Contribution of Ukrainian linguists to lexicological studies.

Lexicological Studies in Russia and the Soviet Union.

Origins of Lexicological Research in the West.

Early studies in India, China, the Islamic World, and Europe.

History of lexicology.

Lexicology and Sociolinguistics.

Lexicology and Pragmatics.

Related fields.

Lexicology vs. Syntax.

Lexicology vs. Phonology.

Lexicology as a level of analysis.

Lexicon and Lexicology. Lexicology as a branch of linguistics studying words.






1. Whats in a name? arbitrariness in language.

2. Problems inherent in the term word.

4. Areas of concern for lexicology: semantics, morphology, etymology, lexicography and corpus linguistics.

6.3. Lexicology vs. Psycholinguistics and Cognitive Studies.

When all things began the Word already was. The Word dwelt with

God, and what God was, the Word was.

[Book of Jesus, Vol. I, Ch. 20]


1. Whats in a name? arbitrariness in language.

We may not attribute the same degree of mystical significance to the words as we find in the opening lines of the Gospel according to St. John (in the New English Bible version). But compared to grammar, there is a special relation between us and the world, founded on the mystery that a name calls up an entity in the world around us, and vice versa.

[Quick and Stein 1990 : 136].

An important part of this intellectual adventure that this book undoubtedly is will be to understand that most basic question: What are words and why are they important?

Words evoke images and ideas in our mind, thus giving us a key to the outside world. Words are crucial, because they provide a commonly shared medium for conveying meaning in a message. Words have evolved through the ages in lockstep with humankind. Perhaps more than any other factor, it is the mastery of language that sets us apart from the animal world. But words are slippery things. We often hear statements such as those are only words. It is well-known that they can be used to deceive as well as to illuminate. In any debate, similar language is used by both sides to present completely opposite views [David L. Brown, p.1].

It is only natural that for many years scholars and students of language should have speculated on the phenomenon called language, but many questions around it still remain unanswered. We cannot yet answer the question where language comes from, how some words are made up, and how meaning is generated. We know little about the mechanism by which a speakers mental process is converted into sound groups called words. We are not yet aware of the reverse mechanism how the listeners mind converts the acoustic phenomena into notions and ideas and what provides the basis for establishing understanding in a two-way process of communication. The nature of the lexicon, therefore, was and still remains an area of great interest to both scholars and lay public.

Since ancient and medieval times people have sought to understand the mechanism of relations between the word and the object (phenomenon, quality, action) it denotes. It is logical to assume that there is a direct relation between the word and the referent, but we do not know what is primary and what is secondary. This, in turn, gives rise to a question: why is the same object (referent) in different languages called differently (e. g. (Ukr.), (Rus.), ksiezka (Pol), a book (Eng.), das Buch (Ger.), le libre (Fr.) etc.? Different words for the same referent in different languages clearly point to a lack of logical or natural connection between the meaning of a word or phrase and the spoken sounds or written form which represent that meaning. This suggests that the relation between the word and the object or referent is arbitrary, i.e. linguistic signs and the meanings they represent do not neatly match each other. Not only do we find different words for the same concepts in different languages, but what additionally bears out the idea of arbitrariness is the fact that different languages have a different number of words designating the same objects and phenomena. For example, whereas the Eskimos have countless words for snow and ice, Germanic, Romance, Slavic and other language groups have only a few words to designate different kinds of snow (e.g. packed snow, powder in English). So, too, does the indigenous language in Hawaii, Ōlelo Hawaiʻi, abound in wave nomenclature, which is lacking in most other languages. The reasons for these discrepancies between languages are self-explanatory: coming in contact with certain phenomena in their environment, speakers of a language are compelled to find designations for them. The English to love can be either or when we translate it into Ukrainian. To illustrate the point further, the Dutch slak could be either snail or slug when translated into English. The English blue can mean two different colors in Ukrainian. And in some indigenous languages of Australia, the word that seemingly designates father is, in fact, a term that refers not just to ones biological father, but rather to a range of male relatives, including the fathers brothers, parallel cousins and even certain great-grandsons.

A famous quotation from Shakespeare is an apt illustration of this, largely random, relation between the word and what it stands for:

Whats in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet
(W. Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 2)

To speak of arbitrariness in language is not only to say that one concept in one language can become two in another, or that two can be collapsed into one. More importantly, languages often see the world differently. They divide reality up differently, they focus on different criteria, they structure experience in different ways. In the case of kinship terms that we have discussed above, English highlights biological relationships, whereas Australian Aboriginal languages focus on social structure. As a result, a word which English speakers might expect to refer to a unique individual refers, in fact, to a group of people who share a similar social place or role in the community [Halliday, 2007, p.59]. All of this means that in designating objects and phenomena in a language, it is crucial to look to the structures and systems that language itself generates and embodies. So if one wants to understand the kinship terms that are used informally in, say, Western Ukraine (, , , , etc.), one should not attempt, as Halliday warns, to set up some universal transcendental framework, but rather try to get inside the language itself [Ibid.]. If there are words that look as though they mean uncle, e.g. and , but are clearly different and evidently neither provides a neat match for the English counterpart, the questions to ask here are: how do these two terms contrast in meaning with each other? What are the extra meanings that one possesses and the other doesnt? What are the other kinship terms that are used alongside these in Western Ukraine? How do they appear in discourse? What kind of systems and structures do they enter into?

