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Phonetics as a branch of linguistics

structure and functions of the speech sounds. - This branch of linguistics is called phonetics.

Phonetics is an independent branch of linguistics like lexicology or grammar. These linguistic sciences study language from three different points of view. Lexicology deals with the vocabulary of language, with the origin and development of words, with their meaning and word building. Grammar defines the rules governing the modification of words and the combination of words into sentences. Phonetics studies the outer form of language; its sound matter.Phonetics occupies itself with the study of the ways in which the sounds are organized into a system of units and the variation of the units in all types and styles of spoken language.

Theoretical Phonetics has the following branches: articulatory, acoustic,auditory,functional /phonologicalEach branch of Theoretical Phonetics investigates the appropriate aspect of speech sounds.Articulatory Phonetics investigates the functioning of one’s speech apparatus and mechanism. It is based on profound knowledge of physiology and the structure of one’s speech apparatus. While investigating the articulatory aspect of speech sounds both subjective and objective methods are employed: the method of direct observation (concerning the lips & the tongue movements) – subjective method and X-ray photography and X-ray cinematography (objective methods). Acoustic Phonetics studies the acoustic properties of sounds (quantity, timber/voice quality, intensity, the pitch of the voice and temporal factor) in terms of the frequency of vibration and the amplitude of vibration in relation to time. The analysis begins with a microphone, which converts the air movement into corresponding electrical activity. While investigating the acoustic aspect of speech sounds special laboratory equipment is employed: spectrograph, intonograph, sound analyzing & sound synthesizing machines.

Auditory Phoneticsis aimed at investigating the hearing process which is the brain activity.

Functional Phonetics presupposes investigating the discriminatory (distinctive) function of speech sounds.

Lexicology is a branch of linguistics which deals with a systematic description and study of the vocabulary of the language as regards its origin, development, meaning and current use. The term is composed of 2 words of Greek origin: lexis + logos. A word about words, or the science of a word. It also concerns with morphemes, which make up words and the study of a word implies reference to variable and fixed groups because words are components of such groups. Semantic properties of such words define general rules of their joining together. The general study of the vocabulary irrespective of the specific features of a particular language is known as general lexicology. Therefore, English lexicology is called special lexicology because English lexicology represents the study into the peculiarities of the present-day English vocabulary.

Lexicology is inseparable from: phonetics, grammar, and linguostylistics b-cause phonetics also investigates vocabulary units but from the point of view of their sounds. Grammar- grammatical peculiarities and grammatical relations between words. Linguostylistics studies the nature, functioning and structure of stylistic devices and the styles of a language.

Language is a means of communication. Thus, the social essence is inherent in the language itself. The branch of linguistics which deals with relations between the language functions on the one hand and the facts of social life on the other hand is termed sociolinguistics.

Modern English lexicology investigates the problems of word structure and word formation; it also investigates the word structure of English, the classification of vocabulary units, replenishment3 of the vocabulary; the relations between different lexical layers4 of the English vocabulary and some other. Lexicology came into being to meet the demands of different branches of applied linguistic! Namely, lexicography - a science and art of compiling dictionaries. It is also important for foreign language teaching and literary criticism.

The history of the English language really started with the arrival of three Germanic tribes who invaded Britain during the 5th century AD. These tribes, the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, crossed the North Sea from what today is Denmark and northern Germany. At that time the inhabitants of Britain spoke a Celtic language. But most of the Celtic speakers were pushed west and north by the invaders - mainly into what is now Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The Angles came from Englaland and their language was called Englisc - from which the words England and English are derived.

Old English (450-1100 AD) The invading Germanic tribes spoke similar languages, which in Britain developed into what we now call Old English. Old English did not sound or look like English today. Native English speakers now would have great difficulty understanding Old English. Nevertheless, about half of the most commonly used words in Modern English have Old English roots. The words be, strong and water, for example, derive from Old English. Old English was spoken until around 1100. Middle English (1100-1500) In 1066 William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy (part of modern France), invaded and conquered England. The new conquerors (called the Normans) brought with them a kind of French, which became the language of the Royal Court, and the ruling and business classes. For a period there was a kind of linguistic class division, where the lower classes spoke English and the upper classes spoke French. In the 14th century English became dominant in Britain again, but with many French words added. This language is called Middle English. It was the language of the great poet Chaucer (c1340-1400), but it would still be difficult for native English speakers to understand today.

