Lexicology of the English language

Subject matter of Lexicology. Types of Lexicology and its links with other branches of linguistics. Meaning and context. Causes of semantic change. Definition of polysemy. The difference between homonymy and polycemy. Classification of antonyms.

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If a borrowed word loses its former grammatical categories and inflexions and gets new grammatical categories and paradigms by analogy with other English words we say the word is undergone grammatical assimilation. For example. sputnik, sputnik's, sputniks, sputnik. Sometimes the foreign inflexions are fallen off. For example. Lat. consultare (V) Eng.consult.

The borrowed word very often undergoes simplification. For example. F. salade. Eng. salad.

In French -ade was a suffix but in English-ad is not a suffix. If many words with the same suffix or prefix are borrowed the speaker of the language thinks that they are word--building elements. A borrowed suffix is joined to a native word. This brings about the creation of hybrid words like shortage, lovable, understandable. When a word is taken over into another language its semantic structure as a rule undergoes great changes. Polysemantic words are usually adopted only in one or two meanings. For example. Lat. bilingual had 4 meanings, but in-English it has one meaning. Besides a word will develop new meanings. For example. F. move has many meanings in English. Such meanings as are not found in French.

According to the degree of assimilation the borrowings are divided into:

1) fully assimilated borrowings. They are such borrowings which are not differed (distinguished) as borrowings. English people will surprise if they hear that the words table, chair, people take, get are borrowed words.

2) partially assimilated borrowings: they have undergone very small changes, For example. garage, which, still has three pronunciations [gseraeds], [ga:rs5], [g'^ra-].

3) unassimilated borrowings or barbarisms. These words are used by the English people, when they speak about the customs and the life of other nations. For example. rickshaw (Chinese), sherbet (Arabian), caique (Turkish), khan (Arab), khakan (Turkish) 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 is.

Completely or fully 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, For example. correct -corrected. Completely assimilated nouns form their plural by means of s-inflexion, For example 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, For example, the Russian borrowing sputnik is used in English only in one of its meanings.

Partially 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, For example. sari, sombrero, taiga, kvass etc. b) borrowings non-assimilated grammatically, For example.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/, For example. voice, zero. In native words these voiced consonants are used only in the intervocal position as allophones of sounds If/ and /s/ (loss - lose, life - live ). Some Scandinavian borrowings have consonants and combinations of consonants which were not palatalized, For example. /sk/ in the words: sky, skate, ski etc (in native words we have the palatalized sounds denoted by the digraph sh, For example. shirt); sounds /k/ and /g/ before front vowels are not palatalized For example. girl, get, give, kid, kill, kettle. In native words we have palatalization , For example. German, child.

Some French borrowings have retained their stress on the last syllable, For example. police, cartoon. Some French borrowings retain special combinations of sounds, For example. /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, For example. in Greak borrowings y can be spelled in the middle of the word (symbol, synonym), ph denotes the sound HI (phoneme, morpheme), ch denotes the sound /k/(chemistry, chaos),ps denotes the sound /s/ (psychology).

5. Classification of borrowings according to the language from which they were borrowed

There is some difference between the terms source of borrowings and origin of borrowed words.

The term source of borrowings should be used to the language from which this or that word was taken in English. The term origin of the borrowed words is used to the language the wcrd may be traced to i. e. to the language where the word was born.

For example. The word table was borrowed from the French language. So the French language is the source of borrowing but its origin is Latin (L. tabula). The word school by origin is a Greek word ( schole) but its source is Latin. paper<F. papier<L. papyrus<Gr. papyros

The source of borrowing is of greater importance for us because it has the imprint of the sound and graphic form. The morphological and semantic characteristic of the language they were borrowed from.

Borrowings may be classified according to the sources i.e the language from which the words were borrowed.

