English Theoretical Grammar

Subject of theoretical grammar and its difference from practical grammar. The main development stages of English theoretical grammar. Classical scientific grammar of the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. Problems of ’Case’ Grammar.

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Lecture-Notes in English Theoretical Grammar


Point 1. The subject of theoretical grammar and its difference from practical grammar.

The following course of theoretical grammar serves to describe the grammatical structure of the English language as a system where all parts are interconnected. The difference between theoretical and practical grammar lies in the fact that practical grammar prescribes certain rules of usage and teaches to speak (or write) correctly whereas theoretical grammar presents facts of language, while analyzing them, and gives no prescriptions.

Unlike school grammar, theoretical grammar does not always produce a ready-made decision. In language there are a number of phenomena interpreted differently by different linguists. To a great extent, these differences are due to the fact that there exist various directions in linguistics, each having its own method of analysis and, therefore, its own approach to the matter. But sometimes these differences arise because some facts of language are difficult to analyze, and in this case the only thing to offer is a possible way to solve the problem, instead of giving a final solution. It is due to this circumstance that there are different theories of the same language phenomenon, which is not the case with practical grammar.

Point 2. The main development stages of English theoretical grammar.

English theoretical grammar has naturally been developing in the mainstream of world linguistics. Observing the fact that some languages are very similar to one another in their forms, while others are quite dissimilar, scholars still long ago expressed the idea that languages revealing formal features of similarity have a common origin. Attempts to establish groups of kindred languages were repeatedly made from the 16th century on. Among the scholars who developed the idea of language relationship and attempted to give the first schemes of their genealogical groupings we find the name of J. J. Scaliger (1540-1609).

But a consistently scientific proof and study of the actual relationship between languages became possible only when the historical comparative method of language study was created - in the first quarter of the 19th century.

The historical comparative method developed in connection with the comparative observation of languages belonging to the Indo-European family, and its appearance was stimulated by the discovery of Sanskrit.

Sir William Jones (1746-1794), a prominent British orientalist and Sanskrit student, was the first to point out in the form of rigorously grounded scientific hypothesis that Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Gothic, and some other languages of India and Europe had sprung from the same source which no longer existed. He put forward this hypothesis in his famous report to the Calcutta Linguistic Society (1786), basing his views on an observation of verbal roots and certain grammatical forms in the languages compared.

The relations between the languages of the Indo-European family were studied systematically and scientifically at the beginning of the 19th century by some European scholars, such as Franz Bopp (1791-1867), Rasmus Kristian Rask (1787-1832), Jacob Grimm (1785-1863), and A. Ch. Vostokov (1781-1864). These scholars not only made comparative and historical observations of the kindred languages, but they defined the fundamental conception of linguistic `kinship' (`relationship'), and created the historical comparative method in linguistics. The rise of this method marks the appearance of linguistics as a science in the strict sense of the word.

After that the historical and comparative study of the Indo-European languages became the principal line of European linguistics for many years to come.

The historical comparative linguistics was further developed in the works of such scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries as F. Dietz (1794-1876), A. F. Pott (1802-1887), A.Schleicher (1821-1868) , F.I.Buslayev (1848-1897), F. F. Fortunatov (1848-1914), F. de Saussure (1857-1913), A.Meillet(1866-1936) and other linguists.

At the beginning of the 20th century the science of linguistics went different ways and later formed into various trends or schools, each of them contributing greatly to English theoretical grammar. The process is still under way nowadays, and it is going to be considered in detail further on.

Thus, we may tentatively trace three main development stages of English theoretical grammar: first (the 16th century - the first quarter of the 19th century), second (the first quarter of the 19th century - the 1930s) and third (the 1930s - present day).

Point 3. The classical scientific grammar of the late 19th century and the first

half of the 20th century.

As it has been stated above, the main method of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century was the historical comparative method. Valuable as it was for the scientific study of languages, it had definite shortcomings and limitations.

The historical comparative method did not give any exact definition of the object of linguistics as an independent science. Logical, psychological, and sociological considerations were involved in linguistic studies to such an extent as to obscure linguistics proper.

The study of numerous languages of the world was neglected, the research being limited to the group of the Indo-European languages.

