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Lexicology as a science

The term lexicology is composed of two Greek morphemes lexic word, phrase & logos which denotes learning a
department of knowledge. Literally - the science of the word.
Lexicology as a branch of linguistics has its own aims & methods of scientific research. Its basic task being a study
& systematic description of vocabulary in respect to its origin, development & its current use. Lexicology is concerned
with words, variable word-groups, phraseological units & morphemes which make up words.
Lexicology is closely connected with other branches of linguistics :
Phonetics - investigates the phonetic structure of language. Grammar - the study of the grammatical structure of language.
Stylistics - is concerned with a study of a nature , functions & styles of languages .
In lexicology the word is studied as a part of the system. In lexicography it is studied as an individual unit in respect of its
meaning and use from the practical point of its use by the reader of the dictionary for learning the language or
comprehending texts in it or for any other purpose like checking correct spelling, pronunciation etc. The aim of lexicology is
to study the vocabulary of a language as a system. Its goal is systematization in the study as a whole but not completeness as
regards individual units.
Lexicography is the science and art of compiling dictionary.
Approaches to language study
There are two approaches in linguistic science to the study of language material : synchronic & diachronic. The synchronic
approach is concerned with the vocabulary of a particular language as it exists at a given time. The diachronic approach deals
with the changes & the development of vocabulary in the coarse of time. It is Special Historical lexicology.
Closely connected with the Historical lexicology is Contrastive & Comparative lexicology whose aims are to study the
correlation between the vocabularies of two or more languages.
We proceed from the assumption that the word is the basic unit of the language system, the largest on morphological & the
smallest on syntactic plane of linguistic analyses . The word as well as any linguistic sign is a two-faced unit possessing
both form & content or , to be more exact , sound-form & meaning.
The system showing a word in all its word-forms is called a paradigm . The lexical meaning of a word is the same
throughout the paradigm . Words as a whole are to be found in the dictionary (showing the paradigm n noun , v verb ,
There are two approaches to the paradigm : as a system of forms of one word revealing the differences & the relationships
between them (to see saw - seen seeing). Besides the grammatical forms of words there are lexical varieties which are
called variants of words. (to make a dress, to make smbd. do smth). These are lexico-semantic variants, phonetic &
morphological variants. There are morphological variants. (meaning is the same but the model is different).
Methods of investigation
The process of scientific investigation may be subdivided into several stages :
* Observation - includes linguistics & is the center of what is called the inductive method of inquiry . The role of
inductive procedures is that the statements of fact must be based on observation not on logical conclusions or personal
preferences .
* classification of those facts which were obtained through observation ( e. g. It is observed that in English nouns the suffixal
morpheme -er is added to verbal stems ( to cook cooker , to write writer ) & noun stems ( village villager , London
Londoner ). The same suffix also occurs in the words such as mother , father . The question is whether the words mother ,
father have suffix . They havent , thus we can come to the conclusion that -er can be found in derived & non-derived
words .)
* generalization , the collection of data & their classification must lead to the formulation of a hypotheses , rule , or law .
( e. g. In the case with -er we can formulate the rule that
derived words in -er may have either verbal or noun stems .)
* verification of the generalizations that are the result of his inquires . For these aims different methods & procedures are
used: contrastive analyses , statistical methods of analyses , distributional analyses , componental analyses & method of
semantic differentiation .
Contrastive analysis (detailed comparison of the structure of a native & a target language)
Contrastive analysis is applied to reveal the features of sameness & difference in the lexical meaning & the semantic
structure of correlated words in different languages. Contrastive analysis can be carried out at three linguistic levels:
phonology , grammar ( morphology & syntax ) & lexis. Differences in the lexical meaning ( a new dress - new potatoes , new
bread ). Grammatical meaning (singular or prular). Idioms.
Contrastive linguists attempt to find out similarities & differences in both related & non-related languages

