Grammatical Categories and
Markers
Lecture 3
Which are the structural levels of
language?
phonological
morphological
syntactical
lexico-semantical
Here we are interested in the grammatical level.
• Mincoff: every linguistic item is part of the
grammatical structure of a language
• How do we express possession in English?
my aunt’s book
the book of my aunt
the marker of the Genitive case
a prepositional phrase introduced by of
How do we express possession in Bulgarian?
• лелината книга
• книгата на леля
• The same fact of possession has an entirely
different expression in Bulgarian
• It is a question of the structure of Bulgarian
language and not of the extralinguistic fact as
such
The word has to be grammatically shaped in
order to function in the language
• Which are the grammatical categories of
the noun in English and Bulgarian?
• English
noun
number
case
gender
Bulgarian
noun
число
род
• English
verb
tense
aspect
voice
Bulgarian
verb
лице
число
време
наклонение
In English grammatical markers are
considerably less than in Bulgarian.
In both languages they are less than the other
types of morphemes
Name some grammatical markers
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
noun
-s
-’s
verb
-ing
-ed
adjective
-er
-est
girl-girls
girl’s-girls’
play-playing-played
smart-smarter-smartest
J.Molhova: a grammatical morpheme
has several grammatical meanings
The simplest grammatical marker has at
least two grammatical meanings:
• that of the class of words
• that of the specific category within it
The adjectival suffix -er has the following two
meanings
1. adjective;
2. comparative degree.
•
The suffix -s in ‘He works’
1.
2.
3.
4.
verb;
Present Simple Tense;
3rd person;
singular.
•
The suffix –a in жeнa
1. noun;
2. feminine;
3. singular.
Can you find some examples of homonymy
with the grammatical suffixes?
• the substantival suffix -s marking the plural
of some noun
game-games
is homonymous with
• the verbal suffix -s, marking the 3rd p. sg.
of the Present Simple Tense of the verb
work-works
Some other examples of homonymy with the
grammatical suffixes?
• the verbal suffix -ed marking the past
participle of the verb
work-worked
is an homonym with
• the verbal suffix -ed marking the Past
Simple Tense
work-worked
Some more examples of homonymy with the
grammatical suffixes?
• the substantival suffix -en marking the
plural form of some nouns
child-children
is an homonym with
• the verbal suffix -en marking the past
participle of some verbs
write-written
And more examples of homonymy with the
grammatical suffixes?
• the gerundial suffix -ing
reading
is an homonym with
• the suffix -ing marking the present participle
reading
Can you find some examples of synonymy
with the grammatical suffixes?
• the substantival suffix -s marking the plural
of some nouns
cow-cows
is synonymous with
• the suffix -en also marking the plural of
some nouns
ox-oxen
Are there other examples of synonymy with
the grammatical suffixes?
• the suffix -ed marking the past participle of
some verbs
play-played
is synonymous with
• the suffix -en with the same meaning
write-written
Can you find some antonyms among the
grammatical markers?
• Due to the nature of the meanings of a
grammatical morpheme one can hardly
speak of antonyms
• unless the various cases of forms in binary
opposition are considered to be antonyms,
since they exclude each other
Can you find some antonyms among the
grammatical markers?
• the presence of the -s morpheme marking
the plural form of the noun
could be considered to be an antonym to
• the zero morpheme pointing to the form of
the singular
table0º-tables
Can you find other antonyms among the
grammatical markers?
• the presence of the -s morpheme in a
verbal form marks the 3rd p. sg. of the
Present Simple Tense
• the zero morpheme, points to a form which
is not the 3rd p. sg. of the Present Simple
Tense, etc.
work-works
There are several instances of fluctuation
with grammatical morphemes
• A grammatical morpheme can preserve its
grammatical meaning and at the same
time it can acquire a lexical one
• Example: the substantival suffix -s marking
the plural of some nouns in English
-s can at the same time have the meaning of
'two similar parts'.
-s can mark the plural and at the same time
acquire a word formative function
customs
colours
The same suffix can be traced in
words like
• linguistics
• logics
• mathematics
‘science of ’
A different case is the word
• the former suffix -s has lost its nature of a
morpheme entirely and has merged with the
preceding morpheme, thus becoming part of it
J.Molhova calls this process
degrammatization (or
lexicalization) of grammatical
markers.
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