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English Theoretical Grammar

3)         An extensive use of substitutes which save the repetition of a word in certain conditions (one, that, do);

4)         Availability of numerous form-words to express the grammatical relations between words in the sentence or within the word-combination;

5)         Plentiful grammatical constructions.

Point 4. Functional and semantic connection of lexicon and grammar.

The functional criterion of word division into parts of speech presupposes revealing their syntactic properties in the sentence. For notional words, it is primarily their position-and-member characteristics, i.e. their ability to perform the function of independent members of the sentence: subject, verbal predicate, predicative, object, attribute, adverbial modifier. In defining the subclass appurtenance of words, which is the second stage of classification, an important place is occupied by finding out their combinability characteristics (cf., for example, the division of verbs into valency subclasses). This is the level of analysis where a possible contradiction between substantive and lexical, and between categorial and grammatical, semantics of the word, is settled. Thus, in its basic substantive semantics the word СstoneТ is a noun, but in the sentence СAunt Emma was stoning cherries for preservesТ the said substantive base comes forward as a productive one in the verb. However, the situational semantics of the sentence reflects the stable substantive orientation of the lexeme, retained in the causative character of its content (here, Сto take out stonesТ). The categorial characteristics of such lexemes might be called Сcombined objective and processionalТ one. Unlike this one, the categorial characteristics of the lexeme СgoТ in the utterance СThatТs a goТ will be defined as Сcombined processional and objectiveТ. Still, the combined character of semantics on the derivational and situational, and on the sensical level, does not deprive the lexeme of its unambiguous functional and semantic characterization by class appurtenance.

Point 5. Functional and semantic (lexico-grammatical) fields.

The idea of field structure in the distribution of relevant properties of objects is applied in the notion of the part of speech: within the framework of a certain part of speech a central group of words is distinguished, which costitutes the class in strict conformity with its established features, and a peripheral group of words is set off, with the corresponding gradation of features. On the functional level, one and the same part of speech may perform different functions.


Point 1. The main notions of accidence.

Accidence is the section of grammar that studies the word form. In this study it deals with such basic notions as Сthe wordТ, Сthe morphemeТ, Сthe morphТ, Сthe allomorphТ, Сthe grammatical form and category of the wordТ, as well as its Сgrammatical meaningТ, and also Сthe paradigmТ, Сthe oppositional relations and the functional relations of grammatical formsТ.

Point 2. The notion of the morpheme. Types of morphemes. Morphs and


(a)       One of the most widely used definitions of the morpheme is like this: СThe morpheme is the smallest linear meaningful unit having a sound expressionТ. However, there are other definitions:

-              L.Bloomfield: The morpheme is Сa linguistic form which bears no partial resemblance to any other formТ.

-              B. De Courtenay: The morpheme is a generalized name for linear components of the word, i.e. the root and affixes.

-              Prof. A.I.Smirnitsky: The morpheme is the smallest language unit possessing essential features of language, i.e. having both external (sound) and internal (notional) aspects.

(b)      Morphemes, as it has been mentioned above, may include roots and affixes. Hence, the main types of morphemes are the root morpheme and the affix morpheme. There also exists the concept of the zero morpheme for the word-forms that have no ending but are capable of taking one in the other forms of the same category, which is not quite true for English.

As for the affix morpheme, it may include either a prefix or a suffix, or both. Since prefixes and many suffixes in English are used for word-building, they are not considered in theoretical grammar. It deals only with word-changing morphemes, sometimes called auxiliary or functional morphemes.

(c)              An allomorph is a variant of a morpheme which occurs in certain environments. Thus a morpheme is a group of one or more allomorphs, or morphs.

The allomorphs of a certain morpheme may coincide absolutely in sound form, e.g. the root morpheme in СfreshТ, СrefreshmentТ, СfreshenТ, the suffixes in СspeakerТ, СactorТ, the adverbial suffix in СgreatlyТ, СearlyТ. However, very often allomorphs are not absolutely identical, e.g. the root morpheme in Сcome-cameТ, Сman-menТ, the suffixes in СwalkedТ, СdreamedТ, СloadedТ.

