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Grammar as a Part of Language as a Linguistic Discipline.

Курсы изучения разговорного английского языка
Grammar as a Part of Language as a Linguistic Discipline.
√ Parts of Grammar.
√ Syntagmatic & Paradigmatic Relations.
√ Grammatical Meaning & Form.

Parts of Grammar.

According to de Sosur we should differentiate between language & speech. Language is an abstract system of signs or sets of roots (grammatical, syntactic, etc.), which makes the basis of all speaking. Speech - manifestation, of language, "language in use". Where does grammar belong to? To language.

Other parts of language are phonetics & lexicology. It's true that different parts of language are interconnected & interrelated. One & the same idea can be expressed by different means of language e.g. negation

I don't like = / hate

The ties between lexicology & grammar are of primary importance because grammatical & lexicological meanings are interdependent. From the course of Normative Grammar we know that certain grammatical functions are possible only for the words whose lexical meaning makes them fit to fulfill these functions.

You need special lexical meaning to make the verb function as a link-verb and part of part of a predicate, e.g. come true, turn red. There is also the reverse case when the grammatical form affects the lexical meaning of a word. e.g. to go, I'm going.

It also happens in a language rather often that a form which was originally grammatical becomes lexicolized. e.g. an iron , iron , irons (окопы); colour - соluors(стяги).

There are also cases of survival of two grammatically equivalent forms of one & the same word. The language keeps them because they acquire different lexical meaning.

They usually call them "etymological synonyms", e.g. brothers, brethren. The ties between lexicology & grammar are particularly strong in a sphere of a word-formation.

What are the main objects of grammatical studies? - A' word & a sentence. We also single out morphology as a branch of grammar which studies morphemes & structure of words & the rules of word-changing. Combinations of words into groups or sentences are treated under syntax. It's not always easy to differentiate between them.

Syntagmatic & Paradigmatic Relations.

Every word may be used in a sentence. It can be analyzed from this point of view. e.g.
I read a book & I'm reading a book. We have an action performed by the doer of the action & we can analyze the relations in which the words stand within the sentence.

On the other hand we can analyze the same word "read" as part of system including all other forms of the same word. When we analyze the relations of this particular jform to other forms we analyze the paradigmatic relations, within the sentence - syntagmatic relations.

How many levels are there in Grammar? Are they objective or subjective?

A word may be divided into morphemes, sentence - into phrases, etc!'"

Phoneme - phonology;
phonetics - sounds
Morpheme - morphology

Word - grammar,
word-formation, lexicography
Phrase - syntax
Sentence - syntax

Utterance (text, discourse) - syntax

The levels are objective since the units of these levels exist objectively.
So grammatical units enter into two types of relations in the language system :
paradigmatic relations in language & syntagmatic in speech. The system of all grammatical means of one given class constitutes a paradigm.

There is a new approach to the division of grammar into morphology & syntax. According to it morphology should study both paradigmatic & syntagmatic relations of words.

Correspondingly syntax should study both paradigmatic & syntagmatic relations of sentences.

Grammatical Meaning & Form.

The basic notions of Grammar are grammatical meaning, form, category. Jhe grammatical meaning is a general abstract meaning, which embraces classes of words in a language.

Grammatical meaning depends on lexical & is connected with objective reality indirectly through the lexical meaning. The grammatical meaning is relative revealed in relations of word-forms. The grammatical meaning is
obligatory it must be expressed if the speaker wants to be understood.

The grammatical meaning must have a grammatical form of expression(inflexions or analytical form or word order)

The term "form" may be used in a wide sense to denote all means of expressing grammatical meaning. It may be also used in a narrow sense to denote means of expressing a particular grammar meaning e.g. plural form, present tense, etc.

Grammatical elements are unities of meaning & form, content & expression. In the language system there is no direct correspondence between meaning & form.

Two or more units of the plane of content may correspond to one unit of the plane of expression (polysemy & homonymy) & two or more units of the plane of expression may correspond to one unit of the plane of content (synonymy).

