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Курсовая работа: Comparison of nouns in English and Russian languages

Курсовая работа: Comparison of nouns in English and Russian languages



Chapter I Morphological features of nouns

1.1 Classification of nouns in English

1.2 Morphological characteristics of Nouns

1.3 Morphological composition of Nouns

Chapter II Comparison of Nouns in English and Russian languages

2.1 The category of number of Nouns in English and in Russian languages

2.2 The category of case of Nouns in English and in Russian language

2.3 The functions of Nouns in English and in Russian languages






Language is a social phenomenon and every language has its own grammar. For many centuries such famous scholars as B. Illyish, M. Y. Blokh, O. Jesperson and many others had investigated the problem of parts of speech, that causes great controversies both in general linguistic theory and in the analysis of separate languages. And the main question that had interested them was noun as a part of speech.

The word "noun" comes from the Latin nomen meaning "name." Word classes like nouns were first described by Sanskrit grammarian Panini and ancient Greeks like Dionysios Thrax, and defined in terms of their morphological properties. For example, in Ancient Greek, nouns can be inflected for grammatical case, such as dative or accusative. Verbs, on the other hand, can be inflected for tenses, such as past, present or future, while nouns cannot. [14, 31]

In traditional school grammars, one often encounters the definition of nouns that they are all and only those expressions that refer to a person, place, thing, event, substance, quality, or idea, etc. This is a semantic definition. It has been criticized by contemporary linguists as being quite uninformative. Part of the problem is that the definition makes use of relatively general nouns ("thing," "phenomenon," "event") to define what nouns are. The existence of such general nouns shows us that nouns are organized in taxonomic hierarchies.[10, 67]

In the prevailing Modern English terminology the terms "noun" and "substantive" are used as synonyms. According to an earlier view, the term "noun" was understood to cover all nominal parts of speech, including substantives, adjectives, pronouns, and numerals, thus corresponding to the Russian term имя.

According to the existence of differences and similarities in English and in Russian we had revealed in our course paper the morphological features of nouns, it’s classification and had done the comparison between English and Russian languages, which are important for Modern English.

The theme of our course paper is "Comparison of nouns in English and Russian languages".

The aim of investigation is to give more understandable and interesting information about the nouns in English and Russian languages and to find out similarities and differences between them.

Object: the category of case and number of nouns in English and Russian

Subject: the grammar of English and Russian languages

The objectives of investigation are follows:

1.  To gather as much materials out of different sources (scientific books, curriculum guidelines, teachers' magazines, etc.) as it is required.

2.  To study and analyze the work of different linguists;

3.  To reveal the importance of the nouns in English grammar.

4.  To investigate similarities and differences in English and Russian languages.

5.  Using more examples to compare nouns in English and Russian languages.

Hypothesis: we suppose that nouns are important and if we want to achieve the proficiency we should take into account that noun have their own morphological and semantically features. Teachers will use them in their teaching process.

Practical value: by comparing the nouns in English and Russian languages we want to give more examples which show similarities and differences of nouns in English and Russian languages.

Theoretical value: the final outcome of our investigation can be developed in scientific and diploma work. And they can be used as a source of preparing lectures for Theoretical grammar.

Methods of investigation:

1.  contrastive method

2.  descriptive method

3.  analytical method

The scientific novelty is: we had found out differences and similarities in case system and grammatical category of number of nouns in English and Russian languages. English distinguishes two numbers: singular and plural as Russian. Case system of Russian language is more developed than in English.

The bases of our work are resource center and libraries.

The structure of our course paper: Introduction, Topicality, the theoretical part, the practical part, Conclusion, Bibliography and Appendix.

The theoretical part includes:

Classification of nouns in English

Morphological characteristics of Nouns

Morphological composition of Nouns

The practical part includes:

The category of number of Nouns in English and in Russian languages

The category of case of Nouns in English and in Russian languages

The functions of Nouns in English and in Russian languages

Chapter I Morphological features of nouns

1.1 Classification of nouns in English

Proper nouns and common nouns

Proper nouns (also called proper names) are the names of unique entities. For example, "Janet", "Jupiter" and "Germany" are proper nouns. Proper nouns are usually capitalized in English and most other languages that use the Latin alphabet, and this is one easy way to recognize them. However, in German nouns of all types are capitalized. The convention of capitalizing all nouns was previously used in English, but has long fallen into disuse.

