The Sentence. Its definition. Classification of sentences.
Different approaches to the definition of sentence. The sentence as a part of language and speech. Classification of sentences according to the purpose of communication. Communicative types of sentences in traditional grammar. Ch.Fries’s classification of sentences. The problem of exclamatory sentences. The property of exclamation as an accompanying feature effected within the system of the three cardinal sentence-types. Intermediary communicative types of sentences. Classification of sentences according to structure. Expanded and one-member (one-axis) sentences.
The notion of sentence in the hierarchy of language levels has as yet received no exact and non-controversial definition in modern linguistic theory. In the history of linguistics numerous attempts have been undertaken to define the sentence to reveal its essential properties. All those definitions can be subdivided into several groups: logical, psychological, formal (structural), purely phonetic, purely graphic and functional. Most definitions of the sentence are complex and consequently include several characteristic features.
*Pr. Бархударов states that unlike phrases which express various notions sentences express relatively complete words and that’ why are used as units of communication. He also points out that sentences are characterized by modality and intonation. As can be seen the definition of a sentence suggested by Бархударов is mainly logical and functional. Though the logical aspect of a sentence is almost undisclosed. The notion of complete thought needs explicit foundation.
Definitions of the sentence by foreign grammarians are analyzed by the authors of the book “Readings in the theory of English grammar”. Logical definitions predominated in the early period of its development. The definitions of structural linguists are based upon grammatical and phonetic criteria. Henry sweet’s definition of the sentence is logical and formal: “a sentence is a word or a group of words capable of expressing a complete thought or meaning. Whether or not a given word or a word group is capable of doing this in any language depends on the way in which that language constructs sentences that is on their form”. Representatives of structural grammar, for instance A.H. Markchwardt stick to the opinion that the meaning does not provide us with sufficiently fixed or objective standard for sentence definition. It is pointed out in particular that when the sentence is defined as the expression of a complete though, the problem arises how o define that degree of completeness which is sufficient for a sentence. It appears that the notion of completeness is highly relative and depends upon the purpose of the speaker or writer as well as upon the context. That’s why Charles Freeze in his book “The structure of English” accepts the definition of the sentence given by the father of American structural linguistics Bloomfield: “Each sentence is an independent linguistic form not included by virtue of any grammatical construction in any other linguistic form”.
In many definitions given by home linguists, for instance Bloch it is emphasized tat he sentence is characterized by its specific category of predication which established the relation of the named phenomena to actual life. T shows whether the event is real or unreal, desirable or recommended etc. from this it follows that a sentence is not a one aspective unit a sentence has a nominative aspect. It names a situation o an event. There is no sentence that doesn’t name a situation. By predication this nominative content of a sentence is referred to reality. So the sentence is a two aspective unit. It has nominative and predicative aspects.
*The train arrived. The nominative content of a sentence is the arrival of the train. It has nothing predicative about it. It is the event isolated nominatively. The centre of predication in a sentence of verbal type is a finite verb. The finite verb expresses essential predicative meaning by its categorical forms, first of all the categories of tense and mood. Thus the sentence is both part of language and speech. The sentence is the elementary unit of speech built up on words according to a definite syntactic pattern (language – abstraction) and distinguished by a contextually relevant communicative purpose. The sentence is characterized by predication which refers the nominative content of a sentence to reality; therefore the sentence is the main object of syntax as part of the grammatical theory.
Classification of sentences.
The problem of classification of sentences is a highly complicated one. Pr. Illish speaks of 2 principles of classification. One of them is according to types of communication. The other classification is according to structure. The sentence is a communicative unit there fore the primary classification of sentences must be based on the communicative principle. This principle is formulated in traditional grammar as the purpose of communication. The purpose of communication refers to the sentence as a whole and the structural features connected with the expression of this function belong to the fundamental constitutive qualities of the sentence. In accord with the purpose of communication three cardinal sentence types have long been recognized in linguistics.
1. The declarative sentence – повествовательное
2. The imperative \ inductive – побудительное
3. The interrogative – восклицательное
The declarative sentence expresses a statement either affirmative or negative.
* WE live very quietly here. My niece will tell you the same.
The imperative sentence urges the listener in the form of request or command to perform or not to perform a certain action.
*Let’s go and sit down there.
The interrogative sentence expresses a question that is a request for information wanted by the speaker from the listener. Some linguists recognize the existence of the forth cardinal communication type. It is the so called Illish’s “purely exclamatory sentence” that can not be reduced to any of the three demonstrated cardinal types. The existence of the purely exclamatory sentence is defended in particular by Illish. By purely exclamatory exclamations of ready made order such as great heavens, good lord, for god’s sake and the like. But most grammarians don’t think them to be communicative utterances, but mere symptoms of emotions, shouts of strong feelings. The property of exclamation is considered as an accompanying feature effected within the system of the three cardinal communicative types. In other words each of these sentence types can be represented in the 2 variants: non-exclamatory and exclamatory:
*What a very small cabin it was! (Non-exclamatory – it was a very small cabin).
*Then why in God’s name did you come?
*Francis, will you please try to speak sensively – exclamatory – imperative – speak sensively.
The American structural linguist Charles Freeze has undertaken an attempt to change that traditional communicative classification of sentences. He classifies sentences according to the responses they elicit. He singles out “situation utterance” (eliciting a response) and ‘response-utterances”. Situation utterances are subdivided into 3 groups: 1) utterances that are regularly followed by oral responses only. These are greetings, calls, questions. (Hello, goodbye, see you soon). 2) Utterances eliciting action responsing. These are requests or commands (come up to me). 3) utterances regularly eliciting conventional signals of attention to continue discourse. (I’ve been taking to him. –Yes.)
