The interest that I have been developing for a few years in studying statement in Romanian and other Romance languages has materialised in a bachelor’s thesis and a master’s dissertation, in which I tried to offer a documented and substantiated version of the following questions: Is statement in Romance languages only a communicative unit or also a syntactic unit?, and As communicative and/or syntactic unit, is this a relational unity?
In this paper, I want to deal primarily with these questions targeting only one of the Romance language: Romanian.
In Romanian, the meaning given to the term syntax and the research object of this discipline has varied throughout the history of grammar. In Gramatica limbii române (Romanian Grammar) of 1966, based on the idea that “morphology serves syntax, namely that syntax uses the changes in the form of the words to combine them, to express the relationships between the words of a clause”, syntax is defined as “the part of grammar that includes rules on combining words into clauses and sentences”. Traditional grammar accepts the following syntactic units: part of a sentence, combination of words (phrase, syntagm), clause and sentence. Of these, the clause is considered the fundamental unit. Therefore, in this sense, the basic unit of syntax is the clause, which is considered the smallest unit of syntax that can stand by its own nature and whose essence is predication, whereas the sentence is the syntactic unit superior to the clause, made up of multiple clauses.
Another example is offered by Iorgu Iordan in his book Limba română contemporană (Contemporary Romanian Language), where syntax is defined as “the set of rules regarding the combination of words into clauses”.
In her book Gramatica pentru toţi (Grammar for All), Mioara Avram defines syntax as “the part of the grammatical structure (and of grammar as the study thereof) which includes rules on combination of words into a clause and of clauses into sentences”. The result of this combination of words is communication and the study of syntax reflects the mechanism in which the language functions, the way in which an unlimited number of clauses and sentences is created with a limited number of words.
In the same book, the chapter Unităţile sintaxei (Units of Syntax) makes only one reference to the concept of statement: “The definition of syntax mentions two of its units – hierarchically differentiated – through which communication is achieved or, to be more precise, which can constitute standalone communications, expressing logical judgments or emotional or volitional ideas: the clause, as a lower unit, and the sentence, as a higher unit (resulting from a combination of at least two clauses). Sometimes the term statement is used as a superordinate and indistinct term for (independent) clause and sentence.” The conclusion is the same, namely that the clause is the fundamental unit of syntax, the smallest unit that can stand by its own nature, which can constitute by itself a communication, and the sentence is the syntactic unit superior to the clause from the viewpoint of organisation, the sentence being more complex than the clause due to the fact that it is a combination of two or more clauses. Phrases and parts of a sentence are classified as inferior to the clause, since they lack predication. They cannot stand alone and cannot constitute communication units unless they are included in a clause/sentence.
In his book Probleme de sintaxă a limbii române actuale (Syntax Issues of the Current Romanian Language), Ion Diaconescu defines syntax as the part of grammar that deals with the study of syntactic units – part of a sentence, phrase, clause, sentence – viewed from two perspectives: relational and functional. The relational perspective highlights expression elements, and the functional perspective highlights content elements. The study of relations will reveal the typology of syntactic units, the rules and means of construction, whereas the study of functions will help determine and define units of content.
In other works, the syntax area was extended, including in its object also the study of meanings implied by morphological changes, the emphasis on the values of grammatical categories that result from their participation in certain types of constructions, combinations of words. An example can be found in Gramatica limbii române (Romanian Grammar) where syntax includes, along with clause syntax and sentence syntax, a chapter called “Syntax of Parts of Speech”, which discusses the value and the use of forms of number, case, person, etc.
However, all these variations do not exceed certain limits. At the heart of syntactic research remains the organisation of communication and certain combinations of words. Any type of syntax – traditional or classical, analytical or structuralist, synthetic or generative-transformational – “deals with the organisation of communication units, combinations of words, regardless of the conception of language and the research methods used by specialists”.
