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Лекции по лексикологии английского языка

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Курс лекций по лексикологии английского языка построен в соответствии с государственным стандартом по данной дисциплине и освещает следующие основные вопросы: предмет лексикологии, семасиологию, словообразование и лексикографию. Предназначен для студентов, обучающихся по направлению 031100 - "Лингвистика и перевод" по специальности 031202 - "Перевод и переводоведение".

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         Федеральное агентство по образованию
  Государственное образовательное учреждение
    высшего профессионального образования
     Тульский государственный университет
        Кафедра лингвистики и перевода

        по лексикологии английского языка
             для студентов, обучающихся
   по направлению 031100 – лингвистика и перевод
по специальности 031202 – перевод и переводоведение

                Автор: кандидат филологических наук, доцент
                Гусева Галина Владимировна

                    Тула 2007

                                      Lecture 1

                                 What is Lexicology?

                          I.     The Subject of Lexicology

      The term lexicology is of Greek origin (from lexis – word and logos -
science). Lexicology is the part of linguistics which deals with the vocabulary and
characteristic features of words and word-groups.
      The term word denotes the main lexical unit of a language resulting from the
association of a group of sounds with a meaning. This unit is used in grammatical
functions characteristic of it. It is the smallest unit of a language which can stand
alone as a complete utterance.
      The term word-group denotes a group of words which exists in the language
as a ready-made unit, has the unity of meaning, the unity of syntactical function,
e.g. the word-group as loose as a goose means clumsy and is used in a sentence as
a predicative (He is as loose as a goose).
      Lexicology can be general and special. General lexicology is the lexicology
of any language, part of General Linguistics. It is aimed at establishing language
universals – linguistic phenomena and propeties common to all languages.
      Special lexicology is the lexicology of a particular language (English,
German, Russian, etc.).
       Lexicology can study the development of the vocabulary, the origin of
words and word-groups, their semantic relations and the development of their
sound form and meaning. In this case it is called historical lexicology.
      Another branch of lexicology is called descriptive and studies the
vocabulary at a definite stage of its development.

                                 II.   What is a Word?

         First, the word is a unit of speech which, as such, serves the purposesof
human communication. Thus, the word can be defined as a unit of communication.
         Secondly, the word can be perceived as the total of the sounds which
comprise it.
         Third, the word, viewed structurally, possesses several characteristics.
         The modern approach to word studies is based on distinguishing between the
external and the internal structures of the word.
         By external structure of the word we mean its morphological structure. For
example, in the word post-impressionists the following morphemes can be
distinguished: the prefixes post-, im-, the root press, the noun-forming suffixes –
ion, -ist, and the grammatical suffix of plurality –s.
         The external structure of the word, and also typical word-formation patterns,
are studied in the framework of word-building.
         The internal structure of the word, or its meaning, is nowadays commonly
referred to as the word‘s semantic structure. This is the word‘s main aspect.
         The area of lexicology specialising in the semantic studies of the word is
called semantics.
         One of the main structural features of the word that it possesses both
external (formal) unity and semantic unity.
         A further structural feature of the word is its susceptibility to grammatical
employment. In speech most words can be used in different grammatical forms in
which their interrelations are realized.
         Thus, the word is a speech unit used for the purposes of human
communication, materially representing a group of sounds, possessing a meaning,
susceptible to grammatical employment and characterized by formal and semantic

                       III.   The Problem of Word-Boundaries

   The difference between words and other two-facet units is not always clear.
There are:
1. Form words. On the one hand, they fuse with notional words phonetically and
   do not function as sentence-members. On the other hand, they are positionally
   mobile, e.g. a, to, and.
2. Loose compounds, e.g. speech sound, stone wall. On the one hand, theya are
   built in speech. On the other hand, they have one lexical stress.
3. Phrasal words: his I-love-you‘s. On the one hand, they are built in speech and
   are not reproducible. On the other, they have one lexical stress.
   The difference between variants of the same word and different words is also
not always clear. Within the language system the word is a lexeme – an abstract
unit which unites all its variant:
   a) lexico-semantic variants – different meanings of the same polysemantic
      word: to give a pen, to give a smile, to give an answer;
   b) phonetic variants – different pronouncation of the same word: neither,
      either, often;
   c) orthographic variants – different spelling of the same word: jail – gaol;
   d) morphological variants – different morphemic structure of the same word:
      learned – learnt, geographic – geographical.