Point 3. The grammatical form of the word. Synthetical and analytical forms.

(a)          The grammatical form of the word is determined by its formal features conveying some grammatical meaning. The formal feature (flexion, function word, etc.) is the СexponentТ of the form, or the grammatical СformantТ, the grammatical form proper being materialized by the unification of the stem with the formant in the composition of a certain paradigmatic row. Therefore, the grammatical form unites a whole class of words, each expressing a corresponding general meaning in the framework of its own concrete meaning. (E.g. the plural form of nouns: books-dogs-cases-men-oxen-data-radii, etc.) Thus the grammatical form of the word reflects its division according to the expression of a certain grammatical meaning.

(b) Synthetic forms are those which materialize the grammatical meaning through the inner morphemic composition of the word. Analytical forms, as opposed to synthetic ones, are defined as those which materialize the grammatical meaning by combining the СsubstanceТ word with the СfunctionТ word.

Theme 3. ACCIDENCE (continued).

Point 4. The grammatical category.

The grammatical category is a combination of two or more grammatical forms opposed or correlated by their grammatical meaning. A certain grammatical meaning is fixed in a certain set of forms. No grammatical category can exist without permanent formal features. Any grammatical category must include as many as two contrasted forms, but their number may be greater. For instance, thre are three tense forms Ц Present, Past and Future, four aspect forms Ц Indefinite, Perfect, Continuous, Perfect Continuous, but there are only two number forms of nouns, two voices, etc.

Point 5. The grammatical meaning. Categorial and non-categorial meanings in grammar.

(a)              The grammatical meaning is a generalized and rather abstract meaning uniting large groups of words, being expressed through its inherent formal features or, in an opposition, through the absence of such. Its very important property is that the grammatical meaning is not named in the word, e.g. countables-uncountables in nouns, verbs of instant actions in Continuous (was jumping, was winking), etc.

The grammatical meaning in morphology is conveyed by means of:

1.          Flexion, i.e. a word-changing formant which may be outer (streets, approached) or inner (foot-feet, find-found).

2.          Suppletive word forms (to be-am-was, good-better-best).

3.          Analytical forms (is coming, has asked).

(b)             The most general meanings conveyed by language and finding expression in the systemic, regular correlation of forms, are thought of as categorial grammatical meanings. Therefore, we may speak of the categorial grammatical meanings of number and case in nouns; person, number, tense, aspect, voice and mood in verbs, etc. Non-categorial grammatical meanings are those which do not occur in oppositions,e.g. the grammatical meanings of collectiveness in nouns, qualitativeness in adjectives, or transitiveness in verbs, etc.

Point 6. The notion of the paradigm in morphology.

An orderly combination of grammatical forms expressing a certain categorial function (or meaning) constitutes a grammatical paradigm. Consequently, a grammatical category is built up as a combination of respective paradigms (e.g. the category of number in nouns, the category of tense in verbs, etc.).

Point 7. Oppositional relations of grammatical forms.

The basic method of the use of oppositions was elaborated by the Prague School linguists. In fact, the term СoppositionТ should imply two contrasted elements, or forms, i.e. the opposition should be binary. The principle of binary oppositions is especially suitable for describing morphological categories where this kind of relations is more evident.

For example, the tense-forms of the English verb may be divided into two halves: the forms of the present plane and those of the past. The former comprises the Present, Present Perfect, Present Continuous, Present Perfect Continuous, and the Future; the latter includes the Past, Past Perfect, Past Continuous, Past Perfect Continuous, and the Future-in-the-Past. The second half is characterized by specific formal features Ц either the suffix Цed (or its equivalents) appear, or a phonemic modification of the root. The past is thus a marked member of the opposition Сpresent::pastТ as against the present sub-system, which is the unmarked member. The same may be applied to perfect and non-perfect forms, active and passive forms, singular and plural forms in class nouns, etc.

Point 8. Functional transpositions of grammatical (morphological) forms.