In current linguistics, the basic unit subject to analysis is the statement. This represents an illustration of how the modernisation of traditional grammar is achieved by borrowing technical terms that are designed to complement the previous terminological shortcomings. Given that, analytically, the starting point of syntactic research is the text of various sizes, the text which is a unique linguistic communication, it can be concluded that the main objective of syntactic research is to discover the possible ways in which statements are organised in a language, and to describe the structure of such statements. The branch of grammar called syntax deals with statements. Syntactic analysis successively divides the statement into simpler parts until it reaches the smallest syntactic units which are words. The original whole is the statement, the minimal fragment is the word, and the analysis examines the relations between the parts that form a whole. The statement covers the two communication units mentioned above – clause and sentence – but it does not entirely identify itself with any of them. A statement may be a clause or a sentence, but there are statements whose structure consists of one word, and all fall into the category of maximal language units. Therefore, the central issue of syntax is the statement – not the statement as communication unit, but the statement as syntagmatic structure analysable in components, and the determination of minimal functional units which are parts of the statement. 
Romanian syntax has been interpreted by many theorists and in previous editions of the Romanian Grammar in terms of two units: clause and sentence; the statement was not considered to be the fundamental unit of syntax.
In his book Predicatul în limba română. O reconsiderare a predicatului nominal (Predicate in Romanian. A Reconsideration of the Nominal Predicate), G.G. Neamţu presents four factors that justify the lack of a proper definition for the concept of clause that includes all sequences characterised by predication: “a) placement of the clause/sentence alternatively at the level of speech (parole) and at the level of language (langue); b) reference/non-reference to a mandatory sentence pattern – verbal (bi-member); c) one predicate/multiple predicates in a sentence; d) acceptance/non acceptance in Romanian of the compound predicate category (trebuie să meargă – must go, poate să citească – can read, etc.), depending on which the number of clauses varies in a given situation.”. The conclusions of the first factor’s analysis reveal the clause as a subtype of statement, and the statement as the main factor. “If the clause is a unit of speech, then it claims a certain communicative autonomy, limitation by pauses and a certain intonation contour. But these traits coincide in principle with those of the statement, thus the clause becomes a subtype of statement. Conversely, if the clause is located at the level of language, of system, the communicative autonomy issue no longer arises. In this respect, D. D. Draşoveanu believes that the clause does not constitute a unit at the level of language, that it is merely one of the customisations of the “interlexematic binary relationship”, the one in which the means of achieving the relationship between relationship partners is the “verbal agreement morpheme”, the desinence of number and person of the predicate verb.” 
A definition of the statement, and a clear distinction between the statement and the clause is found in Iorgu Iordan and Vladimir Robu’s book Limba română contemporană (Contemporary Romanian Language): “A statement is a syntagmatic structure established as a standalone communication unit, marked as such in terms of content and form, in the segmental and suprasegmental side”. It is considered that, within these limits, the term statement covers the communication units accepted by traditional syntax, namely the clause and sentence; and the clause as component of a sentence is not a statement, but merely a component of a statement. The statement is or can be a sentence, regardless of the number of clauses that make up the sentence and regardless of the relational organisation of the sentence. Every sentence is a statement understood as a concluded communicative act, but not every statement is a sentence. Mono-member non-analysable clauses (noun clauses: Sunday!; adverbial clauses: Yes!, No!; interjectional clauses: Alas!), often called non canonical, also fall into the category of statements.
In her book Sintaxa limbii române. Probleme şi interpretări (Romanian Syntax. Problems and Interpretations), Valeria Guţu Romalo formulates a definition of the statement which refers to oral communication, considered to be the main and primary form of linguistic activity, while written communication is treated as a secondary phenomenon. Thus, “statement is a sound sequence (sound flow), limited by pauses and characterised by intonation contour, and which bears certain semantic information; therefore, it represents a communication.” 
I pointed out that statement was a sound sequence limited by pauses. An explanation is needed with regard to the pauses mentioned above. Pauses are of two types: pause on the left side of a statement – this is the initial or absolute pause which, in the absence of a higher linguistic context, is marked by the initial capital letter component of the statement; pause on the right side of a statement – marked by a main punctuation mark.
