Lexicology of the English Language

Lexicology of the English Language


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This course of lexicology which forms a part of the

curriculum for the English sections of linguistic departments of

teacher-training colleges is intended for students of the third

year of the day department. It includes 15 lectures and 12

seminars which cover the main themes of Modern English

lexicology: wordbuilding, semantic changes, phraseology,

borrowings, semasiology, neology, lexicography. The material for

seminars includes topics to be discussed, test questions and

lexical units to be analized. Lexical units for the analysis

were chosen mainly among neologisms. There is also a brief list

of recommended literature.

The aim of the course is to teach students to be word-conscious, to be

able to guess the meaning of words they come across from the meanings of

morphemes, to be able to recognize the origin of this or that lexical unit.



Language units



Compound words



Stone wall combinations


Seconadary ways of wordbuilding

Semantic changes



Metaphor and metonymy


Ways of forming phraseological units

Semantic classification of phraseological units

Structural classification of phraseological units

Syntactical classification of phraseological units


Classification of borrowings according to the borrowed


Classification of borrowings according to the degree of


Classification of borrowings according to the language

from which they were borrowed.

Romanic borrowings/ Latin, French, Italian, Spanish/.

Germanic borrowings /Scandinavian, German, Holland/ .

Russian borrowings.

Etymological doublets.


Word - meaning.

Lexical meaning - notion.



Synonyms .

Antonyms .

Local varieties of English.

British and American English.





The term lexicology is of Greek origin / from lexis - word and

logos - science/ . Lexicology is the part of linguistics which deals

with the vocabulary and characteristic features of words and word-groups.

The term vocabulary is used to denote the system of words and word-

groups that the language possesses.

The term word denotes the main lexical unit of a language resulting

from the association of a group of sounds with a meaning. This unit is used

in grammatical functions characteristic of it. It is the smallest unit of a

language which can stand alone as a complete utterance.

The term word-group denotes a group of words which exists in the

language as a ready-made unit, has the unity of meaning, the unity of

syntactical function, e.g. the word-group as loose as a goose means

clumsy and is used in a sentence as a predicative / He is as loose as a


Lexicology can study the development of the vocabulary, the origin of

words and word-groups, their semantic relations and the development of

their sound form and meaning. In this case it is called historical


Another branch of lexicology is called descriptive and studies the

vocabulary at a definite stage of its development.


The main unit of the lexical system of a language resulting from the

association of a group of sounds with a meaning is a word. This unit is

used in grammatical functions characteristic of it. It is the smallest

language unit which can stand alone as a complete utterance.

A word, however, can be divided into smaller sense units - morphemes. The

morpheme is the smallest meaningful language unit. The morpheme consists of

a class of variants, allomorphs, which are either phonologically or

morphologically conditioned, e.g. please, pleasant, pleasure.

Morphemes are divided into two large groups: lexical morphemes and

grammatical (functional) morphemes. Both lexical and grammatical morphemes

can be free and bound. Free lexical morphemes are roots of words which

express the lexical meaning of the word, they coincide with the stem of

simple words. Free grammatical morphemes are function words: articles,

conjunctions and prepositions ( the, with, and).

Bound lexical morphemes are affixes: prefixes (dis-), suffixes (-ish) and

also blocked (unique) root morphemes (e.g. Fri-day, cran-berry). Bound

grammatical morphemes are inflexions (endings), e.g. -s for the Plural of

nouns, -ed for the Past Indefinite of regular verbs, -ing for the Present

Participle, -er for the Comparative degree of adjectives.

In the second half of the twentieth century the English wordbuilding

system was enriched by creating so called splinters which scientists

include in the affixation stock of the Modern English wordbuilding system.

Splinters are the result of clipping the end or the beginning of a word

and producing a number of new words on the analogy with the primary word-

group. For example, there are many words formed with the help of the

splinter mini- (apocopy produced by clipping the word miniature), such as

miniplane, minijet, minicycle, minicar, miniradio and many

others. All of these words denote obects of smaller than normal dimensions.

On the analogy with mini- there appeared the splinter maxi- (apocopy

produced by clipping the word maximum), such words as maxi-series,

maxi-sculpture, maxi-taxi and many others appeared in the language.

When European economic community was organized quite a number of

neologisms with the splinter Euro- (apocopy produced by clipping the word

European) were coined, such as: Euratom Eurocard, Euromarket,

Europlug, Eurotunnel and many others. These splinters are treated

sometimes as prefixes in Modern English.

There are also splinters which are formed by means of apheresis, that is

clipping the beginning of a word. The origin of such splinters can be

variable, e.g. the splinter burger appeared in English as the result of

clipping the German borrowing Hamburger where the morphological structure

was the stem Hamburg and the suffix -er. However in English the

beginning of the word Hamburger was associated with the English word

ham, and the end of the word burger got the meaning a bun cut into

two parts. On the analogy with the word hamburger quite a number of new

words were coined, such as: baconburger, beefburger, cheeseburger,

fishburger etc.

The splinter cade developed by clipping the beginning of the word

cavalcade which is of Latin origin. In Latin the verb with the meaning

to ride a horse is cabalicare and by means of the inflexion -ata the

corresponding Participle is formed. So the element cade is a combination

of the final letter of the stem and the inflexion. The splinter cade

serves to form nouns with the meaning connected with the procession of

vehicles denoted by the first component, e.g. aircade - a group of

airplanes accompanying the plane of a VIP , autocade - a group of

automobiles escorting the automobile of a VIP, musicade - an orchestra

participating in a procession.

In the seventieths of the twentieth century there was a political scandal

in the hotel Watergate where the Democratic Party of the USA had its pre-

election headquarters. Republicans managed to install bugs there and when

they were discovered there was a scandal and the ruling American government

had to resign. The name Watergate acquired the meaning a political

scandal, corruption. On the analogy with this word quite a number of

other words were formed by using the splinter gate (apheresis of the

word Watergate), such as: Irangate, Westlandgate, shuttlegate,

milliongate etc. The splinter gate is added mainly to Proper names:

names of people with whom the scandal is connected or a geographical name

denoting the place where the scandal occurred.

The splinter mobile was formed by clipping the beginning of the word

automobile and is used to denote special types of automobiles, such as:

artmobile, bookmobile, snowmobile, tourmobile etc.

The splinter napper was formed by clipping the beginning of the word

kidnapper and is used to denote different types of crimesters, such as :

busnapper, babynapper, dognapper etc. From such nouns the

corresponding verbs are formed by means of backformation, e.g. to busnap,

to babynap, to dognap.

The splinter omat was formed by clipping the beginning of the word

automat (a cafe in which meals are provided in slot-machines). The

meaning self-service is used in such words as laundromat, cashomat


Another splinter eteria with the meaning self-service was formed by

clipping the beginning of the word cafeteria. By means of the splinter

eteria the following words were formed: groceteria, booketeria,

booteteria and many others.

The splinter quake is used to form new words with the meaning of

shaking, agitation. This splinter was formed by clipping the

beginning of the word earthquake. Ther following words were formed with

the help of this splinter: Marsquake, Moonquake, youthquake etc.

The splinter rama(ama) is a clipping of the word panorama of Greek

origin where pan means all and horama means view. In Modern

English the meaning view was lost and the splinter rama is used in

advertisements to denote objects of supreme quality, e.g. autorama means

exhibition-sale of expensive cars, trouserama means sale of trousers

of supreme quality etc.

The splinter scape is a clipping of the word landscape and it is

used to form words denoting different types of landscapes, such as:

moonscape, streetscape, townscape, seascape etc.

Another case of splinters is tel which is the result of clipping the

beginning of the word hotel. It serves to form words denoting different

types of hotels, such as: motel (motor-car hotel), boatel (boat hotel),

floatel (a hotel on water, floating), airtel (airport hotel) etc.

The splinter theque is the result of clipping the beginning of the word

apotheque of Greek origin which means in Greek a store house. In

Russian words: , , the element

corresponding to the English theque preserves the meaning of

storing something which is expressed by the first component of the word. In

English the splinter theque is used to denote a place for dancing, such

as: discotheque, jazzotheque.

The splinter thon is the result of clipping the beginning of the word

marathon. Marathon primarily was the name of a battle-field in Greece,

forty miles from Athens, where there was a battle between the Greek and

the Persian. When the Greek won a victory a Greek runner was sent to Athens

to tell people about the victory. Later on the word Marathon was used

to denote long-distance competitions in running. The splinter

thon(athon) denotes something continuing for a long time, competition

in endurance e.g. dancathon, telethon, speakathon, readathon,

walkathon, moviethon, swimathon, talkathon, swearthon etc.

Splinters can be the result of clipping adjectives or substantivized

adjectives. The splinter aholic (holic) was formed by clipping the

beginning of the word alcoholic of Arabian origin where al denoted

the, kohl - powder for staining lids. The splinter (a)holic

means infatuated by the object expressed by the stem of the word , e.g.

bookaholic, computerholic, coffeeholic, cheesaholic, workaholic

and many others.

The splinter genic formed by clipping the beginning of the word

photogenic denotes the notion suitable for something denoted by the

stem, e.g. allergenic, cardiogenic, mediagenic, telegenic etc.

As far as verbs are concerned it is not typical of them to be clipped

that is why there is only one splinter to be used for forming new verbs in

this way. It is the splinter cast formed by clipping the beginning of

the verb broadcast. This splinter was used to form the verbs

telecast and abroadcast.

Splinters can be called pseudomorphemes because they are neither roots

nor affixes, they are more or less artificial. In English there are words

which consist of two splinters, e.g. telethon, therefore it is more

logical to call words with splinters in their structure compound-

shortened words consisting of two clippings of words.

Splinters have only one function in English: they serve to change the

lexical meaning of the same part of speech, whereas prefixes and suffixes

can also change the part-of-speech meaning , e.g. the prefix en- and

its allomorph em can form verbs from noun and adjective stems (embody,

enable, endanger), be- can form verbs from noun and adjective stems

(becloud, benumb), post- and pre- can form adjectives from noun

stems (pre-election campaign, post-war events). The main function of

suffixes is to form one part of speech from another part of speech, e.g. -

er, -ing, -ment form nouns from verbal stems (teacher, dancing,

movement), -ness, -ity are used to form nouns from adjective stems

(clannishnes, marginality).

According to the nature and the number of morphemes constituting a word

there are different structural types of words in English: simple,

derived, compound, compound-derived.

Simple words consist of one root morpheme and an inflexion (in many cases

the inflexion is zero), e.g. seldom, chairs, longer, asked.

Derived words consist of one root morpheme, one or several affixes and an

inlexion, e.g. deristricted, unemployed.

Compound words consist of two or more root morphemes and an inflexion,

e.g. baby-moons, wait-and-see (policy).

Compound-derived words consist of two or more root morphemes, one or more

affixes and an inflexion, e.g. middle-of-the-roaders, job-hopper.

When speaking about the structure of words stems also should be

mentioned. The stem is the part of the word which remains unchanged

throughout the paradigm of the word, e.g. the stem hop can be found in

the words: hop, hops, hopped, hopping. The stem hippie can be

found in the words: hippie, hippies, hippies, hippies. The stem

job-hop can be found in the words : job-hop, job-hops, job-hopped,


So stems, the same as words, can be simple, derived, compound and

compound-derived. Stems have not only the lexical meaning but also

grammatical (part-of-speech) meaning, they can be noun stems (girl in the

adjective girlish), adjective stems (girlish in the noun

girlishness), verb stems (expell in the noun expellee) etc. They

differ from words by the absence of inflexions in their structure, they

can be used only in the structure of words.

Sometimes it is rather difficult to distinguish between simple and

derived words, especially in the cases of phonetic borrowings from other

languages and of native words with blocked (unique) root morphemes, e.g.

perestroika, cranberry, absence etc.

As far as words with splinters are concerned it is difficult to

distinguish between derived words and compound-shortened words. If a

splinter is treated as an affix (or a semi-affix) the word can be called

derived , e.g.-, telescreen, maxi-taxi , shuttlegate, cheeseburger.

But if the splinter is treated as a lexical shortening of one of the stems

, the word can be called compound-shortened word formed from a word

combination where one of the components was shortened, e.g. busnapper

was formed from bus kidnapper, minijet from miniature jet.

In the English language of the second half of the twentieth century there

developed so called block compounds, that is compound words which have a

uniting stress but a split spelling, such as chat show, pinguin suit

etc. Such compound words can be easily mixed up with word-groups of the

type stone wall, so called nominative binomials. Such linguistic units

serve to denote a notion which is more specific than the notion expressed

by the second component and consists of two nouns, the first of which is an

attribute to the second one. If we compare a nominative binomial with a

compound noun with the structure N+N we shall see that a nominative

binomial has no unity of stress. The change of the order of its components

will change its lexical meaning, e.g. vid kid is a kid who is a video

fan while kid vid means a video-film for kids or else lamp oil

means oil for lamps and oil lamp means a lamp which uses oil for


Among language units we can also point out word combinations of

different structural types of idiomatic and non-idiomatic character, such

as the first fiddle, old salt and round table, high road. There

are also sentences which are studied by grammarians.

Thus, we can draw the conclusion that in Modern English the following

language units can be mentioned: morphemes, splinters, words, nominative

binomials, non-idiomatic and idiomatic word-combinations, sentences.


Word-building is one of the main ways of enriching vocabulary. There are

four main ways of word-building in modern English: affixation,

composition, conversion, abbreviation. There are also secondary ways of

word-building: sound interchange, stress interchange, sound imitation,

blends, back formation.


Affixation is one of the most productive ways of word-building throughout

the history of English. It consists in adding an affix to the stem of a

definite part of speech. Affixation is divided into suffixation and



The main function of suffixes in Modern English is to form one part of

speech from another, the secondary function is to change the lexical

meaning of the same part of speech. ( e.g. educate is a verb, educatee

is a noun, and music is a noun, musicdom is also a noun) .

There are different classifications of suffixes :

1. Part-of-speech classification. Suffixes which can form different

parts of speech are given here :

a) noun-forming suffixes, such as : -er (criticizer), -dom (officialdom),

-ism (ageism),

b) adjective-forming suffixes, such as : -able (breathable), less

(symptomless), -ous (prestigious),

c) verb-forming suffixes, such as -ize (computerize) , -ify (micrify),

d) adverb-forming suffixes , such as : -ly (singly), -ward (tableward),

e) numeral-forming suffixes, such as -teen (sixteen), -ty (seventy).

2. Semantic classification . Suffixes changing the lexical meaning of

the stem can be subdivided into groups, e.g. noun-forming suffixes can


a) the agent of the action, e.g. -er (experimenter), -ist (taxist), -ent


b) nationality, e.g. -ian (Russian), -ese (Japanese), -ish (English),

c) collectivity, e.g. -dom (moviedom), -ry (peasantry, -ship

(readership), -ati ( literati),

d) diminutiveness, e.g. -ie (horsie), -let (booklet), -ling (gooseling),

-ette (kitchenette),

e) quality, e.g. -ness (copelessness), -ity (answerability).

3. Lexico-grammatical character of the stem. Suffixes which can be added

to certain groups of stems are subdivided into:

a) suffixes added to verbal stems, such as : -er (commuter), -ing

(suffering), - able (flyable), -ment (involvement), -ation


b) suffixes added to noun stems, such as : -less (smogless), ful

(roomful), -ism (adventurism), -ster (pollster), -nik (filmnik), -ish


c) suffixes added to adjective stems, such as : -en (weaken), -ly

(pinkly), -ish (longish), -ness (clannishness).

4. Origin of suffixes. Here we can point out the following groups:

a) native (Germanic), such as -er,-ful, -less, -ly.

b) Romanic, such as : -tion, -ment, -able, -eer.

c) Greek, such as : -ist, -ism, -ize.

d) Russian, such as -nik.

5. Productivity. Here we can point out the following groups:

a) productive, such as : -er, -ize, --ly, -ness.

b) semi-productive, such as : -eer, -ette, -ward.

c) non-productive , such as : -ard (drunkard), -th (length).

Suffixes can be polysemantic, such as : -er can form nouns with the

following meanings : agent,doer of the action expressed by the stem

(speaker), profession, occupation (teacher), a device, a tool

(transmitter). While speaking about suffixes we should also mention

compound suffixes which are added to the stem at the same time, such as

-ably, -ibly, (terribly, reasonably), -ation (adaptation from adapt).

There are also disputable cases whether we have a suffix or a root

morpheme in the structure of a word, in such cases we call such morphemes

semi-suffixes, and words with such suffixes can be classified either as

derived words or as compound words, e.g. -gate (Irangate), -burger

(cheeseburger), -aholic (workaholic) etc.


Prefixation is the formation of words by means of adding a prefix to the

stem. In English it is characteristic for forming verbs. Prefixes are more

independent than suffixes. Prefixes can be classified according to the

nature of words in which they are used : prefixes used in notional words

and prefixes used in functional words. Prefixes used in notional words are

proper prefixes which are bound morphemes, e.g. un- (unhappy). Prefixes

used in functional words are semi-bound morphemes because they are met in

the language as words, e.g. over- (overhead) ( cf over the table ).

The main function of prefixes in English is to change the lexical meaning

of the same part of speech. But the recent research showed that about

twenty-five prefixes in Modern English form one part of speech from another

(bebutton, interfamily, postcollege etc).

Prefixes can be classified according to different principles :

1. Semantic classification :

a) prefixes of negative meaning, such as : in- (invaluable), non-

(nonformals), un- (unfree) etc,

b) prefixes denoting repetition or reversal actions, such as: de-

(decolonize), re- (revegetation), dis- (disconnect),

c) prefixes denoting time, space, degree relations, such as : inter-

(interplanetary) , hyper- (hypertension), ex- (ex-student), pre- (pre-

election), over- (overdrugging) etc.

2. Origin of prefixes:

a) native (Germanic), such as: un-, over-, under- etc.

b) Romanic, such as : in-, de-, ex-, re- etc.

c) Greek, such as : sym-, hyper- etc.

When we analyze such words as : adverb, accompany where we can find the

root of the word (verb, company) we may treat ad-, ac- as prefixes though

they were never used as prefixes to form new words in English and were

borrowed from Romanic languages together with words. In such cases we can

treat them as derived words. But some scientists treat them as simple

words. Another group of words with a disputable structure are such as :

contain, retain, detain and conceive, receive, deceive where we can see

that re-, de-, con- act as prefixes and -tain, -ceive can be understood as

roots. But in English these combinations of sounds have no lexical meaning

and are called pseudo-morphemes. Some scientists treat such words as simple

words, others as derived ones.

There are some prefixes which can be treated as root morphemes by some

scientists, e.g. after- in the word afternoon. American lexicographers

working on Webster dictionaries treat such words as compound words. British

lexicographers treat such words as derived ones.


Composition is the way of wordbuilding when a word is formed by joining

two or more stems to form one word. The structural unity of a compound

word depends upon : a) the unity of stress, b) solid or hyphonated

spelling, c) semantic unity, d) unity of morphological and syntactical

functioning. These are charachteristic features of compound words in all

languages. For English compounds some of these factors are not very

reliable. As a rule English compounds have one uniting stress (usually on

the first component), e.g. hard-cover, best-seller. We can also have a

double stress in an English compound, with the main stress on the first

component and with a secondary stress on the second component, e.g. blood-

vessel. The third pattern of stresses is two level stresses, e.g. snow-

white,sky-blue. The third pattern is easily mixed up with word-groups

unless they have solid or hyphonated spelling.

Spelling in English compounds is not very reliable as well because they

can have different spelling even in the same text, e.g. war-ship, blood-

vessel can be spelt through a hyphen and also with a break, iinsofar,

underfoot can be spelt solidly and with a break. All the more so that there

has appeared in Modern English a special type of compound words which are

called block compounds, they have one uniting stress but are spelt with a

break, e.g. air piracy, cargo module, coin change, pinguin suit etc.

The semantic unity of a compound word is often very strong. In such cases

we have idiomatic compounds where the meaning of the whole is not a sum of

meanings of its components, e.g. to ghostwrite, skinhead, brain-drain etc.

In nonidiomatic compounds semantic unity is not strong, e. g., airbus, to

bloodtransfuse, astrodynamics etc.

English compounds have the unity of morphological and syntactical

functioning. They are used in a sentence as one part of it and only one

component changes grammatically, e.g. These girls are chatter-boxes.

Chatter-boxes is a predicative in the sentence and only the second

component changes grammatically.

There are two characteristic features of English compounds:

a) Both components in an English compound are free stems, that is they

can be used as words with a distinctive meaning of their own. The sound

pattern will be the same except for the stresses, e.g. a green-house and

a green house. Whereas for example in Russian compounds the stems are

bound morphemes, as a rule.

b) English compounds have a two-stem pattern, with the exception of

compound words which have form-word stems in their structure, e.g. middle-

of-the-road, off-the-record, up-and-doing etc. The two-stem pattern

distinguishes English compounds from German ones.


Compound words in English can be formed not only by means of composition

but also by means of :

a) reduplication, e.g. too-too, and also by means of reduplicatin

combined with sound interchange , e.g. rope-ripe,

b) conversion from word-groups, e.g. to micky-mouse, can-do, makeup etc,

c) back formation from compound nouns or word-groups, e.g. to

bloodtransfuse, to fingerprint etc ,

d) analogy, e.g. lie-in ( on the analogy with sit-in) and also phone-in,

brawn-drain (on the analogy with brain-drain) etc.


1. According to the parts of speech compounds are subdivided into:

a) nouns, such as : baby-moon, globe-trotter,

b) adjectives, such as : free-for-all, power-happy,

c) verbs, such as : to honey-moon, to baby-sit, to henpeck,

d) adverbs, such as: downdeep, headfirst,

e) prepositions, such as: into, within,

f) numerals, such as : fifty-five.

2. According to the way components are joined together compounds are

divided into:

a) neutral, which are formed by joining together two stems without any

joining morpheme, e.g. ball-point, to windowshop,

b) morphological where components are joined by a linking element :

vowels o or i or the consonant s, e.g. {astrospace, handicraft,


c) syntactical where the components are joined by means of form-word

stems, e.g. here-and-now, free-for-all., do-or-die .

3. According to their structure compounds are subdivided into:

a) compound words proper which consist of two stems, e.g. to job-hunt,

train-sick, go-go, tip-top ,

b) derivational compounds, where besides the stems we have affixes, e.g.

ear-minded, hydro-skimmer,

c) compound words consisting of three or more stems, e.g. cornflower-

blue, eggshell-thin, singer-songwriter,

d) compound-shortened words, e.g. boatel, tourmobile, VJ-day, motocross,

intervision, Eurodollar, Camford.

4. According to the relations between the components compound words are

subdivided into :

a) subordinative compounds where one of the components is the semantic

and the structural centre and the second component is subordinate; these

subordinative relations can be different:

with comparative relations, e.g. honey-sweet, eggshell-thin, with

limiting relations, e.g. breast-high, knee-deep, with emphatic relations,

e.g. dog-cheap, with objective relations, e.g. gold-rich, with cause

relations, e.g. love-sick, with space relations, e.g. top-heavy, with time

relations, e.g. spring-fresh, with subjective relations, e.g. foot-sore etc

b) coordinative compounds where both components are semantically

independent. Here belong such compounds when one person (object) has two

functions, e.g. secretary-stenographer, woman-doctor, Oxbridge etc. Such

compounds are called additive. This group includes also compounds formed by

means of reduplication, e.g. fifty-fifty, no-no, and also compounds formed

with the help of rhythmic stems (reduplication combined with sound

interchange) e.g. criss-cross, walkie-talkie.

5. According to the order of the components compounds are divided into

compounds with direct order, e.g. kill-joy, and compounds with indirect

order, e.g. nuclear-free, rope-ripe .


Conversion is a characteristic feature of the English word-building

system. It is also called affixless derivation or zero-suffixation. The

term conversion first appeared in the book by Henry Sweet New English

Grammar in 1891. Conversion is treated differently by different

scientists, e.g. prof. A.I. Smirntitsky treats conversion as a

morphological way of forming words when one part of speech is formed from

another part of speech by changing its paradigm, e.g. to form the verb to

dial from the noun dial we change the paradigm of the noun (a

dial,dials) for the paradigm of a regular verb (I dial, he dials, dialed,

dialing). A. Marchand in his book The Categories and Types of Present-day

English treats conversion as a morphological-syntactical word-building

because we have not only the change of the paradigm, but also the change of

the syntactic function, e.g. I need some good paper for my room. (The noun

paper is an object in the sentence). I paper my room every year. (The

verb paper is the predicate in the sentence).

Conversion is the main way of forming verbs in Modern English. Verbs can

be formed from nouns of different semantic groups and have different

meanings because of that, e.g.

a) verbs have instrumental meaning if they are formed from nouns denoting

parts of a human body e.g. to eye, to finger, to elbow, to shoulder etc.

They have instrumental meaning if they are formed from nouns denoting

tools, machines, instruments, weapons, e.g. to hammer, to machine-gun, to

rifle, to nail,

b) verbs can denote an action characteristic of the living being denoted

by the noun from which they have been converted, e.g. to crowd, to wolf,

to ape,

c) verbs can denote acquisition, addition or deprivation if they are

formed from nouns denoting an object, e.g. to fish, to dust, to peel, to


d) verbs can denote an action performed at the place denoted by the noun

from which they have been converted, e.g. to park, to garage, to bottle, to

corner, to pocket,

e) verbs can denote an action performed at the time denoted by the noun

from which they have been converted e.g. to winter, to week-end .

Verbs can be also converted from adjectives, in such cases they denote

the change of the state, e.g. to tame (to become or make tame) , to clean,

to slim etc.

Nouns can also be formed by means of conversion from verbs. Converted

nouns can denote:

a) instant of an action e.g. a jump, a move,

b) process or state e.g. sleep, walk,

c) agent of the action expressed by the verb from which the noun has been

converted, e.g. a help, a flirt, a scold ,

d) object or result of the action expressed by the verb from which the

noun has been converted, e.g. a burn, a find, a purchase,

e) place of the action expressed by the verb from which the noun has been

converted, e.g. a drive, a stop, a walk.

Many nouns converted from verbs can be used only in the Singular form and

denote momentaneous actions. In such cases we have partial conversion. Such

deverbal nouns are often used with such verbs as : to have, to get, to take

etc., e.g. to have a try, to give a push, to take a swim .


In cases of conversion the problem of criteria of semantic derivation

arises : which of the converted pair is primary and which is converted from

it. The problem was first analized by prof. A.I. Smirnitsky. Later on P.A.

Soboleva developed his idea and worked out the following criteria:

1. If the lexical meaning of the root morpheme and the lexico-grammatical

meaning of the stem coincide the word is primary, e.g. in cases pen - to

pen, father - to father the nouns are names of an object and a living

being. Therefore in the nouns pen and father the lexical meaning of the

root and the lexico-grammatical meaning of the stem coincide. The verbs

to pen and to father denote an action, a process therefore the lexico-

grammatical meanings of the stems do not coincide with the lexical meanings

of the roots. The verbs have a complex semantic structure and they were

converted from nouns.

2. If we compare a converted pair with a synonymic word pair which was

formed by means of suffixation we can find out which of the pair is

primary. This criterion can be applied only to nouns converted from verbs,

e.g. chat n. and chat v. can be compared with conversation -


3. The criterion based on derivational relations is of more universal

character. In this case we must take a word-cluster of relative words to

which the converted pair belongs. If the root stem of the word-cluster has

suffixes added to a noun stem the noun is primary in the converted pair and

vica versa, e.g. in the word-cluster : hand n., hand v., handy, handful the

derived words have suffixes added to a noun stem, that is why the noun is

primary and the verb is converted from it. In the word-cluster: dance n.,

dance v., dancer, dancing we see that the primary word is a verb and the

noun is converted from it.


Some scientists (Yespersen, Kruisinga ) refer substantivization of

adjectives to conversion. But most scientists disagree with them because in

cases of substantivization of adjectives we have quite different changes in

the language. Substantivization is the result of ellipsis (syntactical

shortening ) when a word combination with a semantically strong attribute

loses its semantically weak noun (man, person etc), e.g. a grown-up

person is shortened to a grown-up. In cases of perfect substantivization

the attribute takes the paradigm of a countable noun , e.g. a criminal,

criminals, a criminals (mistake) , criminals (mistakes). Such words are

used in a sentence in the same function as nouns, e.g. I am fond of

musicals. (musical comedies).

There are also two types of partly substantivized adjectives:

those which have only the plural form and have the meaning of collective

nouns, such as: sweets, news, empties, finals, greens,

those which have only the singular form and are used with the definite

article. They also have the meaning of collective nouns and denote a

class, a nationality, a group of people, e.g. the rich, the English, the

dead .


The problem whether adjectives can be formed by means of conversion from

nouns is the subject of many discussions. In Modern English there are a lot

of word combinations of the type , e.g. price rise, wage freeze, steel

helmet, sand castle etc.

If the first component of such units is an adjective converted from a

noun, combinations of this type are free word-groups typical of English

(adjective + noun). This point of view is proved by O. Yespersen by the

following facts:

1. Stone denotes some quality of the noun wall.

2. Stone stands before the word it modifies, as adjectives in the

function of an attribute do in English.

3. Stone is used in the Singular though its meaning in most cases is

plural,and adjectives in English have no plural form.

4. There are some cases when the first component is used in the

Comparative or the Superlative degree, e.g. the bottomest end of the scale.

5. The first component can have an adverb which characterizes it, and

adjectives are characterized by adverbs, e.g. a purely family gathering.

6. The first component can be used in the same syntactical function with

a proper adjective to characterize the same noun, e.g. lonely bare stone


7. After the first component the pronoun one can be used instead of a

noun, e.g. I shall not put on a silk dress, I shall put on a cotton one.

However Henry Sweet and some other scientists say that these criteria are

not characterisitc of the majority of such units.

They consider the first component of such units to be a noun in the

function of an attribute because in Modern English almost all parts of

speech and even word-groups and sentences can be used in the function of an

attribute, e.g. the then president (an adverb), out-of-the-way vilages (a

word-group), a devil-may-care speed (a sentence).

There are different semantic relations between the components of stone

wall combinations. E.I. Chapnik classified them into the following groups:

1. time relations, e.g. evening paper,

2. space relations, e.g. top floor,

3. relations between the object and the material of which it is made,

e.g. steel helmet,

4. cause relations, e.g. war orphan,

5. relations between a part and the whole, e.g. a crew member,

6. relations between the object and an action, e.g. arms production,

7. relations between the agent and an action e.g. government threat,

price rise,

8. relations between the object and its designation, e.g. reception hall,

9. the first component denotes the head, organizer of the characterized

object, e.g. Clinton government, Forsyte family,

10. the first component denotes the field of activity of the second

component, e.g. language teacher, psychiatry doctor,

11. comparative relations, e.g. moon face,

12. qualitative relations, e.g. winter apples.


In the process of communication words and word-groups can be shortened.

The causes of shortening can be linguistic and extra-linguistic. By extra-

linguistic causes changes in the life of people are meant. In Modern

English many new abbreviations, acronyms , initials, blends are formed

because the tempo of life is increasing and it becomes necessary to give

more and more information in the shortest possible time.

There are also linguistic causes of abbreviating words and word-groups,

such as the demand of rhythm, which is satisfied in English by monosyllabic

words. When borrowings from other languages are assimilated in English they

are shortened. Here we have modification of form on the basis of analogy,

e.g. the Latin borrowing fanaticus is shortened to fan on the analogy

with native words: man, pan, tan etc.

There are two main types of shortenings : graphical and lexical.

Graphical abbreviations

Graphical abbreviations are the result of shortening of words and word-

groups only in written speech while orally the corresponding full forms are

used. They are used for the economy of space and effort in writing.

The oldest group of graphical abbreviations in English is of Latin

origin. In Russian this type of abbreviation is not typical. In these

abbreviations in the spelling Latin words are shortened, while orally the

corresponding English equivalents are pronounced in the full form,e.g.

for example (Latin exampli gratia), a.m. - in the morning (ante meridiem),

No - number (numero), p.a. - a year (per annum), d - penny (dinarius),

lb - pound (libra), i. e. - that is (id est) etc.

Some graphical abbreviations of Latin origin have different English

equivalents in different contexts, e.g. p.m. can be pronounced in the

afternoon (post meridiem) and after death (post mortem).

There are also graphical abbreviations of native origin, where in the

spelling we have abbreviations of words and word-groups of the

corresponding English equivalents in the full form. We have several

semantic groups of them :

a) days of the week, e.g. Mon - Monday, Tue - Tuesday etc

b) names of months, e.g. Apr - April, Aug - August etc.

c) names of counties in UK, e.g. Yorks - Yorkshire, Berks -Berkshire etc

d) names of states in USA, e.g. Ala - Alabama, Alas - Alaska etc.

e) names of address, e.g. Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr. etc.

f) military ranks, e.g. capt. -captain, col. - colonel, sgt - sergeant


g) scientific degrees, e.g. B.A. - Bachelor of Arts, D.M. - Doctor of

Medicine . ( Sometimes in scientific degrees we have abbreviations of Latin

origin, e.g., M.B. - Medicinae Baccalaurus).

h) units of time, length, weight, e.g. f. / ft -foot/feet, sec. - second,

in. -inch, mg. - milligram etc.

The reading of some graphical abbreviations depends on the context, e.g.

m can be read as: male, married, masculine, metre, mile, million, minute,

l.p. can be read as long-playing, low pressure.

Initial abbreviations

Initialisms are the bordering case between graphical and lexical

abbreviations. When they appear in the language, as a rule, to denote some

new offices they are closer to graphical abbreviations because orally full

forms are used, e.g. J.V. - joint venture. When they are used for some

duration of time they acquire the shortened form of pronouncing and become

closer to lexical abbreviations, e.g. BBC is as a rule pronounced in the

shortened form.

In some cases the translation of initialisms is next to impossible

without using special dictionaries. Initialisms are denoted in different

ways. Very often they are expressed in the way they are pronounced in the

language of their origin, e.g. ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United

States) is given in Russian as , SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation

Talks) was for a long time used in Russian as , now a translation

variant is used ( - ).

This type of initialisms borrowed into other languages is preferable, e.g.

UFO - , C - JV etc.

There are three types of initialisms in English:

a) initialisms with alphabetical reading, such as UK, BUP, CND etc

b) initialisms which are read as if they are words, e.g. UNESCO, UNO,

NATO etc.

c) initialisms which coincide with English words in their sound form,

such initialisms are called acronyms, e.g. CLASS (Computor-based Laboratory

for Automated School System).

Some scientists unite groups b) and c) into one group which they call


Some initialisms can form new words in which they act as root morphemes

by different ways of wordbuilding:

a) affixation, e.g. AWALism, ex-rafer, ex- POW, to waafize, AIDSophobia


b) conversion, e.g. to raff, to fly IFR (Instrument Flight Rules),

c) composition, e.g. STOLport, USAFman etc.

d) there are also compound-shortened words where the first component is

an initial abbreviation with the alphabetical reading and the second one is

a complete word, e.g. A-bomb, U-pronunciation, V -day etc. In some cases

the first component is a complete word and the second component is an

initial abbreviation with the alphabetical pronunciation, e.g. Three -Ds

(Three dimensions) - .

Abbreviations of words

Abbreviation of words consists in clipping a part of a word. As a result

we get a new lexical unit where either the lexical meaning or the style is

different form the full form of the word. In such cases as fantasy and

fancy, fence and defence we have different lexical meanings. In such

cases as laboratory and lab, we have different styles.

Abbreviation does not change the part-of-speech meaning, as we have it

in the case of conversion or affixation, it produces words belonging to

the same part of speech as the primary word, e.g. prof is a noun and

professor is also a noun. Mostly nouns undergo abbreviation, but we can

also meet abbreviation of verbs, such as to rev from to revolve, to tab

from to tabulate etc. But mostly abbreviated forms of verbs are formed by

means of conversion from abbreviated nouns, e.g. to taxi, to vac etc.

Adjectives can be abbreviated but they are mostly used in school slang and

are combined with suffixation, e.g. comfy, dilly, mizzy etc. As a rule

pronouns, numerals, interjections. conjunctions are not abbreviated. The

exceptions are: fif (fifteen), teen-ager, in ones teens (apheresis from

numerals from 13 to 19).

Lexical abbreviations are classified according to the part of the word

which is clipped. Mostly the end of the word is clipped, because the

beginning of the word in most cases is the root and expresses the lexical

meaning of the word. This type of abbreviation is called apocope. Here we

can mention a group of words ending in o, such as disco (dicotheque),

expo (exposition), intro (introduction) and many others. On the analogy

with these words there developed in Modern English a number of words where

o is added as a kind of a suffix to the shortened form of the word, e.g.

combo (combination) - , Afro (African)

- etc. In other cases the beginning of the word is

clipped. In such cases we have apheresis , e.g. chute (parachute), varsity

(university), copter (helicopter) , thuse (enthuse) etc. Sometimes the

middle of the word is clipped, e.g. mart (market), fanzine (fan magazine)

maths (mathematics). Such abbreviations are called syncope. Sometimes we

have a combination of apocope with apheresis,when the beginning and the end

of the word are clipped, e.g. tec (detective), van (avanguard) etc.

Sometimes shortening influences the spelling of the word, e.g. c can

be substituted by k before e to preserve pronunciation, e.g. mike

(microphone), Coke (coca-cola) etc. The same rule is observed in the

following cases: fax( facsimile), teck (technical college), trank

(tranquilizer) etc. The final consonants in the shortened forms are

substituded by letters characteristic of native English words.



Sound interchange is the way of word-building when some sounds are

changed to form a new word. It is non-productive in Modern English, it was

productive in Old English and can be met in other Indo-European languages.

The causes of sound interchange can be different. It can be the result of

Ancient Ablaut which cannot be explained by the phonetic laws during the

period of the language development known to scientists., e.g. to strike -

stroke, to sing - song etc. It can be also the result of Ancient Umlaut or

vowel mutation which is the result of palatalizing the root vowel because

of the front vowel in the syllable coming after the root ( regressive

assimilation), e.g. hot - to heat (hotian), blood - to bleed (blodian) etc.

In many cases we have vowel and consonant interchange. In nouns we have

voiceless consonants and in verbs we have corresponding voiced consonants

because in Old English these consonants in nouns were at the end of the

word and in verbs in the intervocal position, e.g. bath - to bathe, life -

to live, breath - to breathe etc.


Stress interchange can be mostly met in verbs and nouns of Romanic origin

: nouns have the stress on the first syllable and verbs on the last

syllable, e.g. `accent - to ac`cent. This phenomenon is explained in the

following way: French verbs and nouns had different structure when they

were borrowed into English, verbs had one syllable more than the

corresponding nouns. When these borrowings were assimilated in English the

stress in them was shifted to the previous syllable (the second from the

end) . Later on the last unstressed syllable in verbs borrowed from French

was dropped (the same as in native verbs) and after that the stress in

verbs was on the last syllable while in nouns it was on the first syllable.

As a result of it we have such pairs in English as : to af`fix -`affix, to

con`flict- `conflict, to ex`port -`export, to ex`tract - `extract etc. As

a result of stress interchange we have also vowel interchange in such words

because vowels are pronounced differently in stressed and unstressed



It is the way of word-building when a word is formed by imitating

different sounds. There are some semantic groups of words formed by means

of sound imitation

a) sounds produced by human beings, such as : to whisper, to giggle, to

mumble, to sneeze, to whistle etc.

b) sounds produced by animals, birds, insects, such as : to hiss, to

buzz, to bark, to moo, to twitter etc.

c) sounds produced by nature and objects, such as : to splash, to rustle,

to clatter, to bubble, to ding-dong, to tinkle etc.

The corresponding nouns are formed by means of conversion, e.g. clang (of

a bell), chatter (of children) etc.


Blends are words formed from a word-group or two synonyms. In blends two

ways of word-building are combined : abbreviation and composition. To form

a blend we clip the end of the first component (apocope) and the beginning

of the second component (apheresis) . As a result we have a compound-

shortened word. One of the first blends in English was the word smog

from two synonyms : smoke and fog which means smoke mixed with fog. From

the first component the beginning is taken, from the second one the end,

o is common for both of them.

Blends formed from two synonyms are: slanguange, to hustle, gasohol etc.

Mostly blends are formed from a word-group, such as : acromania (acronym

mania), cinemadict (cinema adict), chunnel (channel, canal), dramedy (drama

comedy), detectifiction (detective fiction), faction (fact fiction)

(fiction based on real facts), informecial (information commercial) ,

Medicare ( medical care) , magalog ( magazine catalogue) slimnastics

(slimming gymnastics), sociolite (social elite), slanguist ( slang

linguist) etc.


It is the way of word-building when a word is formed by dropping the

final morpheme to form a new word. It is opposite to suffixation, that is

why it is called back formation. At first it appeared in the languauge as a

result of misunderstanding the structure of a borrowed word . Prof.

Yartseva explains this mistake by the influence of the whole system of the

language on separate words. E.g. it is typical of English to form nouns

denoting the agent of the action by adding the suffix -er to a verb stem

(speak- speaker). So when the French word beggar was borrowed into

English the final syllable ar was pronounced in the same way as the

English -er and Englishmen formed the verb to beg by dropping the end of

the noun. Other examples of back formation are : to accreditate (from

accreditation), to bach (from bachelor), to collocate (from collocation),

to enthuse (from enthusiasm), to compute (from computer), to emote (from

emotion) to reminisce ( from reminiscence) , to televise (from television)


As we can notice in cases of back formation the part-of-speech meaning

of the primary word is changed, verbs are formed from nouns.


The meaning of a word can change in the course of time. Changes of

lexical meanings can be proved by comparing contexts of different times.

Transfer of the meaning is called lexico-semantic word-building. In such

cases the outer aspect of a word does not change.

The causes of semantic changes can be extra-linguistic and linguistic,

e.g. the change of the lexical meaning of the noun pen was due to extra-

linguistic causes. Primarily pen comes back to the Latin word penna (a

feather of a bird). As people wrote with goose pens the name was

transferred to steel pens which were later on used for writing. Still later

any instrument for writing was called a pen.

On the other hand causes can be linguistic, e.g. the conflict of synonyms

when a perfect synonym of a native word is borrowed from some other

language one of them may specialize in its meaning, e.g. the noun tide in

Old English was polisemantic and denoted time, season, hour. When the

French words time, season, hour were borrowed into English they

ousted the word tide in these meanings. It was specialized and now means

regular rise and fall of the sea caused by attraction of the moon. The

meaning of a word can also change due to ellipsis, e.g. the word-group a

train of carriages had the meaning of a row of carriages, later on of

carriages was dropped and the noun train changed its meaning, it is used

now in the function and with the meaning of the whole word-group.

Semantic changes have been classified by different scientists. The most

complete classification was suggested by a German scientist Herman Paul in

his work Prinzipien des Sprachgeschichte. It is based on the logical

principle. He distiguishes two main ways where the semantic change is

gradual ( specialization and generalization), two momentary conscious

semantic changes (metaphor and metonymy) and also secondary ways: gradual

(elevation and degradation), momentary (hyperbole and litote).


It is a gradual process when a word passes from a general sphere to some

special sphere of communication, e.g. case has a general meaning

circumstances in which a person or a thing is. It is specialized in its

meaning when used in law (a law suit), in grammar (a form in the paradigm

of a noun), in medicine (a patient, an illness). The difference between

these meanings is revealed in the context.

The meaning of a word can specialize when it remains in the general

usage. It happens in the case of the conflict between two absolute synonyms

when one of them must specialize in its meaning to remain in the language,

e.g. the native word meat had the meaning food, this meaning is

preserved in the compound sweetmeats. The meaning edible flesh was

formed when the word food, its absolute synonym, won in the conflict of

absolute synonyms (both words are native). The English verb starve was

specialized in its meaning after the Scandinavian verb die was borrowed

into English. Die became the general verb with this meaning because in

English there were the noun death and the adjective dead. Starve got

the meaning to die of hunger .

The third way of specialization is the formation of Proper names from

common nouns, it is often used in toponimics, e.g. the City - the business

part of London, Oxford - university town in England, the Tower -originally

a fortress and palace, later -a prison, now - a museum.

The fourth way of specialization is ellipsis. In such cases primaraly we

have a word-group of the type attribute + noun, which is used constantly

in a definite situation. Due to it the attribute can be dropped and the

noun can get the meaning of the whole word-group, e.g. room originally

meant space, this meaning is retained in the adjective roomy and word

combinations: no room for, to take room, to take no room. The

meaning of the word room was specialized because it was often used in

the combinations: dining room, sleeping room which meant space for

dining , space for sleeping.


It is a process contrary to specializaton, in such cases the meaning of a

word becomes more general in the course of time.

The transfer from a concrete meaning to an abstract one is most frequent,

e.g. ready (a derivative from the verb ridan - ride) meant prepared

for a ride, now its meaning is prepared for anything. Journey was

borrowed from French with the meaning one day trip, now it means a trip

of any duration.

All auxiliary verbs are cases of generalization of their lexical meaning

because they developed a grammatical meaning : have, be, do, shall

, will when used as auxiliary verbs are devoid of their lexical meaning

which they have when used as notional verbs or modal verbs, e.g. cf. I

have several books by this writer and I have read some books by this

author. In the first sentence the verb have has the meaning possess,

in the second sentence it has no lexical meaning, its grammatical meaning

is to form Present Perfect.


It is a transfer of the meaning on the basis of comparison. Herman Paul

points out that metaphor can be based on different types of similarity:

a) similarity of shape, e.g. head (of a cabbage), bottleneck, teeth (of a

saw, a comb);

b) similarity of position, e.g. foot (of a page, of a mountain), head (of

a procession);

c) similarity of function, behaviour e.g. a whip (an official in the

British Parliament whose duty is to see that members were present at the


d) similarity of colour, e.g. orange, hazel, chestnut etc.

In some cases we have a complex similarity, e.g. the leg of a table has a

similarity to a human leg in its shape, position and function.