System is a unity of homogeneous elements. Structure - unity of heterogeneous elements, which make up in their turn the units of higher hierarchy.

In the system of language grammatical elements are connected on the basis of similarity & contrast. Partially similar elements that are having common & distinctive features constitute oppositions (write - wrote, sky - skies, best - worst). Let's take " pencil - pencils".

Members of this opposition differ in form & have different grammatical meanings. At the same time they express the same general meaning - number. And this gives us the chance to formulate: the unity of general meaning & its particular manifestation, which is revealed through the oppositions of forms, is a grammatical category.

There may be different definitions of category laying stress either on its notional or formal aspect. But the category exists only if there is an opposition of at least two forms, if one - there is no category.

The minimal or two-member opposition is called binary. Oppositions may be of three main types:

I. Privative (отрицательный).
One member has a certain distinctive feature. This member is called "marked (strong)”. The other is characterized by the absence of this distinctive feature.  It’s called “unmarked (weak)” (e.g. speak - speaks).

II. Equipollent (равноценный).
Both members of the opposition are marked (e.g. am - is).

III. Gradual.
Members of the opposition differ by the degree of certain property (e.g. good - better - best)

Most grammatical oppositions are privative. The marked (strong) member has a narrow & definite meaning. The unmarked (weak) member has a wide general meaning.

Grammatical forms express meanings of different categories. The form "goes" denotes Present Tense, 3-d person, singular.

Active voice. Indicative mood. These meanings are revealed in different oppositions.



is going
has gone

will be gone


will be going     

But grammatical forms cannot express different meanings of the same category. In certain contexts the difference between members of the opposition is lost.

The opposition is reduced to one member. Usually the weak member acquires the meaning of the strong member (e.g. He leave for Paris tomorrow). This kind of oppositional reduction is called neutralization.

On the other hand the strong member may be used in the context typical for the weak member. Usually this use is stylistically marked e.g.
She is always complaining of her neighbors.
This kind of reduction is called transposition.

Grammatical categories reflect phenomena of objective reality.

The category of number in nouns reflects the essential properties of noun reference. Such categories can ( be called "notional" or "referential"). 

Other categories reflect peculiarities of grammatical structure of the language (e.g. number in verbs in English). Such categories may be called "formal" or "relation".'

Besides grammatical or inflectional categories based on the oppositions of forms there are categories based on the oppositions of classes of words.

Such categories are called "lexico-grammatical" or "selective". The formal difference between members of a lexico-grammatical opposition is shown syntagmatically e.g. большой стол.

Grammatical categories may be influenced by the lexical meaning. Such categories as number, case, voice strongly depend on the lexica] meaning. They are proper to certain subclasses of words.

Thus, only objective verbs have the voice opposition, subjective verbs have only one form - that of the weak member of opposition.

Other categories as tense, mood are more abstract. They cover all words of a class.

As grammatical categories reflect relations existing in objective reality, different languages may have the same categories but the system & character of grammatical categories are determined by the grammatical structure of a given language.

Synthetical vs Analytical Forms.

The verb in synthetical form presents an inseparable unity of form & meaning. This unity can't be broken without the destruction of the word. We have different ways to create synthetical forms in the language. The first one is affixation. Many affixes are polysemantic.

Another device is sound interchange. The third way is suppletivity. The number of morphemes used to derive new forms in the English is rather small.

Many of them are polysemantic. In sound interchange changes take place in frames of one root & suppletive formation involves different roots.

Analytical grammatical forms are those presented by words of full lexical meaning So some formal auxiliary words, which are free (or devoid) of any lexical meaning. This combination functions in the language as the grammatical form of one word e.g. is being written.

But the grammatical meaning of analytical form is not equivalent to the grammatical meaning of the auxiliary verb; it is distributed between auxiliary & the verb-form (or the ending of the verb- form). There are four criteria to establish the difference between the analytical grammatical forms & the free syntactic word combinations:

1. The existence of one purely grammatical element
2. The distribution of the total grammatical meaning between this purely grammatical auxiliary & grammatical ending of the main form.
3. Concentration of the lexical meaning only in one word.
4. The existence of simple synthetical form in the paradigm.

