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What is Grammar?

Ranez.Ru > Помощь в учебе абитуриентам и студентам > Студенту > Английский язык > Теоретическая грамматика >

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Meanings:

  1. one of the levels of language;
  2. the science that studies the grammar course of the language;
  3. a book;
  4. the ability to speak (his grammar is perfect);

1). Generally, the language is subdivided into 3 levels:

  • phonological (sounds),
  • lexical (vocabulary),
  • Grammar (structures).

Interdependence – hierarchy.
Prof. Blokh M.Y. differentiates 6 levels:

1. The lowest level is phonemic - the level of phonemes, which have no meaning and the function of which is purely differential (e.g. fun, sun, bun, pun, run).

2. The level above the phonemic one is the morphemic level. Morphemes have the significative meanings and are used as constituents of words. e.g. do – doing (progress); book – books (Pl)

3. The third level is lexemic. The words (lexemes) are nominative units of language.

4. The next level is phrasemic. Combinations of two or more notional words belong to this level.

5. Above this we find the proposemic level, i. e. the level of the sentence - ‘polynomination’ (naming a certain situation or situational event). Sentences express predication, i.e. show the relation of the denoted event to reality.

6. The sixth level is dictemic. The dicteme is an elementary topical segmental unit of the continual text. So it is a combination of sentences forming a textual unity.

 

Areas lying between the levels: phonotactics (the sequences of phonemes); morphotactics (or the sequences of morphemes); logotactics (between the word and phrase (and clause)).

Two central notions within the framework of the structural hierarchy of language: 1). the notion of the word and 2). the notion of the sentence. The first one is the object of morphology and the second – of syntax.

Every linguistic unit (with the exception of the sentence) is restricted in respect to the context in which it can occur. In other words every linguistic unit has a characteristic distribution (below the level of the sentence). The term distribution refers to the allo-emic theory (descriptive linguistics). In this theory there are two types of terms: allo-terms (allophones, allomorphs) and eme-terms (generalized invariant units of language characterized by a certain functional status: phonemes, morphemes). A set of allo-units is an eme-unit.

The allo-emic identification of lingual elements is achieved by means of the so-called distributional analysis. The purpose is to fix and study the units of language in relation to their textual environments, i.e. the adjoining elements in the text.

Phoneme

Allophone 1

Allophone 2

etc.

 

Criteria

Types of distribution

Meaning

Form

Environments

Contrastive

--

--
works, worked

+

Non-contrastive

+

--
learnt, learned

+

Complementary

+

--
dogs, oxen

--

+ identical
-- different

Contrastive distribution – meanings/functions are different.

Non-contrastive distribution – free alternation.

Complementary distribution – the same meaning but difference in form due to different environments.

TASK: Define the type of distribution: 

  • returning – returned 
  • worse – worst
  • have done – has done
  • have done – had done
  • illiterate – irregular
  • I shall do it – I will do it
  • I insist that he go there at once – I insist that he should go there at once
  • books – mice
  • formulae – formulas
  • brothers – brethren.

 

A morpheme is a minimal unit of grammatical analysis: un-accept-able, but ? men, children mice, sheep, went, took, better, best.

In traditional grammar 2 criteria are employed - positional and semantic:

Positional criteria

Semantic criteria

Material part of the word meaning

Specificational parts of the word meaning

lexico-semantic

grammatico-semantic

pre-positional location

--

prefixes

--

central location

root-morphemes

--

--

post-positional location

--

suffixes

inflexions

 

A linguistic unit enters into relations of two fundamental types: paradigmatic and syntagmatic. It enters into paradigmatic relations with all the units which can also occur in the same context and it enters into syntagmatic relations with the other units of the same level with which it occurs and which constitute its context.

  • e.g. do – does, did, has done, have been doing, etc – grammatical paradigm
  • e.g. He did it yesterday – syntagmatic relations in the sentence

Paradigmatic Morphology: come- has come, have come, came. Syntagmatic Morphology: a large table (adj + substantive). Syntagmatic Syntax reveals constituent elements of the sentence. Paradigmatic Syntax reveals associative relations:

  • e.g. This is a large table. Is it a large table? It isn’t a large table, etc.

To draw the line, we are to conclude that a). the language is a system of systems so b). grammar system can’t be studied in isolation. Connections with lexicology, phonetics, stylistics:

  • e.g. color(s), custom(s) old car seller your book – this book of yours.

 

2). The second meaning of the word Grammar is the science. There are 3 characteristics of language that are important to understand the nature of grammar: it is complex, productive and arbitrary (произвольный, непостоянный).

  • a) e.g. They chose him (acc.) king. They chose him (dat.) a wife.
  • b) Lishes rop pibs Pibs were ropped by lishes. Lishes are ropping pibs, etc.
  • c) e.g. in the street – на улице or take the category of mood in Russian and in English

 

3). The word grammar is often used to refer to the book itself – students may often ask ‘Can I borrow your grammar?’ It’s obvious, of course, that ‘your grammar’ in this case means a grammar book, a book about grammar. But there is a real danger to think that grammar is what is in the book.

 

4). Grammar is something that can be good or bad, correct or incorrect. To be effective we must achieve clarity of expression. We need to know how to present ideas without confusion or unnecessary words by choosing language suited to our purpose. One student, on returning from the tundra, said (I even fixed the words) ‘I ain’t the one that come first, but I’m gonna speak for all us boys’. The intent is clear, but …


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