A New Approach to English Grammar, on Semantic Principles
Linguists often portray grammar as a kind of self-sufficient algebra. R. M. W. Dixon offers a new approach, starting from the premiss that a speaker codes a 'meaning' into grammatical forms in order to communicate them to a hearer, who recovers the 'meaning'. He investigates theinterrelation of grammar and meaning, and uncovers a rationale for the varying grammatical properties of different words-why, for instance, we can say I wish to go and I wish that he would go, and then I want to go but not I want that he should go.In the first part of the book there is a review of some of the main points of English syntax, followed by a discussion of English verbs in terms of 'semantic types'. About thirty of these types are examined, including verbs of Motion, of Giving, of Thinking, of Speaking, of Liking, and of Typing.In the last part of the book the author looks in detail at five grammatical topics: complement clauses, which can fill subject or object slot in a main clause; the question of transitivity and causatives; passives of all kinds; promotion of a non-subject to subject slot, as in Dictionaries sellwellR; and the relation between constructions such as They walked and They had a walk, She punched him and She gave him a punchR, and He looked and He took a look.
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