Lexicology as a branch of linquistics

English lexicology

A course of lectures

Introduction

Lexicology as a branch of linquistics

The term lexicology is composed of two Greek morphemes: lexikós meaning ‘relating to the word’ and lógosdenoting ‘learning’. Thus, literally, the term lexicology means ‘the science of the word’. Lexicology, as a branch of linguistics studying words, has its own object, aims and methods of scientific research.

The object of lexicology is lexical and phraseological units, including morphemes, words, variable word-groups and idioms. The basic object of Lexicology is the word.

The wordmay be defined as the basic structural and functional two-facet linguistic unit, used for the purposes of human nomination and communication, materially representing a group of sounds, possessing a meaning, susceptible to grammatical employment and characterized by formal and semantic unity.

The aimsof lexicology are a study and systematic description of lexical units and the word-stock in general, in respect to their origin, development, structure, semantics and current use.

The main tasks of lexicology are as follows:

1. to investigate the word-structure, word-formation and combinations of words;

2. to analyze the semantic structure of words, semantic changes and semantic groupings of words;

3. to reveal the sources and means of the replenishment and growth of vocabulary, and the specific laws and regulations governing its development;

4. to study the vocabulary of a language as a system, relations between words in this system, synchronically an diachronically;

5. to describe the differentiation of vocabulary into various social, stylistic, territorial and ethnic layers, and to ascertain the relations existing between these lexical layers of vocabulary;

6. to study the problems of dictionary-compiling and lexicographical description of words.

Kinds of lexicology

Lexicology as an autonomous branch of linguistics is subdivided into several kinds.

First of all it is natural to distinguish between General or Theoretical Lexicology and Special or Descriptive Lexicology.

General or Theoretical Lexicologyis part of General Linguistics. It is concerned with the study of vocabulary, irrespective of specific features of the vocabulary of any particular language. Its aim is to work out theoretical notions, classifications and principles of research that may be used to study words, word combinations and vocabularies of all languages in general. It also summarizes achievements of lexicologies of separate tongues.

Special or Descriptive Lexicology is the lexicology of a particular language (English, German, Russian), that is the study and description of its lexical units and vocabulary. Special Lexicology is based on the general theory of vocabulary, notions, classifications and principles of investigation laid down by General Lexicology.

Theoretical Lexicology is also opposed to Practical Lexocology. The aim of Practical Lexocology of a particular language is to supply a theoretical study of vocabulary with concrete examples showing the morphological, semantic, word-building and etymological peculiarities of lexical units of a given language and help teachers explain and students learn these lexical phenomena and develop their lexical skills and enrich their knowledge of vocabularies and private lexicons on the basis of special practical exercises.

In linguistic science there are two principal approaches to the study of language forms and facts, namely the synchronic and diachronic approaches. These approaches are also applied to the differentiation of lexicological explorations. It explains the existence of synchronic or Modern Lexicology and diachronic or Historical Lexicology.

synchronic or Modern Lexicology describes the present existence and state of a language word stock as a result of its previous growth and changes.

diachronic or Historical Lexicology shows the process of the formation of a language lexical system, the sources of its growth and changes in the structure and semantics of words that occurred in the recorded history of their existence, that is their etymology.

In regard to Special Lexicology the synchronic approach is concerned with the vocabulary of a language at a given time, for instance, at the present time. It is Special Descriptive Lexicology that deals with the words and word-stock of a particular language at a certain time.

Therefore, A Course in Modern English Lexicology represents a course in Special Descriptive Lexicology of the English Language and the object of study of this art is the English vocabulary as it exists at the present time.

The diachronic approach in terms of Special Lexicology is concerned with the development of vocabulary in the course of time. It is Special Historical Lexicology that deals with the evolution of a language lexical system and words along the whole period of their recorded existence. Therefore, the tasks of English Historical Lexicology are to reveal the origin, sources and growth of the English vocabulary, changes and development in the morphological composition and semantics of English words, linguistic and extralinguistic factors modifying their structure, meaning and usage within the history of the English language.



Closely connected with Historical Lexicology is Comparative Historical or Diachronic Lexicology. Comparative Historical Lexicology studies lexical systems of cognate languages with the aim to reveal the origin of their words and laws of the development of their vocabularies.

Here we also distinguish Contrastive Descriptive or Synchronic Lexicology. Contrastive DescriptiveLexicology studies the vocabulary and words of a certain language in comparison with the corresponding facts of another language or several other languages, whether cognate or non-cognate, with the aim to ascertain their typical features, similarities and peculiarities.

Every language has a number of regional, territorial and local varieties. Therefore, we may distinguish Dialectal Lexicology that studies lexical dialectisms.

