Basics of Lexicology

Lexicology as a branch of linguistics. The method of semantic differential. The connections of lexicology with other linguistic subjects. Morphological neologisms. Etymology of the English words. Latin affixes. Phonetic borrowings. Translation loans.

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(Lexicology as a science, its aims, methods; connections with other linguistic sciences.)

Lexicology is a branch of linguistics - the science of language. The term lexicology is composed of two Greek morphemes lexic - word, phrase and logos which denotes learning a department of knowledge. Thus the literal meaning of the term lexicology is the science of the word.

Lexicology as a branch of linguistics has its own aims and methods of scientific research. Its basic task is being a study and systematic description of vocabulary in respect to its origin, development and its current use. Lexicology is concerned with words, variable word-groups, phraseological units and morphemes, which make up words.

Distinction is made between general lexicology and special lexicology. General lexicology is a part of general linguistics and is concerned with the study of vocabulary irrespective of the specific features of any particular language. Special lexicology is the lexicology of a particular language.

Lexicology is closely connected with other branches of linguistics:

phonetics, that investigates the phonetic structure of language and is concerned with the study of the outer sound-form of the word;g

grammar, the study of the grammatical structure of language. It is concerned with the various means of expressing grammatical relations between words as well as with patterns after which words are combined into word-groups and sentences;

there is also a close relationship between lexicology and stylistics, which is concerned with a study of a nature, functions and styles of languages.

Lexicology approaches the word synchronically and diachronically. Synchronically it deals with the study of the word at present or in a certain period (pd) of time, it's special descriptive lexicology that deals with the vocabulary and vocabulary units of a particular language at a certain time. Diachronically it concerns the development of the word and its changes under historic influence, it is special historical lexicology that deals with the evaluation of the vocabulary units of a language as the time goes by.

e.g.: beggar - synchr. a derivative from to beg, diachr. a French borrowing, later shortened

freedom - synchr. a derivative, diachr. a compound

Both approaches are interconnected and interrelated because every linguistic structure and system exists in a state of constant development so that the synchronic state of a language system is a result of a long process of linguistic evaluation, of its historical development. Closely connected with the historical lexicology is contrastive and comparative lexicology whose aims are to study the correlation between the vocabularies of two or more languages and find out the correspondences between the vocabulary units of the languages under comparison.

Lexicology studies various lexical units: morphemes, words, variable word-groups and phraseological units. The word is the basic unit of the language system, the largest on morphological and the smallest on syntactic plane of linguistic analyses. It is a structural and semantic entity within the language system. The word as well as any linguistic sign is a two-faced unit possessing both form and content or sound-form and meaning. It directly corresponds to the object of the thought (referent), naming it. Thus, a word has a nominative function, which is to name the object of reality, to reflect the material world. However, the subject of lexicology is not the word itself but a certain aspect of it. These aspects are studied by different branches of lexicology:

etymology - the historical development of a word;

word- building - ways of building a word;

semasiology - the semantics of a word (its meaning, expressions and grammatical forms);

phraseology - word groups which are characterised by stability of structure and transferred meaning;

lexicography - studies dictionaries.

When used in actual speech the word undergoes certain modification and functions in one of its forms. The system showing a word in all its word-forms is called a paradigm. The lexical meaning of a word is the same throughout the paradigm. The grammatical meaning varies from one form to another. Therefore, when we speak of any word used in actual speech we use the term word conventionally because what is manifested in utterances is not a word as a whole but one of its forms which is identified as belonging to the definite paradigm. Words as a whole are to be found in the dictionary (showing the paradigm n - noun, v - verb, etc).

There are two approaches to the paradigm: as a system of forms of one word revealing the differences and the relationships between them.

e. g.: to see - saw - seen - seeing (different forms have different relations)

In abstraction from concrete words the paradigm is treated as a pattern on which every word of one part of speech models its forms, thus serving to distinguish one part of speech from another.

Besides the grammatical forms of words there are lexical varieties, which are called variants of words or lexico-semantic variants. Words seldom possess only one meaning, when used in speech each word reveals only that meaning which is required.

e. g. to learn at school to make a dress

to learn about smth. ?smbd. to make smbd. do smth.

There are also phonetic and morphological variants.

e. g.: often can be pronounced in two ways, though the sound-form is slightly changed the meaning remains unchangeable

dream - dreamt - dreamt - these are morphological variants, the meaning is the same but the model is different.

Like words-forms variants of words are identified in the process of communication as making up one and the same word. Thus, within the language system the word exists as a system and unity of all its forms and variants.

