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Курсовая работа: Comparison of nouns in English and Russian languages

Ukrainian: Сині води Середземного моря, піски Сахари, сніги Арктики.

Attention must also be drawn to the emotive use of plural forms of abstract verbal nouns in pictorial language:

...it was a thousand pities he had run off with that foreign girl — a governess too! [3, p.69]

The look on her face, such as he had never seen there before, such as she had always hidden from him was full of secret resentments, and longings, and fears.

[5, p.75]

The peculiar look came into Bosinney's face which marked all his enthusiasms.

[3, p.67]

Her face was white and strained but her eyes were steady and sweet and full of pity and unbelief. There was a luminous serenity in them and the innocence in the soft brown depths struck him like a blow in the face, clearing some of the alcohol out of his brain, halting his mad, careering words in mod-flight. [5, p.91]

He stood for a moment looking down at the plain, heart-shaped face with its long window's peak and serious dark eyes. Such an unwordly face, a face with no defenses against life. [5, p.96]

Oh! Wilfrid has emotions, hates, pities, wants; at least, sometimes; when he does, his stuff is jolly good. Otherwise, he just makes a song about nothing — like the rest. [3, p.86]

Plural forms of abstract nouns used for stylistic purposes may be traced in language after language:

Russian: Повсюду страсти роковые

И от судеб защиты нет.[11, p.326]

Отрады. Знаю я сладких четыре отрады. [9, p.267]

It should be noted, in passing, that the plural form is sometimes used not only for emphasis in pictorial language but to intensify the aspective meaning of the verb, the iterative character of the action, in particular, e. g.:

Oh, this was just the kind of trouble she had feared would come upon them. All the work of this last year would go for nothing. All her struggles and fears and labours in rain and cold had been wasted. [5, p.102]

Relentless and stealthy, the butler pursued his labours taking things from the various compartments of the sideboard. [3, p.81]

The small moon had soon dropped down, and May night had failed soft and warm, enwrapping with its grape-bloom colour and its scents the billion caprices, intrigues, passions, longings, and regrets of men and women. [3, p.34]

The emotive use of proper nouns in plural is also an effective means of expressive connotation, e. g.:

Fleur, leaning out of her window, heard the hall clock's muffled chime of twelve, the tiny splash of a fish, the sudden shaking of an aspen's leaves in the puffs of breeze that rose along the river, the distant rumble of a night train, and time and again the sounds which none can put a name to in the darkness, soft obscure expressions of uncatalogued emotions from man and beast, bird and machine, or, may be, from departed Forsytes, Darties, Cardigans, taking night strolls back into a world which had once suited their embodied spirits. [3, p.168]

Expressive connotation is particularly strong in the metaphoric use of the plural of nouns denoting things to be considered unique, e. g.: Ahead of them was a tunnel of fire where buildings were blazing on either side of the short, narrow street that led down to the railroad tracks. They plunged into it. A glare brighter than a dozen suns dazzled their eyes, scorching heat seared their skins and the roaring, crackling and crashing beat upon ears in painful waves. [5, p.92]

Very often the plural form, besides its specific meaning may also retain the exact meaning of the singular, which results in homonymy.

1)      custom = habit, customs = 1) plural of habit

2) duties

2)      colour = tint, colours = 1) plural of tint

2) flag

3)      effect = result, effects = 1) results

2) goods and chattels

4)      manner = mode or way, manners = 1) modes, ways

2) behaviour

5)      number = a total amount of units, numbers = 1) in counting

2) poetry

6)      pain = suffering, pains = 1) plural of suffering

2) effort

7)      premise = a statement or proposition, premises = 1) propositions

2) surrounding to a house

8)      quarter = a fourth part, quarters = 1) fourth parts

2) lodgings

There are also double plurals used with some difference of meanings:

1)      brother 1) brothers (sons of one mother)

2) brethren (members of one community)

2)      genius 1) geniuses (men of genius)

2) genii (spirits)

3)      cloth 1) cloths (kinds of cloth)

2) clothes (articles of dress)

Cf. Russian:

зуб — 1) зубы (во рту), 2) зубья (пилы)

муж — 1) мужья, 2) мужи ("ученые мужи")

тон — 1)тона (оттенки), 2) тоны (звуки)

лист — 1) листья (дерева), 2) листы (бумаги, железа)[24]

Mention should be made in this connection of nouns which have two parallel variants in the plural exactly alike in function but different in their stylistic sphere of application, e. g.:

Cow — cows and kine (arch., now chiefly poetic)

Foe — foes and fone (arch.)