One of the most up-dated branches of lexicology is the so-called social lexicology or, shortly, Sociolexicology. Sociolexicology studies the non-standard or substandard part of a language vocabulary – low colloquialisms, slang, vulgarisms, different kinds of jargons, argot, cant, lexicons of social and ethnic dialects, such as Negro slang, city patois, such as London Cockney, Liverpool Scouse, contact-language lexicons, such as Pidgin English, “secret languages”, such as Pig Latin of American gangsters.

One more branch of Lexicology should be also mentioned. It is the Applied Lexicology. It includes 4 fields of its application: Lexicography, translation, linguodidactics and the so-called culture of speech.

Lecture 1. Word-meaning

Approaches to the study of meaning

There are two main approaches to the conception of meaning: a referential approach and a functional approach.

Types of word-meaning

Within the word we distinguish grammatical, lexical, part-of-speech, significative, denotative, connotative, pragmatic and word-formation meanings.

Grammatical meaning

Let us compare, for example, a set of the following word-forms: boy’s, girl’s, day’s, night’s. All these words, though denoting different objects, have a common feature. This common semantic element is their grammatical meaning of the possessive case, which is regularly represented by the formal element ‘the apostrophe & s’.

In the same way we can distinguish the grammatical meaning of plurality if we compare the following set of word-forms: boys, girls, days, nights. The grammatical meaning of plurality is regularly represented by the formal element – ‘the ending –s’.

The grammatical meaning of the Past Indefinite Tense is evident in the set of word-forms asked, wanted, thought, taught, though here it is expressed by different morphological means.

So grammatical meaning may be defined as the component of word-meaning recurrent in identical sets of individual forms of different words. By grammatical meaningwe designate the meaning proper to sets of word-forms common to all words of a certain class.

In modern linguistics it is commonly held that some elements of grammatical meaning can be identified by the position of the linguistic unit in relation to other linguistic units in speech, that is by its distribution.

For example, the word-forms reads, speaks, writes have one and the same grammatical meaning of the Present Indefinite Tense, third person, singular not only because they possess the common inflexion ‘–s’ but also because they can be found in identical distribution – only after the pronouns he, she, it.

It follows that a certain component of the meaning of a word is distinguished when this word is identified as a part of speech, since different parts of speech have different distribution.

So grammatical meaning can also be defined as an expression in speech of relationship between words based on contrastive features of arrangements in which they occur.

Lexical meaning

Lexical meaning is the realization of the notion by means of a definite language system.

If we compare the word-forms of one and the same word we can observe that besides grammatical meaning they possess another component of word-meaning.

Let us compare, for example the following word-forms: go, goes, went, going, gone.They all have different grammatical meanings of tense, person and aspect, but each of these forms contains one and the same semantic component denoting the process of movement. This is the lexical meaning of the given verb-forms.

So lexical meaning may be described as the component of word-meaning proper to the word as a linguistic unit and recurrent in all the forms of this word.

By lexical meaning we designate the meaning proper to the given linguistic unit in all its forms and distributions, while by grammatical meaning we designate the meaning proper to sets of word-forms common to all words of a certain class.

Both the lexical and grammatical meanings make up the word-meaning as a whole because neither of them can exist without the other. The lexical meaning of a word is dependent upon its grammatical meaning.

Part-of-speech meaning

Lexical items or words are generally classified into major word-classes such as nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs and into minor word-classes such as articles, prepositions, conjunctions and so on.

All members of the same word-class share a distinguishing semantic component which can be viewed asthe lexical component of part-of-speech meaning. The grammatical aspect of part-of-speech meaning is conveyed as a rule by a set of forms. Here we may speak about the meaning of lexico-grammatical groups or classes of words and, consequently, about lexico-grammatical meaning.

A lexico-grammatical class may be defined as a class of lexical elements possessing the same lexico-grammatical meaning and a common system of forms in which the grammatical categories inherent in these units are expressed. So every lexico-grammatical group or class is characterized by its own lexico-grammatical meaning forming the common denomenator of all the meanings of the words which belong to this group. The lexico-grammatical meaning may be also regarded as the feature according to which these words are grouped together.

As it was mentioned above, the lexical meaning of every word depends upon the part of speech to which this word belongs. In the lexical meaning of every separate word the lexico-grammatical meaning common to all the words of the class to which this word belongs is enriched by additional features and becomes particularized.

Let us take, for example, such words as bright, clear, good. These adjectives denote the properties of things capable of being compared and so have degrees of comparison. In the lexical meanings of these words in the forms brighter, clearerand better the lexico-grammatical meaning of qualitative adjectives common to all the words of this class is enriched the additional meaning of the comparative degree of the quality these words denote.

