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Lecture 3. Stylistic lexicology

  1. Stylistic Differentiation of the English Vocabulary.

  2. General and special literary vocabulary: bookish words, terms, poetic words, archaisms, barbarisms and neologisms.

  3. Common and special colloquial vocabulary: jargonisms, dialectal words, slang, vulgar words.

  1. Stylistic Differentiation of the English Vocabulary

Stylistic lexicology deals with words which make up people's lexicon. Vocabulary or lexis is usefully distinguished from grammar in textual analysis. The grammar of any utterance is the underlying structure. The vocabulary is the immediate content or subject-matter of a statement. The passage which follows contains a normal mixture of grammatical items and vocabulary items:

Bananas are cheap and plentiful and can be used in many interesting ways, either as desserts or in main meals. With the grammatical items removed, the sentence still makes some sense: Bananas cheap plentiful used many interesting ways either desserts main meals. Without the lexical items however, the grammar words mean nothing as a sequence: are and can be in as or in.

Vocabulary is one level of stylistic analysis, along with phonology, gra­phology, grammar and semantics. In analyzing the vocabulary of a text or a speech, patterns of usage would be the subject of comment, for instance, the frequent occurrence of technical terms in car repair manual, or of emotive words in a tabloid newspaper article. (“tabloid” - бульварный, низкопробный, низкого качества tabloid press — бульварная пресса tabloid TV, tabloid television — таблоидное телевидение) All the words of the vocabulary of a well-developed language may be divided into three groups: neutral, literary and colloquial.

Neutral words. The majority of English words are neutral. They are understood and accepted by all English-speaking people. Neutral words do not have stylistic connotations, they have no additional information. Their meanings are purely denotative. They are such words as table, man, day, weather, to go, good, first, something, enough. Neutral words merely signify corresponding phenomena. Neutral words form the lexical backbone of all functional styles. Being the main source of synonymy and polysemy, neutral words easily produce new meanings and stylistic variants. Compare: mouse = 1) a small furry animal with a long tail; 2) mouse = a small device that you move in order to do things on a computer screen; 3) mouse = someone who is quiet and prefers not to be noticed.

Besides neutral vocabulary, there are two great stylistically marked layers of words in English word-stock: literary vocabulary and colloquial vocabulary. They bear some additional information as to the quality, manner, etc. of the object. They may change the colouring on the whole neutral utterance. The majority of literary and colloquial words have synonyms in the neutral layer of the vocabulary, e.g., chaild (n) - infant (lit) - kid (col); go away (n) - retire (lit) - get out (col).

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