      IV.    Lexicology and its Connection with Other Linguistc Disciplines

      Lexicology is closely connected with other branches of linguistcs:
      1. It is connected with Phonetics because the word‘s sound form is a fixed
          sequence of phonemes united by a lexical stress.
      2. Lexicology is connected with Morphology and Word-Formation as the
          word‘s structure is a fixed sequence of morphemes.

      3. It is connected with Morphology because the word‘s content plane is a
          unity of lexical and grammatical meanings.
      4. The word functions as part of the sentence and performs a certain
          syntactical function that is why it is also connected with Syntax.
      5. The word functions in different situations and spheres of life therefore it
          is connected with Stylistics, Socio- and Psycholinguistics.
      But there is also a great difference between lexicology and other linguistc
disciplines. Grammatical and phonological systems are relatively stable. Therefore
they are mostly studied within the framework of intralinguistics.
      Lexical system is never stable. It is directly connected with extralinguistic
systems. It is constantly growing and decaying. It is immediately reacts to changes
in social life, e.g. the intense development of science and technology in the 20th
century gave birth to such words as computer, sputnik, spaceship. Therefore
lexicology is a sociolinguistic discipline. It studies each particular word, both its
intra- and extralingiustic relations.
       Lexicology is subdivided into a number of autonomous but interdependent
      1. Lexicological Phonetics. It studies the expression plane of lexical units in
isolation and in the flow of speech.
      2. Semasiology. It deals with the meaning of words and other linguistic
units: morphemes, word-formation types, morphological word classes and
morphological categories.
      3. Onomasiology or Nomination Theory. It deals with the process of
nomination: what name this or that object has and why.
      4. Etymology. It studies the origin, the original meaning and form of words.
      5. Praseology. It deals with phraseological units.
      6. Lexicography. It is a practical science. It describes the vocabulary and
each lexical unit in the form of dictionaries.
      7. Lexical Morphology. It deals with the morphological stricture of the word.

      8. Word-formation. It deals with the patterns which are used in coining new

                                          Lecture II

                                     Meaning. Concept

                           I.    Approaches to Lexical Meaning

      There are two main approaches to lexical meaning: referential and
functional. The referential approach studies the connection between words and
thins or concepts they denote. Functional approach studies relations between
      The referential model of meaning is the so-called basic semantic triangle. it
consists of:
1. The sound-form (Sign) of the word: [bз:d].
2. The referent (Denotatum) – the object which the word names: the actual bird.
3. The concept (Designatum) – The essential properties of this object which are
   reflected in human mind: “a feathered anial with wings“.
   Meaning is closely connected with all parts of the semantic triangle but cannot
be equated with any of them. Generally speaking, meaning can be described as a
component of the word through which a concept is communicated, in this way
endowing the word with the ability of denoting real objects, qualities, actions and
absract notions.
   The functional approach assumes that the meaning of a linguistic unit can be
studied only through its relation to other linguistic units and not through its relation
to concept or referent, e.g. we know that the meaning of “bird n“ and “bird v“ is
different because they function in speech differently. Analysing various contexts in
which these words are used we can observe that they have different distribution.
As the distribution of the two words is different, their meanings are different too.

The same is true of a polysemantic word: Look at me – You look tired.
Consequently, semantic investigation is confined to the analysis of the difference
or sameness of meaning. the functional approach is a valuable complement to the
referential theory.

                               II.   Lexical Meaning and Concept

      Meaning and concept are very closely associated but not identical. Meaning
is a linguistic category. Concept is a logical and psychological category, a unit of
      Meaning and concept coincide only in scientific terms that have no general
meanings (morpheme, phoneme, amoeba) and in terminilogical meanings of
polysemantic words, e.g. legal, medical or grammatical usages of the word case. In
other aspects meaning and concept do not coincide:
      1. Concept is emotionally and stylistically neutral. Meaning may include
            non-conceptual parts: kid, gorgeous, birdie.
      2. One and the same concept can be expressed differently: die – pass away,
            kick the bucket.
      3. The number of concepts does not correspond to the number of words and
            meanings. One concept may be expressed by several synonymous words:
            child, kid – infant. One polysemantic word may express several concepts:
            draw – “move by pulling“ (draw a boat out of the water), “obtain from a
            source“ (draw water from a well), “make with a pen, pencil or chalk“
            (draw a straight line). Some words do not express concepts at all: well,
            must, perhaps.
      4. Concepts are mostly international. Meanings are nationally specific.
            Words expressing identical concepts may have different meanings and
            different semantic structures in different languages: house – дом; blue -
            синий, голубой.