If we describe the word as a noun we mean to say that it is bound to possess a set of forms expressing the grammatical meanings of number, case, sometimes gender and so on. A verb is understood to possess sets of forms expressing the grammatical meanings of tense, aspect, mood and so on.

The part-of-speech meaning of words that possess only one form, for example, prepositions, is observed only in their distribution; compare, for example, to come in and inthe table.

One of the levels at which grammatical meaning operates is that of minor word class like articles, prepositions and pronouns.

One criterion for distinguishing these grammatical items from lexical items is in terms of closed and open sets of units.

Grammatical items form closed sets of units usually of small membership, such as articles, prepositions, pronouns. New items are practically never added there.

Lexical items proper belong to open sets of units which have indeterminately large membership; new lexical items which are constantly coined to name new objects of reality are added to these open sets of units.

The interrelation of the lexical and grammatical meanings within the word-meaning and the role played by each of them varies in different word-classes and even in different groups of words within one and the same class. In some parts of speech the prevailing component of the word-meaning is the lexical meaning, in others – the grammatical meaning.

Connotative meaning

The emotional content of the word is its capacity to evoke or directly express emotions. It is rendered by the emotional or expressive counterpart of meaning, also called emotive charge< intentional or affective connotations of words.

Connotative or connotational meaning is termed as part of lexical meaning expressing the emotive charge and stylistic value of a linguistic unit.

The emotive charge is one of the objective semantic features proper to words as linguistic units and forms part of the connotational component of meaning. Let us compare the following words: like, love, cherish, adore, worship.We cannot fail to observe the difference in the emotive charge of the members of this set of synonyms. The emotive charge of the wordsadoreandworship is much heavier than that of the wordslikeandlove.

The emotive charge should not be confused with emotive implications that words may acquire in speech. The emotive implication of the word is to a great extent subjective as it depends on the personal experience of the speaker, on the mental imagery the evokes in him. Words seemingly devoid of any emotional element may possess strong emotive implications in the case of certain individual speakers.

The meaning of many words is subject to complex associations originating in habitual contexts, verbal or situational, of which the speaker and the listener are aware, and which form the connotational component of meaning.

In some words the realization of meaning is accompanied by additional stylistic features revealing the speaker’s attitude to the situation, the subject-matter, and to his interlocutor.

Pragmatic meaning

The term “pragmatics” stems from the Greek word prágma“deed, action”. It studies functioning of linguistic signs in speech. Pragmatic meaning as a component of lexical meaning is the attitude of speakers, fixed the language practice, to the linguistic sign they use in speech and its corresponding influence on the interlocutors. Pragmatic meaning depends upon certain sociolinguistic parameters of interaction-communication.

Types of morpheme-meaning

The morpheme is the smallest two-facet language unit possessing both a sound-form and meaning. One of the semantic features of some morphemes which distinguishes them from words is that they do not possess grammatical meaning. If we compare the word child and the morpheme child- occurred in the words childhood and childish we cannot find in this morpheme the grammatical meaning of case and number observed in the word child. So morphemes are regarded as devoid of grammatical meaning.

Word-meaning and motivation

Definition of motivation

There are cases when we can observe a direct connection between the structural pattern of the word and its meaning. In such cases we say that the word is motivated. The term motivation is used to denote the relationship existing between the phonemic and morphemic composition and structural pattern of the word, on one hand, and its lexical meaning, on the other.

Types of motivation

There are three main types of motivation: phonetical, morphological and semantic motivation.

Causes of semantic change

The factors accounting for semantic changes may be subdivided into two main groups: (1) extralinguistic causes and (2) linguistic cases.

Lecture 3. Polysemy

The notion of polysemy

The term polysemy stems from the Greek word polýsēmos‘having many meanings’. It is defined as the ability of a word to have several meanings simutenuously.

It is very important to distinguish between the lexical meaning of a word in speech and its semantic structure in language. The meaning in speech is contextual. The definite context particularizes the lexical meaning of a word and makes possible the realization of only one meaning. Any word actually used in speech is monosemantic but it may render a complicated notion. Monosemantic words, that is words having only one meaning are few in number; these are mainly scientific terms, such as molecule.

The monosemantic property of a word used in context does not exclude the complexity of each denotative meaning as it serves to signify complex notions with many features. For example, the word table has at least 9 meanings in Modern English: (1) a piece of furniture; (2) meals; (3) a thin flat piece of stone, metal, wood; (4) an orderly arrangemet of facts, figures etc.