Lexicology uses a variety of methods of investigation:

Contrastive analysis is applied to reveal the features of sameness and difference in the lexical meaning and the semantic structure of correlated words in different languages. It is commonly assumed by non-linguists that all languages have vocabulary systems in which the words themselves differ in sound-form, but refer to reality in the same way. From this assumption it follows that for every word in the mother tongue there is an exact equivalent in the foreign language. Differences in the lexical meaning of correlated words account for the differences of their collocability in different languages.

Statistical analysis is recognized as the one of the major methods of linguistics. Statistical inquiries have considerable importance because of their relevance to certain problems of communication engineering and information theory. Statistical approach proved essential in the selection of vocabulary items of a foreign language for teaching purposes.

Immediate constituents analysis was originally elaborated as an attempt to determine the ways in which lexical units are relevantly related to one another. It was discovered that combinations of units are usually structured into hierarchial sets of binary constructions. The fundamental aim of immediate constituents analysis is to segment a set of lexical units into two maximally independent sequences and these maximally independent sequences are called immediate constituents. The further segmentation of immediate constituents results in ultimate constituents, which means that further segmentation is impossible, for no meaning can be found.

Distributional analysis in its various forms is commonly used in lexicology. By the term distribution we understand the occurrence of a lexical unit relative to other lexical units of the same levels: words to words, morpheme to morphemes. In other words, by this term we understand the position which lexical unit occupies or may occupy in the text or in the flow of speech.

Transformational analysis is defined as repatterning (representing, reorganization) of various distributional structures in order to discover difference or sameness of meaning of practically identical distributional patterns. As distributional patterns are in a number of cases polysemantic transformational procedures are of help not only in the analysis of semantic sameness/ difference of the lexical units but also in the analysis of the factors that account for their polysemy. Word-groups of identical distributional structure when repatterned show that the semantic relations between words and the meaning may be different.

Componential analysis proceeds from the assumption that the smallest units of meaning are sememes or semes.

The method of semantic differential studies the connotational aspect of a word, as a word has not only one meaning and even one word usually implies some additional information, which differentiates one word from another.

Questions on the theory:

What is lexicology? What is its basic task? What does it concern?

What is general and special lexicology?

What are the connections of lexicology with other linguistic subjects?

What approaches does lexicology use in studying the word?

What is a word? What aspects of a word does lexicology study?

What is a paradigm? Does it undergo any changes in reference to its meanings? What are the approaches to the paradigm?

What variants can a word possess?

What methods are used by lexicology in studying language units?


(The ways of replenishment of the English vocabulary: neologisms and archaisms, patterned and non-patterned ways, the role of borrowing, most productive patterns.)

Just as there is formal and informal dress, so there is formal and informal speech. One is not supposed to turn up at a ministerial reception or at a scientific symposium wearing a pair of brightly coloured pajamas. Consequently, the social context, in which the communication is taking place, determines both the mode of dress and the mode of speech. When placed in different situations, people instinctively choose different kinds of words and structures to express their thoughts. The suitability or unsuitability of a word for each particular situation depends on its stylistic characteristics or, in other words, on the functional style it represents.

The term functional style is generally accepted in modern linguistics. Pr. I.V. Arnold defines it as a system of expressive means peculiar to a specific sphere of communication. By the sphere of communication we mean the circumstances attending the process of speech in each particular case: professional communication, a lecture, an informal talk, a formal letter, an intimate letter, a speech in court. All these circumstances or situations can be roughly classified into 2 types: formal and informal. According to it functional styles are classified into 2 groups: informal style and formal style.

In order to get a more or less clear idea of the word stock of any language, it must be presented as a system, the elements of which are interconnected, interrelated and yet independent. Vocabulary is the totality of words in a language. The whole of the word stock of the English language is generally divided into 3 main layers: the literary, the neutral and the colloquial. The literary and colloquial layers contain a number of subgroups each of which has a property it shares with all other subgroups of the layer. The common property, which unites the different groups of words within the layer, is called its aspect. The aspect of the literary layer is its markedly bookish character. It is this that makes the layer more or less stable. The aspect of the colloquial layer of words is its lively spoken character, which makes it unstable and fleeting. The aspect of the neutral layer is its universal character. It can be employed in all styles of lge and in all spheres of human activity, that makes it the most stable layer of all.

