Brief course on lexicology
COURSE ON LEXICOLOGY
Lexicology is the science of the word and
synchronic approach) and historical (the diachronic approach).
comparative, descriptive and historical are closely connected.
Lexical units are
morphemes, words, word-groups, phraseological units.
Paradigm – the system showing a word in all
its word-forms. The lexical meaning is the same; the grammatical meaning varies
from one form to another (to take, takes, taken, took, taking).
Semasiology – the branch of lexicology that is
devoted to the study of the meaning. There are 2 schools with their own
approaches to the problem of the words meaning: referential and
Types of the meaning
Part of speech
Lexical meaning –
may be denotational (making the communication possible) and connotational
(the emotive charge and the stylistic value).
Stylistic value is
subdivided into neutral, bookish and colloquial. The last may be pointed
out like slang, common colloquial, vulgarisms, dialectical words,
Meaning is the inner facet of the word,
inseparable from its outer facet (sound form) which is indispensable to the
existence of meaning and to intercommunication.
Morphological (-able, -less, re-,
Phonetical (boom, splash, cuckoo,
Change of meaning
Word-meaning is liable to
change in the course of the historical development of language.
Causes of semantic
(ellipsis, discrimination of synonyms, linguistic analogy)
The kinds of
association involved in semantic changes are:
Results of semantic
denotational meaning (specialization, extension (generalization [specialized,
development (derogatory emotive charge)
development (the improvement of the con. component)
Causes, nature and result
of semantic changes should be regarded as 3 essentially different but closely
connected aspects of the same linguistic phenomenon.
Polysemy The main problem is the problem of
interrelation and interdependence of the various meanings of the same word.
Diachronically it is a historical change in
the semantic structure resulting in disappearance of some meanings or/and in
new meanings being added to the ones already existing also in the rearrangement
of these meanings in its semantic structure.
Synchronically it is co-existence of the various
meanings of the same word at a certain historical period and the arrangement of
these meanings in the semantic structure of the word.
Diachronically: primary (original) and secondary
(derived) meanings viewed chronically.
Synchronically: central (basic) and marginal (minor)
meanings according to their relative frequency in speech.
The semantic structure is
never static. The relationship between the diachronic and synchronic evaluation
of individual meanings of the same word may be different in different periods
of the historical development of language.
The whole of the semantic
structure of correlated polysemantic words of different languages can never be
identical. Words are felt as correlated if their basic (central) meanings
Homonymy Full homonymy – of words belonging to the same
part of speech.
Partial homonymy – of individuals word-forms of
different part of speech.
Homonyms may be:
in lexical meaning)
(both in lexical and grammatical)
grammatical meaning only)
Homonyms may be classified on the basis of 3
aspects as well:
meaning (dew to
the meaning they are derived into homograpgs, homophones, perfect (absolute)
The sources of homonymy:
development of a polysemantic word
development of 2 or more different words (most potent factor)
The criteria used in the
synchronic analysis of homonyms:
1. semantic 2. spelling 3.
The problem of
discriminating between polysemy and homonymy in theoretical linguistics is
closely connected with the problem of the basic unit at the semantic level of
of words are basically of 2 types: syntagmatic and paradigmatic.
Syntagmatic relations define the meaning the word
possesses when it is used in combination with other words in the flow of
Paradigmatic relations are those that exist between
individual lexical items which make up one of the subgroups of vocabulary items
(sets of synonyms, lexico-semantic groups, etc.).
He got a letter.
I received a note.
She obtained an epistle.
Context may be regarded in aspects as
vocabulary into thematic groups is based on common contextual associations
(the result of regular co-occurrence of words in similar, repeatedly used
The main criterion
underlying semantic classification of vocabulary items on the paradigmatic axis
is type of meaning relationships between words.
The criterion of common
concept serves to classify words into semantic fields and lexico-semantic
Semantic relationship of
inclusion is the main feature of hyponymic hierarchical structure. Semantic
similarity and semantic contrast is the type of relationship which underlies
the classification of lexical items into synonymic and antonymic series.
Synonymy and antonymy are correlative and sometimes
overlapping notions. Synonymous relationship of the denotational meaning is in
many cases combined with the difference in the connotational (mainly stylistic)
Synonyms — words different in sound-form but
similar in their denotational meaning or meanings and interchangeable at least
in some contexts.
Antonyms — words different in sound-form
characterized by different types of semantic contrast of the denotational
meaning and interchangeable at least in some contexts.
