Lexicology As its name shows (the term “lexicology” comes from the combination of the Greek words “lexis” meaning word and “logos” meaning science), lexicology is, broadly speaking, the science of words. Starting from this very simple definition, attempts have been made at providing others, enlarging upon various aspects connected either with its “word” part or with its “science” part. Thus, some of the definitions of lexicology found in general dictionaries of English include the following: “… the study of the form, meaning and behaviour of words” (New “… a branch of linguistics concerned with the signification and “… the branch of linguistics that deals with the lexical component Oxford Dictionary of English 1998); application of words” (Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition); of language” (American Heritage College Dictionary, 4th edition). Numerous linguists have also provided definitions of lexicology in their books. For Bejan and Asandei (1981: 110), lexicology is “the part of linguistics dealing with the vocabulary of a language and the properties of words as the main units of language.” Mc Arthur (1992: 5) defines lexicology as “an area of language study concerned with the nature, meaning, history and use of words and word elements and often also with the critical description of lexicography”, while Jackson and Amvela (2007) suggest that it represents “the study of lexis, understood as the stock of words in a given language, i.e. its vocabulary or lexicon (from Greek lexis, ‘word’, lexikos ‘of/for words’)”. Once we have seen that there is general agreement upon the fact that words represent the object of study of lexicology, it would be useful to answer the question of what words themselves are. 2. The word Unlike lexicology, “the word” has not been given very clear definitions, the lack of clarity being due to the multitude of angles from which it has been approached. Things have

got more and more complicated since Bloomfield suggested in 1926 that the word is “a minimum free form”, meaning that it is the smallest meaningful linguistic unit that can be used independently to convey meaning. For example, child is a word that cannot be divided into smaller units that can convey meaning when they stand alone; if we contrast it with the word childish, we notice that the latter is made up of the independent meaningful word child and the particle –ish which no speaker of English recognizes as capable of conveying some meaning when used in isolation (though, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it means something like ”having the qualities of”). One of the endeavors to shed some light upon what is understood by a word belongs to Katamba (2005), who bases his explanations on recognizing a number of different senses in which the term “word” may be used. Before proceeding with the explanations proper, he usefully introduces the term “word-form”, “the physical form which realizes or represents a word in speech or writing” (Katamba 2005: 11). 2.1. Orthographic words The easiest way to recognize a word is to consider it the strings of letters (and orthographic signs) occurring between two blank spaces in written language. Seen from this perspective, the word may be considered an orthographic word. However, as simple as this approach may seem, it is not universally valid. There is a degree of flexibility in the way words are written down. Being or not being separated by a space may in itself not be a sure sign of words status. Attention should be drawn upon the fact that, if, for example, compound words, either solid or hyphenated (e.g. blackboard, schoolboy, bedroom or mother-in-law, forget-me-not) may be correctly identified as single units of the vocabulary on the basis of the orthographic criterion, what are known in linguistics as clitic groups may not. A clitic group is made up of a host word and the clitic itself. There are two classes of clitics in English: the class 1clitic – the ‘s genitive and the class 2 clitics – the reduced auxiliaries ‘ll, ‘re, ‘m, ‘d coming from shall/will, are, am, had/would and the contracted negation n’t for not. All of these clitics are appended to full words, the host words, but do not function as words themselves (although the full lexical items whose reduced forms they are do so). One more reason for which clitics do not qualify for word status is of a phonological nature – in order for a group of sounds

to be qualified as a word in English, there must be a vowel among them. The requirement that words must contain vowels not being met, clitics cannot function as independent words. 2.2. Phonological words Words as physical objects exist not only in writing, but also in speech. Seen from this perspective, they are known as phonological words. The recognition of spoken words seems to be a more difficult task than their recognition in writing, primarily due to the fact that the readily identifiable breaks at the boundaries of a written word are no longer present in speech. When spoken, words are not separated distinctly from each other, they come in a torrent, they overlap. Yet, even if individual words do not stand out discretely in the flow of speech, separated by a pause that could be equated to a space in writing, speakers are able to identify them. There are hundreds of pages written on speech recognition but, for the purpose of this book, it will suffice to say that the process of the identification of a spoken word begins with the phonetic stage, when the listener hears a number of noises. S/he then goes through the phonological stage, when s/he identifies what sound a particular noise represents and then, on the basis of his/her linguistic competence (s/he is unlikely to be conscious of), the relevance of the sounds uttered for the actual context in which they are produced and the syntactic semantic environment of those sounds, s/he is able to instantaneously retrieve a word with the appropriate meaning from the tens of thousands of vocabulary items stored in his/her mental lexicon. 2.3. Words as vocabulary items Lexicology distinguishes between words as word-forms and words as lexical items or lexemes. The lexeme is an abstract entity with different variants that is found in dictionaries and that has a particular meaning. Word-forms are the concrete objects that we write (orthographic words) or utter (phonological words) whenever we use language. The relationship between a lexeme and its word-forms is, according to Katamba (2002: 20) one of realization, representation or manifestation. For example, the lexeme ring occurs in dictionaries as such and may be represented when language is actually used by one of the following word-forms: ring, rang, rung, rings, ringing. The lexeme good may manifest itself in actual speaking or writing as good, better, the best. The lexeme child may be realized as child or children, etc.

In sentence (1). We don’t mind what size you are!’ The humor lies in recognizing that the word-form shrimp can belong to two different lexemes with unrelated senses: one meaning “an edible. The word serve may also be given two interpretations: “to dish up food” and “to wait upon a person at table”. If we combine meanings 1 and 2 of each of these words we get completely different meanings of the short conversation. a phenomenon known in linguistics as syncretism. word-play exploits the lexical ambiguity arising from the fact that the same word-form represents two distinct lexemes with very distinct meanings. it indicates that the action has been completed recently. 2. If we consider sentences (1) and (2) below (1) She paid the telephone bill yesterday. as language users. .4. sir. Grammatical words Seen from a grammatical perspective. while. since sentences contain strings of words. (2) She has paid the telephone bill. although in sentence (1). are aware of even at a very early age and it is the distinction on which word-play in puns and in intentional ambiguity in everyday life depends. in sentence (2). It is a matter we. it is described as the past participle of the same verb. “paid” as a grammatical word indicates that the action took place at a definite moment in the past. A word as a lexical item with a particular meaning and certain morphological and syntactic characteristics is referred to as a grammatical word. “tiny person”.. the Youngs (1981) suggest the following joke. namely “paid” in both sentences. The same word-form of a lexeme may be used as different grammatical words. “paid” is described grammatically as the past tense of the verb “pay”. in colloquial English. In their Ladybird book of Jokes and Rhymes. words play an essential role in syntax. long. in sentence (2). illustrative in a very clear way of the difference between words as lexical items and words as word-forms: ‘Waiter. Thus. slender crustacean” and the other meaning.The distinction between word-forms and lexemes is not difficult to understand. do you serve shrimps?’ ‘We serve anyone. we notice that the verb “pay” is realized by the same word-form.

-ity cannot be reversed to one’s liking. in a word such as impossibility. *Possibleimity. based on the four approaches mentioned above. the order of the component elements im-. the war was started by the Roman army. a generally acceptable definition of the word.g. the author means that words can be shifted around in a sentence. grammatical words are characterized by positional mobility on the one hand. in sentence (3). . but with giving it somewhat different emphasis. +singular]. unfortunately.Syncretism does not characterize verbs only. and by stability or internal cohesion on the other. (5b) Unfortunately. without affecting the global grammatical meaning of that sentence. possible. *ityimpossible. unfortunately. However. (4) She saw two sheep and two deer. *ityposisbleim are not acceptable words in English. they realize the words with the grammatical properties [+noun. while in sentence (4). the elements inside a word itself is rigidly fixed – e. (5c) Unfortunately. was started by the Roman army. may be that suggested by Bejan and Asandei (1981: 8): “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 [and letters] capable of a particular grammatical employment”. According to Katamba (2002). This is what Katamba (2002) means by stability or internal cohesion of grammatical words. but have different word orders and slightly different grammatical features: (5a) The Roman army started the war. By positional mobility. Sentences (3) and (4) below illustrate the phenomenon of syncretism in the case of nouns: (3) I saw a sheep and a deer. the Roman army started the war. It may be the attribute of other word classes as well. (5d) The war. as it can be seen from the sentences below that contain the same words. they represent the plurals of the same nouns. if the position of words in a sentence may be changed to suit the speaker’s or the writer’s communicative intentions. Although the word-forms “sheep” and “deer” belong to the same lexemes and are unchanged in form in both sentences. Thus.

Both these major divisions of lexicology may be further divided into at least two other sub-branches.3. Therefore. i. the approach of the vocabulary of a language from a diachronic point of view forms the domain of investigation of historical lexicology. a kind of study without which the compilation of dictionaries would be impossible. The general study of words and vocabulary. while lexicography.e. Functionally. Morphology dictates the acceptable combinations of particles that generate words. the study of meaning. Special lexicology concentrates on the description of the characteristic peculiarities of the vocabulary and its specific phenomena in a given language. Etymology studies the history of words. established according to the degree of generality in tackling phenomena specific of words. lexicography. it is clear from the manner in which the word has been defined that lexicology relies heavily on other mainstream branches of linguistics: phonology. socio-linguistics and psycholinguistics may also be related to lexicology. for their status as parts of speech. operates synchronically. The relationships between words. both already existing and new coinages and borrowings. dialectology. morphology and syntax. it accounts for the different morphosyntactic values of words and. semantics. with an emphasis on their origin. are spelt and pronounced. 4. etymology. syntax also plays an important role in a lexicological study. pragmatics. consequently. on the other hand. This book is an introduction to such a study. A third sub-branch of lexicology is considered to be lexicography. Semantics deals with the meaning of words. In addition to these. Phonology accounts for the ways in which words. Branches of lexicology Lexicology has two main divisions. irrespective of the specific features of any particular language is known as general lexicology. Descriptive lexicology. The relationship between lexicology and other branches of linguistics As Tătaru (2002) points out. On the one hand. the compilation and writing of dictionaries. both along the syntagmatic and along the paradigmatic axis (to be enlarged upon later in the book) can best be defined in context. origin and development of individual words. which Jackson (1988) considers “applied . it deals with the characteristics of vocabulary at a given stage in its evolution. which counts at length on etymology.

They are by no means exhaustive. Socio-linguistics shows. plays an undeniably important role in the study of words by the writing and compilation of dictionaries. but they suffice to demonstrate that an introduction to lexicology carries the advantage of offering insights into other areas of knowledge and investigation of words as well. These are only some of the possible ways in which lexicology interacts with other branches of linguistics. . for example. how the use of words is determined by the characteristics of the participants in a linguistic exchange. Pragmatics goes beyond the surface level of words and teaches us. for instance.lexicology”. while psycholinguistics deals with matters such as how words are stored in our brains and how it is possible for language users to retrieve the right word at the right time from this warehouse. Dialectology studies the peculiarities of words from a given region or from a given historical period. how to infer the right meaning of a word in a particular context. for example.

the different shapes of a few letters and the inexistence of the letters j. with variations within the same text and even on the same page of a manuscript. Together with it. and a few inscriptions and poems. others reflecting Germanic traditions. Often. a terms from Old Norse used to describe colourful figurative descriptions often involving compounds. The spelling of OE was rather inconsistent. the Middle. Only after the arrival of the Christian missionaries from Rome (587). OE is characterized by the frequent use of coinages. As Crystal (1995: 10) points out. 1. SOURCES OF THE ENGLISH VOCABULARY 1. The alphabet used in these writings resembles the one still in use today quite closely. q. “banhus”. Famous kennings include “hronrad”. known as “kennings”.5 million – the equivalent of about 30 medium-sized novels”. Each of these will be briefly described below. f. written around the year 1000. including Bede’s (731) Ecclesiastical History. the meaning of kennings is transparent. following Jackson and Amvela’s (2007) description.II. the corpus of such texts remains reduced. “bone-house” for the body. “the number of words in the corpus of OE compiled at the University of Toronto. Although a greater number of OE texts were written after 900. brought by the Anglo-Saxons in the fifth and the sixth centuries. v. “whale-road” for the sea. the Early Modern and the Modern periods. Sometimes. The most important literary work that survived from this period is the heroic poem Beowulf. when many Latin texts were translated. x and z in the older times. phrases and compound . a number of shorter poems. The Old English period (450-1066) The first Old English (OE) manuscripts were nothing more than a few inscriptions. some with Christian topics. with a number of glossaries of words from Latin and their translation in OE.1. which contains all the texts. but there are cases when it is rather obscure and its interpretation is not a straightforward endeavour. Historical development of the English vocabulary The most important intervals in the development of the English vocabulary are the Old. did the literary age modestly begin. is only 3. Major dissimilarities are the absence of capital letters in OE. have been preserved. unable to offer much information about the characteristics of the language.

became more and more inaudible until they disappeared completely (e. “guardian of heaven’s kingdom” or as “moncynnes weard”. Examples of calques from Latin in OE include (as quoted by Jackson and Amvela 2007: 29): Latin praepositio conjunction unicornis aspergere OE foresetnys gedeodnys anhorn onstregdan Fourthly. Finally. On the one hand.g. grammatical relationships used to be expressed mainly with the help of inflections in OE (unlike they are today. “superman” is a calque of the German “Ubermensch”).e. “God” is. for example. described as “heonfonrinces weard”. however.000 words which were. “guardian of mankind”. en. OE exhibits a number of other characteristics that make it differ from the present day situation in the language. About 85% of the OE lexical items have fallen out of use. their different endings. the Anglo-Saxon preference for synonyms and the ingenuity of forming compounds exceeds by far that found in Modern English. on.words are used as kennings. These are lexical items obtained by word-for-word translation of words belonging to another language (eg. The consequence of this is the fact that OE had much larger families of morphologically related words than Modern English does. On the other hand. The explanation Jackson and Amvela (2007) offer for the disappearance of OE inflections is that it became increasingly difficult to hear them because of the way words came to be stressed with the evolution of Germanic languages. different from the words English speakers use today. faran). only about 3% of the words in OE were borrowed . faron. Besides spelling and the extended number of kennings. late OE was characterized by the introduction of numerous calques or loan translations. especially the ones that were phonetically similar. the OE corpus is believed to have numbered about 24. mainly by word order). Thirdly. By placing the stress at the beginning of words. i. i. the absence of an extensive number of loanwords. Furthermore. an in faren. forced OE to rely on word-formation processes based on native elements to build the lexical items needed.e.

However. At the beginning of the period. noeure. already established in OE. William Langland. Beginning with the fourteenth century. paved the way for massive borrowing from French into the English vocabulary).2. The Middle English period (1066-1500) As compared to OE. loan words were by no means the only source that led to the enrichment of the English vocabulary. Middle English (MidE) has a much richer documentation. such as affixation and compounding. compared with over 70% in Modern English. in 1066. ME enriched under the influence of the literary works written by authors such as John Gower. this is no longer the case in present day English. “never”. 1. While the OE vocabulary was predominantly Germanic. 90% of the words were of AngloSaxon origin. neure could be found within the same text. the number of public and private documents increased due to the national and local surveys made by the newly centralized monarchy. Like in OE. Loan words that entered English affected the balance of the vocabulary in such a way that. the more spelling changed to approximate that of Modern English. Word formation processes. there seems to . while in early MidE. continued to be active and were extended in various ways. MidE is characterized by intensive and extensive borrowing from other languages (in particular. that bridged the transition from MidE to Modern English. while the existence of this period is generally acknowledged. John Wycliff. However. ner. spelling in MidE was quite diverse. However. The Early Modern English period (1500–1800) Early Modern English (EME) represents a period of transition from MidE to Modern English. Having been written in Latin and French. Variation even within the same text continued to be a feature of the language for some time: variants of neuer. 1. the native stock decreased to 75%. at the end of the period.from other languages. Materials in English started to appear beginning with the thirteenth century and increased in number in the next one hundred years under the form of translations of Latin and French texts and textbooks for teaching these languages. Geoffrey Chaucer.3. such as naure. in the modern sense of the word. Unlike OE. the more the period progressed. these are of a lesser documentary value for the evolution of English (the only English data that can be selected refer to personal and places names). It is this body of literature. the Norman Conquest.

The introduction of printing by Caxton lead. despite the opposition it was faced with on the part of purists supportive of the native stock of English. As explorations developed worldwide. techniques and inventions originating in Europe. especially in fields such as medicine and theology. The last decades of the Renaissance witnesses the two most important influences on the development of the English language in the EME period: the works of William Shakespeare and King James Bible of 1611. on the one hand. Many phrases in King James Bible entered both literary and everyday English and have been preserved and extensively used . to more and more books being published and spread over wider areas and. The former offers valuable information on areas such as pronunciation. EME encompasses the Renaissance (which runs from the middle of the fifteenth century to around 1650). rapid development of sciences and the arts and exploratory voyages to Asia. Africa and the Americas. syntax and language use and plays an important role in the development of the English lexicon by having introduced and promoted thousands of new words in the language. in the sixteenth century. in fact. It contributed to the preservation of the native stock by opting for a more conservative style than Shakespeare’s and for older forms of the language. thousands of Latin and Greek words were introduced as a result of the English translators’ inability to find precise equivalents for these terms. Furthermore.be disagreement as to when its beginning should be set. Some consider an earlier date. especially under the form of new loan words having been introduced from languages the Brits entered in contact with. via other European languages. however. a period of revived interest in the classical languages. considered the most prominent feature of English in the Renaissance. when Caxton set up his printing press in Westminster. But many consider the printing revolution. others speak about a later date. vocabulary. word formation. around 1400 or 1450. The latter. scholars began to discuss language problems more seriously. the safest starting point of Early Modern English. words came into English from languages spoken on the other continents as well. on the other hand. some directly. to spelling and punctuation starting to become standardized. had an opposite impact. making observations on grammar. initiated in 1476. Moreover. All these factors had a major impact on the vocabulary of English. The massive influx of foreign words was. even when modern alternatives were available. around 1500 to mark its beginning. Writers began to borrow from other European languages to refer to the new concepts. some indirectly. the writing system and style.

The 1755 Dictionary of the English Language. which comprised about 3000 entries of difficult words in English. “fight the good fight”. remained an authoritative work for almost a century. with more numerous and extensive entries. “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”. where linguistic norms were imposed by the Academy. Unlike in France and Italy. the establishment of American English as a . a short history of the language and a grammar. as he himself pointed out in the preface to his dictionary. “money is the root of all evil”. a principle which marked the beginning of a new era in lexicography. However. Between 1530 and 1660. As Crystal (1995) points out. in 1721. etc. published in 1755. until it began to be criticized. This represented an improvement as compared to its predecessor work. the definitions were still not relevantly enough illustrated and the author gave little guidance on usage. new words were formed by various internal means and many of the existing ones underwent semantic changes. “an eye for an eye”. mostly borrowings.4. “the first attempt at a truly principled lexicography” (Crystal 1995: 75). since. his aim was “not to form. In 1604. Robert Cawdrey published the first “dictionary of hard words”.ever since (at places. 1. the lexicon of English grew very fast. the need was felt to “stabilize” the language. grammars. Instead. The first really remarkable dictionary of English is Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language. Johnson changed the earlier prescriptive approach into a descriptive one. entitled A Universal Etymological English Dictionary. The Modern English period (from 1800 onwards) The Modern English (ME) period is characterized by three main features: an unprecedented growth of the scientific vocabulary. “if the blind lead the blind”. but to register the language”. “the skin of my teeth”. a thorn in the flesh”. His work was followed by Nathaniel Bailey’s. it is considered more wide-ranging. With such a rapid and extensive development. neither Britain nor the United States resorted to such a body to preserve the stability and consistency of the English language. with minor changes): ”can the leopard change his spots”. The preface to the alphabetical entries contains an outlining of the author’s aims and procedures. although this was a smaller book than Bailey’s. “new wine in old bottles”. with sections on orthography and prosody. Borrowings continued to enter the language at an accelerated pace. spelling and pronunciation guides and dictionaries were produced by various scholars.

Cameroon. but. more knowledgeable of their specific terminology. under the form of borrowings from the former into the latter. quoted by Davies (2005). at least partly. The part of the language in which the peculiarities of these new varieties of English are best identifiable is vocabulary. these two countries comprise about 70% of all the native English speakers in the world. one could speak of “the English of science” as a well-defined variety of the language. according to Crystal (1995). On the other hand. as Jackson and Amvela (2007) point out. by the fact that the United States became the leading economic power of the twentieth century. people became more and more interested in science and technology and. With a higher and higher level of education. as an outcome of the industrial revolution and the period of scientific exploration and discovery following it. The assertion of American English is made even stronger by the fact that the Americans are the most numerous speakers of English as a mother tongue. Ghana or Nigeria. On the one hand. The impact of American English on British English as well as on other (European) languages is felt especially in the lexical area. that British English and these other languages have also input words to American English. Singapore. Thirdly.dominant geographic variety and the emergence of other varieties known collectively as the “New Englishes”. In fact. the strength American English gained may be explained. whose characteristics were highlighted quite often in grammar books and in the style sheets of scientific journals. It is true though. English scientific and technical vocabulary has been developing steadily since the Renaissance. consequently. the USA has nearly four times as many speakers of English as a first language than the UK and. the Philippines. to the USA’s enhanced involvement into the world affairs and to the opening of various countries to the American culture. Braj Kahru (1989). discusses these and other geographical varieties of English from a global perspective. By the end of the nineteenth century. a number of “new Englishes” have developed during the modern period in the colonial area as a result of the adaptation of British English to the regional linguistic and cultural needs of the speakers in countries such as India. in the nineteenth century. This two-ways transfer of words is due to the improvement of the communication systems and the development of the mass media beginning with the twentieth century. describing its worldwide spread in terms of three . the rhythm of growth accelerated.

Welsh. Sanskrit. the mother of ancient Greek.1. containing “the territories in Africa and Asia to which English was first transported in colonial contexts and where it has since existed alongside very different local languages” (Davies 2005: 46) and the expanding circle including the countries where English is spoken and taught more widely than other foreign languages. together with the Old English and Anglo-Saxon elements. Flemish. English. Native . Irish).g. Punjabi.all descendants of Latin). but they form the bulk of the most frequently used lexical items. such as the language of computers or that of telecommunication and business are relatively new. English has preserved its Germanic inheritance. those based on subject matter have also known an accelerated development in the ME period. Ukrainian. other such as the legal and religious varieties originate in earlier periods. Celtic languages (e. Norwegian.g. morphological and syntactic features as well as core lexical items (the more closely related two languages are the greater their resemblance). Serbian. Breton. Romance languages (e. lie at the core of its present day vocabulary. prepositions and conjunctions and the majority of content words. Spanish. Persian). Russian. adjectives. Afrikaans. Romanian . Kurdish. verbs and adverbs. circumscribing the territories where English is spoken as the first language. Italian. numerals. some of the pronouns. They include most of the form words such as auxiliary and modal verbs. Slavic languages (e. German. South Asian English for the outer circle and the English used in Japan for the expanding circle. 2. Icelandic). Hindi.g.g. the outer circle. Danish. Swedish. which. French. some.g. Sources of the English Vocabulary English belongs to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family. 2. Germanic languages (e. Czech) and IndoIranian languages (e.concentric circles: the inner circle. Welsh. Native words in English The native words are estimated to represent only 25-35% of the English vocabulary. In addition to the geographical varieties of English. which includes the following: Hellenic. Languages of the same family inherit from the parent language phonological. Of these. Being a Germanic language. Dutch. The examples Davies (2005) offers for each of the three circles are: American English for the inner circle. nouns.

“wood”). 3. nutrition and food. there is none. “see”. “bone”. Anglo-Saxon word. the word “American” itself. “sell”. Native words are also concrete and have a great word-forming power. “fly”. “eye”. “fish”. however. “life”. as opposed to borrowed words. “go”. “heart”). “sun”. commence and start. They tend to be preferred in everyday speech due to their being vague enough to convey many shades of meaning. in an informal everyday situation. “floor”. are monosyllabic. as Jackson and Amvela (2007: 54) point out. native English words “are considered more human and emotional. “good”. “swine”). There is only one four-syllable item in AmE.words denote. it may seem more appropriate to allude to a nauseating odour or even an obnoxious effluvium rather than a nasty smell”. while. “dark”. “hand”. “say”. which are more precise and concrete and less easy to handle. members of the family (“mother”. the natural landscape (“field”. both in British (BrE) and in American English (AmE). “white”. “long”. or between nourishment. most people would opt for the short. “send”. when the most productive sources of borrowing into English are spoken in more details). “kiss”. “goat”. For example. “ear”. English is a mosaic of words borrowed from a number of other languages. “hill”. “house”). There are a few two-syllable words (40 in AmE and 24 in BrE) and a handful of trisyllabic forms (3 in AmE and 2 in BrE) which have a concrete meaning and a great word-forming power. “meadow”. objects connected to domestic life (“door”. “father”) divisions of the calendar (“day”. Furthermore. According to Crystal (1995: 18). “dog”. natural phenomena (“rain”). “sheep”. Borrowed words in English Apart from the native stock. animals (“cow”. “hedge”. “land”. “live”. Lexical items from other languages have been borrowed into English . In formal situations. when faced with the choice between initiate. “help”. “foot”. “month”. latin or the Romance languages are considered cold and formal . “love”. “wide”) and actions (“do”. The words that arrived with the Germanic invaders and are still used in modern English are usually short. “moon”. “think”). in BrE. in various moments along its development (reference will be made to the periods in its evolution mentioned above. “chest”. “hen”. whereas many polysyllabic loans from Greek. common properties (“black”. “eat”. according to Crystal (1995: 124) parts of the body (“arm”. the most frequent two hundred words. “year”).

i. s/he might want to signal solidarity. Language is not only a means of communication but also a symbol of its user’s identity. who. Alternatively. these pardonnezmoi. The fact that there is no elegant English equivalent to these Yiddish words was no doubt also a factor in their adoption”. to interspersing English with Spanish words. By using a particular language. they are modern. to emphasize their belonging to the same ethnic group. The desire of some to signal that they are related to a fashionable foreign culture. their bons!” (Romeo and Juliet. a speaker suggests ways in which s/he perceives herself/himself and would like to be perceived by the others. emphasizes this point succinctly: “Why. iv).for various reasons. At various periods in history.e. they may pass from one language into another and eventually become fully integrated and cease being regarded as foreign. the “crème de la crème”. artefact. French. schlemiel (a very clumsy. the two may resort to code-switching. in his parody of the pardonnezmoi brigade. that we should be thus afflicted with these strange flies. religion initially belonging to a foreign culture. different civilizations have been in leading . creature. Another reason for borrowing is to fill a gap created by the unavailability in English of a word to refer to a particular concept. Reasons for borrowing One of the reasons for borrowing vocabulary items from one language into another is identity. In mentioning the role played by code-switching in the process of borrowing. II. manifests itself in these people’s using words belonging to the language of that culture. for example. His ideas in this respect will be summarized in the following section. these fashion-mongers. Katamba’s (2005: 139) opinion is that “if foreign words are used habitually in it. Thus. has been a source of such loan words for English as well as for other European languages. That is probably how words like chutzpah (brazen impudence). Katamba (2005: 139) quotes the words of Shakespeare’s Mercutio. banal sentimentality) and goyim (gentile) passed from Yiddish into (American) English. a patient of the same nationality initiates a discussion in Spanish. etc. bungling idiot who is always a victim). grandsire.1. if in a Spanish doctor’s surgery in Great Britain or the United States. some of which are analyzed by Katamba (2005). 3. who stand so much on the new form that they cannot sit at ease on the old bench? O. schmaltz (cloying. their bons. Closely connected to identity is prestige. institution. is not this a lamentable thing.

“describe”. materiel. Others followed in his footsteps so that words from the classical languages flooded in: “commemorate”. “frequency”. in the late medieval and early modern periods. Not all borrowings were from Latin or Greek in the Middle Ages. For centuries. “education”. a very important carrier of the Arabic science and culture to Europe. barrage. charge d’affaire.positions in a particular domain and. enthusiastically introduced Latin and Greek words in order to improve English. “algebra”. coup d’etat. Examples for the former category include “alchemy”. “alkali”. in his The Governor. “affable” (Baugh and Cable 2002: 214-215. reveille. Thus. “caliph”. an infusion of Latin and Greek words was found to be the solution for the improvement of a prosaic language that lacked the sophisticated metrical resources and poetic devices that the classical languages boasted of. the government and the military. French was the language of politics. “invidious”. “muezzin”. diplomacy. “esteme”. “attempate”. “imam”. their language in that domain has become the lingua franca of the field. Hence. while the latter category may be illustrated with words such as “Koran”. “zero. a large amount of words in these semantic fields that are used in English originate in French. etc. especially in the field of science and the Islamic religion. when many voices raised against the inadequacy of English for poetry. Arabic was. “alembic”. for example. who. One of those who shared this concern was Sir Thomas Elyot. Many of these have made their way into English via French. laissez-faire. since Spain was occupied by the Moors. “zenith”. as a normal consequence of this. which borrowed them itself from Spanish. communiqué. Government and politics: ancien regime. “alcohol”. dirigiste. another rich source of words that passed into English during this period. Diplomacy and protocol: corps diplomatique. “thermometer”. . protocol. Katamba (2002: 141) provides the following examples to support this statement: Military: cordon sanitaire. “expectation”. hors de combat. “mullah”. agent provocateur. etc. “Ramadan”. “dedicate”. a book meant for training the gentlemen who were going to be employed at court. Some such words are: “devulgate”. quoted by Katamba 2005: 140).

.Names of people. This is how French words such as “chic”. “zebra” (Congo). In principle. it seems that less embarrassment is caused when awkward things are said using words from a foreign language. “panda” (Nepal). “enchiladas”. In their case. animals. etc. Last but not least. Numerous words referring to food have been imported in English. but importing the object together with its name has proved a simpler and more appropriate solution. “naïve”. “Maison de randezvous” and “madame” from French and “gigolo” and “bordello” from Italian are illustrative of the latter. “koala” (Australia). “flair”. The interference of English culture with other cultures of the world has resulted into the former’s having borrowed foreign words referring to articles of dress as well. The arts and culture domain is represented in terms of borrowings by words such as “samba” (Brazil). as the range of foreign foods eaten in the countries where English is spoken as a first language has increased and diversified: “goulash” (Hungarian). new words may be coined in English to describe all of the above. “blasé” or “ménage a trois” have been borrowed into English. some of the English euphemisms are borrowed lexical items. “moussaka” (Greek). didgeridoo (Australia). etc. “tacos”. “shawl” (Persian). “nachos” (Mexican Spanish). Decency lies behind the use of the euphemistic words “pudenda” and “genitalia” of Latin origin and it is also the rationale behind the importation of several words used to talk discreetly about shady sexual activities and the participants in them. object. The same way out was resorted to in situations when English had a word or phrase to refer to a particular person. “chimpanzee” (Angola). “rhumba” (Cuba). phenomenon or abstraction but this was considered insufficiently appropriate to render all the features of its referent. “Gurka” (Nepal). “esprit de corps”. “anorak” (Greenlandic Eskimo). “kimono” (Japanese). “parka’ (Aleutian). Included in this category are “sarong” (Malay). Any speaker of English would agree that the loan translations “a feeling of loyalty that exists between the members of a group” for “esprit de corps” or “a household with three partners” for “ménage a trois” lack the flavoured connotation of the French phrases and do not quite “roll off the tongue” (Katamba 2002: 142). “tango” (Argentina). birds and plants have entered English from all kinds of languages spoken around the world: “Sherpa”.

we speak about completely and. If the recognition of the examples just quoted as originally French words is problematic. there are those which are not totally foreign but not totally Anglicised either. 3. “colour”. Completely assimilated loans have become fully integrated in the system of English from an orthographic. “bacterium – bacteria”. on the other hand. a word is passed from one language to another and then to another and to another. On the other hand. arrived here from the Arabic “kahva”. Adaptation (nativisation) of loanwords The foreign words that are borrowed into English may undergo changes under the influence of the recipient language or they may survive in their original form.3. “dinner”. “radius-radii”. “gendarme”. In the latter case.2. “flower”. “cost”. “aunt”. we talk about direct borrowing. partially assimilated loan words. Instead. so that someone who is not particularly knowledgeable in the field of etymology can no longer distinguish them from indigenous English words. itself an adaptation of the . “table”. “chair”. “mauvais sujet”. “poor”. they remain on the fringes. respectively. taken from the Dutch “koffie”. Many of the French loanwords are included in this category: “animal”. In between the completely assimilated and the fully unassimilated loans. “facon de parler” as being French imports into English. phonetic and morphological point of view. etc. “maitre d’hotel”. “Even after a long period of use in English. completely unassimilated loans have preserved all the characteristics they had in the language of origin.3. as it is the case of the English “coffee”. Direct and indirect borrowing If a language takes a word directly from another. some words fail to become fully adopted. as English has taken “omelette” from French.are such aliens. “mistral”. Fr. depending on the degree to which they change. If. “change”. English has not exerted any influence either on their spelling or on their pronunciation and morphological peculiarities. In the former case. “escape”. Loanwords that have preserved their original grammatical characteristics or spelling but have adapted to the English pronunciation – Lat. no speaker of English would find it difficult to identify words and phrases such as “auberge”. we speak about unassimilated loans. as tolerated aliens with one foot in and one foot out of the English lexicon”(Katamba 2002: 145). “reveille” (pronounced /rivæli/ in English) .

legal institutions and religion (the last penetrated English beginning with 597. abbot”. Latin words in English To varying degrees. “shrine”. a distinction must be made between the source and the origin of the borrowing. “city”. sometimes with a slightly different meaning. The first borrowings from Latin date from the very beginning of the Anglo-Saxon period and are the result of the contacts the Anglo-Saxons had with the Roman population and. Latin has exerted a major influence on English from the OE period up to the modern times. Modern English “sign” and “giant” seem not to be survivors from the OE . animals. Examples include: “cheese”. “shoemaker”. Some. clothing.Turkish “kahveh”. The process of borrowing Latin words in the OE period has modest beginnings and it cannot boast a tremendous enlargement up to the end of this interval either. Others were related to plants. “lily”. especially. It is generally estimated that a total of around five hundred words passed from Latin into English during the entire period. 3. the source of the English “coffee” is the Dutch word “koffie”. however. commerce and agriculture. the process is called indirect borrowing (we may consider the English “coffee” an indirect loan word of the Turkish “kahveh”). Furthermore. in the above example. the year that marks the introduction of Christianity in England). “monk”. this is a relatively small number if compared with that of the Latin lexical items borrowed at later times. The source is the language from which a particular word or phrase has entered another language. with the Roman armies. “pear”. Thus. “butter”. while its origin is the Turkish word “kahveh”. since there is no intermediary means between the donor and the recipient language. “nun”. “tile”. were borrowed again later. In the case of direct borrowing. “wall”. the source and the origin of the loan words coincide. “bishop”. “wine”. “candle”. many of the words borrowed from Latin in the OE period were not widely employed and some of them fell out of use quite soon. on the continent. “belt”.4. “ass”. the domestic life. “lion”. “beet”. while the origin is the language to which the etymon of the loan lexical item can be traced back. “shirt”. “pepper”. As Jackson and Amvela (2007) explain. etc. If words are borrowed indirectly. “dish”. Some of the Latin words that the former brought back to their island were concerned with the military domain.