It was mainly the historical changes of phonological and morphological units that were studied; syntax hardly existed as an elaborate domain of linguistics alongside of phonology and morphology. The painstaking study of the evolution of sounds and morphemes led to an atomistic approach to language.

As a reaction to the atomistic approach to language a new theory appeared that was seeking to grasp linguistic events in their mutual interconnection and interdependence, to understand and to describe language as a system.

The first linguists to speak of language as a system or a structure of smaller systems were Beaudouin de Courtenay (1845-1929) and Academician F.F.Fortunatov of Russia, and the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure.

There were three major linguistic schools that developed these new notions concerning language and linguistics as the science that studies it: the Prague School that created Functional linguistics, the Copenhagen School which created Glossematics, and the American School that created Descriptive linguistics. The Immediate Constituents Grammar was a further development of descriptive linguistics; the Transformational Grammar, the latest.

The Prague School was founded in 1929, uniting Czech and Russian linguists: Mathesius, Trnka, Nikolay Trubetskoy, Roman Jakobson, and others. The chief contribution of early Praguians to modern linguistics is the technique for determining the units of the phonological structure of languages. The basic method is the use of oppositions (contrasts) of speech sounds that change the meaning of the words in which they occur.

The Copenhagen School was founded in 1933 by Louis Hjelmslev (1899-1959) and Viggo Brondal (1887-1942). In 1939 the Prague and the Copenhagen Schools founded the journal ”Acta Linguistica” that had been for several years the international journal of Structural Linguistics. In the early 1930s the conception of the Copenhagen School was given the name of 'Glossematics' (from Gk. 'glossa' - language).

Point 4. The American Descriptive Linguistics of the 1940s-1950s.

Descriptive linguistics developed from the necessity of studying half-known and unknown languages of the Indian tribes. At the beginning of the 20th century these languages were rapidly dying out under the conditions of that time. The study of these languages was undertaken out of purely scientific interest.

The Indian languages had no writing and, therefore, had no history. The historical comparative method was of little use there, and the first step of work was to be keen observation and rigid registration of linguistic forms.

Frantz Boas, linguist and anthropologist (1858-1942) is usually mentioned as the predesessor of American Descriptive Linguistics. His basic ideas were later developed by Edward Sapir (1884-1939) and Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949). Bloomfield's main work ”Language” was published in 1933. All linguists of the USA at one time or other felt the influence of this book. It is a complete methodology of language study, approaching the language as if it were unknown to the linguist (student). The main concepts of Bloomfield's book are:

Language is a workable system of sygnals, that is linguistic forms by means of which people communicate.

Grammar is a meaningful arrangement of linguistic forms from morphemes to sentence.

The chief contribution of the American Descriptive School to modern linguistics is the elaboration of the techniques of linguistic analysis. The main methods are the Distributional method and the method of Immediate Constituents.

A recent development of Descriptive linguistics gave rise to a new method - the Transformational grammar. The TG was first suggested by Zellig S. Harris as a method of analyzing the ”raw meterial” (concrete utterances) and was later elaborated by Noam Chomsky as a synthetic method of ”generating” (constructing) sentences. The TG refers to syntax only and presupposes the recognition (identification) of such linguistic units as phonemes, morphemes and form-classes, the latter being stated according to the distributional and the IC-analysis or otherwise. Charles Carpenter Fries is another prominent figure of American linguistic theory. His main work ”The Structure of English” is widely known.

Theme 1. INTRODUCTION (continued).

Point 5. Problems of 'Case' Grammar.

'Case” Grammar, or role grammar, is a method to describe the semantics of a sentence, without modal or performative elements, as a system of semantic valencies through the bonds of 'the main verb' with the roles prompted by its meaning and performed by nominal components.

Example: the verb 'to give' requires the roles, or cases, of the agent, the receiver and the object of giving.

He gives me a book. I am given a book by him. A book is given to me by him.

Case Grammar emerged within the frames of Transformational Grammar in the late 1960s and developed as a grammatical method of description.

There are different approaches towards Case Grammar concerning the type of the logical structure of the sentence, the arrangement of roles and their possible combinations, i.e. 'case frames', as well as the way in which semantic ties are reflected in a sentence structure by means of formal devices.

