Noun: Grammatical meaning

March 6th, 201210:18 am

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Noun: Grammatical meaning

The noun as a part of speech has the categorical meaning of “substance” or “thingness”. “Thingness” is a grammatical meaning that permits names of abstract notions, actions, and qualities to function in the same way with names of objects and living beings. Nouns may be derived from verbs and adjectives by various derivational means and in doing so names of states, properties, and actions can be syntactically parallel to names of things and concepts. This process can be observed with the nouns blackness, develop­ment, activity. These words are defined as syntactic derivatives. As it has been mentioned above, morphologically syntactic derivatives may lack some typical nounal properties, e.g. the nouns black­ness and development are characterized by deficient paradigms with plural forms missing.

Obviously, names of many “substances” are related to their “properties”, which provides the ground to claim that names of substance and names of properties cannot be separated. One may take such words as eatables, a desert, a plain that are treated as nouns. This observation leads Jespersen to the conclusion that, linguistically, the difference between “substance” and “property” cannot be important (the scientist also points out that another term for “noun” – “substantive” – is related etymologically to “substance”). From the point of view of philosophy, it can hardly be doubted that we cog­nize substances by cognizing their properties; the essence of any substance is made up by all its properties that may be perceived or cognized as inter­related.

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