All other nouns are called common nouns. For example, "girl", "planet", and "country" are common nouns.

Sometimes the same word can function as both a common noun and a proper noun, where one such entity is special. For example: "There can be many gods, but there is only one God." This is somewhat magnified in Hebrew where EL means god (as in a god), God (as in the God), and El (the name of a particular Canaanite god).

The common meaning of the word or words constituting a proper noun may be unrelated to the object to which the proper noun refers. For example, someone might be named "Tiger Smith" despite being neither a tiger nor a smith. For this reason, proper nouns are usually not translated between languages, although they may be transliterated. For example, the German surname Knödel becomes Knodel or Knoedel in English (not the literal Dumpling). However, the translation of place names and the names of monarchs, popes, and non-contemporary authors is common and sometimes universal. For instance, the Portuguese word Lisboa becomes Lisbon in English; the English London becomes Londres in French; and the Greek Aristotelēs becomes Aristotle in English.

Countable nouns and uncountable nouns

Countable nouns (or count nouns) are common nouns that can take a plural, can combine with numerals or quantifiers (e.g. "one", "two", "several", "every", "most"), and can take an indefinite article ("a" or "an"). Examples of countable nouns are "chair", "nose", and "occasion". Uncountable nouns (or mass nouns) differ from countable nouns in precisely that respect: they can't take plural or combine with number words or quantifiers. Examples from English include "laughter", "cutlery", "helium", and "furniture". For example, it is not possible to refer to "a furniture" or "three furnitures". This is true, even though the furniture referred to could, in principle, be counted. Thus the distinction between mass and count nouns shouldn't be made in terms of what sorts of things the nouns refer to, but rather in terms of how the nouns present these entities. The separate page for mass noun contains further explanation of this point. Some words function in the singular as a count noun and, without a change in the spelling, as a mass noun in the plural: she caught a fish, we caught fish; he shot a deer, they shot some deer; the craft was dilapidated, the pier was chockablock with craft.

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns are nouns that refer to groups consisting of more than one individual or entity, even when they are inflected for the singular. Examples include "committee," "herd" and "school" (of herring). These nouns have slightly different grammatical properties than other nouns. For example, the noun phrases that they head can serve of the subject of a collective predicate, even when they are inflected for the singular. A collective predicate is a predicate that normally can't take a singular subject. An example of the latter is "surround the house."

Good: The boys surrounded the house.

Bad: *The boy surrounded the house.

Good: The committee surrounded the house. [11.p.62]

Concrete nouns and abstract nouns

Concrete nouns refer to definite objects—objects in which you use at least one of your senses. For instance, "chair", "apple", or "Janet". Abstract nouns on the other hand refer to ideas or concepts, such as "justice" or "hate". While this distinction is sometimes useful, the boundary between the two of them is not always clear. In English, many abstract nouns are formed by adding noun-forming suffixes ("-ness", "-ity", "-tion") to adjectives or verbs. Examples are "happiness", "circulation" and "serenity".

1.2 Morphological characteristics of the Nouns

The noun has the following morphological characteristics:

1.  Nouns that can be counted have two numbers: singular and plural (e.g. singular: a girl, plural: girls).

2.  Nouns denoting living being (and some nouns denoting lifeless things) have two case forms: the common case and the genitive case.

It is doubtful whether grammatical category of gender exists in Modern English for it is hardly ever expressed by means of grammatical forms.

There is practically only one gender-forming suffix in Modern English, the suffix -es, expressing feminine gender. It is not widely used.

heir- heir-ess

poet- poet-ess

actor- actor-ess

waiter- waitr-ess

host- host-ess

lion- lion-ess

tiger- tigr-ess

Gender, i.e. the distinction of nouns into masculine, feminine and neuter, may be expressed lexically by means of different words or word-compounds:

father- mother man- woman

boy- girl gentleman- lady

husband- wife cock-sparrow- hen-sparrow

boy-friend- girl-friend man-servant- maid-servant

"She is heiress to the throne." [4, p.110]

"Is there a parson, much bemused in beer,

A maudlin poetess, a rhyming peer,

A clerk, foredoomed his father’s soul to cross,

Who pen’s a stanza, when he should engross?" [2, p.385]

"A living cat is better than a dead lioness". [2, p.230]

"Saint George, that swinged the dragon, and e’er since

Sits on his horse back at mine hostess’ door." [5, p.447]

In linguistics, grammatical number is a morphological category characterized by the expression of quantity through inflection or agreement. As an example, consider the English sentences below:

That apple on the table is fresh.