In context functioning of grammatical forms under real circumstances of communicating, their oppositional categorial features interact so that a member of the categorial opposition may be used in a position typical of the other contrasted member. This phenomenon is referred to as the functional transposition. One must bear in mind that there are two kinds of functional transpositions: the one with a partial loss of the functional property, and the one with a complete loss of the functional property. The former may also be defined as the functional transposition proper where the substituting member performs the two functions simultaneously. E.g. the unusual usage of the plural form of a СuniqueТ object (cf.: ЕТthat skin so prized by Southern women and so carefully guarded with bonnets, veils and mittens against hot Georgian sunsТ. (M.Mitchel)

Point 9. Neutralization of the opposition.

The second kind of functional transposition where the substituting member completely loses its functional property, is the actual neutralization of the opposition. Such neutralization itself does not possess any expressive meaning but is generally related to the variations of particular meanings (cf.: A man can die but once.(proverb) The lion is not so fierce as he is painted.(proverb)

Point 10. Polysemy, synonymy and homonymy in morphology.

Morphological polysemy implies representations of a word as different parts of speech, e.g. the word СbutТ may function as a conjunction (last, but not least), a preposition (there was nothing but firelight), a restrictive adverb (those words were but excuses), a relative pronoun (there are none but do much the same), a noun in the singular and plural (that was a large but; his repeated buts are really trying).

Morphological synonymy reflects a variety of representations by different parts of speech for the same meaning, e.g. due to (adjective), thanks to (noun), because of (preposition), etc.

Morphological homonymy may be described as phonetic equivalents with different grammatical functions, e.g. He looks Ц her looks; they wanted Ц the job wanted; smoking is harmful Ц a smoking man; you read Ц we saw you, etc.

Point 11. The main problems of functional morphology.

The problems of functional morphology are many, the main and most disputed being:

(a)       the functions of СformalТ morphemes (affixes) and allomorphs;

(b)      the functional correlation, i.e. connection of phenomena differing in certain features but united through others (import-to import, must-should);

(c)       the functional classification of words as parts of speech.


Point 1. The problems of the parts of speech.

The whole lexicon of the English language, like the one of all Indo-European languages, is divided into certain lexico-grammatical classes traditionally called Сparts of speechТ. The existence of such classes is not doubted by any linguists though they might have different points of view as to their interpretation. Classification of the parts of speech is still a matter of dispute; linguistsТ opinions differ concerning the number and the names of the parts of speech.

Point 2. The principles of division into the parts of speech. Issues of discussion in the classification of words into the parts of speech. Notional and functional parts of speech. Conversion of the parts of speech.

(a)              The main principles of word division into certain groups, that had long existed, were formulated by L.V.Shcherba quite explicitly. They are lexical meaning, morphological form and syntactic functioning. Still, some classifications are based on some of the three features, for any of them may coincide neglecting the strict logical rules.

(b)             In linguistics there have been a number of attempts to build up such a classification of the parts of speech (lexico-grammatical classes) that would meet the main requirement of a logical classification, i.e. would be based on a single principle. Those attempts have failed.

H.Sweet, the author of the first scientific grammar of the English language, divides the parts of speech into two main groups Ц the declinables and the indeclinables. That means that he considers morphological properties to be the main principle of classification. Inside the group of the declinables he kept to the traditional division into nouns, adjectives and verbs. Adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections are united into the group of the indeclinables. However, alongside of this classification, Sweet proposes grouping based on the syntactic functioning of certain classes of words. This leads to including nouns, pronouns, infinitives, gerunds and some other parts of speech into the same class, which is incorrect.

The Danish linguist O.Jespersen suggested the so-called theory of three ranks (primary, secondary and tertiary words), e.g. Сfuriously barking dogТ where СdogТ is a primary word, СbarkingТ Ц secondary, and СfuriouslyТ Ц tertiary.

Another attempt to find a single principle of classification was made by Ch.Fries in his book СThe Structure of EnglishТ. He rejects the traditional classification and tries to draw up a class system based on the wordТs position in the sentence; his four classes correspond to what is traditionally called nouns (class 1), verbs (class 2), adjectives (class 3) and adverbs (class 4). Besides the four classes he set off 15 groups. And yet, his attempt turned out to be a failure, too, for the classes and groups overlap one another.