1. Celtic borrowings: bard, brat, slagan, whisky, machintosh.

2. Latin borrowings: street, wine, angel, monk, plant, exacute, congratulate, chalk, produce.

3. Scandinavian borrowings: anger, scare, take, get, skirt, skill, drop, true; pronouns: they, their, them.

4. French borrowings: judge, army, royal, machine, police, air, place, brave, accept, sport.

5. Russian borrowings: soviet, sputnik, kolkhos, cosmos, cosmonaut etc.

6. Italian borrowings: confetti, macaroni, opera, sonata, soprano,

7. Spanish borrowings: tomato, potato, tobacco, and others.

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, For example. 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, lexicography).

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).

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, For example. v was introduced for the voiced consonant Ivl 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 I]/ /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/.

French borrowings which came into English after 1650 retain their spelling, For example. 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/, For example. chic, parachute, 'qu' is pronounced as /k/ For example. bouquet, ou is pronounced as /u:/, For example. rouge; some letters retain their French pronunciation, For example. i is pronounced as /i:/, e,g, chic, machine; g is pronounced as /3/, For example. rouge.

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 : 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 etc.

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 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.

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, For example.

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 , 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, For example. 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, For example. 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. Modern German borrowings also have some peculiarities in their spelling: common nouns are spelled with a capital letter For example. Autobahn, Lebensraum; some vowels and digraphs retain their German pronunciation, For example. 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, For example. 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).

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 languages.

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 etc.

The independence and international relations of Uzbekistan with great btitain gave the way in the penetration of uzbek words into English language: For example. Oliy Majlis.

6. Etymological doublets

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 ounce

moneta mint money

camera camera chamber

Scandinavian: Skirt English: shirt

There are also etymological doublets which were borrowed from the same language during different historical periods, such as French doublets:

gentle - genteen - .

Sometimes etymological doublets are the result of borrowing different grammatical forms of the same word, For example 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.

7. The result of borrowings

A great number of borrowings left some imprint upon the language. We can find the influence of borrowings in the vocabulary of the English language. It changed its synonymic groups because as a result of borrowings there appeared a number of synonymic groups in English.

For examplefeed (native) -- nourish (borrowed); meet (native) -- encounter (borrowed).

We can see the differentiation in meaning between native and borrowed synonymous words. For examplethe native word stool was used for all kinds of furniture where we can sit. But under the influence of the French word chair its meaning is narrowed now. It is used for only one kind of furniture (a6ypea -- stool). As a result of borrowing some words of native origin are not used in the literary national language they have become dialected.

For example. a -- ( ), pea river.


, -- cover


2 A great number of borrowings influenced on the morphological structure of English. We can find a number of new affixes in English.

For example. re-, inter-, able,- ee,- -sm, co-, de-, trans-, -al, -cy,-icr -ical. These are very productive affixes. They are used mostly with romanic words. New English suffix -- nik came from the Russian language in the word sputnik, now it is a very productive suffix in English.

For example. beatnik -- , , , , , , - (?); folknik -- ( ? ?); filmnik -- (?); protestnik -- - (? ?); peacenik -- (); citynik -- (?).

The suffixes -ous,-ive,-ent are not used to form new words, they are non-productive borrowed affixes. A great number of words with bound morphemes appeared. For example. tolerate, tolerable.

The English language has adopted from other languages such pronouns as they, them, their, she, such, same and the numeral second;

The influence of borrowings can be seen on the phonetic structure of words in English too. There appeared a number of words of new phonetic structure. For example. words with the initial [ps] psychology, .[pn] pneumatic. In Middle English as a result of a number of French borrowings we can see the appearance of the new diphthong [oi] in English: point, joint, poison.

The initial [ski also appeared as a result of the influence of Scandinavian borrowings: skin, skip. i which was impossible in Old English came to be used at the beginning of the word. For examplevery, vain, victory. The sound [ds] began to be used at the beginning of the word. For example. jungle, journey. A high percentage of polysyllabic words can be found in English as a result of borrowings. For example. company, condition, government, important. The sound [fj came to be used intervocal position. For example. effect, affair.

There are many . . . words, one a native word, the other a Romance loan, originally of either identical or similar meaning with some distinction made today, such as freedom and liberty, happiness and felicity, help and aid, hide; and concea!, love, and charity, meal and re-past, wedding and marriage, wish and desire and we should find that the native word has a more emotional, sense is homely and unassuming, whereas the loan word is colder, aloof, more dignified, more formal . . .

