A new approach to semantic and syntactic functions of English adjectives - A contrastive analysis with their..

Tài liệu A new approach to semantic and syntactic functions of English adjectives - A contrastive analysis with their..: Hanoi open university Faculty of English ***** Graduation paper b. a degree in English A new approach to semantic and syntactic functions of English adjectives – A contrastive analysis with their Vietnamese equivalents Supervisor : hoµng TuyÕt minh, m.a student : nguyÔn thÞ nga date of birth : 13/ 08/ 1985 course : k11a (2004- 2008) Hanoi- 2008 Declaration Title: A new approach to semantic and syntactic functions of English adjectives – A contrastive analysis with their Vietname... Ebook A new approach to semantic and syntactic functions of English adjectives - A contrastive analysis with their..

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se equivalents (Graduation paper submitted in partial fulfillment for B.A Degree in English) I certify that no part of the above report has been copied or reproduced by me from any other person’s work without acknowledgements and that report is originally written by me under strict guidance of my supervisor. Date submitted: May 2008 Student Supervisor Acknowledgements First of all, I would like to express my sincere thanks to my supervisor, Mrs Hoang Tuyet Minh. She is the person who made clear my confuse initial ideas, step by step guiding me during my writing graduation paper. I could finally complete my graduation. I own her a debt of gratitude that cannot be measured. Secondly, I would like to give my thanks to Dean and Leading Board of English faculty, who gave me opportunities to study and do my graduation paper. I would also give my deepest gratitude to all lectures of English faculty at Hanoi Open University for their enthusiastic teaching during my four_ year study. They gave me not only knowledge but also the precious experience in life. Thirdly, I should also express many thanks to my dear friends who have shared with me a lot during my studies and my research work as well. Constantly, rather than final, I would like to send my great thanks to all members in my family for their support and encouragement during my study. Hanoi, May 2008 Student: Nguyen Thi Nga TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgements Abbreviations References Abbreviations Adj : adjective C : complement Co : object complement Cs : subject complement NP :noun phrase O : objective Prep. p :preposition phrase S : subject V : verb ~ :equivalent to * : wrong sentence Æ : without verb Chapter I Introduction 1.1 Rationale Nowadays, English is considered as one of the most popular language for everyone all over the world. There are many problems in learning English as listening, speaking, reading, writing, Grammar, lexicology, etc. Grammar plays a very important role in English, it is not easy for English learners to study. Moreover, learners are affected by their mother tongue during the process of studying that cause much confusion to them. However, it is not so difficult that English learners can not study because English grammar is also systematic. In grammar, Adjective is one of essential parts of speech to form a sentence. Adjective is frequently used in daily life such as describing things, objects,… or expressing feeling, emotion, etc. As well known, English adjectives are diversified in many forms, meanings as well as usages. It takes learners quite a long time to understand grammar deeply, especially adjectives. It therefore seems that the semantic and syntactic function of adjectives are still too difficult for students. So the writer researches the semantic and syntactic function of English adjectives with the hope that the writer’s graduation paper will contribute a small part on enriching the source of materials, and it hopes that students be able to further understand about semantic and syntactic function of English adjectives as well as partly avoid making errors when studying these matters. In the writer’s point of view in order to use English effectively, studying grammar is essential requirement because English Grammar is one of the most difficult subject. It is said that study of English grammar could improve the ability of other skills like listening, speaking, reading, writing, … Mastering English grammar helps us to use the language correctly and effectively. That is why the writer chooses studying one aspect of English grammar for the graduation paper, particularly adjectives in English. The writer decided to study a new approach to semantic and syntactic functions of English adjective, apart from that making a contrastive analysis with their Vietnamese equivalents. The writer hopes that this thesis will be helpful for the learners in their studying and after reading the graduation paper, many students will be interested in searching and developing this topic in order that the matter of semantic and syntactic function of English adjectives will be clearer and more well-provided than those presented in the graduation paper. 