“fictitious”. scholastic activities: “library”. Latin ones kept entering English. “medium”. “prolixity”. “urban”. “subpoena”. it was French that was the most productive source of loan words into English. “holy” – “sacred” – “consecrated” are examples of such triplets. the great majority of the words borrowed from Latin in the Middle English period were nouns: “meditation”. “lapse”. “peninsula”. such as “wine”. “redeemer”. “sinecure”. equal”. “discuss”. “conviction’. “essence”. The latter. Borrowing from Latin continued into the Modern English period (when words were borrowed from Greek via Latin. “street”. Though outnumbered by French loans. The former. “quota”.“ascend”. “commit”.Latin loans “sign” and “gigant”. medicine”. law: “client”. “graduate”. “resuscitate”. “imitate”. A distinctive feature of Modern English is rooted in the process of simultaneous borrowing from French and from Latin characteristic of the time span under discussion: sets of three lexical items. “mercury”. “owing to renewed interest in learning encouraged by King Alfred and the tenth century Benedictine monastic revival” (Jackson. Algeo 1993: 288). Amvela 2007: 41). “instant”. “simile”. “scribe”. “cat”. “quadrant”. but rather recent borrowings from French. “plant”. “martyr”. “vindicate” (Jackson. the first element is a native word and it belongs to the common language. Seen from a morphological perspective. too). “demon”. “populous” and verbs: “admit”. the second is borrowed from French and it pertains to the literary language and the third comes from Latin and is considered more learned. adjectives: “complete”. where their original form is “signe” and “geant”. The avalanche of Latin words that entered English between 1500 and 1800 includes: “abdomen”. Borrowings from Latin in the OE period are frequently split into two categories in terms of register: popular and learned (Pyles. Amvela 2007: 40). The latter belonged to fields such as religion: “mediator”. In these synonymic series. “imaginary”. “collect” (short prayer). all expressing the same fundamental notion. . “area”. “folio”. “editor”. “fast” – “firm” – “secure”. “orbit”. came into English either through the church or through various classical written sources which increased in number especially after 1000. “seclude”. “rise” – “mount” . “notorious”. the sciences: “dissolve”. “digress”. In the Middle English period. but slightly differing in meaning or connotation. such as “clerk”. were transmitted orally and are part of the everyday vocabulary used in nonspecialized communication. “Kingly” – “royal” – “regal”.

where over 60 percent of these seem to be the result of the native . under the form of neo-classical or neo-Latin words which are at present used not only in the international vocabulary of science and technology. “homestead” in their composition: “Braithwaite”. many proper names of Danish origin were borrowed and third. “Rugby”. “circadian” meaning ‘functioning or recurring in 24-hour cycles’ (from “circa diem”. but also Norwegians) raids on Britain. “Eastoft”. The prolonged contact between the native population and the Danish settlers had. “Grimsby”. ‘around the day’). Second. as Jackson and Amvela (2007) explain. First. the Scandinavian word for “farm” or “town”: “Derby”. “Astonthorpe”. but also in other areas of modern life. the Danelaw. while still others have –thwaite. after the invaders. a large number of Scandinavian place names entered English. “clearing” or –toft. Other such words end in –thorpe. in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. “Lowestoft”. Further invasions in the tenth century culminated in 991. A strong Scandinavian influence on proper names is felt especially in the north and east.The later Modern period was the time when English fashioned the loans from Latin in an original way. a threefold linguistic consequence. “pax americana’ meaning ‘peace enforced by American power’ (modeled on “pax romana”). England remained under Danish rule for 25 years after this event. with the English king having been forced to take the way of exile and the throne having been taken by the Danes. 3. meaning “village” (Baugh. etc. Examples of place names of Scandinavian origin include words ending in –by.5. ‘study of flags’ (from the Latin “vexilum” meaning ‘flag’). “Linthorpe”. which began in 787 and continued intermittently for about two hundred years. By the mid ninth century. Cable 2002: 98): “Althorpe”. “Sandtoft”. Scandinavian words in English The second major influence on a foreign language on the vocabulary of English was the result of the Vikings’ (mainly Danees. the Danes came to control most of the north and eastern part of England which was named. Examples of such coinages offered by Jackson and Amvela (2007: 41) are: “aleatoric” meaning ‘dependent on chance’ (from the Latin “aleator” meaning ‘gambler’). “Applethwaite”. “vexillology”. “Storthwaite”. “Naseby”. a lot of Danish common words became part of the everyday English vocabulary.

“their” replaced earlier native forms. OE “ey”. “sister” vs. “skin”. the case of Scandinavian legal terms or words denoting Viking warship. neither of the two languages was politically or culturally dominant. When the Vikings settled in England. usually banned from writing on the grounds of the existence of equivalent English forms used on paper. Scandinavian was mostly a spoken language in the conquered territories. “scrape”. “Jackson”. of which one was native and the other was borrowed) also arose from the contact of English with the Scandinavian languages. they did so largely as equals of the natives. In addition. which were considered more formal and more literary and. as is the spread of the third personal singular –s ending in the present tense in other verbs” (Crystal 1995: 25). while the Scandinavian was lost: “path” vs. In some cases. For example. Other times. “scare”. the loan word was preserved. This. “skill”. as Pyles and Algeo (1993) emphasize. which is. In others. “score”. “silver” vs. one of the most obvious of their characteristics. “scrub”. “sorrow” . ON “reike”. “scowl”. for example. They were supposedly mutually intelligible and bilingualism was most likely fairly spread among the Scandinavians (Kastovsky 1992: 329). however. Numerous words beginning with the consonantal cluster sc-/sk. OE “sweoster”. very common verbs such as “get” and “give” came to be used in Modern English not as variants of the OE “gitan” and “giftan”. according to Barber (2000: 133). “them”. “sky”.are of Scandinavian origin: “scathe”. “Henderson”. a fact which resulted in “adstratum influence” (Allegrini 2003: 4) i. the OE word survived. while the native one was discarded: “egg” vs. enabled a close unity between them.e. The personal pronouns “they”. belonging to the core of the vocabulary. A large number of duplicates (pairs of words having the same referent. more appropriate for this variant of the language. loan words were introduced to fill in a lexical gap in the recipient language – this was. “the replacement of sidon by are is almost certainly the result of Scandinavian influence. but as survivors of their Scandinavian cognates. OE “sealfor”.and foreign cultures having been in contact for so long. Sometimes. together with the fact that the English and the Scandinavians had pretty similar cultures. “scorch”. therefore. “skirt”. The majority of proper names of Scandinavian origin end in –son: “Davidson”. Most of the words of Scandinavian origin were made to conform to the English sound and inflectional systems. Consequently. Moreover. many of the Scandinavian loan words were informal everyday lexical items. the process of borrowing from Scandinavian languages involved the mere substitution of the native word or phrase with the foreign one (as in the case of “window” which replaced “vindauga”).

one member of the pair is used in the standard language. in cases of duplicates that survived. that English started borrowing directly from Greek. “true – trigg”. Greek played its role in the evolution of the English vocabulary. Greek provided English with a considerable number of technical terms from almost all branches of human knowledge. “yard – garth”. “scud”. “rune”. This must have been the consequence of the boost that Greek studies received with the coming of the Greek scholars to Europe after Constantinopole was conquered by the Turks.6. It was only at the beginning of the Early Modern English period. After the 11th century. but developed a difference in meaning. while the other is restricted to dialectal use. when both words made their way in the language up to the modern times. in 1453. after 1500. science and religion as well as the medium of instruction for about fifteen centuries (even longer in some parts of the world). “ski”. Amvela 2007: 43): ON dike hale raise sick skill skirt OE ditch whole rise ill craft shirt Sometimes. before the Norman conquest. . in 1066 and via French and Latin from the Middle English period onwards. Below are a few examples of such pairs (Jackson. “swell” vs. ON “site”. is considered standard and the latter. the former word. mostly via Latin. “rug”. which was the language of literature. “church – kirk”. is dialectal: “cast – werpan”. modest influences continued to be felt along the centuries up to the period of Modern and present day English. “leap – laup”. Greek words that were borrowed via Latin include: “allegory”. In the following examples. of OE origin. Initially. words of Greek origin were imported into English indirectly. “geyser”.vs. when words such as “muggy”. “no –nay”. There were situations. ON “bolnen”. However. 3. Greek words in English Though less influential than Latin. Scandinavian languages ceased to be a rich source of borrowings for English. however. “ombudsman” have been imported. a loan from ON. “saga”.

to make them work in the fields of the monastery or in the lord of the manor’s household and so on” (Katamba 2005: 152). “Center”. However. “phenomenon”. the lower classes of the English society. the majority of the words of Greek origin in English are considered learned and are restricted to the specialized varieties of the language. though low-status language. there used to be the middle echelons of the “lower level officials of both church and state [who] needed to speak to the people in order to try to save their souls. “harmony”. “prison” (‘prison’). Furthermore. “theory”. “arblast” (‘weapon’). “rhythm”. Many of the French nobles who accompanied him on his return were given high positions in court when he acceded to the throne. “chaos”. it was the period following the Norman Conquest in 1066 that witnessed the greatest impact that French had ever exerted over English. The consequence of these upon the English language was that a number of French words were imported into OE (though not very many). never learned French. This relatively small group of people were bilingual. “castel” (‘castle’). Edward lived there for twenty-five years and returned to England in 1041. Before 1066. Undoubtedly. to exact taxes from them. “telegram”. Among them. while “acronym”. “ecstasy”. the church and the upper social classes. “paradox”. Duke of Normandy’s accession to the English throne. In between the two ends of the social scale. . “character”. They continued to speak English which thus remained a vibrant. As representatives of technical vocabulary mainly. “xylophone” were taken directly from Greek. “machine”. “idiosyncrasy”. “democracy”. However.7. Following William. “cancelere” (‘chancellor’). the courts. “tyrant” came from Greek via French. “chronicle”. which represented about 80% of the population. “history”. “dilemma”. French words in English The most far-reaching contact that English has had through the ages has been with French. French became the language of the government. 3. “bacun” (‘bacon’). the monastic revival started in France and many of the English monks must have studied there. “zone”. A smaller part of them managed to pass into the stock of everyday vocabulary. in 1066. “enthusiasm”. to administer justice to them. there were: “servian” (‘to serve’). “autocracy”.“anaesthesia”. “pathos”. “metaphor”. borrowing from French took place in an anterior epoch and has been an active phenomenon in the modern times as well. “drama”. the English and the French cultures got into contact with the exile of Edward the Confessor to Normandy.

the Normans were integrated into the English society. and mostly in code-switching contexts. war: “peace”. “crime”. “duke”. “court”. “princess”. it was the Hundred Year War between England and France. which began in 1337. “baroness”. About 10. gradually. “prison”. “jurisdiction”. this image is that “of the French way of life. “council”. their French possessions expanded so much that Henry II (1154 – 1189). “law”. quoted by Katamba (2005). “after French had been knocked off its perch as the most prestigious language in everyday use in high places and had increasingly become a written language” (Katamba 2005: 153). “royal”. “accuse”. food and social relations” (Katamba 2005: 155). in many cases. but had become the ruler of almost two thirds of France. . However. In broad lines. Most of the borrowing took place after the middle of the thirteenth century. Not least among them was King John’s loss of Normandy in 1204. most of them in the area of government: “president”. “people”. the situation changed. “jury”. Through marriage and conquest. through intermarriage and closer and closer contact. The ruling classes were forced to take on the task of learning and using English properly. “noble”. law: “assizes”. further steps towards reviving the fortunes of English were recorded. She suggests that using French projects upon the speaker or upon the matter or object talked about a “positive image of France” (Katamba 2005: 155). “counselor”. “territory”. “minister”. “prince”. “monarch”. “principality”. for example. “lieutenant”. “battle”. “judge”. sophistication in dress. The Norman kings remained dukes of Normandy and some of them were present in France for longer than they were in England. this resulted into their having learnt some English. “captain”. In the period 1200 – 1500. of high culture.With the advance of the period. “admiral”. as a consequence of the choice of giving up their French interests and becoming truly English having been imposed on them. The adoption of French words that followed the Norman Conquest continued unabated in contemporary English. “count”. which however. “baron”. Yet. nobility: “sovereign”. they were able to use only within limits in the beginning. that put an end to the linguistic hegemony of French. they were closer to France and the French culture than to England and its culture. “government”. Many of the nobles had properties both in Normandy and in England and had split loyalties so that.000 French words made their way into English in The Middle Ages. The reasons behind this phenomenon are talked about by Chirol (1973). was not only king of England. “power”. For the upper classes. “advocate”.

“élan”. refinement and fashionable living are also believed to be domains in which the French occupied a leading position. etc. others preserved their original form. “musique”. “savoire-vivre”. “tutu”. which enabled English speakers to take on the elegance of French: “finesse”. “pot-pourri”. “genre”. “salad”. “crème caramel”. the latter “always add to the quality of the gastronomic experience and are deemed to be worth an extra pound or two on the bill” (Katamba 2005: 157). “garni”. “collage”. so. there are: “amour”. in literature: “ballade”. If on the menu. “denouement”. “madame”. The British admire the sexual prowess of the French – or. “pâtisserie”. painting and sculpture. “beau”. Therefore. “suite”. “débutante”. many French words having to do with food and cooking have also been borrowed along the ages. in music: “rêverie”. “sauté”. “tête-à-tête”. France is perceived as the land of the arts – of literature. “faux amis”. “rôtisserie”. “protégé(e)”. etc. “blasé”. “hors-d’oeuvre”. “concrete”. The French have always been renowned for their cuisine. “personnel”. “éclair”. “glacé”. “nouveau riche”. “rendez-vous”. “meringue”. Katamba says (2005: 157). “renaissance”. “conservatoire”. “nougat”. “cognac”. “dada”. “chaperon”. Society. “liaison”. “affaire de Coeur”. “à la carte”. “facile”. “jeté”. “omelette”. “bâton”. “Victorian values encourage the hypocritical ‘No-sex-please-we’re-British’ mentality. “liqueur”. Figures in public life in Britain are hounded out of office and governments may collapse because of sexual peccadilloes. “gavotte”. Probably this is why there is a secret admiration for the French who do not have such hang-ups about sex. Hence. “salon”. “cuisine”. “fiancé(e)”. the borrowing of words and phrases such as the following. “haricot”. “ensemble”. This must be the reason for the borrowing of quite numerous words of French origin connected to love and sexual life. Examples of such terms in English include. “touché”. “flambé”. “flan”. Some were anglicized. etc. “belle”. in ballet: “ballet”.The French contribution to civilization as a whole is widely known and acknowledged. “sauce”. it is natural that many of the technical terms used in the vocabulary of arts should be French. “art nouveau”. etc. “vinegar”. “haricot”. Among these. “avant garde”. “pirouette”. more precisely. “c’est la vie”. . music architecture. “pastiche”. “beef”. in painting: “critique”. “pastry’. “baroque”. “entrée”. “plié”. The “cuisine” French words and phrases that have been imported into English count among them examples such as’ “mustard”. “chauffeur”. “bizarre”. “élite”. “résumé”. “prestige”. the French attitude to sex”. “pas de deux”. “brochure”. ballet. “brasserie”.

“coleslaw”. “haute couture”. “brunette”. etc. “seltzer”. “aprèsski”. “béret”. “yacht”. in the context of the commercial relationships that have been established between the Flemish/Dutch and the English-speaking peoples. “dope”. “umlaut”. English enriched with terms connected to sea life and navigation such as: “bowline”. “spool”. such as: “coiffure”. “culottes”. “cruise”. Therefore. “blonde”. “spook”. The contact of the Americans with the Dutch settlers. “gneiss”. there are. “noodle”. including “angst”. “waltz”. 3. “nickel”. “skipper”. “veld”. “zinc”. Among these. “cranberry”. “ersatz”. “rucksack”. “lingerie”. “chic”. “Santa Claus”.8. cosmetics. “boutique”. “cabriolet”. and “apartheid”. “smuggle”. hair. from Dutch spoken in South Africa (Afrikaans). “jacket”. “deck”. “trek”. “isinglass”. “cookie”. etc. A number of words have been borrowed in specialized fields such as geology and mineralogy: “cobalt”. resulted into a number of words referring to Dutch American food items having been imported into English. “duck”. from Dutch spoken in America. “Gestalt”.French fashion has also been held in high esteem for centuries. Lexical items from various other fields may be added to the list: “boodle’. “wagon”. As a consequence of the Dutch’s skillfulness in seafaring activities. “caboose”. Some fashionable means of transportation get their names from French as well: “coupé”. “bowsprit”. especially in and around New York. “commando”. “feldspar”. High German has had a less poignant impact on English. Starting with its Early Modern period. “frankfurter”. “waffle”. “luck”. “nap”. “broke”. . “outspan”. “brassière”. “hinterland”. “schnapps”. “buoy”. “kraal”. “boss”. The Dutch and the Flamish have also been famous for their cloth making and the commercial activities connected to it so that English borrowed terms in this area as well: “cambric”. etc. “quartz”. Words from other European languages in English Besides French. “spoor”. Some food and drink terms have been imported together with the items they designate: “delicatessen”. “leitmotiv”. the list of loans from French includes words in the area of clothes. Loanwords from other Low German dialects include: “boor”. “commandeer”. English has borrowed from a number of other modern European languages. “snap”. “commodore”. alongside a small miscellanea of other borrowings. “bouquet”. Unlike Low German. it has taken over words from Dutch and German.

Of the Romance European languages, English has borrowed from Italian, Spanish and Portuguese mainly. Words from Italian started their way into English as early as the sixteenth century, with the adoption of items pertaining to the vocabulary of music, one of the arts particularly representative for the Italians. Jackson and Amvela (2007: 48) quote a number of words dating from that period. Their examples include: “duo”, “fugue”, “madrigal”, “violin”. These were followed, they say, in the seventeenth century by “allegro”, “largo”, “opera”, “piano”, “presto”, “sonata”, “solo” and, in the eighteenth century, when the interest of the English for Italian music reached its peak, by “adagio”, “andante”, “aria”, “cantata”, “concerto”, “crescendo”, “duet”, “finale”, “forte”, “oratorio”, “trio”, “trombone”, “viola”. The process continued in the nineteenth century, with the adoption of alto”, “cadenza”, “legato”, “piccolo”, “prima-donna”. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Italians immigrated in large numbers to the United States. Many of them went into the food business and popularized Italian cuisine. Consequently, many Italian words connected to food and cooking entered American English and subsequently spread to other dialects of English as well. Some such words are: “pizza”, “pasta”, “spaghetti”, “macaroni”, “ciabatta”, “cannelloni”, “lasagna”, “zucchini”, “pesto”, “tagliatelle”, “macaroni”, “scampi”. Italian words from areas other than music and cuisine that have been borrowed include: “balcony”, “balloon”, “carnival”, “dilettante”, “fresco”, “ghetto”, “regatta”, “stiletto”, “studio”, “torso”, “umbrella”, “vendetta”, “volcano”. Spanish and Portuguese became suppliers of words to English in the sixteenth century. The former has been a rich direct source of loans, while the latter was less so. In addition, many non-European words from the colonies found their way into English via Spanish and Portuguese. As Jackson and Amvela (2007: 48) point out, “many of these loanwords came from the New World: alligator, avocado, barracuda, canoe, chocolate, cigar, cockroach, domino, embargo, mosquito, peccadillo, potato, sombrero, tobacco, tomato, tornado, tortilla, vanilla”. The nineteenth century seems to have been the period when loans from Spanish penetrated English, especially its American variety, in large numbers. Among the words adopted then, there are: “bonanza”, “canyon”, “lasso”, “mustang”, “patio”, “ranch”, “sierra”, “siesta”, “stampede”. The twentieth century is characterized by loan translations such as “moment of

truth”, a linguistic calque of the Spanish “momento de la verdad”, referring to the moment when the bull is killed by the toreador in the arena. As far as the loans from Portuguese are concerned, though the process of borrowing started much earlier, the great majority of them entered English during the modern period. This majority included: “albino”, “copra”, “flamingo”, “Madeira”, “mango”, “marmalade”, “molasses’, “palaver”, “teak”. From other European languages, English has borrowed few words. “Sable” came into English in Middle English times via French from Slavic languages; “polka” came via French in the nineteenth century from Czech, alongside later borrowings such as “howitzer”, “pistol”, “robot”. “Mammoth” was borrowed in the eighteenth century directly from Russian. Other more recent borrowings from Russian have not become completely naturalized: “bolshevik”, “czar”, “glasnost”, “intelligentsia” (ultimately from Latin), “perestroika”, “tundra”, “vodka”. From Hungarian, English has borrowed directly “goulash” and “paprika”; while “coach” came via French from Hungarian “kosci”. Turkish and Tatar words in English include: “bosh”, „caique”, „coffee”, „cossack”, „divan”, „fez”, „horde”, „kaftan”, „kavass”, „kebab”, „khan”, „kumiss”, „mammoth”, „pasha”, „shish”, „Tartar”, „turkey”, „turquoise”, „yoghurt”. 3.9. Words from non-European languages in English With the expansion of the British Empire, which facilitated the spread of English to all continents between the seventeenth and the twentieth centuries and with the ascendancy of the United Stated immediately after the Second World War, when the British Empire started its decline, English came in contact with many languages around the world. The result of this contact has been two fold: English has influenced these languages to a lesser or a greater degree and has itself been affected by them. In North America, English borrowed from the Native American languages common words such as “avocado”, “barbecue”, “buccaneer”, “cacao”, “cannibal”, “canoe”, “wampum”, “toboggan”, “iguana”, “maize”, “moccasin”, “papaya”, “tomahawk”, “skunk”, “squash”, “tobacco”, “coyote”, “caribou”, “poncho”, “tomato”, “yucca” and a number of proper nouns such as mountain names: “Appalachians”, “Alleghenies”, the names of the Great Lakes: “Erie”, “Ontario”, “Huron”, “Michigan”, “Superior”, names of states: “Oklahoma”, “Massachusetts” and names of cities: “Chicago”, “Saratoga”, “Tallahassie”.

On the other side of the world, the languages spoken in what are now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have been a source of verbal source to English that cannot be overlooked. Rao (1954), quoted by Katamba (2005) gives a quite comprehensive account of the Indian loans in English. He points out that the nature of the borrowed words has changed with the centuries, mirroring the developments outside the language. There are a few words designating trade goods which predate de Raj: “copra”, “coir”, “pepper”, “sugar”, “indigo”. Most of these words entered English indirectly, via Latin, Greek or French. Indian became a direct source of loan words starting from the very early years of the British colonization of India. Quite understandably, the words borrowed at this time were a reflection of the commerce between Britain and the newly colonized territory and included terms such as “calico”, “chintz” and “dungaree”. As time passed, the range of Indian words borrowed into English widened so that, besides words referring to mundane trade goods which continued their way into English, lexical items in the areas of religion, philology, articles of dress and various other domains have also been imported. Katamba (2005: 161) reproduces Rao’s (1954) table to demonstrate the diversity and wealth of the Indian loans:
“Hinduism: Buddha, Brahmin, karma, pundit, yoga, yogi, mantra, nirvana, sutra Food: chutney, chapatti, curry, poppadom Clothing: cashmere, pyjamas, khaki, mufti, saree Philology (19th century): sandhi, bahuvrihi (compounds), dvandva (compounds) People and society: Aryan (Sanskrit), pariah, mem-sahib, sahib, coolie Animals and plants: mongoose, zebu, bhang, paddy, teak Buildings and domestic: bungalow, pagoda, cot Assorted: catamaran, cash, chit, lilac, tattoo, loot, polo, cushy, juggernaut, tom-tom”.

Though a smaller number of words coming from farther east have entered English, at least some of them cannot pass unnoticed since they have come to be used quite frequently. Thus, the AskOxford website mentions the following as loan words from Chinese languages: “china”, „chin-chin”, „chopsticks”, „chopsuey”, „chow chow”, „chow mein”, „dim sum”, „fan-tan”, „feng shui”, „ginseng”, „gung-ho”, „kaolin”, „ketchup/catsup”, „kowtow”, „kung fu”, „lychee”,

Recent loans in English English is borrowing words on a regular basis. „ghee”. „juggernaut”. „chakra”. „orangutan”. which shows that “about 25% [of these] are from French. Languages from south and south-east Asia. „cockatoo”. „jungle”. „shampoo”. „swastika”. „guru”. it has only changed its characteristics lately. „sake”. „gamelan”. „mango”. „pekoe”. „shogun”. 3. „gymkhana”. From Sinhala. „gong”. „durian”. „Shinto”. The main features that are peculiar to it at present are the fact that the frequency of borrowing is considerably reduced and that English seems to be spreading its tentacles and borrow from less and less known languages. „batik”. „tea”. „beryl”. „gingham”. „dugong”. „bushido”. „futon”. „banzai”. „tai chi”. According to the same source. „samo(o)sa”. 3% from Chinese. „jute”. „tofu”. „sago”. „mandarin”. „cheroot”. „carmine”. „aikido”. „loot”. it enriched with „anaconda” and „tourmaline”. 8% each from Japanese and Spanish. ylang-ylang. „teriyaki”. „avatar”. „bamboo”. and . „haiku”. „yen”. etc. „pundit”. „banya”. „Kabuki”. „kris”. „Bantam”. „samisen”.10. „camphor”. „sampan”. „mulligatawny”. „pakora”. „bonsai”. „cheetah”. From Sanskrit. „sushi”. „Sherpa”. originate in Tibetan. „brahmin”.„loquat”. „tycoon”. „mahjong”. „karma”. „banyan”. „sarong”. „pariah”. „nirvana”. „dinghy”. „geisha”. „crimson”. „chintz”. „lacquer”. „gecko”. „judo”. „wallah”. „koan”. „kampong/compound”. „crore”. English received „ashram”. „palanquin”. „chutney”. Jackson and Amvela (2007) quote Pyles and Algeo (1993: 310) who mention a study by Cannon (1987) of more than a thousand recent loan words from almost one hundred languages. „kapok”. „Tao”. „suttee”. Hindi/Urdu is the source language for „bungalow”. To prove this. „kimono”. „yeti”. „Raj”. while „lama”. „samurai”. 7% each from Italian and Latin. „Zen” have been taken from Japanese. „pangolin”. „taipan”. „caddy”. „kamikaze”. „jujitsu”. German and Greek. „jodphurs”. The process of importing lexical items from other languages has never stopped. „sugar”. „curry”. mainly indirectly. „deodar”. „tandoori”. „lakh”. „yoga”. „dacoit”. „junk” come from Javanese. „sapphire”. „yak”. and from Tagalog with boondock. 6% each from African languages. „dungaree”. have also given words to English. „paddy”. „yang”. „rattan”. now present in English. „mangosteen”. „soy(a)”. „paisa”. 4% each from Russian and Yiddish. „yen”. Tamil has given „catamaran”. though less known to non-linguists. „mikado”. „tom-tom”. „lory”. „cassowary”. „hara-kiri”. Malay has contributed „amok”. „yin”. „sayonara”.

Jackson and Amvela (2007) explain its decline as a provider of words to English both by the fact that. is concerned.” With all this diversity of sources. Vietnamese. Indonesian. the English vocabulary has been continuously enriching by another means. Eskimo-Aleut. The next chapter will explore word forming processes in more detail. Korean. A reason of the same kind. Amharic. Amerindian languages. namely by forming new lexical items. Irish. Portuguese. and 30 other languages. Swedish. Malayo-Polynesian. Besides importing words from other languages. Afrikaans. Danish. a former rich source of loans. The increase in importance of Japanese as a source of loans might be the consequence of Japan’s having gained more and more power on the global market in general. the largest supplier of loan words to English remains. rather than borrowing directly from Latin. Persian. might lie behind the frequent borrowing from American Spanish by American English. Hebrew. Hindi. as the study itself demonstrates. there is relatively little left to be borrowed and by the fact that. since English borrowed from it so extensively in previous ages. The discussion so far about the sources of the English vocabulary has taken into account the native stock of the language and the various sources of borrowing. at present. Mexico’s vicinity with the United States. . Sanskrit. Bengali. English often now creates new Latinate words from English morphemes originally from Latin. This may be because of the geographical proximity of France and England. As far as Latin. Norwegian.progressively smaller percentages from Arabic. in different periods of time. French.

the marker of the regular plural of nouns. “morphology” meant the study of biological organisms. but a functional or derivative one. Morphemes are the atoms with which words are built” (Katamba 2005: 29). il-literate. i. ir-responsible.III. /z/ in games and /iz/ in oranges. root. if the latter is added to the former. According to their distribution. “the smallest unit that has meaning or serves a grammatical function in a language. is also determined by phonological factors so that it may be realized under the form of one of the following allomorphs: /s/ in hats. However. and stem – might prove useful. The basic concept morphology operates with is the morpheme. free and bound morphemes. in linguistics.are variants of the same morpheme. Bound morphemes are always appended to free forms (eg. employed on phonetic principles. il-. This is obvious for irregular verbs morphemes. only one allomorph can occur in a given context. in-. they are just theoretical constructs since. while –er is a bound one. while the latter cannot be used independently and do not have a notional or full meaning. affix. . it is the variants of a morpheme that are used to form new words. im-. Free and bound morphemes Originally. ir. drive is a free morpheme. in practice. respectively. The morphemes that constitute the core for the formation of new words are less sensitive to the phonetic environment and more so to the grammatical context in which they occur. 1. These variants are called allomorphs and they are in a relation of mutual exclusiveness. morphemes fall into two broad categories. But nineteenth century students of linguistics borrowed the term and applied it to the study of word structure. WORD FORMATION Before surveying the techniques of word formation that have given birth to new words in English. whose allomorphs differ on grammatical grounds: eg.e. so that.free and bound morphemes. the selection of the morpheme –(e)s. in-cautious. The former can appear independently in an utterance and have a meaning of their own. the introduction of the main concepts involved in such a presentation . For example. morphology came to mean the study of the formation and internal organization of words. the allomorphs drove and driven correspond. according to the starting sound of the element to which they are added: im-possible. to the past simple and the past perfect of the morpheme drive.

according to the syntactic environment in which this word is used (eg. care in the words careful. they may be employed in expressive language such as absobloominglutely used by Alan Jay Lerner in My Fair Lady and quoted by Adams (1973: 8) or cuck-BLOODY-oo. civil in civility. according to the above definition). if they are added somewhere within the root (modern English has no infixes in its regular vocabulary. caring). in all the previous examples. however. affixes may be prefixes. they are considered bound roots (eg. they are totally barred from occurring independently. if they are added before the root. 3. Affix The bound morphemes that are appended to the root are called affixes. . The former. the way the cuckoo sounds for Dylan Thomas (1940)). if they are added after the root and infixes. Affixes may be derivational or inflectional. Depending on their position to the root. also called functional. they are considered free roots (eg. the notional content of the root words remains unaltered).in unimportant). suffixes. If roots are equivalent to a word in the language and carry the notional meaning of this word into all the new words they form. which is not further divisible into smaller parts that have a meaning (eg. sanct in sanctify. Tătaru (2002: 22) says. which will be discussed in more details in what follows. the part common to all the words in a word family (“the whole series of words and word-substitutes obtained from one root by all possible word-forming mechanisms” (Tătaru 2002: 38)). help to build new grammatical forms of the same basic word. “the necessary and sufficient structural constituent for a word to exist”. -ed in loved is used for the formation of the past and past participle of “to love”. carelessness. on the other hand.we obtain the word driver which. while –er in cleverer is added to change the positive degree of the adjective “clever” into its comparative of superiority. while the latter. in its turn. which Jackson and Amvela (2007) call “relational markers”. –s in writes helps to form the present tense form of the verb “to write”. 2. careless. If. when it is the predicate of a third person singular subject. help to form completely new words (eg. tox in toxic or loc in local). Root The root is. however. –ful in beautiful or un. is another free morpheme. region in regional or person in personify).

