ТОП 10:

SYLLABIC STRUCTURE OF ENGLISH WORDS



A syllable (G.P. Torsuyev) is the smallest unit into which a word can be divided from articulatory point of view. The syllable is articulatorily autonomous [Торсуев 1975: 4].

G.P. Torsuyev: 4 types of syllable in English:

1. V type: fully open (i.e. consisting of one vowel, e.g. I, or);

2. CVC type: fully closed (i.e. consisting of a vowel preceded and followed by consonants, e.g. cup, time, strong);

3. CV type: initially covered (прикрытый в начале) (i.e. beginning with one or several consonants, e.g. sea, play, straw);

4. VC type: finally covered (прикрытый в конце) (i.e. ending in one or several consonants, e.g. at, acts, and) [Торсуев 1975: 8].

The fully-closed type has 12 subtypes:

1) CVC

2) CVCC

3) CVCCC

4) CCVC

5) CCCVC

6) CCVCC

7) CCVCCC

8) CCCVCC

9) CCCVCCC

10) CVCCCC

11) CCVCCCC

12) CVCCCCC

Theories of syllable formation

1) ancient theory: there are as many syllables as there are vowels.

2) Expiratory theory = pressure theory (R. Stetson): each syllable corresponds to a single expiration.

3) Sonority theory (O. Jesperson): there are as many syllables as there are peaks of sonority. He offered the scale of sonority of sounds: the most sonorous are a) back vowels, then come b) semi-vowels and sonorants; then c) voiced and voiceless consonants, the least sonorous are plosive voiceless consonants.

4) Theory of muscular tension (L.V. Shcherba): the syllable is defined as an arc of articulatory or muscular tension. Different types of consonants: 1. finally-strong or initially-weak and 2. initially-strong or finally-weak.

 

THE PARTS OF SPEECH

The parts of speech are classes of words, all the members of these classes having certain characteristics in common which distinguish them from the members of other classes.

English grammarians have been vacillating between 3 and 13 parts of speech.

There are 4 approaches to the problem:

- Classical (logical, inflexional)

- Functional

- Distributional

- Complex

1. Classical approach

It is based on Latin grammar. All words are divided into:

Declinable:

- Nouns

- Pronouns

- Verbs

- Participles

Indeclinable:

- Adverbs

- Prepositions

- Conjunctions

- Interjections

It can’t be applied to the English language as the principle of declinability / indeclinability is not relevant for analytical languages.

2. Functional approach

It was introduced in the 19th century by Henry Sweet. He resorted to the functional features of words and singled out nominative units and particles.

To nominative parts of speech belonged noun words (noun-pronoun, noun-numeral, infinitive, gerund), adjective words (adjective, adjective-pronoun, adjective-numeral, participles), verb (finite verb, verbals – gerund, infinitive and participles); while adverb, preposition, conjunction and interjection belonged to the group of particles.

3. Distributional approach

It’s a classification introduced by Charles Fries. He introduced 4 major classes of words and 15 form-classes.

The basis for his analysis formed 3 test frames.

Frame A: The concert was good (always).

Frame B: The clerk remembered the tax (suddenly).

Frame C: The team went there

4. Complex approach

In modern linguistics parts of speech are discriminated according to 3 criteria:

- semantic

- formal

- functional (function in the sentence and combinability)

The semantic criterion presupposed the grammatical meaning of the whole class of words (general grammatical meaning).

Meaning is not the individual meaning of each separate word (lexical meaning) but the meaning common to all the words of the given class and constituting its essence.

The formal criterion reveals paradigmatic properties:

- relevant grammatical categories

- form of the words

- the specific inflexional and derivational features

It is possible to divide all the words of the language into:

notional:

- nouns

- pronouns

- numerals

- verbs

- adjectives

- adverbs

functional:

- particles

- prepositions

- conjunctions

- modal words

- interjections

 

THE NOUN

The noun is the central lexical unit of the language. It’s the main nominative unit of speech.

