Opposition in Theorretical Linguistics

Topics: Future, Time, Present Pages: 2 (518 words) Published: October 31, 2010
The opposition (in the linguistic sense) may be defined as a generalised correlation of lingual forms by means of which a certain function is expressed. The correlated elements (members) of the opposition must possess two types of features: common features and differential features. Common features serve as the basis of contrast, while differential features immediately express the function in question. The oppositional theory was originally formulated as a ; phonological theory. In various contextual conditions, one member of an opposition can be used in the position of the other, counter-member. This phenomenon should be treated under the heading of "oppositional reduction" or "oppositional substitution". The first version of the term ("reduction") points out the fact that the opposition in this case is contracted, losing its formal distinctive force. The second version of the term ("substitution") shows the very process by which the opposition is reduced, namely, the use of one member instead of the other. By way of example, let us consider the following case of the singular noun-subject: Man conquers nature. The noun man in the quoted sentence is used in the singular, but it is quite clear that it stands not for an individual person, but for people in general, for the idea of "mankind". In other words, the noun is used generically, it implies the class of denoted objects as a whole. Thus, in the oppositional light, here the weak member of the categorial opposition of number has replaced the strong member. Consider another example: Tonight we start for London.

The verb in this sentence takes the form of the present, while its meaning in the context is the future. It means that the opposition "present — future" has been reduced, the weak member (present) replacing the strong one (future). 31

The oppositional reduction shown in the two cited cases is stylistically indifferent, the demonstrated use of the forms does not transgress the expressive conventions...
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