Definition of the word combination – Part 2

September 21st, 20123:29 pm


Definition of the word combination – Part 2

Definition of the word combination – Part 2

It must be borne in mind that a word combination as such (just like a word) has no intonation. Intonation is one of the most important features of any sentence, which distinguish it from any word combination.

Thus, despite disagreements concerning the nature of the word combi­nation, the most convincing point of view seems to be the one that defines the word combination as a syntactically organized group containing a com­bination of either lexical words such as to meet the requirements, happy end, very young or function words and lexical words such as in the sun, in the middle, by the window. The words within a word combination must be bound by one of the types of syntactic relation.

The word combination theory studies the structure of word combina­tions, positions of their elements, forms combined within a word combina­tion, and syntactic relations established between elements. The word com­bination is defined here as a linear language unit that, introduced in speech, may function either as part of a sentence or as whole sentence, pronounced with a certain intonation and stress but also with a certain communicative purpose. Thus, for example, the word combinations I am, he is or we stare, he stares, though based on predicative relations, i.e. on the type of syntactic relation peculiar to two-member sentences, are not sentences proper, as they are deprived of a phrasal stress, intonation and communicative purpose. In other words, they lack every feature that transforms a syntactic structure into a sentence. These constructions may not even be considered sentence schemes, as they have no suprasegmental elements obligatory for a sen­tence. The groups of words given above are word combinations, since they only show the arrangement of certain forms and establish a type of relation on which the structure is based. It is irrelevant that these elements may oc­cur in a sentence as two main members. The level of word combinations presupposes only linear distribution of language elements and forms where they have to combine in order to create a syntactic structure.

Last but not least, it is necessary to dwell on one of the most difficult questions involved in the study of word combinations: the grammatical as­pect of that study as distinct from the lexicological one.

The difference should be basically this: grammar has to study the as­pects of word combinations which spring from the grammatical peculiari­ties of the words making up the word combination, and of the syntactic functions of the word combination as a whole, while lexicology has to deal with the lexical meaning of the words and their semantic groupings.

Thus, for example, from the grammatical point of view, the two phrases visit friends and order steaks are identical, since they are built according to the same pattern “verb + noun denoting the object of the action”. From the lexicological point of view, however, these word combinations are essentially different, as the verbs belong to a totally different semantic sphere, and so do the nouns; one of them denotes a human being, while the other denotes a thing. Thus, the basic difference between the grammatical and the lexicological approaches to phrases appears to be clear. However, it is not always easy to draw this demarcation line while carrying out concrete research in this sphere.