1.2 Aims of the study In the frame of the graduation paper, the writer would like to focus on: - Making a general view on definition of adjectives in general and focusing on discussing matters in relation to semantic and syntactic functions of English adjectives in particular. - Classifying kinds of English adjectives in terms of their usage. - Making a contrastive analysis between English adjectives and their Vietnamese equivalents. 1.3 Scope of the study English grammar is a large field that can not be mentioned all, therefore, the writer only mentioned to some small aspect of English grammar, that is English adjectives. In the frame of the study, this graduation paper deals with the semantic and syntactic functions of English adjectives, especially the classification of adjective semantic features in terms of their usage as well as presents a contrastive analysis between English adjectives with their Vietnamese equivalents. 1.4 Methods of the study This study mainly based on scientific theories about English adjectives, the writer has to collect materials and finds the most suitable ones to systematize as well as analyze them. The main methods of the graduation paper are: Firstly, descriptive method is used to describe and make a general overview of English adjectives in terms of their semantic and syntactic functions. Secondly, statistic method is used to gather information about English adjectives, apart from that giving the study points of view of this thesis. Finally, contrastive analysis method is used to make a comparison between English adjectives and their Vietnamese equivalents. 1.5 Design of the study To gain the above goals, the graduation paper is divided into five chapters and reference part. Chapter I is the introduction, including the reasons for choosing the title, aims and objectives, scope, methods and design of the study. Chapter II introduces an overview of English adjectives with the definitions of adjectives and their semantic and syntactic functions of English adjectives. Chapter III is a study to a new approach to semantic and syntactic functions of English adjectives. Chapter IV is to make a contrastive analysis between English adjectives and their Vietnamese equivalents, pointing out the similarities and differences of English adjectives. Chapter V is the conclusion part, giving brief findings of all the above sections. References come at the end of the graduation paper. Chapter II An overview of English adjectives 2.1 What is an adjective? When talking about adjectives, many grammarians have many different definitions as follows: According to L. G. Alexander (1998, 106), a word is considered as an adjective when it describes the person, thing,… which a noun refers to or describes the ideas contained in the whole group of words, as in : Professor Robert’s lecture on environment was fascinating. Many adjectives can answer the question what… like ? What’s Tom like?( to look at) He is dark/ short/ tall. (Alexander 1998, 106) However, as the opinions of Quirk et al, “ we usually can not tell a word is an adjective by looking at it in isolation because the form of a word doesn’t necessarily indicate its syntactic function. Nor can we identify a word as an adjective merely from its potentials for inflexion ” (1973,114). As for them, a word is commonly considered an adjective if it has at least one of four criteria: It can freely occur in attributive function, i. e they can premodify a noun, appearing between the determiner and the head of a noun phrase as in: an oval face a beautiful girl the round table It can freely occur in predicative function, i. e they can function as subjective complement or as object complement: The girl is attractive. I guess the girl attractive. (Quirk et al 1973, 116) They can be modified by the intensifier very. For example: The new house is very large. She is very happy now. It can take comparative and superlative forms. The comparison may be by means of inflections (-er, -est), or by the addition of the premodifiers more and most or called periphrastic. Let’s see the following examples: Ho Chi Minh is the most wonderful city in Vietnam. Lan is more charming than other classmates. The children are happier now. ( Quirk et al 1973, 115 ) To sum up, adjective is one of four elements of open class items (noun, adjective, adverb, verb), which belongs to part of speech in English grammar, and adjectives are words expressing quality, quantity, size, colour, characteristics, etc. 2.2 Semantic functions of English adjectives According to researches, adjectives are classified into stative and dynamic, gradable and non- gradable as follows: 2.2.1 Stative and dynamic adjectives According to the opinion of Quirk et al, As their name suggests, stative adjective denote “a state or condition, which may generally be consider permanent” (124), such as big, red, tall, etc. Stative adjectives can not normally be used in imperative constructions: * Be big/ red/ tall. * He is being red/ big/ tall. ( Quirk et al 1973, 124) In contrast, dynamic adjectives denote attributes which are, to some extent at least, “under the control of the one who possesses them”(Quirk et al 1973, 124). For instance, brave denotes an attribute which may not always be in evidence (as unlike red), but which may be called upon as it is required. For this reason, it is appropriate to use it in an imperative. Be brave. Don’t be afraid.. (Quirk et al 1973, 124) Adjectives that can be used dynamically include: awkward, brave, calm, careless, cruel, funny, good, noisy, timid, etc.