A Theory of Sentencoids - A Brief Summary

by Jacek Hawrot

1. The question

During the process of learning English one question bothered me - it still bothers me - the proper use of the definite article, indifenite articles, and the so-called "zero article." Their proper use is (at least in my opinion) one of the most complicated issues in learning (and teaching) English. However, I came up with the following idea:

What if the problem of proper use is turned upside down and we will use grammatically correct sentences (of course with correct placed articles) to create new and grammatically correct sentences? This question gave birth to the theory of sentecoids.

2. The classification of sentences

When we start to learn English, we will quickly notice that some sentences are more complex (they contain parentheses, dashes, quotation marks) in comparison with other sentences. I have used the simplest criterion of division - the number of words that a sentence contains. So, we have four types of sentences:

The fewer words a sentence contains, the easier it is to analyze it.

3. Problematic Proper Nouns

A sentence is classified as a FLS, a SLS, a TLS, or as a FhLS depending on how many words it contains. This rule is clear and simple, however, proper nouns seem to break it. To illustrate the problem, we will focus on the following sentences:

  1. Robert lives in the Netherlands.
  2. Robert lives in the United States of America.

Sentence 1 consists of five words. It is classified as a second level sentence, because it fulfills the condition: 5 = W = 7. The letter "W" that is present in the formula refers to the number of words that a sentence contains.

Now, the proper noun "Netherlands" will be changed into the proper noun "United States of America":

  1. Robert lives in the United States of America.

Sentence 2 consists of eight words.

What has changed?

One proper noun has been changed into other proper noun. The new proper noun consists of more words in comparison with the previous proper noun, however, ONE proper noun has replaced ONE proper noun. Both sentences differ in the number of words that they contain, but each of them ends with a proper noun. This is the base for the assumption that states that no matter how many words a proper noun contains, it is always considered as only one word. The assumption leads to the classification paradox - a situation in which, it seems that sentence 2 is a third level sentence, but in fact, it is still a second level sentence.

3. Dividing a sentence into sentencoids - Why?

Sentences are divided in order to carefully analyze them. A person that learns English as a second language can "track" the relation between words and observe how one word influences other one.

4. Dividing a sentence into sentencoids - How?

To answer the question, let’s focus on the following sentence:

  1. My new friend is, as you have noticed, very unsure about the idea.

The sentence is of course grammatically correct. However, we will notice that the part of the sentence that is between two commas interrupts flow of the sentence. Let's see what will happen when we remove the part:

  1. My new friend is very unsure about the idea.

The sentence is still grammatically correct. Flow of the sentence is not interrupt. A sentence can be divided into parts that do not interrupt flow of the sentence and the part that interrupts flow of the sentence. However, ALL these parts can be also divided. This is the idea that makes the theory work.

5. The structure of a sentecoid

A sentecoid is a part of a sentence, that contains a fragment of information. How can we describe its structure? In most cases a sentecoid consists of maximum four words. The first word and the last word are crucial. The first word is exactly the same as the last word of the previous sentecoid. The last word is exactly the same as the first word of the next sentecoid. Such structure allows to "integrate" a sentencoid with its "neighbors."

6. Two types of border is English

As we have seen, a part of a sentence may interrupt flow of the sentence. In other words, such part signals the presence of "barriers" that interrupt flow of the sentence. That is why, I have assumed that they are two types of borders in English:

7. Is it possible to re–create the original sentence from sentencoids?

Yes, we can add all created sentencoids in order to form the original sentence. However, to do this, we must apply a special kind of addition—language addition.

Why "language" addition?

The word "language" signals the presence of addition that is different from "classic" addition, which uses numbers. We cannot just add the first sentencoid to the third sentencoid and so on, without respecting their order of appearance—The order in which they were created.

The next aspect related with the presence of the word "language" is that the re–created original sentence must be readable. In most cases the first word of a sentencoid is the same as the last word of the previous sentencoid, and the last words is the same as the first words of the next sentecoid. The presence of these words (they are called "repeated words") makes the re–created original sentence unreadable. I will use the sentence 33 from text #2 from the paper as an example that will illustrate this question:

The original sentence: It is possible that all continents will once again merge.

To make the re-created original sentence readable, we must remove the second (or third) appearance of the same word:

The original sentence is readable.

Read this paper (PDF format, 321K)

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