Going far and deep: syntagm and paradigm

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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