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CHAPTER 2. THE STRUCTURAL ASPECT OF THE SENTENCE

1. Classification of sentences according to their structure.

2. The notions of valency, structural minimum and the elementary sentence.

3. The syntactic processes of extending and compressing the elementary sentence.

1. The sentence as we stated above possesses three main aspects: structural (it says how the sentence is built, semantic ( it says what the sentence is about), and communicative ( it says what for the sentence was pronounced and what is the most important information it contains).

The structural aspect of the sentence deals with the structural organization of the sentence, it reveals the mechanisms of deriving sentences and structural types of sentences.

According to their structure sentences are classified into simple (monopredicative structures) and composite (polypredicative structures) which are further subdivided into complex (based on subordination) and compound (based on coordination). Clauses within the structure of a composite sentence may be connected with the help of formal markers (conjunctions and connectives: relative pronouns and relative adverbs - syndetically) and without any formal markers -asyndetically. Thus we should differentiate between two structural varieties of composite sentences: syndetic and asyndetic types. This traditional view on the nature of asyndetic composite sentence was challenged by some scholars who suggested that asyndetic composite sentences should not be differentiated into complex and compound and should be treated as special type of a composite sentence and only syndetic composite sentences should be further subdivided into complex and compound [nocnenoB 1950, 338-345]. However, we share the opinions of the scholars who consider that the two types of composite sentences differ formally rather than semantically and asyndetic types of composite sentences are always semantically correlated with syndetic types [Blokh 1983, 298-300]. The scope of asyndetic sentences is much more narrow: asyndetic connection is observed in object clauses (/ wish I were his age), attributive clauses (You are the most wonderful person I've ever met), adverbial clauses of condition (Should you see him ask him to contact me) and result (/ was so surprised I could hardly speak).

Though the difference between the complex and compound sentences is based on the two different types of semantic relations: subordination and coordination, the borderline between complex and compound sentences is not always hard and fast. Here, as everywhere in the system of language, we come across marginal types. Sentences may have formal markers of subordination but the semantic relations between the clauses appear to be more coordinate than subordinate. Thus, the meaning of subordination is largely weakened in attributive continuative clauses introduced by the relative pronoun 'which', e.g. She said 'no' which was exactly what I had expected to hear (J. Fowles). The relations between the two clauses are closer to coordinate, which can be verified by the possibility to replace the subordinate connective ''which' by the coordinate conjunction 'and' without changing essentially the meaning of the sentence. Compare: She said 'no' and that was exactly what I had expected to hear. Another example of weakened subordination is observed in sentences introduced by the conjunction 'whereas'. E.g. She was very tall whereas her husband hardly reached her shoulder. The meaning of this formally complex sentence can be rendered by a compound sentence: She was very tall and her husband hardly reached her shoulder.



In the sphere of the compound sentence we have one type of sentences which semantically are close to a complex sentence. This is the type based on causative-consecutive relations between the clauses. E.g. / missed my bus therefore 1 was late. The same type of relations is expressed by a complex sentence, e.g. As I I missed my bus I was late. The difference between the two types of composite sentence appears to be more formal than semantic: the conjunction 'therefore' is conventionally referred to coordinative conjunctions, though the causative-consecutive relations are much closer to subordination than coordination: the consequence always depends on the cause.

Besides these pure types there are also peripheral types: semicomplex and semicompound sentences which contain structures of secondary predication: infinitival, participial and gerundial constructions, absolute constructions with or without a participle and structures with the so-called double predicate. These structures of secondary predication establish the relations of functional synonymy with the corresponding subordinate clauses or, in the case of semicompound sentences, with the corresponding clause of a compound sentence. E.g. There is so much work to be done — There is so much work that has to be done. She saw her daughter sitting up in bed - She saw that her daughter was sitting up in bed. She walked to the table dazed—She walked to the table and she was dazed. As always in the case of synonymy they are not absolute synonyms and the choice of the synonyms is dictated by various syntactic, semantic and pragmatic factors.

