The Category of Number of English Nouns — страница 4

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form now is formula – formulas. In this process, as we see, the foreign grammatical morphemes are neglected as such. The ‘plural’ morpheme is dropped altogether. The 'singular' morpheme becomes part of the stem. Finally, the regular – s ending is added to form the 'plural' opposite. As a result the 'singular' becomes unmarked, as typical of English, and the 'plural' gets its usual mark, the suffix – s. Since the 'singular' member of a number opposite is not marked, the form of the opposite is, as a rule, determined by the form of the 'plural' morpheme, which, in its turn, depends upon the stem of the lexeme. In the overwhelming majority of cases the form of the 'plural' morpheme is /-s/, /-z/, or /-z/, in spelling – (e) s, e. g, books, boys, matches. With the stem ox

– the form of the 'plural' morpheme is – en /-n/. In the opposite man–men the form of the 'plural' morpheme is the vowel change /æ > e/. In woman – women ii is /u > i/, in foot – feet it is /u – i:/, etc. In child – children the form of the 'plural' morpheme is complicated. It consists of the vowel change /ai > i/ and the suffix – ren. In sheep – sheep the 'plural' is not marked, thus coinciding in form with the 'singular'. They can be distinguished only by their combinability: ‘one sheep’, ‘five sheep’, ‘a sheep was…’, ‘sheep were…’, ‘this sheep’, ‘these sheep’. The 'plural' coincides in form with the 'singular' also in ‘deer, fish, carp, perch, trout, cod, salmon’, etc.3 All the 'plural' forms enumerated here are forms

of the same morpheme. This can be proved, as we know, by the identity of the 'plural' meaning, and the complementary distribution of these forms, i.e. the fact that different forms are used with different stems. As already mentioned 4, with regard to the category of number English nouns fall into two subclasses: countable and uncountable. The former have number opposites, the latter have not. Uncountable nouns are again subdivided into those having no plural opposites and those having no singular opposites. Nouns like milk, geometry, self-possession having no plural opposites are usually called by a Latin name – singularia tantum. Nouns like outskirts, clothes, goods having no singular opposites are known as pluralia tantum. As a matter of fact, those nouns which have no number

opposites are outside the grammatical category of number. But on the analogy of the bulk of English nouns they acquire oblique (or lexicon-grammatical) meanings of number. Therefore singularia tantum are often treated as singulars and pluralia tantum as plurals. This is justified both by their forms and by their combinability. Cf. This (table, book, milk, love) is… These (tables, books, clothes, goods) are… When combinability and form contradict each other, combinability is decisive, which accounts for the fact that ‘police’ or ‘cattle’ are regarded as plurals, and ‘measles’, ‘mathematics as singulars. The lexicon-grammatical meaning of a class (or of a subclass) of words is, as we know, an abstraction from the lexical meanings of the words of the class, and

depends to a certain extent on those lexical meanings. Therefore singularia tantum usually include nouns of certain lexical meanings. They are mostly material, abstract and collective nouns, such as sugar, gold, butter, brilliance, constancy, selfishness, humanity, soldiery, peasantry. Yet it is not every material, abstract or collective noun that belongs to the group of singularia tantum (e. g. a plastic, a feeling, a crowd) and, what is more important, not in all of its meanings does a noun belong to this group. As we have already seen5, variants of the same lexeme may belong to different subclasses of a part of speech. In most of their meanings the words joy and sorrow as abstract nouns are singularia tantum. E.g. He has been a good friend both in joy and in sоrгоw.

(Horney). But when concrete manifestations are meant, these nouns are countable and have plural opposites, e. g. the joys and sorrows of life. Likewise, the words copper, tin, hair as material nouns are usually singularia tantum, but when they denote concrete objects, they become countable and get plural opposites: a copper – coppers, a tin – tins, a hair – hairs. Similarly, when the nouns wine, steel, salt denote some sort or variety of the substance, they become countable. E.g. an expensive wine – expensive wines. All such cases are not a peculiarity of the English language alone. They are found in other languages as well. Cf. дерево – деревья and дерево.is a material noun, платье – платья and платье as a collective noun.