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Words of the category of state (statives or adlinks)

In Modern English there exists a certain class of words such as asleep, alive, afloat, which is characterized by:

1. The lexico-grammatical meaning of “state”. He is asleep = He is in a state of sleep.

2. The productive prefix a-: swim – aswim, shiver – ashiver, etc.

3. Peculiar combinability: words of this class are associated almost exclusively with link-verbs: to be alive, to fall asleep, to be adrift, etc.

4. The main syntactic function of a predicative complement.

Therefore, in the sentence they are used in the function of the predicative member of the compound nominal predicate (предикативний член складеного іменного присудка), the objective predicative member, as well as a postpositive attribute. These words are never used as pre-positive attributes.

As we know, a class of words united by such features may be regarded as a separate part of speech. B.O. Ilyish has called it “a category of state” by analogy with a similar class of words in the Russian language. Compare: мне было приятно, грустно, обидно, where the last three words ending in -o denote different states and are associated with link-verbs. V.V. Vinogradov, for example, calls them “words of the category of state”, though many linguists object to their being considered a separate part of speech. Other Russian linguists
B. Khaimovich and B. Rogovskayause a handier term “adlinks” on the analogy of adverbs. English adlinks do not have grammatical categories [24; 199–202].

The peculiar feature of the Ukrainian language concerning the state expression is the fact that here the state is represented as something closer to the action and is rendered with the help of words, meant to express the action, that is verbs. It becomes obvious if we compare the following examples [5; 104–105]:

The air was agleam with diamonds. Повітря сяяло діамантами.

She was astir. Вона заворушилася.

He was asleep. Він спав.

He is unaware of that. Він не знає про це.

The question of singling out the category of state as a separate part of speech has not been finally solved yet by Ukrainian grammarians. For example, B.M. Kulyk treats positively the issue concerning singling out of the category of state in Ukrainian and includes into this class such a group of words:

a) words expressing the mental and physical states of a person or of any living creature all together, e.g.: боязко, приємно, досадно, страшно, тривожно, чутно, жаль, охота, шкода and others;

b) words denoting the nature state: темно, зелено, барвисто;

c) words expressing the state of the surrounding or its evaluation: гарно, пусто, тихо, рано, пізно;

d) words expressing the state with some moral connotation: треба, слід, необхідно, доцільно, можна, не можна and others.

According to B.M. Kulyk, the category of state in Ukrainian is all the time renewed, especially with the help of adverbs ending in -o, -e.

The abovementioned groups of words, referred by B.M.Kulyk to the category of state, differ from the English words of the category of state by such features:

1) they are used mainly in impersonal sentences, whereas English words of the category of state are used in personal sentences;

2) they do not explain any words in the sentence, whereas English words of the category of state can be used in the role of the postpositive attribute and the objective predicative member;

3) Ukrainian words of the category of state in -o,-e can have the forms of comparison degrees (весело – веселіше, легко – легше). English words of the category of state are all together unchangeable [5; 105–106].

There is another hypothesis about the Ukrainian “statives” which is also worth considering. It is presented in the textbook “Modern Ukrainian Language”, edited by a Ukrainian linguist
O.D. Ponomariv. According to this point of view, in Ukrainian there is a separate group of words called “words of the category of state” (слова категорії стану). These are unchangeable words of the adverbial or substantival origin which render the state and perform the function of the main member of the sentence in impersonal sentences. They are rather few in number.

According to their meaning Ukrainian words of the category of state can be subdivided into the following groups:

a) words expressing the physical and the psychic state of a person: важко, легко, боляче, страх, досадно, шкода, боязко;

b) words denoting the state of nature: тихо, темно, видно, холодно, тепло, вітряно;

c) words expressing different modal meanings of possibility, impossibility, necessity: можна, слід, потрібно, треба, необхідно.

The majority of Ukrainian linguists do not consider this class of words to be a separate part of speech and refer them to adverbs [15; 199–200].


Discussion questions and exercise tasks:

I. Consider your answers to the following:

1. Mention the groups, into which adverbs are subdivided as a class of lexemes, taking into account their grammatical and semantic characteristics. Provide examples in both contrasted languages.

2. Mention the allomorphic groups of adverbs in both contrasted languages.

3. Characterize adverb as a part of speech (think of the number of grammatical categories, typical stem-building elements, combinability, syntactic functions). Do these characteristics differ in the contrasted languages?

4. Describe the grammatical categories of adverb as a part of speech. Does their number differ in the contrasted languages?

5. Define the category of the degrees of comparison of adverbs as a grammatical phenomenon. State the basic similarities and differences in its manifestation English and Ukrainian languages.

6. Characterize English statives (words of the category of state as a part of speech).

7. Dwell upon the controversial points of differentiating Ukrainian words of the category of state into a separate part of speech.


II. Underline all adjectives and circle all adverbs in the sentences below. Classify each adjective as either attributive or predicative, and each adverb as either a modifier in a phrase or an adverbial.

1. They were cute invitations, weren’t they? (conversation)

2. That looks pretty good (conversation).

3. [From a discussion of the meaning of “wild boar”] Can it be far­med intensively or should it be reared extensively? (newspaper writing).

4. Here there are eight shared electrons; therefore methane is uncharged (academic writing).

5. The initial objective is to identify areas within cities which exhibit distinctive characteristics and which can be shown to be relatively homogeneous (academic writing).

6. The Russian airline was also interested in starting a transatlantic service (newspaper writing).

7. The drive that motivates distinctive individual behavioral patterns (personality) is to a considerable degree subconscious (academic writing).

*The material is taken from “Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English Workbook” by Susan Conrad, Douglas Biber, Geoffrey Leech, Pearson Education Limited, 2003. – P.48.

III. The passage below describes a fictional train journey. Use it to find examples of the following forms of adverb (some forms will have more than one example):

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