Thus, the structural classification of sentences can be presented by the following scheme:

Sentence
Simple Semi-composite Composite

Compound Complex

2. In the traditional grammatical theories that were logic-oriented the main instrument of syntactic analysis was the so-called simple unextended sentence, a structure that contains only two syntactic elements - the subject and the predicate. This understanding treated the sentence (unit of language) as an exact analogy of the logical proposition which consists of two parts - the logical subject and the logical predicate. However, one cannot expect logical and linguistic categories to be exactly parallel. Any attempt to establish the relations of absolute analogy between the logical and linguistic categories results in distorting the reality of the language. Depending .on the number of components, sentences are traditionally divided into unextended and extended and the simple unextended sentence (a sentence that contains only the subject and the predicate) is used as the instrument of syntactic analysis. However, a closer look at some of the so called simple unextended sentences shows that some of such sentences appear to be ungrammatical because they are semantically incomplete, e.g. * He put; * He took; *He gave etc. These sentences are meaningless because they lack some parts of the sentence without which the meaning of the verbs is not exposed. In other words, the valency of the verbs has not been realized. The Russian poet Daniil Kharms used this effect of incompletion to create a piece of nonsense poetry:

KaK -mo 6a6ywK.a Maxnyjia,

u mowmac oice napoeos

J],emfiM nodan u CKasan:

" fJeume Kawy u cyndyx.".

The effect of nonsense in this poem is created by the absence of parts of the sentence, required by the valency of the verbs 'uaxamb' and 'nodamb' and also by the semantic disagreement between the verb 'numb' and the objects that follow it.

The theory of valency was worked out by the German scholar G. Helbig, the French scholar L.Tesniere and the Russian scholars S.D.Katznelson, N.I.Filitcheva and B.A.Abramov. Valency,as it was defined in the chapter on the verb, is understood as the ability of the verb to combine with other parts of the sentence for the vei*b to realize its lexical meaning and thus become the semantic and structural centre of the sentence.L.Tesniere says that a sentence presents a little drama in the centre of which is the action (the verb), the main characters (he calls them actants) and there may also be minor characters (he calls them circonstants) [TeHBep, 1988]. Thus it is necessary to differentiate between the obligatory valency and obligatory parts of the sentence without which the sentence is ungrammatical and optional valency as well as optional parts of the sentence which give additional information about the event described in the sentence. Thus in the sentence The little boy put his big bag on the diner table the subject boy, the object bag and the adverbial modifier on the table are obligatory, whereas the attributes little, big and dinner are optional. And in the sentences She spoke in a hoarse voice and She looked at me -with her sad eyes the attributes hoarse and sad are obligatory because their deletion makes the sentences semantically empty:

* She spoke in a voice or * She looked at me with her eyes. Sometimes the deletion of some parts of the sentence changes the meaning of the sentence drastically, e.g. / never lent him fifty ponds without feeling that I was in his debt (S. Maugham); I never told a woman I admired her when I didn 't (J. Galsworthy). Compare: I never lent him fifty pounds....; I never told a woman I admired her...

The minimum structure of the sentence which includes the predicate and the obligatory parts of the sentence forms the structural minimum, or the structural scheme of the sentence. The structural scheme of the sentence belongs to the level of the language. The sentence based on this structural scheme is called the elementary sentence and it serves as the instrument of the syntactic analysis. A set of structural schemes specific of a language constitutes the syntactic basis of the language which serves for building up all the innumerable sentences as units of speech. Here are some of the most typical structural schemes of sentences in English:

1. N - V intrans. - The plane disappeared.

2. N - V trans. - Obj direct -Hike bananas.

3. N - V trans. - Obj. indirect - Obj. direct -1bought myself a present.

4. N - V intrans. - Adv. Mod. of place - He lives in France.

5. N - V trans. - Obj. direct - Adv. mod. of manner - He treated the boy cruelly.

6. N - V intrans. - Adv. mod. of manner/comparison. - She behaved like an angel.

The number of these structural schemes is limited for every language and constitutes its syntactic base. All the variety of sentences that occur in speech appear as the result of various modifications of the elementary sentence. These modifications may either extend or compress the elementary sentence. There are several processes of extending and compressing the elementary sentence and they may form various combinations. The most important processes of extending the elementary sentence, according to G.Pocheptsov are the following: extension, expansion, compounding, contamination, detachment and parcellation [ BypjiaKosa, rioneimoB 1981, 213 -23 0].

 

1) Extension. It consists in adding to a part of the sentence a unit of the same syntactic status. As the result of extension we have sentences with homogenous parts. E.g. / waited and -waited. Diana had of course seen -what happened between him and Lisa. It must have been fairly obvious: those looks, those sighs, those shudderings, those significant almost-touches. (I. Murdoch).