Method of semantic differential

A word has not only one meaning & even one word usually implies some
additional information which differentiates one word from another . (e. g. to like , to love , to warship). All the words denote
positive feelings , characteristic of a human being . But each of them gives additional information on the so-called strength
of feeling .
Semasiology .
It is a branch of linguistics which studies meaning . Semasiology is singled out as an independent branch of lexicology
alongside word-formation , etymology , phraseology & lexicography . The significance of semasiology may be accounted
for by three main
considerations :
1. Language is the basic human communication system aimed at ensuring the
exchange of information between the communicants.
2. By definition lexicology deals with words , morpheme & word-groups .
3. Semasiology underlines all other branches of lexicology . Meaning is the object of semasiological study .
There are 3 main categories of definitions which may be referred to as :
- analytical or referential definition of meaning
They seek to find the essence of meaning establishing the interdependence between words of the objects or phenomena they
denote. If we hear a sound-form, a certain idea arises in our mind & the idea brings out a certain referent that exists in the
reality . The strongest point in the approach is an attempt to link the notion of meaning with the process of naming the
objects , processes or phenomena of concrete reality.
It has also been stated that the referential approach fails to account for that fact that one word may denote different objects &
phenomena . That is the case of polysemy . On the other hand one & the same object may be denoted by different words &
that is the case of synonymy .
- functional or contextual definition
Proceeding from the assumptions that the true meaning of a word is to be found by observing what a man does with it not
what he says about it. To get a better insight in to the semantics of a word it is necessary to analyze as many contexts in which
it is realized as possible.
- operational or information-oriented definition
They are centered on defining meaning through its role in the process of communication. Information-oriented definitions
are part of studying words in action. They are more interested
in how the words work , how the meaning works than what the meaning is. Implication would depend on the concrete
situation of communication.
Morphology is the identification, analysis and description of the structure of words. While words are generally accepted as
being the smallest units of syntax, it is clear that in most languages, words can be related to other words by rules.
Word formation is a process, where you combine two complete words, whereas with inflection you can combine a suffix with
some verb to change its form to subject of the sentence.
An important difference between inflection and word formation is that inflected word forms of lexemes are organized into
paradigms, which are defined by the requirements of syntactic rules, whereas the rules of word formation are not restricted by
any corresponding requirements of syntax. Inflection is therefore said to be relevant to syntax, and word formation is not.
Two kinds of word formation: derivation and compounding. Compounding is a process of word formation that involves
combining complete word forms into a single compound form ( dog catcher). Derivation involves affixing bound (nonindependent) forms to existing lexemes, whereby the addition of the affix derives a new lexeme ( independent ).
Lexical morphology
Lexical morphology is the branch of morphology that deals with the lexicon, which is the collection of lexemes in a language.
As such, it concerns itself primarily with word formation: derivation and compounding.
There are three principal approaches to morphology, which try to capture the distinctions above in different ways:
Morpheme-based morphology, which makes use of an Item-and-Arrangement approach.
In morpheme-based morphology, word forms are analyzed as arrangements of morphemes. A morpheme is defined as the
minimal meaningful unit of a language. In a word like independently, we say that the morphemes are in-, depend, -ent, and ly;
depend is the root and the other morphemes are derivational affixes. In a word like dogs, we say that dog is the root, and that -s
is an inflectional morpheme.
Lexeme-based morphology, which normally makes use of an Item-and-Process approach.
Instead of analyzing a word form as a set of morphemes arranged in sequence, a word form is said to be the result of applying
rules that alter a word form or stem in order to produce a new one.
Word-based morphology, which normally makes use of a Word-and-Paradigm approach.

