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SIMPLE SENTENCE: CONSTITUENT STRUCTURE

The finite verb, expressing the basic predicative meaning of the sentence and performing the function of the predicate, and the subject combined with it form the so-called “predicative line” of the sentence. On the basis of predicative line presentation, sentences are divided into monopredicative (with one predicative line expressed), i.e. simple, and polypredicative (with two or more predicative lines expressed), i.e. composite and semi-composite.

Traditionally, the simple sentence has been studied primarily from the point of view of its grammatical, or nominative division: the content of the situational event reflected by the sentence, which includes a certain process as its dynamic center, the agent of the process, the objects of the process, various conditions and circumstances of the process, form the basis of the traditional syntactic division of the sentence into its nominative (positional) parts, or members of the sentence. In other words, each notional part expresses a certain semantic component or “role”C:\home\marina\teaching_aids\thgram\online_read\bgpu\lectures UNIT 23.htm - _ftn1 in the situation; in the structure of the sentence, they perform the function of modifying either each other or the sentence in general.

The syntactic functions or the members of the sentence are traditionally divided into principal (main) and secondary. The principal parts of the sentence are the subject and the predicate, which modify each other: the subject is the “person” modifier of the predicate, and the predicate is the “process” modifier of the subject; they are interdependent. The secondary parts are: the object – a substance modifier of the predicate; the attribute – a quality modifier of substantive parts, either the subject or the object; the adverbial modifier – a quality modifier of the predicate; the apposition – a substance modifier of the subject; the parenthesis (parenthetical enclosure) - a detached speaker-bound modifier either of one of the nominative parts of the sentence or of the sentence in general; the address (addressing enclosure) – a modifier of the destination of the whole sentence; the interjection (interjectional enclosure) – an emotional modifier.

In the middle of the 20th century, new approaches to the analysis of the sentence were developed. In particular, the American linguist Noam Chomsky proposed the distinction between the level of the deep, semantic, or conceptual structure of the sentence and the level of its surface, or syntactic structure, different types of construction being connected by various transformations. Chomsky’s transformational grammar theory in the sphere of the nominative division of the sentence was further developed by C. J. Fillmore, who formulated the theory of case grammar: its central idea is that each notional part of the sentence correlates with one element of the underlying semantic level and possesses a ‘semantic case’C:\home\marina\teaching_aids\thgram\online_read\bgpu\lectures UNIT 23.htm - _ftn2 which represents its semantic role. In traditional linguistics, only adverbial modifiers enjoy a detailed semantic sub-classification into adverbial modifiers of time, place, manner, attendant circumstances, etc. In the classification of semantic roles, all semantic components of the situation are taken into consideration. For example, the “Agent” is the personal doer of the action, the “Power” the impersonal doer of the action, the “Patient” the direct object of the action, the “Instrument” the object with the help of which the action is fulfilled, the “Locative” some point or location in space, etcC:\home\marina\teaching_aids\thgram\online_read\bgpu\lectures UNIT 23.htm - _ftn3. The classification of semantic roles is complementary to the classification of notional parts of the sentence, and the two classifications can be employed together to better describe the nominative aspect of the sentence. For instance, the subject can be described as subject-agent, e.g.: I opened the door; as subject-patient, e.g.: The door was opened; subject-power, e.g.: The wind opened the door; subject-instrument, e.g.: The key opened the door; subject-locative, e.g.: Moscow hosted a summit, etc.



The structural pattern of the sentence is determined by the valency of the verb-predicate; the verb functions as the central predicative organizer of the sentence constituents. The subdivision of all notional sentence parts into obligatory and optional in accord with the valency of the verb-predicate makes it possible to distinguish the category of “elementary sentence”: it is a sentence in which all the positions are obligatory; in other words, an “elementary sentence” includes, besides the principal parts, only complementive modifiers.

The elementary sentence coincides structurally with the so-called unexpanded simple sentence, a monopredicative sentence, which includes only obligatory nominative parts. The expanded simple sentence includes also some optional parts, i.e. supplementive modifiers, which do not violate the syntactic status of the simple sentence, i.e. do not make it into a composite or semi-composite sentence. For example, the sentence ‘He gave me the book’ is unexpanded, because all the nominative parts of this sentence are required by the obligatory valency of the verb to give; cf.: *He gave…; He gave me… - these constructions would be semantically and structurally deficient. The sentence ‘He gave me a very interesting book’ is expanded, because it includes an expansion, the attribute-supplement very interesting; the second sentence is reducible to the elementary unexpanded sentence built on the syntagmatic pattern of the bicomplementive verb to give.

