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Lexicology

Questions 1 Lexicology as a science. Branches of lexicology. 2 Two approaches to language study, varieties of words. 3 Methods of investigation. 4 Contrastive analysis.
Questions

1 Lexicology as a science. Branches of lexicology.

2 Two approaches to language study, varieties of words.

3 Methods of investigation.

4 Contrastive analysis.

5 Statistical analysis.

6 Immediate constituents analysis.

7 Distributional analysis.

8 Transformational analysis.

9 Componental analysis.

10 Method of semantic differential.

11 Analytical (referential) definition of meaning.

12 Functional (contextual) definition of meaning.

13 Operational (information-oriented) definition of meaning.

14 Naming. The nominative approach to meaning.

15 The formation of concepts. Meaning and concept.

16 The ways of forming sound forms of words.

17 Aspects of lexical meaning.

18 Sources and types of meaning variability.

19 The semantic structure of a word.

20 Semantic relations of words.

21 Word-structure. Types of morphemes.

22 The method of immediate and ultimate constituents.

23 The derivational structure. Derivational bases. Types of stems .

24 Derivational patterns.

25 Word-formation. Basic ways of coining words.

26 Minor types of coining words.

27 Affixes. Polysemy. Homonymy. Synonymy.

28 Conversion.


Lexicology as a science.

Its basic units and methods.


Lexicology is a branch of linguistics – the science of language. The term “lexicology” is composed of two Greek morphemes “lexic” – word, phrase & “logos” which denotes learning a department of knowledge. Thus the literal meaning of the term “lexicology” is “the science of the word”. Lexicology as a branch of linguistics has its own aims & methods of scientific research. Its basic task – being a study & systematic description of vocabulary in respect to its origin, development & its current use. Lexicology is concerned with words, variable word-groups, phraseological units & morphemes which make up words.

Distinction is made between GENERAL LEXICOLOGY & SPECIAL LEXICOLOGY. General lexicology is a part of General linguistics . It is concerned with the study of vocabulary irrespective of the specific features of any particular language . Special lexicology is the lexicology of a particular language ( Russian , German , French , etc. ).

Lexicology is closely connected with other branches of linguistics : phonetics , for example , investigates the phonetic structure of language & is concerned with the study of the outer sound-form of the word . Grammar is the study of the grammatical structure of language . It is concerned with the various means of expressing grammatical relations between words as well as with patterns after which words are combined into word-groups & sentences . There is also a close relationship between lexicology & stylistics which is concerned with a study of a nature , functions & styles of languages .


Two approaches to language study.

Varieties of words.


There are two principle approaches in linguistic science to the study of language material : synchronic & diachronic . With regard to Special lexicology the synchronic approach is concerned with the vocabulary of a language as it exists at a given time . It’s Special Descriptive lexicology that deals with the vocabulary & vocabulary units of a particular language at a certain time .

The diachronic approach in terms of Special lexicology deals with the changes & the development of vocabulary in the coarse of time . It is Special Historical lexicology that deals with the evaluation of the vocabulary units of a language as the time goes by .

The two approaches shouldn’t be set one against the other . In fact , they are interconnected & interrelated because every linguistic structure & system exists in a state of constant development so that the synchronic state of a language system is a result of a long process of linguistic evaluation , of its historical development . Closely connected with the Historical lexicology is Contrastive & Comparative lexicology whose aims are to study the correlation between the vocabularies of two or more languages & find out the correspondences between the vocabulary units of the languages under comparison .

Lexicology studies various lexical units . They are : morphemes , words , variable word-groups & phraseological units . We proceed from the assumption that the word is the basic unit of the language system , the largest on morphological & the smallest on syntactic plane of linguistic analyses . The word is a structural & semantic entity within the language system . The word as well as any linguistic sign is a two-faced unit possessing both form & content or , to be more exact , sound-form & meaning .

e. g. boy – бой

When used in actual speech the word undergoes certain modification & functions in one of its forms . The system showing a word in all its word-forms is called a paradigm . The lexical meaning of a word is the same throughout the paradigm . The grammatical meaning varies from one form to another . Therefore when we speak on any word as used in actual speech we use the term “word” conventionally because what is manifested in the utterances is not a word as a whole but one of its forms which is identified as belonging to the definite paradigm . Words as a whole are to be found in the dictionary (showing the paradigm n – noun , v – verb , etc).