Many metaphors are based on parts of a human body, e.g. an eye of a

needle, arms and mouth of a river, head of an army.

A special type of metaphor is when Proper names become common nouns, e.g.

philistine - a mercenary person, vandals - destructive people, a Don Juan -

a lover of many women etc.


It is a transfer of the meaning on the basis of contiguity. There are

different types of metonymy:

a) the material of which an object is made may become the name of the

object , e.g. a glass, boards, iron etc;

b) the name of the place may become the name of the people or of an

object placed there, e.g. the House - members of Parliament, Fleet Street

- bourgeois press, the White House - the Administration of the USA etc;

c) names of musical instruments may become names of musicians, e.g. the

violin, the saxophone;

d) the name of some person may becom a common noun, e.g. boycott was

originally the name of an Irish family who were so much disliked by their

neighbours that they did not mix with them, sandwich was named after Lord

Sandwich who was a gambler. He did not want to interrupt his game and had

his food brought to him while he was playing cards between two slices of

bread not to soil his fingers.

e) names of inventors very often become terms to denote things they

invented, e.g. watt , om, rentgen etc

f) some geographical names can also become common nouns through metonymy,

e.g. holland (linen fabrics), Brussels (a special kind of carpets) , china

(porcelain) , astrachan ( a sheep fur) etc.


It is a transfer of the meaning when it becomes better in the course of

time, e.g. knight originally meant a boy, then a young servant, then

a military servant, then a noble man. Now it is a title of nobility

given to outstanding people; marshal originally meant a horse man now

it is the highest military rank etc.


It is a transfer of the meaning when it becomes worse in the course of

time. It is usually connected with nouns denoting common people, e.g.

villain originally meant working on a villa now it means a scoundrel.


It is a transfer of the meaning when the speaker uses exaggeration,

e.g. to hate(doing something), (not to see somebody) for ages.

Hyperbole is often used to form phraseological units, e.g. to make a

mountain out of a molehill, to split hairs etc.


It is a transfer of the meaning when the speaker expresses affirmative

with the negative or vica versa, e.g. not bad, no coward etc.


The vocabulary of a language is enriched not only by words but also by

phraseological units. Phraseological units are word-groups that cannot be

made in the process of speech, they exist in the language as ready-made

units. They are compiled in special dictionaries. The same as words

phraseological units express a single notion and are used in a sentence as

one part of it. American and British lexicographers call such units

idioms. We can mention such dictionaries as: L.Smith Words and Idioms,

V.Collins A Book of English Idioms etc. In these dictionaries we can find

words, peculiar in their semantics (idiomatic), side by side with word-

groups and sentences. In these dictionaries they are arranged, as a rule,

into different semantic groups.

Phraseological units can be classified according to the ways they are

formed, according to the degree of the motivation of their meaning,

according to their structure and according to their part-of-speech meaning.


A.V. Koonin classified phraseological units according to the way they

are formed. He pointed out primary and secondary ways of forming

phraseological units.

Primary ways of forming phraseological units are those when a unit is

formed on the basis of a free word-group :

a) Most productive in Modern English is the formation of phraseological

units by means of transferring the meaning of terminological word-groups,

e.g. in cosmic technique we can point out the following phrases: launching

pad in its terminological meaning is , in its

transferred meaning - , to link up - c,

in its tranformed meaning it means


b) a large group of phraseological units was formed from free word groups

by transforming their meaning, e.g. granny farm -

, Troyan horse - ,


c) phraseological units can be formed by means of alliteration , e.g. a

sad sack - , culture vulture - ,

, fudge and nudge - .

d) they can be formed by means of expressiveness, especially it is

characteristic for forming interjections, e.g. My aunt!, Hear, hear !


e) they can be formed by means of distorting a word group, e.g. odds and

ends was formed from odd ends,

f) they can be formed by using archaisms, e.g. in brown study means in

gloomy meditation where both components preserve their archaic meanings,

g) they can be formed by using a sentence in a different sphere of life,

e.g. that cock wont fight can be used as a free word-group when it is

used in sports (cock fighting ), it becomes a phraseological unit when it

is used in everyday life, because it is used metaphorically,

h) they can be formed when we use some unreal image, e.g. to have

butterflies in the stomach - , to have green

fingers - - etc.

i) they can be formed by using expressions of writers or polititions in

everyday life, e.g. corridors of power (Snow), American dream (Alby)

locust years (Churchil) , the winds of change (Mc Millan).

Secondary ways of forming phraseological units are those when a

phraseological unit is formed on the basis of another phraseological unit;

they are:

a) conversion, e.g. to vote with ones feet was converted into vote

with ones f eet;

b) changing the grammar form, e.g. Make hay while the sun shines is

transferred into a verbal phrase - to make hay while the sun shines;

c) analogy, e.g. Curiosity killed the cat was transferred into Care

killed the cat;

d) contrast, e.g. cold surgery - a planned before operation was

formed by contrasting it with acute surgery, thin cat - a poor person

was formed by contrasting it with fat cat;

e) shortening of proverbs or sayings e.g. from the proverb You cant

make a silk purse out of a sows ear by means of clipping the middle of

it the phraseological unit to make a sows ear was formed with the

meaning .

f) borrowing phraseological units from other languages, either as

translation loans, e.g. living space (German), to take the bull by the

horns ( Latin) or by means of phonetic borrowings meche blanche

(French), corpse delite (French), sotto voce (Italian) etc.

Phonetic borrowings among phraseological units refer to the bookish style

and are not used very often.


Phraseological units can be classified according to the degree of

motivation of their meaning. This classification was suggested by acad.

V.V. Vinogradov for Russian phraseological units. He pointed out three

types of phraseological units:

a) fusions where the degree of motivation is very low, we cannot guess

the meaning of the whole from the meanings of its components, they are

highly idiomatic and cannot be translated word for word into other

languages, e.g. on Shanks mare - (on foot), at sixes and sevens - (in a

mess) etc;

b) unities where the meaning of the whole can be guessed from the

meanings of its components, but it is transferred (metaphorical or

metonymical), e.g. to play the first fiddle ( to be a leader in

something), old salt (experienced sailor) etc;

c) collocations where words are combined in their original meaning but

their combinations are different in different languages, e.g. cash and

carry - (self-service shop), in a big way (in great degree) etc.


Prof. A.I. Smirnitsky worked out structural classification of

phraseological units, comparing them with words. He points out one-top

units which he compares with derived words because derived words have only

one root morpheme. He points out two-top units which he compares with

compound words because in compound words we usually have two root


Among one-top units he points out three structural types;

a) units of the type to give up (verb + postposition type), e.g. to

art up, to back up, to drop out, to nose out, to buy into, to sandwich

in etc.;

b) units of the type to be tired . Some of these units remind the

Passive Voice in their structure but they have different prepositons with

them, while in the Passive Voice we can have only prepositions by or

with, e.g. to be tired of, to be interested in, to be surprised at etc.

There are also units in this type which remind free word-groups of the type

to be young, e.g. to be akin to, to be aware of etc. The difference

between them is that the adjective young can be used as an attribute and

as a predicative in a sentence, while the nominal component in such units

can act only as a predicative. In these units the verb is the grammar

centre and the second component is the semantic centre;

c) prepositional- nominal phraseological units. These units are

equivalents of unchangeable words: prepositions, conjunctions, adverbs ,

that is why they have no grammar centre, their semantic centre is the

nominal part, e.g. on the doorstep (quite near), on the nose (exactly), in

the course of, on the stroke of, in time, on the point of etc. In the

course of time such units can become words, e.g. tomorrow, instead etc.

Among two-top units A.I. Smirnitsky points out the following structural


a) attributive-nominal such as: a month of Sundays, grey matter, a

millstone round ones neck and many others. Units of this type are noun

equivalents and can be partly or perfectly idiomatic. In partly idiomatic

units (phrasisms) sometimes the first component is idiomatic, e.g. high

road, in other cases the second component is idiomatic, e.g. first night.

In many cases both components are idiomatic, e.g. red tape, blind alley,

bed of nail, shot in the arm and many others.

b) verb-nominal phraseological units, e.g. to read between the lines , to

speak BBC, to sweep under the carpet etc. The grammar centre of such units

is the verb, the semantic centre in many cases is the nominal component,

e.g. to fall in love. In some units the verb is both the grammar and the

semantic centre, e.g. not to know the ropes. These units can be perfectly

idiomatic as well, e.g. to burn ones boats,to vote with ones feet, to

take to the cleaners etc.

Very close to such units are word-groups of the type to have a glance, to

have a smoke. These units are not idiomatic and are treated in grammar as a

special syntactical combination, a kind of aspect.

c) phraseological repetitions, such as : now or never, part and parcel ,

country and western etc. Such units can be built on antonyms, e.g. ups and

downs , back and forth; often they are formed by means of alliteration, e.g

cakes and ale, as busy as a bee. Components in repetitions are joined by

means of conjunctions. These units are equivalents of adverbs or adjectives

and have no grammar centre. They can also be partly or perfectly idiomatic,

e.g. cool as a cucumber (partly), bread and butter (perfectly).

Phraseological units the same as compound words can have more than two

tops (stems in compound words), e.g. to take a back seat, a peg to hang a

thing on, lock, stock and barrel, to be a shaddow of ones own self, at

ones own sweet will.



Phraseological units can be clasified as parts of speech. This

classification was suggested by I.V. Arnold. Here we have the following


a) noun phraseologisms denoting an object, a person, a living being, e.g.

bullet train, latchkey child, redbrick university, Green Berets,

b) verb phraseologisms denoting an action, a state, a feeling, e.g. to

break the log-jam, to get on somebodys coattails, to be on the beam, to

nose out , to make headlines,

c) adjective phraseologisms denoting a quality, e.g. loose as a goose,

dull as lead ,

d) adverb phraseological units, such as : with a bump, in the soup, like

a dream , like a dog with two tails,

e) preposition phraseological units, e.g. in the course of, on the stroke

of ,

f) interjection phraseological units, e.g. Catch me!, Well, I never!


In I.V.Arnolds classification there are also sentence equivalents,

proverbs, sayings and quatations, e.g. The sky is the limit, What makes

him tick, I am easy. Proverbs are usually metaphorical, e.g. Too many

cooks spoil the broth, while sayings are as a rule non-metaphorical, e.g.

Where there is a will there is a way.


Borrowing words from other languages is characteristic of English

throughout its history More than two thirds of the English vocabulary are

borrowings. Mostly they are words of Romanic origin (Latin, French,

Italian, Spanish). Borrowed words are different from native ones by their

phonetic structure, by their morphological structure and also by their

grammatical forms. It is also characterisitic of borrowings to be non-

motivated semantically.

English history is very rich in different types of contacts with other

countries, that is why it is very rich in borrowings. The Roman invasion,

the adoption of Cristianity, Scandinavian and Norman conquests of the

British Isles, the development of British colonialism and trade and

cultural relations served to increase immensely the English vocabulary. The

majority of these borrowings are fully assimilated in English in their

pronunciation, grammar, spelling and can be hardly distinguished from

native words.

English continues to take in foreign words , but now the quantity of

borrowings is not so abundunt as it was before. All the more so, English

now has become a giving language, it has become Lingva franca of the

twentieth century.

Borrowings can be classified according to different criteria:

a) according to the aspect which is borrowed,

b) according to the degree of assimilation,

c) according to the language from which the word was borrowed.

(In this classification only the main languages from which words were

borrowed into English are described, such as Latin, French, Italian.

Spanish, German and Russian.)


There are the following groups: phonetic borrowings, translation loans,

semantic borrowings, morphemic borrowings.

Phonetic borrowings are most characteristic in all languages, they are

called loan words proper. Words are borrowed with their spelling,

pronunciation and meaning. Then they undergo assimilation, each sound in

the borrowed word is substituted by the corresponding sound of the

borrowing language. In some cases the spelling is changed. The structure of

the word can also be changed. The position of the stress is very often

influenced by the phonetic system of the borrowing language. The paradigm

of the word, and sometimes the meaning of the borrowed word are also

changed. Such words as: labour, travel, table, chair, people are phonetic

borrowings from French; apparatchik, nomenklatura, sputnik are phonetic

borrowings from Russian; bank, soprano, duet are phonetic borrowings from

Italian etc.

Translation loans are word-for-word (or morpheme-for-morpheme )

translations of some foreign words or expressions. In such cases the notion

is borrowed from a foreign language but it is expressed by native lexical

units, to take the bull by the horns (Latin), fair sex ( French),

living space (German) etc. Some translation loans appeared in English

from Latin already in the Old English period, e.g. Sunday (solis dies).

There are translation loans from the languages of Indians, such as: pipe

of peace, pale-faced, from German masterpiece, homesickness,


Semantic borrowings are such units when a new meaning of the unit

existing in the language is borrowed. It can happen when we have two

relative languages which have common words with different meanings, e.g.

there are semantic borrowings between Scandinavian and English, such as the

meaning to live for the word to dwell which in Old English had the

meaning to wander. Or else the meaning , for the word

gift which in Old English had the meaning .

Semantic borrowing can appear when an English word was borrowed into some

other language, developed there a new meaning and this new meaning was

borrowed back into English, e.g. brigade was borrowed into Russian and

formed the meaning a working collective,. This meaning was

borrowed back into English as a Russian borrowing. The same is true of the

English word pioneer.

Morphemic borrowings are borrowings of affixes which occur in the

language when many words with identical affixes are borrowed from one

language into another, so that the morphemic structure of borrowed words

becomes familiar to the people speaking the borrowing language, e.g. we can

find a lot of Romanic affixes in the English word-building system, that is

why there are a lot of words - hybrids in English where different morphemes

have different origin, e.g. goddess, beautiful etc.


The degree of assimilation of borrowings depends on the following

factors: a) from what group of languages the word was borrowed, if the word

belongs to the same group of languages to which the borrowing language

belongs it is assimilated easier, b) in what way the word is borrowed:

orally or in the written form, words borrowed orally are assimilated

quicker, c) how often the borrowing is used in the language, the greater

the frequency of its usage, the quicker it is assimilated, d) how long the

word lives in the language, the longer it lives, the more assimilated it


Accordingly borrowings are subdivided into: completely assimilated,

partly assimilated and non-assimilated (barbarisms).

Completely assimilated borrowings are not felt as foreign words in the

language, cf the French word sport and the native word start.

Completely assimilated verbs belong to regular verbs, e.g. correct

-corrected. Completely assimilated nouns form their plural by means of s-

inflexion, e.g. gate- gates. In completely assimilated French words the

stress has been shifted from the last syllable to the last but one.

Semantic assimilation of borrowed words depends on the words existing in

the borrowing language, as a rule, a borrowed word does not bring all its

meanings into the borrowing language, if it is polysemantic, e.g. the

Russian borrowing sputnik is used in English only in one of its meanings.

Partly assimilated borrowings are subdivided into the following groups:

a) borrowings non-assimilated semantically, because they denote objects and

notions peculiar to the country from the language of which they were

borrowed, e.g. sari, sombrero, taiga, kvass etc.

b) borrowings non-assimilated grammatically, e.g. nouns borrowed from

Latin and Greek retain their plural forms (bacillus - bacilli, phenomenon -

phenomena, datum -data, genius - genii etc.

c) borrowings non-assimilated phonetically. Here belong words with the

initial sounds /v/ and /z/, e.g. voice, zero. In native words these voiced

consonants are used only in the intervocal position as allophones of sounds

/f/ and /s/ ( loss - lose, life - live ). Some Scandinavian borrowings have

consonants and combinations of consonants which were not palatalized, e.g.

