I had this idea once: provided that a sheet big enough were found to take up all the structural possibilities of English, all the teaching activities would unfold as an intricate mandala – all starting from a core and creating a 3D-network. Taking the paths that are forming from the core would lead anyone to progress, and at the same time would make learning something tangible and finite. Well, the ‘good news’ is that I’m not the only one who would like to find a solution to what in fact keeps someone studying for years and years. The ‘bad news’ is that it would hardly be of any use to master structures alone – simply because the meaning of structure is relative.
Where does the structure get formed and where does lexis stop exerting an influence?
1. Harry’s doctor vs. Harry’s a doctor
Do you recognize the combinations in the example?
Is any of them a structure? And, if so, which one?
How many differences can you find?
What are the questions you would ask so as to receive them as answers?
2. Verb Meanings
The verb strike is polysemous – a very common phenomenon in all the world's languages. In its second sense, it is close to hit, or attack somebody /something:
[adapted from Oxford Dictionary of Collocations]
a. He struck her hard across the face.
b. The German army struck deep into northern France.
c. Lightning struck the old oak.
d. The remark struck home.
Which sentence presents /sentences present the literal meaning? Is any of them an expression that should be understood figuratively? If so, which one(s)?
3. The same verb, in its second sense, means ‘come into your mind suddenly/give an impression. What this means is that you should expect certain adverbs to appear in sentences in which this sense is used (the examples are taken from the same source):
a. It suddenly struck me how we could improve the situation.
b. An awful thought has just struck me.
c. Joan was struck by the forcible silence.
d. He struck me as being rather slow-witted.
The thing is, how do you decide on the meaning to be applied in these sentences? What is there that directs you towards this other sense?
When you’ve read the answers, I hope you’ll see what I mean. And agree with me that you can hardly ever convey any meanings (in English, in this case) without constructing those meanings from some linguistic material arranged in a structure and having a phonological support. So, back to the starting point.