Shoe — shoes and shoen (arch.)

Unproductive archaic elements are sometimes used to create the atmosphere of elevated speech. This may also be traced in other languages. Compare the Russian:

сын — 1) сыновья, сыновей;

2) сыны, сынов (e. g.: сыны отечества).

For all the details concerning the grammatical organisation of nouns and their patterning in different kind of structures students are referred to the text-books on English grammar. Two things should be noted here.

It is important to observe that in certain contexts nouns can weaken their meaning of "substance" and approach adjectives thus making the idea of qualities of the given substance predominant in the speaker's mind. Nouns functioning in this position are generally modified by adverbials of degree, e. g.:

"You were always more of a realist than Jon; and never so innocent". [3, 57]

"We're all fond of you", he said, "If you'd only" —he was going to say, "behave yourself", but changed it to — "if you'd only be more of a wife to him". [3,98]

"Why had he ever been fool enough to see her again". [3, 198]

"Not much of an animal is it?" groaned Rhett. "Looks like he'll die. But he is the best I could find in the shafts". [3, 32]

The use of a noun rather than an adjective is very often preferred as a more forcible expressive means to intensify the given quality. Compare the following synonymic forms of expression:

He was quite a success. — He was quite successful.

It was good fun. — It was funny.

And here are illustrative examples of nouns weakening their meaning of "substance" and approaching adverbs.

Such adverbial use shows great diversity. Deep-rooted in English grammar, this use is most idiosyncratic in its nature. We find here patterns of different structural meaning:

a) adverbial relations of time, as in: life long, week long, age long, etc.;

b) adverbial relations of comparison: straw yellow, silver grey, ash blond, ice cold, snow white, iron hard, sky blue, dog tired, paper white, pencil thin, ruler straight, primrose yellow, brick red, blade sharp;

c)  different degree of quality: mountains high, a bit longer, a trifle easier, a shade darker, ankle deep.

Patterns of this kind are generally used metaphorically and function as expedients to express intensity and emphasis, e. g.: "I'll send Pork to Macon to-morrow to buy more seed. Now the Yankies won't burn it and our troops won't need it. Good Lord, cotton ought to go sky high this fall". [5, p.234]

Further examples are:

He is world too modest. That was lots better. This was heaps better. He was stone deaf to our request. Waves went mountains high. The mud was ankle deep.

Adverbial use of nouns will also be found in such premodification structures as: bone tired, dog tired, mustard coloured, horror struck, etc.

In the grammar of nouns there have also developed interjectional uses which seem to convert nouns into special kind of "intensifiers", e. g.: What the dickens do you want? What the mischief do you want?

Further examples are:

The hell you say = you don't say so.

Like hell I wish \

I will like hell /I will not

Where in the hell you are going?

How the devil should I know?

Adverbs of affirmation and negation yes and no are intensified in emphasis by the proximity of a bald bawling hell, e. g.: Hell, yes! Hell, no!

English plurals end in -s. In Russian, there are more endings to make plurals. They are: masculine ending in a hard consonant; feminine ending in –a(ending for plural-ы); any nouns ending in -ь, -й, -я(-и); neuter ending in –e(-я); neuter ending in –o(-a); masculine and feminine ending in -k, -г, -x, -ч, -щ, -ж, -ш(-и). Examples: стол – столы, двeрь – двери, нога – ноги, мoре – моря, окно – окнa. [24]

Some nouns are always singular. These are nouns that designate substances (oxygen, copper), products (cheese, fish), a block of objects (furniture), some actions (hunting, clearing up), feelings (love, health), some vegetables and berries (potato, carrots).

