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Теорграмматика / Теоретическая грамматика английского языка.[М. Я. Блох].doc
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§ 8. On the basis of the subject-process relation, all the notional verbs can be divided into actional and statal.

Actional verbs express the action performed by the subject, i.e. they present the subject as an active doer (in the broadest sense of the word). To this subclass belong such verbs as do, act, perform, make, go, read, learn, discover, etc. Statal verbs, unlike their subclass counterparts, denote the state of their subject. That is, they either give the subject the characteristic of the inactive recipient of some outward activity, or else express the mode of its existence. To this subclass belong such verbs as be, live, survive, worry, suffer, rejoice, stand, see, know, etc.

Alongside of the two verbal sets, a third one could be


distinguished which is made up of verbs expressing neither actions, nor states, but "processes". As representatives of the "purely processual" subclass one might point out the verbs thaw, ripen, deteriorate, consider, neglect, support, display, and the like. On closer observation, however, it becomes clear that the units of this medial subclass are subject to the same division into actional and statal sets as were established at the primary stage of classification. For instance, the "purely processual" verb thaw referring to an inactive substance should be defined, more precisely, as "processual-statal", whereas the "processual" verb consider relating to an active doer should be looked upon, more precisely, as "processual-actional". This can be shown by transformational tests:

The snow is thawing. → The snow is in the state of thawing. The designer is considering another possibility. → The action of the designer is that he is considering another possibility.

Thus, the primary binary division of the verbs upon the basis of the subject-process relation is sustained.

Similar criteria apply to some more specific subsets of verbs permitting the binary actional-statal distribution. Among these of a special significance are the verbal sets of mental processes and sensual processes. Within the first of them we recognise the correlation between the verbs of mental perception and mental activity. E.g.: know — think; understand — construe; notice — note; admire — assess; forget — reject; etc.

Within the second set we recognise the correlation between the verbs of physical perception as such and physical perceptional activity. E.g.: see — look; hear — listen; feel (inactive) — feel (active), touch; taste (inactive) — taste (active); smell (inactive) —smell (active); etc.

The initial member of each correlation pair given above presents a case of a statal verb, while the succeeding member, respectively, of an actional verb. Cf. the corresponding transformational tests:

The explorers knew only one answer to the dilemma.→ The mental state of the explorers was such that they knew only one answer to the dilemma. I am thinking about the future of the village. → My mental activity consists in thinking about the future of the village. Etc.


The grammatical relevance of the classification in question, apart from its reflecting the syntactically generalised relation of the subject of the verb to the process denoted by it, is disclosed in the difference between the two subclasses in their aspectual behaviour. While the actional verbs take the form of the continuous aspect quite freely, i.e. according to the general rules of its use, the statal verbs, in the same contextual conditions, are mainly used in the indefinite form. -The continuous with the statal verbs, which can be characterised as a more or less occasional occurrence, will normally express some sort of intensity or emphasis (see further).

§ 9. Aspective verbal semantics exposes the inner character of the process denoted by the verb. It represents the process as durative (continual), iterative (repeated), terminate (concluded), interminate (not concluded), instantaneous (momentary), ingressive (starting), supercompleted (developed to the extent of superfluity), undercompleted (not developed to its full extent), and the like.

Some of these aspectual meanings are inherent in the basic semantics of certain subsets of English verbs. Compare, for instance, verbs of ingression (begin, start, resume, set out, get down), verbs of instantaneity (burst, click, knock, bang, jump, drop), verbs of termination (terminate, finish, end, conclude, close, solve, resolve, sum up, stop), verbs of duration (continue, prolong, last, linger, live, exist). The aspectual meanings of supercompletion, undercompletion, repetition, and the like can be rendered by means of lexical derivation, in particular, prefixation (oversimplify, outdo, underestimate, reconsider). Such aspectual meanings as ingression, duration, termination, and iteration are regularly expressed by aspective verbal collocations, in particular, by combinations of aspective predicators with verbids (begin, start, continue, finish, used to, would, etc., plus the corresponding verbid component).

In terms of the most general subclass division related to the grammatical structure of language, two aspective subclasses of verbs should be recognised in English. These will comprise numerous minor aspective groups of the types shown above as their microcomponent sets.

The basis of this division is constituted by the relation of the verbal semantics to the idea of a processual limit, i. e. some border point beyond which the process expressed by the verb or implied in its semantics is discontinued or


simply does not exist. For instance, the verb arrive expresses an action which evidently can only develop up to the point of arriving; on reaching this limit, the action ceases. The verb start denotes a transition from some preliminary state to some kind of subsequent activity, thereby implying a border point between the two. As different from these cases, the verb move expresses a process that in itself is alien to any idea of a limit, either terminal or initial.

