Рефераты. Lexicology of the English Language

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

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

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

converted from nouns.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

noun is converted from it.


Some scientists (Yespersen, Kruisinga ) refer substantivization of

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

cases of substantivization of adjectives we have quite different changes in

the language. Substantivization is the result of ellipsis (syntactical

shortening ) when a word combination with a semantically strong attribute

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

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

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

criminals, a criminal’s (mistake) , criminals’ (mistakes). Such words are

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

musicals. (musical comedies).

There are also two types of partly substantivized adjectives:

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

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

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

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

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

dead .


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

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

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

helmet, sand castle etc.

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

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

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

following facts:

1. «Stone» denotes some quality of the noun «wall».

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

function of an attribute do in English.

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

plural,and adjectives in English have no plural form.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

not characterisitc of the majority of such units.

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

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

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

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

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

There are different semantic relations between the components of «stone

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

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

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

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

e.g. steel helmet,

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

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

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

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

price rise,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

more and more information in the shortest possible time.

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

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

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

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

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

with native words: man, pan, tan etc.

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

Graphical abbreviations

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

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

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

The oldest group of graphical abbreviations in English is of Latin

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some graphical abbreviations of Latin origin have different English

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

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

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

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

corresponding English equivalents in the full form. We have several

semantic groups of them :

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

in. -inch, mg. - milligram etc.

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

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

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

Initial abbreviations

Initialisms are the bordering case between graphical and lexical

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

new offices they are closer to graphical abbreviations because orally full

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

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

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

shortened form.

In some cases the translation of initialisms is next to impossible

without using special dictionaries. Initialisms are denoted in different

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

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

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

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

variant is used (ОСВ -Договор об ограничении стратегических вооружений).

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

UFO - НЛО, CП - JV etc.

There are three types of initialisms in English:

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

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

NATO etc.

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

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

for Automated School System).

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


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

by different ways of wordbuilding:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Three dimensions) - стереофильм.

Abbreviations of words

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

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

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

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

cases as «laboratory» and «lab», we have different styles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

exceptions are: fif (fifteen), teen-ager, in one’s teens (apheresis from

numerals from 13 to 19).

Lexical abbreviations are classified according to the part of the word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

combo (combination) - небольшой эстрадный ансамбль, Afro (African)

-прическа под африканца etc. In other cases the beginning of the word is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

substituded by letters characteristic of native English words.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

voiceless consonants and in verbs we have corresponding voiced consonants

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

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

to live, breath - to breathe etc.


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

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

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

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

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

corresponding nouns. When these borrowings were assimilated in English the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

because vowels are pronounced differently in stressed and unstressed



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

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

of sound imitation

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

mumble, to sneeze, to whistle etc.

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

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

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

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

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

a bell), chatter (of children) etc.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

«o» is common for both of them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

linguist) etc.


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

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

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

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

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

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