Parts of speech. Various Approaches to their Classification. Noun as a Part a part of speech
Theories of parts of speech classifications. The principles of syntactico-distributional classification of English words. The three-criteria characterization of grammatical classes of words developed in home linguistics. Notional parts of speech. Functional parts of speech. The subdivision of parts of speech into subseries according to various particular semantico-functional and formal features of the constituent words. General characteristics of the noun as a part of speech: semantic, morphological, functional.
1. The words of language depending on various formal and semantic features are divided into grammatical classes of words. The traditional grammatical classes of words are called parts of speech. The term part of speech was introduced in the grammatical teaching of ancient Greece where there was no strict difference between the word as a vocabulary unit and the word as a functional element of the sentence.
The problem of classification of parts of speech presents difficulties. The first scientific grammar of the English language was compiled by Henry Sweet in 1892. In his book “A new English grammar” the author made an attempt to define and interpret some grammatical categories and notions. Henry Sweet points out 3 principles on which the classification of words should be based: the meaning of words, their forms, functions. However, the primary importance is attached to the form and function. Thus, all words are divided into declinable and indeclinable. These 2 main classes are further subdivided in accordance with their syntactic function. Nouns, adjectives, numerals, verbs belong to declinable parts of speech. Whereas adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections constitute indeclinable parts of speech. O. Jesprson like H. Sweet writes about 3 criteria of classifying words into parts of speech. The form, meaning and function. But first comes to the practice of linguistic description. the formal principle dominates over the other two. The principles of syntactic (syntactic-distributional) classification of English words were works out by L. Bloomfield and his followers Z. Harris and C. Fries.
Fries puts forward and idea that each part of speech is marked off from other parts of speech by a set of formal contrasts which we learn unconsciously as we acquire language. The signals of structural meaning in English consist of patterns of arrangement of classes of words which he calls “form classes”. Fries assumes that all the words that could occupy the same “set of positions” in the patterns of English simple free utterances must belong to the same art of speech. Fries chose three patterns of English sentences as frames to fill the positions with words. If a word can fit into a position without causing a change of the structural meaning of the sentence the word is considered to belong to a certain form-class. The words are tested on the three typical English sentences.
A: The concert was good (always)
B: The cleck remembered the tax (suddenly)
C: The team went tueve.
In this way fries singles out 4 main classes of words. The first class is equivalent of nouns, the second- verbs, third – adjectives, forth – adverbs. According to Fries functional words unlike notional words are words that are unable to fit in the positions of the frames without destroying their structural meaning. Functional words can be distributed among the three main sets. The words of the first set are used as specifiers of notional words. Here belong determiners of nouns, modal verbs, serving as specifiers of notional verbs, intensifiers of adjectives and adverbs such as words of “very” type. The words of the second class play the role of interpositional elements showing the relations of notional words to one another. Here belong prepositions and conjunctions. The words of the third set refer to the sentence as a whole. Such are question-words, inducement-words as let’s, please, attention getting - words Look here, I say, words of affirmation and negation – yes, no, sence introducers – it, ther, and some others.
2. The three criteria of characterization of parts of speech has been developed by Смирницкий and Ильш in connection with one study of English grammar. Parts of speech are determined on the basis of the three criteria: semantic, formal and functional. The semantic criteria presupposes the generalized meaning of characteristic of all wards of a given class. This meaning is understood as the categorical meaning of the part of speech. The formal criteria reveals the morphological; characteristics of words of a given part of speech. The functional criteria concern the syntactic row of words on the sentence typical of a part of speech. These three criteria are referred to as meaning, form and function. According to the described criteria words are divided into notional and functional which reflects their division. In the earlier grammar into changeable and unchangeable. To the notional parts of speech of the English language belong the noun, the adjective, the numeral, the pronoun, the verb, the adverb. English also adds the stative.
Thus, the features of the noun can be described in the following way: 1) grammatical meaning. the category of meaning of substance (or thinness) 2) morphological characteristics – the changeable form of number and case, the specific suffixal forms of derivation. 3) the function in the sentence (subject, object, substantival predicated), prepositional connections, modification by an adjective. The features of the adjective can be the following: 1) the categorical meaning of property 9qualitative, relative) 2) morph characteristics the form of the degrees of comparison (for qualitative adjectives); the specific suffixal forms of derivation 3) adjectival functions in the sentence: an attribute to a noun, adjectival predicative.
The notional parts of speech unite the words of complete nominative meaning contrasted against the notional parts of meaning. these are functional parts of speech. To the basic functional words in English belong the article, the preposition, the conjunction, the particle (only, even, exclusively), the modal word (perhaps, possibly, probably), interjection (oh, alas). Each part а speech is further subdivided into subseries according to various particular semantico-functional and formal features of the constituent words. Thus, nouns are subdivided into proper and common, concrete and abstract, animate and inanimate, countable and uncountable and so on.
Verbs are divided into fully predicative (walk, prepare) and partially predicative (can, may), transitive and intransitive (take, put – live, stand), actional and statal (write, play – sleep, rest), factive and evaluative (begin, build – consider, approve). Adjectives may be qualitative and relative (long, red – wooden, daily), of constant feature and temporary feature (healthy, joyful – well, ill, glad), factive and evaluative (tall, heavy – kind, brave).
1. General characteristics of a noun as a part of speech: semantic, morphological, functional
The noun as a part of speech has the categorical (or lexico- grammatical) meaning of substance or thingness. It follows from this that he noun is the main nominative part of speech. Analyzing the term ‘thingness” one might say that it can hardly be allied to such abstract nouns as friendship, love, emotion, impulse, quality, relation, also to material nouns and nouns of multitude such as snow, water, crowd, family. Thus it seems reasonable to suppose that the real lexico-grammatical meaning conveyed by nouns is that of substance in the broad sense of the word. This term denotes a variety of meanings including that of a bearer of some property, the meaning which is highly generated. If we consider such nouns as whiteness, blackness, we can easily believe that their lexical meaning is practically identical to the notion of quality and not thinness. In the same way the noun ‘tie’ expresses relation, the noun ’sleep’ denotes a state. The list of examples can be broaden. The above mentioned examples bring a question: why are all such words grouped as nouns? What is the real basis of their semantic identity. The answer to these questions may be briefed to the following points:
1) the states, relations, material, collective and abstract notions in the given examples are viewed as things or objects. 2) accordingly the nouns denoting the notions acquire typical morphological and syntactic properties. Thus we can say that the lexico-grammatical meaning of the thinness which characterizes the noun as a part of speech is much broader than the corresponding lexical meaning.
The noun in English has two grammatical categories: number and case. In so far as gender is connected most linguists consider that it is more a lexico- grammatical category because not all nouns in English show any peculiarities in their morphology due to their denoting a male or a female being.
Syntactic properties of the noun can be reduced to the following: 1) its ability to be determined by some parts of speech: the article, the numeral, the adjective and so on. The determining words as a rule are placed in preposition to the noun. 2) the syntactic function of the subject, the object, the predicative an din some rare cases the attribute (silver watch).
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