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The structure and prosody of noun phrases in English. The size-of-unit problem. Translation of lexical and syntactic combinations.

English is an analytical language, so tends to bring its units into amalgamated complexes rather than use morphological coordination which is typical of synthetic- inflectional languages (Russian\ German).

Due to the structural- typological difference between English and Russian, we can observe lack of coincidence both at the level of lexemes and structural patterns. As an analytic language English has some special features:

-the word order is fixed band serves to express grammatical relationship in sentence constructions

-prosody becomes an organizing factor in constructing speech

-the range of grammatical morphemes is reduced due to the absence of morphological coordination in case and gender.


English as an analytic language has many compound words (multi-structural combinations which form a one single word). For example: week-end, life- style, Christmas tree etc. Depending of the way how these words are linked they can be regarded as lexical combinations or as free syntactic relationship where the elements are only positionally connected (syntactic combinations). Blackboard\black board, dancing girl\ dancing girl

Compounds in English are different. Some of them favour phonetic criteria (there is only one primary stress in original compounds). Goldfish, cupboard, headmaster. The other group is syntactic noun phrases there we have a double stress (fellow student, generation gap, country house). Bloomfield wrote that a compound is a word- combination lacking a double stress. However sometimes we deal with so-called “loose” collocations which present an intermediate type which so single accentuation pattern can be specified. They are called unstable compounds. If we deal with unstable compounds we can see that the same word can form different kinds of combinations depending on the noun it collocates. For example: market-day, market-hall, market place are pronounced to simulate single global words while market price, market research, market value have a stress on both words to indicate the looseness of the syntactic combination.

The nature of the noun+noun construction is motivated by word order and intonation. The prosody of lexical combinations for example is characterized by: accelerated tempo, no pauses, a unifying stress.

They can be said to have the stressed element (nucleus) and the unstressed element (tail).

Besides “loose” compounds there are string compounds which present the use of well-formed syntagms as a single (global) word multi-word sequences are fuctionally equated with a separate word and thus simulate a single lexical item. They can be illustrated by complexes  of the parts-of-speech type which serve as a model for various kinds of word simulation. Examples: his go-and-be-hanged look, let-George-do-it attitude.

The ways of translation

  • Originally loose compounds have no equivalents in Russian and usually are translated by means if constructions of different types. Lexical combinations are usually translated as a single word: lamp-shade- абажур, cupboard- буфет, sunflower- подсолнечник, apple-tree- яблоня.
  • If noun+ noun construction falls apart and turns into a word combination, the attributive two-member pattern is used in translation: iron fence- железный забор, spring shower- весенний дождь, cannon ball- пушечное ядро.
  • Parallel derivative items can be found in both languages: red-haired- рыжеволосый, blue-eyed- голубоглазый. However there is a problem with similar items. Bright-eyed and bald-headed can not be translated as «яркоглазый» и «лысоголовый».
  • Idiomatic multi-item compounds are registered in dictionaries as global units indistinguishable from traditional words. Forget-me-not- незабудка, hide-and-seek- игра в прятки, merry-go-round- карусель, know-all- всезнайка.
  • Agreement where the subordinate word is coordinated in number, gender and case with the noun it relates to. Safety razor- безопасная бритва.
  • Genitive case constructions (government), where the main word determines the case of the other. City centre- центр города, rear- view mirror- зеркало заднего вида.
05.03.2016; 18:00
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