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The phrase, it’s definition. Russian and foreign linguistics

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

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There are 2 understandings of the term phrase:

  • A phrase is a combination of 2 or more notional words connected by means of subordination: e.g. cold weather, writing letters, fruit salad, Peter’s book. The elements of the phrase may belong to any PofS. Some of the scholars do not single out the phrase at all. H.Sweet-a word group.
  • Prof. Barkhudarov: a phrase is a combination of 2 or more notional words, connected by means of subordination, coordination and predicative relation if it cannot function as a sentence: mother and father

The diff-ce between a phrase and a sentence is fundamental.

A phrase is a means of naming some phenomena or process, just as a word is. Each component of a phrase can undergo grammatical changes in accordance with gr. cat-ris without destroying the unity of the phrase.

A sentence is a unit with every word having its definite form. A change in the form of one or more words would produce a new sentence. A phrase or a word has no intonation. A sentence has it.

The study of the phrase in Russian and foreign linguistics:

Иванова, Бурлакова, Почепцов:

Russian Linguistics:

The creation of the theory of a phrase is due to Russian linguists. This theory is connected with such linguists as Фортунатов, Шахматов, Пешковский. All through its development the theory underwent a lot of changes. Until the 50-s the wide understanding of the term “phrase” prevailed. And any syntactically organized group was considered as a phrase, no matter what constituted it.

This point of view is still accepted.

But by the 50-s there appeared in the modern linguistics a new interpretation of this problem, and the term “phrase” acquired an extremely narrow sense and was applied only to those phrases which include not less than 2 notional words, connected by the relations of subordination. Predicative and prepositional groups were excluded from the phrase theory. This point of view was introduced by Vinogradov and was supported by many Russian linguists.

This is characteristic of Russian linguists to bring a word and a phrase together to the maximum.

Though this point of view was not supported by some of linguists (Ilyish, Жирмунский), it became the predominant in the middle of the 20 century, and the traditional understanding of a phrase in the Russian linguistics is restricted to subordinate structures only.

!!! Sentences are communicative units of language, phrases – non-communicative. But, the phrase can acquire the properties of a sentence, e.g. Mother and father? (an elliptical sentence).


Foreign Linguistics:

The scientific theory on the phrase appeared abroad much later. It acquired its theoretical interpretation only in the 30-s due to an American linguist Leo Bloomfield.

Immediate constituent analysis (IC analysis)

‘Any English-speaking person who concerns himself with this matter, is sure to tell us that the immediate constituents of Poor John ran away are the two forms poor John and ran away, that each of these is, in turn, a complex form; that the immediate constituents of ran away are ran and away; and that the constituents of poor John are poor and John.’

IC analysis is relevant for any level. A sentence is not a mere combination of words, it’s not a linear sequence of words, sentences are made of layers of immediate constituents. Each unit of a lower level is part of the unit of a higher level. 

The IC analysis can be graphically presented in a number of ways. We may use brackets [(Poor John)(ran away)] or we may construct a tree diagram.

In studying phrases from a gr-al point of view we’ll divide them according to their function in the sentence

  • -those which perform the function of one or more parts of the sentence
  • -those who’s function is that of a preposition or conjunction

Synthetical relations between the components of a phrase

  • agreement – method of expressing a synthectical relationship which consist in making the subordinate word take a similar form of the head word // this book, those books as to the problem of agreement of the verb with the noun and pronoun denoting the subject of the action // a child plays, children play – usually treated on the sentence level
  • government – the use of certain form of subordinate word required by its head word but not coinciding with the form of the head word. Only case in ENG – personal pronouns // invite him
  • adjoinment – the connection between these words is preserved owning to the grammatical and semantic compatibility of the adv. Only verb + adv
  • enclosure – some element of a phrase is enclosed between 2 parts of another element


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