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Morphology and Syntax Word Classes
Word classes “Verbs express an action, process or state” n “Nouns are the name of a person, place, or thing” n “Adjectives are words which express a property” n But. . .
Jane became upset because of an unexpected problem with the book’s availability that implied there was something wrong with the system. upset = a state, but not a verb availability = not a ‘person, place or thing’, but is a noun implied = not an ‘action, process or state’, but is a verb etc.
Lexical Categories and Functional Categories A builder claimed that the houses of those people are almost crumbling. Builder claimed houses people almost crumbling. A that the of those are.
Functional categories form a closed class. What are the determiners of English? the (definite), a/an (indefinite), this, that, these, those (demonstrative) (plus a few others) Lexical categories form an open class. What are the verbs or nouns of English? impossible to make a complete list (despite dictionaries)
Verbs Finite verb: indicates tense of the sentence. Paula dreams of a nice holiday. That woman always plays a Ligeti cd on her birthday. Yesterday I walked home.
Past tense forms for the verb pléno ‘to wash’ in modern Greek: 1 sg 2 sg 3 sg é-plen-a é-plen-es é-plen-e 1 pl 2 pl 3 pl plén-ame plén-ate é-plen-an
Absence of an ending can also give information about tense/person/number on a finite verb. I dream of a nice holiday as well. You never play the piano on your birthday, do you? Today they all walk home, I believe.
When something fits into a frame like the following, it will be a finite verb. When I come home, the dogs usually ___. The dogs ___ it. Mary ___ her dog yesterday. But not vice versa: ? ? When I come home the dogs usually sing.
The infinitive Harry wants to leave the country. The shop expects to deliver the goods on Friday. Luckily the weather seems to improve. In the future tense, with auxiliary verb will: Gerald will go to Paris tomorrow. Davina would dance the tango.
The past participle She has never travelled for so long before. He has gone. Our cat has never slept for so long. That soprano has never sung in a Verdi opera.
The present participle The train is leaving the station. Laura is reading a book. Larry was feeding the cats when Laura came in.
Complete sentences in English need a verb, even if this has to be a ‘dummy’ verb: the copula. She is a dentist. He is ill. Clark Kent is Superman. Compare with main verb be: I think therefore I am. To be or not to be, that is the question.
The need for a copula is not universal: Vasja poxož na otca. Vasja alike to father ‘Vasja looks like his father. ’ Takie predrassudki očen’ rasprostraneny. such prejudices very spread ‘Such prejudices are very widespread. ’
Nouns Pluralization indicates that a word is a noun house – houses chair – chairs cat – cats street – streets iguana – iguanas
Mass nouns do not readily pluralize water – ? waters sand – ? sands gold – ? golds glue – ? glues coffee – ? coffees
But it is possible to pluralize even mass nouns when you ‘individuate’ them: The ship sank in the territorial waters of Ireland. The caravan crossed the sands of the desert. Britain won three golds and five silvers at the event. I tried three different glues and it still won’t stick. After she drank six coffees she started shaking.
Abstract nouns do not always readily pluralize either luck - ? lucks, hate – ? hates, anger - ? angers But: One of my pet hates is the litter in the street. This psychotherapeutic theory distinguishes between two different angers, the suppressed one and the demonstrative one.
Nouns can be combined with a determiner the cat a house the water that street this sand those tables the anger
Proper nouns do not always combine with a determiner ? the Jane, ? the Edinburgh, ? a France, ? this Merlin But: She is no longer the Jane I knew. The Edinburgh of the 15 th century was very dirty. In this book the author describes a France that tourists do not often see. Let me tell you a story about a sorcerer called Merlin. This Merlin. . .
Verbs can combine directly with nouns: Jane examines patients. Alaric destroyed Rome. Nouns cannot directly combine with other nouns: *Jane examination patients Jane’s examination of patients *Alaric destruction Rome Alaric’s destruction of Rome
Are there functional nouns? Maybe: pronouns Personal pronouns: I, me, you, he, him, she, her, . . . Possessive pronouns: my, your, her, his, our, . . . Reflexive pronouns: myself, yourself, herself, . . . Reciprocal pronoun: each other Impersonal pronoun: one
Adjectives have a comparative and a superlative form cold – colder – coldest strange – stranger – strangest dry – drier – driest
enthusiastic *enthusiasticer / *enthusiasticest more enthusiastic / most enthusiastic flabbergasted *flabbergasteder / *flabbergastedest more flabbergasted / most flabbergasted
The comparative or superlative can be semantically anomalous: pregnant *pregnanter *pregnantest dead *deader *deadest locked *lockeder *lockedest closed *closeder *closedest
Adjectives can be used predicatively John is ill. Mary is pregnant. That painting is beautiful. The door is locked. or attributively an ill person a pregnant woman a beautiful painting the locked door
Some adjectives can only be used as attributive adjectives: the alleged offender *This offender is only alleged. a former president *This president is former.
Adverbs are much like attributive adjectives, but modify a verb rather than a noun. They can distinguish themselves by a special adverbial ending. Susan walked quickly to the store. Frank hastily scribbled it down. She probably left.
Not all adverbs show special adverbial morphology: Harry often talks about music. The baby is eating well. een snel spel a quick game een grappig gezicht a funny face Ze schrijft heel snel. she writes very quickly De baby lachte grappig. the baby smiled funnily
Prepositions in Amsterdam with Mary to France after dinner before noon off the wall
Some languages have postpositions rather than prepositions. larki ko girl to ‘to the girl’ larki se girl from ‘from the girl’ larki par girl after ‘after the girl’
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