The Category of Number of English Nouns — страница 2

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In traditional school grammars, one often encounters the definition of nouns that they are all and only those expressions that refer to a person, place, thing, event, substance, quality, or idea, etc. This is a semantic definition. It has been criticized by contemporary linguists as being quite uninformative. Part of the problem is that the definition makes use of relatively general nouns («thing», «phenomenon», «event») to define what nouns are. The existence of such general nouns shows us that nouns are organized in taxonomic hierarchies. But other kinds of expressions are also organized in hierarchies. For example all of the verbs «stroll», «saunter,» «stride,» and «tread» are more specific words than the more general «walk.» The latter is more specific than

the verb «move»/ But it is unlikely that such hierarchies can be used to define nouns and verbs. Furthermore, an influential theory has it that verbs like «kill» or «die» refer to events, and so they fall under the definition. Similarly, adjectives like «yellow» or «difficult» might be thought to refer to qualities, and adverbs like «outside» or «upstairs» seem to refer to places. Worse still, a trip into the woods can be referred to by the verbs «stroll» or «walk»/ But verbs, adjectives and adverbs are not nouns, and nouns aren't verbs. So the definition is not particularly helpful in distinguishing nouns from other parts of speech. Another semantic definition of nouns is that they are prototypically referential. That definition is also not very helpful in

distinguishing actual nouns from verbs. But it may still correctly identify a core property of noun hood. For example, we will tend to use nouns like «fool» and «car» when we wish to refer to fools and cars, respectively. The notion that this is prototypical reflects the fact that such nouns can be used, even though nothing with the corresponding property is referred to: John is no fool. If I had a car, I'd go to Marrakech. The first sentence above doesn't refer to any fools, nor does the second one refer to any particular car. In most cases in treating English nouns we shall keep to the conception of scientists that we refer to post-structural tendency It's because they combine the ideas of traditional and structural grammarians. The noun is classified into a separate word

– group because: 1. they all have the same lexical – grammatical meaning: substance / thing 2. according to their form – they've two grammatical categories: number and case 3. they all have typical stem-building elements: – er, – ist, – ship, – ment, – hood…. 4. typical combinability with other words: most often left-hand combinability. 5. function – the most characteristic feature of nouns is – they can be observed in all syntactic functions but predicate. From the grammatical point of view most important is the division of nouns into countable and un-countable with regard to the category of number and into declinable and indeclinable with regard to the category of case1. 2. Semantical Characteristics of English Nouns Nouns fall under two classes: (A)

proper nouns; (B) common nouns2. a) Proper nouns are individual, names given to separate persons or things. As regards their meaning proper nouns may be personal names (Mary, Peter, Shakespeare), geographical names (Moscow, London, the Caucasus), the names of the months and of the days of the week (February, Monday), names of ships, hotels, clubs, etc. A large number of nouns now proper were originally common nouns (Brown, Smith, Mason). Proper nouns may change their meaning and become common nouns: «George went over to the table and took a sandwich and a glass of champagne. (Aldington) b) Common nouns are names that can be applied to any individual of ad ass of persons or things (e.g. man, dog, book), collections of similar individuals or things regarded as a single unit (e. g.

peasantry, family), materials (e. g. snow, iron, cotton) or abstract notions (e.g. kindness, development). Thus there are different groups of common nouns: class nouns, collective nouns, nouns of material and abstract nouns. 1. Class nouns denote persons or things belonging to a class. They are countable and have two. numbers: singular and plural. They are generally used with an article. «Well, sir», said Mrs. Parker, «I wasn't in the shop above a great deal.» (Mansfield) He goes to the part of the town where the shops are. (Lessing) 2. Collective nouns denote a number or collection of similar individuals or things as a single unit. Collective nouns fall under the following groups: (a) nouns used only in the singular and denoting-a number of things collected together and