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SEMINAR 3 Morphology

  1. The problem of and approaches to the parts of speech classification

The parts of speech are classes of words, all the members of these classes having certain characteristics in common which distinguish them fr om the members of other classes. The problem of word classification into parts of speech still remains one of the most controversial problems in modern linguistics. The attitude of grammarians with regard to parts of speech and the basis of their classification varied a good deal at different times. Only in English grammarians have been vacillating between 3 and 13 parts of speech. There are four approaches to the problem:

  1. Classical (logical-inflectional)

  2. Functional

  3. Distributional

  4. Complex

  1. Classical approach

  1. Functional approach

  1. Distributional approach

  1. Complex approach

  1. The field nature of parts of speech

  1. The notional :: functional parts of speech

Notional parts of speech perform certain functions in the sentence whereas functional express relations between the words. Functional parts of speech never change their form.

Notional Parts of Speech

Functional parts of speech

Noun - существительное

Verb - глагол

Adjective - прилагательное

Adverb - наречие

Numeral - числительное

Pronoun - местоимение

Preposition - предлог

Conjunction - союз

Particle - частица

Interjection - междометие

Noun [существительное] -  is a word or group of words that refers to a person, place, or thing. There are common nouns [имена нарицательные] that refer to things and proper nouns [имена собственные] that refer to names of places or people.

E.g house [дом] , river [река], bridge [мост], Jessica [Джессика], parents [родители], London [Лондон]...

Verb [глагол] - is a word or group of words in a language that serve to indicate the occurrence or performance of an action, the existence of a state or condition, etc. One can also distinguish such nonfinite forms of a verb as participle [причастие] and  adverbial participle [деепричастие].

E.g. to run [бегать], to dance [танцевать], to live [жить], to be [быть], to sing [петь]....

Adjective [прилагательное] - is a word or group of words that impute a characteristic to a noun or pronoun.

E.g. beautiful [красивый], orange [оранжевый], smart [умный], long [длинный]...

In the dictionary all Russian adjectives are of masculine gender.

Adverb [наречие] - a word or group of words that serves to modify a whole sentence, a verb, another adverb, or an adjective.

E.g. probably [возможно], easily [легко], very [очень],  happily [счастливо]....

Some English adverbs have exactly the same form as adjectives whereas in Russian these are two  different words.

E.g. She runs fast. - Она быстро бегает.

She is a fast runner. - Она быстрая бегунья.

Numeral [числительное] - a word or a group words that express a number. We can usually recognize cardinal numerals [количественные числительные] which denote the quantity of objects ,like, one, two, three, один, два, три, collective numerals [собирательные числительные] which signify that several persons or things are taken definitely and unitedly together, in the sense of — both, all three, all four, etc and ordinal numerals [порядковые числительные] which denote the serial order in which an object stands.

Pronoun [местоимение] - one of a class of words that serves to replace a noun phrase that has already been or is about to be mentioned in the sentence or context.

E.g. he [он], she [она], her [её], our [наш]

Pronouns can be subdivided into 9 subgroups in Russian. In my Russian 101 class we talk about:

-Personal pronouns [личные местоимения] as "he, she, I, you, we";

-Possessive pronouns [притяжательные местоимения] as "your, my, ours, theirs, her, his";

-Demonstrative pronouns [указательные местоимения] as "this, that"; and

-Interrogative pronouns [вопросительные местоимения] as "who, what, which, whose".

The other types of pronouns are

-Reflexive pronouns [возвратные местоимения] as "oneself [себя]";

-Negative pronouns [отрицательные местоимения] as "nobody [никто], nothing [ничто]";

-Indefinite pronouns [неопределённые местоимения] as "somebody [кто-то], something [что-то]";

-Definitive pronouns [определённые местоимения] as "every [каждый], any [любой]" and

-Relative pronouns [относительные местоимения]. Relative pronouns have exactly the same forms as the interrogative pronouns; however, they are used not to ask a question but to connect clauses. Thus in the sentence: "Кто пришёл" [Who has come?] the pronoun кто is interrogative, whereas in the sentence:  "Я не знаю, кто пришёл" [I don't know who has come] кто is relative.

Preposition [предлог]  - a word or group of words used before a noun or pronoun to relate it grammatically or semantically to some other constituent of a sentence.

E.g. on [на], in [в], about [о], with [с]...

Conjunction [союз] -  any word or group of words, other than a relative pronoun, that connects words, phrases, or clauses.

E.g. and [и], but [но], while [в то время как]...

