Analysis into immediate constituents.

A synchronic morphological analysis is most effectively accom­plished by the procedure known as the analysis into immediate constituents (IC's). Immediate constituents are any of the two meaningful parts forming a larger linguistic unity. First suggested by L. Bloomfield it was later developed by many linguists. The main opposition dealt with is the opposition of stem and affix. It is a kind of segmentation revealing not the history of the word but its motivation, i.e. the data the listener has to go by in understanding it.

The method is based on the fact that a word characterized by mor­phological divisibility is involved in cer­tain structural correlations. A sample analysis which has become almost classical, being repeat­ed many times by many authors, is L. Bloomfield's analysis of the word ungentlemanly. Comparing this word with other utterances the listener recognizes the morpheme -un- as a negative prefix because he has often come across words built on the pattern un- + adjective stem: uncertain, unconscious, uneasy, unfortunate, unmistakable, unnatural. Some of the cases re­sembled the word even more closely; these were: unearthly, unsightly, untimely, unwomanly and the like. One can also come across the adjective gentlemanly. Thus, at the first cut we obtain the following immediate constituents: un- +gentlemanly. If we continue our analysis, we see that although gent occurs as a free form in low colloquial usage, no such word as lemanly may be found either as a free or as a bound constituent, so this time we have to separate the final morpheme. We are justified in so doing as there are many adjectives following the pattern noun stem +-ly, such as womanly, masterly, scholarly, soldierly with the same se­mantic relationship of 'having the quality of the person denoted by the stem'; we also have come across the noun gentleman in other utterances. The two first stages of analysis resulted in separating a free and a bound form: 1) un- + gentlemanly, 2) gentleman + -ly. The third cut has its peculiarities. The division into gent-+-leman is obviously impossible as no such patterns exist in English, so the cut is gentle- + -man. A similar pattern is observed in nobleman, and so we state adjective stem + man. Now, the element man may be differently classified as a semi-affix or as a variant of the free form man. The word gentle is open to discussion. It is obviously divisible from the etymo­logical viewpoint: gentle < (O)Fr gentil < Lat gentilis permits to dis­cern the root or rather the radical element gent- and the suffix -il. But since we are only concerned with synchronic analysis this division is not relevant.

If, however, we compare the adjective gentle with such adjectives as brittle, fertile, fickle, juvenile, little, noble, subtle and some more containing the suffix –le/-ile added to a bound stem, they form a pat­tern for our case. The bound stem that remains is present in the follow­ing group: gentle, gently, gentleness, genteel, gentile, gentry, etc.

One might observe that our procedure of looking for similar utter­ances has shown that the English vocabulary contains the vulgar word gent that has been mentioned above, meaning 'a person pretending to the status of a gentleman'or simply'man', but then there is no such struc­ture as noun stem + -/e,so the word gent should be interpreted as a shortening of gentleman and a homonym of the bound stem in ques­tion.

Breaking a word into its immediate constituents we observe in each cut the structural order of the constituents (which may differ from their actual sequence). Furthermore we shall obtain only two constituents at each cut, the ultimate constituents, however, can be arranged ac­cording to their sequence in the word: un- + gent-+ -le- + -man + -ly.

A box-like diagram presenting the four cuts described looks as fol­lows:

1) un- gentlemanly

2) un- gentleman -ly

3) un- gentle -man -ly

4) un- gent -le -man -ly

We can repeat the analysis on the word-formation level showing pot only the morphemic constituents of the word but also the struc­tural pattern on which it is built, this may be carried out in terms of proportional oppositions. The main requirements are essentially the same: the analysis must reveal patterns observed in other words of the same language, the stems obtained after the affix is taken away should correspond to a separate word, the segregation of the derivational affix is based on proportional oppositions of words having the same affix with the same lexical and lexico-grammatical meaning. Ungentlemanly, then, is opposed not to ungentleman (such a word does not exist), but to gentlemanly. Other pairs similarly connected are correlated with this opposition. Examples are:

ungentlemanly = unfair = unkind = unselfish

gentlemanly fair kind selfish

This correlation reveals the pattern un- + adjective stem.

The word-formation type is defined as affixational derivation. The sense of un- as used in this pattern is either simply 'not', or more com­monly 'the reverse of, with the implication of blame or praise, in the case of ungentlemanly it is blame.

The next step is similar, only this time it is the suffix that is taken away:

gentlemanly = womanly = scholarly

gentleman woman scholar

The series shows that these adjectives are derived according to the pattern noun stem+ -ly. The common meaning of the numerator term is 'characteristic of (a gentleman, a woman, a scholar).

The analysis into immediate constituents as suggested in American linguistics has been further developed in the above treatment by combin­ing a purely formal procedure with semantic analysis of the pattern. A semantic check means, for instance, that we can distinguish the type gentlemanly from the type monthly, although both follow the same structural pattern noun stem+ -ly. The semantic relationship is different, as -ly is qualitative in the first case and frequentative in the second, i.e. monthly means 'occurring every month'.

This point is confirmed by the following correlations: any adjective built on the pattern personal noun stem+-ly is equivalent to 'charac­teristic of or 'having the quality of the person denoted by the stem'.

Gentlemanly — having the qualities of a gentleman

Masterly — having the qualities of a master

On the other hand, adjectives of this group, i.e. words built on the pattern stem of a noun denoting a period of time+ -ly are all equiva­lent to the formula 'occurring every period of time denoted by the stem';

Monthly — occurring every month

Yearly — occurring every year

Gentlemanly does not show this sort of equivalence, the transform is obviously impossible, so we write:

gentlemanly — occurring every gentleman

The above procedure is an elementary case of the transformational analysis, in which the semantic similarity or difference of words is revealed by the possibility or impossibility of transform­ing them according to a prescribed model and following certain rules into a different form, called their transform. The conditions of equivalence between the original form and the transform are formulat­ed in advance. In our case the conditions to be fulfilled are the same­ness of meaning and of the kernel morpheme.

E.Nida discusses another complicated case: untruly adj might, it seems, be divided both ways, the IC's being either un- + truly or untrue-+--ly. Yet observing other utterances we notice that the prefix un-is but rarely combined with adverb stems and very freely with adjec­tive stems; examples have already been given above. So we are justified in thinking that the IC's are untrue+-ly. Other examples of the same pattern are: uncommonly, unlikely.

There are, of course, cases, especially among borrowed words, that defy analysis altogether; such are, for instance, calendar, nasturtium or chrysanthemum.

Now we can make one more conclusion, namely, that in lexicologi­cal analysis words may be grouped not only according to their root mor­phemes but according to affixes as well.

The whole procedure of the analysis into immediate constituents is reduced to the recognition and classification of same and different morphemes and same and different word patterns. This is precisely why it permits the tracing and understanding of the vocabulary system.

 



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