26. 10 Noun. Number.
The semantic nature of the difference between singular and plural may present some difficulties of interpretation.
What is out that, the simple meaning of the singular is «one», opposed to the meaning of the plural «many» in the sense of «more than one». Example, book — books, sea – seas etc. However, there exist plurals and singulars that cannot be accounted by this approach. Example, potato (one item of the vegetables) – potatoes (semantic meaning is food), paper (material) and papers (notes or documents), sky (heaven) and skies (figurative background).
It is sometimes stated that the plural form presents both multiplicity of separate objects («discrete» (т.е. можно поделить на отдельные составляющие) plural, ex, seas, books, desks) and multiplicity of units of measure for an invisible object (в учебнике indivisible).
To other varieties of the plural forms belong: the cases where the plural form expresses a definite set of objects (количество членимое, но всегда одинаковый набор) (eyes of the face, wheels of the vehicle, etc.), intensity of the presentation of the idea (years and years, thousands upon thousands), picturesqueness (sands, waters, snows). The extreme point of this semantic scale is marked by the lexicalisation of the plural form (до какой степени может дойти использование форм множественного числа некоторых существительных), Cf. colours as a «flag», pains as «effort» (it took me pains to do smth.), attentions as «wooing»(приветствовать как-то). Plural form here serves as a means of rendering (interpretation).
The most general quantitative characteristics of individual words constitute the lexico-grammatical base or division of nouns into countable and uncountable. The constant categorial feature «quantitative structure» is directly connected with the variable feature «number», since uncountable nouns can be grammatically either singular or plural. Singular uncountable nouns are modified by the non-discrete quantifiers much or little. In the sentence they take the finite verb in the singular, while the plural uncountable nouns take the finite verb in the plural.
The two subclasses of uncountable nouns are singularia tantum (only singular) and pluralia tantum (only plural). The absolute singular is characteristic of the names of abstract notions (peace, love, joy, courage, friendship, etc.), the names of the branches of professional activity (chemistry, architecture, mathematics, linguistics, literature etc.), the names of mass-materials (water, snow, steel, hair, etc.), the names of collective inanimate objects (fruit, furniture, machinery, etc.).
Since the grammatical form of the uncountable nouns of the singularia tantum subclass is not excluded from the category of number, we speak of it as the «absolute» singular, and it is different from the «common» singular of the countable nouns. The absolute singular excludes the use of the modifying numeral one, as well as the indefinite article.
Common number with uncountable singular nouns can also be expressed by combining them with words showing discreteness, bit, piece, item, clove (clove of garlic зубчик чеснока), a bar of chocolate, sort.
This kind of rendering the grammatical meaning of common number with uncountable nouns can be regarded as special suppletivity (от позднелат. suppletio — пополнение, добавление), способ образования форм и основ слова от разных корней, сказала – знать к зачету). in the categorial system of number (такой способ выражения форм множественного числа настолько регулярен, что приходится заучивать эти устойчивые словосочетания).
The absolute plural, as different from the common plural, cannot directly combine with numerals, and only occasionally combines with discrete quantifiers (many, few, etc.).
The absolute plural is characteristic of the uncountable nouns which denote objects consisting of two halves (trousers, jeans, glasses, scissors, etc.), the nouns expressing some sort of collective meaning, rendering the idea of indefinite plurality (supplies, outskirts, clothes, politics; police, family, government, etc.), the nouns denoting some diseases and states of the body and mind usually abnormal (measles, mumps, creeps, hysterics, etc.). As is seen from the examples, from the point of view of number as such, the absolute plural forms can be divided into set absolute plural (objects of two halves) and non-set absolute plural (the rest).
The next type of oppositional reduction concerns common countable nouns used in repetition groups. It expresses large quantity which is intensely presented. The nouns in these groups can be either in the plural or in the singular forms. There were trees and trees all around us. I lit cigarette after cigarette.
Category of case. Different case theories.
Case is the morphological category of the noun manifested in the forms of noun declension (склонение) showing the relations of the nounal referent to other objects and phenomena. Thus, the case form of the noun is a morphological-declensional form.
This category is expressed in English by the opposition of the form in -‘s, usually called the «possessive» case, or «genitive» case, to the unfeatured form of the noun, usually called the «common» case.
Four special views advanced are considered as the stages in the analysis of this case study.
The first view may be called the «theory of positional cases». In accord with the theory the unchangeable forms of the noun are differentiated as different cases by virtue of the functional positions occupied by the noun in the sentence. Thus, the English noun, on the analogy of classical Latin grammar, would distinguish, besides the inflexional genitive case, also the non-inflexional (nominative, vocative, dative, and accusative). The vocative case is expressed in the forms of addresses: Are you coming, my mom? The dative case when the noun occupies the position of the indirect object to a verb. The accusative case the noun occupies the position of direct object.
. The second view may be called the «theory of prepositional cases». In accord with the prepositional theory, combinations of nouns with prepositions in certain object and attributive collocations can also be understood as morphological case forms. To these belong first of all the «dative» case (to+Noun, for+Noun) and the «genitive» case (of+Noun). These prepositions can be called «inflexional prepositions.
This theory justifies that English is must be regarded as an analytical language, and according with the cases are analytical cases.
The third view of the English noun case recognises a limited inflexional system of two cases in English, one of them featured and the other one unfeatured. This view may be called the «limited case theory». And it is broadly accepted among linguists.
In the system of the English case the functional mark is defined, which differentiates the two case forms: the possessive or genitive form as the strong member of the categorial opposition and the common, as the weak member of the categorial opposition. The opposition is shown in full with mainly animate nouns.