The verbs of the first order, presenting a process as potentially limited, can be called "limitive". In the published courses of English grammar where they are mentioned, these verbs are called "terminative",* but the latter term seems inadequate. As a matter of fact, the word suggests the idea of a completed action, i.e. of a limit attained, not only the implication of a potential limit existing as such. To the subclass of limitive belong such verbs as arrive, come, leave, find, start, stop, conclude, aim, drop, catch, etc. Here also belong phrasal verbs with limitive postpositions, e.g. stand up, sit down, get out, be off, etc.

The verbs of the second order presenting a process as not limited by any border point, should be called, correspondingly, "unlimitive" (in the existing grammar books they are called either "non-terminative", or else "durative", or "cursive"). To this subclass belong such verbs as move, continue, live, sleep, work, behave, hope, stand, etc.

Alongside of the two aspective subclasses of verbs, some authors recognise also a third subclass, namely, verbs of double aspective nature (of "double", or "mixed" lexical character). These, according to the said authors, are capable of expressing either a "terminative" or "non-terminative" ("durative") meaning depending on the context.

However, applying the principle of oppositions, these cases can be interpreted as natural and easy reductions (mostly neutralisations) of the lexical aspective opposition. Cf.:

Mary and Robert walked through the park pausing at variegated flower-beds. (Unlimitive use, basic function) In the scorching heat, the party walked the whole way to the ravine bareheaded. (Limitive use, neutralisation) He turned

*See the cited books on English grammar by M. A. Ganshina and N. M. Vasilevskaya, B. A. Ilyish, B. S. Khaimovich and B. I. Rogovskaya.


the corner and found himself among a busy crowd of people. (Limitive use, basic function) It took not only endless scientific effort, but also an enormous courage to prove that the earth turns round the sun. (Unlimitive use, neutralisation)

Observing the given examples, we must admit that the demarcation line between the two aspective verbal subclasses is not rigidly fixed, the actual differentiation between them being in fact rather loose. Still, the opposition between limitive and unlimitive verbal sets does exist in English, however indefinitely defined it may be. Moreover, the described subclass division has an unquestionable grammatical relevance, which is expressed, among other things, in its peculiar correlation with the categorial aspective forms of the verbs (indefinite, continuous, perfect); this correlation is to be treated further (see Ch. XV).

§ 10. From the given description of the aspective subclass division of English verbs, it is evident that the English lexical aspect differs radically from the Russian aspect. In terms of semantic properties, the English lexical aspect expresses a potentially limited or unlimited process, whereas the Russian aspect expresses the actual conclusion (the perfective, or terminative aspect) or non-conclusion (the imperfective, or non-terminative aspect) of the process in question. In terms of systemic properties, the two English lexical aspect varieties, unlike their Russian absolutely rigid counterparts, are but loosely distinguished and easily reducible.

In accord with these characteristics, both the English limitive verbs and unlimitive verbs may correspond alternately either to the Russian perfective verbs or imperfective verbs, depending on the contextual uses.

For instance, the limitive verb arrive expressing an instantaneous action that took place in the past will be translated by its perfective Russian equivalent:

The exploratory party arrived at the foot of the mountain. Russ.: Экспедиция прибыла к подножию горы.

But if the same verb expresses a habitual, interminately repeated action, the imperfective Russian equivalent is to be chosen for its translation:

In those years trains seldom arrived on time. Russ.: В те годы поезда редко приходили вовремя.


Cf. the two possible versions of the Russian translation of the following sentence:

The liner takes off tomorrow at ten. Russ.: Самолет вылетит завтра в десять (the flight in question is looked upon as an individual occurrence). Самолет вылетает завтра в десять (the flight is considered as part of the traffic schedule, or some other kind of general plan).

Conversely, the English unlimitive verb gaze when expressing a continual action will be translated into Russian by its imperfective equivalent:

The children gazed at the animals holding their breaths. Russ.: Дети глядели на животных, затаив дыхание.

But when the same verb renders the idea of an aspectually limited, e. g. started action, its perfective Russian equivalent should be used in the translation:

The boy turned his head and gazed at the horseman with wide-open eyes. Russ.: Мальчик повернул голову и уставился на всадника широко открытыми глазами.

Naturally, the unlimitive English verbs in strictly unlimtive contextual use correspond, by definition, only to the imperfective verbs in Russian.

§ 11. The inner qualities of any signemic lingual unit are manifested not only in its immediate informative significance in an utterance, but also in its combinability with other units, in particular with units of the same segmental order. These syntagmatic properties are of especial importance for verbs, which is due to the unique role performed by the verb in the sentence. As a matter of fact, the finite verb, being the centre of predication, organises all the other sentence constituents. Thus, the organisational function of the verb, immediately exposed in its syntagmatic combinability, is inseparable from (and dependent on) its semantic value. The morphological relevance of the combining power of the verb is seen from the fact that directly dependent on this power are the categorial voice distinctions.

