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GRAMMAR IN THE SYSTEMIC CONCEPTION OF LANGUAGE
Л. А. Снігур
для самостійної роботи та самоконтролю студентів з
ТЕОРЕТИЧНОЇ ГРАМАТИКИ АНГЛІЙСЬКОЇ МОВИ
Рекомендовано Методичною радою НУК
комбінованого використання на DVD-ROM
Миколаїв à НУК à 2013
УДК – 82’42
Укладач: Л.А. Снігур, старший викладач.
Рецензент: Черницький В.Б , канд. філологічних наук, професор
Методичні рекомендації з курсу «Теоретична граматика англійської мови» / Л.А. Снігур – Миколаїв : НУК, 2013. – 53 c.
Методичні рекомендації з курсу «Теоретична граматика англійської мови» призначені для студентів денної і заочної форми навчання спеціальності «Прикладна лінгвістика» містять систематизований теоретичний матеріал та практичні завдання, які спрямовані на осмислення теоретичного матеріалу, тести для самоперевірки теоретичних знань, а також список рекомендованої літератури до курсу теоретична граматика англійської мови.
© Снігур Л.А., 2013
© Національний університет кораблебудування
імені адмірала Макарова, 2013
GRAMMAR IN THE SYSTEMIC CONCEPTION OF LANGUAGE
Language is a complex phenomenon which can be studied and described from various points of view: as a psychological or cognitive phenomenon, as a social phenomenon, from the point of view of its historic changes, etc. But first and foremost language is treated as a semiotic system (system of signs). A system is a structured set of elements united by a common function. Language is a system of specific interconnected and interdependent lingual signs united by their common function of forming, storing and exchanging ideas in the process of human intercourse.
The foundations of systemic language description were formulated at the turn of the 20th century in the works of many linguists, among them the Russian linguists I. A. Baudoin de Courtenay, A. A. Potebnya and others. The originator of the systemic approach in linguistics is considered to be a Swiss scholar Ferdinand de Saussure. He was the first to divide the phenomenon of language in general (in French: ‘language’) into two sides: an ‘executive’ side (‘parole’), concerned with the production, transmission, and reception of speech, and an underlying language system (‘langue’). This is one of the basic postulates of modern systemic linguistics: language in general comprises two aspects: the system of special lingual units, languageproper, and the use of the lingual units, speech proper. In other words, language in the narrow sense of the term is a system of means of expression, while speech is the manifestation of the system of language in the process of intercourse. The system of language comprises the body of lingual units and the rules of their use, while speech includes the act of producing utterances and the result of it (the utterances themselves, or the text).
Ferdinand de Saussure was also among the first scholars who defined lingual units as specific signs- bilateral (two-sided) units that have both form and meaning. Ferdinand de Saussure spoke about an indissoluble link between a phonetic ‘signifier’ (French: ‘signifiant’), and a ‘signified’ (‘signifie’). In the system of language, a lingual sign has only a potential meaning; in speech, in the process of communication, this potential meaning is “actualized”, connected with a particular referent.
The units of language are of two types: segmental and supra-segmental. Segmental lingual unitsconsist of phonemes, which are the smallest material segments of the language; segmental units form different strings of phonemes (morphemes, words, sentences, etc.). Supra-segmental lingual units do not exist by themselves, their forms are realized together with the forms of segmental units; nevertheless, they render meanings of various kinds, including grammatical meanings; they are: intonation contours, accents, pauses, patterns of word-order, etc.
Segmental lingual units form a hierarchy of levels. The term ‘hierarchy’ denotes a structure in which the units of any higher level are formed by the units of the lower level; the units of each level are characterized by their own specific functional features and cannot be seen as a mechanical composition of the lower level units.
The 1st level is formed by phonemes, the smallest material lingual elements, or segments. They have form, but they have no meaning. Phonemes differentiate the meanings of morphemes and words. E.g.: man – men.
The 2nd level is composed of morphemes, the smallest meaningful elements built up by phonemes. The shortest morpheme can consist of one phoneme, e.g.: step-s; -s renders the meaning of the 3rd person singular form of the verb, or, the plural form of the noun. The meaning of the morpheme is abstract and significative: it does not name the referent, but only signifies it.