                           III. Types of Lexical Meaning

      The content plane of words includes denotative and connotative meanings.
      Denotative or referential meaning, the basic type of lexical meaning, is the
word‘s reference to the object. This reference may be individual (The dog is
trained) or general (It‘s not a dog). That is why denotative meaning is subdivided
into demonstrative and significative.
      The type of denotative meaning varies in different groups of words.
      The meaning of situational words is relative – it depends on the situation and
context: here, son, my, this, now.
      Pronominal words do not name the referent, they only point to it: he, she,
they. Their meaning in isolation is very general: he – any male. but in speech their
reference is always individual: he – this particular male.
      The referent of proper names is always an individual object or person. They
refer to each member of a particular class: London, Paris (cities), John, Bob (men).
      Specific and generic terms differ in the size of the referent group: rose –
flower; flower – plant. General terms have a wider meaning and can substitute for
any specific term: dog – English bulldog, French poodle, cocker spaniel.
      The referent of abstract words can be perceived by the mind and not by the
senses: miracle, polite, to manage.
      Connotative meaning includes various additional meanings: emotional,
evaluative intensifying and expressive, e.g. hillock, to devour. As a rule,
connotation co-exists with denotation. However, sometimes it comes to the fore
and weakens the word‘s denotative meaning.
      Words also may have a certain stylistic value. It means that they refer to this
or that situation or functional style: science, everyday life, business: get – obtain –
procure; child – kid – infant.

                          IV. Lexical and Grammatical Meaning

      The word is a lexical-grammatical unity. Its content plane includes two types
of meaning: lexical and grammatical.
      Lexical meaning is individual, unique. It does not belong to any other word
in the same language: bicycle – a vehicle with two wheels, handle-bars to guide it
with, a seat, and two pedals to make it go. Grammatical meaning is general,
standard. It belongs to a whole class of words and word-forms: bicycle – a noun in
the common case, singular.
      At the same time lexical and grammatical meanings co-exist in the word and
are interdependent:
      1. Lexical meaning affects grammatical meaning: abstract or mass nouns
           have no plural form (joy, sugar), relative adjectives have no degrees of
           comparison (watery), statal verbs are not used in progressive tenses (see,
      2. Grammatical meaning affects lexical meaning. Different meanings of the
           polysemantic word go have their own grammatical peculiarities: He has
           gone to China – moved (go + adverb of place); They are going to get
           married soon – are planning (be going + to-infinitive); The children went
           wild with eycitement – became (go + adjective).
      3.    Combinability of the word depends both on its lexical and grammatical
           (part-of-speech) meaning, e.g. the noun tea combines with strong but not
           with strongly.
      4. Grammatical form may be isolated from the paradigm and become
           lexicalized: works – factory.
      5. Lexical meaning may be grammaticalized, e.g. some notional verbs may
           be used as link-verbs: give a smile, turn red.

                                     Lecture III

                                 Semantic Changes

                      I.     The Causes of Semantic Changes

      The meaning of a word can change in the course of time. Transfer of the
meaning is called lexico-semantic word-building. In such cases the outer aspect of
a word does not change.
      The causes of semantic changes can be extra-linguistic and linguistic: the
change of the lexical meaning of the noun pen was due to extra-longuistic causes.
Primarily pen comes back to the latin word penna (a feather of a bird). As people
wrote with goose pens the name was transferred to steel pens which were later on
used for writing. Still later any instrument for writing was called a pen.
      On the other hand, causes may be linguistic, e.g. the conflict of synonyms
when a perfect synonym of a native word is borrowed from some other language
one of them may specialize in its meaning. The noun tide in Old English was
polysemantic and denoted time, season, hour. When the French words time,
season, hour were borrowed into English they ousted the word tide in these
meanings. It was specialized and now means regular rise and fall of the sea caused
by attraction of the moon. The meaning of a word can also change due to ellipsis:
the word-group a train of carriages had the meaning of a row of carriages, later
on of carriages was dropped and the noun train changed its meaning, it is used
now in the function and with the meaning of the whole word-group.
      Semantic changes have been classified by different scientists. The most
complete classification was suggested by a German scientist Herman Paul. It is
based on the logical principle. He distinguishes two main ways where the semantic
change is gradual (specialization and generalization), two momentary conscious

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