ACTUAL DIVISION OF THE SENTENCE
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The notion of actual division of the sentence (informative perspective of the sentence). The components of actual division: the theme, the rheme, the transition. The connection of the actual division of the sentence with the logical analysis of the proposition (logical sub­ject and logical predicate); their correlation with the subject and the predicate in the syntactic structure of a sentence. Direct (unspeclalized, unmarked) and inverted (reverse, specialized, marked) actual division. Actual division of the sentence and context. Lingual means of expressing actual division of the sentence: word order patterns, constructions with introducers, syntactic patterns of contrastive complexes, constructions with articles and other determiners, constructions with intensifying particles, intonation contours.

As has been mentioned, besides the nominative aspect of the semantics of the sentence, which reflects the situation named with its various components, the sentence expresses predicative semantics, which reflects various relations between the nominative content of the sentence and reality. One of the first attempts to analyze linguistically the contextually relevant communicative semantics of the sentence was undertaken by the scholars of the Prague Lingistic Circle at the beginning of the 20th century. The Czech linguist Vilém Mathesius was the first to describe the informative value of different parts of the sentence in the actual process of communication, making the informative perspective of an utterance and showing which component of the denoted situation is informationally more important from the point of view of the speaker. By analogy with the grammatical, or nominative division of the sentence the idea of the so-called “actual division” of the sentence was put forward. This linguistic theory is known as the functional analysis of the sentence, the communicative analysis, the actual division analysis, or the informative perspective analysis.

The main components of the actual division of a sentence are the theme and the rheme. The theme (originally called “the basis” by V. Mathesius) is the starting point of communication, a thing or a phenomenon about which something is reported in the sentence; it usually contains some old, “already known” information. The rheme (originally called “the nucleus” by V. Mathesius) is the basic informative part of the sentence, its contextually relevant communicative center, the “peak” of communication, or the information reported about the theme; it usually contains some new information. There may be transitional parts of actual division of various degrees of informative value, neither purely thematic, nor rhematic; they can be treated as a secondary rheme, the “subrhematic” part of a sentence; this part is called “a transition” (this idea was put forward by another scholar of the Prague Linguistic Circle, J. Firbas). For example: Again Charlie is late. – Again (transition) Charlie (theme) is late (rheme). The rheme is the obligatory informative component of a sentence, there may be sentences which include only the rheme; the theme and the transition are optional.

The theory of actual division of the sentence is connected with the logical analysis of the proposition. The principal parts of the proposition are the logical subject and the logical predicate; these two parts correlate with the theme and the rheme of the sentence respectively. Logical analysis deals with the process of thinking and the actual division reveals the corresponding lingual means of rendering the informative content in the process of communication[15][1].

The logical subject and the logical predicate, like the theme and the rheme, may or may not coincide, respectively, with the subject and the predicate of the sentence. When the actual division of the sentence reflects the natural flow of thinking directed from the starting point of communication to its semantic core, from the logical subject to the logical predicate, the theme precedes the rheme and this type of actual division is called “direct”, “unspecialized”, or “unmarked”. In English, with its fixed word order, direct actual division means that the theme coincides with the subject (or the subject group) in the syntactic structure of the sentence, while the rheme coincides with the predicate (the predicate group) of the sentence, as in Charlie is late. - Charlie (theme) is late (rheme). In some sentences, the rheme may be expressed by the subject and it may precede the theme, which is expressed by the predicate, e.g.: Who is late today? – Charlie (rheme) is late (theme). This type of actual division is called “inverted”,reverse”, “specialized”, or “marked”. The last example shows that actual division of the sentence finds its full expression only in a concrete context of speech (therefore it is sometimes referred to as the “contextual” division of the sentence).

The close connection of the actual division of the sentence with the context, which makes it possible to divide the informative parts of the communication into those “already known” by the listener and those “not yet known”, does not mean that the actual division is a purely semantic factor. There are special formal lingual means of expressing the distinction between the meaningful center of the utterance, the rheme, and the starting point of its content, the theme. They are as follows: word order patterns, constructions with introducers, syntactic patterns of contrastive complexes, constructions with articles and other determiners, constructions with intensifying particles, and intonation contours.