Case Grammar has been used to describe many languages on the semantic level. The results of this research are being used in developing 'artificial intellect' (the so-called 'frame semantics') and in psycholinguistics.

However, Case Grammar has neither clear definitions nor criteria to identify semantic roles; their status is vague in the sentence derivation; equally vague are the extent of fulness of their arrangement and the boundaries between 'role' elements and other elements in a sentence.

Point 6. The main conceptions of syntactic semantics (or semantic syntax) and text linguistics

The purpose and the social essence of language are to serve as means of communication. Both structure and semantics of language ultimately serve exactly this purpose. For centuries linguists have focused mainly on structural peculiarities of languages. This may be easily explained by the fact that structural differences between languages are much more evident than differences in contents; that is why the study of the latter was seen as research in concrete languages. The correctness of such an assumption is proved by the fact that of all semantic phenomena the most studied were those most ideoethnic, for example, lexical and semantic structure of words. As for syntactic semantics, which is in many aspects common for various languages, it turned out to be least studied. Meanwhile, the study of this field of language semantics is of special interest for at least two reasons. Firstly, communication is not organized by means of separate words, but by means of utterances, or sentences. Learning speech communication, fully conveyed with the help of language information, is impossible without studying sentence semantics. Secondly, studying the semantic aspect of syntactic constructions is important, besides purely linguistic tasks, for understanding the peculiarities and laws of man's thinking activities. Language and speech are the basic source of information which is a foundation for establishing the laws, as well as the categories and forms, of human thinking. Thus, language semantics is as important and legal object of linguistic study as language forms are.

Point 7. Modern methods of grammatical analysis: the I.C. method (method of immediate constituents), the oppositional, transformational and componential methods of analysis.

The IC method, introduced by American descriptivists, presents the sentence not as a linear succession of words but as a hierarchy of its ICs, as a 'structure of structures'.

Ch. Fries, who further developed the method proposed by L.Bloomfield, suggested the following diagram for the analysis of the sentence which also brings forth the mechanism of generating sentences: the largest IC of a simple sentence are the NP (noun phrase) and the VP (verb phrase), and they are further divided if their structure allows.

Layer 3 The recommending committee approved his promotion.

Layer 2

Layer 1

The deeper the layer of the phrase (the greater its number), the smaller the phrase, and the smaller its ICs. The resulting units (elements) are called ultimate constituents (on the level of syntax they are words). If the sentence is complex, the largest ICs are the sentences included into the complex construction.

The diagram may be drawn somewhat differently without changing its principle of analysis. This new diagram is called a `candelabra' diagram.

The man hit the ball.


If we turn the analytical (`candelabra') diagram upside down we get a new diagram which is called a `derivation tree', because it is fit not only to analyze sentences, but shows how a sentence is derived, or generated, from the ICs.

The IC model is a complete and exact theory but its sphere of application is limited to generating only simple sentences. It also has some demerits which make it less strong than transformational models, for instance, in case of the infinitive which is a tricky thing in English.

The oppositional method of analysis was introduced by the Prague School. It is especially suitable for describing morphological categories. The most general case is that of the general system of tense-forms of the English verb. In the binary opposition `present::past' the second member is characterized by specific formal features - either the suffix -ed, or a phonemic modification of the root. The past is thus a marked member of the opposition as against the present, which is unmarked.

The obvious opposition within the category of voice is that between active and passive; the passive voice is the marked member of the opposition: its characteristic is the pattern 'be+Participle II', whereas the active voice is unmarked.

The transformational method of analysis was introduced by American descriptivists Z.Harris and N.Chomsky. It deals with the deep structure of the utterance which is the sphere of covert (concealed) syntactic relations, as opposed to the surface structure which is the sphere of overt relations that manifest themselves through the form of single sentences. For example: John ran. She wrote a letter.

But: 1) She made him a good wife.

2) She made him a good husband.

The surface structures of these two sentences are identical but the syntactic meanings are different, and it is only with the help of certain changes (transformations) that the covert relations are brought out:

She became a good wife for him.

He became a good husband because she made him one.

The transformational sentence model is, in fact, the extension of the linguistic notion of derivation to the syntactic level which presupposes setting off the so-called `basic' or `kernel' structures and their transforms, i.e. sentence-structures derived from the basic ones according to the transformational rules.