There are two approaches to the paradigm : as a system of forms of one word revealing the differences & the relationships between them .

e. g. to see – saw - seen – seeing

( different forms have different relations )

In abstraction from concrete words the paradigm is treated as a pattern on which every word of one part of speech models its forms , thus serving to distinguish one part of speech from another .

-s -‘s -s’ -ed -ing

LexicologyLexicology

nouns, of-phrases verbs

Besides the grammatical forms of words there are lexical varieties which are called “variants” of words .Words seldom possess only one meaning , but used in speech each word reveals only that meaning which is required .

e. g. to learn at school to make a dress

to learn about smth. ⁄smbd. to make smbd. do smth.

These are lexico-semantic variants .

There are also phonetic & morphological variants .

e. g. “often” can be pronounced in two ways, though the sound-form is slightly changed , the meaning remains unchangeable . We can build the forms of the word “to dream” in different ways :

to dream – dreamt – dreamt

dreamed–dreamed These are morphological variants . The meaning is the same but the model is different .

Like words-forms variants of words are identified in the process of communication as making up one & the same word . Thus , within the language system the word exists as a system & unity of all its forms & variants .

Methods of investigation .


The science is said to be formed when it has at its disposal certain methods of investigation . The process of scientific investigation may be subdivided into several stages :


Observation is an early & basic phase of all modern scientific investigations including linguistics & is the center of what is called “ the inductive method of inquiry “ . The cardinal role of all inductive procedures is that the statements of fact must be based on observation not on unsupported authority , logical conclusions or personal preferences .


Another stage of scientific investigation after observation is classification of those facts which were obtained through observation .

e. g. It is observed that in English nouns the suffixal morpheme “-er” is added to verbal stems ( to cook – cooker , to write – writer ) & noun stems ( village – villager , London – Londoner ). The same suffix also occurs in the words such as mother , father . The question is whether the words “ mother , father “ have suffix . They haven’t , thus we can come to the conclusion that “-er” can be found in derived & non-derived words .


The following stage is usually that of generalization , that is , the collection of data & their classification must eventually lead to the formulation of a hypotheses , rule , or law .

e. g. In the case with “-er” we can formulate the rule that derived words in “-er” may have either verbal or noun stems .The suffix “-er” in combination with adjectival or adverbial stems can’t produce nouns ( bigger , longer , shorter are not nouns ).


Any linguistic generalization is to be followed by the very fine process – the linguist is required to seek verification of the generalizations that are the result of his inquires . For these aims different methods & procedures are used . They are : contrastive analyses , statistical methods of analyses , immediate constituents analyses , distributional analyses , transformational analyses , componental analyses & method of semantic differentiation .


Contrastive analysis .


Contrastive linguists attempt to find out similarities & differences in both related & non-related languages . Contrastive analysis grew as the result of the practical demands of a language-teaching methodology , where it was empirically shown that the errors which are made by foreign language students can be often traced back to the differences in structure between the target language & the language of the learner . This naturally implies the necessity of a detailed comparison of the structure of a native & a target language . This procedure has been named contrastive analysis . People proceed from the assumption that the categories , elements on the semantic as well as on the syntactic & other levels are valid for both languages .

e. g. Linking verbs can be found in English , French , German , Russian , etc. Linking verbs having the meaning of “change & become” are differently represented in each of the languages . In English , for instance , “ become , come , grow , fall , run , turn “ ; in Russian –“ становиться “ are used . The task is to find out which semantic & syntactic features characterize the English set of linking verbs , the Russian linking verb & how they can be compared , how the English word-groups “ grow thin , get angry , fall ill “ correspond to Russian “похудеть , рассердиться , заболеть “.