The paradigm may be used as a suitable way of defining the word class in the sense that if a word belongs to that class it must take at least some of the suffixes characteristic of that set as opposed to suffixes characterizing other paradigms” (Jackson. the most important of these being the fact that “they lend themselves to paradigms which apply to the language as a whole. The paradigm of a major word class consists of a single stem of that class with the inflectional suffixes which the stem may take. Amvela 2007: 84). Nouns display the following inflectional contrasts: Base form boy child student stem + plural boys children students stem + possessive boy’s child’s student’s stem + plural + possesive boys’ children’s students’ Mono. eaten sung worked stem+ present part.Inflectional affixes are characterized by a number of features.or disyllabic gradable adjectives show the following inflectional contrasts: Base form cold happy sad stem + comparative colder happier sadder saddest stem + superlative coldest happiest Verbs (except the verb to be and the modals) show the following inflectional contrasts: Base form eat sing work working stem + 3rd pers. eats sings works stem + past tense ate sang worked stem + past part. sg. The inflectional affixes of nouns. adjectives and verbs are illustrated in a tabular form by Cook (1969: 122-3) as it is shown below. eating singing .

the five-parts paradigm has only four elements. eaten stem+ present part. He wrote me a letter. her it. them hers its The forms listed in each column of the paradigm are in complementary distribution. as the grammatical subject in sentences such as I wrote a letter.. most of the modal auxiliaries have two.. My father explained the theory to me. I occurs before the verb. the indirect or the prepositional object as in My friend gave me the book. eats stem + past tense ate stem + past part. as Jackson and Amvela (2007) show: child I. including the regular ones. For example. The paradigm of auxiliaries is described by Jackson and Amvela (2007: 85) as it is shown below: Base form eat stem + 3rd pers. with eight different forms. it they. as the direct. Pronouns are a class of function words which do not add inflectional affixes. The auxiliary verbs pertain to the class of function words as well. While most of the verbs have four or five forms. while the auxiliary be is the most polymorphic of all such verbs. They constitute a closed sub-class of verbs which can take certain forms in the verbal paradigm. – This book is mine. me you he. us you child’s mine yours his theirs children’s ours yours . or I shall buy flowers. sg. However. The possessive pronoun mine replaces the whole nominal phrase “my + noun” as in This is my book. they should be considered different morphemes with identical forms (homonyms). the modal must has only one form. Their for5ms fit the noun inflectional paradigm..e. i. they are context dependent (where one occurs the other ones do not). eating children we.For some verbs. him she. while me occurs after the verb. though not all. since the past and past participle inflectional affixes have the same form. since they confer the stem they are added to different morphological characteristics.

deer – deer. the addition of e before the plural suffix –s (masses. salmon – salmon. mouse – mice. care is the root.and disyllabic adjectives: Base form fast soon stem + comparative faster sooner stem + superlative fastest sonnest Finally. compare the pronunciation of the plural –(e)s in rats.and disyllabic adverbs (with the exception of those formed with the suffix – ly) show the same inflectional contrasts like the gradable mono. the following nouns form their plural irregularly: child – children. Irregular inflections do not follow a regular pattern and usually apply to only some of the members of a morphological class. and careless is the stem). etc. etc. write – wrote – written. etc. Jacskon and Amvela (2007) also distinguish between regular and irregular inflections. man – men. e.be can may shall will must am/is/are could might should would was/were been being Some mono. –s for the plural of nouns. However. louse – lice. clogged. classes). tooth – teeth. The former are formed following a regular pattern. see – saw – seen. in the word carelessness. woman – women. -er for the comparative of gradable mono. The umber of verbs that form their past tense and their past participle irregularly is even greater: run – ran – run. e.g. what we obtain is the stem or. houses and that of the past tense inflection –ed in talked. in spelling. cows. glided. conversely.g. 4. -ed for the past and past participle of regular verbs.g. variation may be present. even within the class of regular inflectional affixes. the stem is the part of the word to which an affix is added in order to form a new word (eg. ox – oxen. lie – lay – lain. Stem When affixes are stripped away from the word.and disyllabic adjectives. -less and –ness are affixes. For example. e. and pronunciation. .

be made on semantic grounds primarily. nonconformist. according to the meaning they convey. 5. . never. by far the largest group of prefixes in English. mis – (“bad(ly)”. mistrust. Prefixation By prefixation. improbable in improbability or air-condition in air-conditioning). Derivation Derivation is the process of forming new words in a language by means of adding prefixes and/or suffixes to roots or stems.e. though they change their meaning. Separate sections are dedicated to each. 5. Thus. i. small in smaller). nothing. nor. affixes or other simple stems in combination with which a compound word is formed. Prefixes do not usually carry functional meaning. If it contains other elements as well. 5. nobody.(“not”): non-stop.(“not”. in which the prefix is not identifiable in full: nowhere. in-/il-/ir-/il. impossible. compounding and conversion. express various shades of negative meaning: de-/dis. therefore. misfortune. illiterate.2. non-resident. “the contrary of”): insane.2. misunderstanding. etc. it is considered a derived stem (eg. nonsense. neither. it is called a simple stem. “wrong(ly)”): mislead. English prefixes fall into the following main categories: a) negative prefixes. prefixes are added in front of roots or stems so that new words are created. they do not change the morphological class of the roots or stems to which they are appended. non. The basic word stock of English includes a number of quite old words built with the prefix non-. Main means of word-formation The most productive means by which new words are brought into being in a language are derivation. “the contrary of”): depress.(allomorphs of the same bound morpheme that are employed according to the initial sound of the root or stem to which they are added – “not”. irrelevant. In this case. disapprove.A stem may coincide with the root of the new word (eg. The classification of prefixes should.1. dishonour.

coordination. underestimate. defrost. ultra. revolutionary.(“the opposite of”. “better”. overconfident. “bigger”): supernatural. “with”. minicomputer. ultraviolet. discoloured. superman. super.(“little”. “longer”): outnumber. anti.(“bad(ly)”. overdone.(“for”. deforestation. outstanding. supermarket. ‘chief”. arch(“supreme”. sub. “not”): unfair.(“too little”): underdeveloped. “better”. hyperinflation. over(“too much”): overreact. “extremely”): ultrasonic.(“more”. mini. mal. mini-vacation. subnormal. superhuman. overdressed. pro. counter(“against”. unlock. antifreeze.unbalanced. pro-European. counteroutrun. co-author. un.(“less than”): subhuman. “most important”): archenemy.(“to reverse the action”.(“above”. “faster”. “to get rid of”. substandard. malformation. outlive. . undercharge. malpractice. disconnect. decentralize. “on the side of”): pro-democratic. anticlimax. co-produce. counterblast. “to release from”): de-/dis. productive. hyper.(“the deprive of” “the reverse the action”.(“against”): antiwar. unveil. “small”): miniskirt. “to deprive of”): c) prefixes of degree and size: archbishop.(“extra”): hypersensitive.(“beyond”. “in opposition”): counteract. under. “wrong(ly)”): malfunctioning. unleash. unwise. out. unexpected. “together”): cooperation. hypertension. ultrad) prefixes of attitude: co(“accompanying”. “more than”. b) reversative and privative prefixes: un. anti-imperialist.

interface. sub. g) the iterative prefix re. transcontinental.(“between”. unbelievable. post-position. outstanding. interactive.(“in a descending direction”): downhill. “among”): international. uptown. pre.e) prefixes of time and order: f) ante(“before”): antenatal. “being in”): influx. “above”): superstructure. overloaded. uncommon. mis-: mislead.(“going in”. out. antepenultimate. ex-president. anteroom. outgrow. precondition. prefixes of space. up-: upright.(“before”): forearm.(“one more time”. “being out”): outflow. transmigration. out-: outlive. forehead. income. reconsider. un-: unfriendly. output.(“in an ascending direction”): uphill. direction and location (the majority of these prefixes originate in prepositions and adverbs of place that still function as such in English): downfall. post. downstairs. rebuild. suborbital. intake.(“after”): post-war. ex-friend. overhear. “into another place”): transatlantic. foretell. post-date. pre-election. miscalculate. in. super. . upshot. preheat. trans(“across”. redecorate. up. fore-mentioned. inter. antediluvian. forbear.(“before”): prehistoric. bewilderment. upstairs. ex.(“going out”. superellevation.(“former”): ex-wife. subsoil. outdoors. uptake.(“over”. misinterpret. over-: overeat. “again”): reread. down.(“under”): subway. inmate. for-: forbid. English prefixes have the following main origins: a) Germanic: be-: besprinkle. become. fore.

relatively inactive in the formation of new words in English: co-: co-author. dis-: disengage. undo. superfrequency. bidirectional. defrost. prepaid. anticlerical. out-: outome. outright. analphabet. cooperation. According to their productivity. preadmission. English prefixes may be classified as: a) productive prefixes (involved into the process of new words creation at the present stage in the development of English): re-: retake. bifocal. enslave. antithesis. denominalization. em-/en-: empower. refine. dismiss.b) Latin: c) Greek: - with-: withstand. counter-: counteractive. pro-: pro-ally. de-: decompose. . hypermetrical. non-: non-verbal. un-: unbelievable. anti-: antibody. rethink. withhold. superheated. withdraw. transmutation. counteract. review. outstanding. declutch. re-: reconstruct. pro-British. non-stop. de-: deconstruct. discontinue. disconnect. mis-: misunderstanding. super-: superman. mislaid. misfire. transpose. b) semi-productive prefixes (at present. rewind. trans-: transformer. inter-: interlocutor. deconstruct. non-: non-success. co-editor. dis-: disagree. counterattack. non-resistant. intercontinental. a-/an-: anomalous. disadvantage. non-payment. hyper-: hypercritical. pre-: prerequisite. unnecessary. re-establish. bi-: bimonthly. intergalactic.

upload. up-: upward. it forms names of occupations from the -ster: gangster. becalm. -ist: typist. vice-rector. corresponding verbs): driver. gondolier. advisor. besprinkle. Most of the English prefixes fall within the latter category. withstand. Prefixes which cause such changes are known as non-neutral. update. -ent/-ant: student. singer. teacher. but rather grammatical ones. Unlike prefixes which do not change the morphological class of the elements to which they are appended. 5.2.- sub-: subway. submarine. pamphleteer. are considered neutral. though they might have been productive at earlier stages of the evolution of the language): be-: beloved. artist. attendant. -eer/-ier: profiteer. withdraw. According to the part of speech they generate.2. suffixes are added to roots or stems in order to create new words. while those which do not. vice-: vice-president. suffixes fall into the subclasses below: a) nominal suffixes – nouns may be formed from other nouns. a2) feminine suffixes (in English gender morphological markers are quite rare. Finally. prefixes may also be approached from the perspective of the phonological changes they trigger in the roots or stems to which they are attached. suffixes do. there are cases when the feminine is formed from the masculine of nouns by means of suffixes): . Therefore. the handiest classification of suffixes would not follow semantic criteria. sublet. however. Suffixation By suffixation. with-: withholder. no longer used in the process of forming new words in English. from adjectives or verbs: a1) suffixes denoting the doer of the action: -er (generally. c) unproductive prefixes (at present.

auntie -ing: breaking. actress. delightful. honesty.b) -ette: usherette. reading. foolish. friendship. -y/ly: cloudy. -euse: chauffeuse. Portuguese: -an/-ian: Korean. womanly. -hood: boyhood. .ard: Spaniard. Chinese. -ty: certainty. post-modernism. prowess. manly. brotherly. Catholicism. eventful. -ism/-icism: criticism. experience. . asking. -ance/-ence: appearance. tonnage. greenish. harmless. neighbourhood. silky. -age: coverage. -ment: nourishment. from nouns or from verbs. -ness/-ess: happiness. Turkish. -ix: aviatrix. -let: booklet. -ess: lioness. tenderness. martyrdom. assistance. childhood. -less: sugarless. -dom: freedom. duchess. -ful: joyful. -y/-ie: daddy. flawless. mileage. -ese: Japanese. leadership adjectival suffixes – adjectives may be formed from other adjectives. useful. -ette: kitcinette. The most frequent of the adjectival suffixes in English are the following: -ish: tallish. -ship: kinship. a3) suffixes denoting nationality: a4) diminutive suffixes: a5) abstract noun-forming suffixes: deconstructivism. Estonian. Hungarian.

cumbersome. smarter) and –est (cleverest.- -ed: wooded. as a proof of the tendency to regularize this area of the vocabulary as well. simplify. backward(s). -ify: intensify. e) numeral suffixes: -teen (it generates the cardinal numerals between 13 and 19): -ty (it is used to form the cardinal numeral designating multiples of -wise: likewise. -ive: progressive. -some: handsome. however. fertilize. -able/-ible: readable. enlighten. smartest) respectively should be mentioned here as well. the number of verb-forming suffixes are rather reduced. nineteen. sixty. crabwise. -ise/-ize: utilize. those that are still in use today are highly productive and therefore. pointed. tiresome. In modern English. The latter way seems to be taking over the former. there is oscillation between the synthetic way of forming the comparative and the superlative and the analytical one. widen. badly. organize. understandable. by using the adverbs more and the most in front of the adjective in the positive degree. -ward/-wards: northward(s). strangely. foreward(s). to nouns and adjectives mostly: thirteen. ninety. westward(s). extremely frequent: d) beautifully. horned. forty. The suffixes forming the comparative of superiority and the relative superlative of the mono and some disyllabic adjectives –er (cleverer. Latinize. adaptable. fifteen. In the case of disyllabic adjectives. clockwise. adverbial suffixes – derived adverbs are formed by adding suffixes -ly (added to most of the adjectives) : happily. 10): thirty. diversify -en: brighten. eighteen. . deepen. possessive aggressive. accessible. c) verbal suffixes – verbs are formed mainly from nouns and adjectives.

-hood: boyhood. inspector. authorship. -en: darken. -ward: backward. deepen. -ess: lioness. added. interesting.- -th (it is the suffix forming ordinal numbers others than one. brotherhood. -al: arrival. foreward. dependence. silky. eighty-seventh. boyish. -man: gentleman. -or: actor. townsman. reading. trainee. -ness: hardness. usherette. hairy. poker. French and Italian): . three and those that have these in their structure. -ette: kitchinette. -wise: likewise. to already derived ones or to compound ones): fourth. braggart. b) Romance (Latin. -ance/ence: assistance. hostess. English suffixes are of the following main origins: a) Germanic: -er: Londoner. whiten. betrayal. twenty-fourth. bakery. twentieth. -ish: selfish. -ery/ry: flattery. two. -y: dirty. -ee: employee. clockwise. -ed: wooded. slowly. -some: handsome. it may be appended either to simple numerals. cleverness. worker. resistance. hardly. -ly: manly. actress. -age: marriage. dentistry. dismissal. twosome. sixth. -ing: learning. fiftieth. payee. -ship: friendship. reddish. novelette. -art: drunkard. -th: tenth. growth.

-ism: communism. relationship. -ed: loved. according to their ability to create new words at the present stage in the development of English into: a) productive suffixes (which are. -able: profitable. payee. childish. boredom. moralize. colloquialism. amazement. mouthful. -ant/ent: claimant. speechless. harmless. at present. -age: coinage. classicist. -ly: scarcely. -ish: selfish. bloody. -ee: employee. grouped. -y: edgy. suffixes may be grouped. active in terms of new words formation): formation): -dom: kingdom. regrettable. -some: handsome. happiness. Like prefixes. correspondent. b) semi-productive suffixes (at present. trainee. childhood. -fy/ify: signify. organism. acceptance. understandable. -hood: boyhood. -ment: movement. -ful: spoonful. gruesome. cloudy. -less: sugarless. evenly. played. freedom. -ist: modernist. hurtful.c) Greek: - -ment: acknowledgement. no longer used to form new words): . likely. -ness: calmness. Turkish. meaning. less active in the process of word c) unproductive suffixes (at present. organize. clearing. -ing: interesting. brightness. -ize/ise: modernize. -ance: deliverance. development. -ship: kinship. movement.

heart-breaking.2. Compounding Compounding or composition is the process of coining new words by grammatically and semantically combining two or more roots or stems (i. theatergoer. hyphenated (in words separated by a hyphen): self-determination. roly-poly. colorblind.e. flip-flop. Based on this criterion which. occur in isolation). grass-green. shows the advanced level of the process of integration of the two stems. whetstone. in principle.3. “΄All ΄Fools’ Day” and “ʹAll ʹSaints’ Day” are compounds which contradict the above mentioned rule. 5. syntactic and semantic characteristics.3. Orthographic characteristics of compounds Compounds in English may be spelt in three different ways: solid (in one word): bullfighter. it does not always clearly set the boundaries between the two. Cook (1969) and Arnold (1966) are some of the linguists who pointed out the importance of the phonic criterion of stress in the case of compounds. Phonological characteristics of compounds Bloomfield (1973). etc. . and in completely separate words: tea bag. of at least two constituents that occur or can. goody-goody.3. oil well. it is possible to distinguish between compounds such as “΄bluebell” and “΄blackboard” and their corresponding phrases “blue bell” and “black bird” which have two heavy stresses and a juncture. wishy-washy. Compounding is driven by phonological factors in the case of reduplicatives such as pooh-pooh. 5. according to Hulban (1975). sing-song. However helpful the phonological criterion may be in establishing the difference between compounds and mere combinations of free lexemes.1. nail brush. morphological. Compound words may be described from the point of view of their orthographic. bow-wow. These are examples of words created on the basis of reduplication. 5. and lack juncture. etc. man-made. Compounds usually have one main stress as any other simple words. harum-scarum. high-born.- -th: tenth. etc. price cut. easy-going.”the repetition of the base of a word in part or in its entirety” (Katamba 2005: 72). phonological. eleventh.

possible semantic relationship between the two nominal elements may be. the o – e alternation in the pairs long – length. among others. In the case of the latter. tittle-tattle. brain-drain. there are two main types of reduplicatives in English: rhyme motivated – nitwit. one of the nominal stems may be in the genitive as in tailor’s dummy. bed-and-breakfast. or one or both of the elements may be pseudo-stems that are not recognizable as independent units of the language – ding-dong. hurly-burly and ablaut motivated – riff-raff. swordfish. This leads him to speak about “verbal nexus combinations” as opposed to “non-verbal nexus compounds”). barber’s itch/rash. bachelor flat. or copying the consonants and altering the vowel in the so-called ablaut motivated reduplicatives. while ablaut means a change in the root vowel (which usually signals a change in grammatical class. is made according to the presence or absence of a verbal element in the compound.According to Bauer (1983). place: city-dweller. of: • • • purpose: baby carriage. Morphological characteristics of compounds Compounds may be classified according to the morphological class to which they belong (a finer subclassification. eg. in the case of the so-called rhyme motivated reduplicatives. ping-pong.3. Sometimes. According to Tătaru (2002). a) compound nouns: noun + noun. all morphological classes may have compound members. introduced by Marchand (1969). teeny-winny. zigzag. Basically. resemblance: bullfrog. .3. strong – strength marks the difference between the adjective and its corresponding noun respectively). Rhyme should be understood here as it is understood in poetry – the vowel and the consonant(s) that occur after it in the final syllable of a word are identical. wibble-wobble. backpack. The two elements that alternate in the structure of a reduplicative may be both bases that exist independently in English – Black-Jack. many of the components are onomatopoeic words. The labels Bauer (1986) suggests for the two categories of reduplicatives highlights the fact that the repetition of the base in compounds of this kind involves either copying the rhyme. lily-of-the-valley. 5. father-in-law. mishmash. The two nominal stems may also be linked by prepositions or conjunctions as in bird of paradise.

he-doctor. Examples of such nouns include: box end wrench. bluebell. adverb + verb: upkeep. adjective + noun. boarding card. all-too-accurate. make-believe. nominal compounds in English are made up of more than two stems. noun + verbal noun: air-conditioning. etc. writing desk. Sometimes. mother-in-law. These have a rather irregular structure and include words such as: stick-in-the mud. hit-and-run. park-and-ride. adverb + noun: after-thought. dare-devil. The verbal stem may take either the form of an infinitive or that of a participle -ing: sunset. participial adjective ending in past participle specific endings + noun: built environment. turn-round. body-building. bird-watching. bitter-sweet. sleepwalking. underworld. these compounds help to distinguish the masculine and the feminine from the common gender: she-wolf. verb + verb. sight-seeing. b) compound adjectives: adjective + adjective: metallic-green. noun + adjective: duty-free. much-talked. earth-bound. Several cases can be identified here: • • • adjective proper + noun: blackbird. rainfall. Generally speaking.Quite often. verbal noun + noun: meeting place. pick-and-mix. the verbal stems are linked by conjunctions: makeshift. preposition + noun: afternoon. wrought iron. good-for-nothing. upstart. pronoun + noun. preposition + verb: undergraduate. merry-go-round. The compounds made up of more than two elements mostly belong to the nominal class in English. noun + verb. blotting paper. bird’s eye view. sea-sick. back-talk. bonded warehouse. rule-of-thumb. about. down-grade. yes-man outer space. participial adjective ending in -ing + noun: peeping Tom. verb + noun: pickpocket. etc. verb + adverb: cut-back. fishing rod. highlands. heart-lung machine. The linguistic model of the comparative of equality (as…as) lies at the basis of the stylistic device of simile . forget-me-not.

adverb + verb (participle): ill-behaved. adverb + verb: overhear. To blackmail. sweet-talk. noun + noun + -ed: lion-hearted. generally with an adjective of participial origin: self-governing. A deeper analysis on what are at first sight considered compound verbs reveals a mixture of composition with other word-formation mechanisms. honey-mouthed. down-grade. drop-kick. to baby-sit. adverb + preposition: wherefrom. adjective + noun + -ed: light-hearted. noun + verb: hen-peck. verb + verb: dive-bomb. adverb + adjective: evergreen. well-meant. snow-white. dry-clean. blast-freeze. adjective + verb: white-wash. . underestimate. baby-sit. selfeffacing. self-sustained.also generates compound adjectives. nine hundred and fifty-eight. love-struck. everlasting. As Tătaru (2002) observes. self-made. ten thousand three hundred and forty. self-educated.as well. Some similies that have become clichés due to overuse have also turned into compound adjectives: pitch-dark. adjective + noun: uphill. sea-green. round figures are denoted by compound numerals built with the help of the copulative conjunction “and”: two hundred and four. stage-manage or vacuum-clean are the result of both composition and back-formation. thereby. twenty-by-twenty. house-keep. for example. evil-minded. downhill. d) compound adverbs: adverb + adverb: throughout. the denominal stem self. From one hundred upward. nine-by-nine. hot-blooded. self-controlled. is formed by both composition and conversion. Distributive numerals are obtained by reduplicative composition along with the insertion of the preposition “by”: two-bytwo. Fractions are compounds. too: 2/3=two thirds. are compound words. outdoor. noun + verb (participle): ocean-going. blood-red. e) compound numerals All cardinal numerals between round figures. hereabout(s). storm-beaten. hereby. starting with twenty-one. c) compound verbs: Composition proper in the case of the English verbs is rather poorly represented.

she says. as to. owing to. or the adjective every + the nouns body. the predeterminers some-. anybody. due to. the relative-interrogative words who. There are several structural models according to which they were formed: possessive adjective + the noun self: myself. In archaic and more emphatic forms. f) compound pronouns: Compound pronouns are pretty old in the language. something. thanks to. they contain one or several prepositions grouped around: a nominal nucleus: in the middle of. personal pronoun in the accusative + the noun self: himself.6/8=six eights.4=fifty-six point four. in spite of. ahead of. yourself. Generally. they can be grouped around: . Thus. whatever. herself. etc. onto. where the verb may be either in a finite or in a non-finite form: as concerns. in front of. a prepositional nucleus: but for. If there is a decimal comma in its structure. g) compound prepositions: Tătaru (2002) suggests several morphological patterns according to which compound prepositions have been obtained. everybody. thing: nothing. whosoever. When the fraction is preceded by a full number. no-. on the other side of. notwithstanding. the compound numeral is obtained using the conjunction “and” between the full number and the fraction proper: 4 2/3=four-and-two-thirds. so was inserted between the components in some of the compound pronouns of this kind: whatsoever. They occurred in the Middle Ages and have remained unchanged since then. prior to. themselves. where + the adverb ever: whoever. what. previous to. g) compound conjunctions Both among coordinating and among subordinating conjunctions there are compounds which fall in the same structural classes as the compound prepositions. any-. whenever. ourselves. close to. a verbal nucleus. faraway from. an adverbial nucleus: underneath. which. when. the compound numeral is read using the word “point” between the full numbers in front and after the comma: 56.

3. unemphatic word order. pooh-pooh. never again. . 5.e. puff-puff. Since they function jointly. However. . the “noun + adjective” construction is not a usual pattern.an adverbial nucleus: as well as.. i.reduplicatives: blah-blah. Thus. Modification refers to the use of other . it occurs in compounds such as home-sick. According to Jackson and Amvela (2007: 93). for all that. hush-hush. h) compound interjections English compound interjections follow a number a morphological patterns. for fear that.4. the stability of the whole structure is affected to such an extent that the resulting string of words dare-the-devil is turned into a phrase and can no longer be considered a compound. objects usually follow their verbs in sentence structure. provided that. For example. Compound relative pronouns may also function as conjunctions when they introduce relative clauses. “all compounds are non-interruptible in the sense that in normal use their constituent parts are not interrupted by extraneous elements“. sea-sick or weather-sensitive. the position of the different constituents of a compound in relation to one another. supposing that. is sometimes ungrammatical or at least unusual in English. The special type of modification and inflectibility that apply in the case of compounds also help to set them between compounds and phrases. . neither…nor.an adjectival nucleus: long before. word order. The most frequent of these are: . what with. in which. if the article “the” inserted.onomatopoeia: cook-a-doodle-doo.a nominal nucleus: for the reason that. in spite of. . the syntactic characteristics of compounds contribute to their being different from phrases. but not necessarily in compounds such as knee-jerk.a prepositional nucleus: but for. in normal. the correlatives either…or. The example they give to illustrate this point is that of the compound dare-devil. Syntactic characteristics of compounds Together with their phonological features.a verbal nucleus: seeing that.ablaut combinations: ticktack. . along with. . after which. despite the fact that. Similarly. gobbledygook. both…and may be considered compound conjunctions.

words to modify the meaning of a compound. Since the compound is a single unit, its components cannot be modified independently. It is the compound as a whole which is modified by other words. For instance, air-sick may not be modified either as hot air-sick, with the component air being determined by the adjective hot, or as air-very sick, with the component sick being determined by the adverb very. However, a construction such as seriously air-sick is possible, with the adverb seriously modifying the whole compound. In terms of flexibility, as a lexical unit, a compound may be inflected according to the grammatical class it corresponds to, while its constituents cannot be inflected each in its turn. Thus, the compound nouns ash-tray, fingerprint, textbook, dish-washer form the plural by adding a final –s to the whole compound: ash-trays, fingerprints, textbooks, dish-washers. Downgrade, sweet-talk, baby-sit as compound verbs become downgraded, sweet-talked, baby-sat in the past tense. 5.3.5. Semantic characteristics of compounds From a semantic point of view, compounds may be grouped in two major classes: compounds with an idiomatic meaning and compounds with a compositional meaning. The former tend to acquire a rather specialized meaning which cannot be grasped on the basis of the meaning of its constituents: a turnkey for example, is a person who, in the past, used to hold the keys of the prison, while a turncoat is a traitor. The meaning of the compounds in the latter class is transparent and easier to understand, since it is arrived at by adding the meanings of their constituents: a bulldog is a breed of dog, an easy chair is a type chair. In between the two classes, there is a third, comprising compounds in whose case the meaning of at least one of the constituents is somehow obscured. We may include here words such as dustbin, which is a container not restricted to the collection of dust alone, or blackboard, the object one writes on which may have colours other than black and may be made of materials other than wood. As Katamba (2005: 67) suggests, “an interesting property of most compounds is that they are headed. This means that one of the words that make up the compound is syntactically dominant”. Quite frequently, the syntactic head is the semantic head of the compound as well, while the non-head element usually indicates some of its characteristics. The two examples above, bulldog and easy chair help to illustrate this as well: a bulldog is a dog with short hair, a short neck, a large head, and short thick legs, while an easy chair is a large comfortable chair. If a

compound contains a semantic head, i.e., if its meaning incorporates the meaning of at least one of its components, it is called an endocentric compound. If it has no semantic head, i.e., if its meaning is idiomatic and therefore different from the meanings of its constituents, like the meanings of turnkey and turncoat above, the compound is an exocentric compound. Hulban (1975) approaches the semantic relationship between the constituents of a compound from a different perspective. He describes them as restrictive and relational, with a series of nuances existing in between the two. Thus, the material something is made of is revealed in compounds such as paper bag, lather jacket, ironware. Place relationships are implied in downtown, upstream, seashore. Purpose is obvious in blow-pipe, looking-glass, goldfield, while comparison is present in good-for-nothing, larger-than-life. In words such as male-doctor, she-wolf, womankind, boy-friend, woman teacher, the idea of gender is involved. Purpose and comparison show relationships, while material and gender show restrictions. Place may indicate both restriction – sunset and relation – sea shore. An example of a compound whose internal semantic organization may be viewed from more than one perspective is eyeglasses which, depending on the point of view, may express purpose, material or the idea of place. 5.4. Conversion Conversion is the process of forming new words by means of transferring them from one morphological class to another, without any changes, either in their form or in their pronunciation. The procedure is extremely productive in English. In fact, this technique is so frequent that many scholars see it as a matter of syntactic usage rather than as a word-formation device. Among them, there are, for example, Pyles and Algeo (1993), who use the term “functional shift” to refer to the process and to highlight the fact that, by it, words are converted from one grammatical function to another, without their form being affected in any way. Cristina Tătaru (2002) follows the same line of thinking in calling what is traditionally known as “conversion” “functional polysemy”, as opposed to “lexical polysemy” which involves only a change in lexical meaning, leaving the grammatical class of the words unaltered. She further explains that, even if, at first sight, the type of polysemy implied by conversion is clearly a functional one, lexical polysemy is accompanies the process as well. “The new meaning, although semantically related to the first, contains markers typical of the new part of speech that

has been generated, which is not the case with lexical polysemy. Hence, the necessity of analyzing the semantic ties obtained between the converted item and its original, in order to capture the essence of the phenomenon” (Tătaru 2002: 79). The most frequent cases of conversion involve nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. 5.4.1. Nouns obtained by conversion The parts of speech that are most frequently converted into nouns are adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions. a) nouns converted from adjectives. Since there is a great variety of adjectives in English, the nouns obtained from them are very numerous and they present various types of semantic relationships with their originals, thus making the subclass they belong to highly diversified. Some of the types of de-adjectival nouns are the following: • • • collective nouns obtained from adjectives by definite articulation: the good, the bad, the cripple, the young; nouns denoting characteristic features, obtained by the same mechanism: the beautiful, the ugly, the absurd; proper collective nouns denoting nationalities, obtained by definite articulation as well: the English, the Dutch. Other such nouns are obtained by adding the plural ending –s to the adjective, the article becoming then optional: (the) Romanians, (the) Americans, (the) Italians. • • nouns denoting “the presence of the quality in a person”: an academic, an alarmist, anarchist; nouns denoting “the presence of the quality in an object”: an acid, an adhesive, an adverbial, an absolute. As Tătaru (2002: 82) draws our attention, “the attempt at grouping various types of meanings should not ignore the possibility of the nominalization of any other adjective by conversion: a red reminding of Titian (=kind, type of red); in the dark (=confused), or: Don’t go out after dark! a bitter of very good quality (=type of drink)…” b) nouns converted from verbs De-verbal nouns may express: • the result of the action denoted by the original verb: an abstract, a drive;

turn. an arrest. a catch. an ally. This subcategory of converted nouns is best represented by the –ing nouns which name the action implied by the verb: falling. a cry. a ransom. the ins and outs. driving. a wrap. swimming. an adagio. However.• • • the process to which the original verb referred: an ache. back. an alert. the name of the action denoted by the verb: a hunt. the place of the action denoted by the verb: retreat (“cumpana apelor”). envy. a jump. rise. Pro may be used . a cover. such as front. an allegro. a cheat. doubt. Tătaru (2002) mentions another category of adverbs that have undergone nominalization: the adverbs relating to the frequency of musical tempo (at their origin. Some of the basic directional adverbs. • • • • the patient of the action denoted by the verb: a castaway. The adverb altogether may also be used figuratively as a noun in a phrase such as to be in the altogether (“to be completely naked”). directional adverbs may be marked for the plural and used nominally in binominals such as the ups and down. left. the agent of the action denoted by the verb: an advocate. Other times. desire. want. The examples of prepositions that have been turned into nouns are even fewer: the pros and cons (where pros comes from the Latin preposition pro and cons has been obtained by adding the plural inflection –s to the abbreviation of counter). behind. aside. an affix. right have been nominalised. prepositions and interjections There are rather few nouns originating in adverbs in English. an attempt. a bore . c) nouns converted from adverbs. sometimes by being used with a definite article. the fact that these nouns are not used outside set phrases or in the singular demonstrates that the conversion of the adverbs is not yet a fully completed process. the state corresponding to the action denoted by the verb: wish. the instrument of the action denoted by the verb: a lift. simple adverbials of frequency in Italian which became internationalisms with a specialized meaning): an andante.

initially denoting the sound made by the turkey which has now come to mean “very complicated or technical language that you cannot understand” or “nonsense”. weekly meeting. nine point seven percent.4. Pronouns can also engender adjectives by conversion. Demonstrative.nominally with the definite article a. technology boom. monthly. songbird. Adjectives obtained by conversion According to Tătaru (2002: 85). upstairs. daily routine. can function both as descriptive adjectives: girl friend. the Hm Hm. the furniture outdoors. the front gate. indefinite and reflexive pronouns may function as adjectives without any change in their form. for example. the squeal. daily may become adjectives when used in adjectival distribution: yearly event. However. Numerals also take up adjectival functions when they are used in adjectival distribution: three books. the part of speech that is most frequently converted into adjectives is the adverb. a cut-and-dried speech. option”. their meaning becoming “name of the sound. monthly seminar. All compounds built with the personal pronouns he and she. noise”: a bang. in a noun and converted adjective group. by nominalization. the second answer. then meaning not “argument for”. All interjections may be nominalised by articulation either with a definite or with an indefinite article. the back door. view. a screech. trail-and-error judgement and as limitative adjectives: family duties. 5. Directionals such as above. weekly.2. can be considered to reflect this phenomenon. relative-interrogative. . “it could be said that anything that fulfils an attributive and/or a predicative function is an adjective in English”. Adverbs of time such as yearly. the meaning of the initial interjection changes completely via a transfer from a proper sense to a figurative one. they follow the noun): the above statement (the statement above). outdoors may function both as adverbs and as adjectives (sometimes. This is the case of the interjection gobbledygook. Phrases and idiomatic expressions can undergo conversion to adjectives: a do-it-yourself manual. the rooms upstairs. Nouns. which generate the masculine and the feminine from the common gender. back. front. trial match. but “person favouring a certain idea. It may happen that. a butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth attitude.

to ape. to garage. to dirty. to nurse. to stripe. 5. to corner. to send/go by what the noun designates: to mail. to snow. to parrot. to dry. Consequently the patterns of meaning which can be identified form a rather non-homogenous class: • • • • • • • • • action resulting in the situation designated by the noun: to rain. to list. a) verbs obtained from nouns The semantic relationships between the nouns and their converted verbal counterparts are very diverse and. to frost. to clean. b) verbs obtained from adjectives The basic meaning of the de-adjectival verbs is “to bring about the characteristic expressed by the adjective in an object”: to calm. to round. to sour. to aggregate. instrumental meaning: to finger. action generating the notion designated by the noun: to point. to saw. to put in what the noun designates: to bottle. to catalogue. c) verbs obtained from adverbs. to pig. quite difficult to classify.Verb forms other than the participle converted into adjectives are quite infrequent. therefore. to alert. to shoulder. to wet. locative meaning: to pocket. to elbow. to nail. to provide with what the noun designates: to cover. to coat. to father. to drop. to scalp. to ship. conjunctions. to monkey. Verbs obtained by conversion This is the most productive area in which conversion manifests itself.4.3. to hammer. or “to make a subject suffer the instatement of the quality expressed by the adjective: to wrong. to skin. to square. agentive meaning (to be/to act like what the nouns designates): to wolf. to spot. to deprive of what the noun designates: to peel. to wrap. to plaster. to gun. from nouns especially. Very many English verbs have been obtained by conversion. interjections . to screw.