This theory takes paradigms as a central notion. states generalizations that hold between the forms of inflectional paradigms.
The major point behind this approach is that many such generalizations are hard to state with either of the other approaches.
Homonyms - Different words with the same sounds: bear


1. Lexical Content Words - open class words
The classes of words that are defined as words which have stateable LEXICAL MEAING. They are also called pen class words,
since we can add new words to these classes. We can and regularly do add new words to these classes
e. g. - download : entered English with the computer revolution
- Nouns (attached by the suffix -s to mark plural, take s to mark possessive)
- Verbs (attached by the suffixes -ed, -s, -ing, -en): walked, walks, walking
- Adjectives (attached by the suffixes -er, -est or use with more, most): taller , tallest, morebeautiful
- Adverbs (attached by the suffix -ly; or use with more, most): nicely , more beautifully
2. Function Words (Grammatical Words) --closed class words
The class of words whose role is largely grammatical and do not carry the main semantic content. They are closed class words
since the number of function words are limited in a language.
articles the, a/an, some, lots of, few
can, could, shall, should, may, might, must
no, not
subordinate conjunction while
very, too
and, or, but (connect two independent clauses)
in, of
I, me, mine, he, she, and so on
A grammatical unit in which there is an arbitrary union of a sound and a meaning that cannot be further analyzed.
One morpheme
Two morpheme
Three morpheme
Four morpheme
More than four

boy (one syllable)

desire, lady, water (two syllables)
crocodile (three syllables)
salamander (four syllables),
boy + ish
desire + able
boy + ish + ness
desire + able + ity
gentle + man + li + ness
un + desire + able + ity
un + gentle + man + li + ness
anti + dis + establish + ment + ari + an + ism

1. Free Morphemes : Morphemes which can be used as a word on its own (without the need for further elements, i.e. affixes)
e. g.: girl, system, desire, hope, act, phone, happy..
2. Bound Morphemes: Morphemes which cannot occur on its own as an independent (or separate) word: affixes (prefix, suffix,
infix and circumfix)
3. Root vs. Stem Non-affix lexical content morphemes that cannot be analyzed into smaller parts. When a root morpheme is
combined with affix morphemes, it forms a stem.
believe (verb)
believe + able (verb + suffix)
un + believe + able (prefix + verb + suffix)
4. Derivational morphemes vs. Inflectional Morphemes (Bound morphemes)
Derivational Morphemes
1. Derivational morphemes derive a new word by being attached to root morphemes or stems.
2. They can be both suffixes and prefixes in English.
3. Change of Meaning : un+do (the opposite meaning of do), sing+er (new word with the meaning of a person who sings).
4. Change of the syntactic category (optionally)
Inflectional Morphemes
1. Inflectional morphemes signal grammatical information such as number (plural), tense, possession and so on.
2. They are only found in suffixes in English: boys, Marys , walked
3. No change of Meaning: walk vs. walks, toy vs. toys
4. Change of the syntactic category (optionally)
English Inflectional Morphemes
-s third person singular present

She waits at home.


past tense
past participle

She waited at home.

She is eating the donut.
Mary has eaten the donuts.
She ate the donuts.
Disa's hair is short.
Disa has shorter hair than Karin.
Disa has the shortest hair.

i) Change of category
Noun to Adjective

Elizabeth (noun) + an ----> Elizabethan (adj.)

Verb to Noun

predict (Verb) + ion ----> prediction (noun)

Adjective to Adverb

exact (adj) + ly ----> exactly (adv)

Noun to Verb

moral (noun) + ize ----> moralize (verb)

Adjective to Noun

specific (Adj.) + ity ---->specificity (noun)

ii) No change of category

friend+ship (Noun --> Noun)
(Adjective --> Adjective)
(Verb --> Verb)
Suffixes are attached to the end of the stem;
Prefixes - to the front of the stem;
Infixes are put in the middle of the word;
Ablaut is a change in a vowel that carries extra meaning (goose geese, sing sang)
Reduplication is a matter of doubling a syllable to do the same.