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

Grammarians seem to be divided in their opinion as to the case-system of English nouns. Open to thought and questioning, this problem has always been much debated. The most common view on the subject is that nouns have only two cases: a common case and a genitive or possessive case.[21, p 69] The common case is characterised by a zero suffix (child, boy, girl, student), the possessive case by the inflection [-z] and its phonetic variants [-s], [-iz], in spelling -'s. The uses of the genitive are known to be specific, those of the common case general. In terms of modern linguistics, we can therefore say that both formally and functionally, (he common case is unmarked and the genitive marked.

There are grammarians, O. Curme and M. Deutschbein, for instance, who recognise four cases making reference to nominative, genitive, dative and accusative: the genitive can be expressed by the -'s-inflection and by the of-phrase, the dative by the preposition to and by word-order, and the accusative by word order alone. E. Sonnensсhein insists that English has a vocative case since we may propose an interjection oh before a name. [3p. 35]

It is to be noted that the choice between the two opposite viewpoints as to the category of case in English remains a matter of linguistic approach. From the viewpoint of inflectional morphology the inadequacy of "prepositional declension" is obvious. Using Latin categories which have no relevance for English involves inventing distinctions for English and ignoring the distinctions that English makes.

The meaning of "accusative" in a two-term system nominative — accusative, for instance, is different from the meaning of "accusative" in a four- or five-term system. The term "common case" seems therefore more justified than "the accusative". If we call him an "accusative" in expressions like I obey him, I am like him, It was on him, the term "accusative" may actually hinder when we translate into another language which has an accusative along with several other cases and in which the word for obey takes the dative, the word for like the genitive and the word on ablative, as they do in Latin.

"Of course, the morphological opposition nominative — accusative must be expressed by something in English. But this "something" is not a morphological opposition, for there is no morphological differentiation between the nominative and the accusative of nouns". [3, 86]

We must not, of course, look at English through the lattice of categories set up in Latin grammar. The extent to which one can remain unconvinced that English has a grammar like Latin is probably the basis of the faulty viewpoint that English has no grammar at all.

Latin distinguishes subject, direct object, indirect object by case-differences (differences in the inflexion of the word) and arrangement is not very important. English also distinguishes subject, direct object, and indirect object, but it does so largely by arrangement, e. g.:

The pupil handed the teacher his exercise.

He bought his little girl many nice toys. [3,89]

With all this, it can hardly be denied that there exist in Modern English prepositional structures denoting exactly the same grammatical relation as, say, the possessive case inflection or word order distinguishing the accusative from the dative. These are the so-called "of-phrase" and "to-phrase", in which the prepositions of and to function as grammatical indicators of purely abstract syntactic relations identical with those expressed by cases. The grammatical analysis of such phrases for their frequency, variety and adaptation must, surely, go parallel with the study of the morphological category of case which in present-day English is known to have developed quite a specific character.

The analytical character of some prepositional phrases in Russian is described by V. V. Vіnоgradоv: "В русском литературном языке с XVII—XVIII вв. протекает медленный, но глубокий процесс синтаксических изменений в системе падежных отношений. Функции многих падежей осложняются и дифференцируются сочетаниями с предлогами. Все ярче обнаруживается внутреннее расслоение в семантической системе предлогов. В то время как одни простые предлоги: для, до, перед, при, под, кроме, сквозь, через, между, а тем более предлоги наречного типа: близ, среди, мимо и т. п. — почти целиком сохраняют свои реальные лексические значения, другие предлоги: а, за, из, в, на, отчасти, над, от, по, про, с, у — в отдельных сферах своего употребления, иные в меньшей степени, иные вплоть до полного превращения в падежные префиксы, ослабляют свои лексические значения, а иногда почти совсем теряют их" [16, pp. 695—700]

It is important to remember that the grammatical content of the possessive case is rather complex. Besides implying possession in the strict sense of the term, it is widely current in other functions.

