A sentence is not only a semantic unit, but also a grammatically organized unit. The grammatical organization of the sentence is determined by the specific functional orientation of the statement, by the fact that it represents itself as a communicative unit. Is it used in book literary speech or in everyday colloquial, oral or written? Does it belong to a monological or dialogical form of speech? Is it used in the meaning of a narrative or in the meaning of a question, answer, motivation, etc.? The study of the so-called incomplete sentences in any language is a complex and multifaceted problem. The use of relatively incomplete sentences is determined by the verbal context or situationality of speech. For our research, we chose the written language, thus the main attention will be paid to the analysis of structures which relative incompleteness is due to the presence of context. We will consider relatively incomplete constructions of the Russian and German languages using the method feasible for us: to study the peculiarity of the structures we have chosen by comparing them with the structures most studied, i.e. to investigate specific features of relatively incomplete sentences starting from their formal grammatical insufficiency. Taking into account the affiliation of each utterance to one or another type of speech activity is necessary especially because the conditions of use themselves can wedge into the structure of the sentence itself, and in one way or another influence its construction. At the same time, they seem to become material.
Keywords: Relatively incomplete sentencesmonological and dialogical speech
With a broad review of the sentence structure of oral colloquial, especially dialogic speech, one can notice that for its formally and grammatically “complete” sentences are not typical. This follows from the very essence of colloquial speech (dialogue): questions, answers, objections, additions to what was said, continuation of the message, etc. If we take the structure of sentences of written scientific and business speech as the initial form, then in spoken language (in the language of characters) there will be sentences with an omitted subject and predicate. For example, a sentence with omitted subject: 1). Nicht unsympatisch, dieser Neue: blond, glattes Gesicht, helle, graue Augen. Scheint ein Spassmacher zu sein (Claudius, 1955).
A sentence with omitted predicate: Hier mein Ausweis. Ich bin der Leiter. More uncertain in respect to semantic and grammatical completeness are sentences with transitional verbs that do not have any complements; or sentences with a verb-predicate requiring a complement with a preposition. Complements can be mentioned in previous or subsequent sentences, therefore, if necessary, to emphasize their semantic significance or for other reasons, they can be easily restored based on context. But there can also be complements that are omitted in the context, but are clear from the general content of the speech or from the situation. “All the members missing to the accepted formal-grammatical scheme of the sentence are implied from internal speech. If we mean a word, we don’t express it out loud, we mean it, we keep this word in our thoughts” (Kulaeva, 2018, p. 105). For example: Er schaut zum erstenmal auf, sieht Matschat an, prüfend, fragt dann: "Ich weiss nicht, was du hast. Wenn wir den Ofen wirklich bauen kÖnnen, gewinnen doch alle. Warum bist du dagegen?" "Weil es vom Fachmanns aus Unsinn ist." "Finde ich nicht!" (Claudius, 1955, p. 193).
There is even more doubt about the characterization of sentences with respect to grammatical and semantic completeness, in which circumstances may or may not exist. For example: 1). Henry: Hier in Paris ist immer eines wichtiger als das andere, und schließlich ist keines wichtig; Michele, ich denke, wir gehen zurück nach Lyon. Michele: Ich bleibe (Kellermann, 1980).
The structure of sentences where the part of the sentences member is missing is not quite clear. For example, a group of subject or complements, or circumstances is represented only by the definition relevant to the core of the corresponding group. For example:
1). Andres: Sag mir’s noch einmal, Fidi: Hat keiner von den Bundschuhern den Namen genannt?
Fidi: Keiner, sag ich.
Andres: Gottslohn, so hat´s noch Männer!
Fidi: Aber die besten sind hin (Bredel, 1963).
2). «Bürger Kommissar», sagte leise der erschrockene General, als der Offizier abgeführt war, «dieser Offizier war einer meiner besten». «Das war ihr bester Offizier. Die Republik, General, hat bessere» (Kellermann, 1980).
The characterization of sentences in which a part of a compound verb or nominal predicate is presented is not entirely clear. For example:
1). Ein Eisbach entströmte dem dunklen Tiergarten. Kein Licht, keine Laterne, nichts. Die Fensterläden der Häuser geschlossen, die Fensterscheiben schwarz (Bredel, 1963).
