/sin"taks/, n.1. Ling.a. the study of the rules for the formation of grammatical sentences in a language.b. the study of the patterns of formation of sentences and phrases from words.c. the rules or patterns so studied: English syntax.d. a presentation of these: a syntax of English.e. an instance of these: the syntax of a sentence.2. Logic.a. that branch of modern logic that studies the various kinds of signs that occur in a system and the possible arrangements of those signs, complete abstraction being made of the meaning of the signs.b. the outcome of such a study when directed upon a specified language.3. a system or orderly arrangement.4. Computers. the grammatical rules and structural patterns governing the ordered use of appropriate words and symbols for issuing commands, writing code, etc., in a particular software application or programming language.[1565-75; short for earlier syntaxis < LL < Gk sýntaxis an arranging in order, equiv. to syntag- (see SYNTACTIC) + -sis -SIS]
* * *Arrangement of words in sentences, clauses, and phrases, and the study of the formation of sentences and the relationship of their component parts.In English, the main device for showing this relationship is word order; for example, "The boy loves his dog" follows standard subject-verb-object word order, and switching the order of such a sentence would change the meaning or make the sentence meaningless. Word order is much more flexible in languages such as Latin, in which word endings indicate the case of a noun or adjective; such inflections make it unnecessary to rely on word order to indicate a word's function in the sentence.
* * *▪ grammarthe arrangement of words in sentences, clauses, and phrases, and the study of the formation of sentences and the relationship of their component parts. In a language such as English, the main device for showing the relationship among words is word order; e.g., in “The girl loves the boy,” the subject is in initial position, and the object follows the verb. Transposing them changes the meaning. In many other languages, case markers indicate the grammatical relationships. In Latin (Latin language), for example, “The girl loves the boy” may be puella puerum amat with “the girl” in initial position, or puerum puella amat with “the boy” in initial position, or amat puella puerum, amat puerum puella, or puella amat puerum. The meaning remains constant because the -um ending on the form for “boy” indicates the object of the verb, regardless of its position in the sentence.Sentences are constructed from phrases or groups of words that have a closer relationship to each other than to the words outside the phrase. In the sentence “My dog is playing in the yard” there is a closer relationship between the words “is playing,” which together form the verb, than between the words “playing in the,” which form only part of the verb and part of the phrase indicating the location of the playing.The study of syntax also includes the investigation of the relations among sentences that are similar, such as “John saw Mary” and “Mary was seen by John.” Syntax received much attention after 1957, when the American linguist Noam Chomsky proposed a radically new theory of language, transformational grammar (q.v.).
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