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Word group is

LECTURE 8: THE WORD-GROUP THEORY

1. Definition and general characteristics of the word-group.

There are a lot of definitions concerning the word-group. The most adequate one seems to be the following: the word-group is a combination of at least two notional words which do not constitute the sentence but are syntactically connected. According to some other scholars (the majority of Western scholars and professors B.Ilyish and V.Burlakova – in Russia), a combination of a notional word with a function word (on the table) may be treated as a word-group as well. The problem is disputable as the role of function words is to show some abstract relations and they are devoid of nominative power. On the other hand, such combinations are syntactically bound and they should belong somewhere.

General characteristics of the word-group are:

1) As a naming unit it differs from a compound word because the number of constituents in a word-group corresponds to the number of different denotates:

a black bird – чорний птах (2), a blackbird – дрізд (1);
a loud speaker (2), a loudspeaker (1).

2) Each component of the word-group can undergo grammatical changes without destroying the identity of the whole unit: to see a house — to see houses.

3) A word-group is a dependent syntactic unit, it is not a communicative unit and has no intonation of its own.

2. Classification of word-groups.

Word-groups can be classified on the basis of several principles:

1. According to the type of syntagmatic relations: coordinate(you and me), subordinate (to see a house, a nice dress), predicative (him coming, for him to come),

2. According to the structure: simple (all elements are obligatory), expanded(to read and translate the text – expanded elements are equal in rank), extended (a word takes a dependent element and this dependent element becomes the head for another word: a beautiful flower – a very beautiful flower).

3. Subordinate word-groups.

Subordinate word-groups are based on the relations of dependence between the constituents. This presupposes the existence of a governing
Element which is called the headand the dependent element which is called the adjunct (in noun-phrases) or the complement (in verb-phrases).

According to the nature of their heads, subordinate word-groups fall into noun-phrases (NP) – a cup of tea, verb-phrases (VP) – to run fast, to see a house, adjective phrases (AP) – good for you, adverbial phrases (DP) – so quickly, pronoun phrases (IP) – something strange, nothing todo.

The formation of the subordinate word-group depends on the valency of its constituents. Valencyis a potential ability of words to combine. Actual realization of valency in speech is called combinability.

4. The noun-phrase (NP).

Noun word-groups are widely spread in English. This may be explained by a potential ability of the noun to go into combinations with practically all parts of speech. The NP consists of a noun-head and an adjunct or adjuncts with relations of modification between them. Three types of modification are distinguished here:

1. Premodification that comprises all the units placed before the head:two smart hard-workingstudents.Adjuncts used in pre-head position are called pre-posedadjuncts.

2. Postmodification that comprises all the units all the units placed after the head: studentsfrom Boston. Adjuncts used in post-head position are called post-posed adjuncts.

3. Mixed modification that comprises all the units in both pre-head and post-head position:two smart hard-workingstudentsfrom Boston.

Lecture 10. Word Groups

The word group has been one of the most important subjects for consideration and discussion for a very long time, since the time of prenormative and normative groomers. In old grammars they paid much more attention to word groups than to sentences. Still later the term «phrase» was introduced for the word group. Some linguists (H. Sweet) claim that this term is very wide («phrase») — it may be even a sentence, but nevertheless the term is still used.

The structure and meaning.
1) The structure is shown be a syntactic formula. It shows the structure of word-groups by the order of the arrangement of their components indicating them as parts of speech (V+N = to release a prisoner, to run a factory).
2) By using syntactic patterns they describe the word groups in relation to the head word (to release, to run).
The word group is an intermediate unit between a word and a sentence. On the one hand a word group is closer to a word in meaning, thus a word group is an extended word, but on the other hand, from the structural point of view a word ‘group is closer to a sentence, because like a sentence a word group has a certain syntactic structure, word order and certain means of connection.

There are two basic approaches to the structure of the word group:

1) a word group is any combination of words;

2) a word group presupposes the presence of notional words.

