Part of speech as one of the main grammatical notions

Every language contains thousands upon thousands of lexemes. When describing them it is possible either to analyze every lexeme separately or to unite them into classes with more or less common features. Linguists make use of both approaches. A dictionary usually describes individual lexemes, a grammar book mostly deals with classes of lexemes, traditionally called parts of speech.

Parts of speech are generally said to be classes of words having the same meaning, morphological forms and functions. The factor of meaning plays an important part in all languages because the main function of language is to convey information. By meaning we do not refer to the individual (lexical) meaning of each separate word but the one common to all the words of the given class and constituting its essence. For example, the meaning of the verb as a type of word is process whatever the individual meaning of a separate verb may happen to be.

By form we mean the morphological characteristics of a type of word. Thus, the noun is characterized by the category of number (singular and plural), the verb by tense, mood etc.

By function we mean the syntactic properties of a type of word: method of combining with other words and forming syntactic structures. For example, a verb combines with nouns forming structures of predication, e.g. the boy writes and structures of complementation, e.g. to write letters;a noun can combine with an adjective or another noun forming structures of modification, e.g.
a letter box, a large box. On the other hand, by function we mean the syntactic function of a class of words in the sentence, e.g. a noun as a subject, a verb as a predicate.

The relative importance of form and function factors is different for languages in different systems. For synthetic languages (Ukrainian) form is more important, while syntactic function is important for analytical languages (English).

If we were to distinguish between the parts of speech of the words and we can say that their meaning is the same: , . They denote the same. Only the grammatical form helps us to distinguish between the verb and the noun. It is obvious that the basis for distinguishing the parts of speech must be the unity of form and meaning. The content of a part of speech is its meaning; its form is the way it is linguistically treated. The word is treated linguistically as process (, etc.) while the word is treated as substance alongside with , etc. The form is usually implied by morphology, syntax and phonetics.

Apart of speech is a word or a class of words linguistically representing phenomena and relationships of the objective reality (including man and the products of his mind) in a specific way (as substances, properties, changes etc.)

The lexemes of a part of speech are first of all united by their content that is by their meaning. Nevertheless, the meaning of a part of speech is closely connected with certain typical grammatical meanings. Thus the general meaning of a part of speech is neither lexical nor grammatical, but it is connected with both, and we call it lexico-grammatical meaning.

Lexemes united by the general lexico-grammatical meaning of substance are called nouns. Those having the general lexico-grammatical meaning of action are called verbs and so on.

At the same time it should be borne in mind that definitions substance, action, quality are conventional. It is easy to see the notion of substance in nouns like water or steel, but a certain stretch of imagination is necessary to discern the substance in nouns like hatred, silence, or action in the verbs belong, resemble, contain and the like [24; 3233].

The general lexico-grammatical meaning is the intrinsic property of a part of speech. Connected with it are also some properties that find, so to say, outward expression. Lexico-grammatical morphemes are one of these properties. The stems of noun lexemes often include the morpheme -er, -ness, -ship, -ment (worker, firmness, friendship, management). The stems of verb lexemes include the morphemes -ize, -ify, be-, en- (modernize, purify, becloud, enrich). Adjective stems often have the suffixes -ful, -less, -ish, -ous (careful, fearless, boyish, continuous). Thus, the presence of a certain lexico-grammatical morpheme (or stem-building element) in the stem of a lexeme often marks it as belonging to a definite part of speech. Other stem-building elements are of comparatively little significance as distinctive features of parts of speech. For example, the vowel interchange observed in food feed, blood bleed is not systematic and is also found within a lexeme foot feet.

A part of speech is characterized by its grammatical categories manifested in the opposemes and paradigms of its lexemes. For instance, nouns have the categories of number and case. Verbs possess the categories of tense, voice, mood, etc. Adjectives have the category of the degrees of comparison. That is why the paradigms of lexemes belonging to different parts of speech are different.

Another important feature of a part of speech is its combinability that is the ability to form certain combinations of words. When speaking of the combinability of parts of speech, lexico-grammatical meanings are to be considered first. In this sense combinability is the power of a lexico-grammatical class of words to form combinations of definite patterns with words of certain classes irrespective of their lexical or grammatical meanings. For example, owing to the lexico-grammatical meaning of nouns (substance) and prepositions (relation (of substances)) these two parts of speech often go together in speech. The model to (form, at) school characterizes both nouns and prepositions as distinct form adverbs which do not usually form combinations of the type *to (from, at) loudly.

Parts of speech are said to be characterized also by their function in a sentence. A noun is mostly used as a subject or an object, a verb usually functions as a predicate, an adjective as an attribute. To some extent this is true. There is some connection between parts of speech and parts of a sentence, but it never assumes the nature of obligatory correspondence. The subject of a sentence may be expressed not only by a noun but also by a pronoun, a numeral, a gerund, an infinitive, etc. On the other hand, a noun can (alone or with some other word) fulfill the function of almost any part of a sentence. Now, prepositions, conjunctions, particles, etc. are usually not recognized as fulfilling the function of any part of a sentence, so with regard to them the meaning of the term syntactical function is quite different.

Thus, a part of speech is a class of lexemes characterized by:
1) its lexico-grammatical meaning, 2) its lexico-grammatical morphemes (stem-building elements), 3) its grammatical categories or its paradigms, 4) its combinability, and 5) its functions in a sentence

All these features distinguish, for example, the lexeme represented by the word teacher from that represented by the word teach and mark the words of the first lexeme as nouns and those of the other lexeme as verbs. But very often lexemes or even parts of speech lack some of these features. The noun lexeme information lacks feature 3. The adjective lexeme deaf lacks both feature 2 and 3. So do the adverbs back, seldom, very, the prepositions with, of, at etc.

Features 1, 4 and 5 are the most general properties of parts of speech [24; 3338].

: 2015-10-19; : 2756. ; !


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