. Lexicology of the English Language

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

take to the cleaners etc.

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

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

special syntactical combination, a kind of aspect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ones own sweet will.



Phraseological units can be clasified as parts of speech. This

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


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

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

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

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

nose out , to make headlines,

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

dull as lead ,

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

a dream , like a dog with two tails,

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

of ,

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


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

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

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

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

Where there is a will there is a way.


Borrowing words from other languages is characteristic of English

throughout its history More than two thirds of the English vocabulary are

borrowings. Mostly they are words of Romanic origin (Latin, French,

Italian, Spanish). Borrowed words are different from native ones by their

phonetic structure, by their morphological structure and also by their

grammatical forms. It is also characterisitic of borrowings to be non-

motivated semantically.

English history is very rich in different types of contacts with other

countries, that is why it is very rich in borrowings. The Roman invasion,

the adoption of Cristianity, Scandinavian and Norman conquests of the

British Isles, the development of British colonialism and trade and

cultural relations served to increase immensely the English vocabulary. The

majority of these borrowings are fully assimilated in English in their

pronunciation, grammar, spelling and can be hardly distinguished from

native words.

English continues to take in foreign words , but now the quantity of

borrowings is not so abundunt as it was before. All the more so, English

now has become a giving language, it has become Lingva franca of the

twentieth century.

Borrowings can be classified according to different criteria:

a) according to the aspect which is borrowed,

b) according to the degree of assimilation,

c) according to the language from which the word was borrowed.

(In this classification only the main languages from which words were

borrowed into English are described, such as Latin, French, Italian.

Spanish, German and Russian.)


There are the following groups: phonetic borrowings, translation loans,

semantic borrowings, morphemic borrowings.

Phonetic borrowings are most characteristic in all languages, they are

called loan words proper. Words are borrowed with their spelling,

pronunciation and meaning. Then they undergo assimilation, each sound in

the borrowed word is substituted by the corresponding sound of the

borrowing language. In some cases the spelling is changed. The structure of

the word can also be changed. The position of the stress is very often

influenced by the phonetic system of the borrowing language. The paradigm

of the word, and sometimes the meaning of the borrowed word are also

changed. Such words as: labour, travel, table, chair, people are phonetic

borrowings from French; apparatchik, nomenklatura, sputnik are phonetic

borrowings from Russian; bank, soprano, duet are phonetic borrowings from

Italian etc.

Translation loans are word-for-word (or morpheme-for-morpheme )

translations of some foreign words or expressions. In such cases the notion

is borrowed from a foreign language but it is expressed by native lexical

units, to take the bull by the horns (Latin), fair sex ( French),

living space (German) etc. Some translation loans appeared in English

from Latin already in the Old English period, e.g. Sunday (solis dies).

There are translation loans from the languages of Indians, such as: pipe

of peace, pale-faced, from German masterpiece, homesickness,


Semantic borrowings are such units when a new meaning of the unit

existing in the language is borrowed. It can happen when we have two

relative languages which have common words with different meanings, e.g.

there are semantic borrowings between Scandinavian and English, such as the

meaning to live for the word to dwell which in Old English had the

meaning to wander. Or else the meaning , for the word

gift which in Old English had the meaning .

Semantic borrowing can appear when an English word was borrowed into some

other language, developed there a new meaning and this new meaning was

borrowed back into English, e.g. brigade was borrowed into Russian and

formed the meaning a working collective,. This meaning was

borrowed back into English as a Russian borrowing. The same is true of the

English word pioneer.

Morphemic borrowings are borrowings of affixes which occur in the

language when many words with identical affixes are borrowed from one

language into another, so that the morphemic structure of borrowed words

becomes familiar to the people speaking the borrowing language, e.g. we can

find a lot of Romanic affixes in the English word-building system, that is

why there are a lot of words - hybrids in English where different morphemes

have different origin, e.g. goddess, beautiful etc.


The degree of assimilation of borrowings depends on the following

factors: a) from what group of languages the word was borrowed, if the word

belongs to the same group of languages to which the borrowing language

belongs it is assimilated easier, b) in what way the word is borrowed:

orally or in the written form, words borrowed orally are assimilated

quicker, c) how often the borrowing is used in the language, the greater

the frequency of its usage, the quicker it is assimilated, d) how long the

word lives in the language, the longer it lives, the more assimilated it


Accordingly borrowings are subdivided into: completely assimilated,

partly assimilated and non-assimilated (barbarisms).

Completely assimilated borrowings are not felt as foreign words in the

language, cf the French word sport and the native word start.