Together with the described communicative utterances directed to a definite listener. Charles Freeze points out utterances which are not directed to any particular listener but expresses characteristics of situations; surprise, sudden pain, disgust, anger, laughter, sorrow.
*oh, goodness, my God, by heavens, interjectional units of this kind are called by Freeze “non-communicative utterances”.
Analyzing Freeze’s classification of utterances it may be pointed out that it confirms and specifies the traditional communicative classification of sentence according to the purpose of communication.
According to structure sentences are classified into simple and composite. The basic predicative meaning of the typical English sentence are expressed by the finite verb immediately connected with t subject of the sentence. The predicative connection is usually referred to as “the predicative line” of the sentence. Sentences may have 1 predicative line or several predicative lines. In other words sentences may be respectably monopredicative and polipredicative. A sentence with only one predicative line is the simple sentence.
According to this definition sentences with several predicates referring to one and the same subject can not be considered as simple.
*I took the child in my arms and held him.
This sentence expresses two different predicative lines since its two predicates are separately connected with the subject. Sentences having verb predicate ends more than one subject to it if the subjects from separate predicative connections can not be considered as simple either.
*the door was open, ad also the front window.
The composite sentence as different from the simple sentence is formed by 2 or more predicative lines. Each predicative unit in a composite sentence makes up a clause in it. The 2 main types of the connection of clauses in a composite sentence are subordination and coordination. A polipredicative construction built up on the principle of subordination is called the complex sentences. The complex sentence of minimal includes 2 minimal clauses – a principle one and a subordinate one.
*That was the day when she was wearing her pink dress.
The compound sentence is a composite sentence built on the principle of coordination.
*Jane adored that actor but Hockings could not stand the side of him.
The simple sentence
1. One member sentences
2. Two member sentences.
The subject group and the predicate group of the sentence are its two constitutive members (in the Russian grammatical tradition составы предложения). According as both members are present in the composition of the sentence o only one of them sentences are classed into 2 member and 1 member ones. So in a one member sentence only one main part or its part is expressed in the outer structure of the sentence.
*death! Murder! Silence! Except for the mourning wind!
Though the principal parts of the above one member sentences are expressed by nouns still these can’t be identified with the subjects. These nouns differ from the subject in 2 member sentences because they are at the same tie the bearer of predicatively that is they denote certain thins and state the fact of their existence. The central part of one member sentences can be expressed by nouns or numerals. By adjectives, by adverbial phrases, by non-finite forms of the verb. In accordance within some grammarians distinguish nominal sentences (назывные), adjective sentences, adverbial sentences, verbal sentences. Nominal sentences are formed of a noun or a numeral either extended or unextended by attributes.
*Sunday morning! Market place of a launch miming village in the midlands.
This kind of sentence is used in description or stage s\directions introducing certain situations.
In adjective sentences the central part s expressed by an adjective which denotes certain qualities or describes these qualities to the whole situation, treated in a general sense.
*marvelous! How terrible! How very interesting!
In adverbial sentences central par is expressed by various mostly prepositional adverbial phrases.
*In the garden restaurant of a hotel, on the rhyme on a fine afternoon, in 1880.
This kind of sentences is used only in stage directions where it introduces the necessary description of a scene or situation.
The central part of verbal one member sentence is expressed by non-finite forms of the verb, mostly by an infinitive, sometimes by a gerund or a participle.
*Living at the mercy of a woman who has neither mercy nor pity in her!
*To be alive! To have views and the world before one!
This type of sentence is used mostly to describe emotions, subjective perception of reality. Among one member sentences are also classed imperative sentences with no subject of the action mentioned.
Most scholars, for instance Pr. Illish, point out that genuine one member sentences are characterized not only as expressing one member in their outer structure. In addition they do not imply to other member. In accord with this view elliptical sentences in which the subject or the predicate is contextually omitted are analyzed as “2 member sentences’. A missing word can easily be restores. Pr. Bloch writes in his book that in reality each one member sentence exposes traits of the association with an ellipses.
The sentence – Come on – traditionally considered as one member implies a situational person or person stimulated to perform an action. When it comes to elliptical sentences which occur in dialogues we can see that some of them admit of more than one variant reconstruction. Here is one of the examples.
*And we shall understand you a good deal better after we’ve met Geargy. – Over my dead body!
Summing up what has been said about 1 member sentences we must stress that one member sentences form a minor group within the general system of English sentence patterns.
2. In 2 member sentence the subject group and the predicate group are directly expressed in the outer structure. This concerns all the three cardinal communicative types of sentences.
*You’d better go back to bed.
The semantic classification of simple sentences can be effected at least on the three bases; 1) on the basis of the subject categorical meanings 2) on the basis of the predicate categorical meanings 3) on the basis of the subject – object relation. Reflecting the categories of the subject simple sentences are divided into personal and impersonal. The further division of the personal is into human and non human; human are subdivided into definite and indefinite. Non-human into animate and inanimate. The further division of impersonal sentences is into factual (it rains, it is 5 o’clock) and perceptional (it smells of key here). Reflecting the categories of the predicate simple sentences are divided into process-featuring (verbal) and in the broad sense substance-featuring. Among the process featuring sentences actional and statal ones are discriminated.
*The window is opening – actional. The window is glistening – statal.
Among the substance featuring sentences factual and perceptional ones are discriminated.
*The sea is rough – factual. The place seems quiet – perceptional.
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