Modern English Early Modern English (1500- 1800) Towards the end of Middle English, a sudden and distinct change in pronunciation (the Great Vowel Shift) started, with vowels being pronounced shorter and shorter. From the 16th century the British had contact with many peoples from around the world. This, and the Renaissance of Classical learning, meant that many new words and phrases entered the language. The invention of printing also meant that there was now a common language in print. Books became cheaper and more people learned to read. Printing also brought standardization to English. Spelling and grammar became fixed, and the dialect of London, where most publishing houses were, became the standard. In 1604 the first English dictionary was published. Late Modern English (1800-Present) The main difference between Early Modern English and Late Modern English is vocabulary. Late Modern English has many more words, arising from two principal factors: firstly, the Industrial Revolution and technology created a need for new words; secondly, the British Empire at its height covered one quarter of the earth's surface, and the English language adopted foreign words from many countries.




1.General characteristics.


The noun is the central lexical unit of language. It is the main nominative unit of speech. As any other part of speech, the noun can be characterised by three criteria: semantic (the meaning), morphological (the form and grammatical catrgories) and syntactical (functions, distribution).

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

According to the type of nomination they may be proper and common;

According to the form of existence they may be animateand inanimate. Animate nouns in their turn fall into human and non-human.

According to their quantitative structure nouns can be countableand uncountable.

This set of subclasses cannot be put together into one table because of the different principles of classification.

Morphologicalfeatures of the noun. In accordance with the morphological structure of the stems all nouns can be classified into: simple,derived ( stem + affix, affix + stem – thingness); compound ( stem+ stem – armchair ) and composite ( the Hague ). The noun has morphological categories of number and case. Some scholars admit the existence of the category of gender.

Syntacticfeatures of the noun. The noun can be used un the sentence in all syntacticfunctions but predicate. Speaking about noun combinability, we can say that it can go into right-hand and left-hand connections with practically all parts of speech. That is why practically all parts of speech but the verb can act as noun determiners. However, the most common noun determiners are considered to be articles, pronouns, numerals, adjectives and nouns themselves in the common and genitive case.


2. The category of number


The grammatical category of number is the linguistic representation of the objective category of quantity. The number category is realized through the opposition of two form-classes: the plural form :: the singular form. The category of number in English is restricted in its realization because of the dependent implicit grammatical meaning of countableness/uncountableness. The number category is realized only within subclass of countable nouns.

The grammatical meaning of number may not coincide with the notional quantity: the noun in the singular does not necessarily denote one object while the plural form may be used to denote one object consisting of several parts. The singular form may denote:

oneness (individual separate object – a cat);

generalization (the meaning of the whole class – The cat is a domestic animal);

indiscreteness (нерасчлененность or uncountableness - money, milk).

The plural form may denote:

the existence of several objects (cats);

the inner discreteness (внутренняя расчлененность, pluralia tantum, jeans).

To sum it up, all nouns may be subdivided into three groups:

The nouns in which the opposition of explicit discreteness/indiscreteness is expressed : cat::cats;

The nouns in which this opposition is not expressed explicitly but is revealed by syntactical and lexical correlation in the context. There are two groups here:

Singularia tantum. It covers different groups of nouns: proper names, abstract nouns, material nouns, collective nouns;

Pluralia tantum. It covers the names of objects consisting of several parts (jeans), names of sciences (mathematics), names of diseases, games, etc.

The nouns with homogenous number forms. The number opposition here is not expressed formally but is revealed only lexically and syntactically in the context: e.g. Look! A sheep is eating grass. Look! The sheep are eating grass.

3. The category of case.

Case expresses the relation of a word to another word in the word-group or sentence (my sister’s coat). The category of case correlates with the objective category of possession. The case category in English is realized through the opposition: The Common Case :: The Possessive Case (sister :: sister’s). However, in modern linguistics the term “genitive case” is used instead of the “possessive case” because the meanings rendered by the “`s” sign are not only those of possession. The scope of meanings rendered by the Genitive Case is the following :

Possessive Genitive : Mary’s father – Mary has a father,

Subjective Genitive: The doctor’s arrival – The doctor has arrived,

Objective Genitive : The man’s release – The man was released,

Adverbial Genitive : Two hour’s work – X worked for two hours,

Equation Genitive : a mile’s distance – the distance is a mile,

Genitive of destination: children’s books – books for children,

Mixed Group: yesterday’s paper

To avoid confusion with the plural, the marker of the genitive case is represented in written form with an apostrophe. This fact makes possible disengagement of –`s form from the noun to which it properly belongs. E.g.: The man I saw yesterday’s son, where -`s is appended to the whole group (the so-called group genitive). It may even follow a word which normally does not possess such a formant, as in somebody else’s book.