2). Petra ist so recht im Zuge. Der Mörtel bindet ausgezeichnet. Wäre nur ihre Handfertigkeit größer –
The question of relatively incomplete sentences is one of the relevant in the syntax of the German language. In the practice of analyzing sentences with students, we often encounter this problem. Relatively incomplete sentences are represented by a variety of grammatical structures that require careful differentiation and study of their features. Denying the elliptical nature of the so-called "disturbed" structures (or incomplete sentences), we nevertheless try to give their structural and grammatical characterization, starting from a sentence of two-part. That is, the basis for isolating relatively incomplete sentences is a purely formal attribute: the absence of a grammatical term. Their classification is based on its grammatical nature. This feature does not reflect the communicative nature of these structures, the specificity of their functional significance; it does not reflect the peculiarity of these sentences as such, per se. It reflects only a purely formal, relative side, since their grammatical characteristic, as already mentioned, is given against the background of another possible parallel construction, against the background of an established scheme – the model of a two-part sentence.
The very outline of the types of sentences for absent members (or their parts) indicates that we involuntarily took the formally grammatical criterion as the basis for determining the incompleteness.
Let's see if it is a valid criterion.
Let us take a number of sentences of the author's presentation or dialogical speech with the so-called "incomplete" structures.
1). Auch sein Sohn, der älteste – er war nicht mehr.
Gefallen an der Somme (Claudius, 1955).
2). Fahrdämme und Bürgersteige sind überschwemmt.
Redner überall. Auf Autos, Wagen, Karren, Bänken.
3). Wer profitierte von der Revolution von 1525? Die Fürsten.
Wer profitierte von der Revolution von 1848? Die großen Fürsten, Österreich und Preußen.
Do the sentences require complements, for example, the last example? Has the understanding between the author of these sentences and the reader been violated because the sentences turned out to be formally “incomplete”? Is the author not enough clearly, succinctly and clearly expressing his idea? Is the author’s answer ambiguous, and did he leave the reader in ignorance, in doubt?
Of course, the mutual understanding between the author and the reader is complete. Grammatically "incomplete" sentences are represented by comprehensive answers that do not require and do not need any complement.
Thus, the difference between the meaninglessness of an isolated passage of speech and the completeness of the content of an unambiguous answer is great; it is covered by context.
The idea of the real meaning of context in the structure of judgment and the formation of sentences is confirmed by the statement of V.V. Vinogradova: “Where there is no predicate, there can be no subject. One subject, outside the broad context of speech from which the predicate is understood, cannot make sentences” (Admoni, 1973, p. 208). This statement suggests that the subject and predicate are not only divided morphologically, but can also be divided syntactically: one of the main members of the sentence can be understood from the wide context of speech.
Statements like: Rain. Whisper. Timid breathing, etc. by themselves, they do not exhaust the content of the message in the narrative, they are only judgments and suggestions, they imply a wide context (Chernokozova, 1961).
Vinogradov (1954) devotes material significance to the context in determining predicativity, when he writes that “the definition of predicativity in modern Russian is very difficult, but out of context it is fruitless”.
Tavanets (1953) writes that “such sentences as: Fire! It has begun! etc., express a judgment not only for the speaker, but also for the listener, if the listener is aware of what subjects these statements relate to. Based on the integrity of the judgment, based on the correlation of its members – the subject and the predicate" (p. 99). P.V. The Tavanets represents the logical and grammatical structure of such statements as: denominative – Night. Street. Lamp. Pharmacy; exclamatory – Fire! Start!; impersonal – Coming. Knocking.
Can we assume that these statements express judgments, and the statements themselves are sentences?
Of course, yes, P.V. Tavanets answers. He writes: “The content conceivable in a denominative, exclamatory, and impersonal sentence appears here as a predicate” (Tavanets, 1953, p. 108). Here, the subject is knowledge of an object with which the content corresponds, the conceivable in the predicate. Since the subject of judgment here is something taken for granted from the context of speech or a given situation, then due to the knowledge of this subject, i.e. the subject of judgment does not require special verbal designation in external speech.
The statement “Lamp” expresses a judgment, and, therefore, is a sentence only if: firstly, it is an answer to the question “What has fallen?”
secondly, if by the word "lamp" we mean any object in front of them or indicated by a gesture. In this case, the subject ("this"), as a matter of course, is also not expressed by the word.