Compare such patterns, as:

a) my sister's room (genitive of → the room of my sister possession)

b) my sister's arrival (subjective → the arrival of my sister genitive)

c) the criminal's arrest (objective → the arrest of the criminal genitive)

d) a child's language (qualitative → the childish language a woman's college genitive) → a college for women

e) a month's rent (genitive of → a monthly rent

f)three hours' delay / measure)         → a delay for three hours

The same is true of such uses as wife's duty, child's psychology, lawyer's life, man's duty, etc. The genitive of measure or extent is easily recognised as fairly common in expressions of a certain pattern, e. g.: a moment's silence, a day's work, a minute's reflection, to a hair's breadth, etc.

There is no formal difference between subjective and objective genitive, between genitives denoting possession and qualitative genitives, but this kind of ambiguity is usually well clarified by linguistic or situational context. Thus, mother's care may mean "Любов матери" —with reference to some individual, and "материнська любов" in its general qualitative sense. The meaning of the phrase may vary with the context.

The genitive inflection is also used with certain words which otherwise do not conform to noun patterning, as in yesterday's rain, to-day's match, to-morrow's engagement. These are not idioms, with their total lexical meaning fixed, but only fixed patterns or usage.

Limits of space do not permit to take notice of all idiomatic patterns established in this part of English grammar. A few further examples will suffice for illustration. These are, for instance: I'm friends with you, where friends is probably part of the indivisible idiom "be friends with" + + noun/pronoun, used predicatively.

Patterns with "of + genitive" usually have a portative sense denoting "one of", e. g.: It is a novel of J. London’s (=one of his novels). Cf. It is a novel by J. London. (=a novel written by J. London).

Similarly: Fleur's a cousin of ours, Jon. [3, p.83]

In expressive language this form may become purely descriptive. Endowed with emotive functions in special linguistic or situational context it may weaken its grammatical meaning and acquire subjective modal force denoting admiration, anger, praise, displeasure, etc., e. g.: Margaret ... was taken by surprise by certain moods of her husband's. [2, 37]

The -'s inflection offers some peculiar difficulties of grammatical analysis in idiomatic patterns with the so-called group-genitives, e. g.: Mr. what's-his-name's remark, or He said it in plenty of people's hearing.

There are also patterns like "the man I saw yesterday's son" quoted by H. Sweet. One more example.

The blonde I had been dancing with's name was Bernice something Crabs or Krebs. [2,p. 95]

We cannot fail to see that the 's belongs here to the whole structure noun + attributive clause.

Different kind of such group-genitives are not infrequent and seem to be on the increase in present-day colloquial English.

Mention should also be made of the parallel use of the 's form and the preposition of found in patterns like the following:

In the light of this it was Lyman's belief and it is mine — that it is a man's duty and the duty of his friend to see to it that his exit from this world, at least, shall be made with all possible dignity. [2, p.53]

…a work's popularity, the engine's overhaul life. [4, p.67]

And here are a few examples of special use of the possessive case in fossilised expressions of the formula character, such as: to one's heart's content, for pity's sake, out of harm's way, at one's fingers' ends, for old acquaintance's sake, for appearance's sake. These expressions were grammatically regular and explicable in their day, but they follow grammatical or semantic principles which have now fallen into disuse.

A word should be said about the purely idiomatic absolute use of the genitive case with locative force in patterns like the following:

There are also pleonastic patterns with the post-positional genitive intensifier own used with the 's-form, e. g.: Mary's own dressing-table.

I bought this at the grocer's.

The baker's is round the corner.

The famous St. Paul's is one of the principal sights of London.

Formations of this kind are on the borderline between grammar and vocabulary; the -'s-inflection seems to have developed into a derivative suffix used to form a noun from another noun.

The relative distribution of the of-phrase and the 's-inflection, as a recurrent feature of the language, must be given due attention in learning style and usage in English.