2) Expansion. It consists in modifying one part of the sentence by another, subordinated to it. Expansion results in the formation of subject, predicate, object and adverbial modifier groups. E.g. The train arrived at the station at 6. - The Moscow train arrived at the little station at 6 sharp.

3) Compounding consists in changing a part of the sentence (usually the predicate) from simple to compound. The predicate may be compounded by the introduction of either modal or aspective component or both of them at a time. E.g. It was a joke - It must have been a joke. They were friends - They used to befriends. His heart seemed to have stopped beating.

4) Contamination results in the formation of the so-called double predicate in which the verb becomes syncretic and fulfils a double function: that of a notional verb that of a link verb. E.g. He stood invisible. We waited breathless. Another case of syncretism is observed in the cases when the verb combines the functions of an auxiliary and a link, as in the following sentences:

It wasn 't snowing in the morning but clear, blue and cold (I. Shaw).

She was fat and smooth and quietly smiling (S.Maugham).

5. Detachment consists in accentuating a part of a sentence and is achieved by a pause in oral speech and by commas or dashes in writing. E.g. She offended him solid, matter-of-fact, quick, clear-Fr en ch (J. Galsworthy).

6.The ultimate degree of detachment results in parcelation as the result of which the detached part of the sentence is separated from the rest of the sentence by a full stop and forms a separate syntactic structure. E.g. He resigned. This afternoon (A. Hailey); He went to a small restaurant for dinner. Alone (I. Shaw). The parcellated part usually occurs in the end of the sentence, but occasionally it may occur at the beginning of the sentence. But now. Lisa had taken Miles away from her and now she taken Danby too (I. Murdoch).

Both detachment and parcellation are very effective means of accentuating the most important information of the sentence and serve the needs of expressive syntax.

The processes of compressing the elementary sentence are less numerous and include substitution, representation and ellipsis.

1) Substitution consists in. replacing a part of a sentence or a whole sentence by a word-substitute. The most frequent substitutes are: it, this, one, so, do etc. E.g. "/ am very happy" "You look it" or: "Men often propose for practice. My brother Gerald told me so ( O. Wilde).

2)Representation is a use of a part of a syntactic unit or a or a part of a grammatical form to represent the whole form, e.g. "/ left Soames. " "You always wanted to. "( J. Galsworthy). Representation and substitution often go together, as in

the following extract: "Miles doesn't work on Sundays?"- "Sometimes he does, but he can always not if he wants to " (I. Murdoch).

3) Ellipsis is a process of deleting from a sentence one or more parts which are redundant from the informative point of view. The deleted parts can easily be restored either from the previous context or from analogous structures which exist in the language and, consequently, in the lingual memory of the speakers. According to the source of their restoration elliptical sentences are subdivided into syntagmatically restored (i.e. restored from the context) and paradigmatically restored (i.e. from the analogous structures that exist in the language and, consequently, in the speaker's lingual memory). Let's have examples of both the types.

1. Roses for Mrs Moor! (I.Murdoch) - Bring roses for Mrs Moor (paradigmatically restored)

2. What does a forty-year- old- man look like to a twenty-two-year-old girl? -Ruins of walls of Pompeii. The trenches of Verdun. Hiroshima. (I. Shaw). -syntagmatically restored.

However, we should bear in mind that such a restoration is necessary only for the purpose of linguistic analysis, for understanding the nature of the elliptical sentences, but not for the needs of communication. In the processes of real communication elliptical sentences always contain enough information and do not need any completion. Our every day speech usually abounds in elliptical sentence, as in the following dialogue:

- Where to?

- Class.

- Math.

- No, Spanish.

-In a hurry?

- Rather.

-What for?

- Almost ten.

-Well, so long.

- Call me up.

Substitution, representation and ellipsis reveal the principle of economy in the language and learning to use these means of compression actually means learning to speak authentic English. Sometimes, learners of English speak almost flawless English and yet their speech does not sound authentic enough only because it lacks means of economy, i.e.substitutes, representatives and elliptical sentences which come automatically with native speakers.

CHAPTER 3. THE SEMANTIC ASPECT OF THESENTENCE

1. The notion of the semantic, or the deep structure of the sentence.

2. The problem of semantic modelling in syntax. The semantic types of sentences.

 

 

3. The relations between the formal (surface) and the semantic (deep) structures of the sentence.

1. The syntactic explorations of the last forty years have been marked by the renewed interest in the semantics of the sentence. The judgement once made by N. Chomsky that semantics begins where syntax ends seems to be given to oblivion because of its absolute inappropriateness. The generative syntax which started as purely transformational very soon became semantic generative syntax, as the scholars had to admit that any kind of the transformation of the sentence manifests a change in meaning. Semantics is no longer the Cinderella of linguistics, it's more like the Queen of linguistics. Today linguists are preoccupied in the study of covert categories, such as presupposition, implication, inference etc. which are not given directly in the syntactic structure of the sentence and can be revealed only in the process of the semantic interpretation of sentences.