Word-groups – words put together to form lexical
units make up phrases or word-groups. Come dew to lexical and grammatical
valency of the components.
Lexical valency is the aptness of a word to appear in
various collocations. Restriction of the lexical valency are to be accounted
for by the inner structure of the vocabulary of the English language.
Different meanings of a
polysemantic word may be described through its lexical valency.
Grammatical valency is the aptness of a word to appear
in various grammatical structures. Restriction of the grammatical valency are
to be accounted for by the grammatical structure of the language. The range of
the grammatical valency of the word is delimited by the part of speech the word
Structurally, word-groups may be classified by the
criterion of distribution into exocentric and endocentric (they
according to the head-word are distinguished nominal, adverbial, verbal,
Semantically, word-groups may be classified into motivated
and non-motivated (phraseological units)
Phraseological units –
that cannot be freely made up in speech but are reproduced as ready made units.
fusions – completely non-motivated
unities – partially non-motivated
collocations – motivated but made up of words possessing specific lexical
valency. That’s why there is a certain degree of stability in such group.
The criterion of
The criterion of
The criterion of context;
Phraseological units might also be shared to:
phrasemes – two-member word-groups in which one
of the members has specialized meaning dependent on the second component:
Idioms – the idiomaticity of the whole
word-group; unusualness of collocability or logical incompability of
member-words; usually homonymous with corresponding variable word-groups: red
tape, to let the cat out of the bag.
feature of the new approach is that phraseology is regarded as a self-contained
branch of linguistics and not as a part of lexicology. According to this
approach phraseology deals with all types of set expressions which are divided into
There are 2 levels of
approach to the study of word-structure:
the level of
the level of
derivational or word-formation analysis
The basic unit of
morphemic level is the morpheme defined as the smallest indivisible
two-facet language unit.
Three types of morphemic segmentability of words
Words of conditional
and defective segmentability are made up of full morphemes and pseudo
(quasi) morphemes. The latter do not rise to the status of full morphemes
either for semantic reasons or because of their unique distribution.
Semantically morphemes fall into:
2. affixational morphemes
Structurally morphemes fall into:
3. semi-free (semi-bound)
The structural types of words
at the morphemic level are described in terms of the number and type of their
ICs (immediate constituents) as monomorphic and polymorphic words.
Derivational level of
analysis aims at finding out the derivative types of words, the interrelation
between them and at finding out how different types of derivatives are
Derivationately all words
form 2 structural classes:
Each structural type of
complexes shows preference for one or another part of speech. Within part of
speech derivative structures are characterized by a set of derivational
Derivational basis differ
from stems both structurally and semantically. Derivational bases are built on
the following language units:
stems of various
Each class and subset
bases has its own range of collocability and shows peculiar ties with different
parts of speech.
Derivational affixes form
derived stems by repattering derivational bases. Semantically derivational
affixes present a unity of lexical meaning and other types of meaning:
functional, distributional and differential unlike non-derivational affixes
which lack lexical meaning.
(DP) are meaningful arrangements of various types of ICs that can be observed
in a set of words based on their mutual interdependence. DPs can be viewed in
terms of collocability of each IC.
There are 2 types of
DPs: 1) structural that specify base classes and individual affixes.
that specify semantic peculiarities of bases and the individual meaning of the
DPs of different levels
of generalization signal:
the class of
source unit that motivates the derivative and the direction of motivation
between different classes of words.
The part of
speech of the derivative.
The lexical sets
and semantic features of derivatives.
Ways of forming
words (according to A.I. Smirnitskiy):
Word-formation is the system of derivative types of
words and the process of creating new words from the material available in the
language after certain structural and semantic formulas and patterns.
As a subject of study
English word-formation is that branch of English lexicology which studies the
derivative structure of words and the patterns on which the English language
builds new words. Like any other linguistic phenomenon, word-formation may be studied
synchronically and diachronically.
There are 2 types of
word-formation in Modern English:
word-derivation being of 2 kinds like affixation
There is every reason to
exclude the shortening of words, lexicalization, blending, acronymy from the
system of word-formation and regard them and other word-forming processes as
specific means of vocabulary refreshment. Sound-and-stress interchange in
Modern English are a means of distinguishing between different words, primarily
between words of different pa5rts of speech.
The degree of
productivity and factors favouring it make an important aspect in synchronic
description of every derivational pattern within the 2 types of word-formation.
Three degrees of
distinguished for derivational patterns and individual derivational affixes: