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Preface to the second edition 10




Cases of grammaticalisation may be illustrated by the transformation of free word-groups composed of the verb have, a noun (pronoun) and Participle II of some other verb (e.g. OE. haefde hine zeslaegenne) into the grammatical form the Present Perfect in Modern English. The degree of semantic and grammatical inseparability in this analytical word-form is so high that the component have seems to possess no lexical meaning of its own.

The term lexicalisation implies that the word-group under discussion develops into a word-equivalent, i.e. a phraseological unit or a compound word. These two parallel lines of lexicalisation of free word-groups can be illustrated by the diachronic analysis of, e.g., the compound word instead and the phraseological unit in spite (of). Both of them can be traced back to structurally identical free phrases.1 (Cf. OE. in stede and ME. in despit.)

There are some grounds to suppose that there exists a kind of interdependence between these two ways of lexicalisation of free word-groups which makes them mutually exclusive. It is observed, for example, that compounds are more abundant in certain parts of speech, whereas phraseological units are numerically predominant in others. Thus, e.g., phraseological units are found in great numbers as verb-equivalents whereas compound verbs are comparatively few. This leads us to assume that lexicalisation of free word-groups and their transformation into words or phraseological units is governed by the general line of interdependence peculiar to each individual part of speech, i.e. the more compounds we find in a certain part of speech the fewer phraseological units we are likely to encounter in this class of words.

Very little is known of the factors active in the process of lexicalisation of free word-groups which results in the appearance of phraseological units. This problem may be viewed in terms of the degree of motivation. We may safely assume that a free word-group is transformed into a phraseological unit when it acquires semantic inseparability and becomes synchronically non-motivated.

1 The process of lexicalisation may be observed in Modern English too. The noun yesterday, e.g., in the novels by Thomas Hardy occurs as a free word-group and is spelled with a break yester day.


The following may be perceived as the main causes accounting for the loss of motivation of free word-groups:

a) When one of the components of a word-group becomes archaic or drops out of the language altogether the whole word-group may become completely or partially non-motivated. For example, lack of motivation in the word-group kith and kin may be accounted for by the fact that the member-word kith (OE. cÿth) dropped out of the language altogether except as the component of the phraseological unit under discussion. This is also observed in the phraseological unit to and fro, and some others.

b) When as a result of a change in the semantic structure of a polysemantic word some of its meanings disappear and can be found only in certain collocations. The noun mind, e.g., once meant purpose or intention and this meaning survives in the phrases to have a mind to do smth., to change ones mind, etc.

c) When a free word-group used in professional speech penetrates into general literary usage, it is often felt as non-motivated. To pull (the) strings (wires), e.g., was originally used as a free word-group in its direct meaning by professional actors in puppet shows. In Modern English, however, it has lost all connection with puppet-shows and therefore cannot be described as metaphorically motivated. Lack of motivation can also be observed in the phraseological unit to stick to ones guns which can be traced back to military English, etc.

Sometimes extra-linguistic factors may account for the loss of motivation, to show the white feather to act as a coward, e.g., can be traced back to the days when cock-fighting was popular. A white feather in a gamecocks plumage denoted bad breeding and was regarded as a sign of cowardice. Now that cock-fighting is no longer a popular sport, the phrase is felt as non-motivated.1

d) When a word-group making up part of a proverb or saying begins to be used as a self-contained unit it may gradually become non-motivated if its connection with the corresponding proverb or saying is not clearly perceived. A new broom, e.g., originates as a component of the saying new brooms sweep clean. New broom as a phraseological unit may be viewed as non-motivated because the meaning of the whole is not deducible from the meaning of the components. Moreover, it seems grammatically and functionally self-contained and inseparable too. In the saying quoted above the noun broom is always used in the plural; as a member- word of the phraseological unit it is mostly used in the singular. The phraseological unit a new broom is characterised by functional inseparability. In the saying new brooms sweep clean the adjective new functions as an attribute to the noun brooms, in the phraseological unit a new broom (e.g. Well, he is a new broom!) the whole word-group is functionally inseparable.

