Edward McDonald [+]
University of Auckland.
This book takes apart and problematises the whole process of identifying and explaining the patterning of words in sentences. It brings together two concepts – syntax and text – that are normally treated separately, and shows how they can best be understood in relation to each other. Part 1, Processing the text, concentrates on getting texts ready for syntactic analysis. Since the data needs to be mediated through the processing of the text, the nature of that processing and its effects on subsequent analysis need to be made explicit. Part 2, Analysing the clause, introduces the relevant syntactic phenomena and the sorts of concepts normally used to explain them. It shows how many of the assumptions of traditional syntactic analysis derive from the languages which form the basis of the European tradition, and that different languages require the so-called "basic categories" of syntactic analysis to be rethought. Part 3, Theorising syntax, sketches the range of syntactic theories available for the "consumer". It gives a sense of developments in the field over the last 50 years not just in terms of the usual "schools", but by picking up on concepts such as the key complementarity between syntagmatic and paradigmatic to characterise the emphases and biases of different theories.