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The phrase as a polynominatlve lingual unit. The correlation of the phrase and the word, of the phrase and the sentence. Syntax of the phrase as ‘minor syntax’ in relation to syn­tax of the sentence as ‘major syntax’. The problem of definition of the phrase. Notional, formative and functional phrases. Free and set phrases. Equipotent and dominational connections between the phrase constituents. Equipotent consecu­tive (coordinative proper) and equipotent cumulative connections. Syn­detic and asyndetic connections. Dominational consecutive (subordinative proper) and dominatio­nal cumulative connections. The kernel and the adjunct of a subodinative phrase. Domination realization by different forms of the word (categorial agreement, government), connective words (prepositional government), or word order (adjoining, enclosure). The problem of bilateral dominational connections in predi­cative combinations of words (of a subject and a predicate). The classification of phrases according to part-of-speech, functional and positional criteria.

The main object of study in syntax is the communicative unit of the language, the sentence. The phrase is the syntactic unit used as a notional part of a sentence. As a level-forming unit (see Unit 1), it is characterized by some common and some differential features with the unit of the lower level, the word, and the unit of the upper level, the sentence. Like the word, the phrase is a nominative unit, but it provides a complex nomination of the referent, a polynomination consisting of several (at least two) nominative components, presenting the referent as a complicated phenomenon, cf.: a girl – a beautiful girl; a decision – his unexpected decision; etc. Moreover, the regular free phrase does not enter speech as a ready-made unit like the word; it is freely formed in speech, like the sentence according to a certain grammatical pattern. As for the fixed word-combinations, idioms, they are closer to the word in the type of nomination: they are ready-made units fixed in dictionaries and studied mainly by lexicology.

The basic difference between the phrase and the sentence is as follows: the phrase cannot express full predication, even if it denotes a situation; this becomes obvious in their mutual transformations, for example, in the so-called phrasalization, or nominalization of the sentence, cf.: They considered the problem. – their consideration of the problem; for them to consider the problem; their considering of the problem. Thus, the phrase enters speech only as a constituent of a sentence, as “a denoteme” (see Unit 1), to be more exact, as “a polydenoteme” as contrasted with the word, which enters a sentence as “a monodenoteme”. The grammatical description of the phrase is seen as a separate part of syntax, the syntax of the phrase; it is sometimes called “minor syntax”, in distinction to “major syntax”, studying the sentence and its textual connections.

The definition of the phrase is rather a controversial issue. In Russian linguistics, the narrow approach, which was put forward by V. V. Vinogradov, traditionally prevails: only a combination of two notional words, one of which dominates the other, is considered a word-combination. A much broader approach was proposed by Leonard Bloomfield and it is shared by many modern linguists. One of the leading specialists in this field, V. V. Burlakova, defines a word-combination as any syntactically organized group of syntagmatically connected words; this includes combinations of functional and notional words, and predicative and coordinative combinations of words. Critical revision of these two approaches is possible on the basis of the above given description of the phrase (the phraseme) as a separate lingual unit.

Defining the phrase as a polynominative lingual unit helps reveal the status of notional phrases, semantically independent (“autosemantic”) combinations of notional words, as the basic type of phrasemes. Besides notional phrases (phrases proper), two other structural types of syntagmatic groupings of words can be distinguished, which can be defined as phrases or word-combinations only in form: formative phrases and functional phrases. The formative phrase is a combination of a notional word with a functional word, which is contextually dependent (“synsemantic”) and functionally similar to separate notional words used in various grammatical forms, e.g.: of Peter (= Peter’s); in a moment, without doubt, etc. Functional phrases are combinations of functional words similar to regular functional words, e.g.: apart from, as soon as, with reference to, must be able, etc.

Notional phrases are subdivided into different types, which reveal various grammatical and semantic properties of the phrase constituents and the phrase in general.

