Філологія - Вісник Донецького інституту соціальної освіти


Lecturer of English Philology and Translation Department Alfred Nobel University, Dnipropetrovsk

The subject of the given article is wide-semantic (non-semantic) verbs as a part of verb + noun phrases of business discourse. The topic is relevant as the problem of verb+ noun phrases classification is one of the most important problems in the modern translation theory.

Key words: verb+noun phrases, non-semantic verbs.


Ords with wide semantics have been a subject to careful attention of many Ukrainian, Russian as well as foreign linguists, among them are: N. N. Amosova, B. Y. Plotkin, L. Y. Grosu and many others.

It is worth noting, that the number of words with wide semantics is quite limited in English as well as in any other languages. Nevertheless, they play a very important role in language functioning. N. N. Amosova believes that wide semantic words mainly differ from polysemantic words by their wide meaning «that serves as a base for every specialized variant of a word’s contextual meaning»; so that every language situation helps a word with wide semantics to actualize its direct, but not a figurative meaning.

Such phenomenon as wide semantics, which is considered to be a special lexico-semantic category, is usually formed in analytical languages. It is also predetermined by the typological characteristic of a language system, and is believed to be closely connected with a grammatical structure. This fact can easily be revealed not only through the intensive usage of words with wide semantics as syntactical and morphological indicators, but also in the nature of their semantics. Wide meaning of any word is similar to the meaning, which is peculiar to grammatical categories and different groups of words. Therefore, wide meaning is peculiar to pronouns as well as to some prepositions. Nevertheless, according to G. B. Davydova, wide semantics can be seen as lexico-grammatical category only when it embraces the words which belong to independent parts of speech, such as, first of all, nouns and verbs. It is worth noting, that the number of verbs with wide semantics essentially exceeds the one of nouns, so that they can easily be united into microsystems, according to which, the meanings of their consisting elements are formed [3, p. 154].

Beyond the context, the meaning of a verb with wide semantics is easy to determine. The careful analysis of a context clearly shows that combing verbs with wide semantics with different types of referent causes considerable changes and modifications to semantics. As a result, the connection of a primary meaning with derivatives becomes quite unobvious and invisible. Such point of view corresponds to the famous pattern of semasiology, formed by G. V. Kolshans’kyi: «The wider the meaning of the word is, the greater its dependence on a context» [4, p. 130].

Having conducted an extensive research of words with wide semantics, A. S. Kuziakin points out one more characteristic of this linguistic phenomenon, which can only be seen at a syntactical

© K. Slusar, 2012



Level. Hereby, wide semantics usually goes with wideness of distributive word diapason, which is able to embrace quite different syntactical models. For instance, the English verb with wide semantics   –  «to get» Has three different meanings: «to receive»   –  to get a book, «to become»   –  to get rich, «to reach»   –  to get home. It goes without saying that in a context of the expressions given above, the wide meaning gets narrowed and concretized. So that N. N. Amosova states that it is common to a word with wide semantics to have one meaning, but not many of them, and we can not say that in a particular context other meanings have been moved away [5, p. 102].

According to I. S. Lotova, variation of a wide meaning can go beyond the full lexical meaning, when words with wide semantics perform auxiliary functions, for example, as connectors and auxiliary verbs. In accordance with this definition, many linguists consider wide semantics to be equal to a semantic desolation or desemantization. In this particular case the words are characterized by morphological features of any class. Therefore, wide semantics at a lexical level allows these words to perform auxiliary functions. As a result, in such cases, grammatical meaning of a word turns to be more important than the logical one. For example: «do» –  as a substitute for a verb: You play better than I Do [6, p. 94].

Moreover, comparing with other verbs, verbs with wide semantics that are used as the auxiliary ones (grammatical) keep all their lexical meanings during the whole period of their existence in the language. This allows the verbs with wide semantics to save the semantic integrity of their structure.

