Syntax - Description and Theory

15 credits

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When we process language we integrate information from all kinds of sources: encyclopedic knowledge, discourse information, frequency bias, just to mention a few (see course 4En011 for more details about these sources). Syntax plays a crucial role in all this; it imposes constraints on how sentences in a language can and cannot be construed. Languages and their structure are phenomena of considerable complexity and complexity of structure can be studied scientifically, i.e. we can formulate hypotheses and test them. In order to do so we need a very precise machinery, a theory. In this course we discuss central parts of English grammar from theoretical and descriptive perspectives.

The theoretical part includes studies of the construction of linguistic theories, and how the theoretical framework influences analyses of individual languages. This is done through in-depth studies of a few current linguistic theories. The theoretical models are also related to the descriptive grammars discussed in the course.

The descriptive part compares how three standard grammars of English cover central grammatical concepts, e.g. verb phrases and clauses. We look at what theoretical assumptions they make and how that is reflected in the description of English.

The students will learn how to critically evaluate theoretical concepts and analyses in syntactic theory and at the same time develop a deeper understanding of the ins and outs of English grammar.


Roughly 15 minutes with a bike from the city centre, you will find Linnaeus University’s campus. It is like a small society with the university, student accommodation, and student life. Here you become part of a creative knowledge environment.

What will you come across on an excursion in Växjö – the city of contrasts? You will find good restaurants, a celebrated hockey team, and cozy cafés where you can enjoy a latte with lingonberry flavour. In Växjö, beautiful nature is always just around the corner; the city is surrounded by lakes and forests. Students like the combination of the city centre and the active student life on campus. Your dream of the future starts here!

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