E.g. He wrote a letter. - The letter was written by him.

This analysis helps one to find out difference in meaning when no other method can give results, it appears strong enough in some structures with the infinitive in which the ICs are the same:

John is easy to please.

John is eager to please.

1) It is easy - - It is easy (for smb.) to please John

Smb. pleases John - - John is easy to please.

2) John is eager - -

John is eager to please.

John pleases smb. - -

The componential analysis belongs to the sphere of traditional grammar and essentially consists of `parsing', i.e. sentence-member analysis that is often based on the distributional qualities of different parts of speech, which sometimes leads to confusion.

E.g. My friend received a letter yesterday. (A+S+P+O+AM)

His task is to watch. (A+S+V(+?)

His task is to settle all matters. (A+S+V+?+A+O)



Point 1. The correlation of analysis and synthesis in the structure of English.

Languages may be synthetical and analytical according to their grammatical structure.

In synthetical languages, such as, for instance, Ukrainian, the grammatical relations between words are expressed by means of inflexions: e.g. долонь руки.

In analytical languages, such as English, the grammatical relations between words are expressed by means of form-words and word order: e.g. the palm of the hand.

Analytical forms are mostly proper to verbs. An analytical verb-form consists of one or more form-words, which have no lexical meaning and only express one or more of the grammatical categories of person, number, tense, aspect, voice, mood, and one notional word, generally an infinitive or a participle: e.g. He has come. I am reading.

However, the structure of a language is never purely synthetic or purely analytical. Accordingly in the English language there are:

Endings (speaks, tables, brother's, smoked).

Inner flexions (man - men, speak - spoke).

The synthetic forms of the Subjunctive Mood: were, be, have, etc.

Owing to the scarcity of synthetic forms the order of words, which is fixed in English, acquires extreme importance: The fisherman caught a fish.

A deviation from the general principle of word order is possible only in special cases.

Point 2. Peculiarities of the structure of English in the field of accidence (word-building and word-changing).

Affixes, i.e. prefixes and suffixes, in the English language have a dual designation - some are used in word-building, others - in word-changing. Word-building is derivation of new words from basic forms of some part of speech. Word-changing is derivation of different forms of the same word. Word-building and word-changing have their own sets of affixes: their coincidence may only be pure accidental homonymy (cf.=confer -er in agentive nouns - writer, and -er in the comparative degree of adjectives - longer). There may be occasional cases of a word-changing suffix transformation into a word-building one: I am in a strong position to know of her doings.

English prefixes perform only word-building functions, and are not supposed to be considered in this course. As for suffixes, they are divided into word-building and word-changing ones; the latter are directly related to the grammatical structure.

Point 3. Peculiarities of the English language in the field of syntax.

English syntax is characterized by the following main features:

A fixed word order in the sentence;

A great variety of word-combinations;

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

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

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 `stone' is a noun, but in the sentence `Aunt Emma was stoning cherries for preserves' 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, `to take out stones'). The categorial characteristics of such lexemes might be called `combined objective and processional' one. Unlike this one, the categorial characteristics of the lexeme `go' in the utterance `That's a go' will be defined as `combined processional and objective'. 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 `the word', `the morpheme', `the morph', `the allomorph', `the grammatical form and category of the word', as well as its `grammatical meaning', and also `the paradigm', `the oppositional relations and the functional relations of grammatical forms'.

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


One of the most widely used definitions of the morpheme is like this: `The morpheme is the smallest linear meaningful unit having a sound expression'. However, there are other definitions:

L.Bloomfield: The morpheme is `a linguistic form which bears no partial resemblance to any other form'.

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.

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.

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 `fresh', `refreshment', `freshen', the suffixes in `speaker', `actor', the adverbial suffix in `greatly', `early'. However, very often allomorphs are not absolutely identical, e.g. the root morpheme in `come-came', `man-men', the suffixes in `walked', `dreamed', `loaded'.

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

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 `exponent' of the form, or the grammatical `formant', 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 `substance' word with the `function' 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 - Present, Past and Future, four aspect forms - 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.

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:

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

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

Analytical forms (is coming, has asked).

