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What is ‘Grammar’?

Lecture 1
What comes to your mind when
you hear the word glamour?
Nowadays the term ‘grammar’ has
a number of different meanings.
 A book
 Linguistic theory
 A subdiscipline
 A speaker’s knowledge of language
The traditional approach to grammar
 Language is divided into different
structural levels only for the sake of
 We have to separate one linguistic fact
from another in order to analyse it
Which are the structural levels of language?
 Each linguistic level has its own specific features.
Phonemes, morphemes, words
 It is not possible for an
item of one level to
combine with an item of
another level
 while preserving the
qualities of the original
 an item of one level can
pass over and be
integrated into another
 it acquires the features of
the level into which it has
been integrated,
abandoning the features
it had in the previous
Is it possible to have a morpheme made of
only one phoneme?
What about morphemes? Are there any
words consisting of only one morpheme?
¤,¦, ~,·,7, , ;
J. Molhova: There are also many points in
language where the respective levels not
only function together but intersect
 Gender
 Ex. ±, ·, ·, ·, ¸
 Number
 Ex.?
there is a similar parallel with the category
of number
The morpheme is the smallest
meaningful unit
 J.Molhova: every form has its content /
meaning; and every content / meaning has its
Grammatical category
form meaning
the difference between a
grammatical and a lexical item
table - tables; cat - cats; girl- girls
 table, cat, girl
the common forms singular of the nouns
 tables, cats, girls
the common plural forms of the nouns.
This description refers both to the
form and its meaning
 The form is one and the same and the meaning
 0º - a singular noun, common case
 -s – a marker of plurality in English
the morphemes 0 and -s have these meanings
irrespective of the lexical meanings of the
Hypothesis: a grammatical category is a
specific form with a specific meaning
independent of the lexical meaning of the item
 She is a teacher.
 She is a bla.
 The bla blas.
Words consist of strings of sounds,
forming the phonological system of
 every word is phonologically motivated
 Ex. borrowings – fashion - фешън
 The former English phoneme is substituted by a
Bulgarian one.
a word must have a grammatical form
compatible with the existing
grammatical patterns in the language
 It is not possible for any word to function
without having a grammatical form.
 It is not possible for any word to follow the
grammatical pattern of another language.
every word must be grammatically
The grammatical motivation
actually turns a morpheme or a
group of morphemes into a word
 It is impossible to add anything more to
the word on the morphological level.
 Ex. girl – girls
girl- + -0 = girl
girl- + -s = girls
Grammatical motivation can be
considered as grammatical
For this reason one can discuss problems of
meaning connected with the word with
greater confidence than with the morpheme.