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Questions to be discussed:


1. The three criteria of parts of speech discriminating.

2. Notional and functional parts of speech.

3. The synactico-distributional classification of words.

4. Traditional parts of speech division of words.

5. The notion of lexical paradigm of nomination.


The words of language, depending on various formal and semantic features, are divided into grammatically relevant sets of classes. The traditional grammatical classes of words are called parts of speech. The term parts of speech is traditional and conventional. This name was introduced in the grammatical teaching of Ancient Greece. In modern linguistics, parts of speech are discriminated on the basis of the tree criteria: semantic, formal and conventional.

The semantic criterion presupposes the evaluation of the generalized meaning, which is characteristic of all the subsets constituting a given part of speech. This meaning is understood as the categorical meaning of the part of speech.

The formal criterion provides for the expression of the specific inflexional and derivational (word-building) features of all the lexemic subsets of a part of speech.

The functional criterion concerns the syntactic role of words in the sentence typical of a part of speech.

The said three factors of categorical characterization of words are conventionally referred to as, respectively, meaning, form, function.

According to the described criteria, words on the upper level of classification are divided into notionaland functional.

To the notional parts of speech of the English language belong:

- the noun, - the pronoun,

- the adjective, - the verb,

- the numeral, - the adverb.

The features of the noun within the identified triad meaning form - function are the following:

1. The categorical meaning of substance (thingness).

2. The changeable forms of number and case; the specific suffixal forms of derivation (prefixes in English do not discriminate parts of speech as such).

3. The substantive functions in the sentence (subject, object, substantival predicate); prepositional connections; modification by an adjective.

The features of the adjective:

1. The categorical meaning of property (qualitative and relative).

2. The forms of the degrees of comparison (for qualitative adjectives); the specific suffixal forms of derivation.

3. Adjectival functions in the sentence (attribute to a noun, adjectival predicate).

The features of the numeral:

1. The categorical meaning of number (cardinal and ordinal).

2. The narrow set of simple numerals; the specific forms of composition for compound numerals; the specific suffixal forms of derivation for ordinal numerals.

3. The functions of numerical attribute and numerical substantive.

The features of the pronoun:

1. The categorical meaning of indication (deixis).

2. The narrow sets of various status with the corresponding formal properties of categorical changeability and word-building.

3. The substantival and adjectival functions for different sets.

The features of the verb:

1. The categorical meaning of process.

2. The forms of the verbal categories of person, number, tense, aspect, voice, mood; the opposition of the finite and non-finite forms.

3. The function of the finite predicate for the finite verb; the mixed verbal other than verbal functions for the non-finite verb.

The features of the adverb:

1. The categorical meaning of the second property, i.e. the property of process or another property.

2. The forms of the degrees of comparison for qualitative adverbs; the specific suffixal forms of derivation.

3. The functions of various adverbial modifiers.

The identifying properties of the notional parts of speech unite the words of complete nominative meaning characterized by self-dependent functions in the sentence.

Contrasted against the notional parts of speech are words of incomplete nominative meaning and non-self-dependent, mediatory functions in the sentence. These are functional parts of speech. Traditionally only unchangeable words are treated as functional parts of speech. To the basic functional series of words in English belong:

- the article, - the particle,

- the preposition, - the modal word,

- the conjunction, - the interjection.

The article expresses the specific limitation of the substantive functions.

The preposition expresses the dependencies and interdependencies of substantive referents.

The conjunction expresses connections of phenomena.

The particle unites the functional words of specifying and limiting meaning.

The modal word expresses the attitude of the speaker to the reflected situation and its parts. Here belong the functional words of probability (probably, perhaps), of qualitative evaluation (fortunately, unfortunately, luckily) and also of affirmation and negation.

The interjection is a signal of emotions.

Each part of speech is subdivided into subseries according to various particular semantico-functional and formal features of the constituent words. Sometimes the subdivision is called subcategorization of parts of speech.

Nouns are subcategorized into:

- proper and common: Mary, London, the Mississippi; boy, city, river

- animate and inanimate: man, butterfly; field, machine

- countable and uncountable: coin-coins, floor-floors; news, water, furniture

- concrete and abstract: stone, leaf; honesty, love, darkness.

Verbs are subcategorized into:

Adjectives are subcategorized into:

- fully predicative and partially predicative: go, read, blow can, may, be, become

- transitive and intransitive: take, put, speak, listen, see, give live, stay, ripen, rain

- actional and statal: write, play, strike, receive, ride exist, sleep, rest, suffer

- factive and evaluative: roll, begin, build, tremble consider, mind, desire, hate.

- qualitative and relative: long, red, lovely, comfortable wooden, daily, rural

- of constant feature and temporary feature: healthy, joyful ill, glad

- factive and evaluative: tall, heavy, metal, native kind, brave, wise, stupid.

The adverb, the numeral, the pronoun are also subdivided into corresponding groups.

This general outline of the division of the lexicon into part of speech classes was developed by modern linguists on the lines of traditional morphology.

It is known that the distribution of words between different parts of speech may to a certain extent differ with different authors.

Modern principles of part of speech identification have been formulated as a result of painstaking research conducted on the vast materials of numerous languages. The three celebrated names are especially notable for the elaboration of three-criteria characterization of parts of speech, namely, V.V.Vinogradov in connection with the study of Russian grammar, A.I .Smirnitsky and B.A.Ilish in connection with their study of English grammar.

Alongside of the tree-criteria principle of dividing the words into grammatical classes modern linguistics has developed another, narrower principle of word-classes identification based on syntactic featuring of words only.