The two principal parts of the sentence, the subject and the predicate, with the subordinate secondary parts attached to them are the two constitutive members or “axes” of the sentence: the subject group (the subject “axis”) and the predicate group (the predicate “axis”). On the basis of their representation in the outer structure of the sentence, sentences are subdivided into complete sentences and incomplete sentences: in complete sentences both the subject group and the predicate group are present; they are also called “two-member sentences” or “two-axis sentences”; if only one axis is expressed in the outer structure of the sentence, the sentence is defined as incomplete; it is also called “one-member sentence”, “one-axis sentence”, or “elliptical sentence”.

Traditionally, one-axis sentences and elliptical sentences are distinguished in the following way: only those sentences in which the nominative parts are contextually omitted are considered to be elliptical, e.g.: Who is there? – Your brother. Since the missing parts are easily restored (“understood”) from the context, elliptical sentences are treated as two-member sentences. “Genuine” one-member sentences are traditionally treated as those which do not imply the missing member on contextual lines, e.g.: What a nice day! But, strictly speaking, “ellipsis”, as a mechanism of sentence structure-curtailing, can affect both two-axis sentences and one-axis sentences; as far as the immediate outer structure of the above given sentences is concerned, in both cases we are dealing with one-member sentences, in which the predicate axis is missing. Still, in some cases the ellipsis is “free”, determined by direct and obvious contextual axis-implications, and in other sentences the ellipsis “fixed”, and the absent axis cannot be restored with the same ease and accuracy. For example, the following elliptical structures are fixed in the system of language: emotionally colored name-callings, e.g.: Brute!; psychologically tense descriptions, e.g.: Night. Silence. No one in sight (so-called nominative sentences); various emphatic constructions, e.g.: To ask a question like this! What a joy!; some conversational formulas, e.g.: Thank you! Nice meeting you!; etc. Fixed one-axis sentences are also related to two-axis sentences, though the associations are indirect and vague, cf.: Brute!You are a brute; You brute; I consider you a brute; etc. The additional semantics of the fixed one-axis sentences (like the emotional “scream-style” name-calling of the sentence analyzed) is destroyed by such restorations. Nevertheless, there is no strictly defined demarcation line between free and fixed one-axis sentences: there is a continuum of sentences, related to the two-axis sentences by direct or indirect associations, cf.: Open the door. – You open the door; Thank you! – I thank you; etc.

As for negation and affirmation formulas (Yes; No; All right), vocative sentences (Ladies and gentlemen! Dear friends!), greeting and parting formulas (Hello! Good-bye!) and other similar constructions, they constitute the periphery of the category of the sentence: they are not exactly word-sentences, but rather sentence-representatives, related to the corresponding two-axis sentences not by “vague” implications, but by representation. Most of them exist only in syntagmatic combinations with full-sense antecedent predicative constructions. Cf.: Are you going to come? – No (= I am not going to come). The isolated exclamations of interjectional type, like My God! For heaven’s sake! Gosh!, etc., are not related to any two-axis constructions at all, either by vague implications or by representation, being “pseudo-sentences”, or “non-communicative utterances” and rendering no situational nomination, predication or informative perspective of any kind (see Unit 22).

The semantic classification of simple sentences is based on principal parts semantics. On the basis of subject categorial meaning, sentences are divided into impersonal, e.g.: It drizzles; There is no use crying over spilt milk; and personal; personal sentences are further subdivided into human and non-human. Human sentences are further subdivided into definite, e.g.: I know it; and indefinite, e.g.: One never knows such things for sure. Non-human sentences are further subdivided into animate, e.g.: A cat entered the room; and inanimate, e.g.: The wind opened the door. Impersonal sentences may be further subdivided into factual, e.g.: It drizzles; and perceptional, e.g. It looks like rain.

On the basis of predicate categorial meaning, sentences are divided into process featuring (“verbal”) and substance featuring (“nominal”); process featuring sentences are further subdivided into actional, e.g.: I play ball; and statal, e.g.: I enjoy your party; substance featuring sentences are further subdivided into factual, e.g.: She is clever; and perceptional, e.g.: She seems to be clever. As the examples show, the differences in subject categorial meaning are sustained by obvious differences in the subject-predicate combinability.

In practical courses on grammar, various subdivisions of simple sentences are usually based on the structure of the predicate: predicates are subdivided into simple (I read) and compound, which are further subdivided into compound verbal predicates (She started crying) and compound nominal predicates with pure and specifying link verbs (She looked beautiful).

On the basis of subject-object relations, simple sentences are divided into subjective, e.g.: He is a writer; objective, e.g.: He is writing a book; and neutral or “potentially” objective, e.g.: He is writing.

 


Date: 2015-02-03; view: 2455


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