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 `opposition' 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 - either the suffix -ed (or its equivalents) appear, or a phonemic modification of the root. The past is thus a marked member of the opposition `present::past' 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 `unique' object (cf.: …'that skin so prized by Southern women and so carefully guarded with bonnets, veils and mittens against hot Georgian suns'. (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 `but' 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 - her looks; they wanted - the job wanted; smoking is harmful - a smoking man; you read - 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:

the functions of `formal' morphemes (affixes) and allomorphs;

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

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 `parts of speech'. 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; linguists' 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.

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.

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 - 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. `furiously barking dog' where `dog' is a primary word, `barking' - secondary, and `furiously' - tertiary.

Another attempt to find a single principle of classification was made by Ch.Fries in his book `The Structure of English'. He rejects the traditional classification and tries to draw up a class system based on the word's 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.

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.

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. - Here is your comb. They lived up north a few years ago. - 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.: `gives' - the lexical meaning of a process, the functional position of a predicate, the word-changing paradigm; and `must' - 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.

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

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.

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 `thing' 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.

We may speak of three grammatical categories of the noun.

1. The category of number. Nouns that can be counted have two numbers: singular and plural.

2. The category of case is highly disputable. Yet, many scholars assume that nouns denoting living beings (and some nouns denoting lifeless things) have two case forms: the common case and the genitive (or possessive) case.

3. It is doubtful whether the grammatical category of gender exists in Modern English for it is hardly ever expressed by means of grammatical forms. There is practically one gender-forming suffix in Modern English, the suffix -ess, expressing feminine gender. It is not widely used (heir - heiress, poet - poetess, actor - actress).

The basic meaning of the category of number is the opposition of the singularity and the plurality of objects. The plurality implies an amount exceeding one. The singular number is conveyed by the basic form, i.e. by the form which has no endings and which coincides with the stem. The plural number is graphically conveyed by the -s formant that materializes itself as a number of allomorphs (/s/, /z/, /iz/) depending on the character of the final sound of the stem (books, cats, dogs, potatoes, classes, bushes). However, there are other, unproductive means of forming the plural form (children, nuclei, phenomena, feet, mice). And finally, there are some nouns that do not possess the formal features of either plural or singular number (sheep, deer, swine, news, scissors, trousers).

Of the two number forms, the singular number is compulsory for all nouns, except for pluralia tantum. The reason for this fact is that the singular number is capable of conveying not only the availability of quantity (one) but also the absence of quantitative measurements for uncountables. The plural form always conveys some quantitative relationship; it is due to this fact that the plural number is capable of conveying the concretion of an abstract notion: a noun denoting a generalized feature (a quality or a feeling) may also convey manifestations which are occasional (attentions, joys).

Theme 5. THE NOTIONAL PARTS OF SPEECH (continued).

It is generally assumed that there are two cases in English: the common case and the genitive (possessive) case. Thus the paradigm may look as follows:

Singular Plural

Common case: the boy the boys

Genitive case: the boy's the boys'

Most scholars usually point to the fact that the genitive case is mainly used with the nouns of person (Jim's book, Mary's brother) but it may be occasionally used with the nouns denoting lifeless things, namely: periods of time, distance, and price (a week's notice, a mile's distance, a dollar's worth of sugar). It may also occur, though seldom, with the nouns which are situationally definite (The car's front door was open).

The semantic characteristics of the noun vary depending on the case used; the genitive case expresses the individual characteristics of the object modified whereas the common case denotes a generalized property which is not ascribed to any single bearer (cf.: Shakespeare's sonnets - the Shakespeare National Theatre; the room's walls - the room walls).

The field structure of the noun is made up of the central group and the peripheral group. The central group includes object nouns and nouns of person, both having equal number of characteristic features; though object nouns are easily used as prepositive attributes, they do not tend to be used so easily in the genitive case which, in turn, is a characteristic feature of the nouns of person. The peripheral group consists of abstract nouns and nouns of material; both of them are devoid of the categories of number and case (with a few exceptions); they are not used with the indefinite article. However, nouns of material are easily used as prepositive attributes.

Point 2. The pronoun. The semantic classification of pronouns. The deictic and the anaphoric functions of pronouns. Syntactic peculiarities of pronouns. Grammatical categories of pronouns.

The pronoun is a part of speech which points out objects and their qualities without naming them. Therefore, the pronoun possesses a highly generalized meaning that seldom materializes outside of the context.

