Model Solutions

In standard VLC-courses, the model solutions are visible for teachers only, or they are made dependent on the completion of additional activities, such as mastery tests. Since this requires access to user data and we want to keep this demo course free without further login, we do not supply model solutions in our demo-units except in this one as an example.

Solution to Task 1:

Here are the solutions explained by Jennifer Floyd, postgraduate VLC student assistant:


  1. *nbik, *kzidakl, *fsull are all ungrammatical. They violate the phonological (sound) conventions of PDE and thus the orthographical (spelling) ones, too. There are no syllable-initial sound clusters /nb/, /kz/ and /fs/.

  2. frish, groffer, plicky could all be items of the PDE vocabulary but they are not. Phonologically and orthographically there is n nothing wrong with them.

  3. Knight and night are homophones, i.e. words with identical pronunciation but different orthography.
    Lead /li:d/ and lead /led/ are homographs, i.e. words with identical orthography but different pronunciation.
Solution to Task 2:

  1. The pairs bow - bowed and go - *goed show that the past tense rule (V+{-ed} = past tense) has been overgeneralized leading to the ungrammtical form *goed. Actually, children come up with such forms at a stage when they consider the basic inflectional rules exceptionless.

  2. available - unavailable; possible - *unpossible
    In these pairs, the prefix {un-} has been overgeneralized leading to the ungrammatial form *unpossible. In morphology, prefixation is discussed under the heading of word-formation.
Solution to Task 3:

  1. Visiting relatives can be boring involves an example of ambiguity (= a word, phrase or sentence may exhibit more than one interpretations): either it is boring to visit aunts or the aunts themselves are boring.

  2. ?Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
    This sentence is syntactically fine, i.e. the word order of PDE is adhered to. However, the sentence is almost meaningless (perhaps not in specific literary contexts). Normally, ideas do not sleep, let alone furiously; ideas have no color and if something is green it cannot be colorless at the same time.

  3. the small bench next to the old elm tree by the river in the wood near the park of my home town
    This example exhibits one phrase within which further phrases have been embedded recursively. If we use brackets we can unveil this way of forming increasingly complex constructions:
    [the small bench
    [next to the old elm tree
    [by the river
    [in the wood
    [near the park
    [in my home town]]]]]]
  4. The student asked the question was asleep.
    At first sight, this example seems to be meaningless or even ungrammatical, but it is not. The problem is that it involves a reduced relative clause ... [who was asked the question] ... with a past particple (asked). By default, however, we tend to analyze asked as a finite verb in the simple past in which case the sentence would be ungrammartical due to the presence of the main verb was.

  5. These examples show that in sentences with two objects (here: the car and him) the word order is restricted: indirect object (him) before direct object (the car), unless the indirect object is realized as a prepositional phrase (to him). Further problems arise if the verb (gave) and its particle (back) are not separated.
Solution to Task 4:

  1. The words in each pair exhibit a particular meaning relationship:
    wide - narrow = opposition
    pretty - handsome = similarity (note that only women are pretty and only men are handsome)
    face (of a clock) - face (of a human being) = transfer of meaning
    lend - borrow = opposition
    tulip - flower = inclusion/hierarchy (a tulip is a flower but not vice versa)

  2. ?Mary failed the exam, even though she did no work at all.
    This example is grammatically fine but it violates a standard assumption concerning the relation between two facts. Normally, we assume that the failure in an exam is a logical consequence (because) of not doing any work but not the opposite (even though)

  3. The German tourist took a picture of that lovely bank.
    This sentence involves several words with several meanings:
    take (here: photograph), picture (here: photo), bank (either money institute or river embankment)

  4. Last night, we arrived from Berlin.
    The verb arrive involves an initial location (Berlin) but is unspecific with regard to its destination (we do not know where the actors, here: we are).

  5. There is a new gun in town.
    a new gun is of course a person, i.e. an example of meaning transfer (metaphor).
Solution to Task 5:

  1. ?The table is under the vase.
    Here, the relationship between two objects is expressed non-conventionally. Normally, we relate small objects to large ones and not vice versa: The vase is on top of the table.

  2. Do you know what time it is? - Yes.
    Even though the addressee provides an answer to the question, we normally expect more: in this case, the current time.

  3. Paul: Hi! How are you?
    Linda: Oh, my head is slightly sore, my blood pressure is 90/140, and my temperature has been rising all day.
    Do we really want to know all this? There are fixed expressions/questions which do not necessitate a complex answer (Probably, Paul is not interested anyway).

  4. I hereby name this ship "Queen Elisabeth".
    ?I hereby fall from this tree.

    The adverbial hereby is an indicator of a so-called performative utterance, i.e. an utterance which 'acts out' the meaning of the verb. This works with name but not with fall.

  5. i. Can you pass the salt, please?
    ii. Pass the salt!
    iii. This soup would taste much nicer with some salt.
    iv. I wonder if there's some salt in this house!

    All utterances involve different degrees of politeness expressed by different constructions: question, exclamation, declaratives sentences.