The 3rd level consists of words, or lexemes, nominative lingual units, which express direct, nominative meanings: they name, or nominate various referents. The words consist of morphemes, and the shortest word can include only one morpheme, e.g.: cat. The difference is in the quality of the meaning.
The 4th level is formed by word-combinations, or phrasemes, the combinations of two or more notional words, which represent complex nominations of various referents (things, actions, qualities, and even situations) in a sentence, e.g.: a beautiful girl, their sudden departure. In a more advanced treatment, phrases along with separate words can be seen as the constituents of sentences, notional parts of the sentence, which make the fourth language level and can be called “denotemes”.
The 5th level is the level of sentences, or proposemes, lingual units which name certain situations, or events, and at the same time express predication, i.e. they show the relations of the event named to reality - whether the event is real or unreal, desirable or obligatory, stated as a fact or asked about, affirmed or negated, etc., e.g.: Their departure was sudden (a real event, which took place in the past, stated as a fact, etc.). Thus, the sentence is often defined as a predicative lingual unit. The minimal sentence can consist of just one word, e.g.: Fire!
The 6th level is formed by sentences in a text or in actual speech. Textual units are traditionally called supra-phrasal unities; we will call such supra-sentential constructions, which are produced in speech, dictemes (from Latin ‘dicto’ ‘I speak’). Dictemes are characterized by a number of features, the main one of which is the unity of topic. As with all lingual units, dictemes are reducible to one unit of the lower level; e.g., the text of an advertisement slogan can consist of just one sentence: Just do it!; or, a paragraph in a written text can be formed by a single independent sentence, being topically significant.
There are two fundamental types of relations between lingual units: paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations. The term “syntagmatic relations” is derived from the word “syntagma”, i.e. a linear combination of units of the same level. Lingual units form various lingual strings, sequences, or constructions; in other words, lingual units co-occur in the same actual sequences. E.g.: He started laughing. The other type of relations, opposed to syntagmatic, are called paradigmatic. The term is derived from the word “paradigm” and denotes the relations between elements in paradigms in the system of language. Ferdinand de Saussure called these relations ‘associative relations’, implying the way different linguistic units are arranged and associated with each other in human minds.
Another major contribution to the systemic description of language by Ferdinand de Saussure and Beaudoin de Courtenay was the doctrine that the synchronic study of a particular ‘state’ of a language in its development should be separated from the diachronic study of the language changes from one state to another. So, one more fundamental type of relation between language elements is to be distinguished: synchronic relations between language elements coexisting at a certain period of time, and diachronic relations between lingual elements of a certain type at different time periods. Language and each of its subsystems are synchronic systems of co-existing elements; in each system it is also possible to analyze diachronic relations between its elements.
Exercise 1. Analyze syntagmatic relations between the elements of the following sentences:
1. One day, less than a fortnight he came, a crowd of the smaller boys, perhaps urged on to it, gathered around him and began calling him „Bossy". (Fitzgerald) 2. He looked at me now with a calm bland dangerous look. (Murdoch) 3. Insecurity is the worst sense that lovers feel: sometimes the most humdrum desireless marriage seems better. (Greene) 4. And over breakfast, annoyed by the leer, real or imagined, of the waiter, he had told her he'd meet her for drinks that afternoon. (Shaw).
Exercise 2. Arrange the following words in groups, their stem-structure being taken into account. Be careful with the forms of the words:
forester apple-tree dark-blue suited
well-done take in longer constitute
bring up take part enlighten think-and-answer
downstairs understand in reference to acceptability
downwards undertake forget-me-not ill-treated
Exercise 3. Find out what, relations are inherent between the constituents of the compound nouns listed below. Rely upon identificational transformations into prepositional phrases:
MODEL: T = Nrstem + N2-stem -> N2 + prep + Ni
earring bath-robe picture gallery sideway
brim-hat night-duty notice-board space ship
view-point battle-field elbow-chair playground
lamp-shade clay-pipe money-bag match-box
pea-soup drop-light coal-miner ferry-boat
Exercise 4. Divide the sentence into minimal parts (morphs).Which ones are words / morphs?