1.2 Lexicography and Linguistics: as already noted, the basic concern of lexicography is 'word'
which is studied in different branches of linguistics, viz, phonetics, grammar, stylistics etc.
Lexicography is not only related to linguistics but is an applied discipline under it. The practical
problems of lexicography are solved by the application of the researches of linguistic works. As
we shall see below, in his entire work from the selection of entries, fixation of head words, the
definition of words to the arrangement of meanings and entries, the lexicographer is helped by
the work of different branches of linguistics.
One of the most widely accepted criteria for selection of entries in many dictionaries is usually
frequency count. The frequency of head words the lexicographer usually chooses the canonical
or the most frequently occurring form of a word. This is found out from the grammatical study of
the language. For written languages and languages with established grammatical traditions the
problem of selection of the head word is not so difficult as in the case of unwritten languages.
Here the lexicographer has to be his own linguist and have recourse to the linguistic analysis of
the language. For data collection he takes the help of field linguistics and for analysis, of
descriptive linguistics. For giving definitions of flora and fauna as also of artifacts and other
cultural items the lexicographer gives encyclopaedic information. For this the principle of the
hierarchical structure of the vocabulary in terms of folk taxonomy is utilized by a lexicographer.
Thus he enters the domain of ethnolinguistics.
For giving spellings and pronunciation of words in his dictionary the lexicographer is helped by
the phonetic study of the language. For grammatical information he has to depend on the
morphological analysis of the language.
In the determination of the central meaning of a polysemous word the lexicographer is helped by
historical linguistics. Etymology gives him the clue to decide the basic meaning. In the fixation
of the number of meanings and their interrelationship the lexicographer has to take recourse to
the linguistic methods of set collocations, valency and selective restrictions etc.
Historical linguistics helps in tracing the origin and development of the form and meaning of the
words in historical dictionaries. In descriptive dictionaries such labels as archaic, obsolete etc.,
denoting the temporal status of words, are decided with the help of historical linguistics.
Historical linguistics, especially etymological study, helps in distinguishing between homonymy
and polysemy. But where etymological consideration is not applicable for want of such studies it
is the native speaker's intuition which is taken as the determining factor. In this the lexicographer
is helped by psycholinguistics. Psycholinguistics also helps in providing material for vocabulary
development which might be used for the preparation of the graded dictionaries.
Dictionaries give status labels like slang, jargon, taboo, figurative, formal, graamya (vulgar) etc.
These labels are decided with the help of sociolinguistic and stylistic studies.
For dialect dictionaries dialectology is a necessary helpmate.
A basic prerequisite of bilingual dictionaries is a contrastive analysis of the linguistic systems of
the two languages. This is provided by contrastive linguistics.
All this shows that in his work the lexicographer has, to a large extent, always to depend on the
findings of different branches of linguistics. But this is not so in actual life. Lexicographical
works had preceded grammatical works in many languages. It is not only the findings of
linguistics which help in the solution of lexicographical problems, the lexicographical findings
are equally utilized by the linguists for different purposes of authenticating their hypothesis, in
helping standardization of the languages, especially in the fields of technical terminologies.
The problems of a lexicographer are practical and need based requiring at-the-moment solution.
The lexicographer cannot wait for certain findings in the field of linguistics or other disciplines
for the solution of his problems. It is here that linguistics might fail to meet the needs of a
lexicographer. There are different schools of linguistics vying with each other in theoretical

researches. The findings of one school are contradicted by the other. There are different studies
on the same aspect of a language. Nothing is final. The lexicographer might not afford to wait for
the final word to come. Moreover, many languages still remain uninvestigated. So the
lexicographer has to find his own way. In his entire work, the lexicographer is guided by the
practical considerations of a dictionary user. The linguistic theories are quite important for the
lexicographer but practical utility is more basic for him. As rightly put forward by Urdang
"Lexicography, in practice is a form of applied linguistics and although more theoreticians would
be a welcome addition to the field, they must remember that their theories should be
interpretable above all in terms of practicality." (Urdang, 1963, 594)