to my supervisor, Dr. Nguyn Huy  of Hanoi Junior Teacher Training College, for his enormously helpful advice, constant and tireless help and support throughout this thesis. I wish to acknowledge my gratitude to teachers at Hanoi National University – College of Foreign Languages whose lectures on the area of grammar have enlightened the arguments in this study. I am also grateful for the support of Mrs.  Mai, my former teacher, in collecting and evaluating the statistics in the thesis. Finally, I would like to thank my family, especially my brother whose talent in computer programmes has saved the thesis many times, and friends who have supported and encouraged me during the course. Hanoi, September, 2006 Ninh Phng Lan   Abstract Basing on grammatical theories, especially functional ones, this study aims at describing the nature, the main characteristics of appositive phrases in English and then identifying classes into which these phrases are divided. The second aim of this study is trying to find out the similarities and the differences between appositive phrases in the two languages English and Vietnamese. And from the findings, a further study about appositive phrases in both languages may be possible. After the theoretical part, an achievement test is done in order to investigate the ability of acquiring English appositive phrases among Vietnamese high school students, so that some suggestions for research about the syllabus as well as course book design could be drawn out to make language learners be able to learn English appositive phrases better.   Contents Declaration i Acknowledgements ii Abstract iii Contents iv Part 1 - Introduction 1. Rationale 1 2. Objectives 2 3. Scope of the study 2 4. Methods of the study 2 5. Design of the study 3 6. Theoretical background 3 6.1. History of the subject study 3 6.2. Theory of Grammar 4 6.2.1. Definitions 4 6.2.2. Schools of Grammar 6 6.2.2.1. Traditional Grammar 6 6.2.2.2. Descriptive Grammar 7 6.2.2.3. Transformational Generative Grammar 9 6.2.2.4. Systemic Functional Grammar 11 Part 2 - Development Chapter 1 - Functional Grammar and Syntax 14 1.1. Functional Grammar 14 1.1.1. Halliday’s Functional Grammar 14 1.1.2. Vietnamese Functional Grammar 17 1.2. Syntax 17 1.2.1. Definition 17   1.2.2. Syntactic theory and structure 18 Chapter 2 - Appositive Phrases 19 2.1. Noun Phrases 19 2.1.1. Phrases and types of phrases 19 2.1.2. Noun phrases - Definition and types 20 2.2. Apposition 20 2.2.1. Definitions 20 2.2.2. Appositive phrases and relative phrases 22 2.2.3. Types of appositive phrases 22 2.2.3.1. Full and partial appositive phrases 23 2.2.3.2. Strict and weak appositive phrases 24 2.2.3.3 Non-restrictive and restrictive appositive phrases 24 2.2.3.4. Combination 25 2.2.4. Structure of appositive phrases 26 2.2.5. Scale of strict non-restrictive appositive phrases 27 2.2.5.1. Equivalence 28 2.2.5.2. Attribution 31 2.2.5.3. Inclusion 31 2.2.6. Summary 32 2.2.7. Appositive phrases in Vietnamese Functional Grammar 33 2.2.7.1. Definition 33 2.2.7.2. Types of appositive phrases in Vietnamese Functional Grammar 34 Chapter 3 - Investigation 36 3.1. Test design 36 3.1.1. Description of syllabus and course book 36 3.1.2. Objectives of the test 37 3.1.3. Format of the test 37 3.2. Test implementation 38 3.3. Test result 38   Part 3 - Conclusion 1. Conclusion 42 2. Implementation 43 3. Suggestion for further study 43 References I Appendixes Appendix 1: Achievement test IV Appendix 2: List of informants IX Appendix 3: Sample test on English appositive phrases in High School course book XIV Appendix 4: Table of test results   Part 1 INTRODUCTION # $  In traditional English grammar, words and sentences (morphology and syntax) were considered as two basic grammatical elements that built up the grammar theory and most of studies about grammar were set around these two phenomena. However, right from that time, there have also been new linguistic issues indicating the fact that there are other linguistic items lying between words and sentences, even overlapping these two items, or lying beyond sentences. The need for studies about those phenomena has led to new schools of grammar with more reasonable concepts established. According to these concepts, apart from words and sentences, phrases are also one of the most essential linguistic factors in the grammar of the English language. A phrase is a syntactic construction which typically contains more than one word, but which lacks the subject-predicate structure found in a clause (David Crystal – The Cambridge Encyclopeadia of the English Language, 1995). So, a phrase is just a group of words forming a grammatical unit which can appear in different places in a clause or a sentence and hold various functions one of which is apposition whose function indicates the relation between two or more phrases (appear in the same clause or sentence) of the same reference and the same grammatical status. In fact, when studying English grammar, appositive phrases are not focused as much as the other phrases. Moreover, they are sometimes mistaken to relative phrases which cause lots of difficulties to language learners. A detail study about appositive phrases, therefore, may partially deal with those problems and suggest some ways of acquiring and applying the so-called English appositive phrases. Also, it is important to remember that some particularities could be recognized easily through analysis done with the target language (English) but the others that could not be touched upon if the research is done with the target language only, will be found out and clarified if a contrastive analysis (based on both target language and source one, which is Vietnamese in this case) is implemented. It means a comparison between two languages is necessary throughout the study. That is the reason for contrastive analysis trend of the study.   