The intonation contour and the pauses that delimit it give the statement autonomy, but this autonomy of content is not mandatory. There are situations where information cannot be understood without a previous context. The presence of components such as the pronouns he, this, that or the adverbs there, then, here make the understanding of a statement depend on the context in which it appears. In most cases, a prior statement containing the information needed to understand the new statement. A statement like:
Then he resumed his explanation.
becomes clearer in the context:
The teacher explained the lesson, but the students did not understand. Then he resumed his explanation.
The new edition of Gramatica Academiei (Academy Grammar) abandons the distinction between clause syntax and sentence syntax and recognises the statement as a central concept, as indicated by the title of the second volume: The Statement. The structure of the statement is interpreted in close connection with another key concept, i.e. syntactic function. This gives a new interpretation to the Romanian syntax. Given that the specific feature of the syntactic level is based on the requirements of the communication process, the statement becomes the fundamental unit, whereas the clause becomes minimal unit. Dumitru Irimia considers that: “Due to a syntactic structure – morphological structure consubstantiality relation, the statement updates the semantics of lexical terms – basis in the linguistic communication process. The relation between the semantics of the statement and the expression generates the central function of the linguistic knowledge and communication act: predication.”  The author regards statement – the result of enunciation – as a finite structure, relatively autonomous, whose syntactic identity is defined by a triple unit that is based on the cohesion and coherence. Thus there is a unit of meaning – its semantic components lie in simultaneity in the linguistic knowledge and communication; a structural unit – the terms of which it consists develop different syntactic relationships among them – it is ensured by the incorporation of the language system’s lexical level into the syntactic level through syntactic relations; and a prosodic unit – it is delimited by pauses and has only one intonation.
In Gramatica limbii române (Romanian Grammar) of 2005, the statement is presented and defined as a communicative unit and as a syntactic unit. The first approach is based on the idea that statement is a linguistic unit involved in the communication process – along with the syntactic group which is part of that statement and the word which can be part of its statement, and in some cases even statement – that this is the basic unit of communication and that it is represented by a sound sequence associated with a significance. Referentiality is what characterises and conditions statement as communicative unit and involves a process of clarification, restriction of meanings that constitute the semantic content of language units. As a linguistic reality, statement is characterised by the association of the sound sequence represented by the information making up the subject of the communication act to a certain intonation contour. Statement does not belong to the linguistic system, it is a particular embodiment of the communication of information. As far as the statement form is concerned, it depends on the conveyed information and on the communication situation. The making of any statement involves selecting means adequate to the referential topic of communication and to the situational context.
The second approach – statement as syntactic unit – emphasises the dependency of statement on the possibilities offered by the linguistic system of a language, on language units in terms of the means of achievement. Thus, any statement is represented by language units used separately or associated in combinations that vary in terms of scope and organisation complexity.
According to the linguistic embodiment criterion, statements are grouped in unstructured statements – represented by sound sequences that identify with the lexical unit and which are thus non-analysable and normally communicate information on the speaker’s reaction to the extralinguistic fact –, and in syntactically structured statements – which vary in scope and are prototypically organised around a personal verbal form which, through specific grammatical information, referentially anchors the linguistic structure which represents the statement and determines the overall configuration of the communication.
“The statement, as communication unit, is dependent on the reference whose expression it represents and on the combinatorial linguistic possibilities offered by the system, any statement being the result of updated combinatorial virtualities of the given language’s system.” It is believed that the communicative plane interferes with the syntactic one in the organisation of every statement, and that syntactic relationships are those that have a defining role in the grammatical ordering of the analysable statement’s components.
In Gramatica de bază a limbii române (Basic Romanian Grammar) of 2010, the statement theory is presented in two chapters entitled: “Types of Statement” and “Informational Structure of Statement”. The statement is defined as “a verbal communication unit which, prototypically, is grammatically structured around a predicate of enunciation. The sequence of words that make up the statement refers to a real or possible state of affairs (it has referentiality), is autonomous and performs an act of language (it has a pragmatic tone). The statement is characterised by a specific intonation contour (depending on its types). There are also unstructured statements, consisting of elements equivalent to a predicate of enunciation (Fire!, Oh!, Yes! etc.).”