The word-groups have lexical and structural meaning.
Lexical meaning is defined as the combined lexical meaning of the component words. Idiomatic meaning — the total change of the initial combined meaning (to catch smb red-handed)
Structural meaning is conveyed by the pattern of arrangement of its constituents (school grammar — grammar school).

One of the greatest differences between a word group and a sentence is that a classical word group is a non-predicative unit, because a word group doesn’t carry predication (only sentences can carry it). A word group is a static explanation; a sentence carries some dynamic force. Thus a word group has no intonation of its own.

Structural classification:
— Predicative — have syntactic structure similar to that of a sentence (the horse has run away)
— Non-predicative: subordinate and coordinate.
Subordinate word-groups — consist of a head-word and words subordinate to it (to release a prisoner). In coordinate word-groups — all elements are equal (brother and sister).
If the word-group is used in the same function as one of its members — endocentric. Exocentric — are those that are used differently from either of its members.

Classifications of word groups:

1) full word groups: Phraseological units (set phrases, bound word groups)

2) the second classification is based on the way the headword is expressed. If we consider the relationship between the parts of a word group we’ll find that there may be at least 3 groups of relations:

— coordinate relations coordinate word groups (groups of words, which have the same function (you and me), they are joined together either asyndetically or syndetically);

— subordinate relations subordinate word groups (there is always the head and an adjunct),

— predicative relations predicative word groups (word groups the parts of which are joined by predicative relations (syntactical complexes)).

The subordinate word groups are further classified from the point of view of how their headword is expressed:

— noun word groups

— adjectival word groups

— adverbial word groups

— verbal word groups

The problem here is the word order (the arrangement of elements): if we consider the substantive word groups in Russian the usual extension goes to the right (the right hand distribution) in English — very often to the left (the left hand distribution): Get your eyes tested appeal to motorists.

A predicative word group (= complexes which are not to be found in Russian) is a special kind of word group with predicative relations between the nominal and the verbal parts (not the general predication of the sentence, not the primary predication, but the relations between the doer and the action).

The syntactical complex is a construction which is not to be found in slavonic languages and many others while in the English language it is used highly extensively. There are 5 main types of complexes:

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1) the Complex Object; .

2) the Complex Subject (is mostly used in newspaper style and business);

3) the For-phrase (the For-Complex, the Prepositional Complex) (not only the preposition «for» but also «to» and «on» can occur in this construction);

4) the Gerundial Complex;

5) the Absolute Nominative Participial Construction (is used in fiction and in technical description).

The complexes are further subdivided into bound (1, 2, 3, 4): they always function as an ingredient part of the sentence; and full (5): it is absolute, is not the I.C. of the sentence and is always an adverbial.

Since we consider only free word groups we should expect that since a free word group is considered full, it has no phraseological meaning, we may understand that the general meaning of the whole group is a sum of the parts which constitute it, but sometimes we can’t say so: very often the meaning of the whole phrase depends on the position of the elements in relation to each other: a house dog — a dog house.

Notional phrases are grammatical unities made by a combination of two or more notional words. Notional phrase is the main unit of syntax (as well as the sentence). Words in an utterance form various syntagmatic connections with one another. Different combinations of nominal phrases denote complex phenomena and their properties and their interconnections.

Groupings of notional words fall into two opposite types:

1) Equipollent groupings, constituted by words related to one another on an equal rank Connection in such groupings is realized either with the help of conjunctions (syndetically) or without them (asyndetically). The constituents of these combinations form logically consecutive connections that are classed as coordinative. Alongside these exist equipollent connections of a non-consecutive type when the elements are unequal as to the type of nomination. This type is classed as cumulative.

2) The dominational connection, where one of the constituents is principle and the other is subordinate. The principle element is called kernel or head word and the subordinate is the adjunct, expansion. Dominational connections can be consecutive like equipollent. The predicative connection of words builds up the basic of the sentence. The completive way of connection of words is considered as subordinative on the ground that the outer syntactic status of the whole combination is determined by the kernel element «That woman was astonishingly beautiful.» All the completive connections are subdivided into objective and qualifying connections. The former reflect the relation of the object to the process and are characterized as very close: «He remembered the man». The later connections are divided into attributive and adverbial: a boy of good character: to speak in a low voice.

Types of Meaning of Word-Groups

The meaning of word-groups can be divided into: 1) lexical and 2) structural (grammatical) components.

1. The lexical meaning of the word-group may be defined as the combined lexical meaning of the component words. Thus, the lexical meaning of the word-group red flower may be described denotationally as the combined meaning of the words red and flower. However, the term “combined lexical meaning” is not to imply that the meaning of the word-group is a mere additive result of all the lexical meanings of the component members. The lexical meaning of the word-group predominates over the lexical meanings of its constituents.

2. The structural meaningof the word-group is the meaning conveyed mainly by the pattern of arrangement of its constituents. For example, such word-groups as school grammar (школьная грамматика) and grammar school (грамматическая школа) are semantically different because of the difference in the pattern of arrangement of the component words.

Thus, the meaning of the word-group is derived from the combined lexical meanings of its constituents and is inseparable from the meaning of the pattern of their arrangement.

Motivation in Word-Groups

Semantically all word-groups can be classified into motivated and non-motivated.

A word-group is lexically motivated if the combined lexical meaning of the group is deducible from the meanings of its components, e.g. red flower, heavy weight, teach a lesson.

If the combined lexical meaning of a word-group is not deducible from the lexical meaning of its constituent components, such a word-group is lexically non-motivated, e.g. red tape (“official bureaucratic methods”), take place (“occur”).

The degree of motivation can be different. Between the extremes of complete motivation and lack of motivation there are innumerable intermediate cases. For example, the degree of lexical motivation in the nominal group black market is higher than in black death, but lower than in black dress, though none of the groups can be considered completely non-motivated.

Completely non-motivated or partially motivated word-groups are described as phraseological units or idioms.

Free Word-Groups Versus Phraseological Units Versus Words

A phraseological unit can be defined as a reproduced and idiomatic (non-motivated) or partially motivated unit built up according to the model of free word-groups (or sentences) and semantically and syntactically brought into correlation with words. Hence, there is a need for criteria exposing the degree of similarity/difference between phraseological units and free word-groups, phraseological units and words.

Structural Criterion

The structural criterion brings forth pronounced features which on the one hand state a certain structural similarity between phraseological units and free word-combinations at the same time opposing them to single words (a), and on the other hand specify their structural distinctions (b).

(a) A feature proper both to free phrases and phraseological units is the divisibility (раздельнооформленность) of their structure, i.e. they consist of separate structural elements. This fact stands them in opposition to words as structurally integral (цельнооформленные) units. The structural integrity of a word is defined by the presence of a common grammatical form for all constituent elements of this word. For example, the grammatical change in the word shipwreck implies that inflexions are added to both elements of the word simultaneously – ship-wreck-( ), ship-wreck-s, while in the word-group the wreck of a ship each element can change its grammatical form independently from the other – (the) wreck-( ) of the ship-s, (the) wreck-s of (the) ship-s. Like in word-groups, in phraseological units potentially any component may be changed grammatically, but these changes are rather few, limited and occasional and usually serve for a stylistic effect, e.g. Black Maria “a van used by police for bringing suspected criminals to the police station”: the Blackest Maria, Black Marias.

(b) The principle difference between phraseological units and free word-groups manifests itself in the structural invariability of the former. The structural invariability suggests no (or rather limited) substitutions of components. For example, to give somebody the cold shoulder means “to treat smb. coldly, to ignore smb”, but a warm shoulder or a cold elbow makes no sense. There are strict restrictions on the componental extension and grammatical changes of components of phraseological units. The use of the words big, great in a white elephant meaning “an expensive but useless thing” can change or even destroy the meaning of the phraseological unit. In a free word-group all these changes are possible.

Semantic Criterion

The semantic criterion is of great help in stating the semantic difference/similarity between free word-groups and phraseological units (a), and between phraseological units and words (b).