From the structural point of view it is a combination of words which are united according to certain syntactic rales but functionally it is only a form of a certain verb. In other words they are phrases in form & word-forms in function.

The Morphemic Analysis for English Words. 

Morphemes, Morphs & Attomorphs.

Morpheme is the smallest meaningful part of a word. It can be free or bound. A word consisting of a single morpheme - monomorphemic, opposite - polymorphic. In terms of structuralism according to Bloomfield“ a word is a minimum free form".

Morphemes are commonly classified into suffixes, prefixes, infixes. According to their meaning & function they can also be subdivided into lexical (roots) lexico-grammatical (word-building affixes) & grammatical or form-building affixes (inflexions).

 Morphemes are abstract units represented in speech by morphs or аllomorphs. Most morphemes are realised by single morphemes e.g. un/self/ish. Some morphemes can be manifested by more than one morph according to their position.

Such alternative morphs or positional variants of a morpheme are called allomorphs. Morphemic variants are identified in the text on the basis of their со-occurrence with other morphs or their environment. The total of environments constitutes the distribution.

There may be three types of morphemic distribution: contrastive, non- contrastive & complimentary.

Morphs are in contrastive distribution „ if their position is the same & their meanings are different, g. charming vs charmed).

Morphs are in non-contrastive distribution if their position is the same & their meanings are the same (e.g. learned vs learnt). Such morphs constitute free variants of the same morpheme.

Morphs are in complimentary distribution if their positions are different & their meanings are the same. Such morphs are allomorphs of the same 1 morpheme (e.g. -tion or -sion).

Grammatical meanings may be expressed by the absence of the morpheme (e.g. book- books). The meaning of plurality is expressed by the morpheme "-s", singularity -by the absence of the morpheme.

Such meaningful absence of the morpheme is called zero-morpheme. The function of the morpheme may be performed by a separate word. In the opposition "play - will play" the meaning of the future is expressed by the word "will".

 "Will" is a contradictory unit, formally it is a word, functionally - it is a morpheme. As it has the features of a word & a morpheme it is called "a word-morpheme".

Word-morphemes may be called semibound morphemes. Means of form-building & grammatical forms are divided into synthetic & analytical.

Synthetic forms are built with the help of bound-morphemes. All analytical forms are built with the help of semi-bound morphemes.

Synthetic means of form-building are affixation, sound interchange (inner flexion), suppletivity. Typical features of English affixation are ’scarcity & homonymy.

Another characteristic feature is a great number of zero-morphemes.Though English grammatical affixes are few in number, affixation is a productive means of form-building.

Sound interchange may be of two types: vowel & consonant. It is often accompanied by affixation (e.g. bring - brought). Sound interchange is not productive now, but it is used to build the forms of irregular verbs.

Prefixes modify the lexical meaning of the word while suffixes not only change the meaning but also change the form often shifting the word from one part of speech to another.

Sometimes the basic & the resulted forms belong tо the same class of words. In this case we say that a suffix serves to differentiate between subclasses within the same part of speech.

But even a prefix may modify the meaning of word (e.g. to stay - outstay). We have only one infix in English (e.g. stand- stood). In the course of historic development the boundaries between the morphemes may change & in this case words change morphologically.

The main factors of this process: were described by Bogoroditskiy:

Simplification (e.g. Good-bye = God be with you
Decomposition (e.g. dazy = eye of the day)

If a word consists of one root-morpheme it is called a root-word. One root-morpheme + affix constitute a derived word (a derivative e.g. a girl - girlish), two or more roots constitute a compound word (e.g. girl - friend), two or more roots + affix constitute compound derivative (e.g. all-the-madish).

К Parts of Speech. Principles of Classification of the Parts of Speech.

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