Thus, we ask ourselves, is the phrase “lamp” a complete sentence? Probably, the one-word answer "yes" or "no" cannot be given here. Why? It is known that all judgment is expressed in a sentence. The question of completeness of judgment does not exist. A judgment can only be complete or it is not a judgment.
Is a propositional statement complete or incomplete? Obviously, the statement will be complete, since it corresponds to the judgment. But it is necessary to take into account the essential condition: it expresses judgment and at the same time, at the same time, it is a sentence only in the presence of a wide context.
Indeed, only under certain conditions of use the word "lamp" can serve as an expression of judgment, thereby fulfilling the function of a sentence. By isolating it from a wide context, it loses its communicative expressiveness. In this case, its function is performed before the expression of a purely lexical meaning, it becomes a word.
Thus, the statement “lamp” is a link in a logically consistent chain of thoughts, breaking which we disrupt communication.
To the question “Is this a complete sentence?” we will have to answer as follows: it fully expresses the content required by the question posed. In this sense, it is complete.
By isolating it from the wider context, we thereby deprive ourselves of the right to raise the question of its completeness. We will even be forced to ask whether it will be a sentence in this case at al.
So consequently, is the fulfillment by a sentence of a communicative function – as the main unit of speech communication – a criterion for the completeness of the sentence, i.e. the transfer of precisely the content, which is its direct purpose.
If a wide context plays a logical and grammatical role, influences the structural construction of a sentence, then in this case it is not only not indifferent, but it is very important to take into account the features of this context.
Typical use of so-called "incomplete" sentences is mainly oral speech, primarily dialogical. Therefore, is it possible to conclude that the so-called incomplete sentences are living constructions of colloquial speech, mainly dialogical, which cannot be considered as a “violation” of “complete” structures. For example: "In der Wirtsstube fand ich lautes Leben und Bewegung. Studenten von verschiedenen Universitäten.
For colloquial speech, for example, it is characteristic not to name a person, object, action, clear from the very situation of speech. If, in direct oral communication, each sentence was framed in accordance with a pattern – a sentence model, usually called complete, then this would probably be a hindrance in communication, since the speech would be so overwhelmed with empty, not meaningful verbal-grammatical forms that among them would be lost would be the meaning of those few words that are really necessary for understanding thoughts.
The incompleteness of a sentence itself can only be relative, it can reflect both semantic and formal - grammatical incompleteness of one of the two sentences when comparing them with each other. It is based on the difference in the specific weight of such factors as tasks and communication conditions.
The concept of incompleteness can take place when applied to a statement, for example, "Morgen schon", only in relation to its formal-grammatical composition. Therefore, in contrast to the traditional name of such and similar structures as "incomplete" sentences, they can be called sentences of "relatively incomplete formal-grammatical composition", or "relatively incomplete".
Thus, we will conditionally understand such relatively incomplete sentences as sentences with semantic dependence on a wide context reflecting in the relative incompleteness of their formal-grammatical composition.
In some grammars, such sentences are called elliptic (elliptisch). They are formed as a result of the omission (Aus-, Weglassung) of one or a number of sentence members.
However, only something which was already in place can be omitted. But was “Ich fahre bestimmt” in place when answering “Morgen schon” to the question “Fahrst du bestimmt?” Did the words "Ich fahre bestimmt" drop out from the sentence "Ich fahre bestimmt morgtn schon" and thereby form the elliptical sentence "Morgen schon"? Probably not. They were not there from the very beginning. "Morgen schon" is not a splinter from the supposedly complete construction resulting from the loss and subject and predicate. This is an integral response design from the very beginning. Nothing dropped out here, there was even nothing to drop out, since these supposedly omitted words do not exist in the very nature of this construction.
The semantic connection of speech sentences is fixed in the features of intonation, stress, in the structural features of the sentence.
In monologic speech, in the author’s presentation, the structural and grammatical mobility of sentences is used, of course, within the framework of the norms of a particular language when expressing the semantic dependence of successive links of a statement.