Semantic features of a noun

The noun possesses the grammatical meaning of thingness, substantivity. According to different principles of classification nouns fall into several subclasses:

1) according to the type of nomination: proper and common

2) according to the form of existence: animate and inanimate

Animate nouns fall into: human and non-human

3) according to their quantitative structure: countable and uncountable

 

Morphological features of a noun

In accordance with a morphological structure of the stems all nouns can be classified into:

- simple (neither suffix nor prefix)

- derived (either suffix or prefix or both)

- compound (2 or more stems)

- composite (2 or more stems with suffixes or prefixes)

 

Syntactic features of nouns

The noun can be used in all syntactic functions but predicate.

It can go into right-hand and left-hand connections with practically all parts of speech.

 

The category of number

It is the linguistic representation of the objective category of quantity.

Number category is realized through the opposition of 2 form-classes:

- the plural form

- the singular form

The singular form may denote:

a) oneness (individual separate object, ex.: a cat)

b) generalization (the meaning of the whole class, ex.: the cat is a domestic animal)

c) indiscreetness or uncountableness, ex.: money, milk

The plural form may denote:

a) the existence of several objects, ex.: cats

b) the inner discreetness, ex.: jeans

THE CATEGORY OF CASE

 

It expresses the relation of a word to another word in the word group or sentence.

It is realized through the opposition: the common case – the possessive case.

There is no universal point to the view as to the case system in English.

Ilyish: Case is a category of a noun expressing relations between the things denoted by a noun and other things or properties and which is manifested in the noun itself.

Boy – the zero-morpheme is a formal sign for the formal case.

Bloch: case is the immanent morphological category of the noun manifested in the forms of noun declension and showing the relations of the nounal referent to other objects and phenomena. It may be called the limited case theory.

Different scholars stick to a different number of cases.

Charles Fillmoredistinguished 6 cases (syntactic, semantic approach):

- agentive case, ex.: John opened the door (John – the doer)

- instrumental case, ex.: The key opened the door

- dative case, ex.: John believed that he would win (the case of the animate being affected by the state or action identified by the verb)

- factitive case, ex.: The key was damaged (the result of the action or state identified by the verb)

- locative case, ex.: Chicago is windy

- objective case, ex.: John stole the book

John Lyonsdistinguished 7 cases (semantic approach):

- nominative case, ex.: Tom died.

- acusative case, ex.: John killed Tom.

- dative case, ex.: John gave the money to Tom. John gave Tom the money.

- genetive case, ex.: It was John’s money

- instrumental case, ex.: John killed Tom with a knife

- agentive case, ex.: Tom was killed by Bill. By Bill – agent of the action

- comitative case (in the company with), ex.: Bill went to Tom with Mary

 

There are no cases at all.

The category of case has been destroyed by the theory of possessive postposition by professor Voronzova. She considers that it has the same grammatical function as a preposition. She denies the cases because these prepositional elements may be applied not to nouns but also to other words.

 

THE CATEGORY OF GENDER

According to some language analists (Ilyish, Palmer, Marakovskaya) nouns have no category of gender in modern English as the category of sex should not be confused with the category of gender as sex is an objective biological category.

It correlates with gender only when sex differences of living being are manifested in language grammatically. Ex.: tiger – tigress.

Still other linguists Bloch, Lyons admit the existence of the category of gender.

It can be proved by the correlation of a noun with a personal pronoun of the 3rd person (he, she, it). Accordingly there are 3 genders in English: feminine, masculine, neuter.

In the plural all the gender distinctions are neutralized.

English nouns can show the sex of their referents lexically by means of being combined with certain notional words used as sex-indicators or by suffixal derivation, ex.: boy-friend – girl-friend, lion – lioness.

 

THE VERB

 

Grammatically the verb is the most complex part of speech. It performs the central role in realizing predication – connection between situation in the utterance and reality.

 

Semantic features of the verb

The verb possesses the grammatical meaning of verbiality – the ability to denote a process developing in time.

 

Morphological features

The verb possesses the following grammatical categories:

- Tense

- Aspect

- Mood

- Person

- Number

- Time correlation

- Voice

 

Syntactic features

- the ability to be modified by adverbs

- the ability of the verb to perform the syntactic function of the predicate

- any verb in the form of the infinitive can be combined with the modal verb.

 







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