Converted words may be common vocabulary items. the use of augmentatives such as pretty. forms homonymous to adjectives occur in adverbial distribution. it is easier to establish that the “older” word is the base form. One criterion lying at the basis of drawing such a distinction is the semantic dependence of one item upon the other. to chirp. waterless. If the word has such ability. as the root for derived words such as watery. they may have acquired expressive force and become poetic. Nevertheless. it is sometimes difficult to tell which item should be treated as the base and which as the converted form. it is usually the converted word. conjunctions or interjections are pretty rare in English. or. waterfall. However. while the verb water. but. “it is rather doubtful whether these are cases of conversion or simply manifestations of the tendency to drop the ending in the adverb”. it is considered the base word. by conversion itself. 5. Hulban (1975) . the noun water. When the period when a particular word entered the language is known. to meow are present in the language. in nonliterary language.4. waterline is seen as the base word. if it lacks it. waterborne. Sometimes. watercolour. with a reduced stylistic potential. adverbs are obtained from adjectives by derivation with the suffix –ly. According to this approach. For example.4. and as one of the elements in compounds such as waterbed. which cannot yield either derivatives or compounds is regarded as the converted lexical item. to but (“But me no buts!”).Verbs obtained from adverbs. watercourse. to hum. therefore the cases of adverbs converted from adjectives are rather rare. the meaning of the verb to net may be explained by means of the noun net as “to put into a net” and therefore the verb may be said to be the converted form. jolly of adjectival origin. mighty. to squeal. Another criterion is the ability of the word to serve as the root for derivatives and to form compounds. Adverbs obtained by conversion Quite frequently. while the “younger” one is the converted item. in order to form the absolute superlative (besides very) could be more readily interpreted as instances of conversion. verbs such as to forward. Awful rare used instead of awfully rare is such a case. as Tătaru (2002: 88) points out. Since conversion does not imply any changes in the form of words.

” (D. The author introduces it for the first time when. ‘Lith’ is the same as ‘active’. Shaw). 6. Clipping has been very productive.” (S.” (Carroll 1980: 271) . According to where the clipping occurs. dumbfound = dumb + clippings having a full latter element and a clipped former element: Eurasian = Europe + Asian. Among these words. ‘slithy’ means ‘lith and slimy’. telescreen = television = „Portmanteau words” is a term coined by Lewis Carroll in his Through the Looking Glass. blends or portmanteau words1 are lexical items that have come into being by combining two other words of which at least one is fragmentary. there are “slithy” and “mimsy”. used for the Indian film industry. which Humpty Dumty explains as follows. Lawrence). Minor means of word formation Besides derivation. it’s like a portmanteau – ther are two meanings packed up into one word… Well then. Maugham). motel = motorist + hotel. “… you wolf down great mouthfuls of lamb and green peas…” (S.1. “How does it pay a man of your talent to shepherd such a flock as this…?” (G.quotes a number of examples of converted words in the latter category: “The sun is yellowing to decline. b) screen.B. giving birth both to words that are easily recognizable and that have entered the everyday vocabulary of English (such as camcorder = camera + recorder. ‘mimsy’ is ‘flimsy and miserable’ (there’s another portmanteau for you). paratroops = parachute = troops. 6.H. Oxbridge = Oxford + Cambridge. mailomat = mail + automat. asks Humpty Dumty to explain to her what the words in the Jabberwocky poem mean. Clipping Clipping compounds. brunch = breakfast + lunch) and to words that are either rather technical and recognizable by scientist more readily than by the non-specialists or coined by journalists and meaningful for a limited 1 clippings having a full former element and a clipped latter element: cablegram = cable + telegram. Bollywood = Bombay + Hollywood. “Whatever it is. conversion and compounding described above. You see. Maugham). there are a number of minor means of word formation in English. c) clippings having both the former and the latter elements clipped: brunch = breakfast = lunch. this type of compounds may be classified as: a) confound. the main character of the book. pointing at how they have been formed: “Well. don’t blue it. Alice.

caff (from café). etc. For example. bus (from omnibus). the shortness of clippings help scientists avoid the confusion using too many words to designate a concept might create. Contraction Clipping occurs not only in the case of compound words. novelty brought by clippings is a reader-attraction strategy. Contraction may be performed in three ways: by aphaeresis. Back formation is a process based on the analogy between words that contain affixes and words that have component parts homonymous to affixes. phone (from telephone). fancy (from fantasy). 6.3. These parts are removed in order to restore (or back-form) what is believed to have been the “original”. When words are shortened to just a part of them. cinema (from cinematopgraph). which is the elimination of the beginning of the word: cello (from violoncello). they are said to be contracted. pike (from turnpike). exam (from examination). By back formation. back formation might be considered a special instance of derivation (regressive or back derivation). gas (from gasoline). in the latter. which is the elimination of the middle part of the word: ma’am (from madam). plane (from airplane). don’t (from do not). but in the case of isolated words as well. by syncope. which is the elimination of the final part of the word: fab (from fabulous). The technical fields and the newspapers are areas in which the high rate by which clippings are formed is fully justified – in the former. 6.number of readers (edutainment = education + entertainment. bicarb (from bicarbonate). specs (from spectacles). but rather –er was first added to the sit part of the compound and only after the verbal noun sitter was obtained. Back-formation If clipping is a special type of compounding. did the word baby-sitter come into being. o’er (from over). baby-sitter did not appear in English by adding the suffix –er to the verb compound baby-sit. memo (from memorandum). by apocope. the verb baby-sit was formed as if the compound noun . agitprop = agitation + propaganda).2.

plays an important role in the phonological adaptation of foreign words to the English sound system. meaning “slope”. etc. “People tend to rationalize. . for example. certain words were borrowed into English that already had suffix-like components in their structure. Folk etymology Like back-formation. “a very expensive and comfortable apartment or set of rooms on the top floor of a building”. 6. So they link it with a plausible real word in their language”.4. It has also been much used in technical terminology where one encounters terms such as aerodyne from aerodynamic. the word was associated with the French pente. electrocute. crayfish. they want a reason for the imported word sounding the way it does. at present. Hulban (1975: 103) explains that the meaning of penthouse. distorting the actual etymon of the word borrowed by English from another language. meant “a small building dependent upon a large church” and gave apentis in Old French. The Greek word asparagus came to be borrowed into English as sparrowgrass. peddle is back-formed from peddler. As Katamba (2005: 136) observes. sleepwalk. This is the case of the word puppy. appenditum. hence penthouse in Modern English. Recent back-formed verbal compounds include force-land. this time. a partial or total analogy in pronunciation between borrowed words and words already existing in the language. lase from laser or hydrotrope from hydrotropic. back-formation is a process that has proved productive especially in the case of compound verbs. borrowed from the French poupee. “false etymology” as he calls the process. Thus. Its etymon. As the building is a house which has a roof with a slope. Active since the 19th century. housekeep. meaning “crab” was formed as a consequence of the misinterpretation of the French etymon ecrevisse which was believed to be a kind of fish. blood-transfuse. usually having a sloping roof”. pup was back-formed. an area not very well represented in Modern English.baby-sitter had been obtained from this verb by suffixation. while the Latin appenditium finally gave penthouse in English. used to be “a subsidiary structure attached to the wall of a main building. Likewise. while edit is a back formation from editor. As Tătaru (2002: 95) points out. Its original being presumed to have been obtained by derivation with the diminutive suffix –y. folk etymology is based on analogy as well.

Folk etymology is a process that works in the opposite direction as well. lie – lay . Deflection Deflection. borrowed it from English – pocket money. but it used to be one of the major means by which grammatical categories were marked and by which new words were formed in Old English.Though not as frequent as the major means of word formation. ride – road. also called sound interchange or root derivation consists of a sound (vowel. thus a new word being obtained. folk etymology is not all that rare. “a vessel with three hulls”. It follows from here that –holic has been treated as a suffix meaning “someone who overindulges in something”. i. has been attached to work and gave workaholic and to ice-cream and gave ice-cream-a-holic. This is the case of trimaran. due to differences in stress. which seems to be formed from catamaran. in turn. –holic. speak – spoke. although that was not its original meaning. as if –maran were a root meaning “hull”. consonant or both vowel and consonant) change in the root of a word. the greater the alterations are likely to be. has been preserved in Modern English in irregular verbs such as sing – sang – sung. a form may be considered an affix that may be attached to roots. fall – fell (“to cause to fall by cutting. The Indo-European ablaut change in the root vowel of strong verbs. there is always the danger of misunderstanding what exactly these words denote or what aspects of an object they specifically pick out. other languages that have borrowed words from English have adapted them to their system altering the original to suit the regularities in them. bit – bite. “a twin hulled sailing boat”. on the basis of the pattern represented by alcoholic. It affected words belonging to the word stock which survived up to now in the language. as Katamba (2005) exemplifies. drunk. abode – abide.e. A number of causative verbs have been formed from other verbs by this means: sit – set (“to cause too sit”).5. The more indirect the borrowing. The process is not very productive at present. there are a number of words formed by combining pseudo-roots to affixes. For instance. drink – drank. for example. 6. Pakitimane means “wallet” rather than “pocket money”. When words pass from one language to another. Luganda borrowed pakitimane from Swahili which. Conversely. beating or knocking down”). In English. “A degree of drift is almost inevitable when a game of Chinese whispers is played” (Katamba 2005: 137).

in a pair made up of noun and its homograph verb. devise – device. and it tends to become very productive. Abbreviation At least two things may be understood by abbreviation: the reduction of a word to several letters and the reduction of a group of words designating a notion to the initials of these words. Verbs have also been turned into nouns by deflection: bleed – blood. ‘contract – con’tract. the noun accent is stressed on the first syllable. sing – song. ‘present – pre’sent. of Romance origin) differ from one another by distinctive accent. speak – speech. Some words obtained by reduction to the initial letters of the component elements of a multi-word notion have become so common in the language that speakers do not recognize or do not know what these abbreviations stand for. According to Tătaru (2002). Such pairs of words are pretty numerous in English: ‘ attribute – a’ttribute.6. The latter type of abbreviation is extremely productive in Modern English.7. ‘import – im’port. the former is due to the discrepancy between spelling and pronunciation in English. Some of them are pretty transparent ( UFO – unidentified flying object. as well as “to the unusual length of some words as against the majority of the other words. while its corresponding verb is stressed on the second syllable. 6. ‘torment – tor’ment. It is a phenomenon that is quite frequent in English. hanky for handkerchief.(“to put or set down”). Change of accent By this mechanism. nighty for nightgown or p. Thus. believe – belief. while others require a scientist’s knowledge to be traced back to what they stand for ( HTML – hypertext mark-up language. feed – food. ‘permit – per’mit. NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization ).j’s for pyjamas. especially those in the basic word stock” (Tătaru 2002: 91). There are several ways in which these abbreviations may be read: . especially in its American variety. Examples of words abbreviated by reduction to several letters in their structure include: brolly for umbrella. Ablaut combinations illustrating the voiced – voiceless consonant alternation include: advise – advice. break – breach. 6. the two elements (generally. http – hypertext transfer – or transport – protocol). prove – proof.

Alphanumerics Alphanumerics are a special case of abbreviations – combinations of letters and numbers which have gained in importance with the advance of the email and the SMS language. Abbreviations from Latin that have an international character are found in English as well.8. due to the fact that they meet the requirements of small space and expedient communication. they are known as acronyms. They are the most numerous. As demonstrated by Brook (1981). sup. – id est (that is). Rd. Mt. being based on homophony with other words in the language.. BU (be you). laser – light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. by pronouncing the letters in their structure in isolation: pm – post meridian. c) by reading the word of group of words that has been abbreviated: dr. Eponyms Eponyms are words derived from proper names. bpi – bits per . Nasdaq – The National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations. CU2NITE (see you tonight) . both in the everyday and in the specialized language: am – ante meridian. i. Mr.a) by pronouncing the letters connected as if they formed a word proper: AIDS – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Alphanumerics combine with abbreviation to letters in words such as B2B (business-to-business). 4U (for you). B&B – bed and breakfast. the sources that gave English proper names that became eponyms are extremely varied. 6.g. When abbreviations are pronounced this way. 6. St. D8 (date). Examples include: CUL8R (see you later). etc.e. Ms. more so than adjectives and verbs put together. BTW (by the way). UNESCO – United Nations Educational. (saint). (road). eponyms are best represented by nouns. ap. (mount). B2C (business-to-consumer). – exempli gratia (for example). MP – Member of the Parliament. Alphanumerics are to be read component by component. If considered from the point of view of the morphological class to which they belong. – apud (according to). They have penetrated the language of advertising as well. since they are striking and informal at the same time.9. b) inch. e. – supra (above). Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Fortuna. Antropos was. Many names of flowers have been formed by derivation with the suffix – ia from the name of the botanist who discovered them or of someone the explorer wanted to honour. the name of the goddess of agriculture. English has “cereal”. while Gratia. meaning “tending to produce uniformity by violent methods”. “Gargantuan”. Its origin lies in the name of a violent robber of Attica. in the book by the same name. the goddess of chance as a power in human affairs. “lobelia” after the Flemish botanist Matthias de Lobel and “magnolia”. some as derivatives. gave “grace”. one of the three Fates who had the task of cutting the thread of life to the required length. the god of love. Eros. The name of Cupid. Literature (both British or American and worldwide) was another rich source of eponyms.Many of them have passed into the language from names in the Greek and Roman mythology. the Greek god of love has given “erotic”. became a picturesque term for the poisonous substance found in the deadly nightshade. Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe was the origin of “Man Friday” sometimes meaning “an aboriginal”. while “hermetic” is derived from Hermes. “Atropine”. “dahlia”. to refer to an airtight closure that alchemists initially made use of. derived from Ceres. Another word derived from Greek legends in procrustean. meaning “enormous” comes from Gargantua. by analogy with Cervantes’ Don Quixote. who used to stretch or amputate his victims to make them fit his bed. one of the three goddess sisters who bestowed beauty and charm. Examples include well-known words such as “begonia” after Michel Begon. The names of real life persons which have evolved into common nouns in English may be grouped into a few quite large categories. . Procrustes. ideas or plans that are not practical and rarely succeed. From Roman mythology. It is used today mainly in the phrase “hermetic seal”. an administrator in the West Indies who discovered the flower. gave “fortune”. the eponym derived from it. a generous. named by Linnaeus in honour of Pierre Magnol. a versatile god whose responsibilities included alchemy. a French physician. is clearly related to “cupidity”. while “quixotic” is well established in English to denote people. Brook (1981: 41) suggests that “the phrase has become so much a part of [our] language that newspapers sometimes contain advertisements from would-be employers of Girl Fridays”. Rabelais’ giant character in La Vie tres horrifique of Grand Gargantua. hard-working and versatile assistant”. for example. “forsythia” after the English botanist William Forsyth. after the Swedish botanist Anders Dahl. but also “a cheerful. but unworldly and self-deluding character.

Products have often preserved the name of their inventors. The Earl of Cardigan gave his name to the “cardigan”. The “wellingtons”. the names of various measurement units are taken from the names of the scientist who first used them. from the German physicist Georg Simon Ohm. the “raglan”. a French scientist. from Count Alessandro Volta. In electrical engineering. a Scottish engineer. The “chesterfield”. the unit of power. “watt”. the unit of electric power . Others. (though this is not a comprehensive approach. but. “gorgonzola”. They may be recognized as the origin of the names of various wines and varieties of cheese. a sofa with padded seat. a knitted woolen jacket buttoned at the front. less frequently used in everyday language. its name spreads quickly into the common language. eating nothing else but pieces of meat placed in between two small slices of bread. now any kind of beverage made according to the initial Champagne method. Thus. Baron Raglan. “Bakelite” is a synthetic resin invented by a Flemish chemist named Leo Baekeland. while the “bunsen burner”. from the French engineer Charles de Coulomb. “champagne”. Cheddar. a piece of equipment that produces a gas flame and is used in laboratories. and “coulomb”. took their name from that of the Duke of Wellington. if it proves useful. the unit of electric force. Finally. from James Watt. Examples include “Chablis”. a keen gambler who is said to have once spent a whole day and night at the gaming-table. originally the sparkling beverage made in the region of Champagne. and “amp”. arms and back. was named after a nineteenth century Earl of Chesterfield. deriving its name from that of a village in France and “cheddar”. an Italian physicist. the unit of electric charge. Articles of dress may derive their names of famous people who once wore them. as extensive as it may be). the cheese originally made in the town by this name in Lombardy. from the ancient province of Burgundy. made near the small town of Chablis. the unit of resistance. The item invented may be very simple. which acquired its name from that of the village where it was first made. are “ohm”. “camembert”. in Somerset. from Andre Amper. The most familiar are “volt”. Thus. received its name from Robert Wilhelm von Bunsen. knee-high rubber waterproof boots. a kinf of overcoat without shoulder seams was named after the commander of the British forces in the Crimean War. “burgundy”. Place names have been as productive as people’s names in contributing to the enrichment of English with eponyms. “Sandwich” is derived from the name of the Earl of Sandwich. the “alsacian” . breeds of dogs are frequently named after their real or supposed places of origin.

transfers such as the use of the name of the inventor for the thing invented or that of the place name for the product coming from there are considered by some linguists kinds of metonymy. 1. the ”Dalmatian”. briefly talking about the evolution of the theories of the linguistic sign from Saussure to Buhler. Some of the types of eponyms discussed here will be mentioned in the chapter dedicated to word meaning. as in “gerrymander”. an eponym connected to the name of John Macadam. The word is a blend of “salamander” with “gerry”. Bernard. to dwindle. from the root “macadam”.10. more exactly. WORD MEANING Before introducing the problem of word meaning. might prove useful. Eponyms may also be blended with other words. They may undergo shortening as in “strad” for “Stradivarius” and they may serve as the basis for derivatives.comes from Alsace. nayward. Justifiably. that have been coined by various users (fiction writers and journalists especially) but are not yet accepted by the whole English speaking community. as in any other language. Saussure’s approach to the linguistic sign . meaning “to divide a region in which people vote in a way that gives a particular political group an unfair advantage”. from the Dalmatian Coast and the “Saint Bernard” from the Hospice of the Great St. used this device to make sure that the Republicans remained in power in Massachusetts. to which the former is closely connected. to metonymy. 6. IV. dauntless. the inventor of the pavement with cubic stones. to accost (somebody). These are called nonce words. from Elbridge Gerry. Diachronically. Nonce words There are words in English. nonce words may remain just a fashion of the moment and drop out of use or they may come to enter the accepted vocabulary and be glossed in dictionaries. who. a pass in the Alps. at a certain moment. This was the case of words attributed to Shakespeare such as auspicious. Words formed from proper names may behave just like the rest of the lexical items in the vocabulary of English. as an instance of transfer of meaning. as in “macadamize”.

In modern linguistics. this is made up of a chain of temporally successive elements. This image is for him nothing material or physical. For him. which have since become internationally accepted technical terms. For him. Saussure (1916. If the object in reality the . on the syntagmatic dimension of the language. in other words. for Saussure. To summarize. The two. they evoke or call each other up. while complex structures may be morphologically motivated by their constituents. non-motivated or conventional. at a phonetic and phonological level. Saussure (1965: 181) considers the components of a compound structure “transparent formative elements”. Thus. In his famous course in general linguistics. that of the linear character of the linguistic sign. The connection between the concept and the phonic image represents the linguistic sign for Saussure. For the French scientist. abstracted both from its users and from the extra-linguistic object denoted by it. he sees no motivation and considers that they are acquired conventions of a specific language system. just like the system and the sign. a point of view to which many have objected since it was suggested. the principle of arbitrariness holds only for simple linguistic signs. Even in the case of interjections and onomatopoeic words. Saussure (1916. but between a concept and a phonic image. the linguistic sign has two sides: a given notion (“concept”) that is associated in the brain with a certain phonic image (“acoustic image”). According to Saussure’s second principle. Saussure (1965) postulates two principles connected to the linguistic sign: its arbitrariness and its linearity. 1965) repeatedly stresses the idea that the linguistic sign is a mental unit and that it does not establish a link between a thing and a name. 1965) was the first scholar to consider language a system of signs. The principle is based on the fact that the speakers of a language cannot produce a multitude of sounds at the same time. the linguistic sign and the system it is part of are mutually dependent. the relationship between the two sides of the linguistic sign is fundamentally arbitrary. though it would be more logical to view the whole construction as transparent. Saussure (1965) himself rethinks his definite opinion concerning the arbitrary character of the linguistic sign and speaks about degrees of arbitrariness and about the transition from arbitrary to motivated formations. but the mental impression of a sound. the linguistic sign is a binary mental entity. since the former functions only within the latter. on the basis of its relations to the other signs. who later replaces the notions “concept” and “acoustic image” by “signifie” and “signifiant”. are mutually conditioning.

They stress the point that the meaning of the linguistic symbol (sign). which. still excludes the users of the linguistic sign – the speaker/writer and the hearer/reader. Buhler’s “Organon Model” . suggests that there is no direct relationship between the word or the symbol and the extra-linguistic thing or the referent it denotes (this is indicated by the dotted line connecting them). Saussure’s binary model is thus expanded into the three-sided model of the semiotic triangle. it does in the triadic model developed by Ogden and Richards (1923). as it is called in the literature. are therefore indirectly related to extra-linguistic referents. where it denotes either the relationship between a full linguistic sign and an extralinguistic referent or the action of a speaker/writer referring to an extra-linguistic object by means of a linguistic sign). however. According to Ogden and Richards. there is then no direct relationship between the word or the symbol “dog” and a particular class of living beings or a specific element of this class. Karl Buhler gave the model of the linguistic sign a pragmatic dimension and included the two in the theory. 3. by means of the abstract thought or reference in our brains (“reference” is used by Ogden and Richards in a different way than in most of the more recent linguistic theories. the “triangle of signification” or the “referential triangle”. as linguistic signs. Ogden and Richards’ “Semiotic Triangle” The model of the linguistic sign developed by Ogden and Richards (1923) is represented below: THOUGHT or REFERENCE SYMBOL (“word”) stands for (“thing”) REFERENT The “semiotic triangle”.linguistic sign refers to plays no role in Saussure’s theory. has to be clearly distinguished from the extra-linguistic object denoted by it. In 1934. as a concept or thought. Words. 2. The two are linked indirectly.

The linguistic sign. writer) REPRESENTATION (referent) APPEAL (hearer. As an expression of the speaker or writer. Because of its correlation with an extra-linguistic referent. Denotation. “a signal”. reference. whose behaviour it is meant to direct and control. the linguistic sign is. However. the sign is. of the language: expression (also called “the emotive function”). following Plato. a concise overview of the most common terms associated with word meaning would be useful. Word meaning The discussion of the three successive models above hinted at aspects connected to word meaning. representation (also called “the referential function”) and appeal (also called “the conative/vocative function”). sense and connotation will be considered in what follows. Seen from the point of view of its relation to an addressee. is an expression of the sender (speaker or writer) who uses it to appeal to the addressee (hearer or reader). The connecting lines between the sign and the three elements just mentioned symbolize the three most important functions of the complex linguistic sign.Buhler’s theory. i. being dependent on the sender. finally. reader) 4. Word meaning is a pretty controversial issue in linguistics. who sees language as a tool (“organon”) is represented in a simplified form in the diagram below (cf Lipka 2002: 58): The picture above has to be understood in the following way. it serves for the representation of objects. according to Buhler (1934). i.e. states of affairs and relations. instead of going into the intricacies of the various aspects of meaning. At the same time. which has been dedicated thousands of pages and has been approached from hundreds of angles. a “symptom”. for the representation of extra-linguistic referents. in other words. These three approaches to the linguistic sign may be correlated with the language functions suggested by Buhler in the following way: EXPRESSION (speaker. as an instrument. ____________ symptom ____________ symbol ____________ signal . It is beyond the scope of this book to attempt at summarizing the available theories of meaning. The sign in the center links a sender (normally the speaker) with an addressee (normally the hearer) and the represented objects and relations. it is also a “symbol”.e.

processes and activities external to the language system”. etc. or. the king of France specific object . things. He uses the term “denotatum” “for the “class of objects. Reference is thus defined as “the relationship which holds between an expression and what that expression stands for on particular occasions of its utterance” (Lyons 1977: 174). the queen. He further points out that the denotation of a lexeme is independent of the concrete context of an utterance. with a whole class of extra-linguistic objects. “reference … is an utterance-dependent notion. as a particular class of animals and adds that the individual animals in this class are its denotata.4. for Lyons. Napoleon. Lyons’ use of the term “reference” is summarized and illustrated by Lipka (2002: 75) as follows: Reference . to put it in his own words. The linguist characterizes the denotatum of the word “cow”. Furthermore. As Lyons (1977: 207) puts it. the cow. However. it follows that single lexemes cannot be related to extra-linguistic objects by means of reference. to which the expression correctly applies” (Lyons 1977: 207). properties. places.Referent expression RELATION: definite description the man over there.. Since. the denotation of a lexeme is “the relationship that holds between that lexeme and persons. and it is never applicable to lexemes” (Lyons 1977: 176). Denotation and reference The relation of denotation links a lexeme. “those three cows over there” may be used to establish a relationship of reference with individual elements in the class generally denoted by “cow” as their referents (the reference of the above expressions containing “cow” is partly determined by the denotation of the lexeme “cow” in English). … it is not generally applicable in English to single word-forms. properties. for example. expressions such as “the cow”.1. reference depends on concrete utterances and not on abstract sentences. “John’s cow”. as it was defined in the introductory chapter.

Denotation and sense Denotation having been defined following Lyons. They demonstrate that.4. for consistency of approach. initially. which Lyons (1977: 210) illustrates by suggesting the following pairs of sentences: There is no such animal as a unicorn. still regarding sense from a relational perspective. which holds between those words or expressions and their referents or denotata” (Lyons 1977: 206). Of denotation. Both individual lexemes and larger expressions have denotation and sense. 4. have sense.e. Later. while the latter is semantically odd.e. What we understand from here is that sense is a language-internal relationship. There is no such book as a unicorn. The sense of the word table will vary in the following sentences: ‘Don’t put your feet on the table!’ and ‘It will be finalized under the table. there are some words which do not have denotation. According to Lyons (1977: 210). they cannot be associated will a class of real objects. i. reference and sense. if any. bearing no connection with the extra-linguistic world.” A comparison between denotation and sense indicates that the two are equally basic relationships that are dependent on each other. As Jackson and Amvela (2007: 66) explain. This is the case of the word “unicorn”. Thus. i. The former sentence is perfectly acceptable. while only the latter have reference. he redefines it as the relationship which holds between “the words or expressions of a single language independently of the relationship. I shall introduce the notion of “sense” according to his views as well.2. nevertheless. but. “animal” and “unicorn” are “related in sense”. he (1968: 427) defined the sense of a word as “its place in a system of relationships which it contracts with other words in the vocabulary”. connotation and markedness . Denotation. they establish relationships with the other words in the language system. while the lexemes “book” and “unicorn” are incompatible. it is the last that will lie at the basis of the discussion of sense relations between words later in this chapter.3. “the sense of an expression is a function of the sense of the lexemes it contains and their occurrences in a particular grammatical construction.

as opposed to the central denotational core. in other words. while. Hansen et al 1985./old) home chuck (sl. but differ in connotation. in dictionaries. 80): (a) steed (poet.) gee-gee (baby l. Ullmann 1962. synonyms may be specifically marked by connotations)./d/ is voiced. /d/ is considered marked). consequently. Lyons characterizes the words written in italics as “general”. This additional aspect of meaning. Connotations are. “nag” may be colloquial.e.In lexical semantics. the same cognitive or conceptual meaning. The unmarked lexemes are neutral . i. some linguists (though there is no total agreement on the matter) make a binary distinction between denotation and connotation. or denotative and connotative meaning (Kastovsky 1982. “Abode” is viewed as poetic by Leech. while “gee-gee” may be used by or when spoken to children. according to them. official by Leech.) (c) cast (lit. “home” and “throw” in Leech’s example may be considered unmarked. and old/literary/legal by various dictionaries. literary/rhetorical/humorous. The notion of marking or markedness is derived from phonology. etc). the words “horse”. where the marked member of a pair of phonemes has some additional features as compared to the other member (/d/ in the pair /t/ . may be illustrated with the following examples of “stylistic” or “social and affective meaning” from Leech (1981: 14). “nag” as slang and “gee-gee” as baby language. “Domicile” is considered very formal.) (b) domicile (leg. for example. however.) residence (fml. it is labeled formal or legal. Lyons 1977: 305).) abode (peot. as they are reproduced by Lipka (2002. while /t/ is not. It follows from here that the words in each of the three columns above have the same denotation. additional characteristics of lexemes. Leech marks “steed” as poetic. Various dictionaries label them differently: “steed” may be. Approaching meaning in terms of denotation and connotation is closely linked to synonymy (which shall be detailed upon later) in that synonyms are regarded as having the same denotation. or instances of marking or markedness (cf.) horse nag (sl. they are marked. By analogy. etc.) throw The twofold distinction between denotation and connotation may be justified by the fact that denotation refers to the relationship holding between a linguistic sign and its denotatum. while the others are marked in one way or another. but different connotations (in other words.

Indian English and also point at interior differentiations within these (eg. the same referent may be referred to by using different words. ‘field. or emotionally marked lexemes. apothecary. stylistic: edifice. These are further sub-classified by the authors as represented in the following diagrams: Lipka 83 high A. They only give examples of Americanisms. at present. truck. . used to refer to a single referent. swain. and sociolinguistic variation (cf. affectively. Some of these approaches to connotations are comprised in the system suggested by Hansen et al (1985). Lipka 1988a). As Lipka (2002: 82) indicates. Canadian. Besides stylistically. streetcar. with different connotations. wee. like Leech on ‘province. archaic or neologistic. the following: A. Its most important points are indicated below in a diagrammatic form. Australian. A simple word such as “home” may carry connotations of joy. they seem to neglect the fact that even the same word. temporal and social connotations. we could furthermore group lexical items according to regional or dialectal. The three main classes of connotations are. tenor’. stylistic low Regional variation is not divided into other sub-classes by Hansen et al (1985). according to them. Northern English). bakshees.and not restricted to a particular instance of use. American. according to them. expressive: niggard. South African. regional: elevator. bugger. However. B. Thus. New Zealand. status. Connotatively marked lexemes in a language may be subcategorized in various ways. Scottish. bastard. though with much fewer examples than those offered by the authors. stating that American English is currently exerting a great influence over British English and that the process of fluctuation of words from one of these two varieties into the other is. What I understand from the taxonomy of connotations suggested by Lipka and his colleagues (1985) is that. or. buddy. C. We could draw on parameters like ‘medium’. certain aspects of linguistic variation may serve to distinguish between regional. modality’”. may gain various connotative dimensions depending on the context of its being used. the authors mention varieties such as British. dolly bird. mode. while de marked ones are most readily used in some contexts and excluded from others. very active.

Sense relations between words As it was pointed out in 4. “To start” and “to begin” may both be used in “She started/began to cry upon hearing the news”. Brown is busy/occupied”.” “Liberty” and “freedom” are interchangeable in “They fought for their liberty/freedom. while its synonyms “solitary” and “lonely” may be employed  Although this is the generally accepted point of view.1. sadness or boredom.). Synonymy 5. in “Lighten our darkness. . but one can only say “I’m not at liberty to tell you the truth” in English. depending on who utters it and when (somebody saying “I’ll stay home tonight doing nothing” may attach the idea of boredom to it.excitement.1. When synonyms are interchangeable in particular contexts. connotation.1. In “She remembered to shut the door but left the window open”. Synonyms are interchangeable at least in some contexts if not in all contexts of use. they are considered to be in “equipollent distribution” (Hulban 1975: 155). one can either “win” or “gain” a victory.. For example. while somebody else exclaiming “We are back home!” after a long journey may link joy to it. under the general heading “sense relations”. but one can only “win” a war. referring to the links between the lexemes and expressions of a language. linguists such as Jones (2002) suggest that antonymy may hold between words that belong to different word classes. but only “start” may correctly collocate with “car” (“I started my car”). “Alone” may be used only predicatively. though they may differ in shades of meaning. “busy” and “occupied” are synonyms in “I’m afraid Mr. for example. etc. 5. In the same way. sense is a relational concept. the verb “to shut” and the adjective “open” are in a relation of antonymy.”.2. we pray”. General characteristics of synonyms Synonyms are words belonging to the same morphological class • which have the same core meaning. distribution. the verb “lighten” and the noun “darkness” form an antonymic pair. In what follows I shall survey the types of such links. 5. collocation and idiomatic use. Thus. but “busy” cannot substitute “occupied” in “This seat is occupied.

