Classifications of word combination

September 27th, 20121:12 pm


Classifications of word combination

Word combinations may be classified according to their function in the sentence. This criterion divides word combinations into

1) those which perform the function of a sentence part, for example, predi­cate, object, adverbial modifier etc., and

2) those which do not perform any such function but whose function is …. equivalent of that of a preposition, or a conjunction, and which are, in fact, to all intents and purposes equivalent of those parts of speech.

It should be noted that the former of these two classes comprises the overwhelming majority of English word combinations, but the latter is, however, no less important.

Speaking of potential classifications, it is impossible to overlook Bloom­field’s theory of the word combination. It has already been mentioned that Bloomfield distinguished such word combinations as endocentric and exo­centric. He also introduced the term denoting the mem­ber of an endocentric phrase that may replace the whole phrase in a larger structure. In subordinate endocentric constructions this member may be re­ferred to either as head or centre, while the member of a co-ordinate phrase was termed centre. Chatman commented in this connection that, according to Bloomfield, “all heads are centres, but not all centres are heads”.

Further elaboration of Bloomfield’s classification dealt with the types of relations within the word combination. As a result, there appeared ways of analyzing a number of word combinations that did not fit in Bloomfield’s classification. The sphere of syntactic analysis, therefore, was widened and included syntactic groups with loosely bound elements. These constructions were classified as paratactic (e.g. No, thanks). Other word combinations were referred to as hypotactic, since they are based on hypotaxis. Here, by hypotaxis we mean dependence or subordination of one element (or sentence) to the other element (or sentence). Parataxis is interpreted as jux­taposition of correlating elements without formal expression of syntactic dependence. This interpretation of “parataxis” makes it a convenient term to refer to such groups as No, thanks where the link between the components is hard to explicate.

The changes made to the classification and the introduction of the two new types of syntactic constructions resulted in different interpretation of endocentric and exocentric word combinations. Thus, all word combinations in a language may be divided into two main groups: 1) word combinations based on hypotaxis, and 2) word combinations based on parataxis. Further subcategorization of hypotactic groups follows Bloomfield’s scheme, i.e. all hypotactic structures are divided into endocentric and exocentric. The same holds for endocentric groups that fall into co-ordinate and subordinate word combinations.

The division of word combinations into hypotactic and paratactic is based on relations inside the structure, i.e. between its components. Next stages of analysis cover only hypotactic constructions; the attempt to sub-categorize paratactic constructions has not been endorsed and is usually not carried out.

As it has been mentioned, the second stage of analysis presupposes the division of hypotactic structures into endocentric and exocentric. This divi­sion is based on the role of the group as a whole in an extended syntactic construction rather than on relations between elements within the group. Thus, the second stage is grounded on a different principle of categoriza­tion. The third stage, in its turn, exhibits yet another principle of syntactic categorization: endocentric word combinations are divided into subordi­nate and co-ordinate, while exocentric – into predicative and prepositional, which ever more disagrees with the principle of the classification. Conse­quently, on every stage, the principle of the previous classification changes, and word combinations are characterized either on the ground of their in­ternal or external relations. Besides, endocentric constructions are further subcategorized in terms of more general syntactic relations that define the status of combining elements in their relation to each other (co-ordination vs subordination), whereas exocentric constructions are provided with a mixed syntactic – morphological subcategorization. Groups, termed predicative, are distinguished on the basis of syntactic relations within the group and are described in terms of syntactic relations of a more concrete kind than co­ordination – subordination, while prepositional groups are characterized on the basis of their morphological features. This inconsistency in the approach to syntactic subcategorization considerably reduces scientific value of the classification in question.

In Ukrainian linguistics, word combinations are classified according to their internal structure. This approach proposes two groups of word combinations: 1) those with the head element, and 2) those without the head element. These two types of word combinations should not be mixed up with endocentric and exocentric groups, introduced by Bloomfield. Divid­ing word combinations according to presence/absence of the head element is based exclusively on relations within the word combination.


Word combinations with the head element
Word combinations without head

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