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Lexicology as a branch of linguistics




Lexicology as a branch of linguistics

1. The subject of lexicological
investigation

Linguistics in its totality deals with the
study of human language as the subject of its
investigation. Being an extremely

complicated phenomenon it is decomposed into relatively independent spheres to be studied by phonology, morphology, syntax, lexicology, history of the language, stylistics, etc. The vocabulary of a language, the word-stock is studied by lexicology whose main task is to present the vocabulary as a system. Unlike grammar and phonetics which are closed systems vocabulary is an open one, not a mathematically organized collection of elements which are interdependent and derive then significance from the system as a whole.

Types of vocabulary units

The lexical units are two-facet elements possessing form and meaning. These are morphemes, words and set-expressions. In Russian linguistics a word is taken for the basic vocabulary unit.


3. The position of lexicology in the
language hierarchy. Links with other
linguistic sciences

The word is studied in several branches of linguistics and not in lexicology only and the latter, in its turn, is closely connected with general linguistics, history of the language, phonetics, stylistics. grammar, etc.

Lexicology and phonetics: phonemes participate in signification.

Lexicology and grammar: words belong to some part of speech and have some lexico-grammatical characteristics of the word class to which they belong, the grammatical form and function of the word aftect its lexical meaning:

Lexicology and stylistics: stylistics studies the problems of meaning, connotations, synonymy, functional styles and other issues.

4. Branches of lexicology:general,
special, contrastive, historical lexicology or
etymology, descriptive, sociolinguistics,
semaciology, phraseology.


A word as the basic unit of lexicology

L.The definition of a word and its basic characteristics

To give a definition of a word is one of the most difficult tasks in linguistics, because the simplest word has many different aspects: a sound form, different word forms, different syntactic functions and meanings. A word possesses some characteristics: indivisibility, positional mobility, uninterruptability which affect its definition.

The theory of a word (mid 50s, professor Smirnitsky)

The essence of the issue is summed up in 2 problems: the size of unit problem, the identity of unit problem. Smirnitsky compared the 3 types of vocabulary units (a morpheme, word, phrase) to select the one to meet two criteria: nominative and communicative functions. By comparison he isolated a word as the basic unit. Within the second problem the following types of word variation are singled out: phonetic, morphemic/ word-building, morphological and lexico-semantic variants.


 




The morphemic structure of a word.

Morphemes are subdivided into 1)
root-morphemes and affixational

morphemes (prefixes, suffixes and infixes); 2)free, bound. There are also semi-affixes and pseudo-morphemes.

English Etymology

Etymology (etymol - true, logos -learning) reveals word origin and through it represents all language sources of the studied tongue, explains many peculiarities in the structure of vocabulary, ways of its development, etc.

The Etymological Structure of English
__________ Vocabulary__________

TheNE(30%) The BE (70%)
I Indo-European element (1-Е E) II Germanic element (GE) III English Proper element (no earlier than 5th с A.D.) (EPE) I Celtic (5th-6th с A.D.) II Latin 1 group: 1st с B.C. 2 group: 7th с A.D. 3 group: the Renaissance period III Scandinavian (8th

 

 

 

  -llthc.A.D.) IV French Norman borrowings (11th -13th с A.D.) Parisian borrowings (Renaissance) V Greek (Renaissance) VI Italian (Renaissance and later) VII Spanish (Renaissance and later) VIII German IX Indian X Russian (and some other groups)
 
* semantically leading * high polysemy * morphemically simple words * high derivational potential * stylistic neutrality * free lexical collocability * unlimited syntactic behaviour

Problems of borrowings:

Causes: social/ historical (contact of nations - wars, invasions or conquests, peaceful periods); linguistic (a word is borrowed: to fill a gap in the vocabulary; to supply a new shade of meaning or a different emotional colouring; a group of accidental or blind borrowings). Borrowings enter the


language in two ways: through oral speech (by immediate contact between the peoples) and through written speech (by indirect contact through books, etc.).

Criteria: the pronunciation of the word (strange sounds, sound combinations, position of stress, etc.), its spelling; the morphological structure of the word and its grammatical forms; the lexical meaning of the word.

Types: transliteration, transcription, translation-loans, semantic loans, etymological doublets/ triplets, international words, hybrid words.

Conversion

Theories: morphemic, morphological, syntactica, functional.


 




The two affected parts of speech are nouns and verbs. Verbs can also be made from adjectives.

Origin of conversion: it arose as a result of certain global and fundamental changes within the entire system of English; it is a reflection of the fundamental transformation of English from a synthetical type to analytical.

Composition

Structural aspect: neutral compounds (simple neutral, derived or derivational, contracted), morphological compounds, syntactic compounds.

Semantic aspect: can the meaning of a compound word be regarded as the sum of its constituent meanings?

Theoretical aspect of composition is the criteria for distinguishing between a compound and a word-combination. Criteria: graphic (spelling), semantic, phonetic, morphological, syntactic.