Sometimes the word may have disappeared from the standard language and yet have survived in regional dialect. OE eme was replaced by uncle, yet eme still survives in Scots dialect (/. A. Sheard)


1. Dictionary compiling and its origin

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 school children. 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 statesman 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. He denoted vowels in the open syllable by the same letters, but with a dash above them, For example. / a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/. He denoted vowels in the position before /r/ as the same letters with two dots above them, For example./ a/, /o/ and by the 1 etter e with two dots above it for the combinations en, 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/ etc.

Thus, lexicography is a science of dictionary-compiling. Modern English lexicography appeared in the 15 th century. In this period English-Latin dictionaries were in existence. New English Dictionary of Oxford English Dictionary. It was written from 1888 up to 19 28. It covers the vocabulary of English with a full historical evidence. It gives the full history of words. It has a supplement containing neologisms (new words).

2. Types of dictionaries

There are encyclopaedic and linguistic dictionaries. An Encyclopaedic dictionary gives the information of extralin-guistic world. It gives the information about the important events, animals, and all branches of knowledge. They deal not with words, but with facts and concepts.

There are two main types of dictionaries: general dictionaries and special dictionaries. General dictionaries are divided into explanatory dictionaries and parallel or translation dictionaries (bilingual and multilingual). The best known explanatory dictionaries are: Tne Shorter Oxford Dictionary)) in two volumes, based on the NED, the COD (one volume). Chamber's 20 th Century Dictionary (one volume), WNID, New Comprehensive Standard Dictionary, the New Random House Dictionary, "Webster's Collegiate Dictionary etc.

Most of these dictionaries present the spelling, usage, pronounciation and meaning of words, grammatical information, origan of words, derivatives, phraseology, etymology, synonyms and antonyms. Pronounciation is shown either by means of the International phonetic transcription or in British phonetic notation which is somewhat different in each of the larger reference books. For example. (d:] is given as oh, aw, , or, etc.

Translation dictionaries or parallel are word-books containing vocabulary items in one language and their equivalents in another language.

For example. Russian-English Dictionary under the edition of prof. A. I. Smirnitsky. The English-Russian dictionary by Mill-ler, New English-Russian Dictionary by I. R. Galperin. The Pocket English-Russian Dictionary, by , English-Uzbek dictionary by J. Buranov and K- R. Rahmanber-diev etc. The translation dictionaries are based on the comparative study of the languages.

Among the general dictionaries we find Learner's Dictionary which is compiled for foreign language learners at different stages of advancement.

For example. The Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English by Hornby, Gatenby, Wakefield: It is a one-language (monolingual) dictionary compiled on the basis of COD. It differs from other dictionaries because it gives the information about the lexical or grammatical valency of words. The Learner's English-Russian Dictionary by Folomkina, Weiser contains approximately 3.500 words.

Specialized dictionaries give us the information of one or two particular pecularities of words (For example. synonyms, collocability, frequency, etymology, pronounciation, phraseological units etc).

The best known dictionary of synonyms is Dictionary of English Synonyms Expressions by Soule and Webster's Dictionary of synonyms.

The best and most comprehensive collection of English phraseology is A. V. Koonin's English Russian phraseological Dictionary (in two volumes). The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs, Collin's Book of English Idioms.

There are other types of specialized dictionaries. Dictionaries of collocations. A Reum's Dictionary of English Style, Dictionaries of word Frequency (Dictionary of frequency Value of Combinability of words. Moscow 1976). The Teacher's Book of 30.000 words by E. S. Thorndike and Lorge. Michal West. A General Service List of English Words. Etymological dictionaries; For example. W. Skeat's Etymological Dictionary of the English Language. Pronouncing dictionaries: English Pronouncing Dictionary by D. Jones etc.

The most important problems the lexicographer comes across in compiling dictionaries are the selection of words, the selection, arrangement and definition of meanings, and the illustrative examples to be supplied. Dictionaries can't possibly register all occasional words. It is impossible to present all occuring technical terms because they are too numerous (For example. there are more than 400.000 chemical terminology in English). Therefore selection is made according to the aim of the dictionary.