If we turn to the meaning of words as they exist in language we shall observe that frequently used words are polysemantic. A word that has more than one meaning in the language is called polysemantic. Its meanings form its semantic structure.

The semantic structure of a polysemantic word may be defined as a structured set of interrelated meanings. It is an organized set of recurrent variants and shades of meaning a given sound complex can assume in different contexts, together with their emotional colouring, stylistic peculiarities and other typical connotations. The semantic structure of the word is a fact of language, not of speech. It is developed and fixed in the course of the language’s history.

Special procedures of componential analysis have been developed to determine the components of each meaning and represent this as a combination of elementary senses or semes. A seme is the smallest, elementary, ultimate constituent of the lexical meaning of the word.

Polysemy exists only in language but not in speech. Polysemy does not interfere with the communicative function of the language because in every particular case the situation and context cancel all the meanings but one and make speech unambiguous.

Polysemy is inherent in the very nature of words and notions, as they always contain a generalization of several traits of the object. Some of these traits are common with other objects, hence the possibility of identical names for objects possessing common features. Thus polysemy is characteristic of most words in many languages. But it is more characteristic of the English vocabulary due to the monosyllabic character of English and the predominance of root words.

Approaches to polysemy

Lecture 4. Homonymy

Definition of homonymy

The term homonym is derived from Greek homos ‘similar’ and onoma ‘name’. Two or mere words identical in sound and / or spelling but different in meaning, distribution and often in origin are called homonyms. Homonyms may also be defined as words possessing identical sound forms and / or spelling but different semantic structure.

Classification of homonyms

Full and partial homonymy

Consequently all cases of homonymy may be classified into full and partial homonymy or homonymy of words and homonymy of individual word-forms.

The bulk of full homonyms are to be found within the same parts of speech; e.g. seal1 :: seal2 both as nouns.

Partial homonymy is also possible within one part of speech; e.g. in the verbs: lie1‘to be in horizontal position’::lie2 ‘to make an untrue statement’; cf.

lie1 lie2

lies lies

lay lied

lain lied

Here only the first two forms are homonymous.

Sources of homonymy

The two main sources of homonymy are: (1) divergent meaning development of a polysemantic word and (2) convergent sound development of two or more different words.

Synonymy and antonymy

Words may also be classified by the criterion of semantic similarity and semantic contrasts into synonyms and antonyms.

Synonymsare words different in their sound-form, but similar in their denotational meaning and interchangeable at least in some contexts. For example, to begin, to start, to commence, initiate, originate, create, arise.

Synonyms may also be defined as words belonging to the same part of speech and possessing one or more identical or nearly identical denotational meanings, interchangeable, at least, in some contexts, without any considerable alteration in denotaional meaning, but differing in phonemic shape, morphemic composition, shades of meaning, connotations, affective value, style, valency and idiomatic use.

Synonyms form a synonymic set comprising a synonymic dominant. The synonymic dominant is the most general synonym containing the specific features rendered by all the other members of the set.For example, the word ghostin the setspecter, phantom, spirit, spook.

If the difference in the meaning of synonyms concerns the notion or the emotion expressed, the synonyms are classed as ideographic synonyms. For example, lonely, alone.

Contextual synonyms are similar in meaning only under some specific distributional conditions. For example, the verbs bear, suffer, standare semantically different and not interchangeable except when used in the negative form can’t bear, can’t suffer, can’t stand.

Antonymsare words different in their sound-form and characterized by different types of semantic contrast of their denotational meaning and interchangeable at least in some contexts.

For example, to ask, toanswer.

Antonyms may also be defined as two or rarely more words of the same part of speech that are identical in style and nearly identical in distribution, associated and used together so that their denotative meanings render contrary or contradictory notions. For example, the antonymic pair love :: hate. There are derivational antonyms: unknown :: known; useful :: useless.

Polysemantic words may have antonymous meanings in their semantic structure; for example, to dust means “to wipe the dust” and “to spread the dust”. This feature is called enantiosemy.

Antonyms may be grouped into contradictories, e.g. dead :: alive, contraries, e.g. cold :: hot, and incompatibles, e.g. red entails the exclusion of black, blue yellow.

Lecture 6. Word-structure

Classification of morphemes

Morphemes may be classified from the semantic and structural points of view.

Semanticallymorphemes fall into two classes: root-morphemes and non-rootmorphemes.

The root-morpheme is the lexical nucleus of a word. It has its individual lexical meaning and all other types of meaning proper to a morpheme except the part-of-speech meaning. The root-morpheme is isolated as the morpheme common to a set of words making up a word-cluster. E.g.: to read, reader, reading.

Non-root morphemesinclude inflectional morphemes or inflections and affixational morphemes or affixes.