Those two apples on the table are fresh.

The number of apples is marked on the noun — "apple", singular number (one item) vs. "apples", plural number (more than one item) —, on the demonstrative, "that/those", and on the verb, "is/are". Note that, especially in the second sentence, this information can be considered redundant, since quantity is already indicated by the numeral "two".

A language has grammatical number when its nouns are subdivided into morphological classes according to the quantity they express, such that:

Every noun belongs to a single number class. (Number partitions nouns into disjoint classes.)

Noun modifiers (such as adjectives) and verbs have different forms for each number class, and must be inflected to match the number of the nouns they refer to. (Number is an agreement category.)

This is the case in English: every noun is either singular or plural (a few, such as "fish", can be either, according to context), and at least some modifiers of nouns — namely the demonstratives, the personal pronouns, the articles, and verbs — are inflected to agree with the number of the nouns they refer to: "this car" and "these cars" are correct, while "this cars" or "these car" are ungrammatical.

Not all languages have number as a grammatical category. In those that do not, quantity must be expressed directly, with numerals, or indirectly, through optional quantifiers. However, many of these languages compensate for the lack of grammatical number with an extensive system of measure words.[23]

The word "number" is also used in linguistics to describe the distinction between certain grammatical aspects that indicate the number of times an event occurs, such as the semelfactive aspect, the iterative aspect, etc.

1.3 Morphological composition of nouns

According to their morphological composition we distinguish simple, derivative and compound nouns.

1.  Simple nouns are nouns which have neither prefixes nor suffixes. They are indecomposable: chair, table, room, map, fish, work.

2.  Derivative nouns are nouns which have derivative elements (prefixes or suffixes or both): reader, sailor, blackness, childhood, misconduct, inexperience.

Productive noun-forming suffixes are:

-er: reader, teacher, worker

-ist: communist, telegraphist, dramatist

-ess: heiress, hostess, actress

-ness: careless, madness, blackness

-ism: socialism, nationalism, imperialism

"Reader, though I look comfortably accommodated, I am not very tranquil in my mind…"

"I suppose, thought I, judging from the plainness of the servant and carriage, Mrs. Fairfax is not a very dashing person: so much the better; I never lived amongst fine people but once, and I was very miserable with them."

"Is there a place in this neighbourhood called Thornfield?"

"... just as I cherished towards Mrs. Fairfax a thankfulness for her kindness, ..." [1, pp.94-109]

Unproductive suffixes are:

-hood: childhood, manhood

-dom: freedom

-ship: friendship, relationship

-ment: development

-ance: importance

-ence: dependence

-ty: cruelty

-ity: generosity

"She had finished her breakfast, so I permitted her to give a specimen of her accomplishments."

"She made reasonable progress, entertained for me a vivacious, though perhaps not very profound affection, and by her simplicity, gay prattle, efforts to please, inspired me, in return, with a degree of attachment sufficient to make us both content in each other’s society." [1, pp.109-110]

"The little Princess had never seen a firework in her life, so the King had given orders that the Royal Pyrotechnist should be in attendance on the day of her marriage." [7, p.10]

3. Compound nouns are nouns built from two or more stems. Compound nouns often have one stress. The meaning of a compound often differs from the meaning of its elements.

The main types of compound nouns are as follows:

(a)  noun-stem+ noun-stem: appletree, snowball;

(b)  adjective-stem+ noun-stem: blackbird, bluebell;

(c) verb-stem+ noun-stem: pickpocket; the stem of a gerund or of a participle may be the first component of a compound noun: dining-room, reading-hall, dancing-girl.

"I followed still, up a very narrow staircase to the attics, and thence by a ladder and through a trap-door to the roof of the hall." [1, p.105]

"The last item on the programme was a grand display of fireworks, to be let off exactly at midnight." [7, p.15]


In theoretical part of our course work we investigated two main questions: classification of nouns in English and morphological characteristics of nouns.