Additionally, as this study focuses on the appositive function a phrase takes in a clause or a sentence, functional grammar in contact with syntax may be the best choice to follow among plenty of schools of grammar. With syntax and functional grammar, the construction, the specific functions that an appositive phrase takes and the relationship between it and other elements of a clause or a sentence could be put in a closer and a more detail view. Therefore, functional grammar and syntax are the main stream of our study. With al the above mentioned, we have come to the decision of doing “A study of appositive phrases in English in comparison to Vietnamese”. %&'($) The study, as entitled, focuses on English appositive phrases in comparison to Vietnamese ones not only about the structure but also about the use. Thus, the study is aimed at: Identifying and pointing out the nature of English appositive phrases through functional grammar with basic concepts such as noun phrases, references ... and then coming to clarify structures and types of appositive phrases in English. Giving the description and characteristics of English appositive phrases and their equivalent realizations in Vietnamese to work out the similarities and differences between the two languages in terms of both theory and practice. *+(,-$$. Due to the duration of time limit and the length as well as the references available, this thesis does research on English appositive phrases in sentences in contrast to Vietnamese equivalents and concentrates mainly on the materials and documents available to students at   High School (especially their textbooks and practice books) and also the errors those students may encounter in using English appositive phrases in writing. /$-$$. Due to the main aims of the study, a systemic contrastive analysis on the aspects of function of the two languages is carried out throughout the progress. Also, the thesis makes use of the English language as the target language and the Vietnamese one as the source language (the base language). Besides, techniques on statistics, on systemic functional analysis and on error analysis are applied as well.   In order to serve the targets stated before, a linguistic contrastive analysis is carried out mainly on the phrase level with the focus on Noun Phrases as well as on the sentence level. The sources for the analysis are from materials and references written by linguists in English and in Vietnamese as well as some bilingual reference books available in Vietnam. This will help to make clear both the similarities and the differences between two language systems (English and Vietnamese). The use of translationally equivalent structures of English and Vietnamese allow the differences and similarities of appositive phrases in the two languages to be detected so that some reasonable predictions can be extracted. Moreover, a survey of the use of appositive phrases is in process with the help of 100 students from Nh©n ChÝnh High School and the application of statistic techniques to confirm the predictions. 0 -$$. This study consists of three parts, excluding the appendixes and the references. Part one, Introduction, consists of the background for the study, the aims, the scope of the study and the method of study. It also introduces a literature review about the history of the subject studied, different concepts about schools of grammar. Part two, Development, is the heart of the study which deals with appositive phrases in English and in Vietnamese under the influence of functional grammar, syntax and contrastive analysis. This part is divided into three chapters coping with functional grammar (in Halliday’s theory) and syntax, appositive phrases in the two languages, and an investigation done on appositive phrases respectively. The last part is the conclusions as well as some suggestions for implementation achieved from all the discussion in the thesis. The appendixes show the exercises used in the survey done to compare appositive phrases in English and in Vietnamese. $( & (1  !$.-$&'($$.: Appositive phrases are not very important grammatical unit both in English and in Vietnamese. However, linguists in general and grammarians in particular still pay much attention to this type of phrase, especially when study English. Discussions about appositive   phrases can be found in Halliday’s An Introduction to Functional Grammar (1994) as he analyzes charateristics of nominal group. Geoff Thompson in his Introducing Functional Grammar (1996) and Rodney Huddleston in Introduction to the Grammar of English (1995) also give valuable ideas about appositive phrases. However, one of the most detailed discussion is that given by Quirk R., Greenbaum S., Leech G., Swartvik J. in their two useful books A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, Longman (1987) and A Grammar of Contemporary English, Longman (1987). In Vietnamese grammar, appositive phrases are not taken into appropriate consideration as in English. There have not been any detailed analysis or discussion about this type of phrase though ideas for it can be seen in works written by                  !" #$    % .-2 33    There have been many different concepts about grammar. Some linguists understand the grammar of a language as a book written about it and believe that grammar is found only in written language – spoken language has no grammar or at least fluctuate so much that they are only partially grammatical. In fact, grammar exists in both written and spoken forms as language users need grammar to organize their transforming structures. There are also beliefs that some languages have grammar while the others do not. However, it is common to know that every language has its own grammar whose factors that make language differ from the others. Thus, a question about how to understand the term grammar properly is raised. F. Palmer in his book Grammar defined grammar, in the widest sense, as a complex set of relations that link the sounds of the language (or its written symbols) with the meanings, the messages they have to convey. Then, he also stated another definition which described the grammar of a language is “a device that specifies the infinite set of well-formed sentences and assigns to each of them one or more structural descriptions.” This means that grammar tells us what are all possible sentences of a language and provides us with a description of those sentences. Palmer continued with the statement that within linguistics, the term ‘grammar’ was understood as a technical tool to distinguish it from phonology - the study of sounds, and semantics - the study of meaning. However, in modern concepts, the term ‘grammar’ is   understood in a broader meaning which enables the appearance of some degrees of phonology and semantics with the syntax as the centre concept. Quirk et al shares this point of view when he stated in A Grammar of Contemporary English (1987) that grammar is a complex set of rules specifying the combination that words make when forming larger units. Another definition is shown in the “Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics” (J. C. Richards, J. Platt and H. Platt, 1993) that “Grammar is a description of the structure of a language and the way in which linguistic units such as words and phrases are combined to produce sentences in the language. It usually takes into account the meanings and functions these sentences have in the overall system of the language. It may or may not include the description of the sounds of a language.” With this definition, it is clear to learn that the objects of grammar are not limited within words and sentences but include other linguistic units outside these two basic ones. Additionally, each school of grammar, in turns, develops more in defining this term. Transformational Grammar though agrees with the above opinion, adds an idea that grammar itself is the one that describes the speaker’s knowledge of the language and looks at language in relation to how it may be structured in speaker’s mind and which principles and parameters are available to the speaker in producing the language. Meanwhile, in functional sense by Halliday, grammar is seen as the consistence of syntax and vocabulary, plus morphology if the language has word paradigms. Briefly, the term grammar is used in a number of different senses - the grammar of a language may be considered as a full description, which is variously delimited, of both structure and meaning of the sentences or of one of these two linguistic units of the language. However, whatever grammar is understood, there is still an agreement that this term is used to indicate the syntax, the meaning (semantics), and phonology in which the first one is taken as the core of the grammar of a language. The following part is about some main schools of grammar, with their distinguished features, which are helpful in understanding what the core if grammar is. They are traditional grammar, descriptive grammar, transformational - generative grammar and systemic - functional grammar.        6.2.2.1. Traditional grammar: Traditional grammar is the one developed from the earlier grammar of Latin or Greek, which were applied to some other languages inappropriately, as the background. Dated back to the eighteenth century, grammarians invented the so-called normative rules (traditional grammar) and then reinforced them by their nineteenth- and even twentieth- centuries successors. Along with the development of traditional grammar, scholars have summarized some major characteristics of this type of grammar which could be seen in Palmer’s useful book Grammar (1990). Firstly, many traditional grammar books have taken for granted that all languages have the same grammar, and usually it was assumed that this was identical with Latin grammar. Thus, traditional grammar is said to be prescriptive, logical - which are major features of Latin grammar - rather than descriptive. Secondly, traditional grammar not only concerns with correctness but also prescribes the rules of correctness in the sense of absolute and unchanging term. In other words, it is the rules that tell language users how they ought to speak and write. These rules have been drilled into generations of learners and made them learn in order to become standard language users. Thirdly, traditional grammar considers written language as primary (in Greek, grammar means to write) and spoken language is only a rather poor version of the written one. Finally, there is a belief of the source of traditional grammar (normative rules) that what were used to be required in language still ought to be required, the older form being tactically accepted as “better”. So, it forces languages into Latin framework, assuming that Latin provides a universal frame into which all languages fit. However, since the very first time of traditional grammar, there appeared some paradoxical point of views, especially when comparing English grammar and traditional one (which was based on Latin grammar). It is obvious that English is different from Latin in the way of using language, forming vocabulary, ordering language units in a sentence... Therefore, there is no reason for English to follow the Latin rules, particularly in terms of grammar. Beside general theory, traditional grammar also introduces some specific concepts of linguistic items such as words, nouns, phrases, sentences. Some of them are probably unintelligible to most people though they may have some dim recollection of them from their   schooldays. Others would be more familiar to everyone as they are widely being used in many school textbooks today. Words, for example, are often not defined properly though other grammatical elements in terms of it are identified rather clearly. In traditional grammar, words are clearly identified by the spaces between them, sentences are simply composed of words and parts of speech are just classes of words. As the result, the function of syntax if to state what words can be combined with others to form sentences and in what order. According to this type of grammar, eight parts of speech are identified (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, interjections) while, however, there are serious objections to this classification. It is clear that these parts are defined notion
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