The semantic classification of pronouns includes such subclasses as personal, possessive, demonstrative, interrogative, reciprocal, relative, indefinite, negative, conjunctive, defining and reflexive pronouns.

The deictic, or indicatory, function of the pronoun is inherent in many subclasses except, maybe, interrogative, indefinite and negative. The anaphoric function, or the function of connecting with the preceding sentence or clause, is characteristic of relative and conjunctive pronouns though it may be occasionally performed by the other subclasses.

Syntactic peculiarities of pronouns are accounted for by the fact that the pronoun is very close in its syntactic functions to those of the noun and the adjective. Hence, the main functions it performs are the ones of the subject, the predicative, the object, and the attribute.

The pronoun seems to have the grammatical categories of person, gender (personal and possessive pronouns), case (personal, and the relative and interrogative WHO - the nominative and objective cases; indefinite, reciprocal and negative - the common and genitive cases) and number (demonstrative, and the defining OTHER).

Point 3. The numeral. General characteristics and problems of subcategorizing.

The numeral is a part of speech which indicates number or the order of persons and things in a series.

Numerals are united by their semantics only. They have neither morphologic nor syntactic features. All numerals are subdivided into cardinal and ordinal. Both subclasses can perform equally well the functions peculiar of nouns and adjectives. Numerals possess a specific word-building system: suffixes -teen, -ty, -th. Some of them are easily substantivized and treated as nouns.

Point 4. The adjective. The grammatical meaning of the adjective. Semantic and grammatical subclasses of adjectives. Grammatical categories of the adjective. Syntactic functions of adjectives. Substantivization of adjectives. The field nature of the adjective.

The adjective is a part of speech expressing a quality of a substance.

The grammatical meaning of the adjective lies in the fact that this part of speech names a quality possessing certain stability unlike Participle I, for example: a fast train - an approaching train.

According to their meanings and grammatical characteristics, adjectives fall under two classes: (1) qualitative adjectives, (2) relative adjectives. Qualitative adjectives denote qualities of a substance directly, not through its relation to another substance, as size, shape, colour, physical and mental qualities, qualities of general estimation: little, large, high, soft, warm, white, important, etc. Relative adjectives denote qualities of a substance through their relation to materials (silken, woolen, wooden, metallic), to place (Italian, Asian), to time (monthly, weekly), to some action (preparatory, educational).

Most adjectives have degrees of comparison: the comparative degree and the superlative degree.

In a sentence the adjective may be used as an attribute or as a predicative, the former in preposition being more characteristic.

Substantivized adjectives have acquired some or all of the characteristics of the noun, but their adjectival origin is still generally felt. They may be wholly substantivized (a native, the natives, a native's hut, valuables, sweets, a Ukrainian, Ukrainians) and partially substantivized (the rich, the poor, the unemployed, the English, the good, the evil).

Qualitative adjectives possess all the grammatical features of the adjective and belong to the central group. The peripheral group includes relative adjectives and words of state (asleep, awake) though there is no hard and fast demarcation line between these two groups.

Theme 5. THE NOTIONAL PARTS OF SPEECH (continued).

Point 5. The verb. The grammatical meaning of the verb. Semantic and grammatical groups of verbs. The valency of verbs. Grammatical categories of the verb (aspect, tense, voice and state). Transpositions of verb-forms. Functional and semantic fields of temporality, state and modality. Verbals, their grammatical categories and syntactic functions.

The verb is a part of speech which denotes an action.

The grammatical meaning of action is understood widely: it is not only activities proper (He wrote a letter) but both a state (He will soon recover) and just an indication of the fact that the given object exists or belongs to a certain class of objects or persons (A chair is a piece of furniture). It is important that the verb conveys the feature as an action within some period of time, however unlimited.

Semantically and grammatically English verbs are grouped as transitive (to give), intransitive (to sleep), regular, irregular, mixed, notional, auxiliary, link (to grow, to turn, to look), terminative (to come), non-terminative (to live) and verbs of double lexical (aspect) character (to see).

The valency of verbs is their combinability. For example, all verbs are characterized by their subordination to the subject of a sentence; transitive verbs are usually combined with an object; auxiliary and link verbs need a notional predicative, etc.

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