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Lexicology as a branch of lingistics, its connection with other branches of linguistics.

Lexicology is a branch of Linguistics studying the vocabulary of the language.

The word is the subject-matter of Lexicology. All the words in a language make up (составляют) the vocabulary of the language.

A word is the smallest significant unit of a given language, capable of functioning alone and characterized by positional mobility within a sentence, morphological uninterruptability (целостность, цельнооформленность, непрерывность), semantic integrity (цельность).

The basic task of Lexicology is the study and systematic description of vocabulary in respect to (что касается) its origin, development and current use.

General Lexicology is the general study of words and the vocabulary irrespective of the specific features of any particular language.

Special Lexicology is the Lexicology of a particular language.

Historical Lexicology studies the vocabulary as a system in its evolution. It describes the origin of words, their change and development in the course of time.

Descriptive Lexicology studies the vocabulary at a given stage of its development.

Theoretical value. One of the key questions in Linquistics and Philosophy – the relationship between the name and the thing named – is studied within Semasiology and Onomasiology – parts of Lexicology dealing with the meaning of the word.

Pracrical value. Lexicology meets the needs (удовл потребности) of many branches of Linguistics, namely of lexicography, machine translation, the study of professional jargons, speech therapy and especially of foreign language teaching.

Lexicography deals with compiling and describing dictionaries.

Lexicology is connected with other branches of Linguistics:

Phonetics. Phonetic means are employed in word building (sound interchange (e.g. blood – to bleed, speech – to speak), shift of stress (e.g. the noun ‘conduct – ‘поведение’, the verb to con’duct – ‘вести, направлять’)), the formation of new words studied in Lexicology.

Grammar. Some nouns have two plural forms: the older form and the regular –s form. As a result, different plural form have acquired (приобретают) different lexical meanings: e.g. brother – 1. brothers (expressing family relationship), 2. brethren (members of some club or a society).

The ties (связь) between Lexicology and Grammar are strong in the sphere of word-building. The suffix of plurality ‘s’ may be used to form not only the plural form, but also a new word with a new meaning. The plural form is isolated from the paradigm and a new word comes into being (lexicalization of a grammatical form): e.g. custom – customs 1. plural of ‘привычка’; 2. таможня.

Stylistics studies different functional styles of human speech. Lexicology studies lexical means, that is words, characteristic of different functional style.

History of the Language. Lexicology explains a lot of peculiarities in the vocabulary of present-day English.

The semantic structure of the word. Types of lexical meaning.

The branch of Linguistics which studies the meaning of different linguistic units is called Semantics. The part of Lexicology which studies the meaning and the development of meaning of words is called Semasiology.

There are different approaches to the problem of word meaning: 1) The referential, or denotational approach is characterized by the thought that (тем что) the essence (суть) of meaning lies in the interconnection and interdependence between: the word as the soundform, the referent, and the concept. Here meaning is the realization of the concept/notion by means of a definite language system. 2)The functional, or contextual approach is characterized by the idea that the meaning of a linguistic unit may be studied only through its relation to other linguistic units. Thus, meaning is understood as the function of linguistic signs, or their use in context.

Word meaning is represented by different types of meaning: grammatical, lexical, lexico-grammatical. Grammatical meaning is the component of word meaning, recurrent in identical sets of individual forms of different words. It is expressed by:

  1. word-form (such as books, girls, boys – the meaning of plurarity; looked, asked – tense meaning);

  2. the position of the word in relation to other words (e.g. He sings well, She dances badly – ‘sings’ and ‘dances’ are found in identical positions between a pronoun and an adverb, their identical distribution proves that they have identical gr.m.)

Lexico-grammatical meaning of the word is the common denominator (знаменатель) to all the meanings of the words belonging to a certain lexico-grammatical class or group of words. Lexical meaning is the component of word meaning recurrent in all the forms of the word. The word forms go, goes, went, gone, going have different gr.m., but they have one and the same l.m. ‘the process of movement’.

The main component of L.m. are:

  1. the denotational meaning of words is the same for all the speakers. It is the realization of the concept by means of the given language.

  2. The pragmatic aspect of l.m. is the part of meaning, that conveys information on the situation of communication: information on the ‘time and space’ relationship of the participants, information on the participants in the given language community, information on the register of communication.

  3. The connotational meaning conveys (передает) the speaker’s attitude toward what he is speaking about. There are 4 main types of connotations: a) The emotional connotation expresses human emotions and feelings (e.g. daddy, father); b) The evaluative connotation expresses approval or disapproval (e.g. agent and spy, planning and scheming=planning secretly); c) The intensifying connotation adds emphasis (усиление) to the meaning. (e.g. enormous, huge, tremendous=very); d) The stylistic connotation determines the functional speech style characteristic of the word usage (dad-father-parent; colloquial-neutral-bookish).

The problem of homonymy and polysemy

Homonymy may be described as the sameness of form associated with the difference of meaning.

Homonyms are words identical in sound and/or in spelling but different in meaning.

Classification of homonyms:

  1. Perfect homonyms, or homonyms proper – words identical both in sound form and spelling but different in meaning. Homophones – words identical in sound but different in meaning. Homographs – words identical in spelling but different in sound and meaning.

