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Grammar category as the synthesis of grammar meaning and grammar form.

Lecture 3.

Theme. Grammatical meaning. Grammatical categories.

1. The grammatical meaning of words.

2. Grammar category as the synthesis of grammar meaning and grammar form.

3. Word classes.

4. The parts of speech problem.


The grammatical meaning of words.

Thus the grammatical meaning is the generalizing meaning of words, comprising them into one and the same class, i.e. names of objects and substances for nouns, names of actions for verbs, names of quality for adjective and so on. Grammatical meanings are not named. They are expressed by means of grammatical forms such as suffixes and inflexions. In grammatical meaning of number of nouns in English is expressed by the absence of the plural ending in singular and by the presence of –s or –es in plural. If we compare such word forms as boys, tables we notice at once that though denoting quite different objects of reality they have something in common. The common element is the grammatical meaning of plurality, which is expressed by the inflexion –s. To the form of words belong not only suffixes or prefixes, stress and affixes but also forms of the verbs expressed by modal, auxiliary verbs as well. We mean the formation of continuous aspect and the perfect tense of the verbs (to be, to have, shall, will).

Grammatical meanings characterize what class the words belong to: case and number are the characteristic feature of nouns; degrees of comparison – adjectives, adverbs; tense, voice, mood, person and number – verbs. With the help of grammatical meanings expressed by different grammatical forms, the syntactical relations between words are revealed.


Grammar category as the synthesis of grammar meaning and grammar form.

Grammatical category is a class of units (such as noun and verb) or features (such as number and case) that share a common set of grammatical properties.

Grammatical category is a linguistic category which has the effect of modifying the forms of some class of words in a language. The words of everyday language are divided up into several word classes, or parts of speech, such as nouns, verbs and adjectives. It often happens that the words in a given class exhibit two or more forms used in somewhat different grammatical circumstances. In each such case, this variation in form is required by the presence in the language of one or more grammatical categories applying to that class of words.

English nouns are affected by only one grammatical category, that of number: we have singular dog but plural dogs, and so on for most (but not all) of the nouns in the language. These forms are not interchangeable, and each must be used always and only in specified grammatical circumstances. And here is a key point: we must always use a noun in either its singular form or its plural form, even when the choice seems irrelevant; there is no possibility of avoiding the choice, and there is no third form which is not marked one way or the other. This is typically the case with grammatical categories.

It is important to keep in mind that a grammatical category is a linguistic, not a real-world, category, and that there is not always a one-to-one correspondence between the two, though they are usually closely related. For example 'tense' is a linguistic category, while 'time' is a category of the world. While past tense usually expresses past time (as in I saw a movie last night), the past-tense auxiliary in the following expresses future time: I wish you would go. And the present-tense verb of I leave tomorrow expresses future time.

Words are assigned to grammatical categories in traditional grammar on the basis of their shared semantic, morphological and syntactic properties. The kind of semantic criteria (sometimes called 'notional' criteria) used to categorise words in traditional grammar are illustrated in much-simplified form below:

Verbs denote actions (go, destroy, buy, eat etc.)

Nouns denote entities (car, cat, hill, John etc.)

Adjectives denote states (ill, happy, rich etc.)

Adverbs denote manner (badly, slowly, painfully, cynically etc.)

Prepositions denote location (under, over, outside, in, on etc.)

However, semantically based criteria for identifying categories must be used with care: for example, assassination denotes an action but is a noun, not a verb; illness denotes a state but is a noun, not an adjective; and Cambridge denotes a location but is a noun, not a preposition."

Notional words, first of all verbs and nouns, possess some morphemic features expressing grammatical (morphological) meanings. These features determine the grammatical form of the word.

Grammatical meanings are very abstract, very general. Therefore the grammatical form is not confined to an individual word, but unites a whole class of words, so that each word of the class expresses the corresponding grammatical meaning together with its individual, concrete semantics.

For instance, the meaning of the substantive plural is rendered by the regular plural suffix –(e)s, and in some cases by other, more specific means, such as phonemic interchange and a few lexeme-bound suffixes. Due to the generalized character of the plural, we say that different groups of nouns “take” this form with strictly defined variations in the mode of expression, the variations being of more systematic and less systemic nature.


Word classes.

The whole lexicon of English language, as all Indo-European languages, is divided into certain lexico-grammatical classes, which are traditionally called parts of speech. It should be noted that the term “parts of speech” is purely traditional and conventional, it can’t be taken as defining or explanatory. This name was introduced in the grammatical teaching of Ancient Greece. The existence of such classes doesn’t cause any hesitation with the linguists though the number of them is various with different scholars.

The main principles of these divisions into classes, existed for a long while, were explicitly formulated by L.V. Sherba; they are – the lexical meaning, morphological meaning and syntactical function. So, we can speak here about three criteria: “semantic”, “formal”, and “functional”. The semantic criterion presupposes the evaluation of the generalized meaning, which is characteristic of all the subsets of words constituting a given part of speech. This meaning is understood as the “categorial meaning of the part of speech”. The formal criterion provides for the exposition of the specific inflexional and derivational (word-building) features of all the lexemic subsets of a part of speech. The functional criterion concerns the syntactic role of words in the sentence typical of a part of speech. The said three factors of categorical characterization of words are conventionally referred to as, respectively, “meaning”, “form”, and “function”.


Date: 2016-03-03; view: 878

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