Sources of Compounds: are built spontaneously according to productive distributional formulas of the given period; may be the result of a gradual process of


semantic isolation and structural fusion of free word-groups; borrowings.

b) minor types Shortening (Contraction)consists in substituting a whole for a part. We may speak of graphical abbreviations (in written speech only) and lexical shortenings (a new word is made from a syllable (rarer, two) of the original word; a new word is made from the initial letters of a word group).

Sound-Imitation (Onomatopoeia)

Words are made by imitating different kinds of sounds that may be produced by animals, birds, insects, human beings and inanimate objects.

Reduplicationis doubling a stem, either without any phonetic changes or with a variation of the root-vowel or consonant

Back-Formation (Reversion)Instead of a noun made from a verb by affixation, a verb is produced from a noun by subtraction.

Blending (portmanteau words)is merging parts of words into one word.

Sound- andStress-Interchange.


 




Results

1) Broadening (generalization) -narrowing (specialization)

2) Degeneration (degradation) -elevation of a referent.


 




The nature of polysemy

Both language and vocabulary reflect reality in the way peculiar to human language alone. The main task of the latter is to draw the notional picture of the world in lexical meanings. Within language there have developed the phenomena which reveal the intrinsic characteristics of language units and disclose the basic principles of their structure. Among such 1-ge categories we find polysemy (P), i.e. the ability of a word to have several related meanings at a time.

In terms of the theory of signs it means that 1 and the same plane of expression corresponds to a number of planes of content.

A peculiar relationship b/w separate meanings within word structures specifies P as a purely 1-ge category, another means of secondary nomination.

2. A lexico-semantic variant
(LSV), its notion

Members of a word structure related in their meanings are called LSVs (Pr. Smirnitsky's term): signs which are identical


in all features but their lexical meanings. The extent of their semantic difference is confined to variation only, the idea of variation suggests the presence of a certain common component of meaning (invariant part) in all LSVs of a word.

Linguistic analysis shows that the invariant part of meanings may be presented as:

1. The whole content of the basic
direct LSV;

2. part of the basic meaning in either the
centre of the other or on their periphery;

3. a certain common part of meaning contained by all LSVs of the same polysemantic word;

4. The common semantic part may be latent or implied.

3. Types of relations b/w LSVs

The interconnection b/w the members of the polysemantic structure falls into 3 types: 1. Subordination reveals the hierarchical arrangement of a number of units which are dependent due to the semantic component on the basic direct nominative LSV as derived and figurative. It expresses itself in 2 types:


- Irradiation when all the units depend on the basic one, Concatenation which means the chain coexistence of meanings, the dependence of each on the preceeding one.

2. Coordination means the semantic equalityof the units, their relative autonomy and independence of each other.

3. Mixed type which is characterized by the presence of both S and С

Among the notional classes P is most typical of the verb. The adjective ranks the second, the noun is least of all polysemantic. 4. Typesof LSVs

1. the way of naming - direct/ figurative

2. the dependence of one on the other - basic/ derived

3. etymologically - primary/ secondary,
modern/ archaic

4. abstract/ concrete
5.logical/ emotional
6.general/particular
7.frequent/ rare

8.neutral/ stylistically marked 9.common/ dialectal


Types of Modern English Homonymy 1. The definition of homonyms-Homonyms (homos '4he same" and onoma "name") are words which are identical in sound and spelling, or, at least, in one of these aspects, but different in their meaning.

As for their stylistic function they are accidental creations, and therefore purposeless. In the process of communication they lead sometimes to confusion and misunderstanding and are one of the most important sources of popular humour. From the point of view of their morphological structure they are mostly one-morpheme words.

2. The origin of homonyms:
phonetic changes, borrowings, word-building
(conversion, shortening, sound-imitation), split
polysemy.

3. Classification of homonyms
The most widely accepted

classification is that recognizing homonyms proper, homophones and homographs.

According to their part of speech belonging Professor A. I. Smirnitsky classified homonyms into two large classes: I. full homonyms, II. partial homonyms (simple


 




lexico-grammatical partial homonyms,
complex lexico-grammatical partial

homonyms, partial lexical homonyms).

The definition of synonyms

Synonyms are different words with similar or identical meanings. Their function in speech is to reveal different aspects, shades and variations of the same phenomenon. They add precision to each detail of description and may colour the whole text. A carefully chosen word from a group of synonyms is a great asset not only on the printed page but also in a speaker's utterance. It was Mark Twain who said that the difference between the right word and just the right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning-bug.

2. Criteria ofsynonymy: we are still
not certain which words should correctly be
considered as synonyms. Linguists distinguish:
conceptual criterion, semantic criterion,
definitional analysis, the criterion of
interchangeability.


3.Types of synonyms

The only existing classification system for synonyms established „ by Academician V. V. Vinogradov divides them into three types: ideographic, stylistic and absolute. However, some aspects of his classification system are open to question.

A more modern and a more effective approach to the classification of synonyms may be based on the definition describing synonyms as words differing in connotations. It seems convenient to classify connotations by which synonyms differ rather than synonyms themselves, ( See the lecture on Lexical Meaning)

The dominant synonym.

