Theoretical Grammar

Topics: Linguistics, Sentence, Morpheme Pages: 10 (3444 words) Published: December 23, 2012
1. Notion of Opposition. Oppositions in Morphology
The most general meanings rendered by language and expressed by systemic correlations of word-forms are interpreted in linguistics as categorial grammatical meanings. The forms rendering these meanings are identified within definite paradigmatic series. The grammatical category is a system of expressing a generalized grammatical meaning by means of paradigmatic correlation of grammatical forms. The ordered set of grammatical forms expressing a categorial function constitutes a paradigm. The paradigmatic correlations of grammatical forms in a category are exposed by grammatical oppositions which are generalized correlations of lingual forms by means of which certain functions are expressed. There exist three main types of qualitatively different oppositions: "privative", "gradual", "equipollent". By the number of members contrasted, oppositions are divided into binary and more than binary. The privative binary opposition is formed by a contrastive pair of members in which one member is characterized by the presence of a certain feature called the "mark", while the other member is characterized by the absence of this differential feature. The gradual opposition is formed by the degree of the presentation of one and the same feature of the opposition members. The equipollent opposition is formed by a contrastive group of members which are distinguished not by the presence or absence of a certain feature, but by a contrastive pair or group in which the members are distinguished by different positive (differential) features. The most important type of opposition in morphology is the binary privative opposition. The privative morphological opposition is based on a morphological differential feature which is present in its strong (marked) member and is absent in its weak (unmarked) member. This featuring serves as the immediate means of expressing a grammatical meaning, e.g. we distinguish the verbal present and past tenses with the help of the privative opposition whose differential feature is the dental suffix "-(e)d": "work II worked": "non-past (-) // past (+)". Gradual oppositions in morphology are not generally recognized; they can be identified as a minor type at the semantic level only, e.g. the category of comparison is expressed through the gradual morphological opposition: "clean //cleaner //cleanest". Equipollent oppositions in English morphology constitute a minor type and are mostly confined to formal relations. In context of a broader morphological interpretation one can say that the basis of morphological equipollent oppositions is suppletivity, i.e. the expression of the grammatical meaning by means of different roots united in one and the same paradigm, e.g. the correlation of the case forms of personal pronouns (she // her, he // him), the tense forms of the irregular verbs (go//went), etc. As morphological gradual and equipollent oppositions can be reduced to privative oppositions, a word-form can be characterized by a bundle of differential features (strong features) exposing its categorial properties. 2. Oppositional Reduction

Oppositional reduction, or oppositional substitution, is the usage of one member of an opposition in the position of the counter-member. From the functional point of view there exist two types of oppositional reduction: neutralization of the categorial opposition and its transposition. In case of neutralization one member of the opposition becomes fully identified with its counterpart. As the position of neutralization is usually filled in by the weak member of the opposition due to its more general semantics, this kind of oppositional reduction is stylistically colourless, e.g.: "Man is sinful." It is an example of neutralization of the opposition in the category of number because in the sentence the noun "man" used in the singular...
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