/sk/ in the words: sky, skate, ski etc (in native words we have the

palatalized sounds denoted by the digraph sh, e.g. shirt); sounds /k/

and /g/ before front vowels are not palatalized e.g. girl, get, give, kid,

kill, kettle. In native words we have palatalization , e.g. German, child.

Some French borrowings have retained their stress on the last syllable,

e.g. police, cartoon. Some French borrowings retain special combinations

of sounds, e.g. /a:3/ in the words : camouflage, bourgeois, some of them

retain the combination of sounds /wa:/ in the words: memoir, boulevard.

d) borrowings can be partly assimilated graphically, e.g. in Greak

borrowings y can be spelled in the middle of the word (symbol, synonym),

ph denotes the sound /f/ (phoneme, morpheme), ch denotes the sound

/k/(chemistry, chaos),ps denotes the sound /s/ (psychology).

Latin borrowings retain their polisyllabic structure, have double

consonants, as a rule, the final consonant of the prefix is assimilated

with the initial consonant of the stem, (accompany, affirmative).

French borrowings which came into English after 1650 retain their

spelling, e.g. consonants p, t, s are not pronounced at the end of

the word (buffet, coup, debris), Specifically French combination of letters

eau /ou/ can be found in the borrowings : beau, chateau, troussaeu. Some

of digraphs retain their French pronunciation: ch is pronounced as /sh/,

e.g. chic, parachute, qu is pronounced as /k/ e.g. bouquet, ou is

pronounced as /u:/, e.g. rouge; some letters retain their French

pronunciation, e.g. i is pronounced as /i:/, e,g, chic, machine; g is

pronounced as /3/, e.g. rouge.

Modern German borrowings also have some peculiarities in their spelling:

common nouns are spelled with a capital letter e.g. Autobahn, Lebensraum;

some vowels and digraphs retain their German pronunciation, e.g. a is

pronounced as /a:/ (Dictat), u is pronounced as /u:/ (Kuchen), au is

pronounced as /au/ (Hausfrau), ei is pronounced as /ai/ (Reich); some

consonants are also pronounced in the German way, e.g. s before a vowel

is pronounced as /z/ (Sitskrieg), v is pronounced as /f/ (Volkswagen),

w is pronounced as /v/ , ch is pronounced as /h/ (Kuchen).

Non-assimilated borrowings (barbarisms) are borrowings which are used by

Englishmen rather seldom and are non-assimilated, e.g. addio (Italian),

tete-a-tete (French), dolce vita (Italian), duende (Spanish), an homme a

femme (French), gonzo (Italian) etc.




Latin borrowings.

Among words of Romanic origin borrowed from Latin during the period when

the British Isles were a part of the Roman Empire, there are such words as:

street, port, wall etc. Many Latin and Greek words came into English during

the Adoption of Christianity in the 6-th century. At this time the Latin

alphabet was borrowed which ousted the Runic alphabet. These borrowings

are usually called classical borrowings. Here belong Latin words: alter,

cross, dean, and Greek words: church, angel, devil, anthem.

Latin and Greek borrowings appeared in English during the Middle English

period due to the Great Revival of Learning. These are mostly scientific

words because Latin was the language of science at the time. These words

were not used as frequently as the words of the Old English period,

therefore some of them were partly assimilated grammatically, e.g. formula

- formulae. Here also belong such words as: memorandum, minimum, maximum,

veto etc.

Classical borrowings continue to appear in Modern English as well. Mostly

they are words formed with the help of Latin and Greek morphemes. There are

quite a lot of them in medicine (appendicitis, aspirin), in chemistry

(acid, valency, alkali), in technique (engine, antenna, biplane, airdrome),

in politics (socialism, militarism), names of sciences (zoology, physics) .

In philology most of terms are of Greek origin (homonym, archaism,


French borrowings

The influence of French on the English spelling.

The largest group of borrowings are French borrowings. Most of them came

into English during the Norman conquest. French influenced not only the

vocabulary of English but also its spelling, because documents were written

by French scribes as the local population was mainly illiterate, and the

ruling class was French. Runic letters remaining in English after the Latin

alphabet was borrowed were substituted by Latin letters and combinations

of letters, e.g. v was introduced for the voiced consonant /v/ instead of

f in the intervocal position /lufian - love/, the digraph ch was

introduced to denote the sound /ch/ instead of the letter c / chest/

before front vowels where it had been palatalized, the digraph sh was

introduced instead of the combination sc to denote the sound /sh/ /ship/,

the digraph th was introduced instead of the Runic letters 0 and

/this, thing/, the letter y was introduced instead of the Runic letter

3 to denote the sound /j/ /yet/, the digraph qu substituted the

combination cw to denote the combination of sounds /kw/ /queen/, the

digraph ou was introduced to denote the sound /u:/ /house/ (The sound

/u:/ was later on diphthongized and is pronounced /au/ in native words and

fully assimilated borrowings). As it was difficult for French scribes to

copy English texts they substituted the letter u before v, m, n and

the digraph th by the letter o to escape the combination of many

vertical lines /sunu - son, luvu - love/.

Borrowing of French words.

There are the following semantic groups of French borrowings:

a) words relating to government : administer, empire, state, government;

b) words relating to military affairs: army, war, banner, soldier,


c) words relating to jury: advocate, petition, inquest, sentence,


d) words relating to fashion: luxury, coat, collar, lace, pleat,


e) words relating to jewelry: topaz, emerald, ruby, pearl ;

f) words relating to food and cooking: lunch, dinner, appetite, to roast,

to stew.

Words were borrowed from French into English after 1650, mainly through

French literature, but they were not as numerous and many of them are not

completely assimilated. There are the following semantic groups of these


a) words relating to literature and music: belle-lettres, conservatorie,

brochure, nuance, piruette, vaudeville;

b) words relating to military affairs: corps, echelon, fuselage,


c) words relating to buildings and furniture: entresol, chateau, bureau;

d) words relating to food and cooking: ragout, cuisine.

Italian borrowings.

Cultural and trade relations between Italy and England brought many

Italian words into English. The earliest Italian borrowing came into

English in the 14-th century, it was the word bank /from the Italian

banko - bench/. Italian money-lenders and money-changers sat in the

streets on benches. When they suffered losses they turned over their

benches, it was called banco rotta from which the English word bankrupt

originated. In the 17-th century some geological terms were borrowed :

volcano, granite, bronze, lava. At the same time some political terms were

borrowed: manifesto, bulletin.

But mostly Italian is famous by its influence in music and in all Indo-

European languages musical terms were borrowed from Italian : alto,

baritone, basso, tenor, falsetto, solo, duet, trio, quartet, quintet,

opera, operette, libretto, piano, violin.

Among the 20-th century Italian borrowings we can mention : gazette,

incognitto, autostrada, fiasco, fascist, diletante, grotesque, graffitto


Spanish borrowings.

Spanish borrowings came into English mainly through its American variant.

There are the following semantic groups of them:

a) trade terms: cargo, embargo;

b) names of dances and musical instruments: tango, rumba, habanera,


c) names of vegetables and fruit: tomato, potato, tobbaco, cocoa, banana,

ananas, apricot etc.


English belongs to the Germanic group of languages and there are

borrowings from Scandinavian, German and Holland languages, though their

number is much less than borrowings from Romanic languages.

Scandinavian borrowings.

By the end of the Old English period English underwent a strong influence

of Scandinavian due to the Scandinavian conquest of the British Isles.

Scandinavians belonged to the same group of peoples as Englishmen and

their languages had much in common. As the result of this conquest there

are about 700 borrowings from Scandinavian into English.

Scandinavians and Englishmen had the same way of life,their cultural

level was the same, they had much in common in their literature therefore

there were many words in these languages which were almost identical, e.g.


Modern E

syster sweoster


fiscr fisc


felagi felawe


However there were also many words in the two languages which were

different, and some of them were borrowed into English , such nouns as:

bull, cake, egg, kid, knife, skirt, window etc, such adjectives as: flat,

ill, happy, low, odd, ugly, wrong, such verbs as : call, die, guess, get,

give, scream and many others.

Even some pronouns and connective words were borrowed which happens very

seldom, such as : same, both, till, fro, though, and pronominal forms with

th: they, them, their.

Scandinavian influenced the development of phrasal verbs which did not

exist in Old English, at the same time some prefixed verbs came out of

usage, e.g. ofniman, beniman. Phrasal verbs are now highly productive in

English /take off, give in etc/.

German borrowings.

There are some 800 words borrowed from German into English. Some of them

have classical roots, e.g. in some geological terms, such as: cobalt,

bismuth, zink, quarts, gneiss, wolfram. There were also words denoting

objects used in everyday life which were borrowed from German: iceberg,

lobby, rucksack, Kindergarten etc.

In the period of the Second World War the following words were borrowed:

Volkssturm, Luftwaffe, SS-man, Bundeswehr, gestapo, gas chamber and many

others. After the Second World War the following words were borrowed:

Berufsverbot, Volkswagen etc.

Holland borrowings.

Holland and England have constant interrelations for many centuries and

more than 2000 Holland borrowings were borrowed into English. Most of them

are nautical terms and were mainly borrowed in the 14-th century, such as:

freight, skipper, pump, keel, dock, reef, deck, leak and many others.

Besides two main groups of borrowings (Romanic and Germanic) there are

also borrowings from a lot of other languages. We shall speak about Russian

borrowings, borrowings from the language which belongs to Slavoninc


Russian borrowings.

There were constant contacts between England and Russia and they borrowed

words from one language into the other. Among early Russian borrowings

there are mainly words connected with trade relations, such as: rouble,

copeck, pood, sterlet, vodka, sable, and also words relating to nature,

such as: taiga, tundra, steppe etc.

There is also a large group of Russian borrowings which came into English

through Rushian literature of the 19-th century, such as : Narodnik,

moujik, duma, zemstvo. volost, ukase etc, and also words which were formed

in Russian with Latin roots, such as: nihilist, intelligenzia, Decembrist


After the Great October Revolution many new words appeared in Russian

connected with the new political system, new culture, and many of them were

borrowed into English, such as: collectivization. udarnik, Komsomol etc

and also translation loans, such as: shock worker, collective farm, five-

year plan etc.

One more group of Russian borrowings is connected with perestroika, such

as: glasnost, nomenklatura, apparatchik etc.


Sometimes a word is borrowed twice from the same language. As the

result, we have two different words with different spellings and meanings

but historically they come back to one and the same word. Such words are

called etymological doublets. In English there are some groups of them:

Latino-French doublets.

Latin English from Latin English from French

uncia inch


moneta mint


camera camera


Franco-French doublets

doublets borrowed from different dialects of French.

Norman Paris

canal channel

captain chieftain

catch chaise

Scandinavian-English doublets

Scandinavian English

skirt shirt

scabby shabby

There are also etymological doublets which were borrowed from the same

language during different historical periods, such as French doublets:

gentil - , , etymological doublets are: gentle - ,

and genteel - . From the French word gallant

etymological doublets are : gallant - and gallant - ,


Sometimes etymological doublets are the result of borrowing different

grammatical forms of the same word, e.g. the Comparative degree of Latin

super was superior which was borrowed into English with the meaning

high in some quality or rank. The Superlative degree (Latin

supremus)in English supreme with the meaning outstanding,

prominent. So superior and supreme are etymological doublets.


The branch of lexicology which deals with the meaning is called



Every word has two aspects: the outer aspect (its sound form) and the

inner aspect (its meaning) . Sound and meaning do not always constitute a

constant unit even in the same language. E.g. the word temple may denote

a part of a human head and a large church In such cases we have

homonyms. One and the same word in different syntactical relations can

develop different meanings, e.g. the verb treat in sentences:

a) He treated my words as a joke.

b) The book treats of poetry.

c) They treated me to sweets.

d) He treats his son cruelly.

In all these sentences the verb treat has different meanings and we can

speak about polysemy.

On the other hand, one and the same meaning can be expressed by different

sound forms, e.g. pilot , and airman, horror and terror. In such

cases we have synonyms.

Both the meaning and the sound can develop in the course of time

independently. E.g. the Old English /luvian/ is pronounced /l^v / in Modern

English. On the other hand, board primariliy means a piece of wood sawn

thin It has developed the meanings: a table, a board of a ship, a stage, a

council etc.


The lexical meaning of a word is the realization of a notion by means of

a definite language system. A word is a language unit, while a notion is a

unit of thinking. A notion cannot exict without a word expressing it in the

language, but there are words which do not express any notion but have a

lexical meaning. Interjections express emotions but not notions, but they

have lexical meanings, e.g. Alas! /disappointment/, Oh,my buttons!

/surprise/ etc. There are also words which express both, notions and

emotions, e.g. girlie, a pig /when used metaphorically/.

The term notion was introduced into lexicology from logics. A notion

denotes the reflection in the mind of real objects and phenomena in their

relations. Notions, as a rule, are international, especially with the

nations of the same cultural level. While meanings can be nationally

limited. Grouping of meanings in the semantic structure of a word is

determined by the whole system of every language. E.g. the English verb

go and its Russian equivalent have some meanings which coincide:

to move from place to place, to extend /the road goes to London/, to work

/Is your watch going?/. On the other hand, they have different meanings: in

Russian we say : , in English we use the verb come in this

case. In English we use the verb go in the combinations: to go by bus,

to go by train etc. In Russian in these cases we use the verb .

The number of meanings does not correspond to the number of words,

neither does the number of notions. Their distribution in relation to words

is peculiar in every language. The Russian has two words for the English

man: and . In English, however, man cannot be

applied to a female person. We say in Russian: . In

English we use the word person/ She is a good person/

Development of lexical meanings in any language is influenced by the

whole network of ties and relations between words and other aspects of the



The word polysemy means plurality of meanings it exists only in the

language, not in speech. A word which has more than one meaning is called


Different meanings of a polysemantic word may come together due to the

proximity of notions which they express. E.g. the word blanket has the

following meanings: a woolen covering used on beds, a covering for keeping

a horse warm, a covering of any kind /a blanket of snow/, covering all or

most cases /used attributively/, e.g. we can say a blanket insurance


There are some words in the language which are monosemantic, such as most

terms, /synonym, molecule, bronchites/, some pronouns /this, my, both/,


There are two processes of the semantic development of a word: radiation

and concatination. In cases of radiation the primary meaning stands in the

centre and the secondary meanings proceed out of it like rays. Each

secondary meaning can be traced to the primmary meaning. E.g. in the word

face the primary meaning denotes the front part of the human head

Connected with the front position the meanings: the front part of a watch,

the front part of a building, the front part of a playing card were formed.

Connected with the word face itself the meanings : expression of the

face, outward appearance are formed.

In cases of concatination secondary meanings of a word develop like a

chain. In such cases it is difficult to trace some meanings to the primary

one. E.g. in the word crust the primary meaning hard outer part of

bread developed a secondary meaning hard part of anything /a pie, a

cake/, then the meaning harder layer over soft snow was developed, then

a sullen gloomy person, then impudence were developed. Here the last

meanings have nothing to do with the primary ones. In such cases homonyms

appear in the language. It is called the split of polysemy.

In most cases in the semantic development of a word both ways of semantic

development are combined.


Homonyms are words different in meaning but identical in sound or

spelling, or both in sound and spelling.

Homonyms can appear in the language not only as the result of the split

of polysemy, but also as the result of levelling of grammar inflexions,

when different parts of speech become identical in their outer aspect, e.g.

care from caru and care from carian. They can be also formed by

means of conversion, e.g. to slim from slim, to water from water.