All these meanings may be arbitrary in the sense that there is no predetermined framework that says all languages must make this or that distinction (e.g. the difference between a brother on the mothers side and a brother on the fathers side has to be accommodated, i.e. there have to be different words to denote them, like and in the region of Ukraine mentioned above), but they are certainly not arbitrary in the sense that individuals can play freely and randomly with the language. While there is scope for creative departures in the language whether in the colorful turn of phrase of a poet or writer or in the entertaining zaniness of a comedian what holds a language together and makes it work as a language, is the social convention or agreement that underpins it. A word means what it means because that is what people here and now in this community take it to mean. Fundamentally, language rests on social convention.


2. Problems inherent in the term word.

As may well be clear by now, the present study is concerned with words and the subject matter of it is a word the meaningful unit of communication. The term word is not a well-established element in the British tradition. Proof of that can be found in D. Crystals A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, which says that intuitively all language speakers know what is meant by a word [Crystal 2003]. By and large, they have no difficulty recognizing words on a page, spelling them correctly, looking them up in dictionaries and even playing games with them. They usually manage to use the right word in the right place. But one does not have to go far to see that a word is far from the simple and obvious matter it is thought to be and as a term it remains an extremely vague notion. When we look a little more closely, it becomes clear to us that we are sometimes not even sure where a word begins and where it ends. Is English-speaking one word or two? How do we decide about sequences like lunchtime (rather than lunch-time or lunch time), dinner-time, breakfast time? How many words in isnt, pick-me-up, CD ? How about words that are spelled and sound alike, pairs like shape (the outline of) shape (to mold), content (that which is contained) content (happy), like (similar to) like (to be fond of) etc. Apart from that, what about variants of one word, like give, gives, gave, given, giving? Suppose we encounter the sentence Stop procrastinating, and, if we are unfamiliar with the word procrastinating, we will use a dictionary to translate it. But it is not procrastinating that we will be looking for, but rather procrastinate, since we feel it to be the base form and, as such, only this form and not procrastinating, procrastinates or procrastinated will find its way into the dictionary. We assume that the word procrastinate is something more than a word it is the unit of meaning which is behind the words procrastinating, procrastinates and procrastinated and its semantic and grammatical content will be carried over to all the other inflected forms. So are these four different words, or is there just one word procrastinate with many forms? Are girl and girls, friend and friendly one word or two? Are loud, louder, loudest three forms of a single word loud? If so, what about good, better, best? Or five and fifth, one and first, two and second? And, by the same token, what about multiword combinations? Coming across the sentence He is all fingers and thumbs for the first time, we need to look it up in the dictionary. We are familiar with the meanings of individual words all, fingers and thumbs but those meanings put together do not seem to make any sense. Apparently the meaning of the whole phrase is different from the combined meanings of the constituent words. The sentence He is all fingers and thumbs is an idiom, that is a unit of meaning larger than a single word and its ultimate meaning is a result of reinterpretation of individual senses of the items constituting the phrase. Do we consider all the items within it as separate words or the entire combination as one word? Clearly finding answers to all these questions is by no means a straightforward matter.

Furthermore, words are seldom if ever used in isolation and thus the meaning of a word is revealed only when it is realized in a context. So aside from making sense of individual words, language speakers need to be able to make words work together in concert. Very often we are puzzled why it is appropriate to say to do business but to make money, to say a strong wind but a heavy rain or a bright sun but a vivid example, etc. This list is endless. It is impossible to predict which words can go together with one another and which cant. Collocability is a difficult area to navigate, and especially for a language learner, collocations have to be learned, just like individual words that make them up. We may wonder why the English use both sustain and suffer to go with losses, damage, injuries (cf. Ukr. , , , ), but only suffer can collocate with defeat, unlike Ukrainian, in which the verb shows more consistent, and therefore, more predictable patterns ( ). On the other hand, language speakers should be conscious of the rhetorical effects that words can generate:a word can hurt, excite, and decide a case [Quick and Stein 1990 : 126]. It takes a certain level of language proficiency and communicative competence to appreciate metaphors in speech and writing (Its about time the company stepped up to the plate and resolved the conflict), puns (When the going gets tough, the tough get creative; Atheism is a non-prophet institution), oxymorons (compassionate capitalism, edible pets, permanent revolution, conspicuously absent, devastatingly handsome, peaceful jihad etc.), zeugmas (You are free to execute your laws, and your citizens, as you see fit [from Star Trek: the Next Generation] etc. All of these examples demonstrate that their adequate perception requires a level of comprehension far beyond the level of a word, since the semantics of individual words cannot account for the semantics of the entire sentences. They also prove yet again that the right choice of words is the speakers tool and the speakers weapon. The wrong word may cause problems or, indeed, become a source of conflicts.

Language is as immeasurable as reality itself; a lot of questions arise once we start analyzing it. But we do know by now that there is nothing accidental about the vocabulary of a language each word is a small unit within a vast but perfectly balanced system.

Modern theories of language are more concerned with how language works than why it exists. As a result, they tend to base their principles on observations of one or many languages. The theory will therefore depend on what is observed. In each field of knowledge concerned with language there are differing and often conflicting ways of observing linguistic facts. Speculating on the lexicon of a language, however, is common to any philosophical trend dealing with languages.



  2. English modal verbs having not always modal verb equivalents in Ukrainian.
  3. Ex. 7. Translate into Ukrainian paying attention to the forms of the Gerund.
  4. Give their Ukrainian equivalents.
  5. Rules and methods of Romanization of different Ukrainian proper nouns.
  6. Stylistic classification of English and Ukrainian vocabulary
  7. Stylistic resources of English and Ukrainian Word-building
  8. Stylistic resources of tense and aspect in English and Ukrainian
  9. Task IV. Read and translate the following text from English into Ukrainian.
  10. The main rules of conveying English sounds in Ukrainian translation of proper names.
  11. Ukrainian Pictorial Art

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