The choice of correct equivalents depends on the type of the dictionary, and on the aim of the compilers.

3. Entry of a dictionary

The entry of translation dictionaries presents the meanings of words with the help of other languages.

Different types of dictionaries differ in their aim, in the information they provide and in their size. They differ in the structure and content of the entry.

Compare the following dictionary entries from the point of view of the way lexical meanings are presented. For example.


I. N. C. Wyld. The Universal Dictionary of the English Language.

1. a) apt to fill others with awe, inspiring awe; dreadful, apalling; b) deserving and inspiring respect and reverence,

solemnly impressive awful dignity.

2. (colloq) used as a mere intensive: an awful nuisance: awful nonsense.

II, The Concise Oxford Dictionary.


inspiring awe, worthy of profound respect; solemnly impressive, (arch) reverential: (sl --notable in its kind as -- -- scrawl, bore, relief, something.

III. The Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English.


1. dreadful, impressive, causing awe. He died and death. His sufferings were to behold.

2. (colloq intensive) very bad, very great; extreme of its kind, what annuisance! what -- handwriting (weather)!

IV. Collin's New English Dictionary.


full of awe, filling with fear and admiration; impressive, venerable; ugly; unsightly; extremely.

V. Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language.


I. inspiring awe. 2. Terrifying, appalling. 3. Worthy of reverence and solemn respect. 4. (colloq) a) very bad, ugly, disagreeable: unpleasant, etc; as, an awful joke, b) great as, an awful bore.

Compare the entry for the word arrive given in the following dictionaries.


Concise Oxford Dictionary

v. i. come to destination (lit, and fig) or end of journey (at Bath, in Paris, upon scene, at conclusion; (as Gallicism) establish one's repute or position; (of things) be brought; (of time) come; (of events) come about, [f. OF ariver f. L, arribare f. L. A Dripare come to shore (ripa)]

Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.


v. i. (OF, ariver, deriv. of L. ad to+ripa shore, bank)

1. Obs. To come to the shore. 2. To reach a place; as, to arrive at home. 3. To gain an object, attain a state by effort, study, etc; as. to arrive at a conclusion. 4. to come; -- said of time. 5. To attain success or recognition.

syn. arrive, come, arrive implies more definitely than come the attainment of a destination. --v. t. Archaic. To reach; corns to.

- .


v. i. (at, in, upon) -- , to ~ in London -- : the police ~ d upon the scene -- ; to ~ punctually (tardily, in good time) -- , , ; sold to ~ . ( , ) 2. (at) ~ (-, ( -): to~at understanding -- : to ~ at a decision -- ; to~at a conclusion -- .

M. West. The General Service List.


v. 532. 1) Arrive home in London. Arrive at an age when . . . 74%: 2) The parcel has arrived. The time has arrived when ... 11 %; 3) Arrive at a conclusion ... 12%.

Oxford Etymological Dictionary


+ bring or come to shore, land XIII; come to the end of journey, a goal, etc, XIV;+reach (a port, etc) XVI; come to pass XVII. --OF ariver (mod, arriver, arrive, happen) -Pr. aribar, Sp arribar: Rom+arripare ccme to land, f ad+ ripo shore (of River) Formerly sometimes inflected + arove + ariven; cf STRIVE. Jones' Pronouncing Dictionary


arriv/e-s,-ing, ed-al/s -a'raiv-a, irj,-d, -al/z

The most complicated type of entry is found in explanatory dictionaries. The entry of an explanatory dictionary of the synchronic type usually presents the following data: accepted spelling, pronounciation, grammatical characteristics, the indication of the part of speech, definition of meanings, modern currency, illustrative examples, derivatives, phraseological units, etymology, synonyms, antonyms etc.

Selection and the arrangement of meanings of words in different dictionaries are different. They depend on the aim of the compilers. Diachronic dictionaries list more meanings than synchronic dictionaries of current English as they give not only the meanings in present-day use but also those

which have already become archaic or gone out of use. For example. SOD gives 8 meanings of the verb arrive while. COD lists only five. The meanings of words in dictionaries may be defined by means of phrases, synonymous words and expressions. Frequency dictionaries, spelling books, etymological, ideographic and other dictionaries may have illustrative examples.