There is no universal point of view as to the case system in English. Different scholars stick to a different number of cases.

There are two cases. The Common one and The Genitive;

There are no cases at all, the form `s is optional because the same relations may be expressed by the ‘of-phrase’: the doctor’s arrival – the arrival of the doctor;

There are three cases: the Nominative, the Genitive, the Objective due to the existence of objective pronouns me, him, whom;

Case Grammar. Ch.Fillmore introduced syntactic-semantic classification of cases. They show relations in the so-called deep structure of the sentence. According to him, verbs may stand to different relations to nouns. There are 6 cases:

Agentive Case (A) John opened the door;

Instrumental case (I) The key opened the door; John used the key to open the door;

Dative Case (D) John believed that he would win (the case of the animate being affected by the state of action identified by the verb);

Factitive Case (F) The key was damaged ( the result of the action or state identified by the verb);

Locative Case (L) Chicago is windy;

Objective case (O) John stole the book.


4. The Problem of Gender in English


Gender plays a relatively minor part in the grammar of English by comparison with its role in many other languages. There is no gender concord, and the reference of the pronouns he, she, it is very largely determined by what is sometimes referred to as ‘natural’ gender for English, it depends upon the classification of persons and objects as male, female or inanimate. Thus, the recognition of gender as a grammatical category is logically independent of any particular semantic association.

According to some language analysts (B.Ilyish, F.Palmer, and E.Morokhovskaya), nouns have no category of gender in Modern English. Prof.Ilyish states that not a single word in Modern English shows any peculiarities in its morphology due to its denoting male or female being. Thus, the words husband and wife do not show any difference in their forms due to peculiarities of their lexical meaning. The difference between such nouns as actor and actress is a purely lexical one. In other words, the category of sex should not be confused with the category of sex, because sex is an objective biological category. It correlates with gender only when sex differences of living beings are manifested in the language grammatically (e.g. tiger – tigress). Still, other scholars (M.Blokh, John Lyons) admit the existence of the category of gender. Prof.Blokh states that the existence of the category of gender in Modern English can be proved by the correlation of nouns with personal pronouns of the third person (he, she, it). Accordingly, there are three genders in English: the neuter (non-person) gender, the masculine gender, the feminine gender.



1.General characteristics

Grammatically the verb is the most complex part of speech. First of all it performs the central role in realizing predication - connection between situation in the utterance and reality. That is why the verb is of primary informative significance in an utterance. Besides, the verb possesses quite a lot of grammatical categories. Furthermore, within the class of verb various subclass divisions based on different principles of classification can befound.

Semantic features of the verb. The verb possesses the grammatical meaning of verbiality - the ability to denote a process developing in time. This meaning is inherent not only in the verbs denoting processes, but also in those denoting states, forms of existence, evaluations, etc.

Morphological features of the verb. The verb possesses the following grammatical categories: tense, aspect, voice, mood, person, number, finitude and phase. The common categories for finite and non-finite forms are voice, aspect, phase and finitude. The grammatical categories of the English verb find their expression in synthetical and analytical forms. The formative elements expressing these categories are grammatical affixes, inner inflexion and function words. Some categories have only synthetical forms (person, number), others - only analytical (voice). There are also categories expressed by both synthetical and analytical forms (mood, tense, aspect).

Syntacticfeatures. The most universal syntactic feature of verbs is their ability to be modified by adverbs. The second important syntactic criterion is the ability of the verb to perform the syntactic function of the predicate. However, this criterion is not absolute because only finite forms can perform this function while non-finite forms can be used in any function but predicate. And finally, any verb in the form of the infinitive can be combined with a modal verb.


2. Classifications of English verbs

According to different principles of classification, classifications can be morphological, lexical-morphological, syntactical and functional.

A.Morphological classifications..

I. According to their stem-types all verbs fall into: simple (to go), sound-replacive (food - to feed, blood - to bleed), stress-replacive (import - to im port, transport - to transport, expanded (with the help of suffixes and prefixes): cultivate, justify, overcome, composite (correspond to composite nouns): to blackmail), phrasal: to have a smoke, to give a smile (they always have an ordinary verb as an equivalent). 2.According to the way of forming past tenses and Participle II verbs can be regular and irregular.

B.Lexical-morphological classification is based on the implicit grammatical meanings of the verb. According to the implicit grammatical meaning of transitivity/intransitivity verbs fall into transitive and intransitive. According to the implicit grammatical meaning of stativeness/non-stativeness verbs fall into stative and dynamic. According to the implicit grammatical meaning of terminativeness/non-terminativeness verbs fall into terminative and durative. This classification is closely connected with the categories of Aspect and Phase.