(a) The meaning in phraseological units is created by mutual interaction of elements and conveys a single concept. The actual meaning of a phraseological unit is figurative (transferred) and is opposed to the literal meaning of a word-combination from which it is derived. The transference of the initial word-group can be based on simile, metaphor, metonomy and synecdoche. The degree of transference varies and may affect either the whole unit or only one of its constituents, cf.: to skate on thin ice – “to take risks”; the small hours – “the early hours of the morning”. Besides, in the formation of the semantic structure of phraseological units a cultural components plays a special and very important role. It marks phraseological units as bearers of cultural information based on a unique experience of the nation. For example, the phraseological unit red tape originates in the old custom of Government officials and lawyers tying up (перевязывать) their papers with red tape.

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In a free phrase the semantic correlative ties are fundamentally different. The meaning in a word-group is based on the combined meaning of the words constituting its structure. Each element in a word-combination has a much greater semantic independence and stands for a separate concept, e.g. to cut bread, to cut cheese, to eat bread. Every word in a free phrase can form additional syntactic ties with other words outside the expression retaining its individual meaning.

(b) The semantic unity, however, makes phraseological units similar to words. The semantic similarity between the two is proved by the fact that, for instance, kick the bucket whose meaning is understood as a whole and not related to the meaning of individual words can be replaced within context by the word to die, the phraseological unit in a brown study – by the word gloomy.

Syntactic Criterion

The syntactic criterion reveals the close ties between single words and phraseological units as well as free word-groups. Like words (as well as word-combinations) phraseological units may have different syntactic functions in the sentence, e.g. the subject (narrow escape, first night, baker’s dozen), the predicate (to have a good mind, to play Russian roulette), an attribute (high and mighty, as ugly as sin), an adverbial (in full swing, on second thoughts). In accordance with the function they perform in the sentence phraseological units can be classified into: substantive, verbal, adjectival, adverbial, interjectional.

Like free word-groups phraseological units can be divided into coordinative (e.g. free and easy, neck and crop) and subordinative (e.g. a big fish in a little pond, the villain of the piece).

Thus, the characteristic features of phraseological units are: ready-made reproduction, structural divisibility, morphological stability, permanence of lexical composition, semantic unity, syntactic fixity.

Free word-groups. Definition. Classification.

A word-group is the largest two-facet lexical unit comprising more than one word but expressing one global concept.

The lexical meaning of the word groups is the combined lexical meaning of the component words. The meaning of the word groups is motivated by the meanings of the component members and is supported by the structural pattern. But it’s not a mere sum total of all these meanings! Polysemantic words are used in word groups only in 1 of their meanings. These meanings of the component words in such word groups are mutually interdependent and inseparable (blind man – «a human being unable to see», blind type – «the copy isn’t readable).

Word groups possess not only the lexical meaning, but also the meaning conveyed mainly by the pattern of arrangement of their constituents. The structural pattern of word groups is the carrier of a certain semantic component not necessarily dependent on the actual lexical meaning of its members (school grammar – «grammar which is taught in school», grammar school – «a type of school»). We have to distinguish between the structural meaning of a given type of word groups as such and the lexical meaning of its constituents.

It is often argued that the meaning of word groups is also dependent on some extra-linguistic factors – on the situation in which word groups are habitually used by native speakers.

Words put together to form lexical units make phrases or word-groups. One must recall that lexicology deals with words, word-forming morphemes and word-groups.

The degree of structural and semantic cohesion of word-groups may vary. Some word-groups, e.g. at least, point of view, by means, to take place, etc. seem to be functionally and semantically inseparable. They are usually described as set phrases, word-equivalents or phraseological units and are studied by the branch of lexicology which is known as phraseology. In other word-groups such as to take lessons, kind to people, a week ago, the component-members seem to possess greater semantic and structural independence. Word-groups of this type are defined as free word-groups or phrases and are studied in syntax.

Word-groups are classified according to their syntactical pattern into predicative and non-predicative groups. Such word-groups as he went, Bob walks that have a syntactic structure similar to that of a sentence are termed as predicative, all others are non-predicative ones.

