Chapter 9: Sentence Structure and Meaning
Exercise 1. Groucho Marx has famously joked, “One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got in my pyjamas I don’t know.” Draw the two tree diagrams that correspond to the two separate meanings of the sentence, “I shot an elephant in my pyjamas.”
Exercise 2. The following sentences are taken from The Venturesome Voyages of Captain Voss, by John Claus Voss, which is in the Public Domain in Canada. For each sentence, identify the thematic role of each NP.
Because I had found, from the day I first met Dempster on Cocos Island till he died, that he was a straightforward and reliable man, I have decided to place confidence in you. I now ask, can you and will you procure for me a vessel and fit her out properly, sail with me to Cocos Island and assist me to put the treasure on board and take it to Victoria?
The wind freshened considerably and hauled round to the west, at the same time throwing up a lively choppy sea, which made the little vessel jump about worse than a bucking horse.
All three ships under full sail passed Cape Flattery towards evening, shaping their courses toward the south-west with a fresh easterly breeze.
Exercise 3. The following paragraph is taken from Swiss Sonata by Gwethalyn Graham, which is in the Public Domain in Canada. The verb component of several clauses has been underlined. For each underlined set of verbs, say whether it is passive or active.
Her eyes reached Miss Ellerton, the games mistress, who, after a few impatient glances in Mlle Tourain’s direction, had got up from her chair and wandered over to the french windows where she was standing now, holding the curtain back with one hand and looking over the lovely grey town where dusk already lurked here and there. Some of the light which yet remained in the outer world was caught in her hair and outlined her small features so that the others, sitting patiently in their chairs, were aged by their contrasting dullness. Amélie Tourain leaned forward a little and switched on her desk light, then remained motionless looking at the girl by the window. An unaccountable conviction that Miss Ellerton was in some way connected with the turmoil in her mind had complete possession of her.
Exercise 3. Think about your experience of learning an L2. What parts of your L1 grammar led to a positive transfer to your L2? What parts of your L1 created a negative transfer to your L2? Consider phonetics and phonology as well as morphology and syntax.