“to decide – to make up one’s mind”. in the synonymic series “to leave – to depart – to clear out – to retire”. as they sometimes are. “to go after – to follow”. while all the other terms are marked in terms of connotations of various kinds. as in “Chaucer – the father of English literature” or “Shakespeare – the sweet swan of Avon”. “lord and master”. “to go on – to continue”. it is “to leave” that is the synonymic dominant. “to laugh – to give a laugh”. dismissed” and in “This is an ounce. words such as “alone”. in which the name of a writer. since it is neutral stylistically and can replace any of the other members of the group. that is to say.both as attributes and as predicative adjuncts. This term is labeled the synonymic dominant and it becomes the head word in dictionaries. “each and every”. “to give in – to surrender”. In the grammatical contexts which are not shared. “neck and crop – entirely”. Correlative synonymic relations may also be recognized in certain phrases that are made up of two synonyms linked by the copulative conjunction “and”: “with might and main”. “really and truly”. by phrases such . “solitary” and “lonely” are considered “grammatical distributional opposites” (Hulban 1975: 156). etc. or snow leopard”. or a particular variety of or as in: “He was cashiered. “stress and strain”. “to hesitate – to be in two minds”. synonyms occur together in another type of expressions. one of the terms acquires a dominant position. inventor. “exiled and banished”. it is customary to indicate the fact that it is their different peripheral meanings which must be attended to. “to swing the lead – to exaggerate”. In such series. Going back to the matters connected to connotation. “to prefer – to show preference”. I may say that the synonymic dominant is the unmarked term of the series. As Hulban (1975) observes. As Cruse (1986) points out. Synonyms may be arranged in synonymic series containing two or more elements. “liberty and freedom”. To illustrate. etc. namely when a synonym is employed as an explanation or clarification of the meaning of another word. Simple words may establish correlative synonymic relationships with collocations. “last will and testament”. correlative synonymic relations are also met in the case of some special stylistic synonyms. When synonyms are used contrastively. phrases or idioms as in the pairs “to win – to gain the upper hand”. being the most general among the others and the most frequently used in the language. is replaced by a descriptive phrase. The relationship between the two words is frequently signaled by something like that is to say.

would have identical meanings) “if and only if all their contextual relations were identical” says Cruse (1986: 268). burnt to the ground. Synonyms occur in a number of idioms and proverbs in English. proving that absolute synonymy remains at the level of theory and does not practically exist in real contexts of language use (a point of view expressed by numerous other linguists) should not be very difficult. since a single discrepancy in the pattern of the contextual relations of the candidates to absolute synonymy would be sufficient proof in this sense. “unwell”. and I am breaking down from overwork”. “sick”. They may also be employed as stylistic devices contributing to giving more expressive force to a particular description or to nuancing it. “On the table there were a few grains or.B. “indisposed”. Types of synonyms There are several types of synonyms. pulled down. or rather executed”. If it means “bad”.e. I am idle. possible synonyms for it are “evil”.as more exactly or rather as in the following examples offered by Cruse (1986: 267): “He was murdered. the number of such contexts being infinite. Cruse (1986: 268)) chooses to demonstrate the practical impossibility of absolute synonymy starting from his opinion that “equinormality in all contexts is the same as identity of . However. a thing that is surely impossible. The linguist adds that it would be “impracticable” to prove that two lexical items are perfect synonyms following this definition. For example. “wrong”. “wicked”.2. as Hulban (1975: 162 -164) illustrates quoting G. more exactly. They ought all to be rooted up. Shaw: “I give you up. Two lexical units would be perfect synonyms (i. Examples of the former include “to be on pins and needles”. I am lazy. while the latter may be illustrated by “It never rains but it pours”.” 5./ I don’t. granules of the substance”.1. “Don’t you like these dear old-world places? I do. “ill” in the sense of “not in full physical or mental health” is synonymous with “ailing”. You are factproof. since that would mean checking their occurrences in all conceivable contexts. Polysemantic words have different synonymic series for each of their senses. such as: a) strict/perfect/absolute synonyms.

for a very limited period of time) the existence of two lexical items with exactly the same meaning. (+) I don’t just loathe him. erst (formerly). usually. for example. (-) Besides the test of normality. wight (human being). Jackson and Amvela (2007: 109) offer a list of archaic or obsolete words which have fallen out of use and been replaced by the items mentioned in brakets: culver (pigeon). This is the case of the pairs “begin – commence”. warrener (gamekeeper). ultimately. (+) Tell Mummy when Playschool commences and she’ll watch it with you.meaning”. Another one is of a historical nature. levin (lightning). I loathe him. “hate – loathe”. perhaps. when “enemy” was imported into English from French too. Thus. one of the items falls into obsolescence and is. One of these is. (-) Arthur is always chewing gum. If absolute synonyms do occur at a certain moment in the development of a language. no longer used. there are other arguments brought against perfect synonymy. (+) Arthur is always munching gum. what happens is that. the fact that the economy of language would not tolerate (except. “scandalous – outrageous” for which discriminating contexts can be found. two lexical items that are not equally normal in at least one syntactic context cannot be considered strict synonyms. “munch – chew”. its Anglo-Saxon correspondent “foe” began to be used more in the . (-) I don’t just hate him. Based on this approach. (-) That is a scandalous waste of money. (+) That is an outrageous waste of money. fain (willing). though they might seem perfectly interchangeable in all instances of use (Cruse (1986: 269) marks the “more normal” contexts with + and the “less normal” ones with -): Tell Mummy when Playschool begins and she’ll watch it with you. divers (various). On the other hand. trig (neat). I hate him. dorp (village). it remains to be used in particular dialects or stylistic varieties only or it begins to be employed in contexts from which the other is excluded.

The category of stylistic synonyms includes words having the same notional components of meaning. one hopes to persuade him/her by earnest pleading and reasoning. while its synonym. In the pair of synonyms “to love – to adore”.literary than in the everyday language. entreat. “When we speak of synonymy. This class comprises synonyms which share the core meaning but differ in shades of meaning in that certain notes characteristic of the notion. In the same way. while the latter got restricted to refer to the animal itself. while the other is used in more formal contexts. quoted by Jacskon and Amvela (2007: 108). The discussion of synonymy so far has suggested and attempted at demonstrating by arguments that perfect synonymy is rejected by actual language use. “mutton” (from the French “mouton”) and “sheep” were perfect synonyms for a very limited period of time. insistence. phenomenon. A person begs for what s/he cannot claim as a right. Importune denotes persistence with one’s requests to the point of annoyance or even harassment. then. beauty – . They may also differ in connotation. As it is pointed out in the Longman Dictionary of the English Language (1991: 141). we mean varying degrees of ‘loose’ synonymy. supplicate to accompany you . but also some contexts at least where they cannot substitute for each other” (Jackson.Lord Chesterfield>. supplicate and importune all signify the making of an appeal which is likely to be refused or demurred at. ideographic and stylistic. Amvela 2007: 109). beg suggests earnestness. entreat. up to the moment when the former specialized to designate the meat of sheep. “Beg. beseech. Supplicate adds to entreat a humble. b) ideographic synonyms. Such examples include: archer – toxophilite. Jackson and Amvela (2007: 111) offer examples of synonym pairs in which one of the members is used in informal or less formal contexts. . where we identify not only a significant overlap in meaning between two words. “to love” is rather neutral. and sometimes self-abasement. By entreating someone. prayerful attitude <invite. Beseech and implore convey eager anxiety which seeks to inspire sympathy or pity. object denoted by these words are accented. implore. but differing in their stylistic reference or degree of formality. collocation patterns and idiomatic use. “Crowd” refers to a disorganized group of people. Loose synonymy is illustrated by at least two types of synonyms. with a suggestion of tearfulness or evident anguish. argument – disputation. while “to adore” bears connotations of worship or passion.” c) stylistic synonyms. Implore may be stronger than beseech. for example. “mob” refers to the same group. but connotes the idea of riotous intentions as well.

unpleasantly direct or offensive (when resorted to by officials such as members of the Parliament. “not firing on all cylinders”. “to join the majority”. s/he is a person whose “elevator stuck between floors”. prison – clink. the use of euphemisms is known as “doublespeak”). money – rhino. “surveillance” is a stylistic euphemistic synonym of spying. give up – renounce. . a “sanitation worker” is a trash collector and a drug addict is euphemistically called a “substance abuser”. merry (neutral) – jocund (poetic). steal – nick. “to cross the river to reach the eternal reward”. “face” – “phizog”. “as a screen door on a submarine” or “as tits on a bull”. “to buy a pine condo”. “not the brightest light in the harbour/on the Christmas tree”. “to depart this life”. “a few bricks short of a wall”. praise – eulogy. gasp)”. “to go to one’s last home”. a theft is an “inventory shrinkage” or a “property redistribution”. Besides the formal – informal. “to hop the twig”. who “fell out of the family tree” or who “goes fishing in Nebraska”. s/he is “as useful as a wooden frying pan”. A euphemism is a mild. “to go the way of all flesh”. “knitting with only one needle”. etc. happiness (neutral) – bliss (poetic). drunk. Somebody who is old is “mature” or “a senior”. etc. indirect or less offensive word or expression substituted when the speaker/writer fears that more direct wording might be harsh.pulchritude. “to kick the bucket”. “to pay one’s debt to nature”. “crash – prang”. “public donation” and “shared sacrifice” refer to paying taxes. “not tied too tight to the pier”. s/he is “not the sharpest knife in the drawer”. die – decease. The following examples illustrate this type of stylistic synonyms: “astonished” – “gobsmacked”. the verb “to die” enters a stylistic synonymic relationship with the following euphemistic (idiomatic) phrases: “to breathe one’s last (breath. warning – caveat. officers. A particular stylistic synonymic relationship is established between a taboo word and its corresponding euphemistic words or expressions.. Thus. a jail is a ”secure facility”. distinctions such as technical – non-technical. “to be no more”. “a few beers short of a six-pack”. “a few clowns short of a circus”. lawyers. “to go to the other side”. you’re (speech) – you are (writing). barmy. letter – missive. standard – slang pairs of synonyms. spondulix. lesion (technical) – cut (common). A stupid person has “a couple of eggs shy of a dozen”. heart – ticker. speech – writing may also be made as in: incision (technical) – cut (non-technical). They also mention pairs of synonymous words of which one belongs to standard English and the other to English slang. who “got into the gene pool when the lifeguard wasn’t watching”. sloshed. insane. “a kangaroo loose in the paddock”. “destroy – zap”. cross – traverse. neutral – poetic. western – occidental.

are coarser and more direct words and phrases that are used to replace both more refined and quite common lexical items. meaning “to make a major mistake”. The relationship between the euphemism and the common word designating its referent may be considered stylistic synonymy as well. for humorous or deliberately offensive purposes. Similar to the concept of euphemism treadmill. Dysphemisms.No matter what useful and innovative linguistic elements euphemism might be. A “dead tree edition” is the paper edition of an online magazine. Thus. according to Wikipedia online. words and phrases once considered offensive are later described as “objectionable”. A word or phrase that is. . as nearly or outright acceptable in the end. a “bean counter” is an accountant. The process has been called the “euphemism treadmill” by Steven Pinker (2002: 212) and may be illustrated by examples of successive replacements of euphemisms such as: “imbecile – mentally retarded – developmentally disabled/mentally challenged/with an intellectual disability/with special needs” or “lame – crippled – handicapped – disabled – differently abled”. at a certain moment. What might save them from disappearing from the language is their stylistic potential. then as “questionable”. is the word “sucks. though it is more rarely observed. Their presence in the language is conditioned by social and cultural conventions which are continuously changing so that what is considered taboo at a certain moment might be soon accepted and the need for the euphemisms referring to it might well fall out of use. “Brain bucket” is the dysphemism for motorcycle helmet. dysphemisms cannot boast but a momentary presence in the language. while somebody who has become “worm flesh” has actually died. a complementary “dysphemism treadmill” exists. and.” often used as slang for sexual intercourse. a “grease monkey” is a mechanic. “Jesus juice” for wine and “muffin top” for the flesh that “erupts” over the sides of low-rider tight jeans. a “sawbones” a surgeon and a “quack” a doctor. In its case.” “That sucks” began as American slang for “that is very unpleasant.” and is a shortened version for “Oral sex/Fellatio”. they are short-lived. nearly mainstream slang. It developed over the late-20th century from being an extremely vulgar phrase to lower-class. conditioned by cultural and social conventions. The same may be said of the use of “screw. roughly the opposites of euphemisms. Like euphemisms. One modern example. used as a euphemism may evolve into an unacceptable taboo itself and the need of replacing it by a new euphemism arises. in some cases. in such usages as “to screw up”.

In literature. terms of Greek and Latin origin are preferred. however.1. In a pair of synonyms made up of a native and a borrowed word. in which the source of borrowing into English is indicated and not the language to which the etymon of the words can be traced back. such synonyms are usually organized on a double or a triple scale. it is the native element that is felt to be neutral and therefore it is this element that is used most frequently. with its having borrowed an impressive number of lexical items from other languages.3. many of the words for which there is a native correspondent are French. in particular. Sources of synonymy English is a language that is very rich in synonyms. 158-159) examples of double and triple scales of synonymy include: Native swine ox calf body ghost friendship help ship world room end ask answer buy Native player wire bodily heartly brotherly learned happy French pork beef veal corpse spirit amity aid vessel universe chamber finish request reply purchase Latin/Greek actor telegram corporeal cordial fraternal erudite fortunate .5. while in the scientific jargon. The main reason for the abundance of synonymous words is connected with the history of the language. Hulban’s (1975. When described.

“king-stool” has been substituted for “throne”. “kist” and “kirk” in Scottish English. especially in the case of abstract notions. Thus. Saxonists failed with such words as “wheelman”. “book-hoard” for “library”. another source of synonymy in English. Thus. Many of these are at present used only in dialectal speech. The existence of ideographic and stylistic synonyms of the kind discussed in the previous sections prove that the geographical and stylistic varieties of English are a rich source of synonymy. “charm”.) treasure (Fr.) assent (Fr. not all attempts that linguists in favour of preserving the native stock of English made to replace neologisms have been successful.) assertive (L. “vocabulary” and “omnibus”. Neologisms often lead to synonymy. “leechcraft” and “leechdom” for medicine.) cherish (Fr. “seamer” for “tailor”. is represented by archaisms. synonymic series may be detected that are formed only of words borrowed from French or Latin: pushing (Fr.) prize (Fr. shortened to “car”. “folk-wain” which had been meant to replace “cyclist”. “chest” and “church” in standard British English may be paired with “glamour”.hard Native strength time forerunner bond outstanding end ask solid French power age herald bail glorious finish question Latin energy epoch precursor security splendid conclude interrogate In literary language. to add to the examples of ideographic synonyms .) militant (L. “to betake” for “to deliver over” and “to occupy”. having been replaced in the common language by various synonyms. the two words eventually becoming synonyms: “automobile” is very frequently replaced by “motor-car”. An interesting phenomenon sometimes takes place in their case: the neologism is replaced by an earlier word which undergoes transfer of meaning.) Besides borrowings.) agree (Fr.) consent (Fr. However. as Hulban (1975: 159) illustrates. seen from a diachronic perspective. “word-hoard”.

“heart attack” and “headache” belong to the everyday language. neither A nor B: “neither friend nor foe”. The belonging of words to various styles in the language may lead to synonymy as well. “bug”. I’ll take it”. “friend” and “bad luck”. “sweet” and “maize” as synonyms of the American words “fall”. “short – vertically challenged”. while its synonym “pants” is colloquial. “insect”. Thus. The British words “autumn”. General characteristics of antonyms Antonymy is possible only if the words entering this semantic relationship share a common component of their senses.already given. As far as stylistic synonyms are concerned. “Good or bad. “morning”. while “deep” and “shallow” both refer to depth. “a matter of life and death”. “sterile – unfruitful”. “vale” and “doleful”. “trousers” is neutral. “truck”.2. “long” and “short” share the component “length”. etc. respectively. while their synonyms “eve”. are poetic. “candy” and “corn” respectively may enlarge the same category as may Cockney words and phrases such as “trap”. “tin”. “lorry”. For instance. 5.2.1. A or B: “wanted dead or alive”. 5. “We’ll she if she was right or wrong”. X is A and Y is B: “Youth is wild and age is tame” (Shakespeare) . A not B: “He was alive. “can”. “lazy” is the standard neutral word for which the colloquial “lazybones” may be substituted. “valley” and “sorrowful” are neutral. “pregnant – having a bun in the oven”. Antonymy Antonymy is the sense relation holding between words belonging to the same morphological class and having opposite meanings. “the long and the short of it”. it is already obvious that euphemisms are another important source of synonymy as in the pairs of words: “illiterate – uneducated”. while their synonyms “myocardial infarct” and “cephalalgia” are medical technical terms. “evening”. “morn”. Antonyms are found in certain typical configurations in English: A and B: “Young and old were present at the meeting”. “chap” or “ill speed” together with their standard English synonyms “sailor”. not dead as they thought”. “old” and “young” share the component “age”. “chaotic – unformed”.

They are not beautiful: they are only decorated. while “sharp” may be considered its antonym when it means “unable to cut”. if “even” refers to numbers and means “devisible by two”. Antonyms appear in a great number of idioms (“to make neither head nor tail of something”. its antonym is “odd”. They are not even vicious: they are only frail. They also have different antonyms according to their different senses. “to see something in black and white”) and proverbs (“What soberness conceals. ploysemantic words may have a number of antonyms for some of their meanings and none for others. if it refers to character or mood and means “calm”. In the latter. drunkness reveals”.B. it enters an antonymic relationship with “interesting”. In the former. the antonymic associations are not revealed through the semantic features of the words used. They are not loyal: they are . They are not virtuous: they are only cowardly. age. They are not dignified: they are only fashionably dresses. I have previously mentioned that polysemantic words have a synonymic series for each of their meanings. contrast is established by using quite predictable antonyms. They are not artistic: they are only lascivious. Thus. and anticlimax. but rather thorough the innovative context in which they are used: (1) “Youth. irony. They are not clean: they are only shaved and starched. “What is done cannot be undone”. forgives itself nothing. for its meaning “dull”. is forgiven nothing”. Thus. among which there are oxymoron. (2) “Your friends are the dullest dogs I know. which is forgiven everything. Shaw’s writings. which forgives itself everything. They are not moral: they are only conventional. “criticism” in the meaning of “blame” has the antonyms “praise”. “One man’s loss is another man’s gain”) . as well as in several figures of speech extensively used in literature. Hulban (1975: 169 – 170) quotes two excerpts selected from G. antithesis is the one that relies most heavily on antonymic relationships. Of the last.Another context in which antonyms are typically employed is when reference is made to a change of state as in “The exhibition opens at nine and closes at noon” or “The poet was born in 1924 and died in 1991”. They are not prosperous: they are only rich. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. “A small leak will sink a great ship”. while in the meaning of “writing critical essays” it has no opposite meaning correspondent. however. its antonym is “agitated”. On the other hand. They are not educated: they are only college passmen. “approval”.

not social. If the two previous questions had been “How young are you?” and “How short is the way to the museum?”. only quarrelsome. not courageous. The assertion containing one of the gradable antonyms in a pair implies the negation of the other. “The tree is less tall than the building”. . one of the terms is unmarked. “fast – slow”.” 5. not kind. the speaker/writer does not prejudge anything whereas. only polite. not self-respecting. Furthermore. only obtuse. ungradable or contradictory antonyms and converses. only vain. The water is not hot does not necessarily imply The water is cold. too detailed to be reproduced in a book on general lexicology): gradable antonyms. The negation of one term does not necessarily imply the assertion of the other. As their name suggests.” In a pair of gradable antonyms. the semantic relationship between gradable antonyms is not of the “either – or” type. however. to the very backbone of their souls. they are.2. “wide – narrow”. a) the class of gradable antonyms includes pairs of words such as: “beautiful – ugly”. not determined. The “more – less” relationship is made obvious by a number of characteristic features of gradable antonyms. the negation The water is not hot does follow. from The water is cold. not considerate. only domineering. we may speak about three major classes of antonyms (finer subclassifications are made by linguists such as Cruse (1986). certain presuppositions hold. not masterful.only servile. but rather of the “more – less” type. They represent the end-points of a continuum or a scale. Thus. only sentimental. But John is not good does not necessarily imply John is bad. Gradable antonymic adjectives may be modified by intensifying adverbs: “very good”. “extremely bad”. “ John is good implies John is not bad. Using a further example. not dutiful. rich – poor”. not self-controlled. The water is hot logically implies the negation The water is not cold. Types of antonyms If we refer to the type of oppositeness of meaning. When this is used. only obstinate. However. only gregarious. The unmarked member is the one that is normally expected as in “How old are you?” or “How long is the way to the museum?”. “extraordinarily beautiful”. while the other one is marked. not intelligent. as Lipka (2002: 164) exemplifies. but not always vice-versa. when the marked member is used. only opinionated… liars everyone of them. “increase – decrease”. “small – big”. They allow comparison: “My dress is longer than yours”. only sheepish.2.

“on – off”. the semantic relationship between the two members of an ungradable antonymic pair is of the “either – or” type. If the transaction is seen from the point of view of the person who gives up the goods in exchange for money. “to believe – to disbelieve”. “before – after”.the implications had been that the person asked about his/her age was young and the way to the museum was short. but not as some degree of these or as being more one than the other. the relation of oppositeness of meaning between them being established by means of negative (and positive) affixes which are added to the common root: “careful – careless”. c) the following are examples of converse antonyms (as quoted by Jackson and Amvela 2007: 116): “above – below”. if it is seen from the point of view of the person who receives the goods upon paying a sum of money for them. If certain behaviour is “permitted”.3. “Buy” and “sell” describe the same transaction. one member of the pair expresses the converse meaning of the other. i. with no options in between (in the case of adjectives. “remember – forget”. then it is not “on”. an animate being may be described as either “dead” or “alive”. we speak about “selling”. b) affixal antonyms are words having the same root. “give – receive”. “speak – listen”. “husband – wife”. b) the class of ungradable or contradictory antonyms comprise pairs such as “asleep – awake”. “behind – in front of”. if one “lost” a contest.e. If we take into consideration the form of the antonyms. 5. then it is not “forbidden”. “to entangle – to disentangle”. “true – false”. “buy – sell”. we may speak about root and affixal antonyms. “dead – alive”. “important – unimportant”. if a switch is “off”. “shut – open”. “permit – forbid”. this is proven by the fact that they do not allow degrees of comparison). The meanings of the two antonyms are like the two sides of the same coin. then one has not “won” it. we speak about “buying”. “kind – cruel”. the difference lying in the vantage point from which it is viewed. a) root or radical antonyms are different lexical units with opposite meanings: “warm – cold”. “win – lose”. Unlike in the case of gradable antonyms. “open – shut”. the assertion of one member always implies the negation of the other. Thus. “parent – child”. Hyponymy and meronymy .

the second is merely a more specific way of designating the location of the pain. This is the relation of hyponymy.). the two pairs of words mentioned illustrate slight differences in this relationship. the relationship is of the “kind of” type – a spaniel is a kind of dog. Similarly.” Both “dog” and “spaniel” and “foot” and “toe” are related to each other by a general – specific type of semantic relationship. for example.This section is dedicated to a pair of sense relations that relate words hierarchically. as Jackson and Amvela (2007: 118) point out. but “spaniel” is a more specific designation than “dog” and may be employed to refer to breeds other than the spaniels. kept as pets or for guarding buildings. Thus. which. Its starting point is the fact that some words have a more general meaning. however. etc. “dog” and “spaniel” may be both used to refer to the same creature. However. “a pain in the foot and a pain in the toe may refer to the same phenomenon. Mc Arthur (1981) exemplifies the semantic relation of hyponymy with a simplified variant of the taxonomies of natural phenomena. The more general term that can be used for a number of more specific terms is the superordinate term. while they refer to the same entity. reproduced by Jacskon and Amvela (20027: 118): plant fungus lichen shrub creeper tree mushroom deciduous toadstool ivy bindweed conifer pine spruce oak ash . share with them a number of essential features (they are four legged omnivorous animals. while its directly subordinate terms are its hyponyms. while others have a more specific meaning. In the case of “dog” and “spaniel”.

Most of the objects around us are made of parts that have their own names. In the case of “foot” and “toe”. while “tree” is the more general term for the more specific “conifer” and “deciduous”. “flower” and “shoot” are meronyms of “plant”. In their turn. there are “pine” and “spruce” as hyponyms of “conifer” and “oak” and “ash” as hyponyms of “deciduous”. “leaf”. “creeper” and “tree” are the hyponyms of “plant”.According to this branched scheme. the relationship is of the “part of” type – the toe is part of the foot. If there is a direct connection between terms at lower levels of the scheme and terms at upper levels. “fungus”. “creeper” is the superordinate of “ivy” and “bindweed”. Jackson and Amvela (2007: 120) illustrate it schematically. . the former may be considered hyponyms of the latter even if they are more than one level apart: for example. One more level up. Cruse (1986) calls it meronymy. At the bottom level of the scheme. “bud”. “root”. “lichen”. as are “cap” and “hair” to “root” and “stalk” and “blade” to “leaf”. “stem”. under the form of a hierarchy of superordinate and subordinate (meronym) terms: plant leaf flower shoot bud stem root stalk blade cap hair petal stamen Read from the bottom to the top. “oak” and “ash” are hyponyms of “tree”. Part – whole relationships like the one that has just been mentioned exist between numerous words in the English vocabulary. “shrub”. the parts of a day are the dawn. all but one of them may function as the superordinate terms of other hyponyms: “fungus” is the superordinate of “mushroom” and “toadstool”. what this hierarchical model suggests is that “petal” and “stem” are meronyms of “flower”. A knife is made of a blade and a handle. “pine” and “spruce” are hyponyms of “plant”.

1. (www.com. while the head. sir. homonyms may be one of the following: a) perfect homonyms or homonyms proper. b) homophones. but differ in pronunciation: “wound [wu:nd] – wound [waund]”. is a relation of lexical ambiguity between words having different meanings.macmillandictionary. 5.4. “buy – bye . Waiter. the trunk and the limbs constitute the human body. These are words that have the same spelling. Homonymy Homonymy. sometimes.com) .4. These are words that have the same pronunciation. “I – eye”. These are words identical in both spelling and pronunciation: “light (adjective) – light (noun)”. The big father tomato walks back to the baby tomato. even for proficient speakers of it: Why did the teacher wear sunglasses? Her students were too bright. reproduced by Katamba (2005: 122) Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case (www. 5. the afternoon and the evening. stomps on her. “lead [led] – lead [li:d]”. the noon. squashing her into a red paste. will the pancakes be long? No. round. homonyms are a rich source of humour. “bow [b∂u] – bow [bau]”. and says ‘Ketchup!’” (www. or. as Katamba (2005: 122) sees it.by” c) homographs. but differ in spelling: “air – heir”. They are as well a source of confusion for users of English who do not master the language and.firstschoolyears. As the examples below demonstrate. it is “a situation where one orthographic or spoken form represents more than one vocabulary item”. Types of homonyms If their pronunciation and spelling are taken into consideration.com) A family of three tomatoes was walking downtown one day when the little baby tomato started lagging behind.ahajokes.the morning. a pervasive phenomenon in English.

Sources of homonymy There are three major phenomena which account for the existence of so many homonyms in English: phonetic convergence.) comes from the Old English (OE) “beran”. b) grammatical homonyms are homonyms which belong to different grammatical classes and have different lexical meanings: the noun “bear” referring to a particular kind of large wild animal with thick fur and the verb “bear” meaning inability to accept or to do something. Thus. meaning “a . it is the homophones “catch up” and “ketchup” that produce a hilarious effect. The adjective “fair” has a Common Teutonic etymon which gave in OE “fæger”. while the noun “bear” (There’s a big bear behind that tree. respectively. blond” (My sister is a fair woman. 5. while in the last quotation. the verb “bear” (I can’t bear to be talked to so impolitely. Not to mention that a person with an imaginative mind and the sense of humour might as well see the criminal squeezed in a violin box for nine months. whether the drunkard was sentenced for a crime connected to the violin’s box or to the violin itself. meaning “beautiful.2.). semantic divergence and conversion. between “long” referring to time in the phrase “to be long” and “long” referring to shape.4.) comes from the OE “bera”. due to the homographic relationship between “case” meaning a legal matter presented before a court and “case” meaning container. According to the type of meaning that helps to differentiate words that have the same sound and/or form.In the first two sentences. the noun “fair”. humour arises from the homonymy between “bright” meaning “intelligent” and “bright” meaning “full of light” and. a headline from a newspaper. extension in space. c) lexical . These changes have been frequently accompanied by the loss of inflections. it is not clear. homonyms may be grouped in three categories: a) lexical homonyms are homonyms which belong to the same grammatical class and have different lexical meanings: the noun “seal” meaning a kind of sea animal and the nouns “seal” meaning the special mark put on documents to prove that they are authentic. words that can be traced back to different etymons and that have come to be identical in form as a result of sound changes. at a quick reading. Phonetic convergence or convergent sound development lies at the basis of etymological homonyms. In the paragraph cited by Katamba. “played” as the past tense of the verb “to play” and “played” as the past participle of the same verb.grammatical homonyms are homonyms which differ in grammatical meaning only: “that” as a demonstrative noun and “that” as a demonstrative adjective.

the two words were officially differentiated.periodical market sometimes with various kinds of entertainment” (There’s a fair in the village every two weeks. in polysemy. In France. mortal” (The criminal received the capital punishment for his deeds. Millers of the era were still using a crude process to grind and sift the meal and only the finest meal was able to pass through a cloth sieve. has given in English the homonymous adjectives “capital” (1) meaning “relating to the head”. free from error” (This is a sound statement. upper case” (Names of countries are spelt with capital letters. Around the 1830’s. This top quality wheat was reserved for the gentry and the royalty and was known as “the flower of the wheat”. the word became variously “flur”. During the Elizabethan period. the word was often spelled “flour”. the Latin “florem”.). the term “flower” came to mean “the best”. the process by which one lexical item changes its morphological class without changing its form. when referring to letters or words and “chief. for instance. The Latin etymon “capitalia”. important. having bodily health” (He looked perfectly sound after he had taken those medicines. Hulban (1975: 175) quotes a number of examples of semantic homonyms.) comes from the Old French (OFr) “feire”. The pairs “ship” (noun) meaning “large boat for longer voyages on the sea” and “ship” (verb) meaning to “send goods or people by ship” and “answer” (noun) meaning “a spoken or written reply to a question” and “answer” (verb) meaning “to give s spoken or written reply to a question” are examples of homonyms obtained by conversion. “punishable by death”. “flour” and “flor” and passed into English as “flur”.) in other contexts. “deadly. Conversion. Since. accounts for a great number of homonyms. meaning “holiday”. The cause of this phenomenon in English is found.) and “sound” (2) meaning “in accordance with fact.) . infirmity. which is itself a transformed variant of the Latin “feria”. English used to be pretty flexible in spelling. Semantic homonyms have the same etymon and are the result of a process by which some meanings of polysemantic words have deviated so far from each other that they have gained an existence as completely separate words. Semantic divergence or disintegration/split of polysemy leads to semantic homonyms. reason. during that period. the blossom of a plant. as one of its names suggests.) and “capital” (2) meaning “standing at the head. The OE “gesund” gave “sound” (1) meaning “free of disease. . good sense. first-rate” (This capital error will make you lose much money. Another example that may be added to those offered by Hulban (1975) is that of “flower” and “flour” which were originally one word.

in which you write” – “Tick the boxes that apply to you. the number of meanings ranging from three to about one hundred. All the other meanings one can find in a present-day dictionary are later additions and. (3) “a small enclosed space with seats in a theatre or sports ground . “ontology”). (1a) “the things in a box or the amount that a box contains” – “Jim gave us some chocolate and we ate the whole box. the primary meaning of the word “table” is “flat slab of stone or wood”. for example. secondary meanings: “a piece of furniture that consists of a flat surface held above the floor”. Thus. BrE for “a hard cover worn by men to protect their sex organs when playing sports” – “Footballers always wear a box when playing. polysemantic words are words which have more than one meaning. (4) BrE informal for “television” – “Is there anything on the box tonight?”. when it was borrowed from Latin. Polysemy Though not a sense relation between words. the more meanings it has. therefore. a flat base. (6) “a tree with small shiny leaves that people grow especially around the edges of their gardens” – “a box hedge”. and sometimes a lid” – “Read the instructions before taking it out of its box. “the people sitting . corresponding to the OE period. (2a) “a space on a computer screen . Polysemy may be approached diachronically and synchronically. Unlike momosemantic words which have only one meaning (very few in English and mainly technical or scientific words such as “saline”. polysemy may be introduced here as well in order to later emphasize its connection with homonymy. we speak about primary meaning. the meaning(s) that appeared after the primary one. (5) “an address that some people use instead of having letters delivered to their houses” – “My PO Box address is…”. “dioxide”. usually be legs”.6. the meaning of the word when it first appeared in the language. polysemy may be considered a change in the semantic structure of a word.”. and secondary meaning(s). The noun “box”. informal for “coffin for a dead body” – “The coffin was lowered into the grave. separate from where the rest of the audience is sitting” – “a corporate entertainment box”.”. The commomer the word. where you can read or write a particular kind of information” – “the dialog/error box”. From a diachronic point of view.”.”.” Most English words are polysemantic. Diachronically. resulting in new meanings being added to the one or ones already existing. is glossed in the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners (2002) with the following meanings: (1) “a container with straight sides. (2) “a space on a printed form.

