Definition of the word combination

September 21st, 20123:29 pm


Definition of the word combination

In this book, we shall operate with the term “word combination”, though it should be pointed out that the syntactic terminology varies from author to author. Thus, Professor Illiysh operates with the term “phrase”. The definition given by the scholar to the phrase (“every combination of two or more words which is a grammatical unit but is not an analytical form of some word”) leaves no doubt as to its equivalence to the term “word combination”.

The word combination, along with the sentence, is the main syntactic unit. The smallest word combination consists of two members, whereas the largest word combination may theoretically be indefinitely large though this issue has not yet been studied properly.

Despite its cornerstone status for the syntactic theory, the generally recognized definition of the word combination has not been agreed upon: it receives contradictory interpretations both from Ukrainian and Western linguists. The traditional point of view, dating back to Prof. Vinogradov’s works (i.e. to the middle of the 20th century), interprets the word combina­tion exclusively as subordinate unit. Meanwhile, many linguists tend to treat any syntactically organized group of words as word combination regardless the type of relationship between its elements.

As a rule, the word combination is defined negatively, i.e. such “nega­tive” definitions point out what is not a word combination. Obviously, this is hardly an apt approach, but with no other definition at hand, it may be considered acceptable.

Under any definition of the word combination, this unit is, syntactically, a grammatical structure. Therefore, to study its morphological composition in order to clarify combinatorial properties of parts of speech and to con­sider possibilities of substitution within a word combination is one of the tasks of the syntactic theory.

One of the most spread negative definitions states that the word com­bination is not communicatively oriented. The observation is absolutely adequate, since absence of communicative orientation is one of the most indisputable properties of the word combination. Thus, the difference be­tween a word combination and a sentence is a fundamental one. A word combination, just like a word, is a means of naming some phenomena or processes. Each component of a word combination can undergo grammati­cal changes in accordance with grammatical categories represented in it, without destroying the identity of the word combination. For instance, in the word combination sell Newspapers, the first component can change accord­ing to the verbal categories of tense, mood, etc., and the second component may be modified according to the category of number. Thus, sells a news­paper, has sold a newspaper, would have sold newspapers are grammatical modifications of one word combination. In this respect, when the sentence is concerned, things are entirely different. The sentence is a unit with every word having its definite form. A change in the form of one or more words would produce a new sentence.

Definition of the word combination – Part 1

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