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Different branches of lexicology.

Lexicology and its connections with other branches of linguistics.

A word as a lexical unit.

The word stock and the theory of oppositions.

Types of lexical units.

The theoretical and practical value of lexicology.

Lexicology is a branch of linguistics studying a word as a unit of the word stock, having

· the sound, form and

· meaning,

· dealing with the vocabulary and

· the properties of words as the main units of language. (Arnold,1986)


Lexicology is of Greek origin: le xikos (lexis) “of a word”, “logos” science, speech (learning).

The term lexeme was introduced byBenjamin Lee Whorf (1938).

Vocabulary – the system formed by the sum total of all the words and word equivalents the lg. possesses.

A word is the basic unit of a given lg. resulting from the association of a particular meaning with a particular group of sounds capable of a particular grammatical employment.(I.V. Arnold)

Thus a word is a semantic, grammatical and phonological unit. Ex.: boy ‘a male child up to the age of 17-18’, boys, boy’s, boys’.



General (lg universals)

Special (of the particular lg)

3. Descriptive (vocabulary as a system): boy, boyhood, boyish, boyishly, old boy, my dear boy, boy-friend.

Comparative, Contrastive (English and Russian lexis)

Historical or diachronic (etymology): Extralinguistic forces influencing the development of words.


In historical lexicology: diachronic approach;

In descriptive lexicology: synchronic approach;

syn – simultaneous;

chronos – time;

Dia – through the time (Ferdinand de Saussure’s dichotomy).

Post = posta – posita (fr. Lat. Through Fr. and Italian) – place;

(16 century): ‘One of a number of men with horses along roads to deliver the King’s ‘packet’ from stage to stage’(obs.)

Mail (Am. from Old French) = mail of letters ‘a bag of letters’

Sack fr. ‘ To get the sack’(to dismiss from service)

Maiden (poet.) – girl

Lexicology and phonetics:

Hip – hop – hope- heap- - hoop;(substitution test)

Tip – top; tip – pit;

Import,n ::to import,v.;

Blackbird:: black bird

Our queer old dean – our dear old queen.

(Spoonerisms (W.A. Spooner) – jocular transposition of the initial sounds of two or more words)

Lexicology and grammar:

Head of the committee – to head a committee (interdependence oflexical and grammatical meaning)

Come true, Fall ill, Go wrong, Turn red,

Run dry ‘become smth’(only verbs of motion are used)

Syntactical context: “The house is gone.

You are not going to sit there saying nothing, are you?”

“…how a novel that has now had a fairly long life, as novels go, has come to be written” (Maugham).

Frighten, amuse, awaken; say, talk, think (only animate nouns) - W.Chafe.

Lexicology and etymology

Brothers (family relationship;

Brethren (arch.) (members of the club or society);

Genius – geniuses (of exceptional intellect) – genii (evil or good spirit).

Arm – arms :‘To take arms against the sea of troubles’ – lexicalization: authorities, colours, customs, looks, manners, pictures, works.

Futurity: shall – will come, going to, future, tomorrow, by and by, time to come, hereafter;

Plurality: Houses, boys, books; crowd, party, company, group.

Lexicology and Word Formation:

Wooden (adj), strengthen (v), oxen(n).

The main branches of lexicology:

1. The morphological structure of words, their phonetic, structural and semantic characteristics;

2. Etymology of words, the sources of borrowing. Whole – heal – hail (etymologicallyrelated) “unharmed, unwounded, made whole, heal’’ = hail! (Be healthy> call).

3. Semantic and thematic classification of the word stock. Say – talk – think (human being);

4. Word formation (post-impressionists) and phraseology (to take the bull by the horns, to see red, birds of a feather).

5. Stylistic differentiation of the vocabulary. brothers – brethren (arch.);

The theoretical problems of a word:

· the theory of meaning,

· semantic groups and fields,

· Functional differentiation of the vocabulary, etc.)

The paradigmatic relations (interdependence of words within a vocabulary) :

- synonymy,

- antonymy,

- hyponymy,

- functional styles):

head, chief, director;

work:: labour;

refuse:: reject:: decline;

busy – idle;

man:: chap:: guy:: bloke.

Miss, v. n.(homonyms)

Syntagmatic relations: based on linear character of speech (contextual, valency, distributional, transformational, etc. analysis)

Diachronic interdependence of words within the lexical subsystem:

harvest, v.n.-“ the gathering of grain”, “the season for reaping, autumn”

Autumne (Romance word)>autumn

Referential (onomasiological) approach (theory of nomination):

Meaning is studied as interdependence btw words and their referents (things or concepts).

The theory of oppositions

(N.S. Trubetzkoy):

A lexical opposition is a semantically relevant relationship of partial difference btw two partially similar words.

The basis of a lexical opposition: common features of two contrasted words.

Lexical distinctive features and the basis of opposition:

doubt :: doubtful (morphological distinctivefeatures);

skilled:: unskilled;

unable:: unaccountable:: unaffected;

man:: boy(age);

lad:: boy(semantic distinctive feature – stylistic colouring) .

Polydimensional opposition: comprises many elements of the system:

skilled:: unskilled;

Able:: unable;

accountable:: unaccountable;

affected:: unaffected;

armed:: unarmed;

Immovable, deforestation, miscalculate – the new words

The aim:

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