The utterance. Informative structure of the utterance.

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The utterance. Informative structure of the utterance.

The utterance as opposed to the sentence is the unit of speech. The main categories of the utterance from the point of view of its informative structure are considered to be the theme and the rheme. They are the main components of the Functional Sentence Perspective (FSP) – actual division of the sentence (most language analysts stick to the term “sentence” but actually they mean “utterance”).

In English, there is a “standard” word order of Subject + Verb + Object: The cat ate the rat – here we have a standard structure (N1 + V + N2). However, there are numerous other ways in which the semantic content of the sentence can be expressed:

The rat was eaten by the cat. It was the cat that ate the rat. It was the rat that the cat ate. What the cat did was ate the rat. The cat, it ate the rat.

Which of these options is actually selected by the writer or the speaker will depend on the context in which the utterance occurs and the importance of the information. One important consideration is whether the information has already been introduced before or it is assumed to be known to the reader or listener. Such information is referred to as given information or the theme. It contrasts with information which is introduced for the first time and which is known as new information or the rheme.

Informative structure of the utterance is one of the topics that still attract the attention of language analysts nowadays. It is well recognized that the rheme marking devices are:

Position in the sentence. As a rule new information in English generally comes last: The cat ate the rat.


The use of the indefinite article. However, sometimes it is impossible (as in 1): A gentleman is waiting for you.

The use of ‘there is’, ‘there are’. There is a cat in the room.

The use of special devices, like ‘as for’, ‘but for’, etc.: As for him, I don’t know.

Inverted word order: Here comes the sun.

The use of emphatic constructions: It was the cat that ate the rat.

However, sometimes the most important information is not expressed formally: The cat ate the rat after all. The rheme here is ‘the rat’. At the same time there is very important information which is hidden or implicit: the cat was not supposed to do it, or – it was hard for the cat to catch the rat, or – the cat is a vegetarian (this hidden information will depend on the context or situation). In other words, we may say that this sentence contains two informative centres, or two rhemes – explicit and implicit.


Билет 12

A word as a complex linguistic unit.

Therefore, the word is a structural and semantic language unit, which serves for naming objects, phenomena, their peculiarities, states and relations; it is an indivisible unit, having its own meaning and function. Lexical meaning of the word is unique for every linguistic unit and is typical not of every unit. On the contrary, grammatical meaning is general and characteristic to a whole class of words; some words (called functional) are devoid of lexical meaning and have only grammatical one.


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):


Text as a syntactic unit.

Text is the unit of the highest (supersyntactic) level. It can be defined as a sequence of sentences connected logically and semantically which convey a complete message. The text is a language unit and it manifests itself in speech as discourse. Textlinguistics is concerned with the analysis of formal and structural features of the text. Textual basic integrative properties can be described with the help of the notions of coherence (цілісність), cohesion (формальна складність) and deixis


Билет 13

1. The notion of ‘grammatical meaning’.

The word combines in its semantic structure two meanings – lexical and grammatical. Lexical meaning is the individual meaning of the word (e.g. table). Grammatical meaning is the meaning of the whole class or a subclass. For example, the class of nouns has the grammatical meaning of thingness. If we take a noun (table) we may say that it possesses its individual lexical meaning (it corresponds to a definite piece of furniture) and the grammatical meaning of thingness (this is the meaning of the whole class). Besides, the noun ‘table’ has the grammatical meaning of a subclass – countableness. Any verb combines its individual lexical meaning with the grammatical meaning of verbiality – the ability to denote actions or states. An adjective combines its individual lexical meaning with the grammatical meaning of the whole class of adjectives – qualitativeness – the ability to denote qualities. Adverbs possess the grammatical meaning of adverbiality – the ability to denote quality of qualities.There are some classes of words that are devoid of any lexical meaning and possess the grammatical meaning only. This can be explained by the fact that they have no referents in the objective reality. All function words belong to this group – articles, particles, prepositions, etc.


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.The general meaning of the category of aspect is the inherent mode of realization of the process. Aspect is closely connected with time semantics, showing, as A. M. Peshkovsky puts it, “the distribution of the action in time”, or the “temporal structure” of the action.Like time, aspect can be expressed both by lexical and grammatical meansThe expression of aspective semantics in English verbal forms is interconnected with the expression of temporal semantics; that is why in practical grammar they are treated not as separate tense and aspect forms but as specifictense-aspect forms, cf.: the present continuous – I am working; the past continuous – I was working; the past perfect and the past indefinite – I had done my work before he came, etc. This fusion of temporal and aspectual semantics and the blend in their formal expression have generated a lot of controversies in dealing with the category of aspect and the tense-aspect forms of the verb. The analysis of aspect has proven to be one of the most complex areas of English linguistics: the four correlated forms, the indefinite, the continuous, the perfect, and the perfect continuous, have been treated by different scholars as tense forms, as aspect forms, as forms of mixed tense-aspect status, and as neither tense nor aspect forms, but as forms of a separate grammatical category.


The notion of coherence.

Coherence is a semantic or topical unity of the spoken or written text – that is, the sentences within the text are usually connected by the same general topic. Generally speaking, a coherent text is the text that ‘sticks together’ as a whole unit. Coherence is usually achieved by means of the theme and rheme progression. There exist various types of the theme and rheme progression. Naturally, in the process of text development different types of theme and rheme progression are combined.


Билет 14

1. Types of grammatical meaning.

The grammatical meaning may be explicit and implicit. The implicit grammatical meaning is not expressed formally (e.g. the word table does not contain any hints in its form as to it being inanimate). The explicit grammatical meaning is always marked morphologically – it has its marker. In the word cats the grammatical meaning of plurality is shown in the form of the noun; cat’s – here the grammatical meaning of possessiveness is shown by the form ‘s; is asked – shows the explicit grammatical meaning of passiveness. The implicit grammatical meaning may be of two types – general and dependent. The general grammatical meaning is the meaning of the whole word-class, of a part of speech (e.g. nouns – the general grammatical meaning of thingness). The dependent grammatical meaning is the meaning of a subclass within the same part of speech. For instance, any verb possesses the dependent grammatical meaning of transitivity/intransitivity, terminativeness/non-terminativeness, stativeness/non-stativeness; nouns have the dependent grammatical meaning of contableness/uncountableness and animateness/inanimateness. The most important thing about the dependent grammatical meaning is that it influences the realization of grammatical categories restricting them to a subclass. Thus the dependent grammatical meaning of countableness/uncountableness influences the realization of the grammatical category of number as the number category is realized only within the subclass of countable nouns, the grammatical meaning of animateness/inanimateness influences the realization of the grammatical category of case, teminativeness/non-terminativeness - the category of tense, transitivity/intransitivity – the category of voice.


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