Particle [частица]- a function word, esp (in certain languages) a word belonging to an uninflected class having suprasegmental or grammatical function

E.g. not [не]

Interjection [междометие] - a word or phrase that is characteristically used in syntactic isolation and that usually expresses sudden emotion; expletive

E.g. Wow!, Oh!, Ну! Ой-ой-ой

It's essential to know parts of speech when studying a foreign language. One can compare it to knowing the difference between your vegetables and your fruit, your grains and your nuts, your dairy and your water. So please take a moment to learn your parts of speech and be proud of yourself that you did:) 

Generally speaking, the problem of words’ classification into parts of speech is far from being solved. Some words cannot find their proper place. The most striking example here is the class of adverbs. Some language analysts call it a ragbag, a dustbin (Frank Palmer), Russian academician V.V.Vinogradov defined

the class of adverbs in the Russian language as мусорная куча. It can be explained by the fact that to the class of adverbs belong those words that cannot find their place anywhere else. At the same time, there are no grounds for grouping them together either. Compare: perfectly (She speaks English perfectly) and again (He is here again). Examples are numerous (all temporals). There are some words that do not belong anywhere - e.g. after all. Speaking about after all it should be mentioned that this unit is quite often used by native speakers, and practically never by our students. Some more striking examples: anyway, actually, in fact. The problem is that if these words belong nowhere, there is no place for them in the system of words, then how can we use them correctly? What makes things worse is the fact that these words are devoid of nominative power, and they have no direct equivalents in Russian. Meanwhile, native speakers use these words subconsciously, without realizing how they work.

  1. The noun and its morphological features. Syntactic features of the noun.

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 grammaticalcategories) 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:

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

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

3. According to their quantitative structure nouns can be countable and uncountable.

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

Morphological features 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.

Syntactic features of the noun. The noun can be used in the sentence in all syntactic functions 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.

  1. Semantic and grammatical properties of the noun (common and proper).

  • Nouns and noun phrases perform ten main grammatical functions in the English language. The following article lists the ten functions and provides examples to illustrate their use. Nouns in English are traditionally described as naming "persons, places, things, and ideas." Pronouns are a subcategory of nouns. Noun phrases are formed by a noun or pronoun and any modifiers, complements, or determiners including adjectives, determiners, prepositional phrases,noun clauses, and verb phrases.

Nouns and noun phrases perform ten grammatical functions in the English language. The ten functions are:

  1. Subject

  2. Subject complement

  3. Direct object

  4. Object complement

  5. Indirect object

  6. Prepositional complement

  7. Noun phrase modifier

  8. Determinative

  9. Appositive

  10. Adverbial

The following sections discuss the ten functions and include examples to illustrate use.

  • Subject

Nouns and noun phrases first function as the subject of clauses. A subject is a word, phrase, or clause which performsthe action of or acts upon the verb. Clauses contain both a subject and a predicate. The following italicized nounphrases are examples of subjects:

    • The puppy has chewed on the bone.

    • Weeds are taking over the garden.

    • You and I hike in the park.

Although other grammatical forms can function as the subject of clauses, nouns and noun phrases most frequently perform the function.

  • Subject Complement

Nouns and noun phrases secondly function as subject complements. A subject complement is a word, phrase, or clause that follows a copular verb and describes the subject. Copular verbs are also called linking and state-of-being verbs and include verbs like bebecome, and seem. The following italicized noun phrases are examples of subject complements:

    • The man was a nurse.

    • Our dog is a Shih Tzu.

    • Her mother will become the school librarian.

    • Nouns and Noun Phrases

  • irect Object

Nouns and noun phrases can also function as direct objects. A direct object is a word, phrase, or clause that follows a transitive verb and answers the question "who?" or "what?" receives the action of the verb. The following italicized nounphrases are examples of direct objects:

    • Herbivores eat plants.

    • The child finally swallowed the sour-tasting medication.

    • Your boyfriend just kissed the girl in the ostentatious hat.

  • Object Complement

Similarly to subject complements, nouns and noun phrases can function as object complements. An object complement is a word, phrase, or clause that directly follows and describes the direct object. The following italicized noun phrases are examples of object complements:

    • The Provost named my supervisor the new Dean.

    • We elected you team leader.

    • Your cousins named their daughter Rainbow!

  • Indirect Object

Nouns and noun phrases can also function as indirect objects. An indirect object is a word, phrase, or clause that follows a ditransitive verb and answers the question "to or for whom?" or "to or for what" is the action of the verb performed. The following italicized noun phrases are examples of indirect objects:

    • Our groomer gave the dog a bath.

    • My professor loaned me a book.

    • The groom bought his new bride a wedding present.

  • Prepositional Complement

Nouns and noun phrases function as prepositional complements. A prepositional complement is a word, phrase, or clause that directly follows the preposition in a prepositional phrase. Prepositional complements are also called complements of prepositions and objects of prepositions. The following italicized noun phrases are examples of prepositional complements:

    • That little boy gave his toy to his baby brother.

    • The mother warned her children not to go into the woods.

    • During his vacation, the man decided to move to the Tropics.

  • Noun Phrase Modifier

Although adjectives are traditionally defined as words that describe nouns, nouns and noun phrases can function asnoun phrase modifiers. A noun phrase modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that describes another noun or nounphrase. The following italicized noun phrases are examples of noun phrase modifiers:

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