again we need to think about meaning (semantics)
and function (syntax)
working together. As you saw in Dr. Syntax 3
word order and parallel structure, your meaning and the syntax of
the words with which you state that meaning cannot be separated:
syntax and semantics are intimately connected. Because the reader
of your argument has no choice but to believe you mean what you've
written, you must make sure you do “mean”
your sentences. We’ll now focus on particular
meanings conveyed by particular structures. Consider, for
sentence asserts that Agamemnon is the one looking for the last
word in the argument. If you mean, however, that Akhilleus looks
for the last word, you've mis-structured your sentence.
Specifically, you have a misplaced modifier. Since your audience
merely reads your words--it can't read your mind--this
disjunction between form and meaning needs correction. The
simplest option is to rearrange the order of the sentence:
this rearrangement may not make clear the point that you
want to make; restructuring may be needed. The following
models show possibilities for restructuring, each of which has a
different meaning. The differences, as you will see, are
primarily dependent on the different linkages or transitions
that are set up among the parts of the sentences.
this case, you assert a causal or explanatory
relation between the clauses. But what you might really mean is
a temporal relation between the clauses is asserted.
Another possible structure, with an entirely different meaning, is
is most important here is the idea that Akhilleus looks for
the last word, because that idea is given the structure of an
independent clause. To reverse the relation of which idea
is more important, the sentence could be restructured as
both of these last sentences, the most important idea is that
Akhilleus argues with Agamemnon, but, in the last, the idea that
Akhilleus wants the last word has been demoted from a subordinate
clause to a phrase.
sum, the meaning of a sentence changes based on the choice of:
structure/sentence pattern (Dr. Syntax 2)
word(s) within it (Dr. Syntax 4)
vs. dependent clause vs. independent clause for particular bits
of “information (resulting in increasing emphasis) (Dr.
Use the sentence, "Blowing down the chimney, the wind chilled
the girl" to make a minimum of eight different assertions.
Explain in each case, as I do in the model sentences above,
what kind of assertion (e.g., temporal, causal) you are making.
You might think of these relations in addition to the ones I've
already used: "although" (concessive), "as"/"while"
(simultaneity), "if" (conditional). Don't forget that a
clause will implicitly confer greater importance on an idea than a
phrase will and that word order can be used for emphasis.