We had found that nouns are classified into: (A) proper nouns; (B) common nouns. There are different groups of common nouns: class nouns, collective nouns, nouns of material and abstract nouns. Proper nouns are individual names given to separate persons or things. As regards their meaning proper nouns may be personal names (Mary, Peter, Shakespeare), geographical names (Moscow, London, the Caucasus), the names of the month and days of week (February, Monday), etc. Common nouns are names that can be applied to any individual of a class of persons or things (e. g. man, dog, book), collections of similar individuals or things regarded as a single unit (e. g. peasantry, family), materials (e. g. snow, iron, cotton) or abstract notions (e. g. kindness, development).

According to their morphological composition nouns may be: simple, derivative and compound. The noun has such morphological characteristics as: number (singular and plural), case (the common case and the genitive case). The category of gender is expressed in English by the obligatory correlation of nouns with the personal pronouns of the third person. These serve as specific gender classifiers of nouns, being potentially reflected on each entry of the noun in speech.

Chapter II Comparison of Nouns in English and Russian languages

2.1 The category of number of Nouns in English and in Russian languages

The noun in Modern English has only two grammatical categories, number and case. The existence of case appears to be doubtful and has to be carefully analysed.

The Modern English noun certainly has not got the category of grammatical gender, which is to be found, for example, in Russian, French, German and Latin. Not a single noun in Modern English shows any peculiarities in its morphology due to its denoting a male or a female being. Thus, the words husband and wife do not show any difference in their forms due to the peculiarities of their lexical meanings. [10,p. 69]


Modern English like most other languages distinguishes two numbers: singular and plural. The meaning of singular and plural seems to be self-explanatory, that is the opposition: one — more than one. With all this, expression of number in different classes of English nouns presents certain difficulties for a foreigner to master.

As already mentioned, plural and singular nouns stand in contrast as diametrically opposite. Instances are not few, however, when their opposition comes to be neutralised. And this is to say that there are cases when the numeric differentiation appears to be of no importance at all. Here belong many collective abstract and material nouns. If, for instance, we look at the meaning of collective nouns, we cannot fail to see that they denote at the same time a plurality and a unit. They may be said to be doubly countable and thus from a logical point of view form the exact contrast to mass nouns: they are, in fact, at the same time singular and plural, while mass words are logically neither. The double-sidedness of collective nouns weakens the opposition and leads to the development of either Pluralia tantum, as in: weeds (in a garden), ashes, embers, etc., or Singularia tantum, as in: wildfowl, clergy, foliage, etc. [1, p.87]

In some cases usage fluctuates, and the two forms are interchangeable, e. g. brain or brains: he has no brains or little brains; victuals are more common than victual; oats than oat; similarly: His wages were high. How much wages does he get? That is a fair wage. They could not take too much pain.

The dual nature of collective nouns is shown linguistically in various ways: by the number of the verb or by the pronoun referring to it, as for instance, my family are early risers, they are already here.. My family is not large.

It is important to observe that the choice between singular and plural depends on the meaning attached to the noun. Compare also: We have much fruit this year and the rich fruits of the heroic labour of Soviet people are visible from all the corners of the earth.

Similarly: The football team is playing very well. Cf. The football team are having bath and are coming back here for tea.

A word should be said about stylistic transpositions of singular nouns in cases like the following: trees in leaf, to have a keen eye, blue of eye, strong of muscle. Patterns of this kind will exemplify synecdoche — the simplest case of metonymy in grammar ("pars pro toto").

The Germans won the victories. By God they were soldiers. The Old Hun was a soldier. But they were cooked too. They were all cooked... The Hun would come down through the Trentino, and cut the railway at the Vicenza and then where would the Italians be? [6, p.65]

The chap was so big now that he was there nearly all his time, like some immovable, sardonic, humorous eye nothing to decline of men and things. [9, p.84]

Cf. Держи вухо востро. Держи ухо остро. У него наметанный глаз. И слышно было до рассвета, как ликовал француз. [10, p.106]

Other "universals" in expressing plurality will be found in what may be called "augmentative" plurals, i. e. when the plural forms of material nouns are used to denote large amounts of substance, or a high degree of something. This is often the case when we see the matter as it exists in nature. Such plural forms are often used for stylistic purposes in literary prose and poetry, e. g.: the blue waters of the Mediterranean, the sands of the Sahara Desert, the snows of Kilimanjaro.

Similarly in Russian: синие воды Средиземного моря, пески Сахары, снега Арктики.

Еще в полях белеет снег,

А воды уж весной шумят. [12, p.96]

Люблю ее степей алмазные снега. [13, p.159]

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