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  • 1. Dina Budiarti Maulidia 031109043 – VA October -20- 2011 Word Classes Definition: Word classes a set of words that display the same formal properties, especially theirinflections and distribution, it similar to the more traditional term part of speech. The two major families of word classes are (1) lexical (or open) classes (nouns, verbs,adjectives, adverbs) and (2) function (or closed) classes (determiners, particles, prepositions,and others). There is a long tradition of classifying words, for the purpose of grammaticaldescription, into the ten word classes (or parts of speech) noun, verb, adjective, adverb,pronoun, preposition, conjunction, numeral, article, interjection. While each of these terms isuseful, and they are indispensable for practical purposes, their status in a fully explicitdescription of a language or in general grammatical theory remains disputed. Although mostof the traditional word class distinctions can be made in most languages, the cross-linguisticapplicability of these notions is often problematic. Here I focus primarily on the major wordclasses noun, verb, and adjective, and on ways of dealing with the cross-linguistic variabilityin their patterning. 1
  • 2. Words can be classified by various criteria, such as phonological properties (e.g.,monosyllabic vs. polysyllabic words), social factors (e.g., general vs. technical vocabulary),and language history (e.g. loan words vs. native words). All of these are classes of words, butas a technical term, word class refers to the ten traditional categories below (plus perhaps afew others), most of which go back to the Greek and Roman grammarians. One way to begin studying basic sentence structures is to consider the traditional partsof speech (also called word classes): nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs,prepositions, conjunctions, articles, and interjections. Except for interjections ("ouch!"),which have a habit of standing alone, and articles (a, an, the), which appear in front of nouns,the parts of speech come in many varieties and may show up just about anywhere in asentence. To know for sure what part of speech a word is, we have to look not only at theword itself but also at its meaning, position, and use in a sentence. 2
  • 3. Open ClassesDefinition:The category of content words that is, parts of speech (or word classes) that readily acceptnew members. Contrast with closed class.The open classes in English are nouns, lexical verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.Examples and Observations: • "All the words in a language can be broadly divided into two categories, open and closed. The closed category is so called because it does not easily accept new words. Its members are fixed and do not usually change. The open category contains nouns, verbs, adverbs, and descriptive adjectives, exactly those parts of speech that remain open to new additions.” • "One familiar variety of language in which the distinction between open-class words and closed-class words is important is known as telegraphic speech. The term telegraphic derives from the kind of language used in telegrams, where considerations of space (and money) force one to be as terse as possible. HAVING WONDERFUL TIME; HOTEL GREAT; RETURNING FLIGHT 256; SEND MONEY; STOP. Generally speaking, in telegraphic forms of language the open-class words are retained, whereas the closed-class words are omitted wherever possible."  Defining Nouns, Verbs, and Adjectives In the following, the emphasis will be on the content word classes: nouns, verbs, andadjectives. The properties of the function words are more appropriately discussed in othercontexts (e.g., auxiliaries in the context of tense and aspect, conjunctions in the context of 3
  • 4. subordinate clauses, and so on). Before asking how nouns, verbs, and adjectives are defined,it must be made clear whether a definition of these word classes in a particular language (e.g.,English or Japanese) is intended, or whether we want a definition of these classes forlanguage in general. The widely known and much-maligned definitions of nouns as denoting: thing,persons, and places of verbs as denoting `actions and processes, and adjectives as denoting`properties is, of course, hopelessly simplistic from the point of view of a particularlanguage. In most languages, it is easy to find nouns that do not denote persons, things, orplaces (e.g., word, power, war), and verbs that do not denote actions or processes (e.g., know,lack, exist), and many languages also have adjectives that do not denote properties (e.g.,urban, celestial, vehicular). However, if the goal is to define nouns, verbs, and adjectives in general terms that arenot restricted to a particular language, these simplistic notional definitions do not fare sobadly. In the first part of the twentieth century, the structuralize movement emphasized theneed for rigorous language-particular definitions of grammatical notions, and notionallybased definitions of word classes were rejected because they patently did not work forindividual languages or were hard to apply rigorously. Instead, preference was given to morphological and syntactic criteria, e.g., `if anEnglish word has a plural in ±s, it