(Quirk at al 1973, 124) All dynamic adjectives can be used in imperatives such as be careful, don’t be cruel, and they can also be use predicatively in progressive tense: Your son is being disruptive in class. He is being careful. We are being very patient with you. The majority of adjectives are stative. The stative or dynamic contrast, as it related to adjectives, is largely a semantic one, though as we have seen it also has syntactic implications. 2.2.2 Gradable and non- gradable adjectives According to L. G. Alexander (1988, 108) adjectives can be also divided into gradable and non- gradable. Gradable adjectives mean “a large class of words which can be graded, or in other words, they can be modified by intensifiers and include comparison such as very young, young, younger, the youngest…” An adjective is gradable when: _ We can imagine degrees in the quality referred to and so can use it with words like very, too and enough. Let’s see the followings examples: Your work is good. Your work is very good. Mary has been very ill. _ We can form a comparative and superlative from it as big, bigger, biggest, etc. Non- gradable adjectives are a small class that can not be graded or in other words, principally technical adjectives and adjectives denoting provenance such as atomic, hydrochloric, British… According to L. G. Alexander (1988, 108) an adjective is non- gradable when: _ We can not modify it, it means that we can not use it with very, too,… _ We can not make a comparative or superlative from it such as daily, dead, medical, unique, etc. 2.2.3 Inherent and non- inherent Based on Quirk et al’s point of view (1973,125), some adjectives are classified into inherent and non- inherent. Most attributive adjectives denote some attribute of the noun which they modify. For instance, the phrase a red car may be said to denote a car which is red. In fact most adjective- noun sequences such as this can be loosely reformulated in a similar way, for example: an old man ~ a man who is old difficult questions ~ questions which are difficult round glasses ~ glasses which are round This applies equally to postpositive adjectives as: Something understood ~ something which is understood The people responsible ~ the people who are responsible In each case the adjective denotes an attribute or quality of the noun, as the reformulations show. Adjectives of this type are known as inherent adjectives. The attribute they denote is , as it were, inherent in the noun which they modify. However, not all adjectives are related to the noun in the same way. For example, the adjective small in a small businessman does not describe an attribute of the businessman. It can not be reformulated as a businessman who is small. Instead, it refers to a businessman whose business is small. We refer to adjectives of this type as non- inherent adjectives. They refer less directly to an attribute of the noun than inherent adjectives do. Whether or not an adjective is inherent or non- inherent, it may involve relation to an implicit or explicit standard, such as in a big mouse, the adjective big is inherent, the meaning is the relative size of mice, contrast a little mouse and in a big fool, the adjective big is non- inherent, the meaning is degrees of foolishness, contrast a bit of a fool. Here are some more examples, showing the contrast between inherent and non- inherent: Inherent Non- inherent distant hills distant relatives a complete chapter a complete idiot a heavy burden a heavy smoker a social survey a social animal an old man an old friend ( wikipedia.com viewed on March 10, 2008) Some adjectives can come before or after nouns, which may change meaning or may not change meaning of adjective. The following is some cases denoting the position of adjectives ( with or without change in meaning). Adjectives come before or after nouns, which may not change in meaning: some adjectives, mostly ending in –able and –ible can come before or after nouns and usually with no change in meaning such as available, eligible, imaginable, taxable, possible, impossible, etc. Let’s consider the above examples: I doubt whether we can complete our contract in the time available/ in the available time.