Inflections carry only grammatical meaning and are used to form word-forms. They are the object of morphology.

Affixes possess a part-of-speech meaning and a generalized lexical meaning and are used for building word-stems and word-formation. The stemis the part of a word that remains unchanged throughout its paradigm. Lexicology is concerned only withaffixational morphemes.

By the position within the word-structure affixes are subdivided into prefixes, suffixes and infixes.

A prefix precedes the root-morpheme; e.g.: discharge.

A suffixfollows the root-morpheme; e.g.: reader.

An infix is inside the root-morpheme; e.g.: stand as compared to stood.

Structurallymorphemes fall into three types: free morphemes, bound morphemes and semi-free or semi-bound morphemes.

A free morpheme is defined as the one that coincides with the stem of a word-form. Generally root-morphemes are free morphemes; e.g.: reader, friendship, shipwreck.

A bound morphemeoccurs only as a constituent part of a word. All affixes and unique and pseudo-roots are bound morphemes; e.g.: goodness, discharge, friendship, theory, deceive.

Semi-freeorsemi-bound morphemes can function in a morphemic sequence both as an affix and as a free morpheme. E.g.: the morphemes well and half occur as free morphemes that coincide with the stem and the word-form in utterances like sleep well, half an hour. But they occur as bound morphemes in words like well-known, half-done.

There are two more types of morphemes: combining forms and semi-suffixes.

Bound root-morphemes of Latin and Greek origin are called combining forms. E.g.: telephone, telegraph and microphone, photograph.

A semi-suffix is termed as a word-building element formally coinciding with the stem or word-form of a free separate word but acting as an affix. E.g.: cabman, bar-happy.

Morphemic types of words

According to the number of morphemes words are classified into monomorphicand polymorphic.

Momnomorphicor root-words consist of only one root-morpheme.

Polymorphic words consist of root and non-root morphemes. According to the number of root-morphemes all polymorphic words are divided into two groups: monoradicalor one-root words and polyradical words which consist of two or more roots.

According to the type of affixes monoradical words fall into three subtypes: radical-suffixal, radical-prefixaland prefixo-radical-suffixalwords.

Radical-suffixal words consist of one root-morpheme and one or more suffixal morphemes.

Radical-prefixal words consist of one root-morpheme and a prefixal morpheme.

Prefixo-radical-suffixalwords consist of one root-morpheme and prefixal and suffixal morphemes.

Polyradical words fall into two types: (1) polyradical words of two or more roots with no affixal morphemes and (2) polyradical words containing at least two roots and one or more affixal morphemes.

Lecture 7. Word-formation

Definition and types

Word-formation is the system of derivative types of words and the process of creating new words from the material available in the language after certain structural and semantic formulas and patterns.

The basic types of word-formation are affixation, composition, conversion and abbreviation or shortening.

Affixation

Affixation is defined as the formation of words by adding derivational affixes to different types of bases. According to the division of derivational affixes into suffixes and prefixes affixation is subdivided into suffixation and prefixation.

Prefixation

Prefixation is the formation of words with the help of prefixes.

There are two main types of prefixes: (1) bound morphemes – those prefixes that cannot function in speech as independent words, e.g. un- uneasy, dis- dislike; (2) semibound morphemes – those prefixes that can function in speech both derivational affixes and as independent words, e.g. out- outline, over- overlap.

7.2.2. Suffixation

Suffixation is the formation of words with the help of suffixes. Suffixes usually modify the lexical meaning of the base and transfer words to a different part of speech.

According to the part of speech formed suffixes are classified into (1) noun-suffixes that is those forming nouns, e.g. -er: teacher, -dom: freedom; (2) adjective-suffixes that is those forming adjectives, e.g. -less: careless, -ful: careful; (3) verb-suffixes that is those forming verbs, e.g. –en: darken, -fy: satisfy; (4) adverb-suffixes that is those forming adverbs, e.g. –ly: quickly.

According to the sense expressed by e set of suffixes they are subdivided into (1) suffixes denoting the agent of an action, e.g. –er: baker, -ant: defendant; (2) suffixes denoting collectivity, e.g. –dom: officialdom, -ry: peasantry; (3) suffixes denoting diminutiveness, e.g. –ie: birdie, -ling: duckling.

These classifications can be continued further and there are o lot of other classifications.

Composition or compounding

Compounding or word-composition is linking together at least two stems which occur in the language as free forms, e.g. oak-tree, blackbird, fancy-dress-maker.

