the dependence is not unilateral

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Unlike other central determiners, the articles have no lexical meaning but solely contribute definite or indefinite status to the nouns they determine. Yet the dependence is not unilateral. For example, a count noun like boy is, on its own, only a lexical item. To assume grammatical status, it requires an 'overt' determiner of some kind.
("A comprehensive grammar of the English language")

As I understand, a count noun like boy is only a lexical item, while an article is only a determiner. (e.g.: as I understand, other central determiners, like this/that/every/each/no are not only determiners but "lexical items", too.)
So, I understand this quote except this part: the dependence is not unilateral.
Thank you.
 
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  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    What your grammar is saying is that a count noun such as "boy" is only a lexical item when it stands on its own.

    "The dependence is not unilateral" means the dependence goes both ways. Count nouns depend on articles, and articles depend on nouns, for grammatical status.
     
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    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    My schooling never included such terms as "determiner" and "lexical item". Are they really necessary or helpful in learning to speak and write a language?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    My schooling never included such terms as "determiner" and "lexical item". Are they really necessary or helpful in learning to speak and write a language?
    They are terms used by those stuying the structure(s) of language(s) and who write books on the subject. However, I share your reservations about whether a person trying to learn that language is helped or hindered by so much technical jargon:( On the other hand, having grown up with a native language where articles are used, I have sympathy with someone who didn't and tries to learn English as a subsequent language: and seeks out any help available:D
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    It is unfortunate that Dr. Quirk did not (could not?) write for the 'common man' with a mere 25 years of education, but only for linguistics specialists with decades of post-doctoral studies.
    We cross-posted:D I think the target audience for the book was not English learners but other linguistic specialists. (Trying to learn English from a book like that is a bit like trying to read a biochemistry textbook to find that an aspirin is often a good solution for a headache :D)
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    We cross-posted:D I think the target audience for the book was not English learners but other linguistic specialists. (Trying to learn English from a book like that is a bit like trying to read a biochemistry textbook to find that an aspirin is often a good solution for a headache :D)
    1. To be honest, I really don't find this book very sophisticated, so far. Yes, it has technical terms, but they are really helpful.:D
    2. And yes, articles are like biochemistry:D
     
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