The combining power of words in relation to other words in syntactically subordinate positions (the positions of "adjuncts" — see Ch. XX) is called their syntactic "valency". The valency of a word is said to be "realised" when the word in question is actually combined in an utterance with its corresponding valency partner, i. e. its valency adjunct. If,

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on the other hand, the word is used without its valency adjunct, the valency conditioning the position of this adjunct (or "directed" to it) is said to be "not realised".

The syntactic valency falls into two cardinal types: obligatory and optional.

The obligatory valency is such as must necessarily be realised for the sake of the grammatical completion of the syntactic construction. For instance, the subject and the direct object are obligatory parts of the sentence, and, from the point of view of sentence structure, they are obligatory valency partners of the verb. Consequently, we say that the subjective and the direct objective valencies of the verb are obligatory. E.g.: We saw a house in the distance.

This sentence presents a case of a complete English syntactic construction. If we eliminate either its subject or object, the remaining part of the construction will be structurally incomplete, i.e. it will be structurally "gaping". Cf.: * We saw in the distance. * Saw a house in the distance.

The optional valency, as different from the obligatory valency, is such as is not necessarily realised in grammatically complete constructions: this type of valency may or may not be realised depending on the concrete information to be conveyed by the utterance. Most of the adverbial modifiers are optional parts of the sentence, so in terms of valency we say that the adverbial valency of the verb is mostly optional. For instance, the adverbial part in the above sentence may be freely eliminated without causing the remainder of the sentence to be structurally incomplete: We saw a house (in the distance).

Link-verbs, although their classical representatives are only half-notional, should also be included into the general valency characterisation of verbs. This is due to their syntactically essential position in the sentence. The predicative valency of the link-verbs proper is obligatory. Cf.:

The reporters seemed pleased with the results of the press conference. That young scapegrace made a good husband, after all.

The obligatory adjuncts of the verb, with the exception of the subject (whose connection with the verb cannot be likened to the other valency partners), may be called its "complements"; the optional adjuncts of the verb, its "supplements". The distinction between the two valency types of adjuncts is highly essential, since not all the objects or


predicatives are obligatory, while, conversely, not all the adverbial modifiers are optional. Thus, we may have both objective complements and objective supplements; both predicative complements and predicative supplements; both adverbial supplements and adverbial complements.

Namely, the object of addressee, i. e. a person or thing for whom or which the action is performed, may sometimes be optional, as in the following example: We did it for you.

The predicative to a notional link-verb is mostly optional, as in the example: The night came dark and stormy.

The adverbials of place, time, and manner (quality) may sometimes be obligatory, as in the examples below:

Mr. Torrence was staying in the Astoria Hotel. The described events took place at the beginning of the century. The patient is doing fine.

Thus, according as they have or have not the power to take complements, the notional verbs should be classed as "complementive" or "uncomplementive", with further subcategorisations on the semantico-syntagmatic principles.

In connection with this upper division, the notions of verbal transitivity and objectivity should be considered.

Verbal transitivity, as one of the specific qualities of the general "completivity", is the ability of the verb to take a direct object, i.e. an object which is immediately affected by the denoted process. The direct object is joined to the verb "directly", without a preposition. Verbal objectivity is the ability of the verb to take any object, be it direct, or oblique (prepositional), or that of addressee. Transitive verbs are opposed to intransitive verbs; objective verbs are opposed to non-objective verbs (the latter are commonly called "subjective" verbs, but the term contradicts the underlying syntactic notion, since all the English finite verbs refer to their textual subjects).

As is known, the general division of verbs into transitive and intransitive is morphologically more relevant for Russian than English, because the verbal passive form is confined in Russian to transitive verbs only. The general division of verbs into objective and non-objective, being of relatively minor significance for the morphology of Russian, is highly relevant for English morphology, since in English all the three fundamental types of objects can be made into the subjects of the corresponding passive constructions.

On the other hand, the term "transitive" is freely used


in English grammatical treatises in relation to all the objective verbs, not only to those of them that take a direct object. This use is due to the close association of the notion of transitivity not only with the type of verbal object as such, but also with the ability of the verb to be used in the passive voice. We do not propose to call for the terminological corrective in this domain; rather, we wish to draw the attention of the reader to the accepted linguistic usage in order to avoid unfortunate misunderstandings based on the differences in terminology.

Uncomplementive verbs fall into two unequal subclasses of "personal" and "impersonal" verbs.

The personal uncomplementive verbs, i. e. uncomplementive verbs normally referring to the real subject of the denoted process (which subject may be either an actual human being, or a non-human being, or else an inanimate substance or an abstract notion), form a large set of lexemes of various semantic properties. Here are some of them: work, start, pause, hesitate, act, function, materialise, laugh, cough, grow, scatter, etc.

