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Basic syntactic structures II
2. Categorial contrast
Corresponding elements in semantically equivalent and otherwise congruent sentences in both languages
belong to different syntactic categories.
Adverb in Polish and adjective in English (verbs of sensory perception)
You look wonderful. (adj.) / Wyglądasz cudownie. (adv.)
Czuję się źle. / I feel bad.
Ta ryba smakuje wspaniale. / This fish tastes great.
Noun Phrase – Prepositional Phrase
Because Polish is a highly inflectional language and English is an analytic language there are many
differences in this respect – there are numerous cases in which a single noun phrase in Polish corresponds to
a prepositional phrase in English (prepositions used to express the same meaning as grammatical cases in
Polish.
1.
The post-nominal modifying of- prepositional phrases in English correspond to genitive noun phrases
in Polish:
the top of the mountain – wierzchołek góry
destruction of the city – zniszczenie miasta
2.
Genitive and instrumental objects following some reflexive verbs in Polish correspond to
prepositional objects in English:
Chwalił się swą odwagą. – He boasted of his courage.
Pozbył się starego samochodu. – He disposed of his old car.
Bawił się zapałkami. – He played with the matches.
Pogratulowałem mu sukcesu. – I congratulated him on his success.
3.
Instrumental adverbials in Polish correspond to prepositional phrases:
Poczęstuj go lodami. – Treat him to some ice-cream.
Pokrój salami nożem. – Slice the salami with a knife.
Odebrali mu siłą jego gwizdek. – They took his whistle away from him by force.
4.
Other adverbials in Polish:
Wiosną topnieją śniegi. – Snow melts in spring.
Wieczorem będzie zimno. – It will be cold in the evening.
However, prepositional phrases are also possible:
Na wiosnę topnieją śniegi.
Pod wieczór będzie zimno.
5.
A reverse situation, in which a single noun phrase in English corresponds to a prepositional phrase in
Polish is also possible:
Często gram w karty. – I often play cards.
Odpowiedz na moje pytania. – Answer my questions.
Policja weszła do budynku. – The police entered the building.
Wszystkie strzały ugodziły w cel. – All arrows have hit the target.
3. Word Order and information organization (unmarked and marked)
The unmarked (neutral) word order of an English sentence is this:
SUBJECT – VERB – OBJECT – OBJECT – ADVERBIAL
Changes of this word order result in ungrammaticality of a sentence:
1)
John gave the book to his mother (neutral word order)
*The book gave John to his mother.
*John gave to his mother the book.
*To his mother John gave the book.
In Polish analogous changes result in grammatical sentences:
2)
Janek dał książkę swojej matce.
Książkę dał Janek swojej matce.
Janek dał swojej matce książkę.
Swojej matce dał Janek książkę.
It is often said that the word order in English is fixed whereas in Polish it is free.
However, if we examine Polish and English sentences more carefully it turns out that neither Polish word
order is so free, nor English word order so fixed.
This is so because context can influence the word order of a sentence and interpretation of a sentence, and
because word order is connected with organization of information in a sentence.
In the majority of sentences we can distinguish the information which is given (repeated, known) – the
theme, and the information which is new in a given context – the rheme/the focus.
The unmarked organization of information:
- focus is located at the end of the clause/sentence
- it receives the main sentence stress
- it corresponds to the predicate part of this clause/sentence
- the theme is at the beginning of a sentence
- it corresponds to the clause/sentence subject
She bought a new coat. / Ona kupiła nowy płaszcz.
(S)
(O)
(theme)
(focus)
Sentences become marked if:
1) word order is different than SVOA (Polish italicized sentences in (2) are grammatical but marked, in
English Adverbial can be moved to the beginning of the sentence)
2) the focus is not at the end of a sentence
Examples:
in contrastive contexts if the subject is the focus
A. Was John born in Warsaw?
B. No, TOM was born in Warsaw
A. Słyszałem, że malujesz łazienkę na niebiesko.
B. Nie, KUCHNIĘ maluję na niebiesko.
in cases of stylistic making when any of the elements of a simple sentence can be fronted (the
fronted word may receive a special emphasis even if it functions as theme).
 Really good cocktails they made at that hotel.
 Relaxation you call it.
 Touch her I would not dare.
 “In that mansion used to be / free-hearted hospitality” (H. M. Longfellow, The Old Clock on the
Stairs)
 Before them, under the garden wall, / forward and back, / went drearily singing the chore girl small.”
J. G. Whittier, Telling the Bees
 “Do Tadeusza siedzi Telimana bokiem, pomięszana, zaledwie śmie nań rzucić okiem.” A.
Mickiewicz, Pan Tadeusz