Sample Questions for Linguistic Paper


[For those students who have a background in Linguistics (M.A (Ling) or M.Phil (Ling))]

1. Illustrate the following concepts in one or two lines: [15]

a. Minimal pair

b. Obstruents

c. Hypercorrection

d. Loan Translation

e. Control verb

f. Co-indexing

g. Hyponymy

h. Metathesis

i. Compounding

j. Recursion

2. Answer the following questions: [ 5 ]

a. The linguists Leonard Bloomfield and Ferdinand de Saussure belonged to which of the following tradition:

i. Generativism

ii. Behaviorism

iii. Structuralism

b. Which subpart of linguistics may be defined as the “meaning of language in context”:

i. Pragmatics

ii. Semiotics

iii. Semantics

iv. Relevance Theory

c. The overwhelming majority of sounds in the world’s language use which airstream mechanism:

i. Velaric

ii. Pulmonic

iii. Alveolar

iv. Glottalic

d. Which of these books was not written by Noam Chomsky:

i. Syntactic Structure

ii. The Language Instinct

iii. Knowledge of Language

iv. Barriers

e. There is usually no natural connection between linguistic form and meaning

i. True

ii. False

3. What inflectional categories are there for nouns and verbs in your language and in which order do they occur? Illustrate with suitable examples. [8]

4. Read the following sentences: [10]

a. John will answer the question precisely at noon

b. The professor’s appointment was shocking

The above sentences are ambiguous. What are the readings involved? Try to explain their structural ambiguity with the help of tree diagram and/or rules.

5. Read the following sentences: [5+2]

1a. The butcher cuts the meat

b. The meat cuts easily

2a. Jane broke the crystal

b. Crystal breaks at the slightest touch

3a. John opened the door

b. The door opened with a bang

4a. Kelly adores French fabric

b.*French fabric adores easily

5a. Joan knows the answer

b. *The answer knows easily

Study the above data. Consider syntax and semantics of the verbs and explain why the verbs are behaving differently. Give one more example for each of the above patterns.

6. Read the following sentences and answer the questions: [4+4+4] [20 min]

a. Mithu’s mother draws a picture of herself

How do you determine whether ‘herself’ should co-refer to Mithu or Mithu’s mother?

b. *Ratna tries Meera to learn English

Why is the above sentence ungrammatical in English?

c. Have all the boys done their homework?

How will you account for the agreement between the subject and the verb in the above sentence?


[For students from a background other than Linguistics]

1. Consider the following sentences of English: [8]

a. Is Sheela coming for dinner tomorrow?

b. What are you cooking for dinner tomorrow?

Sentence (a) is an example of ‘yes-no’ question and sentence (b) is an example of ‘wh-question’. Now answer the following:

i. Give the equivalent sentences for (a) and (b) in your language

ii. What are the structural differences between the two types of questions in your


iii. How does the structure of (a) and (b) in English differ from their equivalents in

your language?

2a. Mark the following sentences with Noun group (NG) and Verb group (VG) as shown in the example:

(Remember pronoun is also a kind of noun.) [6+2]


[The post office]NG [is situated]VG near [the bus stop]NG.

a. John’s sister is very smart

b. Mandy carefully explained it to him.

c. The boys are playing with a ball in the garden

b. Label the part of speech of the words which are left in the sentences above after doing the grouping?

3. Give one example each of the following concepts from your language and English [5]

a. Second person plural pronoun

b. Suffix

c. Imperative sentence

d. Past continuous tense

e. Intransitive verb

4. Read the following pairs of words. State how the words in the pairs are related. [1+5]

bag : bags

hut : huts

house : houses

class : classes

bus : buses

child : children

ox : oxen

man : men

foot : feet

tooth : teeth

State how to form the words of the right column from those of the corresponding left column. Try to propose generalized statements that will explain as many changes as possible at one go.

5. Sate the difference in meaning of the words underlined in the paired sentences below. Can you state the context that helps you infer the particular reading of these words? [6]

a. At one stage it looked as though they would win

b. The drama was performed on the stage

a. Put the book on the table

b. The child is learning multiplication tables

a. Please book the ticket early.

b. They put the book on the table

6. Translate the following sentences into your mother tongue and observe how the preposition 'of' is getting translated: [7]

a. Two of us visited my grandmother yesterday

b. The Queen of England will visit India next year

c. The arrival of the police shocked us

d. Please give me a glass of milk


[Compulsory for all the students]

1. Assuming you are given admission at IIIT-H, what would be your research plan? [15]

2. Translate the following English passage into any of the following languages – Hindi, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Marathi. You can select the language you are most comfortable in. [15]

It was raining cats and dogs in the afternoon. It was my niece’s birthday and we were very keen on attending it. Even though we tried to move out of the house, we could not do so. Our car was out of order and we had no other conveyance at our disposal. Finally we decided to walk down. But the umbrella which I had bought the previous day was misplaced. Since we could not attend the party we called her up and wished her. However, we kept missing the joy of attending the party in person.

a. State with examples what kind of structural differences do you observe between the source language and target language

b. Discuss the issues that you encounter while translating the above passage.