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Lexical differences of territorial variants of English



All lexical units may be divided into general English (common to all the variants) and locally-marked (specific to present-day usage in one of the variants and not found in the others). Different variants of English use different words for the same objects (BE vs. AE: flat/apartment, underground/subway, pavement/sidewalk, post/mail).

Speaking about lexical differences between the two variants of the English language, the following cases are of importance:

1. Cases where there are no equivalent words in one of the variant! (British English has no equivalent to the American word drive-in ('a cinema or restaurant that one can visit without leaving one's car')).

2. Cases where different words are used for the same denotatum, e.g. sweets (BrE) — candy (AmE); reception clerk (BrE) — desk clerk (AmE).

3. Cases where some words are used in both variants but are much commoner in one of them. For example, shop and store are used in both variants, but the former is frequent in British English and the latter in American English.

4. Cases where one (or more) lexico-semantic variant(s) is (are) specific to either British English or American English (e.g. faculty, denoting 'all the teachers and other professional workers of a university or college' is used only in American English; analogous opposition in British English or Standard English - teaching staff).

5. Cases where one and the same word in one of its lexico-semantic variants is used oftener in British English than in American English (brew - 'a cup of tea' (BrE), ‘a beer or coffee drink’ (AmE).

Cases where the same words have different semantic structure in British English and American English (homely - 'home-loving, domesticated, house-proud' (BrE), 'unattractive in appearance' (AmE); politician ‘a person who is professionally involved in politics’, neutral, (BrE), 'a person who acts in a manipulative and devious way, typically to gain advancement within an organisation' (AmE).

Besides, British English and American English have their own deri­vational peculiarities (some of the affixes more frequently used in American English are: -ее ( draftee — 'a young man about to be enlisted'), -ster (roadster — 'motor-car for long journeys by road'), super- (super-market — ‘a very large shop that sells food and other products for the home’); AmE favours morphologically more complex words ( transportation ), BrE uses clipped forms ( transport ); AmE prefers to form words by means of affixes ( burglarize ), BrE uses back-formation ( burgle from burglar).

ЭКЗАМЕНАЦИОННЫЙ БИЛЕТ № 18

Methods and procedures of lexicological analysis

The process of scientific investigation may be subdivided into several stages:

1. Observation (statements of fact must be based on observation)

2. Classification (orderly arrangement of the data)

3. Generalization (formulation of a generalization or hypothesis, rule a law)

4. The verifying process. Here, various procedures of linguistic analysis are commonly applied:

1). Contrastive analysis attempts to find out similarities and differences in both philogenically related and non-related languages. In fact contrastive analysis grew as the result of the errors which are made recurrently by foreign language students. They can be often traced back to the differences in structure between the target language and the language of the learner, detailed comparison of these two languages has been named contrastive analysis.

Contrastive analysis brings to light the essence of what is usually described as idiomatic English, idiomatic Russian etc., i.e. the peculiar way in which every language combines and structures in lexical units various concepts to denote extra-linguistic reality.

2). Statistical analysis is the quantitative study of a language phenomenon. Statistical linguistics is nowadays generally recognised as one of the major branches of linguistics. (frequency – room, collocability)

3). Immediate constituents analysis. The theory of Immediate Constituents (IC) was originally elaborated as an attempt to determine the ways in which lexical units are relevantly related to one another. The fundamental aim of IC analysis is to segment a set of lexical units into two maximally independent sequences or ICs thus revealing the hierarchical structure of this set.

4). Distributional analysis and co-occurrence. By the term distribution we understand the occurrence of a lexical unit relative to other lexical units of the same level (the position which lexical units occupy or may occupy in the text or in the flow of speech). Distributional analysis is mainly applied by the linguist to find out sameness or difference of meaning.

5). Transformational analysis can be definedas repatterning of various distributional structures in order to discover difference or sameness of meaning of practically identical distributional patterns. It may be also described as a kind of translation (transference of a message by different means).

6). Componental analysis (1950’s). In this analysis linguists proceed from the assumption that the smallest units of meaning are sememes (семема - семантическая единица) or semes (сема (минимальная единица содержания)) and that sememes and lexemes (or lexical items) are usually not in one-to-one but in one-to-many correspondence (e.g. in lexical item “woman”, semems are – human, female, adult). This analysis deals with individual meanings.

7). Method of Semantic Differential (set up by American psycholinguists). The analysis is concerned with measurement of differences of the connotational meaning, or the emotive charge, which is very hard to grasp.

 

Ways and means of enriching the vocabulary of English

Development of the vocabulary can be described a process of the never-ending growth. There are two ways of enriching the vocabulary:

A. Vocabulary extension — the appearance of new lexical items. New vocabulary units appear mainly as a result of: 1) productive or patterned ways of word-formation (affixation, conversion, composition); 2) non-patterned ways of word-creation ( lexicalization – transformation of a word-form into a word, e.g. arms-arm, customs (таможня)-custom); shortening - transformation of a word-group into a word or a change of the word-structure resulting in a new lexical item, e.g. RD for Road, St for Street; substantivization – the finals to the final exams, acronyms (NATO) and letter abbreviation (D.J. – disk jokey), blendings (brunch – breakfast and lunch), clipping – shortening of a word of two or more syllables (bicycle – bike, pop (clipping plus substativization) – popular music)); 3) borrowing from other languages.

Borrowing as a means of replenishing the vocabulary of present-day English is of much lesser importance and is active mainly in the field of scientific terminology. 1) Words made up of morphemes of Latin and Greek origin (e.g. –tron: mesotron; tele-: telelecture; -in: protein). 2) True borrowings which reflect the way of life, the peculiarities of development of speech communities from which they come. (e.g. kolkhoz, sputnik). 3) Loan-translations also reflect the peculiarities of life and easily become stable units of the vocabulary (e.g. fellow-traveler, self-criticism)

B. Semantic extension — the appearance of new meanings of existing words which may result in homonyms. The semantic development of words already available in the language is the main source of the qualitative growth of the vocabulary but does not essentially change the vocabulary quantatively.

The most active ways of word creation are clippings and acronyms.

 

 

ЭКЗАМЕНАЦИОННЫЙ БИЛЕТ № 19

 

Means of composition

From the point of view of the means by which the components are joined together compound words may be classified into:

1) Words formed by merely placing one constituent after another (e.g. house-dog, pot-pie) can be: asyntactic (the order of bases runs counter to the order in which the words can be brought together under the rules of syntax of the language, e.g. red-hot, pale-blue, oil-rich) and syntactic (the order of words arranged according to the rules of syntax, e.g. mad-doctor, blacklist).

2) Compound words whose ICs are joined together with a special linking-element - linking vowels (o) and consonants (s), e.g. speedometer, tragicomic, statesman.

The additive compound adjectives linked with the help of the vowel [ou] are limited to the names of nationalities and represent a specific group with a bound root for the first component, e.g. Sino-Japanese, Afro-Asian, Anglo-Saxon.

 


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