Contrastive analysis can be carried out at three linguistic levels : phonology , grammar ( morphology & syntax ) & lexis . Contrastive analysis is applied to reveal the features of sameness & difference in the lexical meaning & the semantic structure of correlated words in different languages . It is commonly assumed by non-linguists that all languages have vocabulary systems in which the words themselves differ in sound-form , but refer to reality in the same way . From this assumption it follows that for every word in the mother tongue there is an exact equivalent in the foreign language . It is a belief which is reinforced by the small bilingual dictionary where single-word translation is often used .Language learning cannot be just a matter of substitution a new set of labels for the familiar ones of the mother tongue .It should be born in mind that though the objective reality exists outside human beings & irrespective of the language they speak , every language classifies reality in its own way by means of vocabulary units .

e. g. In English , for example , the word “foot” is used to denote the extremity of the leg . In Russian there is no exact equivalent for “foot”: “стопа” is a little bit smaller than foot , the word “нога” denotes the whole leg including the foot .

Differences in the lexical meaning of correlated words account for the differences of their collocability in different languages .

e. g. Thus , the English adjective “new” & the Russian adjective”новый” when taken in isolation are felt as correlated words : a new dress , New Year . In collocation with other nouns however the Russian adjective cannot be used in the same meaning in which the English word “new” is currently used : new potatoes , new bread , etc.

Contrastive analysis on the level of the grammatical meaning reveals that co-related words in different languages may differ in grammatical characteristics .

e. g. Russians are liable to say “news are good , the money are on the table , her hair are black” because the Russian words “новости , деньги , волосы” have the grammatical meaning of plurality .

Contrastive analysis brings to light the essence of what is usually described as idiomatic English , idiomatic Russian , i. e. the peculiar way in which every language combines & structures in lexical units various concepts to denote extra-linguistic reality .

e. g. A typical Russian word-group used to describe the way somebody performs an action or to state how a person finds himself has the structure that may be represented by the formula “adjective + a finite form of a verb”(он крепко спит , быстро усваивает ). In English we can also use structurally similar word-groups & say “he learns fast/slowly” . The structure of idiomatic word-group in English is different . The structure is “adjective + deverbal noun”. It is really in English to say “he is a heavy smoker , poor learner early riser”.


Statistical analysis .

Statistical linguistics is nowadays generally recognized as the one of the major branches of linguistics . Statistical inquiries have considerable importance because of their relevance to certain problems of communication engineering & information theory . Statistical approach proved essential in the selection of vocabulary items of a foreign language for teaching purposes . Very few people know more than 10% of the words in their mother tongue . It follows that if we do not wish to waste time on committing to memorize vocabulary items which are never likely to be useful to the learner we have to select only lexical units that are commonly used by a native speaker .

Out of approximately 500 000 words listed in Oxford English dictionary the active vocabulary of an educated Englishman comprises no more than 30 000 words & of these 4 000 - 5 000 are presumed to be amplisufficient for the daily needs of an average member of the English speech community. Thus , it is evident that the problem of selection of teaching vocabulary is of vital importance . Statistical techniques have been successfully applied in the analysis of various linguistic phenomena . Different structural types of words , affixes , the vocabularies of great writers & poets & even in the study of some problems of Historical Lexicology .

Statistical regularities can be observed only if the phenomena under analysis are sufficiently numerous . Thus , the first requirement of any statistic investigation is the size of the sample . It is known that comparatively small group of words makes up the bulk of any text . It was found that approximately 1300 – 1500 most frequent words make up 85% of all words occurring in the text . If however we analyze a sample of 60 words it is hard to predict the number of occurrences of most frequent words .

e. g. If we take the word “room” we can find some meanings of the word : 1) “room”- denoting “space” as in “take less room , not enough room to do smth.”; 2) part of a house as in “sitting-room” ; 3) used in plural = lodgings as in “to get rooms”. Statistical analysis shows that most frequently the word is used in its second meaning – 83% of all occurrences of the word in different texts , 12% of all takes its first meaning – “space”, & only 2% takes the third meaning of the word .


Immediate constituents analysis .


