Subject, aims and connection of lexicology with other sciences.

Different aspects of lexicology.

Lexicology as a science. Terminology.


Lexicology as a science.


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The science of Lexicology is an important part of Linguistics. The word lexicology came from the Greek words lexis word and logos learning. Lexicology deals with the vocabulary of a language and the properties of words as the main units of language. L e x i c o l o g y , a branch of linguistics, is the study of words.

The term vocabulary is used to denote the system formed by the sum of all the words that the language possesses (vocabulary of a language is the total sum of its words this is the stock of words).

The term word denotes the basic unit of a given language resulting from the association of a particular meaning with a particular group of sounds capable of a particular grammatical employment. A word therefore is simultaneously a semantic, grammatical and phonological unit.

Lexicology is subdivided into parts. The general study of words and vocabulary, irrespective of the specific features of any particular language, is known as g e n e r a l l e x i c o l o g y . Linguistic phenomena and properties common to all languages are generally referred to as language universals. S p e c i a l l e x i c o l o g y devotes its attention to the description of the characteristic peculiarities in the vocabulary of a given language.

The evolution of any vocabulary, as well as of its single elements, forms the object of h I s t o r I c a l l e x i c o l o g y. This branch of linguistics discusses the origin of various words, their change and development, and investigates the linguistic and extra-linguistic forces modifying their structure, meaning and usage.

D e s c r i p t i v e l e x i c o l o g y deals with the vocabulary of a given language at a given stage of its development. It studies the functions of words and their specific structure as a characteristic inherent in the system. The descriptive lexicology of the English language deals with the English word and its morphological and semantical structures, investigating the interdependence between these two aspects.

Language as a whole may be viewed wit the help of two approaches: h i s t o r i c a l or

d i a c h r o n i c (from Greek words dia through and chronos time) and the d e s c r i p t i v e or s y n c h r o n i c (from Greek syn together, with). The distinction between them is due to the Swiss philologist Ferdinand the Saussure (1857-1913).

The branch of linguistics, dealing with causal relations between the way the language works and develops , on the one hand, and the facts of social life, on the other, is termed s o c i o l i n g u i s t i c s. It studies the speech behavior in small social groups, the effect of mass media, the system of education, language planning etc.

Lexicology studies the recurrent patterns of semantic relationships, and of any formal phonological, morphological or contextual means by which they may be rendered. It aims at systematization. According to I. V. Arnold, vocabulary is systematic because it may be considered as a structured set of interdependent and interrelated elements. V.V. Vinogradov called vocabulary as the lexico-semantic system.

The modern approach to word studies is based on distinguishing between the external and internal structures of the word. By external structure of the word we will mean its morphological structure ( For example: pre-historic). The external structure of words and also typical word-formation patterns, will be studied in the section on word-building.

The internal structure of the word, or its meaning, is nowadays commonly referred to as the word semantic structure. This is certainly the words main aspect. Words can serve the purposes of human communication solely due to their meanings. The area of lexicology specializing in the semantic studies of the word is called semantics.

Lexicology is closely connected with other linguistic sciences. The connection of lexicology with p h o n e t i c s is very important. This importance stands explained if we think of the fact that on the acoustic level words consist of phonemes, and therefore phonemes participate in signification.They have no meaning of their own: the form-meaning unity is introduced only on a higher level, i.e. on the level of morphemes. Nevertheless, phonemes are not lexicologically irrelevant: as their function is building up morphemes, they serve to distinguish between meanings. Meaning in its turn is indispensable to phonemic analysis because to establish the phonemic difference between [ ou ] and [ o ] it is sufficient to know that [houp] means something different from [hop].

The difference and interconnection between g r a m m a r and lexicology is one of the important controversial issues in linguistics. A close connection between lexicology and grammar is conditioned by the manifold and inseverable ties between the objects of their study. Even isolated words as presented in a dictionary bear a definite relation to the grammatical system of the language because they belong to some part of speech and conform to some lexico-grammatical characteristic of the word class to which they belong. Words seldom occur in isolation. They are arranged in certain patterns conveying the relations between the things for which they stand, therefore alongside with their lexical meaning they possess some grammatical meaning. The two kinds of meaning are often independent. That is to say, certain grammatical functions and meanings are possible only for the words whose grammatical meaning makes them fit for these functions, and, on the other hand, some lexical meanings in some words occur only in definite grammatical functions and forms and in definite grammatical patterns.

S t y l i s t i c s, although from a different angle, studies many problems treated in lexicology. These are the problems of meaning, synonymy, differentiation of vocabulary according to the sphere of communication and some other issues. For a reader without some awareness of the history of words, the images, hidden in their root and their stylistic properties, a substantial part of the meaning of a literary text, whether prosaic or poetic is lost. An awareness of all these is not only rewarded because one can enjoy the effect of hidden connotations and imagery, but because without it one cannot grasp the whole essence of the message the author has to convey.

P h r a s e o l o g y is the branch of lexicology specializing in word-groups which are characterized by stability of structure and transferred meaning: birds of a feather, red tape, green light etc.

Lexicology came into being to meet the needs of many different branches of applied linguistics, namely of lexicography, literary criticism, standardization of terminology, informational retrieval and last but not least of foreign language teaching.

To sum up all said before, we will underline again, that the word is a speech unit used for the purposes of human communication, materially representing a group of sounds, possessing a meaning, susceptible to grammatical employment and characterized by formal and semantic unity.


  1. Compare the meanings of the given words. Define what semantic features are shared by all the members of the group and what semantic properties distinguish them from each other.
  2. LECTURE3.2. Text stylistics as branch of functional stylistics. Subject, tasks.
  3. Syntactic Connections between the Words
  4. The Object of Lexicology. General questions of a Word Theory
  5. Connection

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