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    #21

    Re: Form and Function

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Isn't meaning akin to a marriage of structure and word? I don't see it as the sole generator of meaning.
    What is not the sole generator of meaning? Structure or word?

    Whew! Anyway, let's not (yet) get into what meaning means!

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    #22

    Re: Form and Function

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Before I go on, do you follow?
    I will do my best to respond soon.

    For tonight (it's 01.00 here) I'll just try to dispose of one comparatively minor point.

    I think up until now I've been considering word class as a classification of form. So that 'determiner' is a word class but 'determinative' and 'modifier', since they relate only to function, are not.
    This is an unfortunate choice of labels, which I'd prefer not to go into in this thread. Some writers use 'determiner' for the name of a word class and 'modifier' for a function. Others use 'determinative' for a word class and 'determiner' for a function. We'll have less potential for confusion if we don't spend time on the determiner/determinative' words.

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    #23

    Re: Form and Function

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    This is an unfortunate choice of labels, which I'd prefer not to go into in this thread. Some writers use 'determiner' for the name of a word class and 'modifier' for a function. Others use 'determinative' for a word class and 'determiner' for a function. We'll have less potential for confusion if we don't spend time on the determiner/determinative' words.
    Okay but it's the idea that one label is for word class and one label is for function that I'm asking about. The label 'modifier' describes function only whereas 'word class' describes both form and function. Is that right?

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    #24

    Re: Form and Function

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    So you're saying that word class (such as 'adjective') is based on both form and function.
    I am saying that. I don't claim to speak for others.
    So then 'word class' is not a label that describes form, right? This is what I can't understand. If both form and function have a bearing on class, then any class, such as 'adjective' cannot be a label of form.
    Right.
    I think up until now I've been considering word class as a classification of form.
    There are two complicators here. One is that the word 'form' is used in different ways by different writers, and in different ways by individual writers within one book. The other is that, in our discussions, I have written of 'form and function'. I should perhaps have subdivided more.

    Let's see how writers have used words to define a comparatively straightforward category such as noun over the last 55 years. I have tried to use their own words, but added my own occasional thought in green. The underlining is mine, an attempt to highlight words we might be using.

    Zandvoort ([1957] 1972.90)

    An English noun normally has the following forms:

    a. the stem: boy, girl, ship, ass;
    b. the stem + sibilant-suffix: boys/boy's/boys', girls/girl's/girls', ships/ship's/ships', asses, ass's, asses'

    Schibsbye ([1965] 1970.90-92)

    If we begin by examining the possibility of a form criterion, it is clear that an s-suffix in the genitive will not serve as such since it can be attached to words belonging to every part of speech which is used substantivally. [...]

    A much better form-criterion is the plural suffix; with its help we can distinguish between (1) nouns and (2) adjectives used substantivally: the natives/the good. [...] But that -s to distinguish the plural cannot be used as the sole criterion appears from the fact that certain nouns, such as silver, courage, never have this suffix.

    If we try to delimit nouns according to function, that is combination possibilities, certain features appear. The definite article obviously will not serve, since it is normally also attached to adjectives when these are used substantivally: the good; the indefinite article, on the other hand is almost solely found with nouns. [...] A clear distinction from adjectives can be found in the fact that nouns are found without a determinative as subject or object: gold is more valuable than silver [...]; according to this criterion good in do good is a noun [...], while we have adjectives in do your utmost/do the impossible, since utmost and impossible require a determinative.This criterion however, provides no distinction between nouns and pronouns.; cf. I have got some.

    If we make the content a criterion, other difficulties again appear; here the chief distinction between nouns and adjectives is of course that the former have an association of substance: brick, book, child, while the latter have an association of substance: good, firm, wet. But this excludes many nouns such as sweetness, fertility. Ifa description is to be given of the content of the nouns we may perhaps say that a member of the main group of these words denotes 'an object, or objects' + a descriptive element: man, brick, water. But we then have on the one hand the fact that some nouns contain no concept of an 'object', namely those denoting abstractions: sweetness, folly, arrival; and on the other we have nouns with very slight descriptive content, eg. fact, thing.These must however be classified as nouns on grounds of inflection and/or function. - In other words, all three criteria must be taken into consideration.