On the basis of constituent rank, the groupings of notional words are subdivided into dominational (hypotactic) and equipotent(paratactic). The constituents of equipotent phrases are of equal syntactic rank; none of them modifies another, e.g.: poor but honest; mad, bad and dangerous; his, not Mary’s; etc. As these examples show, the syntactic connections in equipotent phrases can be realized with the help of a coordinative conjunction or without any connecting element involved; the former are called “syndetic” connections, the latter asyndetic” connections. In the above examples, the phrase constituents form logically consecutive connections, which are defined as “coordinative”. Entering the structure of the sentence, constituents of coordinative phrases function as homogeneous notional parts of the sentence, e.g.: He is mad, bad and dangerous (mad, bad and dangerous are homogeneous predicatives). Besides coordinative phrases, there are phrases in which the sequential element, although connected with the foregoing element by a coordinative conjunction, is unequal to it in the character of nomination, e.g.: came, but late; agreed, or nearly so; etc. Such formally equipotent phrases of a non-consecutive type are defined as “cumulative”. Cumulative connection in writing is usually signaled by some intermediary punctuation mark, such as a comma or a hyphen. The term “cumulation” is commonly used to denote connections between separate sentences; so, cumulative connections between words can be defined as “inner cumulation” in distinction to the “outer cumulation” of sentences.

In dominational phrases, one word modifies another. The principal constituent, which dominates the other constituent syntactically, is called the kernel,the key-word, or the head word; the subordinate (dominated) constituent, which modifies the kernel, is called the adjunct, the adjunct-word, or the expansion. For example, in the word-combination a beautiful girl the word ‘a girl’ is the kernel, and ‘beautiful’ is the adjunct. Dominational connection, like equipotent connection, can be both consecutive and cumulative, cf.: definitely off the point (consecutive domination) – off the point, definitely (cumulative domination). Logically consecutive dominational connections are defined as “subordinative”.

 Dominational connection is achieved by different forms of the word (categorial agreement, government), connective words (prepositions, i.e. prepositional government), or word order (adjoining, enclosure). Agreement takes place when the subordinate word assumes a form similar to the form of the kernel, e.g.: this boy, these boys; the child plays, the children play; in English, words agree only in number in some grammatical contexts. Government takes place when a certain form of adjunct is required by its head-word, but it does not coincide with the form of the head word, e.g.: to see him; to talk to him. Adjoining involves no special formal mark of dependence between constituents; words are combined by sheer contact, e.g.: to go home. Enclosure takes place in phrases in which the subordinate word is placed between two parts of an analytical head-word form, e.g.: to thoroughly think over, the then government, an interesting question, etc. Domination achieved by the form of the word, through agreement or government, is important for inflectional languages; in English, it is the remnant of the old inflectional system as in the cases shown above. Phrases in which the connections are expressed by prepositions only or word-order are predominant in English.

The two basic types of dominational connections are bilateral (reciprocal, two-way) domination and monolateral (one-way) domination. The connections in most of the examples above are monolateral dominational; the kernel dominates the adjunct: this boy, to talk to him, a beautiful girl, etc. Bilateral domination is realized in predicative connections of words, which may be either fully predicative, or semi-predicative, e.g.: the pupil understands, the pupil’s understanding, the pupil understanding, for the pupil to understand. In predicative groupings of words the subject dominates the predicate, determining the person of predication; formally, domination is manifested by the reflection of the person and number properties of the subject in the form of the verb performing the function of a predicate. The predicate dominates the subject, determining the event of predication, some action, state, or quality; in the transformation of nominalization the transform of the predicate occupies the position of the head-word, while the subject becomes its adjunct, cf.: he decided à his decision.

Some linguists challenge the idea of “a predicative word-combination”, arguing that predication can be expressed only by the sentence. Still, there is no arguing with the fact, that the groupings of words which constitute the predicative line in the sentence, predicative sintagmas, are to be distinguished as a specific type, because bilateral domination is a specific type of syntagmatic connections of words; to avoid disagreements, L. Hjelmslev suggests the term “interdependence” to denote the connections between the constituents of bilateral dominational phrases.

Thus, there are four basic types of syntagmatic connections of words distinguished in their syntactic groupings: coordination (consecutive equipotent connection), subordination (consecutive dominational connection), predication, or interdependence (bilateral dominational connection) and cumulation (inner cumulation).