It is interesting to note, in conclusion, that there is a change going on in present-day English which runs counter to the general trend towards loss of inflections, that is the spreading of 's-genitive at the expense of the of-genitive. Until a few years ago, the genitive with 's was used in modern times mainly with nouns which could be replaced (in the singular) by the pronouns he and she, but not with nouns which could be replaced by the pronoun it: so that people normally said the man's face and the woman's face, but the face of the clock and the surface of the water. The 's-genitive was used in certain expressions of time and distance (an hour's time), and could be used with many nouns replaceable in the singular by it or they (the Government's decision); as is well known, there was also a number of commonly used phrases where the 's-genitive was used even though the noun was one which could be replaced in the singular only by it (New Year's Day, the water's edge). In recent years, however, the 's-genitive has come into common use with nouns which are replaceable in the singular only by it. Here are a few examples taken from reputable sources: resorts' weather → the weather of seaside towns; human nature's diversity → the diversity of human nature; the game's laws → the laws of the game. Many more examples will be found in books and in newspapers. We cannot fail to see that this tendency for 's to replace of is a development from the analytic to the synthetic: the of-phrase is replaced by the 's-inflection.

The relative distribution of the of-phrase and the 's-genitive as a recurrent feature of the language, must be given due attention as relevant to synonymy in grammar.

It will be important to remember that the distinction between living and lifeless things is not closely observed, and the's-genitive is often used in designations of things to impart descriptive force and at the same time stress the governing noun.

A few typical examples given by G. Curme are:

When I think of all the sorrow and the barrenness that has been wrought in my life by want of a few more pounds per annum, I stand aghast at money's significance.

...for the sake of the mind's peace, one ought not to inquire into such things too closely.

A book's chances depend more on its selling qualities than its worth2.

Here is a very good example from Galsworthy to illustrate the statement:

He had chosen the furniture himself, and so completely that no subsequent purchase had ever been able to change the room's atmosphere. [3, p.76]

Associations with life are certainly strong in personification, e. g.: the ocean's roar or Truth's greatest victories, etc. Further illustrations taken from reputable sources are:

resorts' weather → the weather of seaside towns

human nature's diversity → the diversity of human nature

the game's laws → the laws of the game

The spreading of the 's-genitive in present-day English at the expense of the of-phrase is, in fact, a development from the analytic to the synthetic which seems to run counter to the general trends towards the loss of inflections. [5,p. 94]

The synonymic encounter of the 's-genitive and the of-phrase may be illustrated by examples with "genitive of possession", "subjective and objective genitive", but the use of the 's-genitive in Modern English is comparatively restricted here and the of-phrase is very extensively used in virtually the same sense:

Soames' daughter →- the daughter of Soames

his sister's arrival →- the arrival of his sister

duty's call → the call of the duty

the children's education → the education of the children

It is to be noted that in many cases the special meaning of the genitive depends on the intrinsic meaning of each of the two words connected, and is therefore in each case readily understood by the hearer. The of-phrase denoting possession is generally preferred when the noun is modified by a lengthy attributive adjunct attached to it.

The 's-form is rarely used as the objective genitive. The of-phrase in this function is fairly common, e. g.: the sense of beauty, the sense of smell, love of life, the reading of books, the feeling of safety, a lover of poetry, etc.

The, of-phrase in Modern English is widely current in various types of structures, denoting:

a) the idea of quantity or part ("partitive genitive"), e. g.: a piece of bread, a lump of sugar, a cake of soap, etc.;

b) material of which a thing is done, e. g.: a dress of silk;

c)  position in space or direction, e. g.: south of Moscow, within 10 miles of London;

d) relations of time, e. g.: of an evening, of late, all of a sudden;

e)  attributive relations, e. g.: the language of a child =a child's language, the voice of a woman =a woman's voice, etc.;

f)  composition or measure, e. g.: a group of children, a herd of cattle, a flock of birds, a swarm of bees, etc.

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