Non-predicative word-groups are divided into subordinative and coordinative depending on the type of syntactic relations between the components. E.g., a red flower, a man of freedom are subordinative non-predicative word-groups, red and freedom being dependent words, while day and night, do and die are coordinative non-predicative word-groups.

The lexical meaning of a word-group may be defined as the combined lexical meaning of the component members. But it should be pointed out, however, that the term «combined lexical meaning» does not imply that the meaning of the word-group is always a simple additive result of all the lexical meanings of the component words. As a rule, the meanings of the component words are mutually dependent and the meaning of the word-group naturally predominates over the lexical meaning of the components. The interdependence is well seen in word-groups made up of polysemantic words. E.g., in the phrases the blind man, the blind type the word blind has different meanings – unable to see and vague.

So we see that polysemantic words are used in word-groups only in one of their meanings.

The term motivation is used to denote the relationship existing between the phonemic or morphemic composition and structural pattern of the word on the one hand and its meaning on the other.

Lecture 10. Word Groups

The word group has been one of the most important subjects for consideration and discussion for a very long time, since the time of prenormative and normative groomers. In old grammars they paid much more attention to word groups than to sentences. Still later the term «phrase» was introduced for the word group. Some linguists (H. Sweet) claim that this term is very wide («phrase») — it may be even a sentence, but nevertheless the term is still used.

The structure and meaning.
1) The structure is shown be a syntactic formula. It shows the structure of word-groups by the order of the arrangement of their components indicating them as parts of speech (V+N = to release a prisoner, to run a factory).
2) By using syntactic patterns they describe the word groups in relation to the head word (to release, to run).
The word group is an intermediate unit between a word and a sentence. On the one hand a word group is closer to a word in meaning, thus a word group is an extended word, but on the other hand, from the structural point of view a word ‘group is closer to a sentence, because like a sentence a word group has a certain syntactic structure, word order and certain means of connection.

There are two basic approaches to the structure of the word group:

1) a word group is any combination of words;

2) a word group presupposes the presence of notional words.

The word-groups have lexical and structural meaning.
Lexical meaning is defined as the combined lexical meaning of the component words. Idiomatic meaning — the total change of the initial combined meaning (to catch smb red-handed)
Structural meaning is conveyed by the pattern of arrangement of its constituents (school grammar — grammar school).

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One of the greatest differences between a word group and a sentence is that a classical word group is a non-predicative unit, because a word group doesn’t carry predication (only sentences can carry it). A word group is a static explanation; a sentence carries some dynamic force. Thus a word group has no intonation of its own.

Structural classification:
— Predicative — have syntactic structure similar to that of a sentence (the horse has run away)
— Non-predicative: subordinate and coordinate.
Subordinate word-groups — consist of a head-word and words subordinate to it (to release a prisoner). In coordinate word-groups — all elements are equal (brother and sister).
If the word-group is used in the same function as one of its members — endocentric. Exocentric — are those that are used differently from either of its members.

Classifications of word groups:

1) full word groups: Phraseological units (set phrases, bound word groups)

2) the second classification is based on the way the headword is expressed. If we consider the relationship between the parts of a word group we’ll find that there may be at least 3 groups of relations:

— coordinate relations coordinate word groups (groups of words, which have the same function (you and me), they are joined together either asyndetically or syndetically);

— subordinate relations subordinate word groups (there is always the head and an adjunct),

— predicative relations predicative word groups (word groups the parts of which are joined by predicative relations (syntactical complexes)).

The subordinate word groups are further classified from the point of view of how their headword is expressed:

— noun word groups

— adjectival word groups

— adverbial word groups

— verbal word groups

The problem here is the word order (the arrangement of elements): if we consider the substantive word groups in Russian the usual extension goes to the right (the right hand distribution) in English — very often to the left (the left hand distribution): Get your eyes tested appeal to motorists.

A predicative word group (= complexes which are not to be found in Russian) is a special kind of word group with predicative relations between the nominal and the verbal parts (not the general predication of the sentence, not the primary predication, but the relations between the doer and the action).