The statement is classified into two typologies: syntactic typology and syntactic-pragmatic typology. The category of syntactic statements includes simple statements – structured statement and unstructured statement – and complex statements – those made through coordination, subordination and those containing clauses with non-finite verb. Depending on the pragmatic purpose of communication, statements are organised into a few main patterns – assertive, interrogative, imperative and exclamatory.
The chapter “Informational Structure of Statement” of Gramatica de bază a limbii române (Basic Romanian Grammar) (2010) assumes that the information contained in a statement is organised from several standpoints, depending on what is new or already known, on what is considered more important or less important, on what contradicts certain expectations of the interlocutor. These hierarchies of content are reflected in the syntactic and prosodic structure of the statement by syntactic reorganisation, word order, the presence of specific markers, intonation (phrastic character). Theories consider a statement’s theme – the already given element, which is the starting point of a statement – and rheme – the new information, the thematisation (topicalisation) of a statement – placing a non-characteristic component at the beginning of a statement, the rhematisation of a sequence in a statement, the focus – element emphasised by contrast and by relating to the receiver’s expectations, the focalisation – highlighting rhematic information and placing it in the focus position – and the focalisers – those who emphasise a rhematic constituent and have semantic-pragmatic values.
In conclusion, based on the aforementioned definition of statement, definition according to which “the statement is a sound sequence (a sound flow), limited by pauses and characterised by intonation contour, and which bears certain semantic information; therefore, it represents a communication.”, we can say that any statement is characterised by three defining characteristics, i.e.: communicative autonomy, structural integrity and unique intonation contour.
The first parameter taken into consideration is communicative autonomy which means that the statement is or can be, from the communicative viewpoint, independent, complete, finished, i.e. it can be understood without further additions. As already mentioned and exemplified in this paper, the autonomy we refer to is not absolute, it is often limited due to components that cannot be unambiguously decoded, components that are normally classified as categorematic words – pronouns, pro-adverbs, pro-adjectives.
The second parameter, the structural integrity of a statement, refers to the completeness of a statement. From this perspective, we distinguish two types of structural integrity: absolute or explicit structural integrity – all components are physically present in the statement – and relative or implicit structural integrity – some components which are necessary parts in the structure of the statement are not expressed, but can be recovered.
The third parameter is the intonation contour. A statement has only one intonation contour, which is broadly consistent with the communicative purpose of the statement. There are three types of intonation contour: declarative intonation contour, interrogative intonation contour and exclamatory intonation contour. Accidentally, a statement can have two intonation contours, the second one being the result of the suppression of an information word, suppression which causes an indirect interrogative clause with declarative intonation to become a direct interrogative clause, as shown in the following example:
You are upset with me, but why are you upset with my brother?
You are upset with me, but (I do not understand) why you are upset with my brother.
We have shown that the statement can be accepted as syntactic unit in the communicative plane but, since it is neither defined nor delimited in the relational plane, it cannot be considered a relational unit. As a syntactic unit, the statement involves the possibility of being divided, it is an analysable whole, and we can talk of internal organisation of a statement if that statement is created by articulating at least two components.
In addition to communication, a sentence is nothing more than an abstract form. It does not become a discourse unless it is the result of an act of individual communication in a particular situation. At this stage, it can be considered that a sentence is interconnected with the users of the communication act. One and the same sentence can generate an infinite number of statements depending on the identity of interlocutors and the specific conditions under which the act of communication occurs.
In conclusion, the statement determines the relationship of the sentence with the world and decides the conditions for the integration of the sentence in the discourse. The statement has a current reality and is characterised by communicative autonomy, structural integrity and intonation contour. The sentence and the clause indicate possibility. A sentence is nothing more than an abstract form which becomes discourse only following an act of individual communication in a particular situation. One and the same sentence can generate an infinite number of statements depending on the identity of interlocutors and the specific conditions under which the act of communication occurs.
Therefore, we believe that in Romanian, the statement can be accepted as syntactic unit only in the communicative plane. As a syntactic unit, the statement involves the possibility of being divided, it is an analysable whole. Thus, the central issue of syntax is the statement – as syntagmatic structure analysable in components – and, above all, the determination of minimal functional units which are parts of the statement and among which relationships are established, i.e. those elements that underlie any communication. These relations give statement a communicative value and, since it is neither defined nor delimited in the relational plane, it cannot be considered a relational unit.