7. i. coming from the OE “ear”. and homonymy. From a synchronic point of view. the most widely used and the most general meaning. Polysemy and homonymy Difficulties arise when having to distinguish between polysemy.e. “a way of showing detailed pieces of information. in “He got undressed behind the screen”. as I have already mentioned. especially facts or numbers. there was a screen of trees”. in the last resort. since they have. two separate words with the same form and unrelated meanings. described through its similarity with another object.e. All the other meanings are marginal. the powder made by crashing grain. “the distinction between homonymy and multiple meaning is. The other meanings are minor or marginal meanings. In “He was using his business as a screen for crime”. at the same time. This is the case of the pair “ear” meaning “organ of hearing” and coming from the OE “eare” and “ear” meaning “the part at the top of a cereal plant which contains the grains”. the direct meaning of the word “screen” is involved (“a movable piece of furniture used to protect or hide something or somebody”). Words with different etymons that coincide phonetically only accidentally are considered homonyms. The meaning having the highest frequency is usually representative of the semantic structure of the word and is considered the central or basic meaning. Though. there are three criteria that may constitute the staring point in drawing a demarcation line between the two: etymology. indeterminate and arbitrary”. a single word with two senses. polysemy represents the co-existence of various meanings of the same word at a certain moment in the development of the language. One of these is the etymology of the words. formal identity or distinctness and close semantic relatedness. according to Lyons (1968: 406). Synchronically then. between one word with several meanings. we would have to consider “flower” as part of a plant and “flour”. a . “I could not see anything because of the thick smoke screen” and “Behind her house. by arranging them in rows and lines across and down a page”. the meanings of a polysemantic word may be split into direct and figurative meanings.at a table”. It is used figuratively when the referent is named and. A word is used in its direct meaning when it clearly nominates the referent out of a particular context. the central meaning of “table” is “a piece of furniture”. it is the figurative meaning of “screen” that is employed – something (anything) that protects and hides. Following this argument. If approached synchronically. For example. i.

“grammar – glamour”. is concerned. “man” is a polysemantic word with senses (1) and (2) and a homonym of “man” (3). For them. since they both derive from the Latin “portus”. However. On the other hand. should. The second criterion is that of formal identity or distinctness of the words. only that the latter entered English via the Portuguese “Oporto”. noun. but different meanings will lead to their being considered separate homonymous lexemes. “catch – chase” which would rather be viewed as separate words. “can” (2) and “can” (3) because we have a modal auxiliary in one case. but not “man” (3) meaning “to furnish with man”. speak about complete homonymy only in the case of spoken. the name of the town where the wine used to be produced. close semantic relatedness. Consequently. a noun in the second and a transitive verb with the meaning “put into a can” in the third case”. meaning “a specially shaped stick for kicking the ball in cricket” and “bat” (2). Lyons (1977: 550) points out that “port” meaning “harbour” and “port” meaning “fortified wine”. As Lipka (2002: 156) exemplifies. the distinction between homograhy and homophony is not always made and “homonymy” is used in its wider sense to cover them as well. be treated as one polysemantic word. which are most probably considered separate words by the majority of the speakers of English. “we can clearly distinguish between “can” (1). Within the . Hansen et al (1985).common etymon. the conclusion might be drawn that etymology is not always a useful and reliable criterion for distinguishing between polysemy and homonymy. the lexeme “man” contains the lexical units “man” (1) meaning “human being. different morphological and syntactic characteristics of two words with the same form. Hansen et al (1985) suggest that we should opt for polysemy in two cases: when there is a semantic relation of inclusion or hyponymy between the two words under discussion or when semantic transfer under the form of metaphor or metonymy has been made between them. namely the Latin word “florem”. Based on the last two examples and on other pairs of etymologically related words such as “person – parson”. “bat” (1). in general” and “man” (2) meaning “adult male human being”. the identical form “bat” clearly has two different meanings and can be assigned to two separate lexemes. quoted by Lipka (2002). according to the etymology principle. for them. noun. As far as the third criterion. written and grammatical identity of two words. distinctions in spelling or pronunciation that lead to homographs or homophones cancel homonymy. Thus. meaning “a flying mouse-like animal”. Thus. “shirt – skirt”.

1. Causes of semantic change There are a number of reasons due to which the meanings of words do not remain stable in time. it referred to the school . Industrial developments influenced its meaning and extended the reference of the word to factory . They may be grouped in two major categories: extra-linguistic and linguistic causes.1.lexeme “fox”. 8. 8. the metaphoric “fox” (2) meaning “person as sly as a fox” and the metonymic “fox” (3) meaning “the fur of the fox”. “fox” may be said to be a polysemantic word. Some of the present-day names of institutions are the result of change of meaning of older words. their grammatical and phonetic features might change as might their meaning. Some words are added while others disappear. It is the last of these phenomena that the discussion in this subchapter focuses on. The noun “mill” was initially used for a building with machinery for grinding corn. When the word was borrowed in the 15 th century. Transfer of meaning having taken place between “fox” (1) and “fox” (2) and (3) as illustrated above. Extra-linguistic causes of semantic change Extra-linguistic causes leading to change of meaning are determined by the close connection between language and the evolution of human society. Being the most dynamic and flexible part of a language. Two centuries later. Thus. it was used as the name of a garden near Athens where Plato used to teach. its vocabulary is continuously changing. the word has come to also refer to the small electric lamp that runs on batteries and serve the same purpose in modern times. lit and held in hand in order to make light. we can distinguish “fox” (1) meaning “wild animal”.any kind of building with equipment for manufacturing processes (we now have saw/cotton/silk/paper mills).1. With the advance of technology. 8. “torch” was used in Middle English (ME) to designate a piece of cloth damped in oil. Hulban (1975) quotes the term “academy” in this respect. Semantic change In the evolution of a language. due to the evolution of culture and society. vocabulary reacts to almost every change in the outer reality it helps to picture.

In the synonymic series “to catch – to grasp – to get”. which was later transferred to the verbs “to grasp” and “to get”. Later on. “baby” is used for “girl” or “sweetheart”. Analogy occurs when one member of a synonymic series acquires a new meaning and this new meaning is extended to the other elements in the series as well. the word “country” was borrowed from French and it became a . whose general meaning is “compartment”. the first verb acquired the meaning “to understand”. has come to be used with the meaning of the initial phrase – “an event or period of time during which a shop reduces the prices of some of its goods”. “a bag” is an ugly woman or an objectionable unpleasant person. As Hulban (1975) exemplifies. Ellipsis consists of the omission of one part of a phrase. Quite frequently. “the space between the nerves of the wings of insects” in entomology and “a vessel containing one pair of plates immersed in fluid to form a battery” in electricity.system of Plato. taboo and euphemisms in language. factors acting within the language system such as ellipsis. One of them is the need for specialized terms in each branch of science that deals with specific phenomena and concepts. analogy. Linguistic causes of semantic change The extra-linguistic causes responsible for semantic change go hand in hand with the linguistic ones. the word “cell”. In OE. “the bread basket” is the “stomach”. “to lamp” means “to hit”. the remaining part takes on the meaning of the whole: “sale”. “gear” refers to “illicit drugs” and “choice” is used as an adjective meaning “best. One way of achieving expressive effects in everyday language is through the use of slang words. The last two have already been discussed. obtained by ellipsis from “cut-price sale”. while. discrimination of synonyms and borrowings. “land” meant both “solid part of the earth’s surface” and “territory of a nation”. has come to mean “the space between the ribs of a vaulted roof” in architecture. The discrimination of synonyms is the result of the evolution of the meanings of certain synonyms. “to rabbit” is used for “to talk unceasingly”. excellent”.1. in ME. it has been used to designate an institution for the promotion of art or science. 8. Two other important reasons that have lead to changes in the meanings of certain lexical items are the need of expressiveness. In slang. Social causes display a large variety of forms. beginning with the end of the 17 th century.2.

it means both “a daily newspaper” and “any periodical publication containing news in any particular sphere”. The word “journal” originally meant. “Mare”. however. under the pressure of the borrowed words “beast”. several abstract meanings have evolved and are recognized today: “one of the portions into which a family or race is divided”. it bears connotations of mystery. By it. “a male servant in charge of the wine cellar” was later extended to “a male servant in charge of the household”. while “land” remained to be used in everyday language for “solid part of the earth’s surface” (when “land” is used to refer to an area with recognized political borders. narrowing. “country” restricted its meaning to “territory of a nation”. b) Narrowing or restriction of meaning is the process opposite to extension. Through extension of meaning. it restricted its meaning to “a large brown wild animal with long thin legs”. narrowing goes hand in hand with specialization of meaning. Likewise.synonym of “land”. Results of semantic change The main directions in which the meaning of words may change are extension.2. “Branch”. was used with the meaning “a portion or limb of a tree or other plant”. its specialized meaning in the common language being “dog used by hunters for chasing the game”. 8. for example. Nowadays. “creature”. degradation and elevation (some of which have already been hinted at in the previous section). when. any kind of dog was considered “a hound”. for example. “Deer” used to mean “animal” up to ME. Very frequently. In short time. emotion or obsolescence). “animal”. a) Extension or widening of meaning is the process by which the sense(s) of a word is/are enlarged or enriched. The early meaning of “butler”. Borrowings from other languages may also lead to semantic changes. “a component portion of an organization or system”. a word with a wider meaning acquires a narrower meaning that comes to be applied to some of its previous referents only. at present. Extension of meaning may sometimes involve the evolution of a word from concrete to abstract. “Fowl” is . From this initial meaning. “a daily record of transactions or events”. as Hulban explains (1975: 117). “a part of a particular area of study or knowledge”. meant “horse” up the moment in the evolution of English when its meaning was restricted to the female horse only. “hound” is used as such only poetically or archaically.

is very clear in the case of trade names that originated in common nouns: “Sunbeam”. conservative. d) Elevation of meaning is the reverse of degradation. the word referring to them suffered an elevation of meaning. “a monkey” or “an ape” is one that “plays the ape. which meant “complaint”. Later. besides the animal itself. leading to hostile feelings”. implying the process by which a newly evolved meaning of a word acquires a “higher” status as compared to the initial one. designating a ministrel-poet. the fomer still being preserved.another example of narrowing of meaning. From the initial meaning. accompanying narrowing. metaphors that implicitly compare humans with animals. but later on. it . a mimic”. a new deregotary one evolved. It initially meant “boy” and later lost this meaning in favour of “dishonest man”. “A fox” is a cunning person. Analogy plays an important role in the process of degradation of meaning. good reputation”. “of or belonging to the suburbs of the town”. “Knave” underwent the same process. Hulban (1975: 121) quotes the word “piquant” as an example of elevation of meaning. originally meant “rumour”. “suburban” is used not only for what is not “in the city”. The former case may be illustrated by means of the word “quarrel”. First. “that pierces or stings. Specialization of meaning. which some people consider rather boring. as Hulban (1975: 120) indicates. severe. a rapture of friendly relations”. it came to mean “a ground or occasion of complaint against a person. for example. quite obvious in Shakespeare himself having been called “The Bard”. The meaning of the word degraded even further from this and reached the point of “a violent contention or altercation between persons. keen. while now. “Bard” was initially a term of contempt. bitter”. c) Degradation of meaning or pejorative development is the process by which a neutral word either loses its original meaning completely and acquires a new. but also for “typical of the attitudes and way of life of people who live in the suburbs. Today. By a first semantic change. Thus. involving inferior manners and narrower views”. From the initial meaning. “Thunderbird”. it is only the domestic birds that are called “fowls”. “Fame”. It was used to refer to any kind of bird. “Caterpillar”. became “celebrity. This is very obvious in the following examples of zoosemy. an imitator. a “sheep” is “a poor-spirited. or it preserves it and develops a new pejorative meaning in addition. derogatory one. The word “suburban” is illustrative of the latter case. when ministrels started to be idealized. it has passed through two stages of elevation. stupid or timid person”.

sharp. In other words. according to the kind of association that is made. i.3. pleasantly stimulating” (both of these elevated meanings are in use today). The etymological doublet of “to blame”. meaning “to find fault with”. namely the Greek word for “blaspheme”. whose origin is the OE “daeges aege” (“the day’s eye”) and “wind”. narrowing.e. biting. conscious creations used by writers as stylistic devices are of less interest here. 8. transfer of meaning is not a gradual process. on the condition of being in contact. Transfer of meaning Many of the cases of extension and narrowing of meaning mentioned in the previous section are based on transfer of meaning. based on an alleged resemblance between them. elevation and degradation. Unlike extension. They are usually considered “dead” metaphors and include examples such as “daisy”. There are two main types of such transfer. stinging. two sub-categories of linguistic metaphors will be discussed in more detail. Hulban (1975: 122) supports this claim by the example of the verb “to blame”. “to blaspheme”.1. but rather the result of a sudden change from one field to another on a particular occasion of use (both metaphors and metonymies may be one-time only creations in language). Instead. in proximity. coming from the OE “windes aege” (“the wind’s . Metaphor The generally accepted definition of metaphor is that indicating that its essence is “understanding and experiencing one kind of things in terms of another” (Lakoff. A weakening in the original force of the word can be sensed if we consider its etymon. lead to metonymy. to calumniate”. the live metaphors. There are several types of metaphor. In some cases. 8. One of these sub-categories is that of standardized lexical metaphors in whose case the idea of similarity is lost. Associations based on similarity lead to metaphor. elevation of meaning is partial only. appetizing” and then. Johnson 1980: 5). Of them.acquired the meaning “agreeable pungent of taste. in a broad sense. that of “that stimulates or excites keen interest or curiosity. meaning “to talk profanely. while those based on contiguity.3. metaphor involves an implicit comparison of two entities. to speak evil of.. is much stronger. This implicit comparison is contained in the meaning of a word or phrase that has come to be different from its original meaning.

3. “the foot of the hill”. This association is not a mental process that links two independent entities. “lions”. “brilliant idea”. “to enlighten”. involving the transfer of meaning from the human body and its parts to inanimate objects: “the mouth of the river”.eye”). who quote examples from Kovecses (1986) and Lakoff and Johnson (1980)): . “ball-point-pen”. involving the transposition from one sense to another: “cold voice”. “piercing sounds”. “the mouth of the river”. animal metaphors: “dog’s tail” (a plant). “shortcircuit”. but one that brings together entities which are in a certain proximity or contact. Metonymy Metonymy consists of the use of the name of one thing for that of something else. they may grouped into: anthropomorphic metaphors. The other sub-category includes the “degrading” or “fading” metaphors in whose case the idea of similarity is till evident. similarity of colour: “red-admiral”. similarity of destination or purpose: “blood bank”. 8. “blue-wing”. “headstone”. short-dated”. Ulmann (1970) offers another classification of degrading linguistic metaphors. As Hulban points out (1975: 126). “doves” or “donkeys”. According to him. like in the case of metaphor. metaphors that translate abstract experiences into concrete terms: “to throw light on”. Day. Jordan (1999). “the heart of the matter”. similarity of position: “head-word”. “sweet dreams”. “data bank”. shortcoming”. the following types of associations are possible (partly as indicated by Loos. space and duration in time: “long run”. “the lungs of the town”. “loud colours”.2. “long-lived”. physical sensations: “cold war”. People can also be called “foxes”. “warm congratulations”. According to the type of relationship established between the two elements in a metonymy. “blue-bell”. such metaphors may rely on: similarity of shape: “the head of the pin”. with which it is usually associated. synaesthetic metaphors. “cat-o’-the-nine-tails”. “bitter remark”.


the use of the symbol for the thing symbolized: “From the cradle to the grave, one has always something new to learn”, “The Crown visited the soldiers on the battle field.”;


the use of the material an object is made of for the object itself: “iron”, “glass”; the use of the holder for the thing held: “ The gallery applauded.,“He is fond of the bottle., “You should save your pocket if you want to buy a new computer.”; the use of the maker’s name for the object made: “I like the Rembrand on that wall.”, “Put that Dickens away and listen to me.”, “I hate reading Heidegger.”, “He bought a Ford.”;


the use of the place name where the object is or was originally made for the object itself: “At dinner, they served the soup in their best china.”; the use of the instrument for the agent: “They answered the door/phone.”, “The sax has the flu today.”, “The gun he hired wanted 50 grants.”; the use of the concrete for the abstract and of the abstract for the concrete: “They dedicated their pens to a just cause.”, “He is of noble blood.”; “The leadership took action against thefts.”;


the use of the name of an organization or an institution for the people who make a decision or work there: “Exxon has raised its prices again.”, “The Senate thinks abortion is immoral.”;


the use of the place name where an event was recorded for the event itself: “Do you remember the Alamo?”, “Pearl Harbour still has an effect on America’s foreign policy.”;


the use of a place name where an institution is located for the institution itself: “The White House voted against entering war.”, “Wall Street has been in panic these days.”;


the reference to the behaviour of a person experiencing a particular emotion for the emotion itself: “She gave him a tongue-lashing.”, “I really chewed him out good.”;


the use of the part for the whole (also called synecdoche) and of the whole for the part: “They hired ten new hands.”, “We don’t accept longhairs here.”, “She is wearing a fine fox.”

V. MULTI-WORD UNITS IN ENGLISH In the previous chapter, meaning relations between words have been approached from a paradigmatic point of view. That is, the focus lied on words as alternative items in some contexts. In this chapter, emphasis is placed on syntagmatic sense relations, that is, on the “meaning relations that a word contracts with other words occurring in the same sentence or text” (Jackson and Amvela 2007: 131). What is highlighted is meaning arising from co-occurrence, more specifically, from predictable co-occurrence, manifested in what is known as multi-word units of the language. Multi-word units or fixed expressions form a class which covers a wide range of lexical items. What these items have in common is that they are often used as full units by native speakers of English, with varying degrees of change sometimes allowed, sometimes not. “They appear to be learnable only as complete chunks of lexical – semantic – syntagmatic matter as they are seldom reducible to their component parts” (Alexander 1989: 16). The two major sub-classes of fixed expressions are collocations and idioms, to which phrasal verbs, binominals, trinominals and proverbs are added as minor members of the category. 1. Collocations 1.1. Definition Collocations are groups of words that co-occur in a language in a way that sounds natural to a native speaker. They are connected to “the mutual expectancy of words, or the ability of a word to predict the likelihood of another word occurring” (Jackson and Amvela 2007: 106). In English, the presence of the verb “to flex”, for example, signals the potential occurrence of the words “muscles”, “legs” or “arms” as its objects, the adjective “maiden” predicts a limited number of nouns, among which there are “voyage”, “flight” and “speech”, while “blond” or “brunette” are expected to go together with “hair”. Halliday and Hasan (1976) argue that collocations as meaning relations of predictable cooccurrence may be found across sentence boundaries. The example that Jackson and Amvela (2007: 131) give to support the former’s point of view is:
Would you mind filling the kettle and switching it on?

I need boiling water for the vegetables.

Here, “fill” and “switch on” collocate directly with “kettle” in a “verb + object” structure, but “boil”, while collocating directly with “water” in an “adjective + noun” structure, also collocate across the sentence boundary with “kettle”, though less directly. 1.2. Characteristics and classification The elements of a collocation are the node, i.e., the lexical item that is being studied and the collocate(s), i.e. the lexeme(s) that co-occur with the node. “Each successive word in a text is both node and collocate, though never at the same time”, Sinclair (1991: 115) posits. When a is a node and b is a collocate, Sinclair speaks about downward collocations, the collocations of a with some less frequent bs. On the other hand, when b is a node and a is collocate, the linguist speaks about upward collocations. He illustrates this distinction with an analysis of the collocational pattern of “back”. Thus, according to him, its upward collocates may be: Prepositions / adverbs / conjunctions: “at”, “from”, “into”, “now”, “on”, “then”, “to”, “up”, “when”; Personal pronouns: “her”, “him”, “me”, “she”, “them”, “we”; Possessive pronouns: “her”, “his”, “my”; Verbs: “get”, “got”. Downward collocates of “back” include: Verbs: “arrive”, “bring”, “climb”, “come”, “cut”, “date”, “draw”, “drive”, “fall”, Fly”, “fling”, “hand”, “hold”, “lay”, “lean”, “pay”, “pull”, “run”, “rush”, “sink”, “sit”, “throw”, “trace”, “walk”, “wave”, etc; Prepositions: “along”, “behind”, “onto”, “past” “toward”; Adverbs: “again”, “forth”, “further”, “slowly”, “straight”; Adjective: “normal”; Nouns: “camp”, “flat”, “garden”, “home”, “hotel”, “office”, “road”, “village”, “yard” / “bed”, “chair”, “couch”, “door”, “sofa”, “wall”, “window” / “feet”, “forehead”, “hair”, “hand”, “head”, “neck”, “shoulder”, “car”, “seat” / “mind”, ‘sleep” / “kitchen”, “living room”, “porch”, “room”. The number of lexemes a node may have represents its range.

in the case of idioms. The restricted and the unrestricted collocations are discussed by Fernando (1996) in comparison with idioms. etc. “lard”. The comparison of collocations with idioms prompts another remark.e. a sub-category whose existence some linguists do not recognize. The salient feature of such collocations is that all their components show variance – restricted as in the semi-literal “explode a myth / theory / notion”. “Rancid”. unrestricted as in the semi-literal “catch a bus / plane / ferry. “catch the post / mail”. or in the literal “addled eggs / brains”. “potato / corn chips”. such as “fat”. When the node may combine with a limited number of collocates. woman”. cheeks”. etc. One example will suffice to illustrate this last sub-class: “anxious / worried / close / curious / strange / disapproving / meaningful / grim / pleading look”. or in the literal “smooth / plump / glowing / rosy. when a node can combine with a large number of collocates.”. some of which share characteristics with certain sub-classes of idioms. Fixed. “butter”. conventionally fixed in a specific order and lexical form. Idioms are a narrow range of word combinations. “run a business / company”. While. unique or frozen collocations occur when a node can combine with one collocate only. Finally. Somewhat lower on the scale of idiomaticity are the “habitual collocations” (Fernando’s term which encompasses both restricted and unrestricted collocations). one may speak about various types of collocations. rather represent a scale of different degrees of habitual co-occurrence of lexical items. “beautiful / lovely / sweet. viewed as “indivisible units whose components cannot be varied or can be varied only within definable units” (Fernando 1996: 30). although closely related. is illustrative for this type of collocations.If the range of a node is taken into consideration. which may modify nouns that refer to objects that contain fat. meaning is holistic. i. or having only a very limited number of variants. Idioms. This is the case of the adjective “auburn” which can collocate with the noun “hair” only. one speaks about unrestricted or multiple collocations. one speaks about restricted collocations. lie at the top of this scale. on the grounds that the semantic relationship between the node and its collocate(s) are too vague to help distinguish unrestricted collocations from free word groups. it belongs to the group of words forming the idiom as a whole and cannot be arrived at by adding the individual meanings of these words. the two are not identical. What she suggests is that. in the case of . etc. on the other hand. “lipstick”. Restricted and unrestricted collocations..

etc”. included in their BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English. “a phrase consisting of a dominant word (noun. etc. Chomsky’s (1991: 191) examples are helpful starting points in illustrating this definition. whose elements are joined in accordance with the general rules of English syntax and freely allow substitution. Besides considering the range of nodes. meaning ‘choose (to buy) a boat’ contains the collocation “decide on” (in his terminology. “aim at” etc. . *“account over a loss”. while advancing element by element of them. “fellowship with”. from the point of view of the linguistic rules that govern them. a loose association). collocate with each other. *”accuse (somebody) on a crime”. “blockade against”. The Bensons and Ilson (1991) describe eight major classes of grammatical collocations. it is the sum of the meanings of its components and it can be arrived at step by step. among others: “decide after lunch / before breakfast / at nine o’clock / at the meeting / on the spot / in the library / on the bus / with a heavy heart / immediately / quickly / reluctantly / happily / unhesitatingly. “accuse (somebody) of”. “agonize over”. “adapt to”. G2.collocations. “method for”. Such free combinations include. “blight on”. S/he would reject violations of collocability such as *”decide at a boat”. etc. i. into grammatical and lexical structures. verb) and a preposition or grammatical structure such as an infinitive or clause”. when it means ‘choose’. *”adapt towards new conditions”. “dig into”. when referring to making a choice of a boat. designated G1. Any native speaker of English would feel that the components of “decide on”. Combinations with the genitive preposition “of” and the agential preposition “by” are excluded from the group. His opinion is that “decide on a boat”. Benson and Ilson (1991: ix). The G1 class contains collocations which consist of “noun + preposition” combinations: “apathy towards”. “leadership in”. A grammatical collocation is. This is obvious in a collocation such as “to blink one’s eyes” as opposed to an idiom such as “to make eyes at somebody”. “prologue to”. “abstinence from”. collocations may be classified. “graduate in”. “cry for”. meaning is additive. is a collocation becomes even more evident when comparing it to the countless free combinations of “decide”. “epilogue to”. “inferiority to”. “hope for”. and of other fixed phrases such as “account for”. That “decide on a boat”. whereas “decide on a boat” meaning ‘taking a decision while embarked on a boat’ is a free combination (in his terminology. according to Benson.e. G3. “decide on” is a close construction). “sympathy for”. adjective.

“demanding of”. and constructions containing nouns preceded by a descriptive adjective of the kind “an interesting book to read”. mistake) to do it. “hopeful of”. “blind with”. “need to”. “it was by chance that we met”. if this clause is not a relative one (“that” should not be replaceable by “which”). The G5 pattern may be illustrated by: “afraid of”. “”in effect”. in which the infinitives may be replaced by relative clauses. “under oath”. “a place to eat”. Nouns that can be followed by a clause only when they are objects of a preposition are not included in the class.are not considered member of the class. “irate about”. “She is wearing a fur coat to impress her boyfriend” . “within limits”. 5. found in a number of typical syntactic patterns: 1. “literate in”.The G2 class comprises “noun + long infinitive” (or an –ing verb form) collocations such as “effort to”. “qualified for”. They made an attempt (a promise. 4. “decision that (the taxes will be cut)”. “peripheral to”. “They sold their house to cut down on expenses”. “without fail”. They felt a compulsion (an impulse. “efficient in”. “by mistake”. . He was a fool (an idiot) to do it. They had the foresight (instructions. “in/within sight”. the linguists include collocations made up of a noun and a that clause following it. Neither are phrases such as “a procedure to follow”. “genius to”. “right to”. “in need”. Examples of G3 collocations include: “agreement that (he should represent us in court)”. “at hand”. “careful about/of”. “it was with pride that he presented his findings”. The nouns that are followed by infinitives normally associated with the whole sentence rather than with the nouns itself. G4 collocations consist of “preposition + noun” combinations. “problem to”. “a way to do it”. 2. “rumour that (she was back to town)”. “chance that (she will win)”. “talented at/in”. “hunch that (they will not come)”. “on/off duty”. “a book to read”. “keen on”. Combinations of past participles of transitive verbs and the agential preposition “by” are excluded from this class. 3. a need) to do it. an obligation. “myth that (their army was invincible)”. “a difficult person to understand”. a vow) to do it. It was a struggle (pleasure. In the G3 group. “a clever thing to say”. G5 collocations are “adjective + preposition” collocations. “impulse to”. “soft on”. “frightened about/at/of”. “in confidence”. permission) to do it. Examples are: “by accident”. usually expressing purpose – ”They closed the window to keep the flies out”.

with deletion of to when both objects are nouns and when the direct object is a noun: he sent the book to his brother – he sent his brother the book and he sent the book to him – he sent him the book. “evil to (kill)”. “(it is) lucky that we got here before dark”.G6 collocations consist of adjectives followed by long infinitives. Of the G6 collocations. “promise”. “make”. which the Bensons and Ilson (1991) designated by the letters A to S. we have “they described the book to her”. “practical to (do that)”. “stimulating to (read Science fiction books)”. “Pattern A verbs allow the dative movement transformation. “explain”. “(it is) incredible that nobody pays attention to the dreadful news”. G8 collocations consist of nineteen verb patterns. “they mentioned the book to her”. “charming to (watch them)”. Adjectives preceded by “too” and followed by “enough” + a long infinitive (“it was too easy to give a simple answer”. The adjectives included in this class occur in two basic configurations with the infinitives: constructions with “dummy” it subjects of the type “it was necessary to work” and constructions with “real”. “dangerous to (play in the street)”. but not *”they described her the book”. Other verbs that may be part of G8A collocations are: “bring”. Benson and Ilson 1991: xiv). “it was embarrassing enough to tell the truth”) and past participles used in passive constructions and followed by long infinitives (“she was chosen to represent us”. though transitive like those in pattern A. do not allow the dative movement transformation. G7 collocations are built on the “adjective + that clause pattern” (many of the adjectives that occur in these collocations are found in G6 as well): “(she was) afraid that she will fail de examination”.e. Pattern B verbs. “they returned the book to her”. Thus. “mystified to (find her watch gone)”. “grant”. “irrational to (react in that manner)”. “(it is) remarkable that the streets are so clean after the festival”. “healthy to (walk in dump weather)”. allow the shift of an indirect object (usually human) to a position before the direct object. “the colonel was asked to lead the army on the battle field”) are not considered members of the G6 class. *”they . i. etc. both animate and inanimate subjects such as “she is ready to go” and “the machine was designed to operate under high pressure”. ” (Benson. “offer”. the following may be quoted: “advantageous to (wait)”. “frustrating to (work in a place like that)”. “outrageous to (permit such behaviour)”. “give”. “(it is) obvious that he is drunk”. “(it is) deplorable that such corruption exists”.

i. “scream at/for”.e. “promise”. are not part of the class. “need”. “peel”. “lead against/by/from”. “cook”. “offer”. “shout”. “introduce”. Free combinations such as “to walk in the park” and combinations of verbs and prepositional objects preceded by “by” or “with”. “hamper in”. “growl”. the deletion of the preposition and the movement of the indirect object (usually animate) before the direct object: “she bought a shirt for her husband – she bought her husband a shirt”. if these infinitives do not express purpose (they are nor replaceable by “in order to”): “begin”. Pattern E is illustrated by collocations formed of verbs followed by long infinitives. verbs form collocations with specific prepositions followed by objects. “improve in”. . Pattern F includes the small number of collocations formed by the modal verbs followed by short infinitives: “can”. “boil”. “join for/in/with”. “feature as”. “should”. “keep”. “capitulate to”. used with the preposition “for”. The verbal phrases “had/would better”. according to the authors of the BBI Combinatory Dictionary. “continue”. “fry”. etc. “want”. “turn into/off/to/towards”. “may”. “forget”. In pattern D. “swear”. “will”. “could”. etc. “scramble”. “grind”. “divulge”. “rehearse for”. The verbs that are normally used with an animate indirect object are assigned to class B – “we described the meeting to them”. “start”. the collocations are made up of verbs followed by gerunds. Many of the verbs that collocate with a direct and indirect object in the way just illustrated are “culinary verbs” such as “bake”. when they denote the means or the instrument by which the actions are performed. “had/would rather” also fit this pattern. Examples of pattern D verbs include: “brood about/over”. “drill for”. Examples of verbs that fit pattern B include: “babble”. “like”. “glow with”. “hope”. “open by/with”. “shall”. “point at/to”. grill”. etc. “decide”. “bark”. allow the dative movement transformation. “brew”. “yell”. Transitive D-pattern verbs used with “to” and B-pattern verbs produce the same constructions. “notify about/of”. “cry”. “remember”. “endeavour”. “suggest”. “slice”. “mean”. “chop”. “might”. while verbs normally occurring with inanimate indirect objects are considered elements of class D – “we invited them to the meeting”. “remember”. “would”.mentioned her the book” or *”they returned her the book”. “toast”. “extract from”. “recommend”. In pattern G. “must”. Typical examples of verbs that usually collocate grammatically with gerunds are: “avoid”. “move from/into/to”. etc. The transitive verbs in pattern C.

the sentence “he remembered to tell them” means that ‘he intended to tell them and told them’. though not all. “force John to confess”. in their great majority. Typical examples of class J collocations are: “catch the thieves stealing”. most of the times. Examples of pattern H collocations include: “ask me to come”. the difference being that the infinitive that is used with the verbs is short. “let the children go”. “leave me crying”. containing an infinitival phrase of purpose. etc. “permit the children to play”.). those in pattern I collocations cannot be. In a similar manner. As the Bensons and Ilson (1991) explain. be passivized (some of these verbs are found in class H as well. In pattern J. but forgot to do so’. may be passivized. “he forgot telling them” means that ‘he forgot the he had told them’. “invite Mary to join (us)”. Several verbs that occur as nodes in collocations both in G and in E have a different meaning in each pattern. Unlike the verbs in the pattern H collocations. “(we) watched the actors play” – “(we) watched the actors playing”. “get the television to work”. so that approximately synonymous constructions occur: “(she) heard them leave” – “(she) heard them leaving”. “set them to write”. “feel one’s heart throbbing”. “watch the rain falling”. “the ambassador continued speaking” – “the ambassador continued to speak”. “he remembered telling them” means that ‘he remembered the act of telling them’. Pattern I collocations resemble those in class H. the result being a Nominative + infinitive construction built around the verb in the passive voice. etc. the construction “he forgot to tell them” means that ‘he intended to tell them.Some of the verbs in pattern G that collocate with gerunds may be found in pattern E as well. Most of these verbs. etc. sentences such as “the baby began crying” – “the baby began to cry”. Thus. “see her cry”. . “set me thinking”. “my mother suggested to get the train” – “my mother suggested getting the train” are approximately synonymous constructions. “help us move”. The pattern H grammatical collocations consist of transitive verbs followed by an Accusative + long infinitive construction. Note also the difference between the pattern G construction “she stopped chatting” – ‘she terminated her chat’ and “she stopped to chat” – ‘she interrupted whatever she was doing in order to chat’. Examples that illustrate class I are: “hear them leave”. used in the passive voice. as nodes collocating with long infinitives. etc. “tell them to leave”. “keep them waiting”. transitive verbs are followed by an Accusative + participle construction and can. “make the criminal talk”.

etc. “(John) promises his parents that he will learn (more)”. “(it) seems that you didn’t understand”. “(the travelers) hope that the train will arrive (on time)”. “(he) denied that he had told her lies”. “imagine his coming late”. “(He) explained to us that he would come later” and “(the man) swore to his wife that he would stop drinking” are illustrative of the third category. In the first category. others may be used with or without such an object. etc. there are: “to assure” – (she) assured me that she would join (the party)”. “(the engineers) found the roads to be excellent/paved properly/a (national) problem”. transitive verbs are followed by a clause introduced by “that”: “(they) admitted that they were wrong”. “(the captain) ordered that the soldiers (should) clean (their guns)”. Examples of such verbs are: “(he) demanded that we (should) be there tomorrow”. Some verbs in the pattern L collocations are followed by “that” clauses containing an analytical or synthetic subjunctive. “(mother) hopes that I will graduate (this year)”. while still others (often belonging to pattern G as well) may be followed by a prepositional phrase with “to”. . “to show” – “(we) showed that we were (good) teachers”. “(it) turns out that he was lying”. The second category contains verbs such as: “to bet” – “(she) bet that it would snow”. Some of these verbs take an obligatory noun or pronoun object before the “that” clause. “(the manager) suggests that a new department head (should) be appointed”. the infinitive “to be” (verbs that combine freely with infinitives other than “to be” are part of pattern H collocations) and either an adjective. etc. etc. A few L-pattern verbs regularly take dummy “it” as their subject: “(it) appears that they will not be here”.Pattern K collocations contain a transitive verb followed by a possessive (noun or pronoun) and a gerund (some of these constructions are close to those in pattern J) such as: “excuse my saying (this)”. “to inform” – “(I) was informed that I would be promoted”. etc. the same verb may be followed by any of these three forms. In most cases. “(they) remembered Bill’s having made a mistake”. “(we) showed everybody that we were (good) teachers”. a past participle or a noun/pronoun. In pattern M. transitive verbs can be followed by a direct object. “(we) suspect that she is guilty”. “to convince” – “(the rector) convinced the students that he would consider (their suggestions)”. etc. Examples of pattern M collocations are: “(we) consider her to be very polite/well trained/our leader”. (she) bet me that it would snow. In pattern L collocations. “(it) follows that the results are wrong”. “to promise” – “(John) promises that he will learn (more)”. etc.

