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Contrastive analysis of English and
Vietnamese noun phrase
I- Definition of English noun phrase
1) Definition
2) Functional formula of a noun phrase
II- Definition of Vietnamese noun phrase
1) Definition
2) Functional formula of a noun phrase
III- Contrastive analysis of English and Vietnamese noun phrase
1) Similarities
2) Differences
I- Definition of English noun phrase
1- Definition
According to Oxford dictionary, a noun phrase is a word or a
group of words that functions in a sentence as subject, object, or
prepositional object. In English linguistics, functional formula of
a noun phrase consists of 3 components in which a noun or
pronoun is the main part of the noun phrase (the head).
Pre-modification + Head noun + Post-modification
2- Functional formula of a noun phrase
Pre-modification + Head noun + Post-modification
Pre-modification:
Head noun:
Post-modification:
- determiners:
- a noun
- an adjective
+ interrogative words
- personal pronoun
- an adverb
+ articles
- indefinite pronoun
- a relative clause
+ demonstratives
- possessive pronoun
+ possessive determiners
+ intensifiers
+ indefinite quantifiers
+ numerals
- adjectives
- noun modifiers
- a non-finite clause
- demonstrative pronoun - a prepositional phrase
English Noun phrase
Pre-modification
Determiner
Head noun
Post-modification
consultant
with the roving eye
(prepositional phrase)
Adjectives Noun modifier
The
(article)
very
(intensifier)
tall
The
(article)
last six
(numeral)
happiest
days
of the journey
(prepositional phrase)
All
these
(demonstrative)
young
women
walking on the bike
path
(non-finite clause)
time
blood
before (adverb)
royal (adjective)
The
education
II- Definition of Vietnamese noun phrase
1- Definition
A noun phrase in Vietnamese consists of three constituents: pre-modification, the
head, post-modification. In the pre-modification, all the modifiers add more
information in terms of quantity. In contrast, all the elements of post-modification
give more information about quality. The head of a noun phrase can be a word or a
group of words in which a classifier is followed by a noun, a verb, or an adjective.
(Diệp Quang Bân, 2005)
Pre-modification + Head noun + Post-modification
2- Functional formula of a noun phrase
Pre-modification
Head
Post-modification
Determiner
Totality Numeral/
The
measure Classifier Noun
Quantifier particle phrases
(loại từ)
Attributive Demonstrative
modifier
“cái”
Tất cả
3
Khoảng
15
cái
con
thùng
mèo
đen
ấy
mì
sắp hết hạn
đó
III- Contrastive analysis of English and Vietnamese noun phrase
1- Similarities
► First, both are endocentric structures (cấu trúc hướng tâm), which means they both have a
head noun.
► Second, in both languages, the head noun can have pre-modification to the left and postmodification to the right.
Pre-modification + Head noun + Post-modification
Ex: a house on the hill (English)
một ngôi nhà ở trên đồi (Vietnamese)
► Third, English and Vietnamese modifications have some similar elements such as
demonstrative, possessive, numeral/ quantifier…
2- Differences
I- Hierarchy relationship
1) The occurrence of English nouns and determiners is obligatory, whereas that of
Vietnamese is optional.
Ex: - I bought book: ungrammatical -> I bought a book: grammatical
- Tôi mua sách: grammatical
2) Vietnamese is a classifier language. As such, the use of classifiers is generally
obligatory in numerated noun phrases. In English, however, we don’t normally use
classifiers before nouns.
Ex: Có hai vịt: unacceptable -> Có hai con vịt: grammatical
There are two ducks: grammatical
3) The optional element- particle CÁI can appear in Vietnamese noun phrase as in
Ex: hai cái thùng này. In English language, there is no such case.
II- Word order
1) In English noun phrase demonstratives, possessive determiners occur before
the head noun but in Vietnamese they are post-modification.
Ex: - That cottage
- Ngôi nhà tranh đó
- His group
- Tập đoàn của anh ta
2) Similarly, adjective as pre-modifier in English noun phrase plays role as postmodifier in Vietnamese noun phrase.
Ex: - the old watch
- cái đồng hồ cũ
3) In contrast to English, noun modifier occurs after head noun in Vietnamese
Ex: - a sport magazine
- một tờ tạp chí thể thao