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How Does Syntactic And Semantic Knowledge Contribute To Our Understanding Of A Piece Of Text

2426 words - 10 pages

How does syntactic and semantic knowledge contribute to our understanding of a piece of textThe Little Oxford dictionary (1986) defines syntactic knowledge as "the grammatical arrangement of words/rules or analysis of this", while semantic knowledge is described as knowledge "of the meaning in language."But what is comprehension? Anderson claims "comprehension involves a perceptual stage, followed by a parsing stage, followed by a utilisation stage." Parsing is the process by which the words in the message are transformed into a mental representation of the combined meaning of the words. While the utilisation is the stage in which the comprehenders actually use the mental representation of the sentence. It is also important to look at the syntactic clues in relation to comprehension for example: Inflection: An alternation of the form of a word by adding affixes, as in English dogs from dogs, or by changing the form of a base, as in English spoke from speak, that indicates grammatical features such as a number, person, mood, or tense."Him kicked the girl. Who got kicked?"Comprehenders\readers use the syntactic cues of word order and inflection to help interpret a sentence. "Sometimes people rely on the plausible semantic interpretation of words in a sentence." People however integrate both semantic and syntactic cues to come up with an interpretation of a sentence.According to Ashcraft (1994) language is meaning while phonology and syntax seem to be two necessary vehicles by which meaning is communicated. Syntax is however more than just word and phrase order rules. As you read, syntax is sensitive to the accessibility of words: for example the more accessible the words are, the more they tend to appear earlier in the sentence. Likewise semantic factors refer to more than just word and phrase meanings; depending on the phrasing the focus of each sentence is different so each sentence means something slightly different.Gross (2001) states that semantics can be analysed at the level of morphemes and sentences. Morphemes are language's basic units of meaning, and they consist mainly of words. Other morphemes are prefixes (letters attached to the beginning of a word, such as 'pre' and 're'.) and suffixes (word endings such as 's' to make a plural) these morphemes such as a plural 's' are bound (i.e. they only take meaning when attached to other morphemes) Most morphemes are free which means that they have meaning when they stand alone, although this is a limited meaning and they are usually combined into longer strings of phrases and sentences.Syntax refers to the rules of combining words into phrases and sentences. One example of syntactic rule is word order. This is crucial for understanding language development. Clearly the sentences 'The dog bit the postman' and 'the postman bit the dog' have very different meanings. Some sentences may be syntactically correct but lack meaning. For example ' The player scored a goal', 'The goal post scored a...

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