The structure of the dictionary consists of an Introduction and Guide to the use of the dictionary. It explains all the peculiarities of the dictionary and also gives a key to pronounciation, the list of abbriviations. Dictionaries have some supplementary material. It may include addenda and various word-lists: geographical names, foreign words, tables of weights and measures.

Students should know something about the large, unabridged dictionaries to which they have ready access in college. hey might well be given brief sketches of the 'Oxford English Dictionary, The English Dialect by Joseph Wright, the old Century Dictionary (12 volumes) and the modern unabridged Webster. These may be called the Big Four in the dictionary field.

An acquaintance with, these larger works will not only make the students aware of what kind of information about words is available in them, but it will leave him much better prepared to make efficient use of the desk -- size dictionary with which he has some familiarity. clinic is from a Greek word meaning a bed, and the meanings of the word and those of its derivatives and combination stem from this significance. (Mitford M. Mathews)

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is not a dictionary to which you turn to see whether or not a certain word is a good word to use. It is a book which attempts scientifically to record the history and development of every printed word in the language from the time of King Alfred to the current date of publication ... the OED does not try to set a standard for English. It tells you as completely as possible what the language is and where it has been.

The entries for single words in the OED after run on four pages. The word set with its definition and other materials fills more than eighteen pages, go fills thirty -- five columns and over seventy separate senses or given for get.

In all the OED contains over 414.000 definitions, which are in turn illustrated by almost two million quotations. The total number of words in all the volumes is estimated at fifty million.

Thus, the OED records 414,825 words, of which 240.165 are main words, 67,105 subordinate words, 47,800 special combinations and 59.755 obvious combinations. There are about 500.000 definitions and more than 1,800,000 illustrative quotations. There are 16,570 pages in its 13 volumes. (L. I. Stupin.)

4. Attitudes towards dictionaries

Lexicography depends on its development in the solution of some general problems of Lexicology. So, lexicography is closely connected with the problems of Lexicology. The compilers approach to lexicological problems differently. For example, there is no clear border-line between homonymy and polysemy in different dictionaries. Thus in some dictionaries words such as fly -- (Myxa), (a two wingled insect) and a fly -- TyrMa yiyn MaTepna.1 (a flap of cloth covering the treated as two different words and in others (For examplethe Concise Oxford Dictionary and the Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English) -- as different meanings of one and the same word.

Many of the significant contributors to the present understanding of meaning (such as Katz and Fodor 1963; FUlmore 1968; Fillmore 1971; Chafe 1970; Jackendoff 1975; Winograd 1972; Schank 1972) have generally ignored dictionaries. Yet, each has presented a formulaic structure for lexical entries to serve as a basis for the creation of a new dictionary. Although their perceptions about the nature of language are well-established, their formalisms for lexical entries have not taken advantage of the equally well-established practices of lexicography.

The rationale underlying the development of new formalisms, expressed in some cases and implicit in others, is that lexical entries in dictionaries are unsatisfactory because they do not contain sufficient information. These formalisms thus require that semantic features such as "animate" or "state" be appended to particular entries. While it is true that ordinary dictionary entries do not overtly identify all appropriate features, this may be less a difficulty inherent in definitions than the fact that no one has developed the necessary mechanisms for surfacing features from definitions.

Thus, for example, "nurse" may not have the feature "animate" in its definition, but "nurse" is defined as a "woman" which is defined as a "person" which is defined as a "being" which is defined as a "living thing"; this string seems sufficient to establish "nurse" as "animate." In general, it seems that, if a semantic feature is essential to the meaning of a particular entry, it is similarly necessary that the feature be discoverable within the semantic structure of a dictionary.

Otherwise, there is a defect in one or more definitions, or the dictionary contains some internal inconsistency. (Clearly, it is beyond expectation that any present dictionary will be free of these problems.)

