Typochoric version of structural taxonomy of the russian sentence

Prior to revealing grammar knowledge for the purposes of algorithm-based syntax, it is necessary to define and typify the layer of knowledge used for initial language acquisition. For this end, it is required to clearly understand the typology itself and the notion of knowledge taxonomy [1, 2].

The concept of linguistic typology (after the Greek «types» – print, form, sample; «logos» – word, study) leads us towards comparative study of structural and functional properties of different languages; however, as typology is based on the studies of languages and is closely related to the general linguistics, then with the developed concepts of the language structure and function, there may be various criteria for typological classification, which is determined by different interpretation of the central concept in typology – i.e. «language type» that implies either «the type of the language» or «the type in the language» [3, 4].

Language topology interprets the language systems not only in terms of compatibility / incompatibility of their structural characteristics and preferability of structural types of different languages, affirmation of structural similarities and differences between various languages, but also in terms of individual levels in one and the same language. Such classifications are focused on the type of certain language subsystems and categories rather than the language type in whole; their number may be great, and depending on various classification criteria, one and the same language may be referred to various groups, which provides multiple taxonomic characteristics of the language in typology.

Taxonomies are divided into classochoric (after Greek «khoridzo» – divide, differentiate) and typochoric, which is connected with various degrees of reflection of underlying principles of language structure. Classochoric taxonomies reflect various outer structural similarities and differences between languages, while typochoric taxonomies classify languages according to the types reflecting inner principles of combination of various structural features.

Typologies orientation towards typochoric taxonomies highlights detecting of implicational relations between language structural properties (e.g.works of J. H. Greenberg and his followers studying compatibility and interdependency of various characteristics of sentence construction (subject, object and verbal predicate) in the world’s languages) [5].

Typology of E. Sapir (typology of kinds and ways of expression of grammatical definitions, techniques of morphemes connection, degree of complexity of grammatical forms) appeared to be a starting point for development of inventory and implicational typology, which was considerably facilitated by wide spreading in Europe and USA of structural linguistics that introduced new, more strict methods of language unification analysis and provided a detailed formal description of the language structure [5].

Depending on the subject of research, there are functional (sociolinguistic) and structural typology. Subject of functional typology is the language as a communicative device which is considered in light of its social functions and areas of usage. Subject of structural typology is the internal organization of language as a system; there are formal typology which is only focused on the plane of expressionand contensive typology which is focused on language semantic categories and ways of their expression [6].

From the above it follows that any language may be localized in any typological taxonomy. While studying the algorithm-based syntax, it became necessary to detect implicated types of knowledge to be acquired by foreigners. For this purpose various types of language typology and different interpretations of the language type («the type of the language» and «the type in the language») were used. Regarding «the type of the language», we considered various aspects of such different languages as Russian, Kazakh, and English, determined structural similarities and differences between these languages.

The article shows that for explication of assimilated grammatical knowledge, we classify certain levels within one language, using the interpretation «the type in the language», and give taxonomic (classification focused on detecting the types of certain subsystems and categories in a language) structural characteristic of a simple Russian sentence based on definition of the sentence types, in view of the entity of central key word in the sentence stem (a set of lines reflecting structural syntactic links in a sentence).

We refer our classification to typochoric version of structural taxonomy reflecting inner principles of combination of various structural features, since typochoric taxonomies highlight detecting of implicational relations between language structural properties.

Apart from classification of simple sentence, we consider classification descriptions of the sentence elements as morphological categories for the following reasons:

explication of the necessary scope of morphological knowledge during acquisition of the second language;

ability to define taxonomic types of the learned sentences, since knowledge of morphological categories will allow detecting the central node of the sentence and therefore defining the type of the sentence.

Therefore, we can see the so called «magic circle» – knowledge of sentence taxonomy does not give the ability to communicate without acquiring the specially explicated scope of information on sentence elements; however, knowledge of the parts of speech in turn does not help a foreigner to form an appropriate sentence in order to participate in communication without knowing syntactic links that form the central node of the sentence. So, in order to form a sentence, it is necessary to acquire strictly explicated grammar knowledge of its elements, syntactic links forming nodes between these elements, and taxonomic typology of sentence.

