Lexicology


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.

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 . Its 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 shouldnt 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

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

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

dreameddreamed

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 havent , 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 cant 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 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 , , .

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: is a little bit smaller than foot , the word

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

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 ,

, 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( , ). 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 & shouldnt

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

cant 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 cant 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 shouldnt pay much attention to the structure , if you are

interested in collocation of words you shouldnt 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 :

1. 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 .

2. By definition lexicology deals with words , morpheme & word-groups .

All those linguistic units are two-faced entities having both form &

meaning .

3. 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

.. , .. , , , ..

& 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 :

V analytical or referential definition of meaning

V functional or contextual definition of meaning

V 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.

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. Thats 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 oclock 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.



© 2009