They can be formed with the help of the same suffix from the same stem,

e.g. reader/ a person who reads and a book for reading/.

Homonyms can also appear in the language accidentally, when two words

coincide in their development, e.g. two native words can coincide in their

outer aspects: to bear from beran/to carry/ and bear from bera/an

animal/. A native word and a borrowing can coincide in their outer aspects,

e.g. fair from Latin feria and fair from native fager /blond/. Two

borrowings can coincide e.g. base from the French base /Latin basis/

and base /low/ from the Latin bas /Italian basso/.

Homonyms can develop through shortening of different words, e.g. cab

from cabriolet, cabbage, cabin.

Classifications of homonyms.

Walter Skeat classified homonyms according to their spelling and sound

forms and he pointed out three groups: perfect homonyms that is words

identical in sound and spelling, such as : school - and

; homographs, that is words with the same spelling but pronounced

differently, e.g. bow -/bau/ - and /bou/ - ; homophones

that is words pronounced identically but spelled differently, e.g. night

- and knight - .

Another classification was suggested by A.I Smirnitsky. He added to

Skeats classification one more criterion: grammatical meaning. He

subdivided the group of perfect homonyms in Skeats classification into two

types of homonyms: perfect which are identical in their spelling,

pronunciation and their grammar form, such as :spring in the meanings:

the season of the year, a leap, a source, and homoforms which coincide in

their spelling and pronunciation but have different grammatical meaning,

e.g. reading - Present Participle, Gerund, Verbal noun., to lobby - lobby


A more detailed classification was given by I.V. Arnold. She classified

only perfect homonyms and suggested four criteria of their classification:

lexical meaning, grammatical meaning, basic forms and paradigms.

According to these criteria I.V. Arnold pointed out the following groups:

a) homonyms identical in their grammatical meanings, basic forms and

paradigms and different in their lexical meanings, e.g. board in the

meanings a council and a piece of wood sawn thin; b) homonyms

identical in their grammatical meanings and basic forms, different in their

lexical meanings and paradigms, e.g. to lie - lied - lied, and to lie -

lay - lain; c) homonyms different in their lexical meanings, grammatical

meanings, paradigms, but coinciding in their basic forms, e.g. light /

lights/, light / lighter, lightest/; d) homonyms different in their

lexical meanings, grammatical meanings, in their basic forms and paradigms,

but coinciding in one of the forms of their paradigms, e.g. a bit and

bit (from to bite).

In I. V. Arnolds classification there are also patterned homonyms,

which, differing from other homonyms, have a common component in their

lexical meanings. These are homonyms formed either by means of conversion,

or by levelling of grammar inflexions. These homonyms are different in

their grammar meanings, in their paradigms, identical in their basic forms,

e.g. warm - to warm. Here we can also have unchangeable patterned

homonyms which have identical basic forms, different grammatical meanings,

a common component in their lexical meanings, e.g. before an adverb, a

conjunction, a preposition. There are also homonyms among unchangeable

words which are different in their lexical and grammatical meanings,

identical in their basic foms, e.g. for - and for - .


Synonyms are words different in their outer aspects, but identical or

similar in their inner aspects. In English there are a lot of synonyms,

because there are many borrowings, e.g. hearty / native/ - cordial/

borrowing/. After a word is borrowed it undergoes desynonymization, because

absolute synonyms are unnecessary for a language. However, there are some

absolute synonyms in the language, which have exactly the same meaning and

belong to the same style, e.g. to moan, to groan; homeland, motherland etc.

In cases of desynonymization one of the absolute synonyms can

specialize in its meaning and we get semantic synonyms, e.g. city

/borrowed/, town /native/. The French borrowing city is specialized. In

other cases native words can be specialized in their meanings, e.g. stool

/native/, chair /French/.

Sometimes one of the absolute synonyms is specialized in its usage and we

get stylistic synonyms, e.g. to begin/ native/, to commence

/borrowing/. Here the French word is specialized. In some cases the native

word is specialized, e.g. welkin /bookish/, sky /neutral/.

Stylistic synonyms can also appear by means of abbreviation. In most

cases the abbreviated form belongs to the colloquial style, and the full

form to the neutral style, e.g. examination, exam.

Among stylistic synonyms we can point out a special group of words which

are called euphemisms. These are words used to substitute some unpleasant

or offensive words, e.g the late instead of dead, to perspire instead

of to sweat etc.

There are also phraseological synonyms, these words are identical in

their meanings and styles but different in their combining with other words

in the sentence, e.g. to be late for a lecture but to miss the train,

to visit museums but to attend lectures etc.

In each group of synonyms there is a word with the most general meaning,

which can substitute any word in the group, e.g. piece is the synonymic

dominant in the group slice, lump, morsel. The verb to look at is

the synonymic dominant in the group to stare, to glance, to peep. The

adjective red is the synonymic dominant in the group purple, scarlet,


When speaking about the sources of synonyms, besides desynonymization and

abbreviation, we can also mention the formation of phrasal verbs, e.g. to

give up - to abandon, to cut down - to diminish.


Antonyms are words belonging to the same part of speech, identical in

style, expressing contrary or contradictory notions.

V.N. Comissarov in his dictionary of antonyms classified them into two

groups : absolute or root antonyms /late - early/ and derivational

antonyms / to please - to displease/ . Absolute antonyms have

different roots and derivational antonyms have the same roots but

different affixes. In most cases negative prefixes form antonyms / un-, dis-

, non-/. Sometimes they are formed by means of suffixes -ful and -less.

The number of antonyms with the suffixes ful- and -less is not very

large, and sometimes even if we have a word with one of these suffixes its

antonym is formed not by substituting -ful by less-, e.g. successful

-unsuccessful, selfless - selfish. The same is true about antonyms

with negative prefixes, e.g. to man is not an antonym of the word to

unman, to disappoint is not an antonym of the word to appoint.

The difference between derivational and root antonyms is not only in

their structure, but in semantics as well. Derivational antonyms express

contradictory notions, one of them excludes the other, e.g. active-

inactive. Absolute antonyms express contrary notions. If some notions

can be arranged in a group of more than two members, the most distant

members of the group will be absolute antonyms, e.g. ugly , plain,

good-looking, pretty, beautiful, the antonyms are ugly and


Leonard Lipka in the book Outline of English Lexicology describes

different types of oppositeness, and subdivides them into three types:

a) complementary, e.g. male -female, married -single,

b) antonyms, e.g. good -bad,

c) converseness, e.g. to buy - to sell.

In his classification he describes complimentarity in the following way:

the denial of the one implies the assertion of the other, and vice versa.

John is not married implies that John is single. The type of

oppositeness is based on yes/no decision. Incompatibility only concerns

pairs of lexical units.

Antonymy is the second class of oppositeness. It is distinguished from

complimentarity by being based on different logical relationships. For

pairs of antonyms like good/bad, big/small only the second one of the above

mentioned relations of implication holds. The assertion containing one

member implies the negation of the other, but not vice versa. John is

good implies that John is not bad, but John is not good does not imply

that John is bad. The negation of one term does not necessarily implies

the assertion of the other.

An important linguistic difference from complementaries is that antonyms

are always fully gradable, e.g. hot, warm, tepid, cold.

Converseness is mirror-image relations or functions, e.g. husband/wife,

pupil/teacher, preceed/follow, above/below, before/after etc.

John bought the car from Bill implies that Bill sold the car to John.

Mirror-image sentences are in many ways similar to the relations between

active and passive sentences. Also in the comparative form: Y is smaller

than X, then X is larger than Y.

L. Lipka also gives the type which he calls directional opposition

up/down, consiquence opposition learn/know, antipodal opposition

North/South, East/West, ( it is based on contrary motion, in opposite

directions.) The pairs come/go, arrive/depart involve motion in different

directions. In the case up/down we have movement from a point P. In the

case come/go we have movement from or to the speaker.

L. Lipka also points out non-binary contrast or many-member lexical sets.

Here he points out serially ordered sets, such as scales / hot, warm,

tepid, cool, cold/ ; colour words / black, grey, white/ ; ranks /marshal,

general, colonel, major, captain etc./ There are gradable examination

marks / excellent, good, average, fair, poor/. In such sets of words we

can have outer and inner pairs of antonyms. He also points out cycles, such

as units of time /spring, summer, autumn, winter/ . In this case there are

no outermost members.

Not every word in a language can have antonyms. This type of opposition

can be met in qualitative adjectives and their derivatives, e.g. beautiful-

ugly, to beautify - to uglify, beauty - ugliness. It can be also met in

words denoting feelings and states, e.g. respect - scorn, to respect - to

scorn, respectful - scornful, to live - to die, alive - dead, life - death.

It can be also met among words denoting direction in space and time, e.g.

here - there, up - down , now - never, before - after, day - night, early -

late etc.

If a word is polysemantic it can have several antonyms, e.g. the word

bright has the antonyms dim, dull, sad.



On the British Isles there are some local varieties of English which

developed from Old English local dialects. There are six groups of them:

Lowland /Scottish/ , Northern, Western, Midland, Eastern, Southern. These

varieties are used in oral speech by the local population. Only the

Scottish dialect has its own literature /R. Berns/.

One of the best known dialects of British English is the dialect of

London - Cockney. Some peculiarities of this dialect can be seen in the

first act of Pigmalion by B. Shaw, such as : interchange of /v/ and /w/

e.g. wery vell; interchange of /f/ and /0/ , /v/ and / /, e. g/ fing

/thing/ and fa:ve / father/; interchange of /h/ and /-/ , e.g. eart for

heart and hart for art; substituting the diphthong /ai/ by /ei/ e.g.

day is pronounced /dai/; substituting /au/ by /a:/ , e.g. house is

pronounced /ha:s/,now /na:/ ; substituting /ou/ by /o:/ e.g. dont is

pronounced /do:nt/ or substituting it by / / in unstressed positions, e.g.

window is pronounced /wind /.

Another feature of Cockney is rhyming slang: hat is tit for tat,

wife is trouble and strife, head is loaf of bread etc. There are

also such words as tanner /sixpence/, peckish/hungry/.

Peter Wain in the Education Guardian writes about accents spoken by

University teachers: It is a variety of Southern English RP which is

different from Daniel Joness description. The English, public school

leavers speak, is called marked RP, it has some characteristic features :

the vowels are more central than in English taught abroad, e.g. bleck

het/for black hat/, some diphthongs are also different, e.g. house is

pronounced /hais/. There is less aspiration in /p/, /b/, /t/ /d/.

The American English is practically uniform all over the country, because

of the constant transfer of people from one part of the country to the

other. However, some peculiarities in New York dialect can be pointed out,

such as: there is no distinction between / / and /a: / in words: ask,

dance sand bad, both phonemes are possible. The combination ir in

the words: bird, girl ear in the word learn is pronoinced as /oi/

e.g. /boid/, /goil/, /loin/.In the words duty, tune /j/ is not

pronounced /du:ti/, /tu:n/.


British and American English are two main variants of English. Besides

them there are : Canadian, Australian, Indian, New Zealand and other

variants. They have some peculiarities in pronunciation, grammar and

vocabulary, but they are easily used for communication between people

living in these countries. As far as the American English is concerned,

some scientists /H.N. Menken, for example/ tried to prove that there is a

separate American language. In 1919 H.N. Menken published a book called

The American Language. But most scientists, American ones including,

criticized his point of view because differences between the two variants

are not systematic.

American English begins its history at the beginning of the 17-th century

when first English-speaking settlers began to settle on the Atlantic coast

of the American continent. The language which they brought from England

was the language spoken in England during the reign of Elizabeth the First.

In the earliest period the task of Englishmen was to find names for

places, animals, plants, customs which they came across on the American

continent. They took some of names from languages spoken by the local

population - Indians, such as :chipmuck/an American squirrel/, igloo

/Escimo dome-shaped hut/, skunk / a black and white striped animal with a

bushy tail/, squaw / an Indian woman/, wigwam /an American Indian tent

made of skins and bark/ etc.

Besides Englishmen, settlers from other countries came to America, and

English-speaking settlers mixed with them and borrowed some words from

their languages, e.g. from French the words bureau/a writing desk/,

cache /a hiding place for treasure, provision/, depot/ a store-house/,

pumpkin/a plant bearing large edible fruit/. From Spanish such words as:

adobe / unburnt sun-dried brick/, bananza /prosperity/, cockroach /a

beetle-like insect/, lasso / a noosed rope for catching cattle/ were


Present-day New York stems from the Dutch colony New Amsterdam, and

Dutch also influenced English. Such words as: boss, dope, sleigh

were borrowed .

The second period of American English history begins in the 19-th

century. Immigrants continued to come from Europe to America. When large

groups of immigrants from the same country came to America some of their

words were borrowed into English. Italians brought with them a style of

cooking which became widely spread and such words as: pizza, spaghetti

came into English. From the great number of German-speaking settlers the

following words were borrowed into English: delicatessen, lager,

hamburger, noodle, schnitzel and many others.

During the second period of American English history there appeared quite

a number of words and word-groups which were formed in the language due to

the new poitical system, liberation of America from the British

colonialism, its independence. The following lexical units appeared due to

these events: the United States of America , assembly, caucus, congress,

Senate, congressman, President, senator, precinct, Vice-President and many

others. Besides these political terms many other words were coined in

American English in the 19-th century: to antagonize, to demoralize,

influential, department store, telegram, telephone and many others.

There are some differences between British and American English in the

usage of prepositions, such as prepositions with dates, days of the week BE

requres on / I start my holiday on Friday/, in American English there is

no preposition / I start my vacation Friday/. In Be we use by day, by

night/at night, in AE the corresponding forms are days and nights.

In BE we say at home , in AE - home is used. In BE we say a quarter to

five, in AE a quarter of five. In BE we say in the street, in AE -

on the street. In BE we say to chat to somebody, in AE to chat with

somebody. In BE we say different to something, in AE - different from


There are also units of vocabulary which are different while denoting the

same notions, e.g. BE - trousers, AE -pants; in BE pants are

which in AE is shorts. While in BE shorts are outwear. This can lead to

misunderstanding. There are some differences in names of places:


passage hall cross-roads intersection

pillar box mail-box the cinema the movies

studio, bed-sitter one-room appartment

flyover overpass zebra crossing Pxing

pavement sidewalk tube, uderground subway

tram streetcar flat apartment

surgery doctors office lift elevator

Some names of useful objects:


biro ballpoint rubber eraser

tap faucet torch


parcel package elastic rubber


carrier bag shopping bag reel of cotton spool of thread

Some words connected with food:



tin can sweets


sweet biscuit cookie dry biscuit


sweet dessert chips

french fries

minced meat ground beef

Some words denoting personal items:



fringe bangs/of hair/ turn- ups


tights pantyhose mackintosh raincoat

ladder run/in a stocking/ braces suspenders

poloneck turtleneck waistcoat


Some words denoting people:



barrister, lawyer, staff /university/


post-graduate graduate chap, fellow guy

caretaker janitor constable


shopassistant shopperson bobby cop

If we speak about cars there are also some differences:



boot trunk bumpers


a car, an auto, to hire a car to rent a


Differences in the organization of education lead to different terms. BE

public school is in fact a private school. It is a fee-paying school not

controlled by the local education authorities. AE public school is a

free local authority school. BE elementary school is AE grade school BE

secondary school is AE high school. In BE a pupil leaves a secondary

school, in AE a student graduates from a high school In BE you can

graduate from a university or college of education, graduating entails

getting a degree.

