Lexicology: Linguistics and Words

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LECTURES ON ENGLISH LEXICOLOGY

INTRODUCTION The book is intended for English language students at Pedagogical Universities taking the course of English lexicology and fully meets the requirements of the programme in the subject. It may also be of interest to all readers, whose command of English is sufficient to enable them to read texts of average difficulty and who would like to gain some information about the vocabulary resources of Modern English (for example, about synonyms and antonyms), about the stylistic peculiarities of English vocabulary, about the complex nature of the word's meaning and the modern methods of its investigation, about English idioms, about those changes that English vocabulary underwent in its historical development and about some other aspects of English lexicology. One can hardly acquire a perfect command of English without having knowledge of all these things, for a perfect command of a language implies the conscious approach to the language's resources and at least a partial understanding of the "inner mechanism" which makes the huge language system work. In this book the reader will find the fundamentals of the word theory and of the main problems associated with English vocabulary, its characteristics and subdivisions. The aim of the course is to teach students to be word-conscious, to be able to guess the meaning of words they come across from the meanings of morphemes, to be able to recognise the origin of this or that lexical unit.

Lecture I. Working Definitions of Principal Concepts.

Lexicology is a branch of linguistics, the science of language. The term Lexi c o l o g y is composed of two Greek morphemes: lexis meaning ‘word, phrase’ and logos which denotes ‘learning, a department of knowledge’. Thus, the literal meaning of the term L e x i с o l о g у is ‘the science of the word’. The literal meaning, however, gives only a general notion of the aims and the subject-matter of this branch of linguistic science, since all its other branches also take account of words in one way or another approaching them from different angles. Phonetics, for instance, investigating the phonetic structure of language, i.e. its system of phonemes and intonation patterns, is concerned with the study of the outer sound form of the word. Grammar, which is inseparably bound up with Lexicology, is the study of the grammatical structure of language. It is concerned with the various means of expressing grammatical relations between words and with the patterns after which words are combined into word-groups and sentences. Lexicology as a branch of linguistics has its own aims and methods of scientific research, its basic task being a study and systematic description of vocabulary in respect to its origin, development and current use. Lexicology is concerned with words, variable word-groups, phraseological units, and with morphemes which make up words. There are two principal approaches in linguistic science to the study of language material, namely the synchronic (Gr. syn — ‘together, with’ and chronos — ‘time’) and the diachronic (Gr. dia — ‘through’) approach. With regard to S p e c i a l Lexicology the synchronic approach is concerned with the vocabulary of a language as it exists at a given time, for instance, at the present time. It is special D e s с r i p t i v e L e x i c o l o g y that deals with the vocabulary and vocabulary units of a particular language at a certain time. A Course in Modern English Lexicology is therefore a course in Special Descriptive Lexicology, its object of study being the English vocabulary as it exists at the present time.

The diachronic approach in terms of Special Lexicology deals with the changes and the development of vocabulary in the course of time. It is special Historical Lexicology that deals with the evolution of the vocabulary units of a language as time goes by. An English Historical Lexicology would be concerned, therefore, with the origin of...
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