  2. Full and partial homonyms

  3. Lexical, lexico-grammatical and grammatical homonyms

  4. Simple and complex homonyms.

Polysemy is the ability of a word to have more than one meaning.

The causes of the development of polysemy in English are:

  1. The great amount of monosyllabic root words;

  2. A lot of words of long duration (долго просуществовавшие), which in the course of time were used to express more and more new meanings thus becoming polysemantic.

Monosemantic words have only one meaning. Polysemantic words have several meanings.

Polysemy exists only in language, not in speech. The meaning in speech is contextual. In a definite context any polysemantic word expresses only one meaning.

The theory of parts of speech and their interaction

Parts of speech occupy the central position in the language system as they present the meeting point of lexicon and grammar of language. The word possesses (обладать) three main aspects: meaning, form and function. They are the criteria of classifying the lexicon into parts of speech.

Words belonging to one part of speech possess a common categorical meaning. Categorical meanings are such generalized abstract meaning as substance for nouns, action for verbs, property for adjective (прил) and property of property for adverbs. The semantic properties of words are projected (проектировать) into their functional (syntactic) properties.

Primary (осн) syntactic function are: subject, object and predicative for nouns;

attribute and predicative for adjectives; adverbial modifier for adverbs.

All words in English are subdivided into notional and functional.

Notional parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs.

Functional : prepositions, conjunctions, interjections, particles, articles.

Notional functional

Meaning lexical meaning no lexical meaning

Form system of grammatical form no grammatical forms

Function independent part of the Ǿ


The first common classification : they are not homogeneous

Functional verbs: auxiliary verb; Modal verb; Modelyzed; Phasal; link-verbs

The parts of speech are characterized by a field, they may occupied the central and periphery.

Periphery is a zone where parts of speech interact with each other.

Common zone – words, which share nominal and adjectable characteristics.

The process of interaction can be interpreted as the use of one part of speech in the sphere of another part of speech. The most common way of functional interaction between parts of speech is the syntactic or functional transposition.

Functional, or syntactic transposition is a syntagmatic process which consists in the use of a word belonging to one part of speech in the syntactic function characteristic of another part of speech.

Transposition – no a new word appears ( the best die young–лучшее умереть молодым, the best- лучший). Functions of transposition are compensatory (We served ourselves Chinese style Мы обслуживаем себя по-китайски./adverb instead adjective/) and expressive ( He thinks the world of you. (он думает вы для него весь мир)/noun instead adverb)

The English noun and its grammatical categories

The noun is a part of speech which unites words with the general categorical meaning of substance, or thingness. Nouns are the most numerous class of words (42% of all words)`

The class of nouns is constituted by the following grammatical categories: Number (singular , plural); Case (common and possessive); Gender (masculine, feminine, neutral)

Gender of nouns may be defined by 3 ways:

1)system of personal pronouns (he, she, it);2) special suffixes -er(-or) , -ess (waitress);

3) lexical units which express the idea of gender (niece – nephew; bull – cow)

Common gender. Some nouns which can may both a female or a male person they belong to so call common gender (doctor, president). Animate nouns: he , she. Inanimate nouns - it.

The grammatical category of number in the English noun presents a specific linguistic reflection of quantitative relations between homogeneous objects of reality conceptualized by the human mind. It is constituted by the binary privative opposition of singular and plural forms.

From the point of view of their number characteristics the English nouns fall into two classes: countable (исчисл) and uncountable. Uncountable nouns are further subdivided into two groups: The group of Singularia Tantum includes: Names of abstract notions (love, friendship); Names of mass materials (bread, butter, sugar); Names of some collective inanimate objects (foliage, machinery); Names of sciences and professional activities (medicine, architecture); Nouns of heterogeneous semantics. This is a limited group and includes such nouns as: hair, advice, knowledge, money, information, news. The group of Pluralia Tantum nouns includes: Nouns denoting objects consisting of two parts (trousers, spectacles); Nouns denoting results of repeated processes (savings, labours, belongings); Nouns of multitude (police, gentry, poultry, cattle) Nouns of various semantics (oats, outskirts, clothes)

The grammatical category of case in English nouns. Case is a grammatical category which marks the semantic role of the noun in the sentence and finds a grammatical expression in the language.

The roles played by the noun in the sentence in its relations with the verb and other parts of the sentence may find different expression in different languages. In highly inflectional, synthetic languages these relations are expressed morphologically, by inflexions. Case relations may also be expressed syntactically: by the position of the noun in the sentence in its reference to the position of the verb and also by prepositions which play the same role as inflections.

The category of case of the English noun is constituted by the binary privative opposition of the Common and Possessive cases. The formal marker of the Possessive case is the morpheme ‘s.

The most common syntagmatic meanings of the Possessive case are the following: pure possessivity (my sister’s money); agent, or subject of the action (my brother’s arrival); object of the action (the criminal’s arrival); authorship (Shakespeare’s sonnets); destination (a sailor’s uniform); measure (a day’s wait); location (at the dean’s); description, or comparison (a lion’s courage).

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