is a noun, or `if a word occurs in the context the¼book, itis an adjective. But of course this practice was not new, because words like power and warhave always been treated as nouns on morphological and syntactic grounds. Some oldergrammarians, neglecting syntax, defined nouns, verbs, and adjectives exclusively inmorphological terms and as a result nouns and adjectives were often lumped together in asingle class in languages. But the predominant practice in Western grammar has been to givepriority to the syntactic criterion. For instance, adjectives in German have a characteristicpattern of inflection that makes them quite unlike nouns, and this morphological pattern couldbe used to define the class (e.g., roter/rote/rotes `red (masculine/feminine/neuter/). However, a few property words are indeclinable and are always invariant (e.g., rosa,as in die rosa Tapete `the pink wallpaper). These words would not be adjectives according to 4
  • 5. a strictly morphological definition, but in fact everybody regards words like rosa asadjectives, because they can occur in the same syntactic environments as other adjectives.Thus, there is universal agreement among linguists that language-particular word classes needto be defined on morphosyntactic grounds for each individual language. However, two problems remain. (a) The generality problem: how should word classes be defined for language in general? Morphological patterns and syntactic constructions vary widely across languages, so they cannot be used for cross-linguistically applicable definitions. (b) The subclass problem: which of the classes identified by language particular criteria count as word classes, and which only count as subclasses? For instance, English has some property words that can occur in the context is more ¼ than, e.g., beautiful, difficult, interesting. Another group of semantically similar words (e.g., pretty, tough, nice) does not occur in this context. Nobody takes this as evidence that English has two different word classes where other languages have just a single class (adjectives), but it is not clear why it does not count as sufficient evidence. The solution to the generality problem that is usually adopted (often implicitly, but cf.Schachter 1985 and Wierzbicka 2000) is that one defines word classes on a language-particular basis, and then the word class that includes most words for things and persons iscalled `noun, the word class that includes most words for actions and processes is called`verb, and the word class that includes most words for properties is called `adjective.However, the subclass problem has not been solved or even addressed satisfactorily, and theuse of word-class notions in a general or cross-linguistic sense remains problematic.  Characterizing Nouns, Verbs, and Adjectives Despite the theoretical problems in defining word classes in general, in practice it isoften not difficult to agree on the use of these terms in a particular language. This is becausenouns, verbs, and adjectives show great similarities in their behavior across languages. Theirmost common characteristics are briefly summarized in this section. 5
  • 6. A. Nouns In many languages, nouns have affixes indicating number (singular, plural, dual, seegrammatical Number), case (e.g., nominative, accusative, ergative, dative), possessorperson/number (`my, `your, `his, etc.), and definiteness. Nouns can be found anywhere in a sentence, and most sentences contain severalnouns. One way to find nouns is to look for the little words a, an, the. The naming word thatcomes after them is probably a noun. Sometimes nouns appear without these little words, butyou can usually insert them without changing the meaning of the sentence.Paul and his children visited the continent of Africa and saw some lions.Paul is a noun that names a person.Children name people nouns in thisContinent names a thing picture?Africa names a placeLions names a thing.Some examples follow. 6
  • 7. (a) Number. Khanty (Western Siberia) xot `house, xot-yyn `two houses (dual), xot-yt `houses (plural). (b) Case. Classical Arabic al-kitaab-u `the book (nominative), al-kitaab-i `the books (genitive), al-kitaab-a `the book (accusative). (c) Possessor person/number. Somali xoolah-ayga `my herd, xoolah-aaga `your herd, xoleh-eeda `her herd, xooli-hiisa `his herd, etc. Syntactically, nouns can always be combined with demonstratives (e.g., that house)and often with definiteness markers (the house), and they can occur in the syntactic functionof argument (subject, object, etc.) without additional coding. Thus, in a simple two argumentclause we can have the child caused the accident but not *smoke causes ill. (Here and in thefollowing, the subscripts N, V and A indicate nouns, verbs and adjectives.) Verbs like smokeand adjectives like ill need additional function-indicating coding to occur in argumentfunction (smok-ing causes ill-ness). Because reference is primarily achieved with nouns, itis nouns that can serve as antecedents for pronouns (compare Albanias destruction of itselfvs. *the Albanian destruction of itself (impossible)). Finally, nouns are often divided into anumber of gender classes which are manifested in grammatical agreement.Types of Nouns: • Abstract Noun and Concrete Noun • Animate Noun and Inanimate Noun • Attributive Noun • Collective Noun • Common Noun and Proper Noun • Compound Noun • Count Noun and Mass Noun 7