The subclass of impersonal verbs is small and strictly limited. Here belong verbs mostly expressing natural phenomena of the self-processual type, i. e. natural processes going on without a reference to a real subject. Cf.: rain, snow, freeze, drizzle, thaw, etc.

Complementive verbs, as follows from the above, are divided into the predicative, objective and adverbial sets.

The predicative complementive verbs, i.e. link-verbs, have been discussed as part of the predicator verbs. The main link-verb subsets are, first, the pure link be; second, the specifying links become, grow, seem, appear, look, taste, etc.; third, the notional links.

The objective complementive verbs are divided into several important subclasses, depending on the kinds of complements they combine with. On the upper level of division they fall into monocomplementive verbs (taking one object-complement) and bicomplementive verbs (taking two complements).

The monocomplementive objective verbs fall into five main subclasses. The first subclass is the possession objective verb have forming different semantic varieties of constructions. This verb is normally not passivised. The second subclass includes direct objective verbs, e. g. take, grasp, forget, enjoy, like. The third subclass is formed by the prepositional


objective verbs e.g. look at, point to, send for, approve of, think about. The fourth subclass includes non-passivised direct objective verbs, e.g. cost, weigh, fail, become, suit. The fifth subclass includes non-passivised prepositional objective verbs, e. g. belong to, relate to, merge with, confer with, abound in.

The bicomplementive objective verbs fall into five main subclasses. The first subclass is formed by addressee-direct objective verbs, i.e. verbs taking a direct object and an addressee object, e.g. a) give, bring, pay, hand, show (the addressee object with these verbs may be both non-prepositional and prepositional); b) explain, introduce, mention, say, devote (the addressee object with these verbs is only prepositional). The second subclass includes double direct objective verbs, i.e. verbs taking two direct objects, e.g. teach, ask, excuse, forgive, envy, fine. The third subclass includes double prepositional objective verbs, i.e. verbs taking two prepositional objects, e.g. argue, consult, cooperate, agree. The fourth subclass is formed by addressee prepositional objective verbs, i.e. verbs taking a prepositional object and an addressee object, e.g. remind of, tell about, apologise for, write of, pay for. The fifth subclass includes adverbial objective verbs, i.e. verbs taking an object and an adverbial modifier (of place or of time), e.g. put, place, lay, bring, send, keep.

Adverbial complementive verbs include two main subclasses. The first is formed by verbs taking an adverbial complement of place or of time, e.g. be, live, stay, go, ride, arrive. The second is formed by verbs taking an adverbial complement of manner, e.g. act, do, keep, behave, get on.

§ 12. Observing the syntagmatic subclasses of verbs, we see that the same verb lexeme, or lexic-phonemic unit (phonetical word), can enter more than one of the outlined classification sets. This phenomenon of the "subclass migration" of verbs is not confined to cognate lexemic subsets of the larger subclasses, but, as is widely known, affects the principal distinctions between the English complementive and uncomplementive verbs, between the English objective and non-objective verbs. Suffice it to give a couple of examples taken at random:

Who runs faster, John or Nick?-(run — uncomplementive). The man ran after the bus. (run — adverbial complementive, non-objective). I ran my eyes over the uneven lines. (run — adverbial objective, transitive). And is the fellow


still running the show? (run — monocomplementive, transitive).

The railings felt cold. (feel — link-verb, predicative complementive). We felt fine after the swim. (feel — adverbial complementive, non-objective). You shouldn't feel your own pulse like that. (feel — monocomplementive, transitive).

The problem arises, how to interpret these different subclass entries — as cases of grammatical or lexico-grammatical homonymy, or some kind of functional variation, or merely variation in usage. The problem is vexed, since each of the interpretations has its strong points.

To reach a convincing decision, one should take into consideration the actual differences between various cases of the "subclass migration" in question. Namely, one must carefully analyse the comparative characteristics of the corresponding subclasses as such, as well as the regularity factor for an individual lexeme subclass occurrence.

In the domain of notional subclasses proper, with regular inter-class occurrences of the analysed lexemes, probably the most plausible solution will be to interpret the "migration forms" as cases of specific syntactic variation, i.e. to consider the different subclass entries of migrating units as syntactic variants of the same lexemes [Почепцов, (2), 87 и сл.]. In the light of this interpretation, the very formula of "lexemic subclass migration" will be vindicated and substantiated.

On the other hand, for more cardinally differing lexemic sets, as, for instance, functional versus notional, the syntactic variation principle is hardly acceptable. This kind of differentiation should be analysed as lexico-grammatical homonymy, since it underlies the expression of categorially different grammatical functions.


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