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ГОС_1 / Lexicology / Lecture1 / The Connection of Lexicology with Other Branches of Linguistics

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The Connection of Lexicology with Other Branches of Linguistics

As a branch of Linguistics Lexicology is closely connected with other branches of Linguistics: Phonetics, Grammar, Stylistics and History of the Language.

Phonetics studies the sound form of the word, its outer form; it also studies the intonation patterns of utterances; since phonemes serve to distinguish between meanings, we may say that phonemes participate in signification. The importance of the phonemic make up of the word may be illustrated by the so-called spoonerisms, words which appear as a result of an accidental or jocular transposition of the initial sounds of two or more words. Compare: Our queer old dean/Dear old queen; Half-warmed fish/Half-formed wish. Phonetic means are employed in word building; the formation of new words is studied by Lexicology. Phonetic word building means are: sound interchange and distinctive stress (or shift of the stress).

Sound interchange is alternation in the phonemic composition of the root which serves to differentiate between different words: e.g. to speak – speech, blood – to bleed, life – to live. Sound interchange is often combined with affixation, e.g. heel – health, long – length, wide – width.

Shift of stress (or Distinctive stress) sometimes is the only means of discrimination between the words The noun `conduct (behavior) is distinguished from the verb con`duct (lead) due to the position of stress, other examples are following: `import – im`port, `insult – in`sult, `record – re`cord, `attribute – att`ribute, `frequent – fre`quent, `perfect – per`fect, `abstract – ab`stract…

Though Sound Interchange and Shift of Stress are not productive as word building means they serve as a basis for contrasting different words.

The interrelation between Lexicology and Grammar is conditioned by the close ties between the objects of their study. Every word belongs to some part of speech and has certain lexical-grammatical characteristics of the word class to which it belongs. Words possess both lexical and grammatical meanings and sometimes no rigid line of demarcation can be drawn between them, e.g. fruit (an uncountable noun) becomes countable and forms the –s plural “fruits” only when meaning different kinds of fruit. The plural form may also be used figuratively as in a “fruits of labour” and “fruits of enlightenment”. Some nouns have two plurals – the older form and the regular –s form. As a result, different plural forms have acquired different lexical meanings, e.g. brother/brothers/brethren (община, братство); genius/geniuses/genii (an evil or good spirit).

The ties between Lexicology and Grammar are particularly strong in the sphere of word-building. The peculiarities of English word-building are largely dependent upon the English grammatical system, e.g. the wide spread of conversion in English is conditioned by the analytical character of the English language. Besides, sometimes purely grammatical means are used for building new words. The suffix of plurality “-s” is often used to form not only the plural form but also a new word with a new meaning. The plural form which has got a new grammatically conditioned lexical meaning is isolated from the paradigm and a new word comes into being. This process is also called lexicalization of a grammatical form, e.g. colour (means tint) – colours (means tints) but it has acquired a new lexical meaning – a flag; custom (habit) – customs (customs but also custom house, duties); spectacle (sight) – spectacles (sights/glasses).

There’s also a close relationship between Lexicology and Stylistics. Stylistics studies different functional styles of human speech. Functional styles are defined as systems of linguistic expressive means (phonetic, grammatical, lexical) peculiar to certain spheres of communication. Lexicology dealing with the vocabulary studies lexical means, that is words’ characteristic of different functional styles. Some words are more general and neutral in tone or stylistically unmarked. These words may be used in any situation, formal or informal, others are stylistically marked, they may have a distinctively literal (poetic) flavour, colloquial, vulgar, childish, learned, and technical and so on. According to these peculiarities of their meanings and prevalent use in this or that functional style words fall into different stylistic strata within the system of stylistic differentiation of the vocabulary, e.g. “I am in excellent shape”, or “I’m in tip-top shape” – it expresses the same idea but informally, in the colloquial style as the word “tip-top” – colloquial.

Lexicology is closely connected with the History of the Language as the latter serves to explain a lot of peculiarities in the vocabulary of present-day English. It reveals the origin of homonyms and synonyms; it traces the routs of etymological doublets. Etymological doublets are words different in form and meaning in present-day English but originating from one and the same word, e.g. securus (from Latin) → secure, sure; discus – disc, dais, dish, discus.

Thus Lexicology is one of the most important branches of Linguistics dealing with the vocabulary of language and closely connected through its subject with other branches of Linguistics.

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