Lexico-Grammatical groups

Morphological grouping of words

Different types of non-semantic grouping



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1. Different types of non-semantic grouping:

1.1 Morphological grouping of words;

1.2 Lexico-Grammatical groups;

1.3 Thematic groups.

2. Semantic classification of words.

3. Hyponymic relations.

4. Vocabulary in the process of time.


Each language has a very extensive vocabulary. The question arises whether any word-stock is composed of several independent units or it should be regarded as a certain structured system which is formed by different independent subsystems. Attempts were maid to study the inner structure of the vocabulary. Various types of non-semantic grouping were maid.

The simplest one is the alphabetical organization of written words, as represented in most dictionaries. The second type of non-semantic grouping is based on the words which are arranged according to the similarity of their ends. Such dictionaries may be used by poets when they compose rhymed verses or by teachers in order to make up lists of words with similar suffixes. The third type is based on the length of written words. The number of letters they contain are taken into consideration. This type is useful for automatic reading of messages and correction of mistakes. The next type of non-semantic grouping is based on the number of syllables which may be proved useful for linguistic theory. Finally, a very important type of word grouping is based on the statistical analysis of their frequency. It carried out for practical purposes of lexicography, language teaching, etc.



According to the morphological structure English words are divided into four groups. They are: root (morpheme) words, derivatives, compound words, compound derivatives. It must be noted that characteristic features of these groups were mentioned (Lecture 4 The morphemic structure of English words).

Another type of traditional lexicological grouping is known as word families (all the words are grouped according to the root morpheme), e.g. eat, eatable, eaten, eater, eating; catch, catching, catchment, catchpenny, catch-phrase, catchword, catchy, etc. Similar grouping according to a common suffix or prefix are also possible, e.g. handsome, tiresome, troublesome, winsome, etc.

The words of language, depending on various formal and semantic features, are divided into grammatically relevant sets or classes. The traditional grammatical classes of words are called parts of speech. Since the word is distinguished not only by grammatical but also by semantico-lexemic properties some scholars refer to parts of speech as lexico-grammatical series of words, or as lexico-grammatical categories. It should be noted that the term part of speech is purely traditional and conventional; it cannot be taken as defining or explanatory. This name was introduced in the grammatical teaching of Ancient Greece, where the concept of the sentence was not identified in distinction to the general idea of speech and was no strict differentiation was drawn between the word as a vocabulary unit and the word as a functional element of the sentence.

In modern linguistics, parts of speech are discriminated on the basis of the three criteria: semantic, formal, and functional. The semantic criterion presupposes the evaluation of the generalized meaning, which is understood as the categorical meaning of the part of speech. By the formal criterion we mean the specific inflexional and derivational (word-building) features of all the lexemic subsets of a part of speech. The functional criterion concerns the syntactic role of words in the sentence typical of a part of speech. The said three factors of categorical characterization of words are considered as meaning, form, and function.

According to the described criteria, words on the upper level of classification are divided into notional and functional (changeable and unchangeable). To the notional parts of speech of the English language belong the noun, the adjective, the numeral, the pronoun, the verb, and the adverb.

The features of the noun: changeable forms of number and case; the specific suffixal form of derivation (prefixes in English do not discriminate parts of speech); the substantive functions in the sentence (subject, object, substantival predicative); prepositional connections; modification by an adjective.

The features of the adjective: the categorical meaning of property (qualitative and relative); the forms of the degrees of comparison; the specific suffixal forms of derivation; adjectival functions in the sentence (attribute to a noun, adjectival predicative).

The features of the numeral: the categorical meaning of number (cardinal and ordinal); the specific forms of composition for compound numerals; the specific suffixal forms of derivation for ordinal numerals; the functions of numerical attribute and numerical substantive.

The features of the pronoun: the categorical meaning of indication; formal properties of categorical changeability and word-building; the substantival and adjectival functions for different sets.

The features of the verb: the categorical meaning of process; the forms of the verbal categories of person, number, tense, aspect, voice, mood; the function of the finite predicate for the finite verb.

The features of the adverb: the categorical meaning of the secondary property; the forms of the degrees of comparison for qualitative adverbs; the specific suffixal forms of derivation; the functions of various adverbial modifiers.

Words of incomplete nominative meaning and non-self-dependent, mediatory functions in the sentence are called functional parts of speech (unchangeable words). They are: the article, the preposition, the conjunction, the particle, the modal word, the interjection. The article expresses the specific limitation of the substantive functions. The preposition expresses the dependencies and interdependencies of substantive referents. The conjunction expresses connections of phenomena. The particle unites the functional words. The modal word expresses the attitude of the speaker to the reflected situation and its parts. The interjection is a signal of emotions.

Each part of speech is further subdivided according to semantico-functional and formal features of the constituent words. Thus, nouns are subdivided into proper and common (cf. Mary, London/ girl, city), animate and inanimate (cf. man, scholar/ rose, machine), countable and uncountable (cf. coin-coins, floor-floor/ water, news), concrete and abstract (cf. stone, leaf/ honesty, love) , etc. Verbs are subdivided into fully predicative and partially predicative (cf. walk, sail/ can, may), transitive and intransitive (cf. take, put/ live, stay), actional and statal (cf. write, play/ rest, sleep), purely nominative and evaluative (cf. begin, build/ desire, hate), etc. Adjectives are subdivided into qualitative and relative (cf. long, red/ wooden, daily), of constant feature and temporary feature (cf. healthy, joyful/ well, ill), factual and evaluative (cf. tall, native/ wonderful, stupid). The adverb, the numeral, the pronoun are also subject to the corresponding subcategorizations.

Thus, by a lexico-grammatical group we understand a class of words which have a common lexico-grammatical meaning, a common paradigm, the same substituting elements and possibly a characteristic set of suffixes rendering the lexico-grammatical meaning. It must be mentioned that lexico-grammatical groups should not be confused with parts of speech. For example, the words honesty and audience belong to the same part of speech but to different lexico-grammatical groups, because their lexico-grammatical meanings are different: audience is a group of people and honesty is a quality; they have different paradigms: audience has two forms (singular/plural), and honesty is used only in the singular.


  1. Free Word-Groups Versus Phraseological Units Versus Words
  2. Named groups of data models.
  3. Political groups and parties
  4. Transposition of lexico-grammatical classes of nouns as stylistic device

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