(1) We have to exploit all available potential/ all potential available in our country. (2) As we know that when changing the position of adjective available in the example1 and 2, there is no change in meaning of adjective. However, some adjectives sometimes have different meanings if they modify different nouns; for example, old can be either a central adjective or an adjective restricted to attributive position as in an old friend of mine means a longstanding friend. In this case, old is the opposite of new. The person referred to is not identified as old , but it is very his friend that is old. Moreover, some adjectives come before or after nouns with a change in meaning, in some case a few adjectives change in meaning depending on whether they are used before or after a noun. Some of these are concerned, elect, involved, present, proper, responsible. They would be illustrated as follows: The concerned doctor rang for an ambulance. ~ The worried doctor rang for ambulance. The doctor concerned is on holiday. ~ The doctor responsible is on holiday. (L. G. Alexander 1988, 111) Some adjectives such as present, absent, concerned, involved and responsible are used with most frequency in postmodification. Sometimes they are also used in postmodification but then their meaning are different, for example: There were ten members of staff present. (there) Our present problems are much worse. (now) The person concerned must be fined. (relevant) (Quirk et al, 1972, 418) 2.3 Syntactic functions of English adjectives An adjective may bear several possible relationships to the noun or noun phrase that it qualifies. 2.3.1 Attributive adjectives According to Alexander’ point of view (1988, 110) adjectives are attributive when they modify nouns (they can pre-modify or post-modify nouns). Therefore attributive adjectives can be considered as part of the noun phrase. Let’s see the following the examples: Lan is a beautiful girl. Hung is a heavy smokers. ( ~ Hung smokes a lot.) After the compound indefinite pronouns and adverbs, which begin with no-, any-, some-, every-, and end in -body, -one, -thing, -where, adjectives are usually used attributively as postmodifiers: Anyone ( who is) intelligent can do it. I want to try on something ( that is) larger. There is nothing new, but something important. Some adjectives can be only used attributively with absolute/complete meanings such as mere, out and out, sheer, utter,…for example: What you say is sheer/ utter nonsense. He is a mere boy. The above adjectives can behave like adverbs of degree or intensifiers but they can be used only in the attributive position. To prove this, we can take some examples into consideration: * He is mere. * What you say is sheer/ utter. These sentences is meaningless, they are not correct. They can not be complement, so one time, we can affirm that the above adjectives can be only attributive. Adjectives which restrict the reference of the noun are always attributive as the followings: certain (a woman of a certain age) chief (my chief complaint) main (my main concern) only (the only explanation) particular (my particular aim) principle (the principle reason) sold (my sold interest) These adjectives only used attributive, except for certain and particular which then change in meaning (110-111). We should take the use of commas into consideration to separate adjectives which are used attributively. When we have more than two adjectives before a noun, we only need commas to separate those which are equally important (it means that where the order of the first two could easily be reversed), for instance: This is a beautiful, bright clean room. That is to say, we put a comma after the quality adjective, we never use a comma after the adjective that comes immediately in front of a noun. Let’s see the following examples: The hotel porter led me to a beautiful, bright clean room. Joy is engaged to a daring, very attractive young air force pilot. If there are only two adjectives, we separate them with and. He wore dirty and old shoes. I have a young and beautiful sister. When there more than two adjectives, they may be separated by commas and apart from the last adjective which separated by and. He wore dirty, wet, old and worn shoes. But, there are some fixed phrases of adjectives which are often linked by and : old and musty with, a long and winding road, hard and fast rules. When the premodifiers are two color adjectives, it is obligatory to use and, not the commas as: the yellow and blue flag and it does not exist in * the yellow, blue flag. Sometimes, we use but instead of and if the meaning of two premodifying adjectives are contrastive: a rich but stingy man, a cheap but effective solution (115-116). 2.3.2 Predicative adjectives An adjective may serve to quality as subject or objective and to complete the predication begun to the verb. Such an adjective is called a predicative adjective. If it qualifies the subject, it functions as a subjective complement, if it qualifies a direct objective, it functions as an objective complement. _ Subject complement: Adjective is subject complement when there is a co-reference between subject and subject complement. Both of them are in an intensive relationship. Let’s see the following examples: The children were noisy and naughty.(3) In the example 3, noisy and naughty function as predicative adjectives, they both qualify children and complete the predications begun by the verb were. Your suspicions seem to be unfounded.