A. M. Plotnikova points out that words with wide semantics are those, the meanings of which can not only be characterized by the wide denotative correlation but can also be determined by the context. She also states that such verbs of wide semantics as To give, to get, to take, to put Used with a noun component (or with any other part of speech) are able to form a great number of meanings, which are semantically quite distant [8, p. 24].

According to E. P. Beliayeva, who made a careful study of meanings of the English verbs, «words with wide semantics –  are words that have a high level of generality. The fact that they have a wide base of meanings makes it impossible to bring all their lexemes to one single nucleus» [2, p. 88].

E. Y. Mednikova, in turn, claims that the words with wide semantics can be correlated with notions, that reflect the objective reality as generally as possible (to put it differently, the words that have maximum general and wide lexical meanings), as well as those, that have a wide base of meanings in their semantic structure [7, p. 13].

In the view of the above, we can make a conclusion, that every verb with wide semantics has the following characteristics:

–  It has a largely developed polysemy (a lot of meanings);

–  It is non productive;

–  It has a high word building capacity;

–  It belongs to the main lexical stock;

–  It has a wide denotative correlation (such verbs can name concrete physical actions, functional state, different types of social activity, etc) [8, p. 29].

V. B. Goshylik has also conducted a careful research of a verb component in verb+noun phrases and came to a conclusion that desemantization of a verb component leads to a partial loss of meaning, so that the verb component becomes informationally insufficient, and is not able to perform a nominative function.

Such linguists as Y. V. Shalamov and M. M. Gurman also consider a verb component in verb + noun phrases to be subject to desemantization, for example To have, to get, to give, to take, etc. Following the definition given in the dictionary of linguistic terms, desemantized or non-semantic means devoted of its own meaning or, to put it differently, semantically empty.

Some linguists believe that verb component in verb + noun phrases performs only structural and grammatical functions, determining a functional characteristic of the whole construction. They also state that such phrases not only represent a transitive phenomenon leading to transformation of word combination into analytical form of a verb, but also point to a high level of grammatization of the given phrases. In order to prove this point of view, some linguists, first of all, refer to the fact that a verb component of verb + noun phrases is devoted of lexical meaning and can be replaced without violation of a meaning of the whole phrase;



Secondly, they also refer to the fact that a verb component does not take part in forming the lexical meaning of the whole phrase and thirdly, to the fact that lexical valence of a verb can be changed if compared with a corresponding verb with full meaning. But it is worth noting that the development of linguistic science led to a severe criticism of this particular approach.

On the other hand, despite the fact that the choice of a verb component of verb + noun phrases does not seem to be quite significant, and therefore the fulfillment of its position does not influence the meaning of the whole phrase, the careful analysis of formation of these phrases clearly shows that speakers choose a verb component not at random, but following a particular system.

Moreover, such linguists as B. S. Arslanov, C. H. Bitokova, V. S. Shvedova, B. I. Mova and many others believe that a verb plays a particular role in determining a meaning of the whole phrase and name this component   –  a verb with wide semantics.

In a particular context verbs with wide semantics are normally used with some additional elements, such as nouns, pronouns and prepositions, which help to determine the meaning of a verb itself.

F. I. Buslaev mentioned that in some cases we can use verb +noun phrase, in which a noun performs the function of an object, for example: To make arrangements Instead of To arrange, to give protection Instead of To protect, Etc. The presence of two elements in such phrases makes it possible to give an additional characteristic to the action or object, for example: To make necessary arrangements Or To give strong protection. In contrast to other forms of verbs, some linguists call these phrases descriptive ones.

A great variety of functional characteristics of verb + noun phrases, containing verbs with wide semantics results in a wide use of these phrases in Business English Discourse.

O. B. Bezugla claims that the presence of a split predicate –  the replacement of a simple predicate in a form of a finite verb by a word combination consisting of an infinitive and verbal noun   –  is a characteristic feature of a business language [1, p. 8].

