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Word group is

Free word-groups. Definition. Classification.

A word-group is the largest two-facet lexical unit comprising more than one word but expressing one global concept.

The lexical meaning of the word groups is the combined lexical meaning of the component words. The meaning of the word groups is motivated by the meanings of the component members and is supported by the structural pattern. But it’s not a mere sum total of all these meanings! Polysemantic words are used in word groups only in 1 of their meanings. These meanings of the component words in such word groups are mutually interdependent and inseparable (blind man – «a human being unable to see», blind type – «the copy isn’t readable).

Word groups possess not only the lexical meaning, but also the meaning conveyed mainly by the pattern of arrangement of their constituents. The structural pattern of word groups is the carrier of a certain semantic component not necessarily dependent on the actual lexical meaning of its members (school grammar – «grammar which is taught in school», grammar school – «a type of school»). We have to distinguish between the structural meaning of a given type of word groups as such and the lexical meaning of its constituents.

It is often argued that the meaning of word groups is also dependent on some extra-linguistic factors – on the situation in which word groups are habitually used by native speakers.

Words put together to form lexical units make phrases or word-groups. One must recall that lexicology deals with words, word-forming morphemes and word-groups.

The degree of structural and semantic cohesion of word-groups may vary. Some word-groups, e.g. at least, point of view, by means, to take place, etc. seem to be functionally and semantically inseparable. They are usually described as set phrases, word-equivalents or phraseological units and are studied by the branch of lexicology which is known as phraseology. In other word-groups such as to take lessons, kind to people, a week ago, the component-members seem to possess greater semantic and structural independence. Word-groups of this type are defined as free word-groups or phrases and are studied in syntax.

Word-groups are classified according to their syntactical pattern into predicative and non-predicative groups. Such word-groups as he went, Bob walks that have a syntactic structure similar to that of a sentence are termed as predicative, all others are non-predicative ones.

Non-predicative word-groups are divided into subordinative and coordinative depending on the type of syntactic relations between the components. E.g., a red flower, a man of freedom are subordinative non-predicative word-groups, red and freedom being dependent words, while day and night, do and die are coordinative non-predicative word-groups.

The lexical meaning of a word-group may be defined as the combined lexical meaning of the component members. But it should be pointed out, however, that the term «combined lexical meaning» does not imply that the meaning of the word-group is always a simple additive result of all the lexical meanings of the component words. As a rule, the meanings of the component words are mutually dependent and the meaning of the word-group naturally predominates over the lexical meaning of the components. The interdependence is well seen in word-groups made up of polysemantic words. E.g., in the phrases the blind man, the blind type the word blind has different meanings – unable to see and vague.

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So we see that polysemantic words are used in word-groups only in one of their meanings.

The term motivation is used to denote the relationship existing between the phonemic or morphemic composition and structural pattern of the word on the one hand and its meaning on the other.

Лекции по лексикологии — файл Word-groups.doc

Доступные файлы (26):

Affixation and conversion.doc30kb.27.01.2009 21:35скачать
Assimilation of borrowings.doc64kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Basic notions. Categorization naming lexicolization motivation.doc69kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Compounding.doc72kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Derivative structure.doc70kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Dictionaries.doc67kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Etymological doublets and hybrids.doc64kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Etymological doublets.doc25kb.27.01.2009 21:35скачать
Etymological structure of English vocabulary.doc63kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Free word-groups vs PU.doc63kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
L. as a science.doc77kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
LU.doc64kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Meaning.doc66kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Morphemic structure.doc70kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Polysemy vs homonymy.doc64kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Productivity and activity.doc67kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Synonyms vs antonyms.doc66kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Syntagmatic vs paradigmatic relations.doc68kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Types of borrowings.doc88kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Valence.doc64kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Ways of enrichment.doc64kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Word-formation.doc66kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Word-groups.doc67kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Words vs morphemes.doc64kb.26.02.2009 13:30скачать
Вопросы по лексикологии.doc68kb.26.02.2009 13:31скачать
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The structure and meaning.

1) The structure is shown be a syntactic formula (синтаксическая структура словосочетания). It shows the structure of word-groups by the order of the arrangement of their components indicating them as parts of speech (V+N = te release a prisoner, to run a factory).

2) By using syntactic patterns (синтаксическая модель). They describe the word groups in relation to the head word (to release, to run).

The word-groups have lexical and structural meaning.

Lexical meaning is defined as the combined lexical meaning of the component words. Idiomatic meaning — the total change of the initial combined meaning (to catch smb red-handed)

Structural meaning is conveyed by the pattern of arrangement of its constituents (school grammar — grammar school).

Predicative — have syntactic structure similar to that of a sentence (the horse has run away)

Non-predicative: subordinate and coordinate.

Subordinate word-groups — consist of a head-word and words subordinate to it (to release a prisoner). In coordinate word-groups — all elements are equal (brother and sister).

If the word-group is used in the same function as one of its members — endocentric. Exocentric — are those that are used differently from either of its members.

— Lexically motivated — the meaning of a word-group is equal to the combined meaning of its components.

— Lexically non-motivated — the word-groups whose meaning is different from the combined meaning of its components (Hobson’s choice — нет выбора; the horse has run away — motivated, the horse has bolted — non-motivated).

Types of Meaning of Word-Groups

The meaning of word-groups can be divided into: 1) lexical and 2) structural (grammatical) components.

1. The lexical meaning of the word-group may be defined as the combined lexical meaning of the component words. Thus, the lexical meaning of the word-group red flower may be described denotationally as the combined meaning of the words red and flower. However, the term “combined lexical meaning” is not to imply that the meaning of the word-group is a mere additive result of all the lexical meanings of the component members. The lexical meaning of the word-group predominates over the lexical meanings of its constituents.