(4) In example 4, the infinitive to be unfunded functions as a predicative adjective, it both qualifies suspicions and completes the predication begun by the verb seemed. _ Object complement: adjective is object complement when there is Co-reference between direct object and object complement. They are in intensive relationship with object. Let’s see the following examples: The situation made Mr. Hardy courageous and even a bit daring.(5) In sentence 5, courageous and daring functions as predicative adjectives, they both qualify Mr. Hardy and complete the predication begun by the verb made. They are objective complement. The jury found him guilty.(6) In example 6, guilty is a predicative adjective, it both qualifies him and completes the predicative begun by the verb found, so guilty is an objective complement. Apart from being subject complement to noun phrase ( subjunctive) , adjectives are also subject complement to clauses when the subject is a finite Clause or non-finite Clause. Whether he will design is uncertain. Driving a bus isn’t easy. The adjective which functions as objective complement often show the result of the process denoted by the verb, for example: He tide the rope tight ( As a result, he rope was then tight) He pushed the window open. ( As a result, the window was then open.) (Quirk et al 115-116) Apart from the above cases, some adjectives with different meaning also are predicative adjectives: _ Adjectives describing health uses predicatively: The following adjectives are most common in predicative position relating to health: faint, ill, poorly, unwell and well: “What’s the matter with him? He’s ill/ unwell. He feels faint” However, some adjectives describing health used both predicative and attributive with different meanings: How are you? I’m very well, thank you.(7) I’m fine thanks.(8) Fine in example 8 related to health is predicative because it modifies the subject and linking by a linking verb am so it’s realized by object complement. It can be paraphrased in another sentence I’m well thanks (9). But when we use the adjective fine in the attributive position. It no longer relates to health, it means excellent. Let’s see another example : She is a fine woman. Fine is an adjective realized as noun phrase in which fine pre-modifies noun woman so fine is attributive similarly, faint can be used attributively when it is not in connection with health such as a faint chance, a faint hope. _ Predicative adjectives beginning with a- The following adjectives are used only predicatively like afloat, afraid, alight, alike, alone, ashamed, asleep, awake. The children were asleep at 7, but now they’re awake. These adjectives: asleep, awake used predicatively because they complete the predication begun with the linking verbs were, was. _ Predicative adjectives describing feelings, reactions, etc. Some adjectives which describes feeling, etc. As content, glad, pleased, sorry, upset and a few others like far and near apart from the far East or the Near East are normally used only predicatively, for example: I am very glad to meet you. Your hotel is quite near here, It isn’t far from home. ( L. G. Alexander 109-110) 2.3.3 Adjectives function as head of a noun phrase Adjective can function as head of noun phrase and can be subject, of the sentence, object, complement or complement of a preposition. As a result, they do not inflect for number or genitive case, and they must take a definitive determiner. We can not usually leave out a noun after an adjective, for example: Poor little boy! ( not poor little!) (10) In the example (10) poor little has meaningless, non-sense so reader can’t understand. There are some exceptions, there are three types of adjectives that function without noun, that are adjectives functioning as head of noun phrase) 2.3.3.1 Well- known groups Adjectives belonging to well- known group are adjectives expressing some group of people in society. The form the + adjective used to discuss certain well- known groups of people in society especially people in a particular physical or social condition such as the blind, the dead, the deaf, the handicapped, the jobless, the mentally ill, the old, the poor, the rich, the unemployed, the young, the sick,…for example: He’s collecting money for the blind.(11) In the example 11, it means that he’s collecting money for the blind people or all blind people in general. It does not refer to just one person or to a small group. It can not denote one person the blind man, the blind woman. It is often capable of adding a general word for human beings likes people. In which case, people is normally omitted and the use of the blind as head of the noun phrase or without noun. The meaning of well-known groups is usually general, sometimes a more limited group is referred to, for instance: After the accident, the injured were take to hospital.