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THE WORD-GROUP THEORY

Лекция

Иностранные языки, филология и лингвистика

There are a lot of definitions concerning the wordgroup. The most adequate one seems to be the following: the wordgroup is a combination of at least two notional words which do not constitute the sentence but are syntactically connected.

Английский

2015-08-28

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LECTURE 8: THE WORD-GROUP THEORY

  1.  Definition and general characteristics of the word-group.

There are a lot of definitions concerning the word-group. The most

adequate one seems to be the following: the word-group is a combination of at least two notional words which do not constitute the sentence but are syntactically connected. According to some other scholars (the majority of Western scholars and professors B.Ilyish and V.Burlakova – in Russia), a combination of a notional word with a function word (on the table) may be treated as a word-group as well. The problem is disputable as the role of function words is to show some abstract relations and they are devoid of nominative power. On the other hand, such combinations are syntactically bound and they should belong somewhere.

General characteristics of the word-group are:

1) As a naming unit it differs from a compound word because the number of constituents in a word-group corresponds to the number of different denotates: a black bird – чорний птах (2), a blackbird – дрізд (1);

                a loud speaker (2), a loudspeaker (1).

2) Each component of the word-group can undergo grammatical changes without destroying the identity of the whole unit: to see a house - to see houses.

3) A word-group is a dependent syntactic unit, it is not a communicative unit and has no intonation of its own.

  1.  Classification of word-groups.

Word-groups can be classified on the basis of several principles:

  1.  According to the type of syntagmatic relations: coordinate (you and me), subordinate (to see a house, a nice dress), predicative (him coming, for him to come),
  2.  According to the structure: simple (all elements are obligatory), expanded (to read and translate the text – expanded elements are equal in rank), extended (a word takes a dependent element and this dependent element becomes the head for another word: a beautiful flower – a very beautiful flower).
  3.  Subordinate word-groups.

Subordinate word-groups are based on the relations of dependence between the constituents. This presupposes the existence of a governing

Element which is called the head and the dependent element which is called the adjunct (in noun-phrases) or the complement (in verb-phrases).

 According to the nature of their heads, subordinate word-groups fall into noun-phrases (NP) – a cup of tea, verb-phrases (VP) – to run fast, to see a house, adjective phrases (AP) – good for you, adverbial phrases (DP) – so quickly, pronoun phrases (IP) – something strange, nothing to do.

The formation of the subordinate word-group depends on the valency of its constituents. Valency is a potential ability of words to combine. Actual realization of valency in speech is called combinability.

  1.  The noun-phrase (NP).

  Noun word-groups are widely spread in English. This may be explained

by a potential ability of the noun to go into combinations with practically all parts of speech. The NP consists of a noun-head and an adjunct or adjuncts with relations of modification between them. Three types of modification are distinguished here:

  1.  Premodification that comprises all the units placed before the head: two smart hard-working students. Adjuncts used in pre-head position are called pre-posed adjuncts.
  2.  Postmodification that comprises all the units all the units placed after the head: students from Boston. Adjuncts used in post-head position are called post-posed adjuncts.
  3.  Mixed modification that comprises all the units in both pre-head and post-head position: two smart hard-working students from Boston.                                                                                     
  4.  Noun-phrases with pre-posed adjuncts.

In noun-phrases with pre-posed modifiers we generally find adjectives, pronouns, numerals, participles, gerunds, nouns, nouns in the genitive case (see the table). According to their position all pre-posed adjuncts may be divided into pre-adjectivals and adjectiavals. The position of adjectivals is usually right before the noun-head. Pre-adjectivals occupy the position before adjectivals. They fall into two groups: a) limiters (to this group belong mostly particles): just, only, even, etc. and b) determiners (articles, possessive pronouns, quantifiers – the first, the last).

Premodification of nouns by nouns (N+N) is one of the most striking features about the grammatical organization of English. It is one of devices to make our speech both laconic and expressive at the same time. Noun-adjunct groups result from different kinds of transformational shifts. NPs with pre-posed adjuncts can signal a striking variety of meanings:

world  peace – peace all over the world

silver box – a box made of silver

table lamp – lamp for tables

table legs – the legs of the table

river sand – sand from the river

school child – a child who goes to school

The grammatical relations observed in NPs with pre-posed adjuncts may convey the following meanings:

  1.  subject-predicate relations: weather change;
  2.  object relations: health service, women hater;
  3.  adverbial relations: a) of time: morning star,

                                    b) place: world peace, country house,

                                    c) comparison: button eyes,

                        d) purpose: tooth brush.

     It is important to remember that the noun-adjunct is usually marked by a stronger stress than the head.

Of special interest is a kind of ‘grammatical idiom’ where the modifier is reinterpreted into the head: a devil of a man, an angel of a girl.

  1.  Noun-phrases with post-posed adjuncts.

NPs with post-posed may be classified according to the way of connection into prepositionless and prepositional. The basic prepositionless NPs with post-posed adjuncts are: Nadj. – tea strong, NVen – the shape unknown, NVing – the girl smiling, ND – the man downstairs, NVinf – a book to read, NNum – room ten.

The pattern of basic prepositional NPs is N1 prep. N2. The most common preposition here is ‘of’ – a cup of tea, a man of courage. It may have quite different meanings: qualitative - a woman of sense, predicativethe pleasure of the company, objectivethe reading of the newspaper, partitive the roof of the house.

  1.  The verb-phrase.

The VP is a definite kind of the subordinate phrase with the verb as the head. The verb is considered to be the semantic and structural centre not only of the VP but of the whole sentence as the verb plays an important role in making up primary predication that serves the basis for the sentence. VPs are more complex than NPs as there are a lot of ways in which verbs may be combined in actual usage.

  1.  Classification of verb-phrases. 

VPs can be classified according to the nature of their complements – verb complements may be nominal (to see a house) and adverbial (to behave well). Consequently, we distinguish nominal, adverbial and mixed complementation.

Nominal complementation takes place when one or more nominal complements (nouns or pronouns) are obligatory for the realization of potential valency of the verb: to give smth. to smb., to phone smb., to hear smth.(smb.), etc.

Adverbial complementation occurs when the verb takes one or more adverbial elements obligatory for the realization of its potential valency: He behaved well, I live …in Kyiv (here).

Mixed complementation – both nominal and adverbial elements are obligatory: He put his hat on he table (nominal-adverbial).

According to the structure VPs may be basic or simple (to take a book) – all elements are obligatory; expanded (to read and translate the text, to read books and newspapers) and extended (to read an English book).

  1.  Predicative word-groups.

Predicative word combinations are distinguished on the basis of secondary predication. Like sentences, predicative word-groups are binary in their structure but actually differ essentially in their organization. The sentence is an independent communicative unit based on primary predication while the predicative word-group is a dependent syntactic unit that makes up a part of the sentence. The predicative word-group consists of a nominal element (noun, pronoun) and a non-finite form of the verb: N + Vnon-fin. There are Gerundial, Infinitive and Participial word-groups (complexes) in the English language: his reading, for me to know, the boy running, etc.)


 

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