The synactico-distributional classification of words is based on the study of their combinability by means of substitution testing. The testing results in developing the standard model of four main positions of notional words in the English sentence: those of the noun (N), verb (V), adjective (A) and adverb (D). Pronouns are included into corresponding positional classes as their substitutes. Words standing outside the positions in the sentence are treated as function words of various syntactic values.

The synactico-distributional classification of words was originated by Ch.Fries. He presented sentences that are typical of the English language as frames. In the result of substitution test he singled out different groups of words. The words that in the process of filling in the frame did not effect the general structural meaning he treated as notional. Notional words can be related to the three frames:

1. The first frame thing and its quality at a given time.

2. The second frame actor- action thing acted upon characteristic of the action.

3. The third frame actor action direction f the action.

The words unable to fill in the positions of the frames without destroying their structural meaning are treated as functional. The identified groups of functional words can be distributed among the three main sets.

The words of the first set are used as specifiers of notional words. Here belong:

- determiners of nouns,

- modal verbs serving as specifiers of notional verbs,

- functional modifiers,

- intensifiers of adjectives and adverbs.

The words of the second set play the role of interpositional elements, determining the relations of notional words to one another. Here belong:

- prepositions,

- conjunctions.

The words of the third set refer to the sentence as a whole. Such are:

- question-words (what, why, how etc.),

- inducement-words (lets, please etc.),

- attention-getting words,

- words of affirmation and negation,

- sentence introducers (it, there).

Comparing the syntactico-distributional classification of words with the traditional parts of speech division of words, it becomes obvious that there is similarity of the general schemes of the two: the opposition of notional and functional words, the four absolutely cardinal classes of notional words (since numerals and pronouns have no positional functions of their own), the interpretation of functional words as syntactic mediators.

But under the traits of similarity are essential features of difference. The proper evaluation of these features makes it possible to speak about some important generalizations about the structure of the lexemic system of language.

While comparing the two classifications there arises the undoubtful fact that the lexicon is divided into notional and functional parts. The open character of the notional part of the lexicon and the closed character of the functional part of it receives the strict status of a formal grammatical feature.

The unity of notional lexemes finds its demonstration in an inter-class system of derivation. It can be presented as a formal four-stage series penetrating the lexicon and reflected in regular phrase correlations.

Cf. silent disapproval disapproving silence to disapprove silently

to silence disapprovingly

Each stage of the series can be filled in by a number of lexemes of the same stem with possible hierarchical relations between them. The primary presentation of the series may be realized in a four-unit versions as follows:

strength to strengthen strong strongly

peace to appease peaceful peacefully

nation to nationalize national nationally.

This derivational series that unites the notional word-classes can be named the lexical paradigm of nomination.

The general order of classes in the series corresponds to the logic of mental perception of reality, by which a person, first, discriminates objects and their actions, then the properties of the former ant the latter.

The nomination paradigm with the identical form of the stem for all the four stages is not represented on the whole of the lexicon. In this sense it is possible to speak of lexemes with a complete paradigm of nomination and lexemes with an incomplete paradigm of nomination. Some words can even stand apart from this paradigm, i.e. be nominatively isolated (e.g. some simple adverbs: often, seldom, etc.).

On the other hand, the universal character of the nomination paradigm is sustained by suppletive completion, both lexemic and phrasemic:

Cf. an end to end final finally

evidence evident evidently to make evident

wise wisely wisdom to grow wise.

The role of suppletivity is extremely important within the framework of the lexical paradigm of nomination because it serves as an essential factor of the open character of the notional lexicon of language.

As for the functional words, from the point of view if syntactic interpretation, they may be regarded as paradigmatic series themselves and the lists of functional words, in their turn, they are grammatical constituents of higher paradigmatic series on the level of phrases and especially sentences.

Pronouns receive special systemic status from the point of view of syntactic principles. Pronouns are traditionally recognized on the basis of indicatory and substitutional semantic functions. The substitutional function of pronouns makes them syntactic representatives of all the notional classes of words. It should be clearly understood that even personal pronouns of the 1st and 2nd persons play the cited representative role.

e.g. I, Little Foot, go away making noises and trampling.

Are you happy, Lilly?

As a result of these generalizations, the lexical paradigm of nomination receives a complete substitutive representation. Symbolically the correlation of the nominal paradigmatic scheme is stated as follows:


The undertaken analysis makes it possible to divide the whole of the lexicon on the upper level of classification into three unequal parts.

The first part of the lexicon forming an open set includes a great number of notional words which have a complete nominative function. These words can be referred to as names:

- nouns as substance names,

- verbs as process names,

- adjectives as primary property names,

- adverbs as secondary property names.

The whole notional set is represented by the four-stage derivational paradigm of nomination.

The second part of the lexicon forming a closed set includes substitutes of names (pro-names). Here belong pronouns, broad-meaning notional words which constitute various marginal subsets (e.g. I wish at her age shed learn to sit quiet and not do things. Floras suggestion is making sense.)

The third part of the lexicon also forming a closed set includes specifiers of names. These are function-categorical words of various serving status.

Substitutes of names and specifiers of names stand with the names in nominative correlation as elements of the lexicon. At the same time they serve as connecting links between the names within the lexicon and their actual uses in the sentence of living speech.



1. What is the grammatical essence of the term "part of speech"?

2. What are the strong and weak points of the traditional (polydifferential) classification of words?

3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the syntactico-distributional (monodifferential) classification of words?

4. What are the main principles of the three-layer classification of words?

5. What parts does the whole of the lexicon consist of?

6. What is the differential feature of the notional part of the lexicon?

7. What is the notional part of the lexicon represented by? What demonstrates the unity of the notional part of the lexicon?

8. What is the role of suppletivity in the lexical paradigm of nomination?

9. What functions do the words of the second and third layers of the lexicon perform in the production of speech?



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