Compound words may be classified according to different principles: (1) according to the relationship and degree of semantic independence of components; (2) according to the parts of speech compound words represent; (3) according to the means of composition used to link the Immediate Constituents together; (4) according to the type of Immediate Constituents that are brought together to form o compound; (5) according to the correlative relations with the system of free word-groups.

Conversion

Conversion is the process of coining a new word in a different part of speech with a different paradigm and distribution, but without adding any derivative element and without changing the form of the derivative word, so that the original base-word and the derivative word are homonymous. E.g. ape (n.) ® to ape (v.). The second word in the conversion pair is semantically derived from the first one.

According to the type of semantic relations in this pair we may distinguish the following basic conversion patterns:

1) N®V: verbs converted from nouns or denominal verbs: bag® to bag; this process is called verbalization;

2) V ®N: nouns converted from verbs or deverbal substantives: to move ® move; this process is called substantivation;

3) N ®A: adjectives converted from nouns or denominal adjectives: suspect (n.) ® suspect (a.); this process is called adjectivization;

4) A ®N: adjectives converted into nouns or deadjectival nouns: intellectual (a.) ® intellectual (n.); this process is called substantivation;

5) A ®Adv: adjectives converted into adverbs or deadjectival adverbs: dear (a.) ® dear (adv.); this process is called adverbialization.

Shortening and abbreviation

Shortening or abbreviation is the process of subtraction of a part of the original word.

Shortening or contraction

Shortening may be also called clipping, curtailment or contracting of words.

The generally accepted classification of shortened words is based on the position of the clipped part. According to the part of the word that is cut off – final, initial or middle we distinguish:

1) final clipping (or apocope) in which the beginning of the prototype is retained; e.g. lab < laboratory;

2) initial clipping (or apheresis [{'fi@risis], or aphesis['{fisis]) in which the final part of the prototype is retained; e.g. chute< parachute;

3) medial clipping (or syncope) ['siÎk@pi] in which the middle part of the prototype is left out; e.g. specs< spectacles;

4) final clipping may be combined with initial clipping and result in curtailed words with the middle part of the prototype retained; e.g. flu < influenza.

There are cases when curtailment is combined with affixation; e.g. nightie < nightdress + -ie.

There are also cases when curtailment is combined with composition that result in compound shortening; e.g. satcom< satellite communication.

Among such formations there is a special group of derivatives named blends, blendings, fusions or portmanteau [pþt'm{nt@u] words; they are formed by clipping combined with blending; e.g. smog < smoke + fog.

There are cases when the words slide or inserted into one another without any clipping; this process is called telescoping; e.g. alcoholiday < alcohol + holiday “a drinking spree”.

There is a special type of curtailed forms base on clipped phrases; they result from a combined effect of curtailment, ellipsis and substantivation. Ellipsis is defined as the omission of a word or words in a word-combination or phrase; e.g. finals< final examinations.

Abbreviation

Abbreviations are formed from the initial letters of the prototype word or word-combination. Here we distinguish two main types of abbreviations:

1) initial-letterabbreviations retaining the alphabetical reading of each constituent letter; e.g. B.B.C.['bÖ'bÖ'sÖ] < British Broadcasting Corporation;

2) initial-soundabbreviations or acronyms when the abbreviated written form can be read as an ordinary English word; e.g. Nato['neit@u] < North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The term abbreviation can also be applied for a shortened form of a written word or phrase used in a text in place of the whole, for economy of space and effort. Such abbreviations are called graphic as they are not separate words but only graphic signs or symbols representing them pronounced like full words; e.g. bldg < building.

A special type of graphic abbreviationsis represented by Latinabbreviations which sometimes are not read as Latin words but substituted by there English equivalents;e.g. (< exempli gratia) “for example”.

Back-formation or reversion

Back-formation or reversion is a diachronic process denoting the derivation og new words by subtracting a real or supposed affix from existing words through misinterpretation of there structure. The process is based on analogy.

E.g. the words burglar, butler look very much like agent nouns with the suffix –er/-or such as actor or painter. The last syllable is therefore taken for a suffix and is subtracted from the word leaving what is understood as a verbal stem. In this way the verbs to burgle and to butle are formed.

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8. Гак В. Г. Сопоставительная лексикология. М., 1982.

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13. Мешков О.Д. Словообразование современного английского языка. М., 1976.

14. Смирницкий А. И. Лексикология английского языка. М., 1956.

15. Харитончик З.А. Лексикология английского языка. Минск, 1992.

