Grammatical analysis in the Czech Republic

Anna Vernerova in 2019:

  • In her dissertation (Anna Vernerová: Lexicographic Treatment of the Valency Aspects of Verbal Diatheses, PhD Thesis, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, September 2019)  she suggests:
    • that sentence diagramming was introduced in school teaching before it was recognised as a useful tool in linguistics; “for example, Franz Kern used
      them extensively in his Zur Methodik des deutschen Unterrichts ‘On the Methodology of German Lessons’ (1883b; cf. Figure 2.3), but not in his more scientifically conceived Deutsche Satzlehre ‘German Syntax’ published in the same year.”
    • that it may have been used in classrooms even before it was used in print; “The first time sentence diagrams were extensively used in public schools may well be the 1850s in the United States. Their appearance was influenced by several factors, one of which was the introduction of blackboards into American classrooms in the 1830s and 1840s [but see Wikipedia for earlier dates]; unlike in Europe, slates were seldom used and paper was expensive. According to Hagen (2015), grammar was mostly taught orally until then, with an emphasis on what we would today consider to be a morphological analysis of individual word forms. In 1830, James Ray gave the following advice:
      • In the study of Grammar the blackboard may be used to exhibit the inflections of the various parts of speech; it may also be used in syntax,
        to point out the connection of the principal words to each other. The method of doing this is by writing on the board the sentence to be parsed, and then connecting by curved lines those words that have any grammatical connection with each other. The instructor at the same time pointing out what that relation is. It may be observed that in teaching grammar the use of the blackboard is confined to the teaching of the elementary principles of the science, [and] is used by the teacher for the purpose of illustrating these principles. (Transactions of College Teachers VI, p. 104, quoted by Lyman, 1922, [= Lyman, R. L. V. (1922). English grammar in American schools before 1850. University
        of Chicago] p. 148)”
  • Sentence diagramming has become part of the Czech curriculum after Vladimír Šmilauer (1895-1983) started using it in his textbook of syntax for pedagogy students (Učebnice větného rozboru, 1st edition 1955, 7 later editions, of which 2 were updated). The only source of inspiration that he directly mentions are the writings of Tesniere, but his system differs substantially from Tesniere’s in multiple aspects (Tesniere treats subjects on par with objects – as dependant on the verb, Šmilauer treats the subject-predicate pair as a special kind of relation of two elements on the same level in the dependency tree; in Tesniere’s work, word-order is ignored, in Šmilauer’s diagrams, word order is retained; but both are strictly dependency approaches (except for weird structures like coordination, naturally)).  Šmilauer also mentioned the possibility to draw diagrams in the introduction to the answer key of his 1947 grammar book (Novočeská syntax).
  • Another method for showing sentence structure which she mentions is the use of underlining, as in the Russian tradition. She writes:
    • I think it is likely that underlining was inspired by its use in Russia. While Russian influence on Czechoslovak pedagogy would be hard to dispute for the Communist era, I have some indirect evidence that the Russian underlining system was known to authors of Czech textbooks already in the 1930s: Mrázek (1936) refers to “Russian grammars” when he introduces sentence diagramming, even though the secondary literature I have does not mention that he would use underlining (I do not have access to the original). According to the same source, Žofková and Tožička (1930s) and Bojanovská, Koutek and Sedláková (1936) use the same underlining system, with subject marked by a single straight line and predicate by double straight line (just as in the current Russian system); there is a tripple straight line for objects, single wavy line for attribute, double wavy line for adverbials and tripple wavy line for verbal complements.
  • … the image on your webpage [for the Capek project] is only half-similar to what Czech school kids know. In particular, it contains positional morphological tags that are used in the Czech corpora but would be completely unknown to the general public. Better illustrations can be found on one of these links:
    • Drawing a sentence diagram (notice that she starts by underlining the subject and the predicate, subject with a straight line and predicate with a wavy line; the two corresponding nodes of the graph are linked by a double line) [commentary in Czech]
    • A diagram for another sentence  (inside the circles are the words in the sentence, they are labeled with the type of sentence element:
      • Po = podmět = subject,
      • Př = přísudek = predicate,
      • Pt4 = object in accusative (in Czech, the cases are traditionally numbered),
      • Pks = congruent attribute (i.e. such that it agrees in the morphological features with its head),
      • Pkn = incongruent attribute (the form of the attribute is constant and does not depend on the form of its head),
      • Puč = temporal modification
    • Another sentence diagram
    • And another. This site explains, in Czech, how to analyse one Czech sentence; Google Translate works well. Anna Vernerova explains: “the abbreviation ZSD means “základní skladební dvojice” = basic syntactic pair (subject+predicate)”.
    • Anna Bartíková, Syntax v současných učebnicích češtiny (Masters Dissertation 2014) [in Czech]
      • pages 51-55: a comparison of the conventions of several current textbook series
      • pages 55-57: compound sentences
    • Sometimes, the graph is drawn horizontally, directly above (the subject-predicate pair) and below the sentence: an example.
    • In case of a complement (a sentence element that has a double dependency), the resulting graph is not a tree: the diagram for “(He) was invited to the conference as a specialist”– “as a specialist” has one dependency on “he” (which is not present in the sentence, Czech is a pro-drop language), another dependency on “was invited”.
    • In contrast to Reed-Kellog, the Czech system normally does not mix diagrams of single clause sentences with diagramming the structure of compound (multi-clause) sentences. 
      • For the latter, see e.g. slides 4 and 11, 13, 15, … on the site run by Kamil Kopecki. Abbreviations:
        • VH = věta hlavní = main clause,
        • VV = věta vedlejší = dependant clause,
        • 1VHb means “Clause 1 which is the main clause, part b”
      • The type of relationship between clauses is also analyzed and marked:

Barbora Hladka in 2013:  The Capek project

    • The link at ‘View sentences analyzed by teachers’ takes you to 31 Czech sentences, with English translations, analyzed using the standard analytical system taught in Czech schools. This system gives each sentence a structural diagram with a box of grammatical information for each word or word-group. Each sentence has a separate page which includes a convenient key to the notation.
    • Czech schools teach a diagramming system similar to the Reed and Kellogg diagrams invented in the USA. For example:


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