Besides the classification of word groupings on the basis of the major syntagmatic connections outlined above, there are further subdivisions and generalizations, and other approaches possible in the description of the phrase. The traditional classification of phrases is based on the part-of-speech characteristics of their constituents (on the part of speech of the kernel in dominational phrases); there are noun phrases (NP), e.g.: a beautiful girl; men, women and children; verbal phrases (VP), e.g.: went home; came and went; adjective phrases (AP), e.g.: quite unexpected; nice and quiet; adverbial phrases (DP), e.g.: quite unexpectedly. On the base of kernel-adjunct relations, subordinative phrases can be divided into those with objective connections (direct objective and indirect objective) and qualifying connections (attributive and adverbial), e.g.: to see a child (direct objective); put on the table (indirect objective); a beautiful girl (attributive); came soon (adverbial). On the base of the position of the adjunct in relation to the kernel, subordinative phrases are characterized as regressive or progressive: in regressive phrases, the adjunct precedes the kernel, e.g.: a beautiful girl; in progressive phrases, the adjunct follows the kernel, e.g.: came home.

The phrase, like any other lingual unit consisting of several components, can be analyzed in a linear way or in a hierarchical way, in an immediate constituents analysis, which shows the levels of dependences between its components. E.g.:

that extremely beautiful girl





                                Det                                  NP




                                                           D      A           N


         that            extremely beautiful girl



Key terms: phrase, word-combination, syntagmatic groupings of words, polynominative lingual unit, polydenoteme (monodenoteme), ‘minor syntax’, ‘major syntax’, notional phrase, formative phrase, functional phrase, equipotent (paratactic) and dominational (hypotactic) connections, consecutive equipotent (coordinative proper) and cumulative equipotent connections, dominational consecutive (subordinative proper) and dominational cumulative connections, kernel (kernel element, key word, head word), adjunct (adjunct word, expansion), monolateral (one-way) domination, bilateral (reciprocal, two-way) domination, agreement, government (prepositional and non-prepositional), adjoining, enclosure, interdependence, regressive and progressive phrases






The sentence as the main unit of syntax. The sentence as a communicative unit. Predication as a fundamental distinguishing feature of the sentence. Nominative aspect of the sentence in correlation with its predicative aspect. Predication as syntactic modality. The means of expressing predication. Intonational arrangement of the sentence. The sentence in the system of language: the notion of sentence pattern (its generalized syntactic model). Nominative aspect in the correlation of the sentence and the word, of the sentence and the phrase; nominalization of the sentence.

The sentence, as has been mentioned, is the central object of study in syntax. It can be defined as the immediate integral unit of speech built up by words according to a definite syntactic pattern and distinguished by a contextually relevant communicative purpose.

The correlation of the word and the sentence shows some important differences and similarities between these two main level-forming lingual units. Both of them are nominative units, but the word just names objects and phenomena of reality; it is a purely nominative component of the word-stock, while the sentence is at the same time a nominative and predicative lingual unit: it names dynamic situations, or situational events, and at the same time reflects the connection between the nominal denotation of the event, on the one hand, and objective reality, on the other hand, showing the time of the event, its being real or unreal, desirable or undesirable, etc. A sentence can consist of only one word, as any lingual unit of the upper level can consist of only one unit of the lower level, e.g.: Why? Thanks. But a word making up a sentence is thereby turned into an utterance-unit expressing various connections between the situation described and actual reality. So, the definition of the sentence as a predicative lingual unit gives prominence to the basic differential feature of the sentence as a separate lingual unit: it performs the nominative signemic function, like the word or the phrase, and at the same time it performs the reality-evaluating, or predicative function.

Another difference between the word and the sentence is as follows: the word exists in the system of language as a ready-made unit, which is reproduced in speech; the sentence is produced each time in speech, except for a limited number of idiomatic utterances. The sentence belongs primarily to the sphere of speech; earlier logical and psychological oriented grammar treated the sentence as a portion of the flow of words of one speaker containing a complete thought.