e) When part of a quotation from literary sources, mythology or the Bible begins to be used as a self-contained unit, it may also lose all connection with the original context and as a result of this become non- motivated. The phraseological unit the green-eyed monster (jealousy)

1 See sources of English idioms in: Logan Smith. Words and Idioms. London, 1928.


can be easily found as a part of the quotation from Shakespeare It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on (Othello, II, i. 165). In Modern English, however, it functions as a non-motivated self-contained phraseological unit and is also used to denote the T.V. set. Achilles heel the weak spot in a mans circumstances or character can be traced back to mythology, but it seems that in Modern English this word-group functions as a phraseological unit largely because most English speakers do not connect it with the myth from which it was extracted.

22. Summary and Conclusions

1. The final criterion in the semantic approach is idiomaticity whereas in the functional approach syntactic inseparability is viewed as the final test, and in the contextual approach it is stability of context combined with idiomaticity of word-groups.

2.. The concept of idiomaticity is not strictly defined. The judgement as to idiomaticity is passed sometimes within the framework of the English language and sometimes from the outside from the point of view of the mother tongue of the investigator.

It is suggested here that the term idiomaticity should be interpreted as an intralingual notion and also that the degree of idiomaticity should be taken into consideration since between the extreme of complete motivation and lack of motivation there are numerous intermediate groups.

3. Each of the three approaches has its merits and demerits. The traditional semantic approach points out the essential features of all kinds of idiomatic phrases as opposed to completely motivated free word- groups. The functional approach puts forward an objective criterion for singling out a small group of word-equivalents possessing all the basic features of words as lexical items. The contextual approach makes the criterion of stability more exact.

4. All the three approaches are sufficient to single out the extreme cases: highly idiomatic phraseological units and free word-groups. The status of the bulk of word-groups possessing different degrees of idiomaticity cannot be decided with certainty by applying the criteria available in linguistic science.

5. The distinguishing feature of the new approach is that phraseology is regarded as a self-contained branch of linguistics and not as a part of lexicology. According to this approach phraseology deals with all types of set expressions which are divided into three classes: phraseological units, phraseomatic units and border-line cases.


IV. Word-Structure

1. Segmentation of Words into Morphemes

Close observation and comparison of words clearly shows that a great many words have a composite nature and are made up of smaller units, each possessing sound-form and meaning. These are generally referred to as morphemes defined as the smallest indivisible two-facet language units. For instance, words like boiler, driller fall into the morphemes boil-, drill- and -er by virtue of the recurrence of the morpheme -er in these and other similar words and of the morphemes boil- and drill- in to boil, a boil, boiling and to drill, a drill, drilling, a drill-press, etc. Likewise, words like flower-pot and shoe-lace are segmented into the morphemes flower-, pot-, shoe- and lace- (cf. flower-show, flowerful, etc., shoe-brush, shoeless, etc., on the one hand; and pot-lid, pottery, etc., lace-boots, lacing, etc., on the other).

Like a word a morpheme is a two-facet language unit, an association of a certain meaning with a certain sound-pattern. Unlike a word a morpheme is not an autonomous unit and can occur in speech only as a constituent part of the word.

Morphemes cannot be segmented into smaller units without losing their constitutive essence, i.e. two-facetedness, association of a certain meaning with a given sound-pattern, cf. the morpheme lace- denoting 'a string or cord put through small holes in shoes', etc.; 'to draw edges together' and the constituent phonemes [l], [ei], [s] entirely without meaning.

Identification of morphemes in various texts shows that morphemes may have different phonemic shapes.

In the word-cluster please, pleasing, pleasure, pleasant the root-morpheme is represented by phonemic shapes: [pli:z] in please, pleasing, [plez] in pleasure and [plez] in pleasant. In such cases we say that the phonemic shapes of the word stand in complementary distribution or in alternation with each other. All the representations of the given morpheme that manifest alteration are called allomorphs of that morpheme or morpheme variants. Thus [pli:z, plez] and [l] are allomorphs of and the same morpheme. The root-morphemes in the word-cluster duke, ducal, duchess, duchy or poor, poverty may also serve as examples of the allomorphs of one morpheme.

