Definition and Variation of Parts of Speech
– Parts of speech are categories of words with similar grammatical properties and behavior.
– Common English parts of speech include noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, interjection, numeral, article, and determiner.
– Different languages have variations in the number and types of parts of speech.
– Some languages do not distinguish between certain parts of speech, such as adjectives and adverbs.
– Analysis of parts of speech must be done for each individual language based on universal criteria.
– Word classes are also referred to as lexical classes or lexical categories.
– Open classes (nouns, verbs, adjectives) constantly acquire new members, while closed classes (pronouns, conjunctions) acquire new members infrequently.
History and Western Tradition of Parts of Speech Classification
– Classification of words into lexical categories dates back to the earliest moments in the history of linguistics.
– Ancient work on the Tamil language classified words into noun, verb, part of speech modifying verb-noun relationships, and word qualifying a noun or verb.
– Greek scholar Plato grouped sentences into combinations of verbs and nouns, and Aristotle added conjunctions to the classification.
– Dionysius Thrax expanded the classification into eight categories in the 2nd century BCE.
– Latin grammarian Priscian modified the eightfold system, excluding the article and adding the interjection.
– Later, adjectives and numerals became separate classes.
– In the Western tradition, English grammar generally follows the European pattern of classification.
– Participles are considered forms of verbs, and numerals are often classified as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs.
Classification of Parts of Speech in English
– Traditional classification includes eight or nine parts of speech: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, interjection, and determiner.
– Some classifications consider articles to be adjectives.
– Additional parts of speech include particles and postpositions.
– Nouns denote abstract or concrete entities, pronouns replace nouns, adjectives modify nouns or pronouns, verbs denote actions or states of being, adverbs modify adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs, prepositions relate words in a phrase or sentence, conjunctions connect words or clauses, interjections express feelings, and articles mark definiteness or indefiniteness.
– English words are not generally marked as belonging to one part of speech or another, unlike many other European languages.
– Linguists recognize that the list of word classes is simplified.
– Adverbs are a catch-all class that includes words with various functions.
– Some argue that the distinction between nouns and verbs is unfounded or not applicable in certain languages.
– Modern linguists propose more specific categories and subcategories based on grammatical functions.
– Subcategorization identifies subgroups of words within a category based on grammatical properties.
Open and Closed Classes
– Open classes accept the addition of new words, while closed classes rarely add new items.
– Open classes include nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and interjections.
– Closed classes include prepositions, determiners, conjunctions, and pronouns.
– Open classes are lexical categories with greater semantic content, while closed classes are functional categories with grammatical functions.
– New words can be added to open classes through compounding, derivation, coining, and borrowing.
– Closed classes can also obtain new items, but at a slower pace.
– The acceptance of new pronouns in a language is rare, even when there is a need for gender-neutral pronouns.
In grammar, a part of speech or part-of-speech (abbreviated as POS or PoS, also known as word class or grammatical category) is a category of words (or, more generally, of lexical items) that have similar grammatical properties. Words that are assigned to the same part of speech generally display similar syntactic behavior (they play similar roles within the grammatical structure of sentences), sometimes similar morphological behavior in that they undergo inflection for similar properties and even similar semantic behavior. Commonly listed English parts of speech are noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, interjection, numeral, article, and determiner.
Other terms than part of speech—particularly in modern linguistic classifications, which often make more precise distinctions than the traditional scheme does—include word class, lexical class, and lexical category. Some authors restrict the term lexical category to refer only to a particular type of syntactic category; for them the term excludes those parts of speech that are considered to be function words, such as pronouns. The term form class is also used, although this has various conflicting definitions. Word classes may be classified as open or closed: open classes (typically including nouns, verbs and adjectives) acquire new members constantly, while closed classes (such as pronouns and conjunctions) acquire new members infrequently, if at all.
Almost all languages have the word classes noun and verb, but beyond these two there are significant variations among different languages. For example:
Because of such variation in the number of categories and their identifying properties, analysis of parts of speech must be done for each individual language. Nevertheless, the labels for each category are assigned on the basis of universal criteria.
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