A British university student takes three years known as the first, the

second and the third years. An American student takes four years, known as

freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years. While studying a British

student takes a main and subsidiary subjects. An American student majors in

a subject and also takes electives. A British student specializes in one

main subject, with one subsidiary to get his honours degree. An American

student earns credits for successfully completing a number of courses in

studies, and has to reach the total of 36 credits to receive a degree.

Differences of spelling.

The reform in the English spelling for American English was introduced

by the famous American lexicographer Noah Webster who published his first

dictionary in 1806. Those of his proposals which were adopted in the

English spelling are as follows:

a) the delition of the letter u in words ending in our, e.g. honor,


b) the delition of the second consonant in words with double consonants,

e.g. traveler, wagon,

c) the replacement of re by er in words of French origin, e.g.

theater, center,

d) the delition of unpronounced endings in words of Romanic origin, e.g.

catalog, program,

e) the replacement of ce by se in words of Romanic origin, e.g.

defense, offense,

d) delition of unpronounced endings in native words, e.g. tho, thro.

Differences in pronunciation

In American English we have r-coloured fully articulated vowels, in the

combinations: ar, er, ir, or, ur, our etc. In BE the sound / /

corresponds to the AE /^/, e.g. not. In BE before fricatives and

combinations with fricatives a is pronounced as /a:/, in AE it is

pronounced / / e.g. class, dance, answer, fast etc.

There are some differences in the position of the stress:



add`ress adress la`boratory


re`cess `recess re`search


in`quiry `inquiry ex`cess


Some words in BE and AE have different pronunciation, e.g.



/`fju:tail/ /`fju:t l/ /`dousail /

/dos l/

/kla:k/ /kl rk/ /`fig /


/ `le3 / / li:3 r/ /lef`ten nt/


/ nai / /ni: r/ /shedju:l/


But these differences in pronunciation do not prevent Englishmen and

American from communicating with each other easily and cannot serve as a

proof that British and American are different languages.

Words can be classified according to the period of their life in the

language. The number of new words in a language is always larger than the

number of words which come out of active usage. Accordingly we can have

archaisms, that is words which have come out of active usage, and

neologisms, that is words which have recently appeared in the language.


Archaisms are words which are no longer used in everyday speech, which

have been ousted by their synonyms. Archaisms remain in the language, but

they are used as stylistic devices to express solemnity.

Most of these words are lexical archaisms and they are stylistic synonyms

of words which ousted them from the neutral style. Some of them are: steed

/horse/, slay /kill/, behold /see/, perchance /perhaps/, woe /sorrow/ etc.

Sometimes a lexical archaism begins a new life, getting a new meaning,

then the old meaning becomes a semantic archaism, e.g. fair in the

meaning beautiful is a semantic archaism, but in the meaning blond it

belongs to the neutral style.

Sometimes the root of the word remains and the affix is changed, then

the old affix is considered to be a morphemic archaism, e.g. beautious

/ous was substituted by ful/, bepaint / be was dropped/, darksome

/some was dropped/, oft / en was added/. etc.


At the present moment English is developing very swiftly and there is so

called neology blowup. R. Berchfield who worked at compiling a four-

volume supplement to NED says that averagely 800 neologisms appear every

year in Modern English. It has also become a language-giver recently,

especially with the development of computerization.

New words, as a rule, appear in speech of an individual person who wants

to express his idea in some original way. This person is called

originater. New lexical units are primarily used by university teachers,

newspaper reporters, by those who are connected with mass media.

Neologisms can develop in three main ways: a lexical unit existing in the

language can change its meaning to denote a new object or phenomenon. In

such cases we have semantic neologisms, e.g. the word umbrella developed

the meanings: , . A new

lexical unit can develop in the language to denote an object or phenomenon

which already has some lexical unit to denote it. In such cases we have

transnomination, e.g. the word slum was first substituted by the word

ghetto then by the word-group inner town. A new lexical unit can be

introduced to denote a new object or phenomenon. In this case we have a

proper neologism, many of them are cases of new terminology.

Here we can point out several semantic groups when we analize the group

of neologisms connected with computerization, and here we can mention words


a) to denote different types of computers, e.g. PC, super-computer, multi-

user, neurocomputer / analogue of a human brain/;

b) to denote parts of computers, e.g. hardware, software, monitor,

screen, data, vapourware / experimental samples of computers for

exhibition, not for production/;

c) to denote computer languages, e.g. BASIC, Algol FORTRAN etc;

d) to denote notions connected with work on computers, e.g. computerman,

computerization, computerize, to troubleshoot, to blitz out / to ruin

data in a computers memory/.

There are also different types of activities performed with the help of

computers, many of them are formed with the help of the morpheme tele,

e.g. to telework, to telecommute / to work at home having a computer which

is connected with the enterprise for which one works/. There are also such

words as telebanking, telemarketing, teleshopping / when you can perform

different operations with the help of your computer without leaving your

home, all operations are registered by the computer at your bank/,

videobank /computerized telephone which registers all information which is

received in your absence/.

In the sphere of lingusitics we have such neologisms as: machine

translation, interlingual / an artificial language for machine translation

into several languages / and many others.

In the sphere of biometrics we have computerized machines which can

recognize characteristic features of people seeking entrance : finger-print

scanner / finger prints/, biometric eye-scanner / blood-vessel arrangements

in eyes/, voice verification /voice patterns/. These are types of

biometric locks. Here we can also mention computerized cards with the help

of which we can open the door without a key.

In the sphere of medicine computors are also used and we have the

following neologisms: telemonitory unit / a telemonitory system for

treating patience at a distance/.

With the development of social activities neologisms appeared as well,

e.g. youthquake - , pussy-footer - ,

, Euromarket, Eurodollar, Europarliament, Europol etc.

In the modern English society there is a tendency to social

stratification, as a result there are neologisms in this sphere as well,

e.g. belonger - ,

. To this group we can also refer abbreviations of the type

yuppie /young urban professional people/, such as: muppie, gruppie, rumpie,

bluppie etc. People belonging to the lowest layer of the society are

called survivers, a little bit more prosperous are called sustainers, and

those who try to prosper in life and imitate those, they want to belong

to, are called emulaters. Those who have prospered but are not belongers

are called achievers. All these layers of socety are called VAL /Value

and Lifestyles/ .

The rich belong also to jet set that is those who can afford to travel by

jet planes all over the world enjoying their life. Sometimes they are

called jet plane travellers.

During Margaret Thatchers rule the abbreviation PLU appeared which means

People like us by which snobbistic circles of society call themselves.

Nowadays /since 1989/ PLU was substituted by one of us.

There are a lot of immigrants now in UK , in connection with which

neologisms partial and non-partial were formed /


The word-group welfare mother was formed to denote a non-working single

mother living on benefit.

In connection with criminalization of towns in UK volantary groups of

assisting the police were formed where dwellers of the neighbourhood are

joined. These groups are called neighbourhood watch, home watch.

Criminals wear stocking masks not to be recognized.

The higher society has neologisms in their speech, such as : dial-a-meal,


In the language of teen-agers there are such words as : Drugs! /OK/,

sweat / /, task /home composition /, brunch etc.

With the development of professional jargons a lot of words ending in

speak appeared in English, e.g. artspeak, sportspeak, medspeak, education-

speak, video-speak, cable-speak etc.

There are different semantic groups of neologisms belonging to everyday


a) food e.g. starter/ instead of hors doevres/, macrobiotics / raw

vegetables, crude rice/ , longlife milk, clingfilm, microwave stove,

consumer electronics, fridge-freezer, hamburgers /beef-, cheese-, fish-,

veg- /.

b) clothing, e.g. catsuit /one-piece clinging suit/, slimster , string /

miniscule bikini/, hipster / trousers or skirt with the belt on hips/,

completenik / a long sweater for trousers/, sweatnik /a long jacket/,

pants-skirt, bloomers / ladys sports trousers/.

c) footwear e.g. winklepickers /shoes with long pointed toes/, thongs

/open sandals/, backsters /beech sandals with thick soles/.

d) bags, e.g. bumbag /a small bag worn on the waist/, sling bag /a bag

with a long belt/, maitre / a small bag for cosmetics/.

There are also such words as : dangledolly / a dolly-talisman dangling in

the car before the windscreen/, boot-sale /selling from the boot of the

car/, touch-tone /a telephone with press-button/.

Neologisms can be also classified according to the ways they are formed.

They are subdivided into : phonological neologisms, borrowings, semantic

neologisms and syntactical neologisms. Syntactical neologisms are divided

into morphological /word-building/ and phraseological /forming word-


Phonological neologisms are formed by combining unique combinations of

sounds, they are called artificial, e.g. rah-rah /a short skirt which is

worn by girls during parades/, yeck /yuck which are interjections to

express repulsion produced the adjective yucky/ yecky. These are strong


Strong neologisms include also phonetic borrowings, such as perestroika

/Russian/, solidarnosc /Polish/, Berufsverbot / German /, dolce vita

/Italian/ etc.

Morphological and syntactical neologisms are usually built on patterns

existing in the language, therefore they do not belong to the group of

strong neologisms.

Among morphological neologisms there are a lot of compound words of

different types, such as free-fall- appeared

in 1987 with the stock market crash in October 1987 /on the analogy with

free-fall of parachutists, which is the period between jumping and opening

the chute/. Here also belong: call-and-recall - ,

bioastronomy -search for life on other planets, rat-out - betrayal in

danger , zero-zero (double zero) - ban of longer and shorter range weapon,

x-rated /about films terribly vulgar and cruel/, Ameringlish /American

English/, tycoonography - a biography of a business tycoon.

There are also abbreviations of different types, such as resto, teen

/teenager/, dinky /dual income no kids yet/, ARC /AIDS-related condition,

infection with AIDS/, HIV / human immuno-deficiency virus/.

Quite a number of neologisms appear on the analogy with lexical units

existing in the language, e.g. snowmobile /automobile/, danceaholic

/alcoholic/, airtel /hotel/, cheeseburger /hamburger/, autocade /


There are many neologisms formed by means of affixation, such as:

decompress, to disimprove, overhoused, educationalist, slimster, folknik

etc. Phraseological neologisms can be subdivided into phraseological units

with transferred meanings, e.g. to buy into/ to become involved/, fudge

and dudge /avoidance of definite decisions/, and set non-idiomatic

expressions, e.g. electronic virus, Rubics cube, retail park, acid rain ,

boot trade etc.

Changes in pronunciation.

In Modern British English there is a tendency to change pronunciation of

some sounds and combinations of sounds due to the influence of American

English and some other factors. These changes are most noticeable in the

speech of teachers and students of the universities in the Southern part of

England /Oxford, Cambridge, London/.

There are the following changes in pronouncing vowels:

a) shortening of long vowels, especially at the end of the word and

before voiceless consonants, e.g. see, keep;

b) lengthening of short vowels before voiced consonants, e.g. big, good,

come, jam etc. In such adjectives which end in /d/ lengthening of the

vowel is observed all over England, e.g. bad, sad, glad, mad etc.

c) drawling of stressed syllables and clipping of unstressed syllables.

d) In unstressed syllables / / is pronounced instead of / i /, e.g. /b

`ko:z/, /`evid ns/ etc.

e) In the words consisting of three or more syllables there is a tendency

to have two main stresses,e.g. /`nes `s ri/, /`int `restin/.

f) The diphthong /ou/ is pronounced / u/,e.g. home /h um/, go /g u/.

g) the diphthong / u / is pronounced /o:/, e.g. sure /sho:/.

Vowels can also change under the influence of consonants:

a) after fricatives and consonants /n/ and /m/ /ju:/ is pronounced as

/u:/, e.g. resume, music, news, enthusiasm.

b) before fricatives and combinations of fricatives with consonants a

is pronounced as / /, e.g. dance, answer, class, fast.

The pronunciation of some consonants is also changed :

a) after a vowel /r/ is pronounced ,e.g. /ka:r/ , /ha:rt/.

b)There appears an intrusive /r/ in the combinations where after the

final vowel / / there is a vowel at the beginning of the next word, e.g.

the idea of, Asia and Europe/ on the analogy with word combinations there

is, there are/.

c) /p/ and /t/ are glotalized in the middle of the word,e.g. matter is

pronounced as /`m ? /, happy as /`h ? i/.

d) /s/ is used instead of /sh/ before /i/ in the structure of suffixes,

e.g. social /`sousi l/, negotiate / ni`gousi,eit/;

e) /l/ is vocalized at the end of the word, e.g. full/ ful/( close to

/v/ in sound).

f) /sh/ is voiced in the intervocal position in some geographical names,

e.g . Asia, Persia;

g) combinations of sounds /dj/, /tj/ , /sj/ in such words as duke, tube,

issue have two variants of pronunciation: /d3u:k/ and /dju:k/, /chu:b/ and

/tju:b/, /`ishu:/ and /`isju:/;

g) pronunciation approaching spelling is being developed, e.g. often

/`oftn/, forehead / fo:`hed/ etc;

h) /t/ and/d/ at the end of words are not pronounced, e.g. half past

five /`ha:f `pa:s`faiv/, old man /`oul `m n/.


The theory and practice of compiling dictionaries is called

lexicography. The history of compiling dictionaries for English comes as

far back as the Old English period, where we can find glosses of religious

books / interlinear translations from Latin into English/. Regular

bilingual dictionaries began to appear in

the 15-th century /Anglo-Latin, Anglo-French , Anglo-German/.

The first unilingual dictionary explaining difficult words appeared in

1604, the author was Robert Cawdry, a schoolmaster. He compiled his

dictionary for schoolchildren. In 1721 an English scientist and writer

Nathan Bailey published the first etymological dictionary which explained

the origin of English words. It was the first scientific dictionary, it was

compiled for philologists.

In 1775 an English scientist compiled a famous explanatory dictionary.

Its author was Samuel Johnson. Every word in his dictionary was illustrated

by examples from English literature, the meanings of words were clear from

the contexts in which they were used.. The dictionary was a great success

and it influenced the development of lexicography in all countries. The

dictionary influenced normalization of the English vocabulary. But at

the same time it helped to preserve the English spelling in its

conservative form.

In 1858 one of the members of the English philological society Dr.

Trench raised the question of compiling a dictionary including all the

words existing in the language. The

philological society adopted the decision to compile the dictionary

and the work started. More than a thousand people took part in collecting

examples, and 26 years later in 1884 the first volume was published. It

contained words beginning with A and B. The last volume was published

in 1928 that is 70 years after the decision to compile it was adopted. The

dictionary was called NED and contained 12 volumes.

In 1933 the dictionary was republished under the title The Oxford

English Dictionary, because the work on the dictionary was conducted in

Oxford. This dictionary contained 13 volumes. As the dictionary was very

large and terribly expensive scientists continued their work and compiled

shorter editions of the dictionary: A Shorter Oxford Dictionary

consisting of two volumes. It had the same number of entries, but far less

examples from literature. They also compiled A Concise Oxford Dictionary

consisting of one volume and including only modern words and no examples

from literature.

The American lexicography began to develop much later, at the end of the

18-th century. The most famous American English dictionary was compiled by

Noah Webster. He was an active stateman and public man and he published his

first dictionary in 1806. He went on with his work on the dictionary and in

1828 he published a two-volume dictionary. He tried to simplify the English

spelling and transcription. He introduced the alphabetical system of

transcription where he used letters and combinations of letters instead of

transcription signs. He denoted vowels in closed syllables by the

corresponding vowels, e.g. / a/, /e/, / i/, / o/, /u/. He denoted vowels

in the open syllable by the same letters, but with a dash above them,e.g.