The possibility of defective definitions has also generated criticisms, more direct than above, on the potential usefulness of a dictionary. One hand, definitions are viewed as "deficient in the presentation of relevant data" since they provide meanings by using "substitutable words (i.e. synonyms), rather than by listing distinctive features" (Nida 1975: 172). On another hand, the proliferation of meanings attached to an entry is viewed as only a case of "apparent polysemy" which obscures the more general meaning of a lexeme by the addition of "redundant features already determined by the environment" (Bennett 1975: 4-11). Both objections may have much validity and to that extent would necessitate revisions to individual or sets of definitions.

However, neither viewpoint is sufficient to preclude an analysis of what actually appears in any dictionary. It is possible that a comprehensive analysis might more readily surface such difficulties and make their amelioration (and the consequent improvement of definitions) that much easier.

Even though dictionaries are viewed somewhat askance by many who study meaning, it seems that this viewpoint is influenced more by the difficulty of systematically tapping their contents than by any substantive objections which conclusively establish them as useless repositories of semantic content. However, it is necessary to demonstrate that; systematic approach exists and can yield useful results.

Some attempts have been made to probe the nature and structure of dictionary definitions. A review of relevant aspects of two such studies will help the material presented here stand out in sharper relief.

We started with the assumption that the English vocabulary comprises all the words and phraseological units existing in the language. The term "phraseological unit", however, is rather vague and allows of interpretation. If term is to be taken as including any "idiomatic expression" the meaning of which cannot be directly inferred from the meaning of its components, then all kind of various lexical items ranging from two-word groups of type give up, take in, etc. to proverbs and sayings For example. its the early birds that catches the worm, that is where the shoe pinches, etc., would have to be listed as separate vocabulary entries, thus greatly increasing the number of vocabulary units in English.

Another problem in Lexicology is connented with phraseological units as best man (noun equivalent), at length (adverb equivalent). They should be treated as individual vocabulary units; other types of the so-called idiomatic expressions are treated in the entries devoted to the component words of the idiomatic expressions.

Another debatable problem is the problem of homonymy, especially lexico-grammatical homonymy. If it is held by, the compiler that identical sound-forms, For example. work (noun) and work(verb), are but different grammatical and semantic variants of one and the same word, they are accordingly treated within one and the same dictionary entry and counted as one word. This conception tends to diminish the total number of vocabulary units in English. In some cases of lexical homony my the boundary line between various meanings of polisemantic word and the meaning of two homonymous word is not suffitiontly sharp and clear and allows of different approaches to the problem.

There is one more point of interest in connection with the problem of the number of words that should be mentioned here. Paradoxical as it may seem a great number of lexical items actually used by English-speaking people are never or scarcely ever recorded in dictionaries. These are words like footballer, hero-worshipper and others formed on highly productive word-building patterns. Such words are easily understood, they never strike one as 'unusual' or 'unclear'. They may be used by any member of speech community whenever the need to express a certain concept arises. Such words are usually referred to as "potential", "occasional" or "nonce-words". The terms imply that vocabulary units of this type are created for a given occasion only may be considered as but "potentially" existing in English vocabulary. The approach of the dictionary compilers to occasional words also effects the number of dictionary entries. Those dictionaries that regularly record such occasional words naturally increase the number of dictionary entries.

It may be easily observed from the above that the divergent views concerning the nature of basic vocabulary units can not but affect the estimate of the size of English vocabulary in terms of exact figures.

The connection between Lexicology and lexicography can, perhaps, best illustrated in the discussion of the number of vocabulary units in Modern English.

All the words and phraseological units existing in the language are said to be recorded in dictionaries. But the analysis of dictionaries, even those bearing the little "complete", does not allow one to draw any definite conclusion as to the exact number of vocabulary units in Modern English. Different dictionaries register different number of words. The entries even in the most comprehensive dictionaries range from 500.000 to 600.000. the problem of vocabulary counts is closely connected with the divergent views concerning the nature of basic vocabulary units and also with the difference in the approach of dictionary compilers to some of the crucial problems of lexicological science.