In oral colloquial speech, the data of the situation, the situation of speech, the data of the general experience of the speakers are used as intermediate, and sometimes supporting, links. As additional links, such auxiliary expressive means as intonation, gestures, facial expressions, etc. are used. All these factors to some extent make up for the verbal essence of the presentation and thereby contribute to the achievement of a logical connection in a single chain of presentation, contribute to the achievement of a monolithic statement. They organically wedge into the fabric of the situation and thereby free the speakers from verbal repetition. The presence of these and other similar factors to some extent determines the variety of grammatical structures of sentences.
Purpose of the Study
In this article we will try to consider relatively incomplete sentences, in which some members of the sentence may or may not be present, in terms of their grammatical and semantic completeness. We will try to determine what incomplete sentences are characteristic of oral and written speech on the examples of works of art by German writers.
For our research, we chose written language; accordingly, the main focus will be on the analysis of structures which relative incompleteness is due to the presence of context. We will consider the relatively incomplete constructions of the Russian and German languages, using the method feasible for us: studying the features of the sentences we have chosen by comparing them with the most studied sentences, i.e. to investigate specific features of relatively incomplete sentences, starting from their formal-grammatical insufficiency.
So, in this article, using the method that is feasible for us, we tried to study the peculiarity of the structures we chose by comparing them with the most studied structures, i.e. to investigate specific features of relatively incomplete sentences, starting from their formal-grammatical insufficiency. The use of relatively incomplete sentences is mainly due to two factors:
1) The presence of verbal context.
2) Replacing words with real representations from the situation of speech, situation, general experience of speakers, taking into account intonation, gestures, facial expressions and so on. These two main factors make it possible not to name an already clear idea, without prejudice to the completeness and clarity of understanding. The first factor is characteristic mainly for the written book and literary language. The second is for lively conversation; in the book-literary language, it appears in the form of a description of the situation of speech.
Depending on which of the factors determines the use of relatively incomplete sentences, context or situation, the sentences will be called contextual relatively incomplete sentences or situational. The degree of relative formal grammatical incompleteness and its nature are determined mainly by the following factors:
1. The functional focus of speech.
2. Concrete forms of utterance: question, answer, narration, motivation, exclamation, and so on.
3. The conditions and form of the course of speech: direct communication, dialogue or monologue.
All these factors determine the general nature of the structure of proposals, but do not categorically prescribe it.
Relatively incomplete sentences are represented by a variety of grammatical structures that require careful differentiation and study of their features.
Denying the elliptical nature of the so-called "disturbed" structures (or incomplete sentences), we nevertheless try to give their structural and grammatical characterization, starting from a sentence of two-part.
That is, the basis for isolating relatively incomplete sentences is a purely formal attribute – the absence of a grammatical term. Their classification is based on its grammatical nature. This feature does not reflect the communicative nature of these structures, the specificity of their functional significance; it does not reflect the peculiarity of these proposals as such, per se. It reflects only a purely formal, relative side, since their grammatical characteristic, as already mentioned, is given, as it were, against the background of another possible parallel construction, against the background of an established scheme – the model of a two-part sentence.
Here, of course, it is more essential to determine the functional features of "disturbed" structures, as integral sentences, independent communicative units; it is also essential to determine under what conditions such structures are created, to what extent they fully fulfill the idea under certain conditions.
Probably, these thoughts are justified: incomplete sentences should be studied as independent structures, constructions of a special type, studied from the point of view of their own structural properties and functions specific to them, and not from the side of the alleged formal insufficiency or incompleteness. These thoughts should probably be understood as a requirement of the future, as a perspective view of a deep and comprehensive study of the syntax of a sentence.
So far, it seems advisable to study the features of relatively incomplete sentences, starting from the most studied sentences, using the data of the most studied phenomena, using the method of comparison, identifying common and specific signs.
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- Bredel, W. (1963) Dein unbekannter Bruder. Aufbau-Verlag.
- Chernokozova, V. N. (1961). Judgment and Sentence. Moscow.
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- Kulaeva, F. A. (2018). On incomplete sentences in German. In Materials of the international scientific-practical conference of the country. Languages. Culture. (pp. 105–108). Dagestan State Technical University.
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31 October 2020
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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation
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Kulaeva, F. A., Almurzaeva, P. K., & Aldieva, M. S. (2020). Relatively Incomplete Sentences In German And Russian. In D. K. Bataev (Ed.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism» Dedicated to the 80th Anniversary of Turkayev Hassan Vakhitovich, vol 92. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 615-622). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.10.05.82