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Syntactic pleonasm[ edit ] Syntactic pleonasm occurs when the grammar of a language makes certain function words optional. For example, consider the following English sentences: Both sentences are grammatically correct, but the word that is pleonastic in this case. By contrast, when a sentence is in spoken form and the verb involved is one of assertion, the use of that makes clear that the present speaker is making an indirect rather than a direct quotation, such that he is not imputing particular words to the person he describes as having made an assertion; the demonstrative adjective that also does not fit such an example.
Also, some writers may use "that" for technical clarity reasons. The same phenomenon occurs in Spanish with subject pronouns.
Since Spanish is a null-subject languagewhich allows subject pronouns to be deleted when understood, the following sentences mean the same: Such differing but syntactically equivalent constructions, in many languages, may also indicate a difference in register.
The process of deleting pronouns is called pro-droppingand it also happens in many other languages, such as KoreanJapaneseHungarianLatinPortugueseScandinavian languagesSwahilisome Slavic languagesand the Lao language.
In contrast, formal English requires an overt subject in each clause. A sentence may not need a subject to have valid meaning, but to satisfy the syntactic requirement for an explicit subject a pleonastic or dummy pronoun is used; only the first sentence in the following pair is acceptable English: The second sentence, which omits the pleonastic it is marked as ungrammatical although no meaning is lost by the omission.
There are examples of the pleonastic, or dummy, negative in English, such as the construction, heard in the New England region of the United States, in which the phrase "So don't I" is intended to have the same positive meaning as "So do I.
In particular, very many verses of the Psalms are split into two halves, each of which says much the same thing in different words. The complex rules and forms of written language as distinct from spoken language were not as well-developed as they are today when the books making up the Old Testament were written.
This same pleonastic style remains very common in modern poetry and songwriting e. Types of syntactic pleonasm[ edit ] Overinflection: Many languages with inflectionas a result of convention, tend to inflect more words in a given phrase than actually needed in order to express a single grammatical property.
Take for example the German, Die alten Frauen sprechen. Even though the plural form of the noun tells us the grammatical number of the noun phrase, the German language still dictates that the definite article, attributive adjective, and the verb must all also express the plural.
Not all languages are quite as redundant however, and will permit inflection for number when there is an obvious numerical marker, as is the case with Hungarian, which does have a plural proper, but would express two flowers as two flower. The same is the case in Celtic languageswhere numerical markers precede singular nouns.
The main contrast between Hungarian and other tongues such as German or even English to a lesser extent is that in either of the latter, expressing plurality when already evident is not optional, but mandatory; making the neglect of these rules result in an ungrammatical sentence.
As well as for number, our aforementioned German phrase also overinflects for grammatical case. In some languages, repeated negation may be used for emphasis, as in the English sentence, "There ain't nothing wrong with that".Free Notebooking and Handwriting Papers This printable paper has a small illustration box up in the left corner.
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