In this regard, we have described explicated grammar knowledge for the purposes of algorithmbased syntax – taxonomic types of the simple sentence and its constituents. The needed material is explicated with traditional [7] and Tesnière’s

[8] description of language elements and sentence components through the comparison of these descriptions, the development of specific typology of the simple sentence, and the empiric detection of strictly limited grammar knowledge.

The basis of any sentence is an organization of nodes, i.e. word combinations. This basis can be affected by other phenomena, resulting in more complicated sentence structure and growing variety of possible structures. Notions of junction and translation may be used for construction of simple sentence expanded with homogeneous parts or of compound and complex sentences.

Any sentence is an organized combination of nodes. The node which subordinates all the other sentence nodes is called the central node. With typochoric version of structural taxonomy reflecting inner principles of combination of various structural features for detection of implicational relations between language structural properties, it is possible to classify sentences according to the nature of their central node. Therefore, we distinguish as many types of sentences as types of nodes: verbal sentence, substantival sentence, adjectival sentence and adverbial sentence.

Our version of structural taxonomy consists in typochoric classification based on the name of the central node. As we prefer this approach, since further construction of the sentence structure falls within this taxonomy of structural components, we cite as follows:

Verbal sentence is the sentence with verbal central node. Spring is coming. Trees will blossom in parks. Substantival sentence is the sentence with substantive central node. Knowledge is light, ignorance is darkness. Adjectival sentence is the sentence with adjective central node (participle may serve as an adjective, since this does not change the sentence structure). She is good with her hands. Adverbial sentence is the sentence with adverbial central node. It is quiet here [8].

In the languages distinguishing between verb and substantive, verbal sentences are prevailing. Then follow substantival, adjectival and adverbial sentences. Verbal sentences may be two-member and one-member, depending on constituent elements. The other types of sentences (substantival, adjectival and adverbial) may only be one-member.

Our description of all four types of sentences is based on some Tesnière’s positions as the most supportive for the theory of language acquisition. However, we bring our view of components into his classification of sentences, and regard the taxonomy of sentences accordingly.

As to traditional Russian grammar [7], simple non-interrogative sentences are classified into free and phraseologized; free sentences in turn are divided into two-component and one-component. Grammarians divide one-component sentences into conjugated verb and non-conjugated verb classes according to the category (morphological characteristics) of the word which forms the main part of sentence; and non-conjugated verb class is further divided into 3 subtypes: nominal, adverbial and infinitival.

Due to classificational divergence in views of the simple sentence, we will summarize the above in the following tables representing the three views:

  1. traditional view (Table 1); 2) L. Tesnière’s classification (Table 2); 3) our view of classification (Table 3).

Table 1 – Traditional classification of the simple sentence

Simple sentence



Conjugated verb


Non-conjugated verb class

With conjugated verb

With nonconjugated verb




Table 2 – L. Tesnière’s classification

Simple sentence





Table 3 – Taxonomy of the simple sentence with algorithmization [9]

Simple sentence







conjugated verb infinitival



  1. Katsnelson S.D. Language typology and verbal mentality / S.D. Katsnelson. – L., 1972. – p.216.
  2. Karlinskiy A.Y. Methodological typology of educational material / A.Y. Karlinskiy // National cultural orientation at foreign language teaching in universities. Materials of regional meeting. – Almaty-Bishkek, 1991.
  3. General linguistics. Methods of linguistic research. – M., 1973.
  4. Theoretical bases of the world’s languages classification. – M., 1980.
  5. Uspenskiy B.A. Structural typology of languages / B.A. Uspenskiy. – M., 1965.
  6. Universals and research typology. – M., 1974.
  7. Russian grammar. – M.: Nauka, 1980. – V. 1, 2.
  8. Tesnière L. Basics of structural syntax. – M.: Progress, 1988. – P. 250.
  9. Nurshaikhova Zh.A. Structural syntax: pragmatic view: monograph / Zh.A. Nurshaikhova. – Munich: Lambert Academic Publishing. – 2013. – P. 276.
Magazine: KazNU BULLETIN
Year: 2016
City: Almaty
Category: Philology