Sunday, October 16, 2011

IC Analysis - BA -English Rajarata University of Sri Lanka

Immediate constituent analysis
Another thing structural linguists realize is that a sentence does not only have a LINEAR structure, consisting of individual words one after another in a line; they also have a HIERARCHICAL structure, made up of layers of word groups. The words in a sentence form into word groups first. In the sentence the boy kicked the ball, the words are not of the same degree of closeness to each other. Some words are in a closer relationship to each other than others. The relation between the and boy, for example, is closer than that between boy and kicked. And the boy is a word group while boy kicked is not. This aspect of sentence, the relation between a sentence and its component elements, is generally referred to as the relation between a CONSTRUCTION and its CONSITUENTS, in which a very important notion is immediate constituent analysis, IC ANALYSIS for short.
(1) How to do it?
This notion was proposed by the American linguist Leonard Boomfield in his language, first published in 1993. he said “any English-speaking person who constituents of poor john ran away are the two forms poor john and ran away; that each of these is, in turn, a complex form; that the immediate constituents of ran away are ran…and away…; and the constituents of poor john are… Poor and john ”(p.161).
In other words, IMMEDIATE CONSTITUENTS are constituents immediately, directly, below the level of a construction, which may be a sentence like poor john ran away or a word group like poor John. Theoretically speaking, the construction may also be a word. A word may also be analyzed into its immediate constituents-morphemes, e.g. lovely into {love} and {ly}, talked into {talk} and {ed}. And the last level of constituents, i.e. morphemes, are known as ultimate constituents. In this sense, we can say a constituent which is not at the same time a construction is a morpheme, and a construction which is not at the same time a construction is a sentence. So immediate constituent analysis may be defined as: the analysis of a sentence in terms of its immediate constituents-word groups (or phrases), which are in turn analyzed into the immediate constituents of their own, and the process goes on until the ultimate constituents are reached. In practice, however, for sake of convenience, we usually stop at the level of word.
The immediate constituent analysis of a sentence may be carried out with brackets as:
Ex. 4-4
(a) ((poor) (john)) ((ran) (away))
it may also be more easily shown with a tree diagram:

Now the question is: how do we know where to make the cuts? Why do we say poor John and ran away are the immediate constituents of the sentence, not poor and John ran away , or poor John ran and away ? The answer, the criterion used here, is substitutability: whether a sequence of words can be substituted for a single word and the structure remains the same. In the case of poor John ran away, poor John can be replaced by John, ran away by ran in terms of structure. Both are about somebody doing something. In the terminology of Saussure, we can say poor John and John , and ran away and ran, are each in a paradigmatic relation. They are identical syntactically speaking. but John ran away or poor John ran, cannot be replaced by any single word without changing the structure.
This type of analysis is similar to the traditional parsing in that the first cut comes at the boundary between subject and predicate. But it also differs from the latter in an important way. Traditionally, the grammarian analyzing the sentence would say poor is an attributive, John the subject, ran the predicate (verb), and away an adverbial, as if the sentence had a linear structure only. In contrast, IC analysis emphasizes the function of the intermediate level --- word group, seeing a hierarchical structure of the sentence as well.


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