There are some examples of the most wide spread verb + noun phrases in business discourse, that contain verbs with wide semantics and verbal nouns:

To make

To make a protest – to protest;

To make announcement – to announce;

To make enquiry- to enquire;

To make a decision – to decide;

To make reservation – to reserve;

To make a claim – to claim;

To make a protest – to protest;

To give

To give an estimate – to estimate; to give protection – to protect; to give an opening – to open; to give information – to inform; to give an answer – to answer; to give an impression – to impress; to give a notice – to notice, etc.

To have

To have control – to control; to have hesitation – to hesitate; to have dealing – to deal; to have enquires – to enquire;

To take

To take decision – to decide;

To take care – to care;

To take into consideration – to consider, etc.

L. I. Galkina, in turn, supports the point of view of many linguists stating that on the other hand, the tendency leading to abstraction as well as to generalization in the given discourse provokes the tendency towards a verb desemantization. First of all, business style is characterized by the wide use of verbs with abstract semantics, secondly, many verbs perform the auxiliary and connecting functions, and thirdly, some verbs play the function of components in verb + noun phrases, where the main semantic load is carried by a noun component and a verb names an action in a wide meaning as well as expresses a grammatical function.

The verbal component of all verb + noun word combinations can perform different syntactical functions, such as: Predicate, a part of a complex predicate, adverbial modifier of purpose and prepositional object. The noun component in all cases performs the function of a direct or prepositional object, as it is in strict semantic and syntactic relations with a verbal component of a word combination.

Some examples of verb + noun phrases, where verbal component is expressed by the verb with wide semantics are given below:


____________________________ Серія «ФІЛОЛОГІЧНІ НАУКИ». 2012. № 1 (3)________________________________________

We must therefore make use of Clause 4 of our sales Agreement, which Gives Us The right To cancel our order within 4 weeks [10, p. 70].

With reference to our phone conversation this morning, I would like one of your representatives to visit our store at 443 Halton Road, London, SE4 3TN, To give an estimate For a complete refit [9, p. 23].

We need a system which would Give Us comprehensive Protection Against robbery and shoplifting throughout all departments [9, p. 32].

It is essential that we deliver this consignment to our Greek customers on time as this was an initial order from them and would Give Us An opening In the Greek market [9, p. 109].

I regret that I cannot Give You the Information You asked for as it would be a breach of confidence [9, p. 133].

If you can send us this information, and possibly enclose a draft contract, we could Give You our Answer Within the next few months [9, p. 175].

I shall Make arrangements To open a confirmed letter of credit with the Nigerian International Bank as soon as you have sent me your invoice and details of shipment [9, p. 19].

Could you please check this with Barnley’s, and if there are any problems let me know, so that I can Make enquiries Here? [9, p. 94].

I would like To make an appointment With you to discuss an overdraft or a loan to enable me to expand my business [9, p. 144].

If the account is still not settled, we will have To make a Formal Protest [9, p. 154].

Although we have paid for some time on this basis, it does not really suit our accounting system, and as we feel you know us well enough by now, we would like To make Future Payments On quarterly statements by international banker’s draft [9, p. 125].

Durafloor is one of the most hardwearing materials of its kind on the market and we were surprised to hear that it had worn away within six months, so we Made a close inspection [9, p. 108].

We have Had Very little Dealing With them and they have never asked us for credit of any kind [9, p. 133].

We regret this unfortunate situation over which we Had No Control, and apologize for the inconveniences caused [9, p. 73].

You can Have Every Confidence In offering this company the facilities they ask for [9, p. 131].

However, we would Have No Hesitation In offering them the sort of credit you mentioned, i. e. 5, 000 pounds, as they are a large reputable organization and very well-known in this country [9, p. 132].