The connection between word order and actual division has been described above: direct actual division usually means that the theme coincides with the subject in the syntactic structure of the sentence, while the rheme coincides with the predicate. Inverted word order can indicate inverted actual division, though the correlation is not obligatory. For example: (There was a box.) Inside the box was a microphone; the adverbial modifier of place at the beginning of the sentence expresses the theme, while the subject at the end of the utterance is the rheme; the word order in this sentence is inverted, though its actual division is direct. Reversed order of actual division, i.e. the positioning of the rheme at the beginning of the sentence, is connected with emphatic speech, e.g.: Off you go! What a nice little girl she is!

Constructions with the introducer ‘there’ identify the subject of the sentence as the rheme, while the theme (usually it is an adverbial modifier of place) is shifted to the end of the utterance, e.g.: There is a book on the table. The actual division of such sentences is reverse without any emotive connotations expressed. Cf.: The book is on the table; in this sentence both the word order and the actual division are direct: the subject is the theme of the sentence.

Emphatic identification of the rheme expressed by various nominative parts of the sentence (except for the predicate) is achieved by constructions with the anticipatory ‘it’, e.g.: It is Charlie who is late; It was back in 1895 that Popov invented radio.

The opposed nominative parts of the sentence are marked as rhematic in sentences with contrastive complexes, e.g.: Charlie, not John, is absent today.

Articles and other determiners, in accord with their either identifying or generalizing semantics, are used to identify the informative part “already known“, the theme (definite determiners) or the “not yet known” information, the rheme (indefinite determiners). E.g.: The man (theme) appeared unexpectedly. – A man (rheme) appeared. But this correlation is not obligatory, because the theme is not always the information already known; it may be something about which certain information is given, so, the indefinite article may be used with the theme too, e.g.: A voice called Mary.

Various intensifying particles, such as only, just, merely, namely, at least, rather than, even, precisely, etc., identify the nominative part of the sentence before which they are used as the rheme, e.g.: Only Charlie is late today. Similar is the function of the intensifying auxiliary verb ‘do’, which turns the predicate into the rheme of the sentence, while the rest of the predicate group is turned into the transition or even the theme, e.g.: I did help your sister (cf.: I helped your sister).

  The major lingual means of actual division of the sentence is intonation, especially the stress which identifies the rheme; it is traditionally defined as “logical accent” or “rhematic accent”. Intonation is universal and inseparable from the other means of actual division described above, especially from word-order patterns: in cases of direct actual division (which make up the majority of sentences) the logical stress is focused on the last notional word in the sentence in the predicate group, identifying it as the informative center of the sentence; in cases of reverse actual division, the logical stress may indicate the rheme at the beginning of the utterance, e.g.: Charlie (theme) is late (logical accent, rheme). - Charlie (logical accent, rheme) is late (theme). In written speech the logical accent is represented by all the other rheme-identifying lingual means, which indicate its position directly or indirectly. They can be technically supported by special graphical means of rheme-identification, such as italics, bold type, underlinings, etc.

As has been mentioned, actual division of the sentence finds its full expression only in a concrete context of speech, but this does not mean that the context should be treated as the factor which makes the speaker arrange the informative perspective of the sentence in a particular way. On the contrary, the actual division is an active means of expressing functional meanings and it is not so much context-governed as it is context-governing: it builds up concrete contexts out of constructional sentence models chosen to reflect different situations and events (see Unit 29). Contextual relevance of actual division is manifested, in particular, in cases of contextual ellipsis; the elliptical sentence normally contains the most important part of the information, the rheme, while the theme is omitted, e.g.: Who is late today? – Charlie (Charlie is late today).  

Key terms: informative value, informative perspective, actual division (functional analysis, communicative analysis), theme (“basis”, starting point of communication), rheme (“nucleus”, communicative centre, “peak” of communication), transition (subrheme, secondary rheme), logical analysis of proposition (logical subject, logical predicate), direct (unspecialized, unmarked) actual division, inverted (reverse, specialized, marked) actual division, inverted word order, rhematic (logical) accent, elliptical sentence

 


[16][1] The proponents of the psychological approach in linguistics (H. Paul, F. F. Fortunatov and others) also distinguish “the psychological subject” and “the psychological predicate”.

 

 

                           


UNIT 22

Дата: 2019-12-22, просмотров: 179.