The literary layer/ vocabulary consists of groups, which are accepted as legitimate members of the English vocabulary. They are:

common literary - they are chiefly used in writing and polished speech. Literary units stand in opposition to colloquial units and are especially apparent when pairs of synonyms are formed:

e.g.: kid- child- infant (coll.- neutr.- lit.)

daddy- father- parent

get along- start- commence

terms and learned words:

terms are words or word groups which are specifically employed by a particular branch of science, trade or the arts to convey a notion peculiar to this particular activity:

e.g.: bilingual, interdental, labialisation, palatalization, glottal stop

learned words are mainly associated with the printed page. It is in this stratum that poetry and fiction find their main resources. It includes several heterogeneous subdivisions:

words used in scientific prose - usually with dry, matter-of-fact flavour:

e.g.: comprise, comply, experimental, heterogeneous, homogeneous

officialese - words of official, bureaucratic lge:

e.g.: assist = help, endeavour = try, proceed = go, approxim = about

refined words - polysyllabic words usually drawn from the Romance languages, they seem to retain an aloofness associated with the lofty contexts. Their very sound seems to create complex and solemn associations:

e.g.: solitude, sentiment, fascination, fastidiousness, delusion, felicity, elusive.

modes of poetic diction - words of a lofty, high flown, sometimes archaic colouring:

e.g.: Alas! They had been friends in youth;

But whispering tongues can poison truth:

And constancy lives in realms above;

And life is thorny, and youth is vain;

And to be wroth with one we love,

Doth work like madness in the brain.

archaic and obsolete words stand close to learned:

archaisms are words which are partially or fully out of circulation rejoiced by the living language. Their last refuge is in historical novels or in poetry:

e.g.: thou, thy, aye, nay

morn (= morning), eve (= evening), moon (= month)

obsolete words are words which have completely gone out of the use, but the borderline between them is rather vague and uncertain and sometimes it's difficult to decide to what group the words belong.

barbarisms (foreign words) are words borrowed from another languages without any changes of sound and spelling:

e.g.: tete - a - tete, deja - vu, kaput, karaoke

nonce-words (neologisms) are words created for special communicative situations only, and are not used beyond these occasions and are characterized by freshness, originality, lucidity:

e.g.: I'm not just talented. I'm genuised.

The colloquial vocabulary is used in one's immediate circle: family, relatives or friends. One uses these words when at home or when feeling at home. They are characterized as relaxed, free - and easy, familiar and unpretentious. They fall into following groups:

common colloquial words (colloquialisms) are used by everybody and their sphere of communication is comparatively wide. These are informal words used both by cultivated and uneducated people:

e.g.: I'm not good enough at math. There's a chap there just down from Cambridge who puts us through it. I can't keep up.

slang is the lge of a higher colloquial style considered to be below the level of standard educated speech and consisting of new words or of current words employed in some special sense:

e.g.: mug=face; saucer, blinker=eyes; trap=mouth, dogs=feet, to leg=to walk.

jargonisms stand close to slang, but they are used by limited groups of people, united either professionally (= professionalisms) or socially (= jargonisms proper):

e.g.: pipeliner = swabber, bender, cat, old cat

geologist = smaller, pebble pup, rock hound

dialectal words are defined as a variety of a lge, which prevails in a district, with local peculiarities of vocabulary, pronunciation and phrase. England is a small country, but yet it has many dialects, which have their peculiar distinctive features. Dialects are regional forms of English. Dialectal peculiarities are constantly being incorporated into everyday colloquial speech and slang:

e.g.: lass, lassie, baccy (tobacco), summat (smth)

The neutral vocabulary includes words, which are stylistically neutral, and in this respect opposed to formal and informal words. Their stylistic neutrality makes it possible to use them in all kinds of situations, both formal and informal, in verbal and written communication. These words are used every day, everywhere and by everybody, regardless of profession, occupation, education, age group or geographical location. They are words without which no human communication is possible as they denote objects and phenomena of everyday importance. This group of words is the central group of the vocabulary, its historical foundation and living core. They are also characterized by entire lack of other connotations, as their meanings are broad, general and directly convey the concept, without supplying any additional information.


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:

e.g.: steed /horse/, slay /kill/, behold /see/, perchance /perhaps/, woe /sorrow/

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


At the present moment English is developing very swiftly and there is so called neology blowup. 800 neologisms appear every year in Modern English. It has also become a language-giver recently, especially with the development of computerization.

New words 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.

There are several semantic groups of neologisms connected with computerization:

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 computer's 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, telebanking, telemarketing, teleshopping

In the sphere of lingusitics we have such neologisms as: machine translation, interlingual.

