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  1. What Is Lexicology?

1.1 Definition of Lexicology

Lexicology has been derived from the Greek lexikуs “of words” and -logia “study”. A branch of linguistics, lexicology, has the goal of “systematisation revealing characteristic features of words” (Arnold, p. 272). Lexicology deals not only with lexemes and their aspects, but also with compound words and phraseological units. Stephen Ullman places semantics and etymology within the scope of lexicology; however, he views lexicology as the study of words as individual units, rather than the overall study of the structure of the vocabulary (Collins English Dictionary). Leonhard Lipka believes lexicology “might be defined as the study of lexicon or lexis (specified as the vocabulary or total stock of words of a language) (2002, p.9). Lexicology should include the following two aspects as defined by Witold Doroszewski, “Lexicology is that branch of linguistics investigating words as regards their meaning and use; the science of vocabulary; the theoretical scientific basis of lexicography” (1973, p.36). Ullman’s definition draws a connection between lexicology and semantics, while Doroszewski connects lexicology with lexicography. Howard Jacksons restricts lexicology to the study of words as individual items (1991, p. 244). Analyzing all the aspects of lexicology, we define lexicology as the study of lexicon, or word stock, its meaning, the relations among lexemes, the structure of lexemes, the etymology of lexemes and lexical units, and relations between lexicology and other areas of the language: phonology, morphology, phraseology, lexicography, and syntax.

  1. The Structure of the English Lexicon

The term lexicon is derived from Greek lexicon (The Living Webster, 1977, p. 549), and it means the vocabulary of a language, specifically in a dictionary form. The terms vocabulary and lexicon are treated as synonyms in this book. The structure of the English lexicon may be studied in a variety of ways. For example, we can study classes of words (parts of speech), words (semantics) and their associative fields, and semantic or lexical fields. We may apply diachronic and synchronic approaches to the structure of the English vocabulary.

2.1 Words and their Associative Fields

According to Aitchison (1987), a network in relation to the mental lexicon refers to an interconnected system. This system can be based the linguistic elements such as the phonological structure, the syntactic category, the morphological structure, and the presence of semantically related words. Ferdinand de Saussure states “a particular word is the center of a constellation; it is the points of convergence of an indefinite number of co-ordinated terms” (1959, p. 126). De Saussure illustrates these relations in the form of a diagram with the center-word enseignment. We used the same principle in our diagram with the central word constructor.

  1. (2)

conversion constructors detonator

dynamic constructors annotator

copy constructors doctor

default constructors tutor

parameterized constructors disruptor


(6) specialist – lighter – lecture – pilot healthy strong (3)

construct builder

constructing creator

constructed homebuilder

constructible shipbuilder

constructive road-builder

constructivism employee

(5) (4)

In this diagram, six lines of association radiate from the noun constructor. In the first group constructors are “class methods that are executed when an object of a class or struct is created” (Programming Guide, n.d., para.1), and five types of constructors are presented. The second group contains agent nouns formed from verbs with the help of the suffix –or. They share the same morphological structure: root+suffix –or. The third group is built on the associations of the characteristics a constructor/builder possesses. The fourth group is based on semantic associations, while the fifth group shares the stem construct. The sixth group shares word class: all the words belong to the class of nouns. “Mental association creates other groups besides those based on the comparing of terms that have something in common” (de Saussure, 1959, p. 125). The number of associations depends on the ability of the mind to create “as many associative series as there are diverse relations.” Id. at 126.

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