16. Arnold J. V. The English Word. M., 1986.

17. Ginsburg R. S. et al. A Course in English Lexicology. M., 1979.

 

 

Contents

Introduction.. 1

1. Lexicology as a branch of linquistics. 1

2. Kinds of lexicology.. 1

3. Links of Lexicology with other branches of Linguistics. 3

Lecture 1. Word-meaning.. 5

1.1. semantics as a branch of Lexicology studing meanihg.. 5

1.2. Approaches to the study of meaning.. 5

1.2.1. Referential approach to meaning. 5

1.2.2. Functional approach to meaning. 6

1.3. Types of word-meaning.. 7

1.3.1. Grammatical meaning. 7

1.3.2. Lexical meaning. 7

1.3.3. Part-of-speech meaning. 8

1.3.4 Denotative, significative and connotative meanings. 9

1.3.5. Connotative meaning. 9

1.3.6. Emotive charge and sociostylistic reference of words. 10

1.3.7. Pragmatic meaning. 11

1.4. Types of morpheme-meaning.. 11

1.4.1. Lexical meaning of morphemes. 11

1.4.2. Functional or part-of-speech meaning of morphemes. 12

1.4.3. Differential meaning of morphemes. 12

1.4.4. Distributional meaning of morphemes. 12

1.5. Word-meaning and motivation.. 12

1.5.1. Definition of motivation. 12

1.5.2. Types of motivation. 12

1.5.2.1. Phonetic motivation of words. 12

1.5.2.2. Morphological motivation of words. 13

1.5.2.3. Semantic motivation of words. 13

Lecture 2. Change of Meaning.. 14

2.1. Causes of semantic change. 14

2.1.1. Extralinguistic causes of semantic change. 14

2.1.2. Linguistic causes of semantic change. 15

2.2. Nature, results and types of semantic change. 15

2.2.1. Similarity of meanings or metaphor. 16

2.2.2. Contiguity of meanings or metonymy. 17

2.2.3. Types of semantic change without the transfer of name. 18

2.2.3.1. Specialization and generalization of meanings. 18

2.2.3.2. Amelioration and pejoration of meaning. 19

2.2.3.3. Hyperbole, litotes, irony, euphemism, disphemism, taboo. 19

Lecture 3. Polysemy.. 21

3.1. The notion of polysemy.. 21

3.2. Approaches to polysemy.. 21

3.2.1. Diachronic approach to polysemy. 21

3.2.2. Synchronic approach to polysemy. 22

Lecture 4. Homonymy.. 23

4.1. Definition of homonymy.. 23

4.2. Homonymy of words and homonymy of word-forms. 23

4.3. Classification of homonyms. 23

4.3.1. Full and partial homonymy. 23

4.3.2. Classification of homonyms by the type of meaning. 23

4.3.3. Classification of homonyms by the sound-form, graphic form and meaning. 24

4.4. Sources of homonymy.. 24

4.4.1. diverging meaning development 24

4.4.2. Converging sound development 24

4.5. Differentiation of polysemy and homonymy.. 25

Lecture 5. Word-meaning in syntagmatics and paradigmatics. 26

5.1. Definition of syntagmatics and paradigmatics. 26

5.2. Conceptual or semantic fields. 26

5.3. Hyponimic (or hierarchical) structures and lexico-semantic groups. 27

5.4. Synonymy and antonymy.. 28

Lecture 6. Word-structure.. 30

6.1. Segmentation of words into morphemes. 30

6.2. Classification of morphemes. 31

6.3. Procedure of morphemic analysis. 31

6.4. Morphemic types of words. 32

6.5. Derivative structure of words. 32

Lecture 7. Word-formation.. 33

7.1. Definition and types. 33

7.2. Affixation.. 33

7.2.1. Prefixation. 33

7.2.2. Suffixation.. 33

7.3. Composition or compounding. 33

7.4. Conversion. 34

7.5. Shortening and abbreviation. 34

7.5.1. Shortening or contraction. 34

7.5.2. Abbreviation. 35

7.6. Back-formation or reversion. 35

8. Word-groups and phraseological units. 35

8.1. Lexical and grammatical valency. 35

8.2. Definition of phraseological units. 36

8.3. Classification of phraseological units. 36

Literature.. 36

 

 

English lexicology

A course of lectures

Introduction

Lexicology as a branch of linquistics

The term lexicology is composed of two Greek morphemes: lexikós meaning ‘relating to the word’ and lógosdenoting ‘learning’. Thus, literally, the term lexicology means ‘the science of the word’. Lexicology, as a branch of linguistics studying words, has its own object, aims and methods of scientific research.

The object of lexicology is lexical and phraseological units, including morphemes, words, variable word-groups and idioms. The basic object of Lexicology is the word.

The wordmay be defined as the basic structural and functional two-facet linguistic unit, used for the purposes of human nomination and communication, materially representing a group of sounds, possessing a meaning, susceptible to grammatical employment and characterized by formal and semantic unity.