“lay” seems to require the second and the third. “we found them interesting”. Some of the verbs in pattern N collocations may be used in pattern M constructions as well: “we consider her (to be) a competent engineer”. “we appointed Bob president”. etc. a past participle or a noun/pronoun. Once an adverbial is used together with the verb. “he was punched one in the eye”. ”bet” can be used with any of the three objects alone. Without such an adverbial. in the sense that the verb in their structure can be accompanied by either only one or a limited number of adjectives. On the other hand. one to an amount and one denoting the point of the bet. neither of which can be used in a prepositional phrase with to or for. *”the box weighs”. “the court declared the woman (to be) guilty”. O-pattern verbs may be passivized. In pattern O. such as “bet”. Verbs in pattern P collocations are either intransitive. for example. a prepositional phrase.Pattern N collocations are made up of a transitive verb followed by a direct object and an adjective. the verb “to paint” accepts adjectives denoting colours only: “I painted the walls blue/green/orange. some of the N-pattern collocations are fixed or restricted. “the box weighs ten kilos”. “we found the streets (to be) cleared of snow”. . reflexive or transitive and their sense must always be completed by an adverbial – an adverb. *”she puts pressure”. “I tipped the waiter ten dollars”. Examples of this construction include: “she dyed her hair red”. sentences like the following would sound incomplete in English: *“the meeting lasts”. while “to shoot” may be used in “to shoot somebody dead” only.”. “the waiter was tipped ten dollars”. *”a strange woman was lurking”. etc. as in “we bet him ten pounds that the train won’t arrive in time”. “we heard the song sung in Italian”. “the man had his car repaired”. “lay” and “wager” are able to take in effect three objects – one referring to a person. “a strange woman was lurking in the dark”. “she punched him one in the eye”. etc. In most cases. while “wager” may be accompanied by either the second or the third alone. Some of them. “she puts pressure on her children”. a noun phrase or a clause. etc. these sentences become acceptable: “the meeting lasts two hours”. at least one of the objects may become the subject of the passive construction: “the pupil was asked a question (by the teacher)/a question was asked (by the teacher)”. Examples of collocations in which the verbs may take such double objects are: “the teacher asked the pupil a question”. “the police set the prisoner free”. Verbs pertaining to the semantic field of gambling may be heads of pattern O collocations. “our neighbours envy us our new house”. transitive verbs can take two objects. Of the three. etc. “my friends call me Dana”. Thus.

most do not need to be used with an object. etc. “we discussed how to do it”.interrogative word – “what”. In a similar manner. the “verb + wh. Just like in the case of grammatical collocations. Benson. “when”. “make an impression”. Quite frequently. following an object). Benson. in contrast to grammatical ones. “it puzzled us that they never answer the phone”. some may be used with or without one and some.or by “how”. “wrongdoing”. On the other hand. since the verb “commit” is limited in use to a small number of nouns meaning “crime”. “it burned me up to hear her lying”. “guess where the money is”. etc. and a noun or a pronoun (which combine in a rather arbitrary. “it hurts to see my sister crying”. as explained in the preface to The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English (Benson. infinitives or clauses. Ilson 1991: xxiv). Ilson 1991). Thus. verbs and adverbs” (Benson. Ilson 1991). Typical lexical collocations consist of nouns. “which”. the elements of which do not freely co-occur and are not bound specifically to each other. such as “tell”. “normally do not contain prepositions. non-predictable way). “who”. Most verbs in L1 collocations denote creation or/and activation (the Bensons and Ilson 1991 call the collocations build round such verbs “CA collocations”): “come to an agreement”. L1 collocations consist of a verb which is usually transitive. “condemn murder” is a free lexical combination. lexical collocations differ from free combinations. “inform”. “we had to infer what she meant by that”. “commit murder” is a collocation. . “compose music”. Examples are: “it amazed me to learn that he had been promoted”. the noun “murder” combines freely with countless verbs: “abhor / accept / acclaim / advocate murder”. must always be accompanied by an object. Benson. “where”. Lexical collocations.Pattern Q collocations are built around a verb followed by a wh. “my sister knows how to drive”. Seven major types of lexical collocations are illustrated by entries in The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English (Benson. “the man asked us what the time was”. “he wonders where to go”. “why” . transitive verbs (often expressing emotions) are preceded by a dummy “it” subject and are followed by a long infinitive or by a “that” clause (sometimes.word” construction precedes an infinitival phrase or a clause: “she could not decide which car to choose”. In pattern R collocations. The verb “condemn” may be used with an unlimited number of nouns: “condemn the abduction / abortion / abuse of power / the acquittal”. “it surprised them that their suggestion was rejected”. adjectives. Of the pattern Q verbs.

There are instances when the same noun collocates with a verb that denotes creation – “establish a principle”. inflict a wound”. “form a line” (line up). “wind a watch”. “exterminate vermin”. “commit treason”. there are also instances. “reverse a decision”. Such nouns will form different CA collocations. “hatch a conspiracy”. “reach a verdict”. possible collocations of “operation” are “perform an operation” (perform surgery in a hospital). *”good regards”): “reckless abandon”. “offer opposition”. when the meanings “creation” and “activation” are united in one verb: “call an alert”. “withdraw an offer”. which are quite numerous. “put out a tracer”. Typical examples. L2 collocations also consist of a transitive verb followed by a noun (less frequently. “spin a top”. etc. only one form of the adjective may collocate with a particular noun – “best regards”. according to which subject role is being described. “crashing defeat”. “demolish / raze / tear down a house”. In the same way. The same noun may collocate with different verbs that refer to actions performed by specific subjects. that denotes activation – “apply a principle”. “draw up a will” – and with another verb. “issue a warning”. L3 collocations are made up of a noun and an adjective (in some cases. CA collocations for polysemous nouns may prove difficult to form for non-native speakers. “inflict an injustice”. “lift a blockade”. “pose a question”. “chronic alcoholic”. “intensive care”. these collocations are called by Benson. a pronoun). As explained in the preface to the BBI Dictionary (1991). “lay a smoke screen”. “break a code”. “impose an embargo”. while an author or a publisher “holds” or “secures” one. “denounce / abrogate a treaty”. “execute a will”. “revoke a license”. “fly a kite”. Benson and Ilson 1991 EN collocations). etc.“set a record”. ”oral . “annul a marriage”. “drop somebody a line” (write somebody a letter). Thus. “pitched battle”. “carry out / conduct / launch an operation” (on the battle field). “display bravery”. “override a veto”. “produce friction”. a copyright office “grants” or “registers” a copyright. “launch a missile”. as offered by the BBI Dictionary (1991) are the following: “reject an appeal”. but. “scrub / cancel a mission”. “set an alarm”. “to set off a bomb”. the verb here essentially means “eradication” or “nullification” (due to the meaning of the verb that acts as the node of the unit. “suspend martial law”. “quench one’s thirst”. unlike in L1 structures. The verb nodes that a noun such as “line” may collocate with are dictated by its various meanings: “draw a line” (leave a trace on paper). “ease tension”. etc.

Such collocations may indicate the larger unit to which a single member belongs – “a colony / swarm of bees”.examination”. “an act of violence”. “guarantee fully”. L5 collocations. “closely / intimately acquainted”. “a phrase. “a grain of salt”. etc. “a pride of lions”. Nouns that are used attributively in English may replace adjectives in L3 collocations: “house arrest”. . “fully insured”. “steel guitar”. “survival kit”. “a herd of buffalos”. L 6 collocations consist of an adverb and an adjective. or. “sound-and-light show”. while collocations of the latter type may be illustrated by “affect deeply”. Idioms 2. small unit of something larger. “a pack of dogs”. “a clove of garlic”. “donkeys bray”. while those in the L 7 group are composed of a verb and an adverb. “alarms go off”. Examples of structures in the former group include “deeply absorbed”. Definition The generally accepted definition of an idiom states that it is “a group of words established by usage as having a meaning non-deductible from those of the individual words” (Oxford Concise Dictionary 2002: 379). “an article of clothing”. “paper money”. “eternal glory”. the meaning of which cannot be predicted from the individual meanings of the morphemes it comprises” (Jackson and Amvela 2007: 77). more general – “a word of advice”. “an expression whose meaning is different from the meaning of the individual words” (Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners 2002: 710). etc. “a school of whales” – or the specific. “elephants trumpet”. 2. “amuse thoroughly”. in other words. “brain death”. “a plague spreads”. “bees buzz”. etc. etc. “hopelessly addicted”. “a segment of orange”. A noun and a verb that names the action characteristic of the person or the thing that this noun refers to combine in L4 collocations: “adjectives modify”. “a leaf of grass”. As it is explained in the preface to the BBI Dictionary (1991: xxvii). “stiff opposition”. “keenly / painfully aware”. “strictly accurate”. structured as “noun1 of noun2”. “a sheet of steel”. “clocks tick”. “examine closely”. “actively engaged”. “birth certificate”. “implacable foe”. “hope fervently / sincerely”. “vicious propaganda”. “party elite”. “cultural heritage”.1. indicate the unit that is associated with a noun. “insurance policy”. “involuntary manslaughter”. “anchor firmly”. concrete.

an idiomatic phrase cannot be altered. one content word being replaced by another” (Fernando 1997: 43).” / “They have been living from hand to . make up. “Variation of the parts of an idiom could be in terms of number and tense (inflectional changes) or the replacement of one structure word like an article by another or by zero. an idiom is often nonliteral”. which have a direct meaning that may be easily understood on the basis of their component elements (Fernando 1996: 3). the coast is clear. on the contrary.” / “The economic crisis left us jobless and we are now living from hand to mouth. “on the beam”. etc. smell a rat. While free word groups can be freely made up. such as “to throw money away”. “to have a rare time”. By contrast. according to the needs of communication. from long usage. no other synonymous word can be substituted for any word in the phrase. Variation in tense is common to many verb idioms and it usually mirrors the time frame of the discourse: “When both my parents were out of work. “out like a light”. and the arrangement of the words can rarely be modified” (McMordie 1972: 6). “to spend an arm and a leg”. If. it is regarded as an idiom. etc. they are “particular phrases or turns of expression which. Characteristics and classification The clearest features of idioms. have become stereotyped in English” (McMordie 1972: 5) and semantic opacity. “a nine days’ wonder”. in an idiom. and any of their elements can be replaced without affecting the meanings of the others. it is made up of a verb functioning as the sentence predicate and a noun which is. syntactically. in “The old man kicked the bucket”. Examples of idioms with invariable elements include “red tape”. or it could be lexical. though there are cases of idiomatic phrases. “drawn and quartered”. in the sense that “as a general rule.)” (Fernando 1996: 3). grammatically. idioms are used as ready-made units in which substitution is either impossible or very limited. we lived from hand to mouth. are compositeness – “idioms are commonly accepted as a type of multiword expression (red herring. both lexical and grammatical meaning belong to the structure as a whole (if. as it follows from their very definition and as it is mentioned by Fernando (1996: 3). Most idioms are characterized by lexical integrity.2. In other words. “on pins and needles”. the whole unit is a verbal phrase that functions as the predicate of the sentence). its direct object. “kicked the bucket” is considered a free combination of words. Idiomaticity is paralleled by grammatical inseparability – idioms function as single units from a grammatical point of view as well. or idiomaticity – “the meaning of an idiom is not the sum of its constituents. each lexical item has an independent meaning and its own grammatical function. In a free word group.2.

“get the sack / ax”. there are cases. “get / give / have cold feet”. let us know – if necessary I can twist the arms of a few friends and get them to come. “out of step” (*out of steps”). Number varies in idioms with the same freedom as tense does. beggars would ride”. content words may be replaced by other content words in a number of idioms: “burn one’s boats / bridges”. “Student: Can I throw in a red herring? Tutor: Several.” “Red herrings and the Iraki breakfast But Mr.mouth from quite some time now. b. Besides replacement. etc. Whilam has to talk about these things – any red herring will do…” (The Australian 4 March 1976: 6) a. In none of the following sayings. etc. b. so let them bake”. “apple of one’s eye” (*”apples of one’s eye” / “apple of one’s eyes”). I twisted Richie’s arm I said he’s your brother-in-law too but they weren’t in. but to make the message it conveys clearer or more emphatic (though. can the tense of the idioms in question be changed: “A watched pot never boils”. “smell a rat” (*”smell rats”). “If wishes were horses. “We went there one evening.” If pluralization is impossible in some idioms – such as “kick the bucket” (*”kick the buckets”). “a cat and dog life” (*”cats and dogs lives”).”. Language users may introduce extra elements in idioms. “lovely weather for ducks” (*”lovely weather for duck”).45) illustrates this type of variation with the following examples: a. However. “As they brew. Fernando (1997: 44 . etc. permutation and deletion are also possible transformations in the structure of some idioms. such as that of proverbs. “raining cats and dogs” (“*raining a cat and a dog”). Fernando’s (1997: 48) examples meant to illustrate this type of transformation are: . “have the cards / deck stacked”. so is the use of the singular in others – such as “twiddle one’s thumbs” (*”twiddle one’s thumb”). when verb idioms normally retain their original form. not just to elaborate on the expression per se. addition. normally. “A stitch in time saves nine”.” “If you can’t turn up. “for the birds” (*for the bird”). addition is not allowed in an idiom). As indicated above.

there are idioms which allow for particle shift (which can be optional) – “to beat up somebody” / “to beat somebody up”. may result into expressions whose recognition and understanding may pose difficulties: . for example. for example. whose exposure to idioms has been through dictionaries. the hearer’s knowledge of the full expression is necessary for meaning comprehension. Fernando (1996: 51) illustrates how deletion (and substitution) in the case of “dangle a carrot before the donkey”. may find that deletions impede identification of some such expressions and obstruct their being interpreted correctly. “a rolling stone” from “a rolling stone gathers no moss”). to a smaller or more extensive degree. “to blow up something” / “to blow something up”. they vary from idiom to idiom. In the former category. but is it art’?” (The Sydney Morning Herald 4 December 1978: 16) “Professor McDonald also suggested ( with his tongue only partly in his cheek ) that the current state of Australia’s economy could be attributed to analysts not able to interpret data…” (Macquarie University News Nov/Dec 1987: 16) “It is very easy for those academics to look out of their carpeted ivory towers across the quagmire of business stagnation. Some idiomatic expressions do not allow rearrangements in terms of their internal grammar. While some idioms are so well established in the language with their truncated form that this is considered the norm (“red herring” from “draw/trail a red herring down the path”. while others do.” (The Australian 8 December 1975) As far as permutation possibilities are concerned. In the latter. there are idioms such as “say no more” (*”no more was said”). for conversion of the verb + object predicate into a nominal phrase – “drop a brick” / “a brick dropper”. “take forty winks” (*”forty winks have been taken”). etc. “smell a rat” (*John is a rat smeller). Non-native speakers. in the case of others.“Rudyard Kipling took the art world bull by the horns when he wrote ‘It’s clever. “the president leaves no stone unturned” / “no stone is left unturned (by the president)”. “break the ice” / “an ice breaker” or for passivization – “he shed crocodile tears” / “crocodile tears were shed”.

“to be dressed to kill”. “as stiff as a poker”. “to take the bull by the horns”. “bread and water”. quoted by Fernando (1996: 52) are: “This fellow thought the Professor would drop him like a hot potato so he preferred a bird in the hand. “without rhyme or reason”. hyperbole – “to make a mountain out of a molehill”. “Thatcher waves trade carrot” (headline) (The Australian 6 August 1988: 3) c. metonymy and synecdoche – “to go under the knife”. conventionalization being the end result of initially ad hoc. idioms are characterized by such features as rhythm. there and everywhere”. novel. “by fits and starts”. “to drink like a fish”. “wear and tear”. “Sunshine dangles an issue carrot” (headline) (The Australian 15 November 1975: 12) b. “not to lay a finger on someone”. “as poor as a church mouse”. From a stylistic point of view. Rhythm is specific to idioms which are made up of pairs of elements: “tooth and nail”. “as brown as a berry”. “The Prime Minister has offered some very appealing political carrots in his economic program. “to pay and arm and a leg”. “here.” (The Australian 28 November 1975: 10) Other examples of truncated idioms. Rhyme is peculiar to “by hook or by crook”. rhyme. “heart and soul”. “ (obtained through deletion from “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”) “Norman Sherry is the epitome of the no-stone-unturned school of biographers…” (The Sydney Morning Herald 10 June 1989: 85) (truncated from “leave no stone unturned”) Institutionalization is also peculiar of idioms – they “are conventionalized expressions. euphemisms – “to be knocked up”. “a white elephant”. . “as clear as crystal”. etc. which contribute to their euphony.a. “to feel on cloud number nine”. “to leave in the lurch”. expressions” (Fernando 1996: 3). “as merry as a cricket”. “to have sticky fingers”. “a cold fish”. “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”. “movers and shakers”. metaphor – “in a nutshell”. “rant and rave”. alliteration and imagery. “to have one foot in the grave”. “to fit like a glove”. and in this sense. etc. while alliteration is found in idioms such as “(to buy) a pig in a poke”. Imagery in idioms may be achieved by simile – “as like as two peas”.

“to make a clean breast of something”. “to make neither head nor tail of something”. “to jump on the bandwagon”. “fair and square” (rhythm. with / without variable elements. . adjectival: “high and mighty”. “as bold as brass”. “to play second fiddle”. the semantic relationships between them. “driving force”. etc. “as fit as a fiddle” (simile and alliteration). “”as neat as a pin”. “bright and shining”. “to hedge one’s bets”. “to skate on thin ice” – “to swim in troubled waters” (to do something risky. etc. “God’s acre”. “a snake in the grass”. “by and by”. “for better or for worth”.idioms with a direct / figurative meaning. The idioms discussed so far may be grouped into categories. “out front”.“in one’s birthday suit”. antithesis – “the short and the long of it”. “to nurse a grudge (against someone)”. “a swan song”. hendiadys – “safe and sound”. from a morphological point of view. Thus. Looked at from the point of view of the semantic relationship that holds between them. the domain of human activity to which they are connected or the image they evoke. to confess to something). “downhill all the way”. “six feet under”. “off the cuff”. “down at the heels” – “out at elbows” (shabby. idioms may be: nominal: “the apple of one’s eye”. “a bed of thorns”. “to cut corners”. “rough and tumble”. “at sixes and sevens”. according to their peculiarities . poorly dressed). “soft and tender”. “Johnny-come-lately”. “to sleep like a log” – “to sleep like a baby” “to sleep the sleep of the just” to sleep soundly). “lean and lanky”. “null and void”. “the man in the street”. “cut and dried”. verbal: “to cross the Rubicon”. Other possible categorizations concern the morphological class to which they belong. adverbial: “off and on”. “the lions’ share”. “hale and hearty”. “safe and sound” (alliteration and hendiadys). the concept they refer to. “to spill the beans” – “to let the cat out of the bag” (to reveal a secret. idioms may be: synonymic: “babes and sucklings” – “a green / fresh / raw hand” – “spring chicken” (inexperienced people). to take a chance). rhyme and hendiadys). Some idioms combine two or more figures of style – “as busy as a bee”. “to keep something under one’s hat”.

while “to give someone a start” may mean one of the following: 1) to help start someone’s car (My friend gave me a start when my car was stalled. you’re all fingers and thumbs.) “to beat one’s brains out” (to think hard about something.).) or to failing to remember something (It was a very difficult test. I’m sure we have been introduced to each other.). understand or remember it – I’m beating my brains out to tell you her name.). Thus. to make someone jerk or jump from sudden fright (I didn’t mean to give you a start. As indicated above.). shocked. idioms may be grouped into classes according to the field of activity to which they refer or to the image they call to mind.).).). I should have knocked before I entered. – I didn’t bat an eyelid when he told me about the accident.). There are a number of idioms in English which are polysemantic. 3) to go to a new location in order to start a better life (Go west. 2) to give someone training or a big opportunity in beginning one’s career (My career began when my father gave me a start in the car industry. to finding nothing (I asked him about John’s financial problems and I just drew a blank. I’m all ears.). “to spend an arm and a leg” (to spend a fortune – My brother spent an arm and a leg on his new car.). “to bite someone’s head off” (to criticize someone angrily – My boss bit my head off for .). “to have a bad hair day” (to have a time when things are not going the way one would like or has planned – I have quarreled with my mother-in-law and I have locked the keys inside my car. “To go west”. I am definitely having a bad hair day. “to make up one’s mind” – “to be in two minds”. but cannot solve.- antonymic: “as sober as a judge” – “as drunk as a lord”. “not to bat an eyelid” (not to react or show emotion when surprised. 2) to be ruined (Both of us made wrong investments and we went west in a year. with only one question to answer and I drew a blank.). “To draw a blank” may refer to getting no response. “a heart of gold” – “a heart of stone”. the largest of these classes are connected to: the body and bodily functions : “to be all ears” (to be interested in hearing about something – Tell me what you know about this actress. there is little hope for a good life here. etc. 3) to startle someone. has at least three meanings: 1) to die (The beggars knew that they would go west if they didn’t find shelter soon. for example. “to be all fingers and thumbs” (to be too clumsy to do something that requires manual dexterity properly – Let me plant these small seeds.

to be involved in something – Tess wants to have a finger in the pie. the mainstay – Sentimentality and politics were the bread and butter of the Academy Awards. the essential element of something. “to have a finger in the pie” (to have a role in something. “to go back to the salt mine” (to go back to work – I would like to keep chatting with you but I have to go back to the salt mine.).).). “to make one’s blood boil” (to make one very angry – His not keeping his promises makes my blood boil. food: “to put all one’s eggs in one basket” (to risk everything at once – Don’t put all your eggs in one basket unless you want to lose everything in case there is a catastrophe.).).). “a pain in the neck” (something that is very annoying. I almost got bitten by a snake.). “bread and butter” (means of support.). disturbing .). she doesn’t think we can finish writing the project by ourselves. “to give someone a leg up” (to help one achieve something that one couldn’t have done alone – My friend handed in the documents in time only because I gave him a leg up with their translation. “to chew the fat with someone” (to talk at leisure with someone – We are chewing the fat about our school days.).Alice is such a pain in the neck when she unreasonably complains about being too fat.).not having finished the report in time. “to have a close shave” (to nearly have a serious accident or get into trouble – I had a close shave.). “as dry as a bone” (completely dry – Our lawn is as dry as a bone. That’s my bread and butter. livelihood – I can’t miss another day of work. let’s hope it will rain tomorrow.).). “to fight tooth and nail” (to fight energetically and with determination – The police fought against the criminal tooth and nail. “to have a hollow leg” (to eat more than one’s stomach seems to be able to hold – Tom has already eaten ten sandwiches.).).). “to give somebody the cold shoulder” (to ignore or to reject somebody – She gave him the cold shoulder when he asked her to the party. “duck soup” (an easy thing to do Knitting a sweater is duck soup for Maria. he must have a hollow leg.). “to be . “a kick in the teeth” (bad news or sudden disappointment – His not having pass the final examination was a kick in the teeth for his parents. “to make one’s flesh crawl” (to scare or revolt one – That strange man with a knife in his hand made my flesh crawl. “on the nose” (right on time – This project will be finished on the nose. etc.

.). “that’s the way the cookie crumbles” (said to mean that things do not always turn out the way one wants and there is nothing one can do about this – I can’t believe they chose Tom for the job and not me. that’s the way the cookie crumbles. as the crow flies. “meat and potatoes” (basic. the local team will never win the championship. with simple tastes in food and other things – There is no point in trying to cook something special for the Wilsons.).animals: “to be all bark and no bite” (to talk tough but not to be so really – Don’t be afraid. to argue constantly . Ah well. we won’t make it to the castle today. Fred is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. “a calf lick” (a . They are strictly meat and potatoes. not paying taxes to the state is being on the gravy train.They have lead a cat and dog’s life for some time now. sturdy.).).). “as the crow flies” (it refers to the shortest possible distance between two places – There are 20 kilometers between Timisoara and Arad. “to save somebody’s bacon” (to save someone from failures or difficulties – You saved my bacon there. I have a bigger fish to fry. I’d probably lost my job if you hadn’t provided a good explanation for my foolish behaviour.).). “to have a bigger fish to fry” (not to be interested in something because there are more important things for one – I won’t bother investing in this small business. and hearty. they simply can’t stop quarrelling. “pie in the sky” (something that seems good but is unlikely to be achieved – Those plans of his to set up his own business are just pie in the sky. he will not fire you.on the gravy train” (to have found an easy way to make a lot of money – For many. “like a bull in a China shop” (very clumsy – He was like a bull in a china shop with our clients and they complained to our manager. etc.). “to be on the pig’s back” (to be happy/content/in fine form – I was on the pig’s back when they told me that I had won a trip to Hawaii.). “to back the wrong horse” (to give one’s support to the losing part in something – You’re backing the wrong horse. “to throw somebody to the wolves” (to abandon somebody when s/he is in a difficult situation – I shall never forgive her for having thrown me to the wolves when I most needed her help.).). he’s all bark and no bite.). “to lead a cat and dog’s life” (not to get along.).). it often refers to a robust person. “at a snail’s pace” (very slowly – If you keep walking at a snail’s pace.

).). “to clutch at straws” (to try anything to get out of serious trouble – Applying for credit at a bank that nobody trusts was just clutching at straws. “a white elephant” (something that is useless and which is either a nuisance or is expensive to keep – The old Rolls Royce Bob’s father gave to him is a white elephant. “the apple of one’s eye” (one’s favorite person – Tom is the apple of Mary’s eye.).).parting where one’s hair grows in a different direction – I can’t do my hair the way I want because of this calf lick. I have heard it from the horse’s mouth.).).). “a bird’s eye view” (a view seen from high above – We got a bird’s eye view of New York as the plane began its descent. she has never liked reading. plants: “to bark up the wrong tree” (to have misunderstood something. “to gild the lily” (to decorate something that is already ornate – Three . “to put/let/set the cat among the pigeons” (to create disturbance and cause trouble – Jane let the cat among the pigeons when she announced she was going to join the army.). “from the horse’s mouth” (directly from the person concerned or responsible – You have to believe me. to be totally wrong – You’re barking up the wrong three. often obtained by unfair means – If my partner gets the lion’s share again. She thinks he’s great. “the lion’s share” (the biggest or best part of something. “to have one’s ducks in a row” (to be wellorganized – My boss always has his ducks in a raw. I’ll move on to the next question before you give me another incorrect answer. etc. “dog days” (very hot summer days – I’d rather be in the mountains these dog days.). “pecking order” (the order of importance or rank – Don’t forget to place the guests at tables in the pecking order.).). I’m out of this business immediately.). he has no place to park it and he can’t afford the costs of the repairing it needs. he can find whatever document you need in seconds. “to cast pearls before swine” (to offer something of value to someone who doesn’t appreciate it – Offering her books for her birthday is just casting pearls before swine. a brief survey of something – All you need is a bird’s eye view of the events of World War II to pass the test.).). “to come up smelling of roses” (to emerge from a situation with one’s reputation undamaged – Though the senator was seen endorsing a false document. he came up smelling of roses.

“to wither/die on the vine” (to be ignored or neglected and thereby be wasted.). “a thorn in one’s side” (someone or something that causes trouble – I told him to be in time for the trial and he keeps being a thorn in my side.).). you will miss the chance of being nominated for the presidential elections. He’s late again!). “swim with / against the tide” (to do what other people are doing / the opposite of what other people are doing. All students answered the test questions in exactly the same way. bad practices – The police investigating this crime suspect it is connected to foul play. Plans to create cheap housing for the poor seem doomed to wither on the vine. their teacher imagined this was the result of foul play.).). “a bed of roses” (a situation or way of life that is always happy and comfortable – They love each other so much that marriage has always been a bed of roses. He often hits below the belt. to go against the trend – Wearing worn out jeans is swimming with the tide for young . “not to see the wood for the trees” (not to perceive the overview or the important things because of concentrating too much on details – The information in this textbook is so disorganized that I can’t see the wood for the trees.). “to put someone out to pasture” (to force somebody to resign or give up some responsibilities – The president of the company was put out of pasture for bad management. “foul play” (illegal activities. about what one could expect – Did he leave you there alone in the dark? That’s not par for the course for somebody who pretends to be your friend. sport: “to hit (someone) below the belt” (to do something unfair or unsporting to someone – Bill is difficult to deal with in business. “to grasp the nettle” (to deal bravely with a difficult situation – He grasped the nettle and told her that he had been sentenced to five year’s imprisonment.more stars in the Christmas tree means just gilding the lily. “to let the grass grow round one’s feet” (to delay doing things instead of taking action – If you let the grass grow round your feet.).). “par for the course” (typical. to be destroyed gradually Fred thinks he is withering on the vine because he has not been given a role in the play. etc.). “to run around the bush” (to take a long time to get to the point – Stop running around the bush and tell me how much money you would like me to lend you.). therefore.).

). in full activity – Though it was early in the morning. “to mend (one’s) fences” (to restore good relations with someone – . having lost a struggle – After the teacher rebuked me in class. the engineers were working in full blast. “down for the count” (finished for the time being. I knew I was down for the count. I’m sure others will help me later. “to learn the ropes” (to understand new things – The first week on the job you will just be learning the ropes. he’s a real jack of all trades.).). nowhere near doing something correctly – All of the students laughed when Joe gave an answer which was out in left field.).). “to get/set/start the ball rolling” (to start something. possibly having to make a difficult choice – I felt between hammer and anvil when I was asked which of the two sisters was the more beautiful. etc. carpentry and roofing. “in full blast” (using full power. “to throw in the towel” (to give up – If they don’t accept our offer this time.).). “out in left field” (nowhere near being true. John never agrees to what his team mates suggest. He certainly knows how to bring grist to the mill. to get some process going – If I could get the ball rolling. It’s been a whole new game since Mary became our manager. “jack of all trades” (someone who can do several different jobs instead of specializing in one – My brother can do plumbing. he tends to always swim against the tide. trades: “to have too many irons in the fire” (to be doing too many things at once – Tom had too many irons in the fire and missed some important deadlines.). “to win hands down” (to obtain an easy victory – The other team was missing four of its players so we won hands down.). “(whole) new ball game” (a new set of circumstances – You can no longer do the things that you used to do around here.). “between hammer and anvil” (in a difficult situation.). we are going to throw in the towel and look for a new house somewhere else. but none of them well.).). “to bring grist to the mill” (to turn something to profit or advantage – He has made a lot of money using his connections. “to keep one’s eye on the ball” (to stay alert and pay close attention to what is happening – If you want to be able to write a proper review of the play you have to keep your eye on the ball till its very end.).people.

(introductions) Diane. I’m just looking. etc. (thanks and acknowledgement) Can I help you. Single or return? (exchange between ticket seller and customer) What would you like to drink? A cup of coffee. Jack. thank you. stereotypical expressions used as a single unit utterance in everyday conversation and “closely bound to a special function or communication situation” (Aijmer 1996: 13). are you all right? Oh. Examples of pragmatic idioms include: Let me introduce my brother. Pragmatic idioms Pragmatic idioms (routines or social formulas) are fixed. 2.). It was my pleasure. the immediate environment is quite predetermined” (Kecskes 2003: 106). Jack. “No change is possible within the unit and. . I’m fine. It has been a lovely evening. generally. (exchange between shop assistant and customer) Merry Christmas! Happy Easter! Happy Anniversary! Happy New Year! Happy Birthday! Many happy returns of the day! (greetings) I’d like to buy a ticket for London. Nice to meet you. sir? No. please. yes. to you. (inquiry and acknowledgement) Thank you for having us to stay for dinner.Sally called her uncle to apologize for having been rude and tried to mend fences. thanks.3.

