IEML Grammar

Distinction between paradigms and syntagms

IEML’s grammar is completely regular. It can be conveniently divided into two main aspects: a paradigmatic organization and a syntagmatic organization.

In linguistics, a paradigm is a group of units playing a similar role in the same language. For instance, most languages include paradigms for economic actions (buy, sell, lend, repay…), or colours (red, blue, yellow…). In a given expression, you can replace one word by another word of the same paradigm and still get a meaningful sentence. In IEML, semantic paradigms are mirrored by paradigms at the level of signifiers. For example all the names for colours have the same signifier structure, which is not the case in natural languages. This parallelism is commented on specific examples in this page.

By contrast, a syntagm is a sequence of units of the same expression. In the two following sentences: « The gazelle smells the presence of the lion » and « The lion smells the presence of the gazelle », the set of words are identical but the words « gazelle » and « lion » do not share the same grammatical role. Since those words are inverse in the syntagmatic structure, the sentences have distinct meanings.

IEML’s Paradigmatic Organization

In IEML, the elements of the dictionary are constructed in a very regular way and are regrouped in root-paradigms. Any element is a member of one root paradigm and only one. Root paradigms themselves contain several recursively intertwined sub-paradigms. There are not only paradigms for elements but also at higher levels of complexity: phrases and texts. IEML paradigms are represented by tables where each row and each column is identified by a specific constant. You can find more on IEML paradigms here.

Verbs and nouns have inflections defined by paradigms. For example verbs may have moods, voices, aspects, etc. and nouns may have number, genders, etc.

IEML’s Syntagmatic Organization

IEML syntagms recursively nest sentences and junctions.

A sentence may contain nine distinct roles, including: verbs, subjects, objects, recipients, times, places, manners, etc.

A junction is a sequence of sentences or elements, connected by « and« , « or », « but« , « therefore« , etc.

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