Euphemisms.

The dominant synonym is a "central" word of a synonymic group whose meaning is equal to the denotation common to all the synonymic group and which is characterized by: high frequency of usage, broad combinability, broad general meaning, lack of connotations.

Euphemisms are words instinctively avoided by people because they are considered indecent, indelicate, rude, too direct or


 




impolite. The "offensive" referents, for which these words stand for are described in a round­about way, by using substitutes due to social conventions.

Superstitious taboos gave rise to euphemisms based on a deeply-rooted subconscious fear. They have their roots in the distant past of mankind when people believed that there was a supernatural link between a name and the object or creature it represented. Therefore, all the words denoting evil spirits, dangerous animals, or the powers of nature were taboo.

Euphemisms are probably the oldest type of synonyms.

5. Antonymy Antonyms can be defined as 2 or more words of the same language belonging to the same part of speech and to the same semantic field, identical in style and nearly identical in distribution, associated and often used together so that their denotative meanings render contradictory or contrary notions.

Antonymy is not evenly distributed among the categories of parts of speech. Most antonyms are adjectives. Verbs take second place, then come nouns and adverbs.


The important question of criteria received a new treatment in V.N. Komissarov's work. According to him, 2 words shall be considered A if they are regularly contrasted in actual speech, i.e. if the contrast in their meanings is proved by definite types of contextual co-occurrence.

Another important criterion suggested by him is the possibility of substitution and identical lexical valence. Classification:

l)Contradictory/ contrary;

2)Gradable / complementary;

3)According to the morphological

approach absolute (root)/ derivational.

Phraseology
1. Phraseological units as word

Local Dialects in the USA

The English language in the United States is characterised by relative uniformity throughout the country. The following three major belts of dialects have so far been identified, each with its own characteristic features: Northern, Midland and Southern, Midland being in turn divided into North Midland and South Midland.

The differences in pronunciation between American dialects are most apparent, but they seldom interfere with understanding. Distinctions in grammar are scarce. The differences in vocabulary are rather numerous, but they are easy to pick up. In the United States, as elsewhere, the national language is tending to wipe out the dialect distinctions and to become still more uniform.

Comparison of the dialect differences in the British Isles and in the USA reveals that not only are they less numerous and far less marked in the USA, but that the very nature of the local distinctions is different. What is usually known as American dialects is closer


 




in nature to regional variants of the literary language. The problem of discriminating between literary and dialect speech patterns in the USA is much more complicated than in Britain. Many American linguists point out that American English differs from British English in having no one locality whose speech patterns have come to be recognised as the model for the rest of the country.


Part II: Exercises in English Lexicology

Theme 1: Lexicology as a Branch of Linguistics. The Word as the Basic Unit of Lexicology

1) Comment on the terms:

a) lexicology, subject of lexicology, system, vocabulary as a system, lexical units, a set-expression, language and speech, synchrony, diachrony, general/ special lexicology, contrastive lexicology, etymology, descriptive lexicology , sociolinguistics, semaciology, phraseology;

b) indivisibility, positional mobility, uninterruptability, phonetic variants, morphemic variants, morphological variants, lexico-semantic variants, root-morpheme, affix (suffix, prefix, infix), free/ bound morphemes, pseudo-morphemes, semi-affixes.

2) Establish the number and types of
morphemes making up the word:

friendliness, merciless, effective, long-legged, gentleman, good-looking, ex-husband,


 




unbutton, handrail, pocket, time-consuming, unwrapped, snowflake.

Give examples of free and

In which word a root-

Lexicology as a branch of linguistics

1. The subject of lexicological
investigation

Linguistics in its totality deals with the
study of human language as the subject of its
investigation. Being an extremely

complicated phenomenon it is decomposed into relatively independent spheres to be studied by phonology, morphology, syntax, lexicology, history of the language, stylistics, etc. The vocabulary of a language, the word-stock is studied by lexicology whose main task is to present the vocabulary as a system. Unlike grammar and phonetics which are closed systems vocabulary is an open one, not a mathematically organized collection of elements which are interdependent and derive then significance from the system as a whole.

Types of vocabulary units

The lexical units are two-facet elements possessing form and meaning. These are morphemes, words and set-expressions. In Russian linguistics a word is taken for the basic vocabulary unit.


3. The position of lexicology in the
language hierarchy. Links with other
linguistic sciences

The word is studied in several branches of linguistics and not in lexicology only and the latter, in its turn, is closely connected with general linguistics, history of the language, phonetics, stylistics. grammar, etc.

Lexicology and phonetics: phonemes participate in signification.

Lexicology and grammar: words belong to some part of speech and have some lexico-grammatical characteristics of the word class to which they belong, the grammatical form and function of the word aftect its lexical meaning:

Lexicology and stylistics: stylistics studies the problems of meaning, connotations, synonymy, functional styles and other issues.

4. Branches of lexicology:general,
special, contrastive, historical lexicology or
etymology, descriptive, sociolinguistics,
semaciology, phraseology.





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