Lexicology as a branch of Linguistics
Основи Англійської лексикології
М. С. Ретунская
Нижній Новгород 2006
Друкується за рішенням редакційно-видавничої ради ГОУ НГЛУ ім. Н. А. Добролюбова.
Спеціальність: Теорія і методика викладання іноземних мов і культур
Дисципліна: Лексикологія англійської мови
Ретунская М. С. Основи англійської лексикології: Курс лекцій. -
Н. Новгород: НГЛУ ім. Н. А. Добролюбова, 2006 - 175 с.
Курс лекцій з англійської лексикології присвячений слову як основний одиниці мови. Тут знайшли відображення базові розділи цієї галузі лінгвістики: етимологія, структура слова, словотвір, лексикографія. Англійська лексика розглядається як безперервно розвивається. «Основи англійської лексикології» призначені для студентів і аспірантів інститутів і факультетів іноземних мов.
Рецензент Т. В. Сухарева, канд. філол. наук., доцент
© Видавництво ГОУ НГЛУ ім. Н. А. Добролюбова, 2006
For the purpose pf communication every language has special units ready for usage - words with the help of which any speaker can nominate the objects of the extralinguistic world and their qualities, his own mental and psychical phenomena, and word combinations which also function as complex names, and morphemes, The smallest meaningful units of the language system with the help of which we can build (derive) any unit of nomination. Taken together these units form the system of lexical units of the language, or its vocabulary.
Lexical units are bilateral units: they possess definite forms defined by combinations of sounds and meanings. The English word cat means «кішка» and names a corresponding class of animals; word-combinations green hand and Adam's ale mean «недосвідчена людина» і «вода»; the morpheme -er helps to build the agent of a verbal action - worker, teacher. Being bilateral linguistic units, lexical units differ from phonemes, for instance, which have a distinctive function but are devoid of meaning.
At the same time lexical units represent material for further word-formation. We reproduce them automatically in speech - syntactical units (phrases, sentences) are formed in the process of communication; they are not ready-made. No doubt, in the process of communication speakers can create new words which never existed in the vocabulary of the language but they will become the constituent elements of the vocabulary only when they pass the process of social approbation and will be accepted by the society.
The science which studies the vocabulary of the language as a complex of its constituent elements is called lexicology (From Greek lexis «Слово, мова», «lexicos"- Concerning words" and logos - «Вчення»).
Lexicology as a branch of linguistics is closely connected with its other branches. Phonetics, for example is interested in lexical units from the point of view of their sound structure, grammar studies grammatical aspects of lexical units abstracting from their individual and other properties. But, certainly, lexicology sets itself a lot of linguistic problems of its own.
Lexicology reveals the most essentual characteristics of lexical units, gives a systematic description of the vocabulary of the language, laws of its formation in the course of many centuries, functioning and further development.
One of the most important problems of lexicology is the study of word-meaning, semantic characteristics of lexical units, the connection of all the components of word meaning, polysemantic nature of the majority of English words, various changes of word-meaning in the process of communication.
Morphemes which constitute any word are studied from the point of view of their derivational potential - their activity in the process of word-building, their combinability with the basic units, and functions they fulfil in the language.
Combinability of linguistic units, the laws of their collocation, formation of stable word-collocations, their specific features are also studied by lexicology.
Systematic relations in the vocabulary, different types of semantic groupings (thematic groups, semantic fields, synonyms, antonyms, homonyms) have always been of special interest for lexicologists.
Lexicology does not limit itself to static description of the vocabulary. Great importance is attached to the dynamic side of the lexical system: the origin of lexical units, their etymology, the process of assimilation of borrowings, territorial and social peculiarities of lexical units.
It is worthy of note that lexicology as a branch of linguistics appeared due to the efforts of a great number of outstanding scholars in this country. Even the word "lexicology" is not found in European and American linguistics. It should also be mentioned that the approach used by the linguists in this country to the study of the vocabulary is lexicocentrical (лексікоцентріческій).
The vocabulary of the language represents a system. We may study it synchronically, At a given stage of the language's development or diachronically, In the context of the processes through which it grows and develops.
The vocabulary of any language is the result of a long historical process in the course of which many words came into disuse, became obsolete and a number of new words appears with any coming day, taking as a building material words and morphemes already existing in the language, combining them in every possible way or borrowing them from other languages and slowly adapting them to its own laws.
Lexicology today presents a vast area of linguistic knowledge. Thus, historical lexicology deals with historic development of the vocabulary against its socio-cultural background. Comparative lexicology studies closely related languages aiming at their typological identity or differentiation; contrastive lexicology establishes facts of similarities and differences of related and non-related languages; applied lexicology includes terminology and lexicography, translation, linguodidactics and pragmatics of speech.
The role and the power of a WORD in our life is really great, even mystical. There is a special, "intimate" relationship between us and the word, for a name calls up an entity in the world around us and vice versa. A word names only a given referent and this connection is based on the systemic character of our language, provides mutual understanding in the process of communication.
Beside giving us the key to the surrounding world words stimulate our emotional reaction to what has being said: words can hurt, excite, depress, gladden and exhilarate, help achieve the desired effect, set problems, conflicts and wars.
What is the relationship between words and things? From the point of view of formal approach words are just arbitrary signs which have no importance when compared with things, concepts or phenomena of the outer world. But those things and concepts form the necessary basis for words when they appear in the language. Of course, things and concepts come first, but they are dead till they are named by words.
In works of fiction the dominance of words (their specific choice) becomes evident; words are to help us to comprehend the author's message.