The central notion of the semantic aspect of the sentence is that of the semantic (deep) structure of the sentence. On analogy with the word the sentence is treated as a linguistic sign and like a word it possesses form, denotation and signification. The denotatum of a word is an object of reality, and its significatum is a concept of this object in our minds. The denotatum of a sentence is a situation, or an event of reality and what is the significatum of a sentence? To answer this question let us turn to the semantic analysis of the following sentences. The student was writing his project. The professor had to reexamine the student. The grandmother did not finish her knitting.

The analysis shows that in spite of the difference in lexicon, tense, aspect and modality these sentences share certain information, i.e. all the three sentences name an action and its two participants: the agent and the object. This information constitutes the basis of the semantic, or the deep structure of the sentence. So the semantic structure of the sentence can be defined as the generalized semantic contents, revealed in the analysis of semantically homogeneous sentences.In other words the semantic structure, as it was justly pointed out by V.V.Bogdanov is just another name for the meaning of the sentence, yet the term 'semantic structure' is not redundant, but, on the contrary, it appears to be more convenient as it implies a certain organization and certain relations between its components. M.Y.Blokh points out that the notion of deep structure of the sentence can be used for detailed characteristics of the parts of the sentence as they can fulfil primary and secondary semantic functions in the sentence [Buox 2000, 105]. We would like to once again stress the point, that the differentiation of the semantic aspect of the sentence does not at all imply that the syntactic structures are asemantic. Yet in the study of various syntactic structures we constantly deal with the cases when one and the same syntactic structure expresses different meanings and, vice versa, one and the same meaning can be expressed by different syntactic structures, which makes it necessary to differentiate between the syntactic and semantic structures of the sentence and between the components of the syntactic level of the sentence (subject, predicate, object etc.)' and components of the semantic structure. The components of the semantic structure of the sentence have been named differently: actants (L. Tesniere), deep cases (Ch. Fillmore), semantic arguments, or semantic roles (V.V.Bogdanov, G.G. Pocheptsov ). The analysis of the semantic structure of the sentence and of the relations between the semantic and syntactic structures makes it possible to consistently differentiate between the primary and secondary semantic functions of the sentence parts and reveal the semantic potential of each part of the sentence as well as to point out and analyze the cases of synonymy and polysemy in the sphere of syntax.

Nowadays, mostly under the influence of the ideas of psycholinguistics many linguists tend to interpret the deep structure as the plot, the abstract plan of the sentence, or the interface between the mental dictionary and the lexico-grammatical structure [Pinker 1994, 121].

2. Once it is possible to speak about the semantic structure of the sentence, it is possible to speak about semantic types of sentences and their classification. There are several approaches to the classification of semantic types of sentences. As the sentence is built around the predicate most of the existing classifications are based on the semantic type of the predicate or on the valency characteristics of it. Thus, W. Chafe differentiates between three semantic types of predicates and, consequently, between three semantic types of sentences: 1) statal sentences -The -wood is dry; 2) process sentences - The wood dried; 3) action sentences - Harriet broke the dish.

The semantic classification of sentences worked out by N.D.Arutyunova has at its basis the logical types of situations reflected in the sentence [ApyxioHOBa 1976]. In accordance with these types it is possible to point out four semantic types of sentences: 1) sentences of nomination - The inevitable happened; 2) sentences of existence - Once upon a time there lived a blind poet; 3) sentences of characterization - He was a real gentleman; 4) sentences of identification - So you are the Holmes. As the problem of semantic modelling in syntax is comparatively new we may expect more and more classifications of semantic types of sentences to arrive.