The theory of Immediate Constituents was originally elaborated as an attempt to determine the ways in which lexical units are relevantly related to one another . It was discovered that combinations of units are usually structured into hierarchial sets of binary constructions .

e. g. In the word-group “ a black dress in severe style “ we do not relate the indefinite article “a” to adjective “black” , “black” to “dress” , “dress” to “in” , “in” to “severe” , “severe” to “style” .We set up a structure which may be represented as “a black dress” & “in severe style”.

Thus , the fundamental aim of immediate constituents analysis is to segment a set of lexical units into two maximally independent sequences & these maximally independent sequences are called immediate constituents . The further segmentation of immediate constituents results in ultimate constituents , which means that further segmentation is impossible for no meaning can be found .

e. g. The ultimate constituents of the phrase given are “a” ,”black” , “dress” , “ in” , “severe” , “style” . This method of analysis is extremely fruitful in discovering the derivational structure of words .
Distributional analysis .

Distributional analysis in its various forms is commonly used nowadays. By the term “distribution” we understand the occurrence of a lexical unit relative to another lexical units of the same levels : words to words , morpheme to morphemes . In other words , by this term we understand the position which lexical unit occupies or may occupy in the text or in the flow of speech . It is observed that a certain component of the word-meaning is described when the word is identified distributionally .

e. g. In the sentence

The boy__________ home .

the missing word is easily identified as a verb . It may be “came , ran , went , goes” , but not as an adverb or a noun , or an adjective .

Thus , we see that the component of meaning that is distributionally identified is actually the part-of-speech meaning . It is also observed that in a number of cases words have different lexical meanings in different distributional patterns .

e. g. The verb “to treat” has different lexical meanings in “to treat smbd kindly” & “to treat smbd to ice-cream” .

The interdependence of distribution & meaning can be also observed at the level of word-groups .

e. g. It is only the distribution of completely identical lexical units but arranged on the reverse that differentiates the meaning – water tap & tap water .


Transformational analysis .


Transformational analysis in lexicological investigations may be defined as repatterning ( representing , reorganization ) of various distributional structures in order to discover difference or sameness of meaning of practically identical distributional patterns . As distributional patterns are in a number of cases polysemantic transformational procedures are of help not only in the analysis of semantic sameness / difference of the lexical units but also in the analysis of the factors that account for their polysemy . Word-groups of identical distributional structure when repatterned show that the semantic relations between words & consequently the meaning may be different .e. g. A pattern “possessive pronoun ”+”noun”(his car , his failure , his arrest, his kindness ). According to transformational analysis the meaning of each word-group may be represented as : he has a car , he failed , he was arrested , he is kind. In each of the cases different meaning is revealed : possession , action , passive action , quality .The rules of transformation are rather strict & shouldn’t be identified with paraphrasing in the usual sense of the term .There are many restrictions both on syntactic & lexical levels . These are :

Permutation – the repatterning on condition that the basic subordinative relationships between words & word-stems of the lexical units are not changed .e. g. “His work is excellent “ may be transformed into “ his excellent work , the excellence of his work , he works excellently “.In the example given the relationships between lexical units & the stems of the notional words are essentially the same .

Replacement – the substitution of a component of the distributional structure by a member of a certain strictly defined set of lexical units .e. g. Replacement of a notional verb by an auxiliary or link verb (he will make a bad mistake & he will make a good teacher ). The sentences have identical distributional structure but only in the second one the verb “to make “ can be substituted by “ become “ or “ be “ . The fact of impossibility of identical transformations of distributionally identical structures is a formal proof of the difference in their meaning .


Addition ( or expansion ) may be illustrated by the application of the procedure of addition to the classification of adjectives into two groups- adjectives denoting inherent & non-inherent qualities .

e. g. John is happy .

John is tall .

We add a word-group “ in Moscow “. We shall see that “ John is happy in Moscow .” has meaning while the second one is senseless . That is accounted by the difference in the meaning of adjectives denoting inherent (tall) & non-inherent(happy) qualities .