C. Syntactic classifications. According to the nature of predication (primary and secondary) all verbs fall into finite and non-finite. According to syntagmatic properties (valency) verbs can be of obligatory and optional valency, and thus they may have some directionality or be devoid of any directionality. In this way, verbs fall into the verbs of directed (to see, to take, etc.) and non-directed action (to arrive, to drizzle, etc.):

D. Functionalclassification. According to their functional significance verbs can be notional (with the full lexical meaning), semi-notional (modal verbs, link-verbs), auxiliaries.


4. The category of tense

The category of tense is a verbal category that reflects the objective category of time. The essential characteristic of the category of tense is that it relates the time of the action, event or state of affairs referred to in the sentence to the time of the utterance (the time of the utterance being 'now ' or the present moment). The tense category is realized through the oppositions. The binary principle of oppositions remains the basic one in the correlation of the forms that represent the grammatical category of tense. The present moment is the main temporal plane of verbal actions. Therefore, the temporal dichotomy may be illustrated by the following graphic representation (the arrows show the binary opposition):

Generally speaking, the major tense-distinction in English is undoubtedly that which is traditionally described as an opposition of past::present. But this is best regarded as a contrast of past:: non-past. Quite a lot of scholars do not recognize the existence of future tenses, because what is described as the 'future' tense in English is realized by means of auxiliary verbs will and shall. Although it is undeniable that will and shall occur in many sentences that refer to the future, they also occur in sentences that do not. And they do not necessarily occur in sentences with a future time reference. That is why future tenses are often treated as partly modal.

5. The Category of Aspect

The category of aspect is a linguistic representation of the objective category of Manner of Action. It is realized through the opposition Continuous::Non-Continuous (Progressive::Non-Progressive). The realization of the category of aspect is closely connected with the lexical meaning of verbs.

There are some verbs in English that do not normally occur with progressive aspect, even in those contexts in which the majority of verbs necessarily take the progressive form. Among the so-called ‘non-progressive’ verbs are think, understand, know, hate, love, see, taste, feel, possess, own, etc. The most striking characteristic that they have in common is the fact that they are ‘stative’ - they refer to a state of affairs, rather than to an action, event or process. It should be observed, however, that all the ‘non-­progressive' verbs take the progressive aspect under particular circumstances. As the result of internal transposition verbs of non-progressive nature can be found in the Continuous form: Now I'm knowing you. Generally speaking the Continuous form has at least two semantic features - duration (the action is always in progress) anddefiniteness (the action is always limited to a definite point or period of time). In other words, the purpose of the Continuous form is to serve as a frame which makes the process of the action more concrete and isolated.



The category of voice


The form of the verb may show whether the agent expressed by the subject is the doer of the action or the recipient of the action (John broke the vase - the vase was broken). The objective relations between the action and the subject or object of the action find their expression in language as the grammatical category of voice. Therefore, the category of voice reflects the objective relations between the action itself and the subject or object of the action:

The category of voice is realized through the opposition Active voice::Passive voice. The realization of the voice category is restricted because of the implicit grammatical meaning of transitivity/intransitivity. In accordance with this meaning, all English verbs should fall into transitive and intransitive. However, the classification turns out to be more complex and comprises 6 groups:

1. Verbs used only transitively: to mark, to raise;

2.Verbs with the main transitive meaning: to see, to make, to build;

3. Verbs of intransitive meaning and secondary transitive meaning. A lot of intransitive verbs may develop a secondary transitive meaning: They laughed me into agreement; He danced the girl out of the room;

4.Verbs of a double nature, neither of the meanings are the leading one, the verbs can be used both transitively and intransitively: to drive home - to drive a car;

5.Verbs that are never used in the Passive Voice: to seem, to become;

6. Verbs that realize their passive meaning only in special contexts: to live, to sleep, to sit, to walk, to jump.

Some scholars admit the existence of Middle, Reflexive and Reciprocal voices. "Middle Voice" - the verbs primarily transitive may develop an intransitive middle meaning: That adds a lot; The door opened; The book sells easily; The dress washes well. "Reflexive Voice": He dressed; He washed - the subject is both the agent and the recipient of the action at the same time. It is always possible to use a reflexive pronoun in this case: He washed himself. "Reciprocal voice”: They met; They kissed - it is always possible to use a reciprocal pronoun here: They kissed each other.

We cannot, however, speak of different voices, because all these meanings are not expressed morphologically.


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