(12) (Michael Swan, 13) In the example 12, the injured doesn’t mean generally, but it refers to a limited group, that is the injured people in the accident, but such as the injured people in the war, fighting. Note that these expressions can not be used with a possessive s. The problems of the poor or poor people’s problem is not correct grammatically. Some adjectives used without the as head of a noun phrase in paired structures with and or or, for example: Opportunities for both the rich and the poor.(13) (Michael Swan, 13) In the example 13, the rich and the poor express the rich people and the poor people in general. From the above point, it’s a very common knowledge that adjectives use as head of a noun phrase ( NP heads) normally need a definite determiner, they are absolutely able to without a determiner if they are linked. So it is the reason that opportunities for both rich and poor we can also say that in the sentence : opportunities for both the rich and the poor. 2.3.3.2 Adjectives referring to abstract ideas Some adjectives used as noun phrase heads. When they have abstract or general reference such as the supernatural, the unexpected, the unknown, the best, the ridiculous,… so its abstract sense means that thing or those things which are unknown. In which case we can insert a general noun like thing/ news. And these abstract adjectives are followed by a singular verb, for example: The most surprising (thing) is that she will study abroad. Verb which has subject ( with abstract adjectives) taken singular form is. Let’s see another example: The annoying thing was that I didn’t understand deeply the exercise. 2.3.3.3 Nationality adjectives used without nouns Some adjectives referring to nationalities use as noun phrase heads: The Vietnamese are very proud of their history.(14) In example 14, the Vietnamese expresses the Vietnamese people in general, but not the particular Vietnamese people or Vietnamese women/ men. A few nationality adjectives ending in -sh, -ch or –ese are used after the as head of noun phrase, they include: -sh : British, English, Spanish, Irish; -ch: Dutch, French; -ese : Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese. Similarly, adjectives relating to well-known groups of people in social group, nationality adjectives are referred to general meaning and take plural and singular equivalences as well. For example an Irish woman, a welsh man unlike adjectives referring social groups, adjectives of nationality can not be modified by adjectives like very with general and plural meaning. They can be modified by adjectives which are commonly non-restrictive. Consider the following sentence: The industrious Vietnamese women always strive harder to catch up with those in other countries. (15) In example 15, it can be understood that the Vietnamese women, who are industrious and dexterous always strive harder to catch up with those in other countries. The native English are very friendly. ( The English, who are native, are very friendly.) 2.3.4 Supplementative adjective clauses An adjective (alone or as head of adjective phrase ) can function as supplementative adjective clause or a verbless adjective clause . The clause is mobile, through it usually precedes or follow the subject of the superordinate clause (by then) nervous, the man opened the letter. The man, (by then) nervous, opened the letter. The man opened the letter, (by then ) nervous. (Quirk et el 1972, 119 ) When verbless adjective clause comes closely the subject, such as The man, (by then) nervous, opened the letter. It is, in some aspects, like a non-restrictive relative clause as in: The man, who was ( by then) nervous, opened the letter. Unlike the relative clause, the adjective clause is mobile and its implied is usually the subject of the sentences. Thus, while we have : The man restrained the woman, who was aggressive. We do not have: *The man restrained the woman, aggressive. However, if the clause contains addition constituents, its implied subject can be other than the subjective of the sentence: She glanced with disgust at the cat, quiet (now) in her daughter’s lap. While in the participle clause, the implied subjective can also be other than the subjective of the sentence. She glanced with disgust at the cat, stretched out on the rug. She glanced with disgust at the cat, mewing plaintively. (Quirk et al 1972, 119) Nevertheless, the implied subjective of the adjective clause can be the whole of the superordinate clause. Look at these two examples: Crowded holiday resorts are not very pleasant.(16) Holiday resorts which are crowded are not very pleasant.(17) Crowded in the sentence 16 is an adjective and which are crowded in th example 17 is a clause which has a finite verb are. The clause is doing exactly the same work as the adjective it is describing the holiday resorts or in other words it is qualifying the noun holiday resorts so we call it a relative clause because it relates to the noun. In this case, by means of the word which. In short, adjectival clause can describe person, things and events. We can realize that the ad._.

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