2. Principles of Morphemic Analysis. Types of Word Segmentability

As far as the complexity of the morphemic structure of the word is concerned all English words fall into two large classes. To lass I belong segmentable words, i.e. those allowing of segmentation into morphemes, e.g. agreement, information, fearless, quickly, door-handle, etc. To lass II belong non-segmentable words, i.e. those not allowing of such segmentation, e.g. house, girl, woman, husband, etc.

The operation of breaking a segmentable word into the constituent morphemes is referred to in present-day linguistic literature as the


analysis of word-structure on the morphemic level. The morphemic analysis aims at splitting a segmentable word into its constituent morphemes the basic units at this level of word-structure analysis and at determining their number and types. The degree of morphemic segment-ability is not the same for different words.

Three types of morphemic segmentability of words are distinguished: complete, conditional and defective.1

Complete segmentability is characteristic of a great many words the morphemic structure of which is transparent enough, as their individual morphemes clearly stand out within the word lending themselves easily to isolation.

As can be easily seen from the examples analysed above, the transparent morphemic structure of a segmentable word is conditioned by the fact that its constituent morphemes recur with the same meaning in a number of other words. There are, however, numerous words in the English vocabulary the morphemic structure of which is not so transparent and easy to establish as in the cases mentioned above.

Conditional morphemic segmentability characterises words whose segmentation into the constituent morphemes is doubtful for semantic reasons. In words like retain, contain, detain or receive, deceive, conceive, perceive the sound-clusters [ri-], [di-], [n-] seem, on the one hand, to be singled out quite easily due to their recurrence in a number of words, on the other hand, they undoubtedly have nothing in common with the phonetically identical morphemes re-, de- as found in words like rewrite, re-organise, deorganise, decode; neither the sound-clusters [ri-] or [di-] nor the [-tern] or [-si:v] possess any lexical or functional meaning of their own. The type of meaning that can be ascribed to them is only a differential and a certain distributional meaning: 2 the [ri-] distinguishes retain from detain and the [-tern] distinguishes retain from receive, whereas their order and arrangement point to the status of the re-, de-, con-, per- as different from that of the -tain and - ceive within the structure of the words. The morphemes making up words of conditional segmentability thus differ from morphemes making up words of complete segmentability in that the former do not rise to the full status of morphemes for semantic reasons and that is why a special term is applied to them in linguistic literature: such morphemes are called pseudo-morphemes or quasi-morphemes. It should be mentioned that there is no unanimity on the question and there are two different approaches to the problem. Those linguists who recognise pseudo-morphemes, i.e. consider it sufficient for a morpheme to have only a differential and distributional meaning to be isolated from a word regard words like retain, deceive, etc. as segmentable; those who deem it necessary for a morpheme to have some denotational meaning qualify them as non-segmentable words.

Defective morphemic segmentability is the property of words whose component morphemes seldom or never recur in other words. One

1 The Russian terms are: , .

2 See Semasiology, 13-16, pp. 23-25.


of the component morphemes is a unique morpheme in the sense that it does not, as a rule, recur in a different linguistic environment.

A unique morpheme is isolated and understood as meaningful because the constituent morphemes display a more or less clear denotational meaning. There is no doubt that in the nouns streamlet, ringlet, leaflet, etc. the morpheme -let has the denotational meaning of diminutiveness and is combined with the morphemes stream-, ring-, leaf-, etc. each having a clear denotational meaning. Things are entirely different with the word hamlet. The morpheme -let retains the same meaning of diminutive-ness, but the sound-cluster [hæm] that is left after the isolation of the morpheme -let does not recur in any other English word with anything like the meaning it has in the word hamlet.1 It is likewise evident that the denotational and the differential meaning of [hæm] which distinguishes hamlet from streamlet, ringlet, etc. is upheld by the denotational meaning of -let. The same is exemplified by the word pocket which may seem at first sight non-segmentable. However, comparison with such words as locket, hogget, lionet, cellaret, etc. leads one to the isolation of the morpheme -et having a diminutive meaning, the more so that the morphemes lock-, hog-, lion-, cellar-, etc. recur in other words (cf. lock, locky; hog, hoggery; lion, lioness; cellar, cellarage). At the same time the isolation of the morpheme -et leaves in the word pocket the sound-cluster [k] that does not occur in any other word of Modern English but obviously has a status of a morpheme with a denotational meaning as it is the lexical nucleus of the word. The morpheme [k] clearly carries a differential and distributional meaning as it distinguishes pocket from the words mentioned above and thus must be qualified as a unique morpheme.