The syntactical complex is a construction which is not to be found in slavonic languages and many others while in the English language it is used highly extensively. There are 5 main types of complexes:

1) the Complex Object; .

2) the Complex Subject (is mostly used in newspaper style and business);

3) the For-phrase (the For-Complex, the Prepositional Complex) (not only the preposition «for» but also «to» and «on» can occur in this construction);

4) the Gerundial Complex;

5) the Absolute Nominative Participial Construction (is used in fiction and in technical description).

The complexes are further subdivided into bound (1, 2, 3, 4): they always function as an ingredient part of the sentence; and full (5): it is absolute, is not the I.C. of the sentence and is always an adverbial.

Since we consider only free word groups we should expect that since a free word group is considered full, it has no phraseological meaning, we may understand that the general meaning of the whole group is a sum of the parts which constitute it, but sometimes we can’t say so: very often the meaning of the whole phrase depends on the position of the elements in relation to each other: a house dog — a dog house.

Notional phrases are grammatical unities made by a combination of two or more notional words. Notional phrase is the main unit of syntax (as well as the sentence). Words in an utterance form various syntagmatic connections with one another. Different combinations of nominal phrases denote complex phenomena and their properties and their interconnections.

Groupings of notional words fall into two opposite types:

1) Equipollent groupings, constituted by words related to one another on an equal rank Connection in such groupings is realized either with the help of conjunctions (syndetically) or without them (asyndetically). The constituents of these combinations form logically consecutive connections that are classed as coordinative. Alongside these exist equipollent connections of a non-consecutive type when the elements are unequal as to the type of nomination. This type is classed as cumulative.

2) The dominational connection, where one of the constituents is principle and the other is subordinate. The principle element is called kernel or head word and the subordinate is the adjunct, expansion. Dominational connections can be consecutive like equipollent. The predicative connection of words builds up the basic of the sentence. The completive way of connection of words is considered as subordinative on the ground that the outer syntactic status of the whole combination is determined by the kernel element «That woman was astonishingly beautiful.» All the completive connections are subdivided into objective and qualifying connections. The former reflect the relation of the object to the process and are characterized as very close: «He remembered the man». The later connections are divided into attributive and adverbial: a boy of good character: to speak in a low voice.

Literature

1. M.Y.Bloch. A Course in Theoretical English Grammar / Теоретическая грамматика английского языка.

Questions

1. What is the «word group»?

2. What is the structure of word group?

3. What are 2 basic approaches to word groups?

4. What kinds of meaning do word groups have?

5. Describe structural classification.

6. Describe the classifications of word groups.

7. What are the main types of complexes?

8. What does the notional word mean?

9. Give the definition of equipollent groupings.

10. Give the definition of the dominational connection.

Exercises

1. Considering the relationship between the parts of a phrase name 3 groups of relations and illustrate them.

2. Analyze this part of prose from the point of view of the structure of its word groups:

As various aids to recovery were removed from him and he began to speak more, it was observed that his relationship to language was unusual. Ho mouthed. Not only did he clench his fists with the effort of speaking, he squinted. It seemed that a word was an object, a material object, round and smooth sometimes, a golf-ball of a thing that he could just about manage to get through his mouth, though it deformed his face in the passage. Some words were jagged and these became awful passages of pain and struggle that made the other children’ laugh. Patience and silence seemed the greater part of his nature. Bit by bit he learnt to control the anguish of speaking until the golf-balls and jagged stones, the toads and jewels passed through his mouth with not much more than the normal effort.

3. Translate the following phraseological units paying attention to the types of relations between the words in the English and Russian variants:

1) birds of a feather flock together; 2) much will have more; 3) money doesn’t grow on trees; 4) before one can say “Jack Robinson»; 5) put the cat among the pigeons; 6) lend your money and you lose your friend. 7) a stranger is a friend you have never met; 8) in fishing patience is the name of the game.

4. Give your own examples of 5 main types of complexes.

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