Being a unit of speech, the sentence is distinguished by a relevant intonation: each sentence possesses certain intonation contours, including pauses, pitch movements and stresses, which separate one sentence from another in the flow of speech and, together with various segmental means of expression, participate in rendering essential communicative-predicative meanings (for example, interrogation).

But, as was outlined at the beginning of the course, speech presents only one aspect of language in the broad sense of the term, which dialectically combines the system of language, language proper (“langue”), and the immediate realization of it in the process of intercourse, speech proper (“parole”). The sentence as a unit of communication also includes two sides inseparably connected with each other: fixed in the system of the language are typical models, generalized sentence patterns, which speakers follow when constructing their own utterances in actual speech. The number of actual sentences, or utterances, is infinite; the number of “linguistic sentences” or sentence patterns in the system of language is definite, and they are the object of study in grammar.

The definition of the category of predication is similar to the definition of the category of modality, which also shows a connection between the named objects and actual reality. However, modality is a broader category, revealed not only in grammar, but in the lexical elements of language; for example, various modal meanings are expressed by modal verbs (can, may, must, etc.), by word-particles of specifying modal semantics (just, even, would-be, etc.), by semi-functional modal words and phrases of subjective evaluation (perhaps, unfortunately, by all means, etc.) and by other lexical units. Predication can be defined as syntactic modality, expressed by the sentence.

The center of predication in the sentence is the finite form of the verb, the predicate: it is through the finite verb’s categorial forms of tense, mood, and voice that the main predicative meanings, actual evaluations of the event, are expressed. L. Tesnière, who introduced the term “valency” in linguistics, described the verbal predicate as the core around which the whole sentence structure is organized according to the valencies of the predicate verb; he subdivided all verbal complements and supplements into so-called “actants”, elements that identify the participants in the process, and “circonstants”, or elements that identify the circumstances of the process[13][1]. Besides the predicate, other elements of the sentence also help express predication: for example, word order, various functional words and, in oral speech, intonation. In addition to verbal time and mood evaluation, the predicative meanings of the sentence include the purpose of communication (declaration – interrogation – inducement), affirmation and negation and other meanings (see Unit 24).

As the description above shows, predication is the basic differential feature of the sentence, but not the only one. There is a profound difference between the nominative function of the word and the nominative function of the sentence. The nominative content of a syntagmatically complete average sentence, called a proposition, reflects a processual situation, an event that includes a certain process (actional or statal) as its dynamic center, the agent of the process, the objects of the process, and various conditions and circumstances of the realization of the process. The situation, together with its various elements, is reflected through the nominative parts (members) of the sentence, distinguished in the traditional grammatical or syntactic division of the sentence, which can also be defined as its nominative division. No separate word, no matter how many stems it consists of, can express the situation-nominative semantics of a proposition. To some extent, the nomination of situational events can be realized by expanded substantive or nominal phrases. Between the sentence and the substantive phrase of situational semantics direct transformations are possible; the transformation of a sentence into a nominal phrase is known as “nominalization”, e.g.: His father arrived unexpectedly à his father’s unexpected arrival, the unexpected arriving of his father, etc. When a sentence is transformed into a substantive phrase, or “nominalized”, it loses its processual-predicative character. This, first, supports once again the idea that the content of the sentence is a unity of two mutually complementary aspects: of the nominative aspect and the predicative aspect; and, second, this specifies the definition of predication: predication should be interpreted not simply as referring the content of the sentence to reality, but as referring the nominative content of the sentence to reality.  

Key terms: predicative lingual unit, predication (syntactic modality), double nominative-predicative nature, the category of modality, nominalization, ‘actants’, ‘circonstants’, intonational arrangement, sentence models (generalized sentence patterns), utterance, nominative (syntactic, grammatical) division of the sentence, proposition, nominative parts (members) of the sentence


[14][1] L. Tesnière metaphorically described the predicate as a “small drama”, in which the participants are “the actors”.




Дата: 2019-12-22, просмотров: 178.