Deletion – a procedure which shows whether one of the words semantically subordinated to the other . e. g. The word-group “red flowers” may be deleted & transformed into “flowers” without making the sentence senseless : I like red flowers or I like flowers . The other word-group “red tape “ can’t be deleted & transformed either into “ I hate tape “ or “I hate red “ because in both transformed sentences the meaning of the phrase “red tape” means “bureaucracy” & it can’t be divided into two parts .


Componental analysis .


In this analysis linguists proceed from the assumption that the smallest units of meaning are sememes or semes . e. g. In the lexical item “woman” several sememes may be singled out , such as human , not an animal , female , adult . The analysis of the word “girl” will show the following sememes : human , female , young . The last component of the two words differentiates them & makes impossible to mix up the words in the process of communication . It is classical form of revealing the work of componental analysis to apply them to the so called closed systems of vocabulary , for example , colour terms . The analysis as a rule was formalized only as far as the symbolic representation of meaning components it is concerned with .Each sememe in the terms of colours acquires or is given a certain letter ( A , B , C , D … ) & the meaning of the terms may be given in a formalized form . e. g. Red & scarlet will differ only in one component & that is intensity of colour & by the letter it may be illustrated as

A B C

A B C Under the letter C the intensity is meant .

The formalized representation of meaning helps to find out different semantic components which influence collocability of words (during the day but not during the stairs, down the stairs but not down the day ).

Componental analysis is practically always combined with transformational procedures or statistical analysis .The combination makes it possible to find out which of the meanings should be represented first of all in the dictionaries of different types & how the words should be combined in order to make your speech sensible .


Method of semantic differential .


A word has not only one meaning & even one word usually implies some additional information which differentiates one word from another .

e. g. to like , to love , to adore , to warship . All the words denote positive feelings , characteristic of a human being . But each of them gives additional information on the so-called strength of feeling .

This is the connotational aspect which was singled out by the semantic differential – the method which was worked out by a group of American psycholinguists . Their technique requires the subjects to judge – a series of concepts with respect to a set of antonymic adjective scale .

e. g. A horse can be :

good – bad

fast – slow

strong – weak

hard – soft

happy – sad

The meaning of the divisions is that each of the quality may be gradated representing extremely good , very good , neither good nor bad ,slightly bad , extremely bad & these grades can be marked by a plus .And the horse may be very good , not bad , etc .

The revealed gradations showing some portion of quality helps to singled out such words which are usually referred to as neutral, expressive , archaic & new words proper – neologisms . All the methods of analysis are applied in one & the same sphere of investigation . If you are interested in meaning you shouldn’t pay much attention to the structure , if you are interested in collocation of words you shouldn’t pay much attention what parts of words represent the distributional structure . The combination of different methods of analysis helps to classify the vocabulary as a whole & each lexical unit taken separately . It should be said that practically no procedures function independently & separately from each other . It is only for study aims that we separate one procedure from another . In fact , being a two-faced unit a lexical item provides to be an indivisible unit of form & content . That is why you cannot investigate one side of the item paying no attention to the other one .


Semasiology . Lexical

meaning & its aspects .


Semasiology (or semantics ) is a branch of linguistics which studies meaning . Semasiology is singled out as an independent branch of lexicology alongside word-formation , etymology , phraseology & lexicography . And at the same time it is often referred to as the central branch of lexicology . The significance of semasiology may be accounted for by three main considerations :

Language is the basic human communication system aimed at ensuring the exchange of information between the communicants which implies that the semantic side forms the backbone of communication .

By definition lexicology deals with words , morpheme & word-groups . All those linguistic units are two-faced entities having both form & meaning .

Semasiology underlines all other branches of lexicology . Meaning is the object of semasiological study .

However , at present there is no universally accepted definition of meaning or rather a definition reflecting all the basic characteristic features of meaning & being at the same time operational . Thus , linguists state that meaning is “one of the most ambiguous & most controversial terms in the theory of language “(Steven Ullman).Leech states that the majority of definitions turn out to be a dead end not only on practical but on logical grounds . Numerous statements on the complexity of the phenomenon of meaning are found on the Russian tradition as well by such linguists as А.А.Потебня , И.А.Бодуэн де Куртене , Щерба , Виноградов , А.И. Смерницкий & others .