I have been thinking about Jane’s decision for a long time.
Exercise 5. Comment on the grammatical relevance of the following elements. These words do not exist in English. What part of speech are they? Comment on your point of view.
Opture, cleply, procful, unsepted, wisder, excruate.
Exercise 6. Comment on the process of homonymity.
a) Takes, pants, statistics, Brussels, linguistics, books, speaks, Alps, lots, vitals, fists, odds, corps, tidings, news, proceeds, human’s, ashes, stays, spectacles, civics, stops, official’s
б) Give your examples of lexical and grammatical homonyms (-er, -en, -ed, -ing).
GRAMMATICAL CLASSES OF WORDS
The parts of speech are classes of words, all the members of these classes having certain characteristics in common which distinguish them from the members of other classes. The attitude of grammarians with regard to parts of speech and the basis of their classification varied a good deal at different times. Only in English grammarians have been vacillating between 3 and 13 parts of speech. There are four approaches to the problem:
1. Classical (logical-inflectional)
The traditional term “parts of speech” was developed in Ancient Greek linguistics and reflects the fact that at that time there was no distinction between language as a system and speech, between the word as a part of an utterance and the word as a part of lexis. The term “parts of speech” is accepted by modern linguistics as a conventional, or “non-explanatory” term (“name-term”) to denotethe lexico-grammatical classes of words correlating with each other in the general system of language on the basis of their grammatically relevant properties.
The classical parts of speech theory goes back to ancient times. It is based on Latin grammar. According to the Latin classification of the parts of speech all words were divided dichotomically into declinable and indeclinable parts of speech. This system was reproduced in the earliest English grammars. The first of these groups, declinable words, included nouns, pronouns, verbs and participles, the second – indeclinable words – adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections.
A new approach to the problem was introduced in the XIX century by Henry Sweet. He took into account the peculiarities of the English language. This approach may be defined as functional. He resorted to the functional features of words and singled out nominative units and particles. To nominative parts of speech belonged noun-words (noun, noun-pronoun, noun-numeral, infinitive, gerund), adjective-words (adjective, adjective-pronoun, adjective-numeral, participles), verb (finite verb, verbals – gerund, infinitive, participles), while adverb, preposition, conjunction and interjection belonged to the group of particles.
A distributional approach to the parts to the parts of speech classification can be illustrated by the classification introduced by Charles Fries. He wanted to avoid the traditional terminology and establish a classification of words based on distributive analysis, that is, the ability of words to combine with other words of different types. At the same time, the lexical meaning of words was not taken into account. In this way, he introduced four major classes of words and 15 form-classes.
In modern linguistics, parts of speech are discriminated according to three criteria: semantic, formal and functional. This approach may be defined as complex. The semantic criterion refers to the generalized semantic properties common to the whole class of words, e.g.: the generalized (or, categorial) meaning of nouns is “thingness”, of verbs process, of adjectives substantive property, of adverbs non-substantive property. The formal criterion embraces the formal features (it reveals paradigmatic properties) that are characteristic for a particular part of speech, e.g.: the noun is characterized by a specific set of word-building affixes, cf.: property, bitterness, worker, etc., and is changed according to the categories of number, case and article determination: boy-boys, boy – boy’s, boy – the boy – a boy, etc. Combinability is also a relevant formal feature for each particular part of speech; for example, verbs can be modified by adverbs, while nouns cannot (except in specific contexts). The functional criterion concerns the syntactic function of words in the sentence and their combinability, e.g.: the most characteristic functions of the noun are those of a subject and an object; the only function of the finite form of the verb is that of a predicate; the adjective functions in most contexts as an attribute; the adverb as an adverbial modifier.
Traditionally, all parts of speech are subdivided on the upper level of classification into notional words and functional words. Notional words, which traditionally include nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns and numerals, have complete nominative meanings, are in most cases changeable and fulfill self-dependent syntactic functions in the sentence. Functional words, which include conjunctions, prepositions, articles, interjections, particles, and modal words, have incomplete nominative value, are unchangeable and fulfill mediatory, constructional syntactic functions.
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