    The commonest functions of nouns are of course to act as subject, object, predicative complement, and the complement of prepositions Other uses deserving particular mention are:

    (1) Nouns can be attributive, i.e. fill a position i which the adjective is very often found [...): a town house. [Schibsbye expands on the differences between attributive nouns and adjectives.]

    Nouns - particularly with qualifying words attached - may be used adverbially: he is miles better than his brother.

    Quirk et al (1985.74)

    [...] our characterizations of parts of speech will depend on their grammatical form and function, rather than on their semantic properties.

    Greenbaum
    (1996.94-96)

    Word classes have been established on the basis of three criteria: notional (semantic), morphological (e.g., inflectional forms and/or , affixes) and grammatical (or syntactic, involving the function of the word in context). [...]

    A common notional definition of the noun class is that nouns are names of persons, things, and places. (Greenbaum points out the inadequacies of this.) [...](

    Morphological criteria alone are generally insufficient to establish word classes or to identify the word-class membership of a word in isolation. [...]

    Grammatical (or syntactic) criteria involve the grammatical functions of the word in relation to other words The criteria are invoked to establish the actual functions in context or the potential functions in isolation. As head of a noun phrase, a noun may function as subject, direct object, indirect object, etc. It may be introduced by determiners, premodified by adjectives, and postmodified by prepositional phrases and relative clauses.

    More to follow.

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    #25

    Re: Form and Function

    Thanks, that's very helpful. I appreciate the time you've spent. Waiting for the rest before comment ...

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    #26

    Re: Form and Function

    Huddleston and Pullum (2002.326)

    Summary of defining properties of nound

    i. INFLECTION Nouns prototypically inflect for number (singular vs plural and for case (plain vs genitive).
    ii. FUNCTION Nouns characteristically function as head in NP structure.
    iii. DEPENDENTS Varios dependents occur exclusibely with nouns as head: certain determinatives, prehead AdjPs, relative clauses. Conversely, nouns differ from verbs and prepositions in that they do not take objects.

    Carter and McCarthy
    (2006297-300)

    Nouns: forms

    Nouns are the largest class of words, They denote classes and categories of things in the world, including people, animals, inanimate things, places, events, qualities and states. [...]

    Nouns: syntactic characteristics

    Nouns can be recognised by the following characteristic:

    They may be preceded by determiners. [...}
    They may be modified by adjectives. [...]
    They may be premodified by other nouns. [...]

    Nouns act as the main words, or heads, of noun phrases. [...]Noun phrases can act as the subject, object or complement of a clause [...]
    Noun phrases can be the vomplements of prepositions. [...]
    Less often, noun phrases may occur as clause adjuncts (mofifying the clause in some way, most typically in terms of time): I saw him the following day.

    Aarts (2011.44)

    Typical nouns ...
    - function as the head of a noun phrase which can perform a variety of functions such as Subject, Direct Object, Indirect Object;
    - take plural forms;
    - can occur in the frame the ---;
    - can be preceded by adjectives.

    Typical nouns conform to all or most of these criteria. However, not all nons do so. Pronouns, which we regard as forming a subset of the class of nouns, are a case in point.

    I think that's probably enough to be getting on with.

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    #27

    Re: Form and Function

    Just for fun, here's Bullikar (1586.1). I have modernised the spelling.

    The name of a thing that may be seen, felt, heard or understanded is called a noun, as a hand, a house, [...] and may the easilier be known from every other part of speech by some one of these articles, a, an or the.

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    #28

    Re: Form and Function

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    I think that's probably enough to be getting on with.
    Yes, thanks again. That's interesting. I need a bit of time to process this.

    In the meantime, is there anywhere you'd like to take this discussion? Please feel free. Otherwise I'm just going to try to pursue ways of clarifying what my problem is exactly with classing words based on formal properties as opposed to functional or semantic ones, and I'm conscious of boring you with something so academic/tedious.

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    #29

    Re: Form and Function

    If you don't mid waiting for a response sometimes - I have quite a lot on at the moment - I'll do my best to respond when I can. I would suggest that you post one question at a time, with follow-ups as required. You have raised several points in this thread that I haven't dealt with because I have been attempting to give fairly full response to others.

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    #30

    Re: Form and Function

    Of course. The advantage of this medium is that we can respond whenever suits. And yes, let's stick to shorter, more manageable posts.

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