In the sphere of biometrics we have computerized machines which can recognize characteristic features of people seeking entrance: finger-print scanner, biometric eye-scanner, voice verification.

With the development of social activities neologisms appeared as well:

e.g.: youthquake - , pussy-footer - , , Euromarket, Eurodollar, Europarliament, Europol

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, i.e. those who can afford to travel by jet planes all over the world enjoying their life. Sometimes they are called jet plane travellers.

There are a lot of immigrants now in the 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 the 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: dial-a-meal, dial-a-taxi.

In the language of teenagers there are such words as: Drugs! /OK/, sweat / /, task /home composition/, brunch.

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

There are different semantic groups of neologisms belonging to everyday life:

a) food: e.g.: starter = hors d'oevres, 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 = lady's 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-groups/.

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 neologisms

Strong neologisms alsoinclude 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:

e.g.: free-fall - , 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 / cavalcade/.

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, Rubic's cube, retail park, acid rain , boot trade etc.


( )

English vocabulary contains an immense number of words of foreign origin. Explanation for this should be sought in the history of the language, which is closely connected with the history of the nation speaking the language. In order to have a better understanding of the problem, it's necessary to go through a brief survey ( ) of certain historical facts.

1st cen. B. C.- most of the territory of Europe was occupied by the Roman Empire. Among the inhabitants of the continent were Germanic tribes, primitive cattle - breeders. Their tribal lge contained only Indo - European (IE) and Germanic elements. After a number of wars they came into peaceful contact. Germanic tribes gained knowledge of new and useful things, first among them things to eat.

e.g.: butyrum (butter), caseus (cheese), cerasum (cherry), pisum (pea), pirum (pear), prunus (plum), cuppa (cup), coqina (kitchen), molina (mill).

5th c. A. D. - some of the Germanic tribes migrated across the sea. There they were confronted by the Celts, but gradually they yielded. Through their numerous contacts with the defeated Celts, the conquerors got to know and assimilated a number of Celtic words:

e.g.: bald, down, glen, druid, bard, cradle

Especially numerous among the Celtic borrowings were place names of rivers and hills:

e.g.: the Avon, the Exe, the Esk, the Usk, the Ux (they originated from Celtic words meaning river and water

Some Latin words entered the Anglo - Saxon lges through Celtic.

e.g.: strata (street), vallum (wall)

7th century was significant for the christianisation of England. Latin was the official lge of the Christian church and consequently the spread of Christianity was accompanied by a new period of Latin borrowings. These new Latin borrowings mostly indicated people, objects and ideas connected with church and religious rituals.

e.g.: presbyter (priest), episcopus (bishop), monachus (monk), nonna (nun), candela (candle)

Churches organised first schools in England and the first teachers were priests and monks. So educational terms were also Latin borrowings:

e.g.: schola (school), magister (magister)

end of the 8th c. - mid of the 11th c. - England underwent several Scandinavian invasions which left trace in English vocabulary:

e.g.: call, take, cast, die, law, husband, window

Some of the words are easily recognised by the initial sk combination:

e.g.: sky, skin, skill, ski, skirt

1066 - the Norman Conquest. This epoch can be called eventful not only in national, social, political and human terms, but also in linguistic terms. England became a bilingual country. French words from the Norman dialect penetrated every aspect of social life:

administrative terms - state, government, parliament, council, power

legal terms - court, judge, justice, crime, prison

military terms - army, war, soldier, officer, battle, enemy

educational terms - pupil, lesson, library, science, pen

words of everyday life - table, plate, saucer, dinner, supper, river, autumn, uncle

Renaissance - in all countries this period was marked by significant development in art, science and culture and also by the revival of interests to the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome and their lges. Hence, there occurred a considerable number of Latin borrowings, mainly abstract words:

e.g.: major, minor, filial, moderate, intelligent, permanent

Scientific and artistic terms were also numerous:

e.g.: datum, status, phenomenon, philosophy, method, music, atom, cycle, ethics.

The Renaissance was the period of extensive cultural contacts between European states, therefore, new words entered the English vocabulary, especially from French:

e.g.: regime, routine, police, machine, ballet, matinee, scene, technique

Italian also contributed a number of words:

e.g.: piano, violin, opera, alarm, colonel

There are certain structural features, which enable to identify some words as borrowings and even to determine the source of lge. Thus, the initial sk usually indicates Scandinavian origin. Some words can be recognised as Latin or French borrowings by certain suffixes, prefixes and endings.

Latin affixes.

