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9. Structural and semantic characteristics of the sentence.

It is rather difficult to define the sentence as it is connected with many lingual and extra lingual aspects – logical, psychological and philosophical. We will just stick to one of them - according to academician G.Pocheptsov, the sentence is the central syntactic construction used as the minimal communicative unit that has its primary predication, actualises a definite structural scheme and possesses definite intonation characteristics. This definition works only in case we do not take into account the difference between the sentence and the utterance. The distinction between the sentence and the utterance is of fundamental importance because the sentence is an abstract theoretical entity defined within the theory of grammar while the utterance is the actual use of the sentence. In other words, the sentence is a unit of language while the utterance is a unit of speech.

The most essential features of the sentence as a linguistic unit are a) its structural characteristics – subject-predicate relations (primary predication), and b) its semantic characteristics – it refers to some fact in the objective reality. We may define the proposition as the main predicative form of thought. Basic predicative meanings of the typical English sentence are expressed by the finite verb that is immediately connected with the subject of the sentence (primary predication).

To sum it up, the sentence is a syntactic level unit, it is a predicative language unit which is a lingual representation of predicative thought (proposition).

Історія мови

1. Periods in the history of English. Grimm’s Law. Verner’s Law.

Periods in the history of English:

  1. Old English (Anglo-Saxon) – 5century-1066 – the period of full inflexion.

  2. Middle English (1066-1485) – the period of leveled inflexion.

  3. The Modern English (1485-till now) – the period of lost inflexion.

This classification was proposed by Henry Sweet, English philosophist in 1873

Grimm’s Law.

1. Proto-Indo-European voiceless stops change into voiceless fricatives.

p-f; t-th; k-h.

2. Proto-Indo-European voiced stops become voiceless stops.

b-p; d-t; g-k.

3. Proto-Indo-European voiced aspirated stops become voiced fricatives.

bh-b; dh-d; gh-g.

Verner’s Law.

Verner's law, stated by Karl Verner in 1875, describes a historical sound change in the Proto-Germanic language where by voiceless fricatives *f, *þ, *s, *h, *h, when immediately following an unstressed syllable in the same word, underwent voicing and became respectively the fricatives *b, *d, *z, *g, *g.

(In Proto-Germanic, voiced fricatives *[v ð ɣ] were allophones of their corresponding voiced plosives *[b d ɡ] when they occurred between vowels, semivowels and liquids, so we write them here as *b, *d, *g. But the situations where Verner's law applied resulted in fricatives in these very circumstances, so we understand these phonemes as fricatives in this context.)

2. Old English Phonology, Morphology and Syntax.

The system of vowels in Old English included seven long and eight short vowels

The length of the vowel was a phonemic quality. The words having long and short vowels differed in meaning the sound might change when it was preceded or followed by some other sound or sound cluster.

There are two types of assimilation - regressive and progressive assimilation. If a sound influences the preceding sound, the assimilation is regressive, if it influences the following it sound - it is called progressive assimilation. Both types of assimilation are found in Old English. So:

1. Breaking (fracture). This is the process of formation of a short diphthong from a simple short vowel when it is followed by a specific consonant cluster. Thus: a + r+cons, 1+cons = ea, æ + h+ cons = ea, e + h final = eo, hard-heard

2. Palatal mutation (i-umlaut) is that a back sound, a or o, changes its quality if there is a front sound in the next syllable.

3. Diphthongization after palatal consonants. Diphthongs may have resulted from another process in Old English - diphthongization after palatal consonants sk', k' and j (in spelling sc, c, г)

4. Velar (Back) Mutation – a vowel acquired more back articulation before r, l, p, b, f, m: i-io=hira-hiora (their)

5. Mutation before h. Sounds a and e that preceded h underwent several changes, mutating to diphthongs ea, ie and finally were reduced to i/y: - naht - neaht - nilit - nieht - nyht (night).

6. Contraction.When h was placed between two vowels the following changes occurred: e + h + vowel > eo sehen - seon (see)


1. Voicing of fricatives in intervocal position: f > v ofer (over)

2.Palatalization of the sounds k", sk' and kg' (marked as c, sc and cj) developed in assibilation, that is formation of a sibilant in places before front vowels. k' > tj cild (child)

3. Assimilation before t. The sound t when it was preceded by a number of consonants changed the quality of a preceding sound. wyrcan —» worhte (work - wrought)

4. Loss of consonants in certain positions. Besides h that was lost in intervocal position, the sounds n and m were lost before h, entailing the lengthening of the preceding vowel: bronhte - brolite (brought)

5. Metathesis of r. In several Old English words the following change of the position of consonants takes place: cons+ r+ vowel > cons + vowel + r dridda - dirda (third)

6. West Germanic gemination of consonants. In the process of palatal mutation, when j was lost and the preceding vowel was short, the consonant after it was doubled (geminated): fulian - fyllan (fill)

Old English was a synthetic language, i.e. there were a lot of inflections.

Parts of Speech.

In OE 9 parts of speech


Number – Singular (Sg) and Plural (Pl).

Gender – Masculine (M), Feminine (F), Neuter (N).

Case – Nominative (Nom) (agent), Genitive (Gen) (attribute), Dative (Dat) (instrument, indirect/prepositional object), Accusative (Acc) (recipient, direct/prepositionless object).

Types of Declension: strong, weak, root, minor.

Degrees of Comparison – positive, comparative, superlative


Number – Singular (Sg) and Plural (Pl).

Gender – Masculine (M), Feminine (F), Neuter (N).

Case – Nominative (Nom), Genitive (Gen), Dative (Dat), Accusative (Acc) + Instrumental (Instr).

Instrumental Case was used to express instrumental meaning



Person – 1st, 2nd, 3rd;

Number – Singular (Sg), Plural (Pl) + Dual (1st, 2nd pers. (we both, you both) when only two persons were meant);

Gender – Masculine (M), Feminine (F), Neuter (N) – only in 3rd person!;

Case – Nominative (Nom), Genitive (Gen), Dative (Dat), Accusative (Acc).


They had the following categories:

Number – Singular (Sg) and Plural (Pl);

Gender – Masculine (M), Feminine (F), Neuter (N);

Case – Nominative (Nom), Genitive (Gen), Dative (Dat), Accusative (Acc) + Instrumental (Instr).

Adverbs degree of comparison as adjectives


Cardinal – had the categories of Gender and Case. All the other cardinal numerals were unchangeable.

Ordinal – were unchangeable.

gender- 3

Verb - synthetical.

types of declention: strong, weak, minor

Categories: number- Singular (Sg) and Plural, person – 3

tense: past, present

mood: Indicative (real), subjunctive (desire, condition, obligation, supposition, doubt, unreality)

Imperative (order, request)

nonfinite: Infinitive- case: Nominative, Dative.

Participle 1

number 2, gender 3, declention: like strong adjective: active meaning, simultaneous

Participle 2- declention 2, gender 3.

The relationship among words in a sentence was determined not by the order of the words in a sentence, but by the special endings of the words that determined which nouns were the subject, direct object, or indirect object; whether the nouns and verbs were singular or plural; whether the nouns were masculine, feminine, or neuter;

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