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- De Saussure, Ferdinand. 1971. Cours de linguistique generale. Paris: Publié par Charles Bally et Albert Sechèhaye.
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- GBLR, Gramatica de bază a limbii române, coordinator Gabriela Pană Dindelegan. 2010. Bucharest: Romanian Academy, “Iorgu Iordan – AL. Rosetti” Institute of Linguistics,.
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- Neamţu, G.G.. 2010–2011. Curs de sintaxa (Syntax Course) (academic year 2010-2011), Cluj-Napoca” „Babeş-Bolyai” University, Faculty of Letters.
- Rosetti, Al., Byck, J.. 1943. Gramatica limbii române. Bucharest: Publishing House of the Paper ,,Universul”.
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Cluj-Napoca, 8 December 2014
Gramatica limbii române, 2nd edition revised and added, Academia Publishing House, Bucharest, 1966, vol.I, p.11.
 Ibidem, p. 7.
Iorgu Iordan, Limba romînă contemporană, The Ministry of Education Publishing House, Bucharest, 1956, p. 494.
Mioara Avram, Gramatica pentru toţi, Academia Socialist Republic of Romania Publishing House, Bucharest.1986, p. 237.
Ion Diaconescu, Probleme de sintaxă a limbii române actuale, The State Scientific and Encyclopaedic Publishing House, Bucharest, 1989, p. 15.
Al. Rosetti, J. Byck, Gramatica limbii române, Publishing House of the Paper ,,Universul”, Bucharest, 1943, 1945.
In Romanian specialised literature, an overview of the different types of syntax can be found in Valeria Guţu Romalo’s book Sintaxa limbii române. Probleme şi interpretări, Bucharest, 1973, pp. 9 – 28.
Iorgu Iordan, Vladimir Robu, Limba română contemporană, Bucharest, 1978, pp. 538-541.
Sorin Stati, Elemente de analiză sintactică, Bucharest, 1972, pp. 11-29.
Ibidem, p. 11.
Iorgu Iordan, Vladimir Robu, Limba română contemporană, The State Didactical and Pedagogical Publishing House, Bucharest, 1978, pp. 538-541.
G.G. Neamţu, Predicatul în limba română. O reconsiderare a predicatului nominal, The State Scientific and Encyclopaedic Publishing House, Bucharest, 1986, pp. 13-14.
 G.G. Neamţu, Predicatul în limba română. O reconsiderare a predicatului nominal, The State Scientific and Encyclopaedic Publishing House, Bucharest, 1986, p. 14.
Iorgu Iordan, Vladimir Robu, Limba română contemporană, The State Didactical and Pedagogical Publishing House, Bucharest, 1978, p. 539.
Valeria Guţu Romalo, Sintaxa limbii române. Probleme şi interpretări, The State Didactical and Pedagogical Publishing House, Bucharest, 1973, p. 29.
Dumitru Irimia, Gramatica limbii române, 3rd Edition revised, Polirom Publishing House, Iaşi, 2008, pp. 378-379.
 Gramatica limbii române, Enunţul, vol. II, Romanian Academy Publishing House, Bucharest, 2005, pp. 13-14.
 Ibidem, p. 14.
 Ibidem, pp. 13-14.
 Gramatica limbii române, Enunţul, vol. II, Romanian Academy Publishing House, Bucharest, 2005, p. 14-15.
 Ibidem, p. 15.
 Gramatica de bază a limbii române, coordinator Gabriela Pană Dindelegan, Romanian Academy, “Iorgu Iordan – AL. Rosetti” Institute of Linguistics, Bucharest, 2010, p. 604.
Ibidem, p. 605.
Ibidem, pp. 605 – 610.
Ibidem, pp. 612 – 617.
G.G. Neamţu, Curs de sintaxa (Syntax Course) (academic year 2010-2011), „Babeş-Bolyai” University, Faculty of Letters, Cluj-Napoca.