However vague & inadequate , different definitions of meaning help to sum up the general characteristics of the notion comparing various approaches to the description of the content side of the language . There are three main categories of definitions which may be referred to as :

analytical or referential definition of meaning

functional or contextual definition of meaning

operational or information-oriented definition of meaning


Analytical or referential

definition of meaning.

They seek to find the essence of meaning establishing the interdependence between words of the objects or phenomena they denote . The best known analytical model of meaning is the so-called “basic triangle”.

Lexicology Concept (or our thought)


Sound-form Word-object (referent)

They are connected directly that means that if we hear a sound-form a certain idea arises in our mind & the idea brings out a certain referent that exists in the reality . But the sound-form & the referent are connected indirectly because there are no objects or phenomena in the reality that predict a certain sound-form , that need to be named by a certain sequence of sounds . The strongest point in the approach is an attempt to link the notion of meaning with the process of naming the objects , processes or phenomena of concrete reality . The analytical definitions of meaning are usually criticized on the grounds that they cannot be applied to sentences .

e. g. The sentence “ I like to read long novels “ does not express single notion , it represents composites of notions specifying the relations between them .

The referential definition of meaning can hardly be applied to semantic additions that come to the surface in the process of communication .

e. g. “That’s very clever “ may mean different sorts of things including that it is not clever at all .

It has also been stated that the referential approach fails to account for that fact that one word may denote different objects & phenomena . That is the case of polysemy . On the other hand one & the same object may be denoted by different words & that is the case of synonymy .


Functional or contextual

Definitions of meaning.


Proceeding from the assumptions that the true meaning of a word is to be found by observing what a man does with it not what he says about it , the proponents of functional approach to meaning define it as the use of the word in the language . It has been suggested that the meaning of a word is revealed by substituting different contexts .

e. g. The meaning of the word cat may be singled out of contexts:

____________ catch mice.

I bought fish for my _____.

and similar sentences.

To get a better insight in to the semantics of a word it is necessary to analyze as many contexts in which it is realized as possible. The question arises – when to stop collecting different contexts & what amount of material is sufficient to make a reliable conclusion about the meaning of a word ? In practice a scholar is guided by intuition which amount to the previous knowledge of the notions the given word denotes. Besides , there are contexts which are so infrequent that they can hardly be registered & quite obviously they have never been met by the speakers of the given language. Nevertheless being presented with a context a native speaker proceeds not from a list of possible contexts but from something else. The functional approach to meaning is important because it emphasizes the fact that words are seldom if ever used in isolation & thus the meaning of a word is revealed only when it is realized in a context. But on the whole the functional approach may be described as a complimentary , additional to the referential one.


Operational definition

Of meaning.


They are centered on defining meaning through its role in the process of communication. Just like functional approach information-oriented definitions are part of studying words in action. They are more interested in how the words work , how the meaning works than what the meaning is. The operational approach began to take shape with the growing interest of linguists in the communicative aspect of the language when the object of study was shifted to the relations between the language we use & the situations within which it is used. In this frame-work meaning is defined as information conveyed from the speaker to the listener in the process of communication. The definition is applicable both to words & sentences & thus overcomes one of the drawbacks of the referential approach. The problem is that it is more applicable to sentences than to words & even as such fails to draw a clear distinguishing line between the direct sense (that is meaning) & implication (that is additional information).

e. g. Thus the sentence “John came at 6 o’clock” besides the direct meaning may imply that John was 2 hours late , that he was punctual as usual , that it was a surprise for John to come , that he came earlier , that he was not expected at all & many others.

In each case the implication would depend on the concrete situation of communication. And discussing meaning as the information conveyed would amount to the discussion of an almost endless set of possible communication situations which in the end will bring us back to a modified contextual or functional approach to meaning. The distinction between the two layers in the information conveyed is so important that two different terms may be used to denote them: the direct information conveyed by the units which build up a sentence may be referred to as meaning while the information added to the given extralinguistic situation may be called sense.


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