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Lectures in Theoretical Grammar

by ass. prof. L.M.Volkova,

National Linguistic University of Kiev

List of books:
1. B.Ilyish. The Structure of Modern English.
2. M.Blokh. A Course in Theoretical Grammar.
3. E.Morokhovskaya. Fundamentals of Theoretical Grammar.
4. И.П.Иванова, В.В.Бурлакова, Г.Г.Почепцов. Теоретическая грамматика современного англ. яз.. 5. Methods Guides.

LECTURE 1(2): THE SCOPE OF THEORETICAL GRAMMAR.
BASIC LINGUISTIC NOTIONS.

1.Theoretical grammar and its subject.

Man is not well defined as “Homo sapiens” (“man with wisdom”). For what do we mean by wisdom? It has not been proved so far that animals do not possess it. Those of you who have pets can easily prove the contrary. Most recently anthropologists have started defining human beings as “man the toolmaker”. However, apes can also make primitive tools. What sets man apart from the rest of animal kingdom is his ability to speak: he is “can easily object by saying that animals can also speak Homo loquens” – “man the speaking animal”. And again, you, naturally, in their own way. But their sounds are meaningless, and there is no link between sound and meaning (or if there is, it is of a very primitive kind) and the link for man is grammar. Only with the help of grammar we can combine words to form sentences and texts. Man is not merely Homo loquens, he is Homo Grammaticus.

The term “grammar” goes back to a Greek word that may be translated as the “art of writing”. But later this word acquired a much wider sense and came to embrace the whole study of language. Now it is often used as the synonym of linguistics. A question comes immediately to mind: what does this study involve?

Grammar may be practical and theoretical. The aim of practical grammar is the description of grammar rules that are necessary to understand and formulate sentences. The aim of theoretical grammar is to offer explanation for these rules. Generally speaking, theoretical grammar deals with the language as a functional system.

2. General principles of grammatical analysis.

According to the Bible: ‘In the beginning was the Word’. In fact, the word is considered to be the central (but not the only) linguistic unit (одиниця) of language. Linguistic units (or in other words – signs) can go into three types of relations: a) The relation between a unit and an object in the world around us (objective reality). E.g. the word ‘table’ refers to a definite piece of furniture. It may be not only an object but a process, state, quality, etc. This type of meaning is called referential meaning of a unit. It is semantics that studies the referential meaning of units. b) The relation between a unit and other units (inner relations between units). No unit can be used independently; it serves as an element in the system of other units. This kind of meaning is called syntactic. Formal relation of units to one another is studied by syntactics (or syntax). c) The relation between a unit and a person who uses it. As we know too well, when we are saying something, we usually have some purpose in mind. We use the language as an instrument for our purpose (e.g.). One and the same word or sentence may acquire different meanings in communication. This type of meaning is called pragmatic. The study of the relationship between linguistic units and the users of those units is done by pragmatics. Thus there are three models of linguistic description: semantic, syntactic and pragmatic. To illustrate the difference between these different ways of linguistic analysis, let us consider the following sentence: Students are students. The first part of the XXth century can be characterized by a formal approach to the language study. Only inner (syntactic) relations between linguistic units served the basis for linguistic analysis while the reference of words to the objective reality and language users were actually not considered. Later, semantic language...
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