Going far and deep: syntagmatic and paradigmatic

Syntagm comes from Greek and means “together”. In language it means a group of words that stand together, like take + a walk. If you look at language on paper it becomes clear it unfolds horizontally, word after word.

Paradigm means category. In a paradigm there are items that can come up in a syntagmatic string, one at a time. For example, take a walk, take a shower, take a nap etc. The words walk, shower, nap are part of the same paradigm. If syntagmatic strings unfold horizontally, you can imagine paradigms as sets unfolding vertically. You just scroll down, pick the word you need and place it in the string you are forming.

So today let’s go both far and deep: take a look at strings of words stretching out horizontally; and go deep by scrolling down the paradigms – meaning will be generated at the crossroads.

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About Simona Petrescu

I was born in Bucharest, Romania and studied English literature and linguistics. I taught English as a Foreign Language for over 18 years and specialised in professional communication and in Cambridge English exams. In 2011 I won the British Council / Macmillan Elton Prize for Innovative Writing with a course material pack of English for Human Resources. I have been living in Germany since 2008, where I am now dedicating most of my time to writing, both Professional English course materials and fiction. My interests lie in the area of language, communication strategies, learning psychology, but also literature, music and travel.
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