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2. The structural meaningof the word-group is the meaning conveyed mainly by the pattern of arrangement of its constituents. For example, such word-groups as school grammar (школьная грамматика) and grammar school (грамматическая школа) are semantically different because of the difference in the pattern of arrangement of the component words.

Thus, the meaning of the word-group is derived from the combined lexical meanings of its constituents and is inseparable from the meaning of the pattern of their arrangement.

Motivation in Word-Groups

Semantically all word-groups can be classified into motivated and non-motivated.

A word-group is lexically motivated if the combined lexical meaning of the group is deducible from the meanings of its components, e.g. red flower, heavy weight, teach a lesson.

If the combined lexical meaning of a word-group is not deducible from the lexical meaning of its constituent components, such a word-group is lexically non-motivated, e.g. red tape (“official bureaucratic methods”), take place (“occur”).

The degree of motivation can be different. Between the extremes of complete motivation and lack of motivation there are innumerable intermediate cases. For example, the degree of lexical motivation in the nominal group black market is higher than in black death, but lower than in black dress, though none of the groups can be considered completely non-motivated.

Completely non-motivated or partially motivated word-groups are described as phraseological units or idioms.

Free Word-Groups Versus Phraseological Units Versus Words

A phraseological unit can be defined as a reproduced and idiomatic (non-motivated) or partially motivated unit built up according to the model of free word-groups (or sentences) and semantically and syntactically brought into correlation with words. Hence, there is a need for criteria exposing the degree of similarity/difference between phraseological units and free word-groups, phraseological units and words.

Structural Criterion

The structural criterion brings forth pronounced features which on the one hand state a certain structural similarity between phraseological units and free word-combinations at the same time opposing them to single words (a), and on the other hand specify their structural distinctions (b).

(a) A feature proper both to free phrases and phraseological units is the divisibility (раздельнооформленность) of their structure, i.e. they consist of separate structural elements. This fact stands them in opposition to words as structurally integral (цельнооформленные) units. The structural integrity of a word is defined by the presence of a common grammatical form for all constituent elements of this word. For example, the grammatical change in the word shipwreck implies that inflexions are added to both elements of the word simultaneously – ship-wreck-( ), ship-wreck-s, while in the word-group the wreck of a ship each element can change its grammatical form independently from the other – (the) wreck-( ) of the ship-s, (the) wreck-s of (the) ship-s. Like in word-groups, in phraseological units potentially any component may be changed grammatically, but these changes are rather few, limited and occasional and usually serve for a stylistic effect, e.g. Black Maria “a van used by police for bringing suspected criminals to the police station”: the Blackest Maria, Black Marias.

(b) The principle difference between phraseological units and free word-groups manifests itself in the structural invariability of the former. The structural invariability suggests no (or rather limited) substitutions of components. For example, to give somebody the cold shoulder means “to treat smb. coldly, to ignore smb”, but a warm shoulder or a cold elbow makes no sense. There are strict restrictions on the componental extension and grammatical changes of components of phraseological units. The use of the words big, great in a white elephant meaning “an expensive but useless thing” can change or even destroy the meaning of the phraseological unit. In a free word-group all these changes are possible.

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Semantic Criterion

The semantic criterion is of great help in stating the semantic difference/similarity between free word-groups and phraseological units (a), and between phraseological units and words (b).

(a) The meaning in phraseological units is created by mutual interaction of elements and conveys a single concept. The actual meaning of a phraseological unit is figurative (transferred) and is opposed to the literal meaning of a word-combination from which it is derived. The transference of the initial word-group can be based on simile, metaphor, metonomy and synecdoche. The degree of transference varies and may affect either the whole unit or only one of its constituents, cf.: to skate on thin ice – “to take risks”; the small hours – “the early hours of the morning”. Besides, in the formation of the semantic structure of phraseological units a cultural components plays a special and very important role. It marks phraseological units as bearers of cultural information based on a unique experience of the nation. For example, the phraseological unit red tape originates in the old custom of Government officials and lawyers tying up (перевязывать) their papers with red tape.

In a free phrase the semantic correlative ties are fundamentally different. The meaning in a word-group is based on the combined meaning of the words constituting its structure. Each element in a word-combination has a much greater semantic independence and stands for a separate concept, e.g. to cut bread, to cut cheese, to eat bread. Every word in a free phrase can form additional syntactic ties with other words outside the expression retaining its individual meaning.

(b) The semantic unity, however, makes phraseological units similar to words. The semantic similarity between the two is proved by the fact that, for instance, kick the bucket whose meaning is understood as a whole and not related to the meaning of individual words can be replaced within context by the word to die, the phraseological unit in a brown study – by the word gloomy.

Syntactic Criterion

The syntactic criterion reveals the close ties between single words and phraseological units as well as free word-groups. Like words (as well as word-combinations) phraseological units may have different syntactic functions in the sentence, e.g. the subject (narrow escape, first night, baker’s dozen), the predicate (to have a good mind, to play Russian roulette), an attribute (high and mighty, as ugly as sin), an adverbial (in full swing, on second thoughts). In accordance with the function they perform in the sentence phraseological units can be classified into: substantive, verbal, adjectival, adverbial, interjectional.

Like free word-groups phraseological units can be divided into coordinative (e.g. free and easy, neck and crop) and subordinative (e.g. a big fish in a little pond, the villain of the piece).

Thus, the characteristic features of phraseological units are: ready-made reproduction, structural divisibility, morphological stability, permanence of lexical composition, semantic unity, syntactic fixity.

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