  • 8. • Verbal NounObservations:• "In parsing nouns, traditional grammar insisted on noting gender as well as number and case. Modern grammars disregard this criterion, recognizing that gender has no grammatical role in English. They do however find good grammatical reasons for respecting the importance of several other traditional contrasts, especially proper vs. common, and abstract vs. concrete, and have developed the contrast between mass and count nouns into a major dimension of sub classification." (David Crystal, Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2003)• Nouns are not restricted to a particular category; that is, a single noun can occupy several of these categories. For example,three dogs can be [common, concrete & countable]American government can be [proper, concrete & collective]Christian faith can be [proper, abstract & countable](Bernard ODwyer, Modern English Structures: Form, Function, and Position. Broadview,2000)• As for meaning, nouns are traditionally known to be names of persons, places, things, and ideas. But this meaning aspect of nouns remains rather vague--verbs, for example, may also be considered names of ideas--and the formal characteristics are often more reliable. Among the formal characteristics of English nouns are that they typically:a. may be definite in meaning by use of preceding the (the definite article), as in the book, theguy, the answer;b. may be made possessive by suffixing -s, as in peoples, Janes, a politician’s;c. may be made negative by prefixing non-, as in nonbeliever, nonsense, nonunion.(Grover Hudson, Essential Introductory Linguistics. Blackwell, 2000) 8
  • 9. B. Adjectives In a fair number of languages, adjectives have affixes indicating comparison (comparativedegree, superlative degree, equative degree), and in a few languages, adjectives are inflectedor agreement with the noun they modify. Some examples follow. (a) Comparison. Latin audax `brave, audac-ior `braver (comparative), audac-issimus `bravest (superlative). (b) Comparison. Tagalog (Philippines) mahal “expensive sing-mahal `as expensive as. (c) Agreement. Hindi acchaa `good (masculine singular), acchee (masculine plural), acchii (feminine singular/plural). In many languages, adjectives show no inflectional properties of their own. Syntactically, a peculiarity of adjectives is that they can typically occur incomparative constructions (whether they show affixes marking comparison or not), and theycan be combined with degree modifiers of various kinds that do not co-occur with verbs andnouns (e.g., very hot, too difficult,) Adjectives generally occur as nominal modifiers without additional coding, whereasnouns and verbs mostly need additional function-indicating coding when they occur asmodifiers. To talk or write about a person place or thing, you use nouns like girl, house, or tree.To add descriptions to those nouns that give the reader a clearer picture of what you mean,you add “detail” words in front of the noun like little, blue, rich, old. Words that tell moreabout nouns or pronouns are called adjectives. An adjective is a word which describes or modifies a noun or pronoun. A modifier isa word that limits, changes, or alters the meaning of another word. Therefore, an adjective 9
  • 10. limits, changes, or alters the meaning of a noun or pronoun. Adjectives are usually placedbefore the noun.the white, puffy cloudsa happy, carefree childsome tall, stately treesa rich dark chocolate layer cakefive huge leafy bushesAdjectives are sometimes hard to find. A good “trick” to remember is that adjectives arealmost always placed next to the nouns that they modify.Observations: • "Most common adjectives form pairs which contrast in terms of meaning: good - bad, wide - narrow, useful - useless, and so on. Many adjectives are derived from from other words (especially nouns), and are easy to recognize by their suffixes. Some of the most common adjective suffixes are: -al (as in equal), -ous (as in famous), -ic (as in basic), -y (as in sleepy), -ful (as in beautiful and -less (as in hopeless)." (Geoffrey Leech, A Glossary of English Grammar. Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2006) • "In his 2002 memorial eulogy to former cabinet minister Barbara Castle, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw recalled her remark, "Bugger the adjectives. Its the nouns and 10