Counting up the entries in dictionaries we are struck by the basically different approachs to the vocabulary units as such. One and the same lexical item, say, seal is treated differently in different dictionaries some regarding it as one word and some as five different words. One and the same phrase, e.g by chance, is included in the vocabulary entry under the head-word chance in one dictionary,but isnot to be found in another dictionary of approximately the same size. Some of the seemingly "simple" words frequently occurring in spoken English such as footballer, hero-warshiper are not included in the best available dictionaries.

There are many points of interest closely connected with the problem of number vocabulary units in English but we shell confine ourselves to setting down in outline a few of the major issues clustering round the to central problems: 1) divergent views of the dictionary compilers concerning the nature of basic vocabulary units and 2) intrinsic heterogeneity of modern English vocabulary, all dictionaries may be roughly divided into two main types- encyclopedic and linguistic. Linguistic dictionaries are word-books, their subject matter is vocabulary-units (their semantic structure, usage, etc.). encyclopedias are thing-books dealing with concepts (objects and phenomena, their origin and development, relations to other concepts, etc.)- for example, entry influenza discloses the causes, symptoms, characteristics , derivatives, synonyms , etc. in an encyclopedia the entry influenza discloses the causes, symptoms, characteristics and varieties of this disease, various treatments of and remedies for it ,ways of infection, etc.


1. The expansion of the English language

The English language is spoken not only on the British isles but it is national language of the USA, Australia, New Zealand and some parts of Canada. As a result of the expansion of British colonialism the English language was also at different times a state language of English and American colonies in Asia and in Africa. For example. in India, in Pakistan, in Burma etc. After World War II as a result of the national liberation movement throughout Asia and Africa many of these colonies have got their independence and English has been replaced by the national language as a state language, For example.in India Hindi, in Pakistan, Urdu etc.

In this book we attempted to describe mainly the vocabulary of the American variant of the English language. The difference between the English language in America and in England has been the subject of discussion of many linguists. Some linguists think that these two variants of English are different languages. For example. An American linguist H. S. Mencken (the American language, N. Y. 1957) says that they are two different separate languages. Other linguists consider the language of the USA as a dialect of English. A general description of the language in America is given in prof. A. D. Shweitzer's book ( ).

2. The difference between British and American English

He says that the difference between the American and British literary norms is not systematic. They have the same grammar system, phonetic system and vocabulary.

They can't be regarded as different languages. He says that the American language can't be considered as a dialect, because the two differ far less than the local dialects of Dewsbury and Howden--two English towns in Yorkshire. He thinks that the American language is the variant of the English national language spoken in the USA. The American variant of the English language differs from British English in pronunciation, grammar and in vocabulary. In Phonetics: For example. class, ask, after, path, dance etc are pronounced not by [cc:] but by [33]: [eesk], [sefta], [pae6], [daens].

In spelling: cosy -- cozy, colour -- color, practice -- practise etc, through -- thru, offence -- offense, travelling -- traveling.

In Grammar: For example. will is used for all persons in forming Future Indefinite Tense. In oral speech the auxialary verb is omitted. For example. instead of I have done they say I done. I have seem, I seen etc, in usage of preposition I live in the street, I live on the streets. The letter r is pronounced at the end: car [ka:r]. We shall not discuss the phonetic and grammatical pecularities of the American variant of English thoroughly because they are the aim of other subjects --Grammar and Phonetics.

We shall discuss the lexical differences between the British and American variants of English. English words maybe divided into three groups: 1) those which are used both in England and in the USA or we call them General English.

For example. country, nation, language, person, give etc; 2) those which are used only in America, Americanisms, ex: drugstore (), mailbox (), subway (), sidewalk () truck -- () supermarket ( ); 3) those which are used only in Britain; fortnight, flat, underground, lorry, pavement, government. In some cases two words can be used in both variants of English but one of them is more frequent in Britain, the other is in the USA. For example. autumn is more frequent in England but fall in the USA. Time tables is very frequent in Britain but schedule is very frequent in the USA. Post is more frequent in England but mail is very frequent in the USA. Notice is frequent in England, bulletin is in America etc.

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