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COMMUNICATIVE STRUCTURE OF THE ENGLISH AND RUSSIAN SENTENCE




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Each sentence can be spoken of in different aspects. A syntactic aspect implies the sentence analysis in terms of parts of the sentence (sentence subject, predicate, object, attribute, adverbial modifier). Syntax reveals the relation of sentence parts to each other. A semantic aspect implies the relation of sentence components to the elements of the real situation named by the sentence. This can be done in terms of case grammar139 or reference theory,140 or by singling out the agent, object and other semantic roles. A third aspect is pragmatic, or communicative. It implies the relation of the sentence to its users. The speaker makes up a sentence so as to stress logically this or that part of the information conveyed by the sentence. Therefore, this type of sentence structure is called information (communicative) structure, and this type of sentence analysis is referred to as actual division of the sentence,141 or functional sentence perspective.142

Normally, each sentence develops from a known piece of information, called the theme, to a new one, called the rheme. The rhematic component is the information center of the sentence. It is logically stressed. It can be easily singled out in speech by contrasting it to some other word: The early bird catches the worm, not the trap. The early bird catches the worm, not the late one. The rhematic word usually answers a special question: e.g., Whom does the early bird catch? - The early bird catches the worm. What kind of bird catches the worm? – The early bird catches the worm.

In addition to the methods of contrasting and questioning, there are some other signals for the rhematic component. They include:

· the indefinite article of the sentence subject: A little evil is often necessary for obtaining a great good.

· a long extended part of the sentence; compare: Many people saw it. – People saw it.

· negation: Not he who has much is rich, but he who gives much.

· intensifiers (only, even, just, such as, etc.): Only the educated are free. (Cf. The educated are free.)

· some special constructions (there is; it is… (who); passive constructions with the by-agent expressed): It is human nature to think wisely and to act foolishly.



The sentence communicative structure is different in English and in Russian. In Russian it is more rigid, which compensates a loose word order of the sentence. English fixed word order, on the other hand, is compensated by a free, to some extent, functional sentence perspective. In Russian neutral style, the theme precedes the rheme, which means that a logically stressed part of the sentence is in the final position. In English, the rheme can be interrupted by the theme or even precede the theme: There is an unknown word in the text. (T-R-T) – В тексте есть незнакомое слово. (T-R).

 


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