Noun suffixes



legion, opinion, session, union

relation, starvation, temptation

Verb affixes

ate [eit]

ute [jut]



dis -

appreciate, create, congratulate

attribute, contribute, constitute

act, conduct, collect, connect

applaud, divide, include

disable, distract, disown, disgrace

Adjective suffixes


ate [it]






curable, detestable

accurate, desparate, graduate

arrogant, constant, important

absent, convenient, decent

major, minor, junior, senior

cordial, filial, fraternal, maternal

lunar, solar, familiar

French affixes.

Noun suffixes






arrogance, endurance, hindrance

consequence, intelligence, patience

development, experiment

courage, marriage, passage, village

tigress, lioness, actress

Verb prefix

en -

enable, endear, enact, enfold, enslave

Adjective suffix

- ous

curious, dangerous, joyous, serious


The native element.

The borrowed element.

IE element

Germanic element

English proper element (not earlier than the 5th c. A.D.

Celtic element (5th-6th c. A.D.)

Latin element (1st group - the 1st c. B.C.; 2nd group - the 7th c. A.D.; 3rd group - the Renaissance period)

Scandinavian element (8th- 11th c. A.D.)

French element (1. Norman borrowings (11th- 13th c.); 2. Parisian borrowings (Renaissance)

Greek element (Renaissance)

Italian element (Renaissance and later)

Spanish element (Renaissance and later)

German element

Indian element

Russian element

The IE and Germanic groups are so old that they cannot be dated; the tribal language of the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes by the time of their migration contained only words of IE and Germanic root = a certain number of the earliest Latin borrowings. By the IE element we mean words of roots common to all languages of the IE group. English words of this group denote elementary notions of human activity:

family relations: father, mother, brother, son, daughter;

parts of human body: foot, nose, lip, heart;

animals: cow, swine, goose;

plants: tree, birch, corn;

time of day: day, night;

heavenly bodies: sun, moon, star;

adjectives: red, new, glad, sad;

numerals from 1 to 100;

pronouns: personal (except they) - Scand.) and demonstrative;

verbs: be, stand, sit eat, know.

The Germanic element represents words of roots common to all Germanic lges. Some of the groups are the same as in the IE element:

parts of body: head, hand, arm, finger, bone;

animal: bear, fox, calf;

plants: oak, fir, grass;

natural phenomena: rain, frost;

seasons: winter, spring, summer;

landscape features: sea, land;

dwellings and furniture: house, room, bench;

sea vessels: boat, ship;

adjectives: green, blue, grey, white, small, thick, thin, high, old, good;

verbs: see, hear, speak, tell, say, answer, make, give, drink.

The English proper element includes words, which are specifically English, having no cognates in other lges.

e.g.: bird, boy, girl, lord, lady, woman, daisy, always


The historical circumstances often stimulate the borrowing process. Each time two nations come into close contact, certain borrowings are a natural consequence. The nature of the contact may be different, it may be wars, invasions or conquests, where foreign words are imposed upon the reluctant conquered nation. There are also periods of peace, when the process of borrowing is due to trade and international cultural relations. Sometimes words are borrowed to fill a gap in vocabulary. When the Saxons borrowed Latin words butter, plum, beet, they did it because their own vocabularies lacked words for these notions. For the same reason potato and tomato were borrowed from Spanish. But there are also a great number of words, which are borrowed for other reasons. There may be a word, which expresses some peculiar notion, so there seems to be no need for borrowing. Yet, the word is borrowed, which means the same notion in some new aspect, supplies a new shade of meaning or a different emotional colouring.

e.g.: cordial (Fr.) - friendly, desire (Fr.) - wish, admire (Fr.) - love.

Thus, this type of borrowing enlarges groups of synonyms and enriches the expressive resources of the vocabulary.

When the words are borrowed, they don't remain the same, but get adjust to their new environment and get adapted to the norms of the recipient language. They undergo certain changes, which gradually erase their foreign features and finally they are assimilated. Sometimes the process of assimilation develops to the point, when the foreign origin of a word is unrecognisable (dinner, cat, teke, cup). Others, though well assimilated, still bear traces of their foreign background (distance, development, skin, sky, poloce, regime).

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.

According to the borrowed aspect they fall into 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.

e.g.: 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

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

e.g.: to take the bull by the horns (Lat), fair sex (Fr), living space, masterpiece, homesickness, superman (Germ).

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:

e.g.: pipe of peace, pale-faced,

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.: semantic borrowings between Scandinavian and English: to live for to dwell which in Old English had the meaning to wander

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.: 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: goddess, beautiful

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 is.