The morphemic analysis of words like cranberry, gooseberry, strawberry shows that they also possess defective morphemic segmentability: the morphemes cran-, goose-, straw- are unique morphemes.

The oppositions that the different types of morphemic segmentability are involved in hardly require any comments with the exception of complete and conditional segmentability versus defective segmentability. This opposition is based on the ability of the constituent morphemes to occur in a unique or a non-unique environment. In the former case the linguist deals with defective, in the latter with complete and conditional segmentability. The distinction between complete and conditional segmentability is based on semantic features of morphemes proper and pseudo-morphemes.

Thus on the level of morphemic analysis the linguist has to operate with two types of elementary units, namely full morphemes and pseudo-(quasi-)morphemes. It is only full morphemes that are genuine structural elements of the language system so that the linguist must primarily focus his attention on words of complete morphemic segmentability. On the other hand, a considerable percentage of words of conditional and

1 Needless to say that the noun ham denoting a smoked and salted upper part of a pigs leg is irrelevant to the ham- in hamlet.


defective segmentability signals a relatively complex character of the morphological system of the language in question, reveals the existence of various heterogeneous layers in its vocabulary.

3. Classification of Morphemes

Morphemes may be classified:

a) from the semantic point of view,

b) from the structural point of view.

a) Semantically morphemes fall into two classes: root-morphemes and non-root or affixational morphemes. Roots and affixes make two distinct classes of morphemes due to the different roles they play in word-structure.

Roots and affixational morphemes are generally easily distinguished and the difference between them is clearly felt as, e.g., in the words helpless, handy, blackness, Londoner, refill, etc.: the root-morphemes help-, hand-, black-, London-, -fill are understood as the lexical centres of the words, as the basic constituent part of a word without which the word is inconceivable.

The root-morpheme is the lexical nucleus of a ward, it has an individual lexical meaning shared by no other morpheme of the language. Besides it may also possess all other types of meaning proper to morphemes 1 except the part-of-speech meaning which is not found in roots. The root-morpheme is isolated as the morpheme common to a set of words making up a word-cluster, for example the morpheme teach- in to teach, teacher, teaching, theor- in theory, theorist, theoretical, etc.

Non-root morphemes include inflectional morphemes or inflections and affixational morphemes or affixes. Inflections carry only grammatical meaning and are thus relevant only for the formation of word-forms, whereas affixes are relevant for building various types of stems the part of a word that remains unchanged throughout its paradigm. Lexicology is concerned only with affixational morphemes.

Affixes are classified into prefixes and suffixes: a prefix precedes the root-morpheme, a suffix follows it. Affixes besides the meaning proper to root-morphemes possess the part-of-speech meaning and a generalised lexical meaning.

b) Structurally morphemes fall into three types: free morphemes, bound morphemes, semi-free (semi- bound) morphemes.

A free morpheme is defined as one that coincides with the stem 2 or a word-form. A great many root-morphemes are free morphemes, for example, the root-morpheme friend of the noun friendship is naturally qualified as a free morpheme because it coincides with one of the forms of the noun friend.

A bound morpheme occurs only as a constituent part of a word. Affixes are, naturally, bound morphemes, for they always make part of a word, e.g. the suffixes -ness, -ship, -ise (-ize), etc., the prefixes un-,

1 See Semasiology, 13-16, pp. 23-25. 2 See Word-Structure, 8, p. 97.






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