Structural and semantic Characteristics of Nouns

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Contents:

I.  Introduction

1.1. General characteristics of the work

1.2. General Characteristics of English Nouns

The Main Part

2.1. Main Features of English Nouns

2.1.1. The Category of Case

2.1.2. The Category of Number of English Nouns

2.2. Structural Semantic Characteristics of English Nouns

2.2.1. Morphological Characteristics of Nouns

2.2.2. Syntactical Characteristics of Nouns

2.2.3. Characteristics of nouns due the way of their composition

2.2.4. Semantical Characteristics of Nouns

2.3. English Nouns in Speech

2.3.1. Noun Grammemes in Speech

2.3.2. The Use of Articles with Nouns in Some Set Expsessions

2.3.3. Test Exercises

2.4. Comparison of English and Russian nouns

II.  Conclusion

III.  Bibliography

IV.  Appendix


I. Introduction

 

1.1 General characteristics of the work

The theme of my qualification work sounds as following: “English Nouns and Their Structural Semantic Characteristics”. This qualification work can be characterized by the following:

2. Actuality of the theme.

The noun is a word expressing substance in the widest sense of the word. In the concept of substance we include not only names of living beings (e.g. boy girl bird) and lifeless things (e.g. table chair book) but also names of abstract notions i.e. qualities slates actions (kindness strength sleep fear conversation fight) abstracted from their bearers. In speech these types of nouns are treated in different ways so one who does not know ways of treatment can make mistakes in his speech. Standing on such ground we considered the theme of the work actual enough to make investigation.

3. The tasks and aims of the work.

1. The first aim of my work is to give definition to the term “noun”.

2. Second task is to describe main features of English nouns.

3. Third task of my work is to give structural semantics characteristics to English nouns.

4. The novelty of the work.

Our work possesses novelty concluded in the fact that I worked out my own test exercises dealt with the composition of nouns and right usage of them.[1]

5. Practical significance of the work.

In our opinion the practical significance of our work is hard to be overvalued. This work reflects modern trends in linguistics and we hope it would serve as a good manual for those who wants to master modern English language.

6. Ways of scientific investigation used within the work.

The main method for compiling our work is the method of comparative analysis translation method and the method of statistical research.

7. Fields of amplification.

The present work might find a good way of implying in the following spheres:

1. In High Schools and scientific circles of linguistic kind it can be successfully used by teachers and philologists as modern material for writing research works dealing with English nouns.

2. It can be used by teachers of schools lyceums and colleges by teachers of English as a practical manual for teaching English grammar.

3. It can be useful for everyone who wants to enlarge his/her knowledge in English.

8. Linguists worked with the theme.

As the base for our qualification work we used the works of Russian linguists B.I.Rogovskaya V. Kaushanskaya M. Blokh and others [2].

8. Content of the work.

The present qualification work consists of four parts: introduction the main part conclusion and bibliography. It also includes the appendix where some interesting tables schemes and illustrative thematic materials were gathered. Within the introduction part which includes two items we gave the brief description of our qualification work (the first item) and gave general notion of the word “noun”. The main part of our qualification work includes several items. There we discussed such problems as main features of English nouns structural-semantic characteristics of them and described ways of treatment of English nouns in speech. We also compared nouns of English and Russian languages. In the conclusion to our qualification work we tried to draw some results from the scientific investigations made within the main part of our qualification work. In bibliography part we mentioned more than 20 sources of which were used while compiling the present work. It includes linguistic books and articles dealing with the theme a number of used dictionaries and encyclopedias and also some internet sources.

1.2 General Characteristics of English Nouns

The word "noun" comes from the Latin nomen meaning "name." Word classes like nouns were first described by Sanskrit grammarian Painini and ancient Greeks like Dionysios Thrax and defined in terms of their morphological properties. For example in Ancient Greece nouns can be inflected for grammatical case such as dative or accusative. Verbs on the other hand can be inflected for tenses such as past present or future while nouns cannot. Aristotle also had a notion of onomata (nouns) and rhemata (verbs) which however does not exactly correspond our notions of verbs and nouns. In her dissertation Vinokurova has a more detailed discussion of the historical origin of the notion of a noun.

Expressions of natural language will have properties at different levels. They have formal properties like what kinds of morphological prefixes or suffixes they can take and what kinds of other expressions they can combine with. but they also have semantic properties i.e. properties pertaining to their meaning. The definition of nouns on the top of this page is thus a formal definition. That definition is uncontroversial and has the advantage that it allows us to effectively distinguish nouns from non-nouns. However it has the disadvandage that it does not apply to nouns in all languages. For example in Russian there are no definite articles so one cannot define nouns by means of those. There are also several attempts of defining nouns in terms of their semantic properties. Many of these are controversial but some are discussed below.

In traditional school grammars one often encounters the definition of nouns that they are all and only those expressions that refer to a person place thing event substance quality or idea etc. This is a semantic definition. It has been criticized by contemporary linguists as being quite uninformative. Part of the problem is that the definition makes use of relatively general nouns ("thing " "phenomenon " "event") to define what nouns are. The existence of such general nouns shows us that nouns are organized in taxonomic hierarchies. But other kinds of expressions are also organized in hierarchies. For example all of the verbs "stroll " "saunter " "stride " and "tread" are more specific words than the more general "walk." The latter is more specific than the verb "move." But it is unlikely that such hierarchies can be used to define nouns and verbs. Furthermore an influential theory has it that verbs like "kill" or "die" refer to events and so they fall under the definition. Similarly adjectives like "yellow" or "difficult" might be thought to refer to qualities and adverbs like "outside" or "upstairs" seem to refer to places. Worse still a trip into the woods can be referred to by the verbs "stroll" or "walk." But verbs adjectives and adverbs are not nouns and nouns aren't verbs. So the definition is not particularly helpful in distinguishing nouns from other parts of speech.