(c)              Words on the semantic (meaningful) level of classification are divided into notional and functional.

To the notional parts of speech of the English language belong the noun, the adjective, the numeral, the pronoun, the verb and the adverb.

Contrasted against the notional parts of speech are words of incomplete nominative meaning and non-self-dependent, mediatory functions in the sentence. These are functional parts of speech. To the basic functional series of words in English belong the article, the preposition, the conjunction, the particle, the modal word, the interjection.

(d)             From the point of view of their functional characteristics lexical units may belong to different lexico-grammatical classes. This kind of syntactic transition is called conversion and represents a widespread phenomenon as one of the most productive and economical means of syntactic transpositions. E.g. She used to comb her hair lovingly. Ц Here is your comb. They lived up north a few years ago. Ц You must be ready to take all these ups and downs easy.

Theme 4. THE PARTS OF SPEECH (continued).

Point 3. The parts of speech in the onomasiologic light.

Comparing the class division of the lexicon at the angle of functional designation of words, we first of all note a sharp contrast in language of two polar types of lexemes, the notional type and the functional one. Being evaluated from the informative-functional point of view, the polar distribution of words into completely meaningful and incompletely meaningful domains appears quite clear and fundamental; the overt character of the notional lexical system and the covert one of the functional lexical system (with the field of transition from the former to the latter being available) acquire the status of the most important general feature of the form.

The notional domain of lexicon is divided into four generalizing classes, not a single more or less. The four notional parts of speech defined as the words with a self-dependent denotational-naming function, are the noun (substantially represented denotations), the verb (processually represented denotations), the adjective (feature-represented denotations of the substantial appurtenance) and the adverb (feature-represented denotations of the non-substantial appurtenance).

However, the typical functional positions of these classes may be occupied by representatives of the functional classes by virtue of substitution, that is why some scholars speak of additional notional subclasses.

Point 4. The field nature of the parts of speech.

The intricate correlations of units within each part of speech are reflected in the theory of the morphological fields which states the following: every part of speech comprises units fully possessing all features of the given part of speech; these are its nucleus. Yet, there are units which do not possess all features of the given part of speech though they belong to it. Therefore, the field includes both central and peripheral elements; it is not homogeneous in composition (cf.: СgivesТ Ц the lexical meaning of a process, the functional position of a predicate, the word-changing paradigm; and СmustТ Ц a feeble lexical meaning, the functional position of a predicative, absence of word-changing paradigm).


Point 1. The noun. The grammatical meaning of the noun. Semantic and grammatical subclasses of nouns. Grammatical categories of the noun. The category of number. The correlation of the singular and the plural forms. The category of case. The varying semantics of the noun in the possessive case. Syntactic functions of nouns. The field structure of the noun.

(a)       The noun is a notional part of speech possessing the meaning of substantivity.

(b)             Substantivity is the grammatical meaning due to which word units, both the names of objects proper and non-objects, such as abstract notions, actions, properties, etc., function in language like the names of objects proper.

(c)              From the point of view of semantic and grammatical properties all English nouns fall under two classes: proper nouns and common nouns.

Proper nouns are individual names given to separate persons or things. As regards their meaning proper nouns may be personal names (Mary, Peter, Shakespeare), geographical names (London, The Crimea), the names of the months and the days of the week, names of ships, hotels, clubs, etc. A large number of nouns now proper were originally common nouns (Brown, Smith, Mason). Proper nouns may change their meaning and become common nouns (sandwich, champagne).

Common nouns are names that can be applied to any individual of a class of persons or things (man, dog, book), collections of similar individuals or things regarded as a single unit (peasantry, family), materials (snow, iron,cotton) or abstract notions (kindness, development).

Thus there are different groups of common nouns: class nouns, collective nouns, nouns of material and abstract nouns.

Nouns may also be classified from another point of view: nouns denoting things (the word СthingТ is used in a broad sense) that can be counted are called countable nouns; nouns denoting things that cannot be counted are called uncountable nouns.

(d)      We may speak of three grammatical categories of the noun.

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