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Sentence. General information.



In terms of meaning, the sentence is traditionally defined as the expression of a complete thought. The traditional definition is that a sentence is a group of words expressing a complete thought is to-day often criticised on the ground that a sentence is sometimes one word and that the thought is not always complete but largely depends on the meaning of preceding sentences.

The sentence is sometimes viewed only as a speech event with no relevance to its grammatical organisation and distribution at all.

A simple sentence has its own system of formal means to express objective modal meanings and time relations concerning the reality or irreality of what is expressed in predication. The reflection of objective reality in a sentence is always clear of purpose.

The theory of the functional sentence perspective worked out by the Prague School of linguistics has led in recent times to the concept of three stages of syntactic abstraction where the sentence is viewed as: 1) a single speech event; 2) a syntactic structure made up of the syntactic elements with no relevance to situational contexts and belonging only to grammar; 3) an utterance in its functional sentence perspective.

There are different definitions of the sentence:

1) Logical: A sentence is a proposition expressed by words (something true). A proposition is the semantic invariant of all the members of modal and communicative paradigms of sentences and their transforms. But besides sentences which contain propositions there are interrogative and negative sentences. Speech is emotional. There is no one to one relationship. Then a sentence can be grammatically correct, but from the point of view of logic it won’t be correct, true to life (Water is a gas). Laws of thinking are universal but there are many languages. Grammar and Logic don’t coincide.

2) Structural: A sentence is a subject-predicate structure. What are the subject and the predicate? Grammatical subject can only be defined in terms of the sentence. Moreover the grammatical subject often does not indicate what we are ‘talking about’ (The birds have eaten all the fruit. It is getting cold). Besides, this definition leaves out verbless sentences. There are one-member sentences. They are non-sentences? Conclusion – a sentence is a structural scheme.

3) Phonological: A sentence is a flow of speech between 2 pauses. But speech is made up of incomplete, interrupted, unfinished, or even quite chaotic sentences. Speech is made up of utterances but utterances seldom correspond to sentences.

Thus, it is more preferable to describe a sentence than to define it. The main peculiar features of the sentence are:

· integrity

· syntactic independence

· grammatical completeness

· semantic completeness

· communicative completeness

· communicative functioning

· predicativity

· modality

· intonational completeness

22)9.2. General characteristics of the composite sentence.

Main features of the sentence: 1) expresses predication => is called a predicative unit. It’s the main characteristic of the sentence. The sentence reflects connection between the denoted situational event and reality shows whether the action is real or unreal, desirable or not + expresses the time of the action. 2) nominates a situation or a situational event, so can be called a nominative unit (but it’s not main feature – word’s feature). 3) can be called a communicative unit as it carries this/that communicative intention which determines the communicative type of the sentence.

Traditional grammardefines the Sentence in the following way: it’s a word or a group of words capable of expressing a complete thought. Modern linguistics (e.g. semantic syntax) defines the sentence as a linguistic sign that nominates a situational event => a nominative unit. “The Sentence is a word or a group of words that nominate a situational event, express predication, and carry a communicative intention” – most comprehensive, all 3 features are comprised.

The problem of the Composite Sentence is how to define it, how to know it from simple sentence. (1) the simple sentence is monopredicative, so it has only 1 predicative line (center). The predicative line includes the subject + predicate. (2) the composite sentence is polypredicative, so it has > than 1 predicative lines or centers, reflects 2 or > situational events, and each predicative center makes up a clause of its own. Semi-composite sentence. How to distinguish? “He waved his hand and went away”. – the sentence nominates 2 situational events but we can’t find 2 predicative centers in it as there is 1 subject and 1 clause so semi-composite (Blokh’s term) are intermediate between simple and composite.

Main features of the composite sentence: 1) a polypredicative unit, 2) is characterized by a communicative wholeness, i.e. it has 1 communicative intention, 3) is characterized by intonational wholeness, all are interconnected, 4) characteristic of literary written style, rarely used in oral speech, in conversations.





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