3. So we can see that the sentence possesses the syntactic (formal, or surface) structure which can be observed directly and semantic (deep) structure which is not given in direct observation and can be revealed by means of semantic interpretation of the sentence and its parts. -The consistent differentiation between the formal and the semantic structures of the sentence makes it possible to analyze the relations between them. These relations may be of two kinds: symmetrical and asymmetrical. There certainly exists a fundamental parallelism between the parts of the sentence and their semantic roles in the sentence which is reflected in the so called primary semantic functions of the parts of the sentence. Let us turn to the analysis of the following sentence. He opened the door with my key. The sentence is characterized by the symmetrical relations between its formal and semantic structures: the predicate names the action, the subject corresponds to the agent, the direct object - to the recipient, and the prepositional object - to the instrument of the action.

But this fundamental parallelism is often broken and as everywhere in the language cases of asymmetry occur more frequently than cases of symmetry. Asymmetry between the syntactic and semantic structures of the sentence may find various manifestations in the sentence. Let us consider some of the most typical cases.

1) Not all semantic arguments may be presented in the surface structure of the sentence. Thus, in passive constructions the agent of the action is very often not expressed explicitly. E.g. I've been made to feel more welcome in my life (A. Conan Doyle).

2) One and the same part of the sentence may carry out different semantic functions in the sentence. Thus, the subject whose primary semantic function is the agent of the action may denote the object of the action, the addressee, the place, the time, the cause, the instrument and the action itself. E.g.

1) The facts were not in dispute (E. Segal) - object;

2) / was told by the concierge that that Mr Fabian expected me to come to his room(J. Shaw) - addressee;

3) London was windy (J. Galsworthy) - place;

4) The end of September began to witness their several returns (J. Galsworthy) - time ;

5) The knife cuts easily movement;

(I. Shaw) - instrument; 6) What brought you back? (I. Shaw} - cause; 6). Teasing made his day (A. Miller) - action.

On the other hand, one and the same semantic function may be expressed by different parts of the sentence, e.g. 1) He smiled sadly. 2) He smiled a sad smile. In these two sentences the manner of action is expressed by an adverbial modifier in the first sentence and by an object phrase in the second.

3) Sentences may have different syntactical but identical semantic structures, i.e. be close in their meaning. Let us analyze the following two sentences: 1) He was a good story teller. 2) He told a story well. The sentences have different syntactic structures, but both express characterization and can be referred to one and the same semantic type of sentences - sentences of characterization (in N.D. Arutyunova's classification). Such cases can be treated as cases of syntactic, or functional synonymy. Syntactic synonymy is often observed in the sphere of the predicate. E.g. Molto has been a no-show in the office for three days ( S. Turow). The predicate in this sentence is nominal in its form, but actional in semantics which becomes evident if we paraphrase the sentence - Molto has not shown himself in the office for three days. Thus the nominal predicate actualizes its secondary semantic function and becomes a functional synonym of the verbal predicate (for more detail see: ]KyjinrHHa 2003]).

4) Sentences may have identical syntactic, but different semantic structures, e.g. 1) He told a story well, and 2) He told the story well. The first sentence expresses a repeated action that characterizes a person and it is synonymous to the sentence He was a good story-teller, so it presents a sentence of characterization. The second sentence is actional in its semantics as it describes one particular event, it refers to sentences of nomination (in Arutynova's classification). The classical examples of sentences with identical syntactic but different semantic structures are: She made him a good husband because she made him a good wife; He is easy to please. He is eager to please. All these cases present cases of syntactic homonymy.

5) A sentence may be syntactically simple but semantically complex and vice versa. E.g. 1) / married a coward. 2) It's you who did it. The first sentence is syntactically simple but semantically complex as it presents a combination of two semantic types of sentences: that of nomination and that of characterization. The semantic interpretation of this sentence can be presented as: I married a person and that person is a coward. The second sentence is syntactically complex but its semantic structure is simple as it denotes one event of reality and belongs to the semantic type of identification (N.A.Kobrina defines such sentences as pseudo-complex).

The study of the semantic aspect of the sentence, the analysis of the ways of expressing identical semantic functions in different languages helps to point out the cases of similarity as well as the cases of difference between the languages. Thus, one of the most characteristic typological features of the English subject is that it is used in its secondary semantic functions much more frequently than the Russian subject which often results in the fact that Russian learners of English sometimes use structures which are not quite authentic in English. In Russian we say: "Uonemy mbi max dymaeuibl", which corresponds to the English "What makes you think soT\ yet instead of the more authentic "What makes you think so?" we often hear in class "Why do you think soT\

We may conclude by saying that semantic structures appear to be more (though never completely) universal whereas syntactic structures are language-specific and this fact must be taken into consideration in learning and teaching English.


Date: 2015-01-12; view: 3842


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