Having examined the sentences with verb +noun phrases that contain non-semantic verbs, such as «to give», «to make», «to have», etc, we can see that in a particular business context such verbs can acquire absolutely new meanings, which are not typical of them and cannot be found in a dictionary. These meanings on one hand, are mostly predetermined by the semantics of the noun component, and on the other hand, by the general meaning of the verb itself.

Therefore, the examples given above clearly illustrate that the meanings of non-semantic verbs in verb + noun phrases differ from their general meanings:

For examples, the verb «to give» In a business context can have the following meanings: To authorize or to entitle, to value or to consider, to defend, to open, to inform, to respond; The verb «to make» –  To arrange, to enquire, to appoint, to protest, to pay, to inspect; The verb «to have»   –  To deal with, to control, to hesitate, etc.

It is worth noting, that in most cases verb + noun phrases can be easily transformed into one verb. Nevertheless, their structure enables an author of a business text to add additional characteristics to describe an action.



Having conducted careful research of verb + noun phrases in Business English Discourse we can make a conclusion that all the functional characteristics of the verbal component in verb + noun phrases, that is expressed by a verb with wide semantics are similar to the characteristics of a verb component of the same phrases of any other discourse.


1. Безугла О. В. Особливості синтаксичних засобів офіційно-ділового стилю в укра­
їнській літературній мові [Електронний ресурс]. / О. В. Безугла. –  Режим доступу: books.
Br. com. ua/20510

2. Беляева Е. П. Прототипическая база семантики английских глаголов: дис.  … канд. фи-лол. наук: 10.02.04 / Е. П. Беляева   –  СПб., 2001.   –  188 с.

3. Давыдова Г. Б. Функциональный анализ конструкций с широкозначными словами в современном английском языке/ Г. Б. Давыдова   //  Вопрос системной организации речи. –  М.: ИПИОП АН СССР, 1987.   –  С. 154-158.

4. Колшанский Г. В. Контекстная семантика/ Г. В. Колшанский. – М.: Наука, 1980.   –  149 с.

5. Кузякин А. С. Роль широкозначных глаголов в речевом общении/ А. С. Кузякин //  Проблемы оптимизации речевого общения.   – Саранск, 1989.   –  С. 102-111.

6. Лотова Н. С. Синтаксические структуры с десемантизированным существительным thing в современном английском языке (к проблеме заместителей функции существитель­ных): автореф. дис.… канд. филол. наук / Н. С. Лотова.   –  М., 1973.   –  22 с.

7. Медникова Э. М. Семантика слова. Новые аспекты / Э. М. Медникова   //  Формальные и семантические аспекты слова. –  Калинин: Изд-во Калининского гос. ун-та, 1989.   –  С. 10-17.

8.  Плотникова А. М. Широкозначные глаголы в современном русском языке /
А. М. Плотникова //  Известия Уральского государственного университета, 2009. –  № 1/2. – 
С. 24-31.

9.  Ashley A. Oxford Handbook of Commercial Correspondance. –  New Edition, Oxford
University press.   –  2003.   –  304 p.

10.  Birgit Abegg Communication for Business: Birgit Abegg, Michael Benford. – 
Verlagsredaktion: Cornelia Dietz, Munchen, 1999.   –  320 p.

Темою цієї статті є вивчення десемантизованих дієслів, що входять до складу дієслівно-іменних словосполучень у діловому англомовному дискурсі. Актуальність статті обумовлена тим, що пробле­ма класифікації дієслівно-іменних словосполучень є однією з найважливіших проблем у сучасному перекладознавстві.

Ключові слова: дієслівно-іменні словосполучення, десемантизовані дієслова.

Темой данной статьи являются десемантизированные глаголы, входящие в состав глагольно-именных словосочетаний в деловом дискурсе английского языка. Актуальность статьи обусловлена тем, что проблема классификации глагольно-именных словосочетаний является одной из важней­ших проблем современного переводоведения.

Ключевые слова: глагольно-именные словосочетания, десемантизированные глаголы.

Надійшло до редакції 8.06.2012.