  • 11. verbs people want." (Ned Halley, Dictionary of Modern English Grammar. Wordsworth, 2005) C. Verbs In many languages, verbs have affixes indicating tense (present, past, future), aspect(imperfective, perfective, progressive), mood (indicative, imperative, optative, subjunctive,etc.), polarity (affirmative, negative), valence-changing operations (passive causative, seeValency and Argument Structure in Syntax), and the person/number of subject and object(s)Semantic notions that are more rarely expressed morphologically are spatial orientation andinstrument. Syntactically, verbs generally take between one and three nominal arguments, e.g.,fall (1: patient), dance (1: agent), kill (2: agent, patient), see (2: experiencer, stimulus), give(3: agent, patient, recipient). Nouns and adjectives may also take arguments, but they are notnearly as rich as verbs, and nouns that correspond to verbs often cannot take arguments in themost direct way (compare Plato defined beauty vs. *Plato definition beauty (impossible);additional coding is required: Platos definition of beauty. Verbs always occur as predicateswithout additional coding, whereas nouns and adjectives often need additional functionindicating coding when they occur as predicates, namely a copular verb (cf. Halim worksVvs. *Halim a workerN (impossible), *Halim hard-workingA (impossible); here the copula isis required). Some special verbs are a little more difficult to find because they do not show anyaction. When you find the words am, are, is, was, and were used in a sentence between twonouns, you have found one of these special kinds of verbs. Sometimes these special verbs areused to show how a person is feeling or to describe a quality.Verb Types • Dynamic Verbs • Finite Verbs • Transitive Verbs 11
  • 12. Examples and Observations: • I made an appointment with my doctor that afternoon, and he referred me to a psychiatrist. I got pills, I had about a dozen sessions with her. All of that helped. It was useful to me, yes. But secondary, I felt. Secondary to my yanking the steering wheel, my pulling sharply left as I braked, to my wanting so desperately and reflectively to be in life, to be still moving and doing, those wonderful verbs." (Sue Miller, The World Below. Random House, 2005) • "The LGSWE [Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English] compares a variety of lexical features across spoken and written registers and reports that almost one-third of all content words in spoken interaction are lexical verbs (also known as full verbs, e.g., eat, dance). Lexical verbs are extremely common in both conversation and fiction but quite rare in written registers such as news and academic prose. The single-word lexical verbs say, get, go, know, and think are the five most common verbs occurring in British and American conversation. The 12 most common lexical verbs identified in LGSWE (say, get, go, know, think, see, make, come, take, want, give, and mean--occurring over 1,000 times per million words), account for nearly 45% of all lexical verbs in conversation." (Eric Friginal, The Language of Outsourced Call Centers. John Benjamins, 2009) 12
  • 13. D. Adverbs Another type of describing word or modifier is the adverb. Adverbs limit, change, oralter the words they modify.1. ADVERBS MODIFY VERBSHe is driving. This sentence tells you only that a person is doing an action. If an adverb is added,you will find out how he is driving, where he is driving, or when he is driving.How is he driving? He is driving quickly.Where is he driving? He is driving away.When is he driving? He is driving now.2. ADVERBS MODIFY ADJECTIVES In the following sentence, the noun sunset is described as beautiful. What part ofspeech is he word beautiful.The campers saw a beautiful sunset. Beautiful is an adjective modifying the noun sunset. If you want to tell how beautifulit was, you can add something in front of the adjective.The campers saw a very beautiful sunset.The campers saw a truly beautiful sunset.When a word is added that expresses how beautiful the sunset was, or to what extent it wasbeautiful, that word is called an adverb. Thus very and truly are adverbs modifying theadjective beautiful. 13
  • 14. 3. ADVERBS MODIFY OTHER ADVERBSAdverbs may also be used to modify other adverbs.The dog ate quickly.The adverb quickly modifies the verb ate and shows how the dog ate. By adding anotheradverb, we can find out how quickly the dog ate, as follows:How quickly did the dog eat? The dog ate very quickly.Distinguishing between adjectives and adverbs Sometimes the same word can be both an adjective and and an adverb. In order todistinguish between them, it is important to look at the context of the word and its function ina sentence:The fast train from London to Cardiff leaves at three oclock.The sprinter took the bend fast.The bed was hard and gave me a bad nights sleep.After faltering, the horses hit the fence hard. In the first and third sentences, the words fast and hard modify nouns. The first is anattributive adjective, coming before the noun it modifies; the second is a predicativeadjective, coming after the verb to be. In the second and fourth sentences, the words fast andhard modify verbs. These are both circumstance adverbs which are in the end position."(Sara Thorne, Mastering Advanced Language, 2nd ed. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) 14
  • 15. REFERENCEShttp://wwwstaff.eva.mpg.de/~haspelmt/2001wcl.pdfhttp://www.nald.ca/library/learning/academic/english/grammar/speech/module5.pdfhttp://www.methodist.edu/english/terms.pdfhttp://luluvikar.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/an-introduction-to-english-syntax.pdfhttp://www.punksinscience.org/kleanthes/courses/UCY04F/PLA/syntax.intro.pdfhttp://grammar.about.com/od/basicsentencegrammar/a/POS.htmhttp://dc381.4shared.com/download/EfG9Vtc5/ENGLISH_SYNTAX_Andrew_Radford.pdf?tsid=20111017-041934-feaac944http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/dick/tta/wc/wcall.htmhttp://www.real.gold.ac.uk/essayguide/words/classes.html 15