The aimsof lexicology are a study and systematic description of lexical units and the word-stock in general, in respect to their origin, development, structure, semantics and current use.

The main tasks of lexicology are as follows:

1. to investigate the word-structure, word-formation and combinations of words;

2. to analyze the semantic structure of words, semantic changes and semantic groupings of words;

3. to reveal the sources and means of the replenishment and growth of vocabulary, and the specific laws and regulations governing its development;

4. to study the vocabulary of a language as a system, relations between words in this system, synchronically an diachronically;

5. to describe the differentiation of vocabulary into various social, stylistic, territorial and ethnic layers, and to ascertain the relations existing between these lexical layers of vocabulary;

6. to study the problems of dictionary-compiling and lexicographical description of words.

Kinds of lexicology

Lexicology as an autonomous branch of linguistics is subdivided into several kinds.

First of all it is natural to distinguish between General or Theoretical Lexicology and Special or Descriptive Lexicology.

General or Theoretical Lexicologyis part of General Linguistics. It is concerned with the study of vocabulary, irrespective of specific features of the vocabulary of any particular language. Its aim is to work out theoretical notions, classifications and principles of research that may be used to study words, word combinations and vocabularies of all languages in general. It also summarizes achievements of lexicologies of separate tongues.

Special or Descriptive Lexicology is the lexicology of a particular language (English, German, Russian), that is the study and description of its lexical units and vocabulary. Special Lexicology is based on the general theory of vocabulary, notions, classifications and principles of investigation laid down by General Lexicology.

Theoretical Lexicology is also opposed to Practical Lexocology. The aim of Practical Lexocology of a particular language is to supply a theoretical study of vocabulary with concrete examples showing the morphological, semantic, word-building and etymological peculiarities of lexical units of a given language and help teachers explain and students learn these lexical phenomena and develop their lexical skills and enrich their knowledge of vocabularies and private lexicons on the basis of special practical exercises.

In linguistic science there are two principal approaches to the study of language forms and facts, namely the synchronic and diachronic approaches. These approaches are also applied to the differentiation of lexicological explorations. It explains the existence of synchronic or Modern Lexicology and diachronic or Historical Lexicology.

synchronic or Modern Lexicology describes the present existence and state of a language word stock as a result of its previous growth and changes.

diachronic or Historical Lexicology shows the process of the formation of a language lexical system, the sources of its growth and changes in the structure and semantics of words that occurred in the recorded history of their existence, that is their etymology.

In regard to Special Lexicology the synchronic approach is concerned with the vocabulary of a language at a given time, for instance, at the present time. It is Special Descriptive Lexicology that deals with the words and word-stock of a particular language at a certain time.

Therefore, A Course in Modern English Lexicology represents a course in Special Descriptive Lexicology of the English Language and the object of study of this art is the English vocabulary as it exists at the present time.

The diachronic approach in terms of Special Lexicology is concerned with the development of vocabulary in the course of time. It is Special Historical Lexicology that deals with the evolution of a language lexical system and words along the whole period of their recorded existence. Therefore, the tasks of English Historical Lexicology are to reveal the origin, sources and growth of the English vocabulary, changes and development in the morphological composition and semantics of English words, linguistic and extralinguistic factors modifying their structure, meaning and usage within the history of the English language.

Closely connected with Historical Lexicology is Comparative Historical or Diachronic Lexicology. Comparative Historical Lexicology studies lexical systems of cognate languages with the aim to reveal the origin of their words and laws of the development of their vocabularies.

Here we also distinguish Contrastive Descriptive or Synchronic Lexicology. Contrastive DescriptiveLexicology studies the vocabulary and words of a certain language in comparison with the corresponding facts of another language or several other languages, whether cognate or non-cognate, with the aim to ascertain their typical features, similarities and peculiarities.

Every language has a number of regional, territorial and local varieties. Therefore, we may distinguish Dialectal Lexicology that studies lexical dialectisms.

One of the most up-dated branches of lexicology is the so-called social lexicology or, shortly, Sociolexicology. Sociolexicology studies the non-standard or substandard part of a language vocabulary – low colloquialisms, slang, vulgarisms, different kinds of jargons, argot, cant, lexicons of social and ethnic dialects, such as Negro slang, city patois, such as London Cockney, Liverpool Scouse, contact-language lexicons, such as Pidgin English, “secret languages”, such as Pig Latin of American gangsters.

One more branch of Lexicology should be also mentioned. It is the Applied Lexicology. It includes 4 fields of its application: Lexicography, translation, linguodidactics and the so-called culture of speech.









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