Another semantic definition of nouns is that they are prototypically referential. That definition is also not very helpful in distinguishing actual nouns from verbs. But it may still correctly identify a core property of nounhood. For example we will tend to use nouns like "fool" and "car" when we wish to refer to fools and cars respectively. The notion that this is prototypocal reflects the fact that such nouns can be used even though nothing with the corresponding property is referred to:

John is no fool.

If I had a car I'd go to Marakech.

The first sentence above doesn't refer to any fools nor does the second one refer to any particular car.

In most cases in treating English nouns we shall keep to the conception of scientists that we refer to post-structural tendency It's because they combine the ideas of traditional and structural grammarians. The noun is classified into a separate word- group because:

1 .they all have the same lexical - grammatical meaning :

substance / thing

2.according to their form - they've two grammatical categories:

number and case

3.they all have typical stem-building elements :

- er - ist - ship - ment -hood ....

4.typical combinability with other words:

most often left-hand combinability.

5.function - the most characteristic feature of nouns is - they can be observed in all syntactic functions but predicate.

From the grammatical point of view most important is the division of nouns into countables and un-countables with regard to the category of number and into declinables and indeclinables with regard to the category of case[3]. So after describing grammatical categories of English nouns we will try to classify them from different points of view.


II. The Main Part

 

2.1 Main Features of English Nouns.

 

2.1.1 The Category of Case

The category of case of nouns is the system of opposemes (such as girl—girl's in English дом — дома — дому — дом — домом — (о) доме in Russian) showing the relations of the noun to other words in speech. Case relations reflect the relations of the substances the nouns name to other substances actions states etc. in the world of reality [4]. In the sentence ‘I took John's hat by mistake’ the case of the noun ‘John's’ shows its relation to the noun hat which is some reflection of the relations between John and his hat in reality.

Case is one of those categories which show the close connection:

(a) between language and speech

(b) between morphology and syntax.

(a) A case opposeme is like any other opposeme a unit of the language system but the essential difference between the members of a case opposeme is in their combinability in speech. This is particularly clear in a language like Russian with a developed case system. Compare for instance the combinability of the nominative case and that of the oblique cases. See also the difference in the combinability of each oblique case: одобрять поступок .не одобрять поступка удивляться поступку восхищаться поступком etc.

We can see here that the difference between the cases is not so much a matter of meaning as a matter of combinability. It can be said that поступок — поступка — поступку etc. are united paradigmatically in the Russian language on the basis of their syntagmatic differences in speech. Similarly the members of the case opposeme John — John's are united paradigmatically on the basis of their syntagmatic differences.

Naturally both members of an English noun case opposeme have the features of English nouns including their combinability. Thus they may be preceded by an article an adjective a numeral a pronoun etc.

a student ....                  a student's ...

the student...                 the student's ...

a good student ...          a good student's ...

his brother ...                his brother's ...

the two brothers ...        the two brothers' ...

Yet the common case grammemes are used in a variety of combinations where the possessive case grammemes do not as a rule occur. In the following examples for instance John's or boys' can hardly be substituted for John or boys: John saw the boys The boys were seen by John It was owing to the boys that ... The boys and he ... etc.

(b) Though case is a morphological category it has a distinct syntactical significance. The common case grammemes fulfil a number of syntactical functions not typical of possessive case grammemes among them the functions of subject and object. The possessive case noun is for the most part employed as an attribute.

All case opposemes are identical in content: they contain two particular meanings of 'common' case and 'possessive' case united by the general meaning of the category that of 'case'. There is not much variety in the form of case opposemes either which distinguishes English from Russian.

An English noun lexeme may contain two case opposemes at most (man —man's men —men's). Some lexemes have but one opposeme (England — England's cattle — cattle's). Many lexemes have no case opposemes at all (book news foliage)

In the opposeme dog — dog's men — men's the 'common' case is not marked i.e. dog and men have zero morphemes of 'common case'. The 'possessive' case is marked by the suffix -'s /-s -z -iz/. In the opposeme dogs — dogs.' the difference between the opposites is marked only in writing. Otherwise the two opposites do not differ in form. So with regard to each other they are-not marked.

Thus -'s is the only positive case morpheme of English nouns. It would be no exaggeration to say that the whole category' depends on this morpheme.

As already mentioned with regard to the category of case English nouns fall under two lexico-grammatical subclasses: declinables having case opposites and indeclinables having no case opposites.

The subclass of declinables is comparatively limited including mostly nouns denoting living beings also time and distance [5].

Indeclinables like book iron care have as a norm only the potential (or oblique or lexico-grammatical) meaning of the common case. But it is sometimes actualized when a case opposite of these words is formed in speech as in ‘The book's philosophy is old-fashioned’. (The Tribune Canada).

As usual variants of one lexeme may belong to different subclasses. Youth meaning 'the state of being young' belongs to the indeclinables. Its variant youth meaning 'a young man' has a case opposite (The youth's candid smile disarmed her. Black and belongs to the declinables.

Since both cases and prepositions show 'relations of substances' some linguists speak of analytical cases in Modern English. To the student is said to be an analytical dative case (equivalent for instance to the Russian студенту) of the student is understood as an analytical genitive case (equivalent to студента) by the student as an analytical instrumental case (cf.

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