Academic journal article Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies

Connectivity and Indirect Connection in English

Academic journal article Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies

Connectivity and Indirect Connection in English

Article excerpt


Two semantic notions are defined and illustrated: connectivity, which is the optional insertion of the semantic element 'part' to expand a noun on which it leans, and indirect connection, which is a connection of a noun on the one hand and an adjective or a verb on the other with certain semantic material added. This is an effect of the extension of a noun slot within an adjectival or verbal definition, where definition virtually stands for a representation of mental storage of a lexeme (or morpheme) as a part of language system.

Motivation suggests itself in both cases; if a noun means 'part', it behaves as a semantically (although not necessarily grammatically) dependent part of a noun phrase. If a connection between an adjective and a noun is indirect, it has to be attributive unless the adjective contains elements having to do notionally with strength ('strong' or 'not strong'). Indirect connection is too weak to back up a predicative use, but if it is reinforced by the notion of strength, then it permits of it.


1. Connectivity

The term connectivity will be used to refer to the phenomenon occurring when a noun which contains the semantic element 'part' intervenes between two words which could also collocate directly. Thus we have

1) He fullfilled the set of requirements. where fulfill and requirement could be combined directly (as in fulfill requirements, requirements are fulfilled, fulfillment of requirements), while set (as well as of) contains the semantic element 'part' intervening between fulfill and requirement to add information on the scope of requirements. The noun set is grammatically the head of the noun phrase the set of requirements, but semantically it can be interpreted as an extension of the noun requirement, which is semantically more important and carries more information than set.

Another subtype of connectivity can be found in collocations with nouns denoting some category, like type, kind, nuance, nature, stature. These nouns can also be reduced to the element 'part'. Thus, deep, which may be combined with the noun thinker, can be separated from that noun by the noun type (as deep type of thinker), while the semantic connection with thinker remains. Other examples are:

2) I don't like blatant types of misleading advertisements.

which can be changed to blatantly misleading advertisements, the difference being in treating the element 'blatant' in the form blatantly as a degree of 'misleading' rather than viewing it as a classifying element for misleading advertisements (as in blatant types). Let us take another example:

3) I prefer literature of a more cheerful nature.

Referentially nothing is lost if (3) is paraphrased as

3a) I prefer more cheerful literature.

Similarly, a greyish shade of yellow is referentially the same as greyish yellow, for the reasons stated, because 'shade of yellow' = 'kind of yellow' = 'part of all possible manifestations of yellow'. In yet another example:

4) He was a gentleman of high stature.

stature is an inherent part of a person, and the sentence could be paraphrased as

4a) He was a tall gentleman.

The adjectives high and tail are in suppletive relation, the former being used with the abstract noun, and the latter with a (pro)noun referring to a person.

Connectivity is also effected by means of the so-called 'unit nouns', like piece, bit, drop, which are used "to turn lumps of mass into units" (Broughton 1990: 183). For instance, a piece of coal/poetry/advice/news, a bit of cloth/fun/expenditure, a drop of oil, a strand of hair, a glimmer of hope.

The phenomenon observed here seems to be an instance of semantic motivation: if the noun means 'part', then it behaves as a semantically dependent part of a noun phrase. Namely, in the examples above set of requirements amounts to 'part of all requirements', type of advertisements boils down to 'part of all advertisements', literature of cheerful nature is a 'cheerful part of all literature', while the verb (fulfill) and the adjectives (blatant and cheerful) are semantically connected with the nouns removed (requirements, advertisements and literature respectively) rather than with the neighbouring nouns (set, type, nature). …

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