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:

e.g.: sport (Fr), start (Eng)

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.: sputnik (Rus) 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

b) borrowings non-assimilated grammatically:

e.g.: Latin and Greek nouns retain their plural: bacillus - bacilli, phenomenon - phenomena, datum -data, genius - genii

c) borrowings non-assimilated phonetically include 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 sky, skate, ski (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 there is 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:z/ in 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:

e.g.: accompany, affirmative

French borrowings which came into English after 1650 retain their spelling:

e.g.: 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:

e.g.: beau, chateau, troussaeu

Some of digraphs retain their French pronunciation:

e.g.: ch is pronounced as [?]: chic, parachute

qu is [k]: bouquet

ou is [u:]: rouge

Some letters retain their French pronunciation:

e.g.: i is pronounced as /i:/: chic, machine

g is pronounced as /z/: 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 [u:]: Kuchen

au is [au]:Hausfrau

ei is [ai]: Reich

Some consonants are also pronounced in the German way:

e.g.: s before a vowel is pronounced as [z]: Sitskrieg

v is [f]: Volkswagen, w is [v]: Wagen, ch is [h]: Kuchen

Non-assimilated borrowings (barbarisms) are borrowings which are used by Englishmen rather seldom and are non-assimilated:

e.g.: addio (It), tete-a-tete (Fr), dolce vita (It), duende (Sp), an homme a femme (Fr), gonzo (It)

According to the language from which the word was borrowed they are classified in numerous groups.

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:

e.g.: street, port, wall

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.

e.g.: alter, cross, dean (Lat), church, angel, devil, anthem (Gr)

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, memorandum, minimum, maximum, veto

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, lexicography).

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 ? 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/

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/.

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, battle;

c) words relating to jury: advocate, petition, inquest, sentence, barrister;

d) words relating to fashion: luxury, coat, collar, lace, pleat, embroidery;

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 borrowings:

a) words relating to literature and music: belle-lettres, conservatorie, brochure, nuance, piruette, vaudeville;

b) words relating to military affairs: corps, echelon, fuselage, manouvre;

c) words relating to buildings and furniture: entresol, chateau, bureau;

d) words relating to food and cooking: ragout, cuisine.

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:

e.g.: volcano, granite, bronze, lava

At the same time some political terms were borrowed:

e.g.: manifesto, bulletin

But mostly Italian is famous by its influence in music and in all Indo-European languages musical terms were borrowed from Italian:

e.g: 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:

e.g.: gazette, incognitto, autostrada, fiasco, fascist, diletante, grotesque, graffitto

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, guitar;

c) names of vegetables and fruit: tomato, potato, tobbaco, cocoa, banana, ananas, apricot.

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.

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.

ON OE Modern E

syster sweoster sister

fiscr fisc fish

felagi felawe fellow

However, there were also many words in the two languages which were different, and some of them were borrowed into English:

e.g.: nouns - bull, cake, egg, kid, knife, skirt, window;

adjectives - flat, ill, happy, low, odd, ugly, wrong;

verbs - call, die, guess, get, give, scream

Even some pronouns and connective words were borrowed which happens very seldom:

e.g.: same, both, till, fro, though;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/.

There are some 800 words borrowed from German into English. Some of them have classical roots, e.g. in some geological terms:

e.g.: cobalt, bismuth, zink, quarts, gneiss, wolfram

There were also words denoting objects used in everyday life which were borrowed from German:

e.g.: iceberg, lobby, rucksack, Kindergarten etc.

In the period of the Second World War the following words were borrowed:

e.g.: Volkssturm, Luftwaffe, SS-man, Bundeswehr, gestapo, gas chamber

After the Second World War the following words were borrowed: Berufsverbot, Volkswagen.

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:

e.g.: freight, skipper, pump, keel, dock, reef, deck, leak

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:

e.g.: rouble, copeck, pood, sterlet, vodka, sable

and also words relating to nature:

e.g.: taiga, tundra, steppe

There is also a large group of Russian borrowings which came into English through Rushian literature of the 19-th century:

e.g.: Narodnik, moujik, duma, zemstvo, volost, ukase

and also words which were formed in Russian with Latin roots:

e.g.: 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:

e.g.: collectivization, udarnik, Komsomol

and also translation loans:

e.g.: shock worker, collective farm, five-year plan

One more group of Russian borrowings is connected with perestroika:

e.g.: glasnost, nomenklatura, apparatchik


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