/ a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/. He denoted vowels in the position before /r/ as

the same letters with two dots above them, e.g. / a/, /o/ and by the l

etter e with two dots above it for the combinations er, ir, ur

because they are pronounced identically. The same tendency is preserved

for other sounds : /u:/ is denoted by /oo/, /y/ is used for the sound /j/


Classification of dictionaries

All dictionaries are divided into linguistic and encyclopedic

dictionaries. Encyclopedic dictionaries describe different objects,

phenomena, people and give some data about them. Linguistic dictionaries

describe vocabulary units, their semantic structure, their origin, their

usage. Words are usually given in the alphabetical order.

Linguistic dictionaries are divided into general and specialized . To

general dictionries two most widely used dictionaries belong: explanatory

and translation dictionaries. Specialized dictionaries include

dictionaries of synonyms, antonyms, collocations, word-frequency,

neologisms, slang, pronouncing, etymological, phraseological and others.

All types of dictionaries can be unilingual ( excepting translation ones)

if the explanation is given in the same language, bilingual if the

explanation is given in another language and also they can be polilingual.

There are a lot of explanatory dictionaries (NED, SOD, COD, NID, N.G.

Wylds Universal Dictionary and others). In explanatory dictionaries the

entry consists of the spelling, transcription, grammatical forms, meanings,

examples, phraseology. Pronunciation is given either by means of the

International Transcription System or in British Phonetic Notation which is

different in each large dictionary, e.g. /o:/ can be indicated as / aw/,

/or/, /oh/, /o/. etc.

Translation dictionaries give words and their equivalents in the other

language. There are English-Russian dictionaries by I.R. Galperin, by

Y.Apresyan and others. Among general dictionaries we can also mention

Learners dictionaries. They began to appear in the second half of the 20-

th century. The most famous is The Advanced Learners Dictionary by A.S.

Hornby. It is a unilingual dictionary based on COD, for advanced foreign

learners and language teachers. It gives data about grammatical and lexical

valency of words. Specialized dictionaries of synonyms are also widely

used, one of them is A Dictionary of English Synonyms and Synonymous

Expressions by R.Soule. Another famous one is Websters Dictionary of

Synonyms. These are unilingual dictionaries. The best known bilingual

dictionary of synonyms is English Synonyms compiled by Y. Apresyan.

In 1981 The Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English was compiled, where

words are given in 14 semantic groups of everyday nature. Each word is

defined in detail, its usage is explained and illustrated, synonyms,

antonyms are presented also. It describes 15000 items, and can be referred

to dictionaries of synonyms and to explanatory dictionaries.

Phraseological dictionaries describe idioms and colloquial phrases,

proverbs. Some of them have examples from literature. Some lexicographers

include not only word-groups but also anomalies among words. In The Oxford

Dicionary of English Proverbs each proverb is illustrated by a lot of

examples, there are stylistic references as well. The dictionary by

Vizetelli gives definitions and illustrations, but different meanings of

polisemantic units are not given. The most famous bilingual dictionary of

phraseology was compiled by A.V. Koonin. It is one of the best

phraseological dictionaries.

Etymological dictionaries trace present-day words to the oldest forms of

these words and forms of these words in other languages. One of the best

etymological dictionaries was compiled by W. Skeat.

Pronouncing dictionaries record only pronunciation. The most famous is D.

Jones s Pronouncing Dictionary.

Dictionaries of neologisms are : a four-volume Supplement to NED by

Burchfield, The Longman Register of New Words/1990/, Bloomsury

Dictionary of New Words /1996/.


Seminar 1

Language units.

The smallest language unit.

The function of a root morpheme.

The main function of suffixes.

The secondary function of suffixes.

The main function of prefixes.

The secondary function of prefixes.

Splinters and their formation in English.

The difference between affixes and splinters.

Structural types of words in English.

The stem of a word and the difference beween a simple word, a stem and a


The difference between a block compound and a nominal benomial.

The difference between a word and a phraseological unit.

The similarity between a word and a phraseological unit.

Analyze the following lexical units according to their structure. Point

out the function of morphemes. Speak about bound morphemes and free

morphemes. Point out allomorphs in analyzed words:

accompany unsystematic forget-me-not

computerise expressionless reservation

de-restrict superprivileged moisture

lengthen clannish pleasure

beautify workaholic reconstruction

beflower inwardly counterculture

specialise moneywise three-cornered

round table Green Berets to sandwich in

Seminar 2.


Classification of suffixes according to the part of speech they form.

Classification of suffixes according to the stem they are added to.

Classification of suffixes according to their meaning.

Classification of suffixes according to their productivity.

Classification of suffixes according to their origin.

Classification of prefixes according to their meaning.

Classification of prefixes according to their origin.

Classification of prefixes according to their productivity.

Analyze the following derived words, point out suffixes and prefixes and

classify them from different points of view:

to embed nourishment unsystematic

to encourage inwardly to accompany

translatorese dispensable clannishness

to de-restrict workaholic jet-wise

reconstruction to overreach thouroughly

afterthought foundation childishness

transgressor to re-write completenik

gangsterdom pleasure concentration

refusenik counter-culture brinkmanship

allusion self-criticism to


slimster reservation


Seminar 3

Compound words.

Characteristic features of compound words in different languages.

Characteristic features of English compounds.

Classification of compound words according to their structure.

Classification of compound words according to the joining element.

Classification of compound words according to the parts of speech.

Classification of compound words according to the semantic relations

between the components.

Ways of forming compound words.

Analyze the following compound words:

note-book speedometer son-in-law

to job-hop brain-gain video-corder

fair-haired forget-me-not Anglo-Russian

teach-in back-grounder biblio-klept

theatre-goer well-dressed bio-engineer

to book-hunt mini-term to baby-sit

blood-thirsty good-for-nothing throw-away

do-gooder skin-head kleptomania

sportsman para-trooper airbus

bus-napper cease-fire three-


tip-top brain-drain bread-and-


Compare the strucure of the following words:

demagougery tablewards heliport

tobbacoless money-wise non-formal

booketeria go-go motel

counter-clockwise to frontpage productivity

giver-away newly-created nobody

Seminar 4.


Conversion as a way of wordbuilding.

Different points of view on the nature of conversion.

Semantic groups of verbs which can be converted from nouns.

The meanings of verbs converted from adjectives.

Semantic groups of nouns which can be converted from verbs.

Substantivised adjectives.

Characteristic features of combinations of the type stone wall.

Semantic groups of combinations of this type.

Analyze the following lexical units:

to eye a find to


a grown-up to airmail steel helmet

London season resit sleep

a flirt a read


to weekend a build-up supersonics

a non-formal to wireless to submarine

to blue-pencil to blind - the blind - blinds

distrust a jerk to


news have-nots the


to co-author to water to winter

a sit-down mother-in-law morning star

undesirables a walk a find

dislike log cabin finals

Seminar 5.

Shortenings and abbreviations.

Lexical and graphical abbreviations,the main differences between them.

Types of graphical abbreviations.

Types of initias, peculiarities of their pronunciation.

Lexical shortenings of words, their reference to styles.

Compound-shortened words, their structural types.

Analyze the following lexical units:

aggro /aggression/ Algol / algorythmic language/

apex /eipeks/ - advanced purchased excursion/ payment for an excursion

ninety days before the time of excursion/

A-day /announcement Day - day of announcing war/

AID / artifitial insemination by a donor/

AIDS / acquired immunity deficiency syndrome/

Ala / Alabama/ a.s.a.p. /as soon as possible/

bar-B-Q ,barb /barbecue/ to baby-sit / baby-sitter/

A-level /advanced level/ BC /birth certificate/

burger /hamberger/ Camford, Oxbridge

CALL /computer-assisted language learning/

CAT /computer-assisted training/

cauli / cauliflower/ COD / cash on delivery/

COBOL / k ubol/ /common business-oriented language/

co- ed comp /komp, k mp/ /accompaniment/

DINKY /double income ,no kids yet/

E-Day /entrance day //Common Market/ expo/exposition/

edbiz/ educational business/ el-hi / elementary and high

schools/, ex lib/ex libris/ /from the library of/

etc Euratom fax /facsimile/

G-7 / group of seven: GB, Germany, Japan, France, Canada, Italy, Spain/.

FORTRAN /formula translation/.

Seminar 6.

Phraseological units.

Ways of forming phraseological units.

Semantic classification of phraseological units.

Structural classification of phraseological units.

Syntactical classification of phraseological units.

Analyze the following phraseological units according to their meaning,

structure, syntactical function and the way they are formed:

When pigs fly /never/. To leap into marriage.

To be a whipping boy. To be behind scenes.

Girl Friday /a mans assistant/. Fire in the belly.

Man Friday /a true friend/. A dear John.

To be on the beam. Game, set and match.

Country and western. To jump out of ones skin.

As smart as paint. Its my cup of tea.

Robin Crusoe and Friday / seats at a theatre divided by a passage/.

Fortune favours fools. To be in the dog house.

The green power. Green Berets.

Culture vulture. To get off ones back.

To make headlines. On the nose.

With a bump. To have a short fuse.

To vote with ones feet. Nuts and bolts.

Blackboard jungle. The sky is the limit.

Cash and carry. To nose out.

To sandwich in. Berlin wall.

A close mouth catches no flies. To speak BBB.

To sound like a computer. As dull as lead.

Last but not least. On the stroke of.

Seminar 7.

Phraseological units.

Students choose ten phraseological units from Koonins dictionary of

phraseological units and a unilingual dictionary of idioms and analyze them

in the written form. During the seminar they analyze their phrasological

units chosen from dictionaries at the blackboard.

Seminar 8.


Classification of borrowings according to the language from which they

were borrowed:

Latin borrowings.

French borrowings.

Italian borrowings.

Scandinavian borrowings.

German borrowings.

Russian borrowings.

Classification of borrowings according to the borrowed aspect: phonetic

borrowings, semantic borrowings, translation loans, morphemeic borrowings,


Classification of borrowings according to the degree of assimilation:

fully assimilated borrowings, partly assimilated borrowings, barbarisms.

Borrowings partly assimilated semantically, grammatically, phonetically and


Analyze the following borrowings:

school represent sky-blue

degree rhythm immobility

chandelier the Zoo vase

mot /mou/ hybrid bouffant

illuminate keenly communicative

possessiveness to reproach command

moustache gifted boutique

skipper cache-pot well-scrubbed

nouveau riche emphatic mysteriously

dactyl Nicholas group

to possess chenile psychological

garage guarantee contempt

trait/trei/ triumph stomach

sympathy cynical Philipp

schoolboy Christianity paralyzed

system hotel cyclic

diphtheria kerchief dark-skinned.

Seminar 9


Word and notion.

Lexical meaning and notion.





Classifications of homonyms when applied to analysis.

Classifications of antonyms when applied to analysis.

Analyze the following lexical units applying the above mentioned

classifications of homonyms and antonyms:

present - absent, present - to present

like , to like - to dislike - dislike

sympathy - antipathy

progress - to progress, regress - to regress

success - failure, successful- unsuccessful

left - left/to leave/, right adj. - right n.

inflexible - flexible

unsafe - safe adj. - safe n.

fair n. - fair adj. unfair, foul

piece - peace

dark-haired - fair-haired

a row - a row /rou/ - /rau/

a fan - a fan

superiority - inferiority

different - similar, indifferent, alike, difference - similarity

meaningful - meaningless

after prep.- before -before adv., before conj.

to gossip - a gossip

shapeless - shapy

air - to air - air

fearless - fearful

bright - dim, dull, sad

to fasten - to unfasten

something - nothing

eldest - oldest -youngest

to husband - husband

obscure - to obscure

unaccustomed - accustomed

to exclude - to include

to conceal -to reveal

too - too- two

somewhere - nowhere

a drawer - a drawer

with - without

Seminar 10.


Neology blowup and the work of R.Berchfield.

Semantic neologisms, transnomination and proper neologisms.

Semantic groups of neologisms connected with computerization.

Social stratification and neologisms.

Semantic groups of neologisms referring to everyday life.

Phonological neologisms and borrowings as strong neologisms.

Morphological and syntactical neologisms.

Changes in pronunciation.

Analyze the following neologisms from the point of view of neology theory

and also from the point of view of their morphemic structure and the way

they were formed :

to clip-clip AIDS coup

sound barrier to Vice-Preside boutique

to re-familiarize tourmobile sevenish

to de-dramatize non-formals to baby-sit

to scrimp and save fireside chat hide-away

coin-in-the-slot cashless society memo

We shall overcome. to dish old wine in new bottles

to-ing and fro-ing multinationals the Commons

hyperacidity religiosity D-Day

face-to-face/tuition/ femme-fatalish to the wingtips

to river singer-songwriter beatnik

communication gap laundered money cheeseburger

Dont change horses. to put a freeze on micro-surgical

SA out-doorsy medicare

Cold War self-exile public-


brain-drainer movers and shakers Euroyuppie

Seminar 11.

Control work on the analysis of language units. Each student gets

six language units of different types / simple words, derived words,

compound words, phraseological units, combinations of the type stone

wall, borrowings, abbreviations, antonyms, homonyms, neologisms ,

abbreviations/ and is to analize them from all points of view which were

studied during the seminars.

Seminar 12.


Analysis of the control paper.

Historical development of British lexicography.

Historical development of American lexicography.

Classification of dictionaries.

Student reports on dictionaries they use in their work.


Adams V. Introduction into English Wordformation. Lnd.,

1983 .

Akhmanova O.S. Lexicology: Theory and Method. M. 1972

Arnold I.V. The English Word . M. 1986.

Burchfield R.W. The English Language. Lnd. ,1985

Canon G. Historical Changes and English Wordformation: New

Vocabulary items. N.Y., 1986.

Ginzburg R.S. et al. A Course in Modern English Lexicology.

M., 1979.

Jespersen ,Otto. Growth and Structure of the English

Language. Oxford, 1982.

Halliday M.A.K. Language as Social Semiotics. Social

Interpretation of Language and Meaning. Lnd., 1979.

Howard Ph. New words for Old. Lnd., 1980.

Labov W. The Social Stratification of English in New York

City. Washington, 1966.

Maurer D.W. , High F.C. New Words - Where do they come from

and where do they go. American Speech., 1982.

Patridge E. Slang To-day and Yesterday. Lnd., 1979.

Potter S. Modern Linguistics. Lnd., 1957.

Quirk R. Style and Communication in the English Language.

Lnd., 1980.

Schlauch, Margaret. The English Language in Modern Times.

Warszava, 1965.

Sheard, John. The Words we Use. N.Y..,1954.


. . 1956.

A . . . 1963.

A .. .

. .1974.

.. ..


.., ..

. . 1971.


. ., 1979.


. . . .

. . 1977.

.C., C ..

. . ., 1963.

.. . . .,1983.

.. .

., 1989.

.. . . . .

1984.. 227.

.. T . .



. . 1988.

.. . .


.. .

. 1976.

C ..


, . , 1985.


. .1976.

.. C .

.. ..1977.

.. . .



Bloomsbury Dictionary of New Words. M. 1996.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English. Oxford


Hornby The Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English.

Lnd. 1974.

The Longman Register of New Words. M. 1990.

Longman Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. M. 1986.

Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English. Longman. 1981.

21st century Dictionary of Slang. N.Y. 1994.

Websters New World Dictionary of American English. N.Y.


.. - .

M. 1993.

.. - .

M. 1979.

.. - .

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.C. Dictionary of New Words and New Meanings.

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