“set”. etc. “blow up”.). “ask for (an invoice)”. “around”. They may be either transitive (followed by an object expressed by a noun or a pronoun) – “bring up (the matter)”. and one or two particles (the most frequent of which are. “along”.) – which are perceived as constituents of a single unit. “after”. *”roll back this”. the number of particles following the main verb will help distinguish between prepositional and phrasal verbs on the one hand and phrasal-prepositional verbs on the other. “go”.a main verb (usually of Germanic origin. normally. “under”.Black or white? (exchange between bar tender and customer) 3.2. etc. “get”. “believe in (justice)”. as stated in the Collins Cobuild Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs: “about”. “to”. “shut up”. “over”. “look up the word”/“look the word up”.1. “care for (pets)”. “write about (a painter)”. “look up (a place)” . Second. etc. “cut”. “refer to (an event)”. “down”. “make”. “with”. “through”. “look at (him)”. “take”. such as: “call”. *”sew up it”. “back”. “in”. the particle cannot be separated from the verb it accompanies – phrases such as “brake . Definition Multiword verbal constructions consist of two elements . “take off”. “from”. “deal with (emergencies)”. First. Prepositional verbs consist of a main verb and a preposition and are always followed by an object expressed by a noun or a pronoun (which cannot occur between the particle and the main verb): “call for (John)”. 3. By contrast with prepositional verbs. Characteristics and classification There are two main criteria on the basis of which different categories of multiword verbs are identified. “for”. “catch on”. “stand up”. “by”. “out”. Multiword verbs 3. “at”. Phrasal verbs consist of a main verb and an adverb. In the case of intransitive phrasal verbs. “up”.or intransitive (not accompanied by any object) – “give in”. “off”. “sit down”. “put”. These may occur either after the particle or between the main verb and this. However. transitive phrasal verbs may be accompanied by mobile objects. the presence of a preposition or an adverb after the main verb will establish the distinction between prepositional and phrasal verbs. etc. the particle cannot precede personal pronouns: *”they switched off it”. “against”. without the latter resulting in grammatically unacceptable structures: “bring up the children”/“bring the children up”. “come”. “play around”.

“double up” (if two people double up. “more or less”. “breathe out” (exhale). it is difficult. In the case of multiword verbs such as “ask for” (request). Nevertheless. “divide up” (separate into groups or parts). “pull up” (about a vehicle. “come by” (obtain). “refer to” (talk about). slow down and stop). Since they can easily be identified as a consequence of the fact that they have two particles. etc. but normally occurring in fixed order”: “Adam and Eve”. “go straight on” Phrasal-prepositional verbs are a bridge class between the two categories just mentioned. “demand and supply”. particles referring to directions may be modified by intensifiers which split the verb + particle sequence: “come right back”. . “jump out at (the reader)”. “cut and paste”. Some prepositional. “lie down” (move into a horizontal position). “ham and eggs”. “grow away from” (develop different views and opinions). “mother and child”. “put up with” (tolerate). “sound and fury”. “ups and downs”. “publish or perish”. etc. phrasal and prepositional-phrasal verbs are more idiomatic than others. “bread and butter”. “fish and chips”. “catch on” (understand). the individual meanings of the constituents are preserved in the combination and contribute each to its sense. transitivity is not necessarily considered a distinctive feature on the basis of which these multiword verbs are recognized: “check up on (a friend)”. “husband and wife”. “stand up for (one’s rights)”. “get in” (enter). “turn up” (appear). etc. “tip to toe”. “wine and dine”. are ungrammatical. “fair and square”. “hide and seek”. if not impossible to derive the meaning of the verbal construction from that of its component elements. “put up with (smokers)”. “now and then”. “give in” (surrender). “chapter and verse”. “sir or madam”. “back and forth”. “stay away from (danger)”. “love and marriage”. Definition Binominals are defined by Moon (1998: 152) as “dyads or conjoined pairs.again down”. “get on with (Jane)”. “get down to (work)”. “go straight ahead”. “stay away from” (avoid). 4. Binominals 4. “profit and loss”. “pen and pencil”. “walk out on” (leave somebody suddenly and end the relationship with him/her). they share something). unrestricted as to word class. “give soon in”.1. “stand now up”. “give up on (the cinema)”. “keep out of (trouble)”. “give and take”. “make up to (her)”. “get away with (that)”. in cases such as “go into” (investigate). “twist and shout”. However.

in some cases. “The first item is typically the one considered positive or dominant. etc.2. it is the item considered ‘nearer to home’ or ‘nearer speaker’s viewpoint’. “stop and start”. “brothers and sisters”. as the author points out. i. “top to bottom”. “boys and girls”. spatials and directionals: “head to foot”. Characteristics Most of these binominals are lexicalized as idiomatic units. Others. Pairs whose elements are linked with or provide even more obvious contrasted alternatives: “feast or famine”. “in and out”. “beginning to end”. “left and right”. “push and pull”. “sooner or later”. and they are irreversible though they may also be used with their literal meaning. “trick or treat”. etc. “come rain or shine”. “cause and effect”. but holistic. Examples that illustrate this point of view include: “profit and loss”. “in and out”. “time and money”. “it is possible to hypothesize rules or at least crude principles from these tendencies”. “all or nothing”. “men and women”. “day and night”/”night and day”. with a dynamic meaning. “on and off”. many of which are. “search high and low”. or logically prior. imply repetition: “back and forth”. language and culture-specific. “chalk and cheese”. “sink or swim”.4. “top to toe”. for the male term to precede (“mother and father” is probably the most frequently occurring exception to this rule): “Mr and Mrs”. though not theoretically irreversible. “home and abroad”. “bed and breakfast”. According to Moon (1998: 153). Other pairings show a tendency for the shorter or monosyllabic word to occur first: “law and order”. “flotsam and jetsam”. purely compositional binominals. and other contrastives: “”by fair means or foul”. with conjoined temporals: “from cradle to grave”. Moon (1998: 154-155) points out (quoting a personal communication with John Sinclair) that many antonymic binominals or conjoined antonyms “have a meaning along the lines of ‘everything’ or ‘no matter what’. “black or white”. while others. their meaning is not compositional. in most cases. “fruit and vegetables”. publish or perish”. “men and women”. which can be considered fixed expressions based on antonymic relationships.e. The norm for pairs made up of male/female counterparts is. etc. “up hill and down dale”. “oil and water”. not always linked with ‘and’. etc. This can be seen in pairs. Lakoff and Johnson (1980: 130) characterize this as the ‘mefirst’ orientation”. exhibit obvious tendencies for preferred ordering. . etc. Some conjoined antonyms. “life and death”. “here and there”. “women and children”. etc. imply the idea of strong contrast: “apples and oranges”. “come and go”.

5. generally known sentences of the folk which contain wisdom. according to Arora (1984)): metaphor – “Life is just a bowl of cherries”. completely). less speed”. dark and handsome” (about men. proverbs exhibit typical stylistic features such as (some. ”Laughter is the shortest distance between two people”. “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. Dick and Harry” (anybody at all).1. nothing gained”.Linked synonyms or cases when the same word is repeated inevitably have an emphatic function or emphasis as part of their meaning: “alive and kicking/well”. “here. “nooks and crannies”. “hook. “fair and impartial”. “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. soon forgotten”. “Birds of a feather flock together”. trinominals. stock and barrel” (everything). “done and dusted”. strings of three elements belonging to the same morphological class. calm and collected” (not angry or emotional). morals and traditional views in a metaphorical. truth. 5. line and sinker” (without reservation. “Long absent. etc. etc. alliteration – “Forgive and forget”. Characteristics Beside brevity. linked by a grammatical element and occurring in a fixed order. Though less numerous than binominals. English is pretty rich in sayings: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. “in leaps and bounds”. very attractive). are also to be mentioned as illustrative as a type of multi word lexical units in English: “cool. “out and out”. “last will and testament”. “dead and gone”. Definition Proverbs – short. thither and yon” (everywhere). “More haste. “In for a penny. fixed and memorizable form and which are handed down from generation to generation (Mieder 1994: 24) – allow very little variation (if any) and are therefore perceived as ready made units of a language. the mice will play”. rhyme – “When the cat is away. there and everywhere”/”hither. “Better safe than sorry”. “Failure is the stepping stone for success”. parallelism – “Nothing ventured. “far and away”. Proverbs 5. “It’s the early bird that gets the worm”. “A stitch in . “Little strokes fell great oaks”. “tall. tea or milk” (a choice of beverage). “A Jack of all trades is master of none”. “every Tom. “Failure is the stepping stone for success”. “a hop.2. “coffee. “stop. skip and jump” (a short distance). “lock. “bits and pieces”. in for a pound”. “easy come. drop and roll” (a firefighting technique). etc. easy go”.

to find information about its etymology. For English. Ch. the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (edited by Lesley Brown and printed in 1993). Synchronic dictionaries of English include. from desk-size. Reidy. its history. less frequently. “Give him an inch and he’ll take a yard”. and those that treat more than one. you’ll never know how strong she is until she boils”. Kuhn and J. with a second edition in 1989. in which these aspects are charted beginning with 1700. death and semantic and formal development of English words since 1150 and its abbreviated version. VI. “Actions speak louder than words”. hyperbole – “All is fair in love and war”. etc.time saves nine”. coordinated by John Simpson and Edmund Weiner). They differ according to dimension.“Once bitten. some of which will be dealt with in what follows. Kay and Lynne Grundy. usually two and. One may distinguish between dictionaries that treat a single language – the monolingual dictionaries. among others. in 1969) and quite numerous dictionaries of contemporary English. its synonyms/antonyms or its equivalent(s) in (an)other language(s). “A woman is like a cup of tea. Dictionaries of contemporary English are not only the most numerous. “A person is king in his home”. the Middle English Dictionary (edited by S. “All hat and no cattle”. in 1995). to check its spelling. twice shy”. the best known historical dictionaries are the Oxford English Dictionary (edited by James Murray in 1933. personification – “Hunger is the best cook”. Each of us must have opened such a book about language at least once to look up the meaning(s) of an unknown word. through concise. ellipsis . Types of dictionaries The range of publications that are called dictionaries is very wide. WORDS IN DICTIONARIES Dictionaries are repositories of words so frequently resorted to that their inexistence would be unconceivable at present. which describes the birth. comparison – “Life is like a box of chocolate. three languages – the bilingual or trilingual dictionaries. there are reference books whose purpose is primarily historical and dictionaries whose aim is to describe the vocabulary of a language within certain limits of time. to pocket and . 1. Within the former category. they are also the most diverse. you never know what you’re gonna get”. A Thesaurus of Old English (compiled by Jane Roberts.

and according to format – publishers have made their dictionaries available not only in print form. the Longman Phrasal Verbs Dictionary (2007). Other monolingual dictionaries – the “generalpurpose” ones . 2009). There are dictionaries of pronunciation. etc. 1998). the Oxford Dictionary of Idioms (2005). Within this category. the Concise Oxford Dictionary (with eleven editions since 1911). 2001) and the Cambridge International Dictionary of English (1995). A Dictionary of American Idioms (2003).target the adult English native speakers and are as numerous and diverse as the learners’ dictionaries. there are the Collins English Dictionary (1979. especially. After the publication. 1986. has been reprinted twelve times. the Collins COBUILD English Dictionary (1987. the Dictionary of Selected Collocations (1999). such as A Dictionary of Spelling. 1995. the monolingual learners’ dictionaries. Some are meant for a young audience at various stages in their growth and educational development. but also in the electronic medium. at least four major dictionaries for learners of English have been compiled: the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners (2002. Moreover. are an interesting class of reference works that “have been at the forefront of lexicographical innovation in the last half-century” (Jackson 2002: 129). dictionaries of spelling. 1994. such as the English Pronouncing Dictionary (1997) and the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (2000). British and American (1964). the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (1978. the Longman Dictionary of the English Language (1984. either on CDs or online. the Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs (1935). A wide range of specialist reference books adds to the two categories of monolingual dictionaries already mentioned. dictionaries of etymology. Quite a number of monolingual dictionaries have been compiled based on semantic relations between words. 1987. Of these. compiled to meet the needs of the intermediate to advanced learners of English as a second or foreign language. 1991).smaller. etc. the Cambridge Idioms Dictionary (2006). but not only. which. on synonymy . they belong to different categories as far as their intended target users are. in 1948. of Hornby’s Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. 1995). since then. Some of these focus on linguistic aspects of language. the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language (1961). such as An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English (1967) or Douglas Harper’s continuously updated online etymological dictionary or dictionaries devoted to particular lexical units from among which one may quote the Cambridge Phrasal Verbs Dictionary (2006). the Oxford Collocations Dictionary for Students of English (2002). with varying numbers of pages and coverage.

two dictionaries were compiled to meet this demand: the Latin-English Hortus Vocabulorum (printed in 1500) and the English-Latin Promptorium Parvulorum (printed in 1499). initially. These “interlinear glosses” (Hullen 1989) were later gathered in a separate manuscript. below or above the latter. the Dictionary of Law (2006). the beginnings of English lexicography may be traced back to the Old English period. then. The language of the Roman Church being Latin. Latin continued to play a very important role not only in church. In time. specifically to the sixth century. there are various dictionaries that define the terminology specific to a domain (which share characteristics with encyclopedias. British lexicography As Jackson (2002) explains. .1. It used to be the lingua franca of teaching and learning at European universities (Cambridge and Oxford being at the forefront of these) so that. but also in the educational system during the Middle Ages. The Dictionary of Cell and Molecular Biology (2007). as a glossary. when schools for preparing students for entry to these universities were founded. the demand for instructional material for teaching and learning Latin vocabulary and grammar increased. after the first letter. when the Roman form of Christianity was introduced and the monastic life flourished. they would sometimes write corresponding English words for the foreign ones. etc. 2. Thus. the Oxford Learner’s Thesaurus: A Dictionary of Synonyms (2008). English lexicography 2. the market now has publications such as the Oxford Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms (2007). the words in the glossaries started to be ordered alphabetically. the Oxford Dictionary of Chemistry (2009). As Jackson (2002) indicates. to help their own understanding of the texts or as a guide to future readers. the manuscripts that the priests studied at the time were written in it. etc. On reading them.and antonymy. by the second and subsequent letters or topically. A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (2006). in terms of the extent of their definitions or explanations and in that they include entries for personalities in the field to which the dictionary is dedicated): the Longman Business English Dictionary (2007). which may be considered a “prototype dictionary” (Jackson 2002: 31). the Wordsworth Dictionary of Homonyms (2007). Besides these.

Cockerman’s dictionary differed from them in some respects. Latine. it addressed a larger audience. for Spanish. first published in 1623. … a list of Gods and Godesses’” (Jackson 2002: 35). … following the practice of some LatinEnglish dictionaries. John Bullokar’s An English Expositor followed A Table Alphabeticall in 1616. Such interest lay at the basis of the publication of several bilingual dictionaries. On the one hand. a practice which continued until lexicography developed enough to make it unnecessary. and. as an aid to writing with good style and. On the other. as pointed out by Jackson (2002): for French and English. Richard Percyvall’s Bibliotheca Hispanica (1591). printed in 1604. by the end of the seventeenth century. through the publication of Roman literature works either in the original or in translation. or French”. English and Latin. due. In numerous cases. it also contained “a list of ‘vulgar’ words together with their ‘refined or elegant’ equivalents. borrowed from the Hebrew. two etymological dictionaries had been published: Stephen Skinner’s Etymologicon Linguae Anglicanae (1671) and the anonymous Gazophylacium Anglicanum (1689). the significance of Latin reached another level. etc. among which there are. for which synonyms or explanations “in plaine English words” (Cawdrey. Though inspired by the two previous publications. and understanding of hard. John Palsgrave’s Esclarcissement de la langue francoyse (1530) and Randle Cotgrave’s A Dictionaire of the French and English Tongues (1611). especially. usuall English wordes. as the author quoted by Jackson (2002: 33) explains. Greeke. Monolingual dictionaries continued to expand. John Florio’s A Worlde of Wordes (1598). The first monolingual English dictionary is considered to be Robert Cawdrey’s A Table Alphabeticall. for Italian and English. with more numerous and diverse entries and more extensive explanations. but also an increase of the interest in Europe’s vernacular languages. . Etymology began to be of concern to English lexicographers so that. cited in Jackson 2002: 33) are provided. There are around 2500 words in this dictionary. mostly in the direction of lexemes outside the everyday vocabulary. of which the learners of English as a foreign language were part. “conteyning and teaching the true writing. The Renaissance witnessed not only the revival of the classical Latin and Greek. to a boost in traveling. besides the lists of “hard words” with their glosses and explanations.During the Renaissance. translators chose to add a Latin-English glossary at the end of their translations. Both these publications led the way to Henry Cockerman’s The English Dictionarie.

a rich source of inspiration to Samuel Johnson. besides borrowings. also the dialects of our different countries. these publications had a more extensive scope and addressed a wider group of users than their predecessors. of 1730. from the antient British. Spanish. To which is added a collection of our most common proverbs. Largely similar. it was meant for “comprehending the derivations of the generality of words in the English tongue. Dutch. which became . his awareness of the important role a dictionary may play in ascertaining and fixing a language. Latin. by loan words. and Hebrew languages. Nathaniel Bailey’s An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. and its author was acclaimed as the one who had done for English single-handedly what it had taken forty French academicians to do for their language. Lexicographers’ attempt at introducing native words rather than so many borrowed ones in their dictionaries was paralleled in the eighteenth century by the scholars’ and authors’ concern for the state of the English language. Such interest. Norman and Modern French. in a monumental work. Johnson not only produced a monumental dictionary by a method. As the author described the former dictionary (quoted by Jackson 2002: 37). Danish. each in their proper characters … and also a brief and clear explication of all difficult words … and terms of art … together with a large collection and explication of words and phrases us’d in our antient statutes … and the etymology and interpretation of the proper names of men. with their explication and illustration”. published in 1721 and his Dictionarium Britannicum. especially for its being spoiled. Teutonic. His Dictionary of the English Language. who thought of dictionaries as instruments that could help in codifying the French language and in prescribing what was acceptable in it. as numerous native words as possible. printed in 1755. Saxon. women. together with that already manifested for etymology. either antient or modern. Greek. is obvious in the two dictionaries that dominated the period.The beginning of the eighteenth century brought changes as far as the focus in monolingual English dictionaries is concerned. Dictionary compilers began to show a more consistent interest in including in their works. Of them. the latter. as they considered. prompted similar opinions on the part of the English scholars. and remarkable places in Great Britain. involving the collection of evidence (citations) and using the evidence to construct the entries. “remained the foremost dictionary of the English language for a century. Samuel Johnson embodied. Italian. The example of the Academie francaise.

they were “diligently noted” in Johnson’s dictionary. by placing them with words of correspondent sound” (Johnson cited by Jackson 2002: 43). but he also reflected in the Plan … on the nature of the dictionary compiler’s task and the issues that face lexicographers” (Jackson 2002: 46). and those for which this could not be determined were excluded from the dictionary. definition) and the use of citations to support his statements. their orthography and pronunciation. The chief intent of the dictionary was. Primitive words were necessarily traced back to their original form. within the former category. Johnson suggested that no major changes away from the then practice should be made where this was clear and that innovation should be introduced only if it could have been given sound reasons for. Phraseology was also paid due attention. As far as etymology is concerned. morphology. then the “consequential meaning”. in a declared attempt to “secure the language from being over-run with cant. in other words. . “the stability of which is of great importance to the stability of a language. in respect of pronunciation. “to preserve the purity and ascertain the meaning of our English idiom”. then metaphorical sense. to include as many native words as possible.standard lexicographical procedure. the spawn of folly or affectation” (Johnson quoted by Jackson 2002: 43). made so much so “by the necessity of explaining the words in the same language”. without completely excluding loans (those belonging to the professional jargons were considered of special interest to the users of the dictionary). which he decided to provide in the following order: “the natural and primitive signification first”. but also set himself the task of distinguishing between the various senses of polysemantic words. The inflections of English words being irregular.e. fullness and perspicuity” seemed a difficult mission to the lexicographer. because the first change will naturally begin by corruptions in the living speech” (Johnson cited by Jackson 2002: 43). as was syntax. Defining the words and phrases “with brevity. “too inconstant to be reduced to rules” (Johnson quoted by Jackson 2002: 43). In order to accomplish this mission. their etymology. between “primitive” and “derivative” ones. he proposed to “determine the accentuation of all polysyllables by proper authorities” and to “fix the pronunciation of monosyllables. Johnson distinguished between “simple” and “compound” words and. the author declared (quoted by Jackson 2002: 42). while. syntax and “interpretation” (i. Johnson did not only select monosemantic lexical items. In terms of orthography. The methodological aspects that the author addresses in the Plan of a Dictionary of the English Language (1747) and which he adhered to in the making of the dictionary proper concern the selection of the words to be included. from being crouded with low terms.

The Society’s concern about the lack of coverage by the then existing dictionaries prompted its members to consider the necessity of having a new dictionary of English imperative. It endeavors to show. All Johnson’s observations were to be supported by citations. The popularity of the Dictionary of the English Language continued in the nineteenth century. and in . or down to the present day. Coleridge was succeeded as editor by Frederick Furnivall and. and to treat the etymology of each word strictly on the basis of historical fact. when.followed by the “poetical”. when it was joined by another publication of the kind – Charles Richardson’s A New Dictionary of the English Language. after around five million slips of paper containing words and their full bibliographical details had been collected from about one thousand readers and processed by the two editors and their assistants. he was joined by James Murray in 1878. it became English. to illustrate these facts by a series of quotations ranging from the first known occurrence of the word to the latest. “for the investigation of the Structure. and with what signification. Ten years later. the word being thus made to exhibit its own history and meaning. the “familiar” and the “burlesque” senses. Under the circumstances. become obsolete. or known to have been in use at any time during the last seven hundred years. In the Preface to Volume I. Herbert Coleridge was appointed the first editor of the dictionary to be and work on gathering the material needed started. By mid century. what development of form and meaning it has since received. and when. due to his not being able to efficiently deal with the task of compiling the dictionary as the sole editor. Murray expresses its aim as follows (quoted by Jackson 2002: 51): “the aim of this dictionary is to furnish an adequate account of the meaning. in the course of time. and the Philological Illustration of the Classical Writers of Greece and Rome” (Jackson 2002: 47). and which still survive. how. which of its uses have. published in 1837. the first volume of the New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (later to become the Oxford English Dictionary . especially that of the earlier history of the language. both these dictionaries were considered limited as far as their coverage of the English vocabulary. It took forty years and the addition of Henry Bradley. origin and history of English words now in general use. by what process. the Affinities. with regard to each individual word. This opinion was made public by the representatives of the Philological Society. containing words under letters A and B was published. was concerned. and the History of Languages. in what shape. William Craigie and Charles Onions to the team of editors to complete de dictionary. what new uses have since arisen. formed in 1842.OED ).

on any ground. though not all the common words of the language were included: to observe Victorian sensibilities. it was for sure a monumental accomplishment in the field of lexicography. etc) were added alongside specific terminology in the fields of sociology. Australia. “afforse” (obsolete variant of “afforce”). as it is deemed proper. grammatical class. computer science (the use of subject labels was significantly extended). The first class includes single words – simple. The entry for a Main word consists of four parts: Identification (where spelling. Although the first edition of the OED might have had flaws. pronunciation. Morphology (where the “formhistory” of the words is charted. coarse slang vocabulary was left aside and so was some scientific and technical vocabulary. doubtful existence. the distinction between “main” and “subordinate” . or alleged use. etc. history or importance. South Africa. Some of these flaws were eliminated in the two supplements (1933 and 1972-1986) and the second edition of the dictionary. The editors followed this initially stated goal very closely. They are dealt with under the main word that represents their first element. (Murray qtd. which was published both in print (1989) and in electronic format (1992): a wide range of colloquial expressions and words belonging to regional dialects (English spoken in North America. by reference to their etymology.accordance with the methods and results of modern philological science”. New Zealand. inflections for irregular nouns and verbs and the particular domain or subject area to which the word belongs are mentioned). to record” – eg. Words in the OED are divided into three classes: “Main” words. and such words of bad formation. derived or compound – which “from their meaning. Subordinate words are “variant and obsolete forms of main words. by Jackson 2002: 53). to subsequent changes of their form in English and to other various facts about their history). the Signification (where the focus falls on the meaning(s) of words) and the Illustrative Quotations (at least one for each century during which the meaning of a word was known to have been in use). “Subordinate” words and “Combinations”. India. Combinations are derived or compound words that do not need to be defined or which can be briefly explained on the basis of their cognates. claim to be treated in separate articles” (Murray qtd. linguistics. “afforest” (obsolete variant of “athirst”). by Jackson 2002: 53). Both Main and Subordinate words are headwords in the dictionary. a valuable tool for students of English and scientists who explored its content for all kinds of scholarly endeavours. the latter being printed in smaller letters than the former.

To it. and the single consonant where British English has a double – “traveller”. “colour”. “center”. This attempt was entitled A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. In 1828. freed from under the British influence (the American colonies became independent from Britain in 1776) fueled the scholarly concerns of a number of linguists. “labour”. Webster published An American Dictionary of the English Language. will surely bring even more improvements to the already existent dictionary. Of them. a list of local post offices. 2. Besides advocating the spelling reform as a means of strengthening a national American language (his endeavour in this area took the form of the Elementary Spelling Book. of which only a limited number were words belonging to American English (some of them not even native.2. . “meter”. the ‘er’ for ‘re’ in words like “theater”. however. with the same nationalistic-oriented purpose in mind. the electronic version of the dictionary offers ways of searching for the information it contains that are not possible in the case of the paper variant. The Compendious Dictionary paved the way to what was to be a truly American dictionary 20 years later. etc. Noah Webster was a fervent proponent of the spelling reform which was supposed to individualize the American way of writing words as compared to the British (only a limited number of Webster’s suggestions were.“bobsled”. put in actual practice and are still observed today – the ‘or’ spelling for ‘our’ in words such as “favour”. “programme”). “equalling”. Needless to say. but rather an extension of John Entik’s New Spelling Dictionary of the English Language. Webster attempted at compiling an American English dictionary. and “Chronological Tables of Remarkable Events and Discoveries”. American lexicography Across the Atlantic. but borrowed) . printed in Great Britain in 1764. interest in asserting the identity of a new nation. which Oxford University Press is planning to publish in 2010. Webster added about 5000 new words collected from his readings and believed to have reflected life in America and an appendix containing a range of “encyclopedic” information such as foreign currency conversions. weights and measures. or the “BlueBack Speller” as it was known to the very numerous readers who used it in the eighteenth century America). Murray’s transcription system for pronunciation was replaced by the International Phonetic Alphabet. it was not a fully original work. containing about seventy thousand entries. The third edition of the OED. Published in 1806.words was abandoned (though the labeling of words as “obsolete” or “archaic” was preserved).

in which “Worcester’s dictionaries represented a conservative and Anglocentric approach to lexicography. “squash”. with Walker’s Pronouncing Dictionary. a revised and enlarged version of his 1828 dictionary. Worcester responded with the Universal and Critical Dictionary of the English Language . “wigwam”. in 1829. This exchange set the beginning of a twenty-year dictionary war. by a single-volume. improved version of the American Dictionary. It was only in 1930 that Worcester published a work of his own – The Comprehensive Pronouncing and Explanatory Dictionary . Webster published the American Dictionary. Webster’s view that America should distinguish itself linguistically from Britain was not supported unanimously. “moccasin”. the author’s preference for quotations from American authors rather than British ones to support the definitions of words in his dictionary only managed to illustrate the existence of insignificant differences between the two geographical varieties of English. who coordinated a new edition of Johnson’s dictionary. and not less carefully divided and ordered than any previously done in English lexicography (Morton 1994: 43)”. Special attention was paid to pronunciation. which were considered “more accurate. immediately after the . reason enough for Murray. who bought the publication rights from Webster’s heirs. as Improved by Todd. One of these scholars was Joseph Worcester. on the other hand. in 1846. By comparison with the two previous dictionaries. from which he omitted many of the original etymologies and citations. but which. in 1846.“gerrymander”. this contained more words and a spelling system that combined features of what Johnson and Webster suggested. Two years after the publication of this work. Some scholars continued to consider the latter the authority to look at for guidance in linguistic and lexicographic matters. the editor of the OED to call the American lexicographer “a born definer of words” (Jackson 2002: 63). he enriched with words he encountered while editing Johnson. Unfortunately. Combined. published by the Merriam brothers. which he entitled Johnson’s English Dictionary. more comprehensive. much appreciation was directed towards Webster’s definitions. etc. This was followed. while considerations regarding etymology were abandoned altogether. and Webster’s championed the distinctiveness of American English and the necessity for America to set its own linguistic standards” (Jackson 2002: 63). Webster reacted with accusations of plagiarism towards Worcester’s publications. To counterbalance the criticism of this shortcoming and that of the often flawed etymologies. Worcester published an abridgement of Webster’s American Dictionary. In 1841. and Abridged by Chalmers. which the latter denied.

000 words (unfortunately. According to Arvinte and Chiţoran (1978). the law and printing presses” (Jackson 2002: 64) and it went stronger and stronger on the market (the second edition was especially praised by both critics and users) until it reached its third edition. This became “the dictionary of preferred use in education. 3. indicated (quoted by Jackson 2002: 65). the chief editor of the dictionary. But Webster was to triumph in the end. how words ought to be pronounced. on both sides of the Atlantic. since “if people could no longer look to their Webster’s dictionary for an authoritative pronouncement on what the meaning ought to be. published by Hălăceanu. 150. sharp defining has been met through development of a new dictionary style based upon completely analytical one-phrase definitions throughout the book… Defining by synonym is carefully avoided”. the American Dictionary met with disapproval due to its stating word meanings in actual use. spelled and used. Though praised for the defining procedures. in 1937. a number of English-Romanian dictionaries were published before the 1989 Revolution that remained landmarks in our lexicography. This was followed. This approach was seen by many as a damaging drawback of the work. This last version contained 450. the first such dictionary was Marele dicţionar român – englez. instead of giving editorial opinion on what these meanings should be. Andronescu. in 1864. in 1961.000 less than the second edition).lexicographer’s death. by Lolliot’s Dicţionar englez-român and by Wepper’s Dicţionar englez-român. Even more numerous works of this kind have been printed starting with the late 90’s. in 1900. in 1860. defined in an innovative manner. Dictionaries for English and Romanian Though interest in English has risen considerably during the past twenty years. in 1908. the Dictionary of the English Language. who brought out a completely new work. Pop and . a piece of criticism which will probably be taken into account in the preparation of the fourth edition of the dictionary. “the primary objective of precise. then they were adrift in a linguistic sea without any chart or compass” (Jackson 2002: 65). Other EnglishRomanian dictionaries are: Dicţionar englez-român (edited by Sădeanu. which began in 2008. As Gove. after the fall of the communist regime in Romania and the opening of the country towards the international world. The next to fire in the war was Worcester. by launching by the editors Noah Porter and Carl Mahn of a thoroughly revised version of the American Dictionary. soon acknowledged as the best available work of its kind.

In P. Bantaş. Leviţchi’s Dicţionar român-englez. many of these need obvious improvement in terms of both the number of words and phrases included and the way the existent entries are defined. Andronescu. 1961. and D. In A. coordinated by Leviţchi and printed for the first time in 1974. Chiţoran. Alexander. ‘The Perception of Proverbiality’. 1978. Dicţionar de buzunar englez-român.dictionare. Dicţionar de buzunar englez-român şi roman-englez. both published by Andronescu in 1961. Dicţionar de buzunar englez-român şi român-englez (Bantaş 1969). Dicţionar de buzunar roman-englez.). Drama. with a first edition in 1998 and a second in 2009. Hard copies of Romanian-English general reference books apart. In Mieder. Dicţionar de buzunar englez-român and Dicţionar de buzunar englez-român.ro. pp. Science. 1984. printed in 2000 and reprinted in 2002 and coordinated by Nedelcu. Dicţionar englez-român. Allegrini. Bucureşti: Editura Ştiinţifică.ro/dictionar-romanenglez. 1989. with a second edition in 2004. Idioms and Collocations Revisited’. etc.000 de cuvinte by Leviţchi and Bantaş (1997. Dicţionar român-englez. ‘Germanic Languages’. Arvinte. Meara (Ed.engleza-online. S. 2005). Karin. 3-29. Essays on the Proverb. S. 60. the Romanian Academy’s Dicţionar englez-român. ‘Fixed Expressions. 1961. Wise Words. Letters. www. 35.). New York: Garland. London: Longman. Bucureşti: Editura Academiei RSR. 1996. 70. REFERENCES Aijmer. Papers from the Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics. 1989. Leviţchi’s 1960 Dicţionar român-englez (with a revised and enlarged second edition published in 1965 and the latest version in 2005) . Current Trends in Romanian Linguistics. 15-24.). the Internet has lately offered the possibility of working with online dictionaries that are available on sites such as www. in 1958). pp. . Murar. W. Exeter. 1988. 2003. Bucureşti: Editura Ştiinţifică.000 de cuvinte. Dicţionar englez-român.php. R. Shirley.dictionarromanenglez. www. CILT: London. by Bantaş (2005). Conversational Routines in English: Convention and Creativity. V. Beyond Words. Arora. A.se. Paola. Bucureşti: Editura Ştiinţifică.com. printed in 1965. Bratu and Bantaş.Streinu. Online at http://www. (Ed. 1978. Unfortunately.000 cuvinte. Bogdan’s Dicţionar englez-român. Andronescu. Adjectives of Scandinavian Origin in 19 th Century English.oru. 1969. Rosetti and Sanda Golopenţia Eretescu (Eds. 1994.

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