Completely assimilated verbs belong to regular verbs, e.g. correct

-corrected. Completely assimilated nouns form their plural by means of s-

inflexion, e.g. gate- gates. In completely assimilated French words the

stress has been shifted from the last syllable to the last but one.

Semantic assimilation of borrowed words depends on the words existing in

the borrowing language, as a rule, a borrowed word does not bring all its

meanings into the borrowing language, if it is polysemantic, e.g. the

Russian borrowing sputnik is used in English only in one of its meanings.

Partly assimilated borrowings are subdivided into the following groups:

a) borrowings non-assimilated semantically, because they denote objects and

notions peculiar to the country from the language of which they were

borrowed, e.g. sari, sombrero, taiga, kvass etc.

b) borrowings non-assimilated grammatically, e.g. nouns borrowed from

Latin and Greek retain their plural forms (bacillus - bacilli, phenomenon -

phenomena, datum -data, genius - genii etc.

c) borrowings non-assimilated phonetically. Here belong words with the

initial sounds /v/ and /z/, e.g. voice, zero. In native words these voiced

consonants are used only in the intervocal position as allophones of sounds

/f/ and /s/ ( loss - lose, life - live ). Some Scandinavian borrowings have

consonants and combinations of consonants which were not palatalized, e.g.

/sk/ in the words: sky, skate, ski etc (in native words we have the

palatalized sounds denoted by the digraph sh, e.g. shirt); sounds /k/

and /g/ before front vowels are not palatalized e.g. girl, get, give, kid,

kill, kettle. In native words we have palatalization , e.g. German, child.

Some French borrowings have retained their stress on the last syllable,

e.g. police, cartoon. Some French borrowings retain special combinations

of sounds, e.g. /a:3/ in the words : camouflage, bourgeois, some of them

retain the combination of sounds /wa:/ in the words: memoir, boulevard.

d) borrowings can be partly assimilated graphically, e.g. in Greak

borrowings y can be spelled in the middle of the word (symbol, synonym),

ph denotes the sound /f/ (phoneme, morpheme), ch denotes the sound

/k/(chemistry, chaos),ps denotes the sound /s/ (psychology).

Latin borrowings retain their polisyllabic structure, have double

consonants, as a rule, the final consonant of the prefix is assimilated

with the initial consonant of the stem, (accompany, affirmative).

French borrowings which came into English after 1650 retain their

spelling, e.g. consonants p, t, s are not pronounced at the end of

the word (buffet, coup, debris), Specifically French combination of letters

eau /ou/ can be found in the borrowings : beau, chateau, troussaeu. Some

of digraphs retain their French pronunciation: ch is pronounced as /sh/,

e.g. chic, parachute, qu is pronounced as /k/ e.g. bouquet, ou is

pronounced as /u:/, e.g. rouge; some letters retain their French

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

pronounced as /3/, e.g. rouge.

Modern German borrowings also have some peculiarities in their spelling:

common nouns are spelled with a capital letter e.g. Autobahn, Lebensraum;

some vowels and digraphs retain their German pronunciation, e.g. a is

pronounced as /a:/ (Dictat), u is pronounced as /u:/ (Kuchen), au is

pronounced as /au/ (Hausfrau), ei is pronounced as /ai/ (Reich); some

consonants are also pronounced in the German way, e.g. s before a vowel

is pronounced as /z/ (Sitskrieg), v is pronounced as /f/ (Volkswagen),

w is pronounced as /v/ , ch is pronounced as /h/ (Kuchen).

Non-assimilated borrowings (barbarisms) are borrowings which are used by

Englishmen rather seldom and are non-assimilated, e.g. addio (Italian),

tete-a-tete (French), dolce vita (Italian), duende (Spanish), an homme a

femme (French), gonzo (Italian) etc.




Latin borrowings.

Among words of Romanic origin borrowed from Latin during the period when

the British Isles were a part of the Roman Empire, there are such words as:

street, port, wall etc. Many Latin and Greek words came into English during

the Adoption of Christianity in the 6-th century. At this time the Latin

alphabet was borrowed which ousted the Runic alphabet. These borrowings

are usually called classical borrowings. Here belong Latin words: alter,

cross, dean, and Greek words: church, angel, devil, anthem.

Latin and Greek borrowings appeared in English during the Middle English

period due to the Great Revival of Learning. These are mostly scientific

words because Latin was the language of science at the time. These words

were not used as frequently as the words of the Old English period,

therefore some of them were partly assimilated grammatically, e.g. formula

- formulae. Here also belong such words as: memorandum, minimum, maximum,

veto etc.

Classical borrowings continue to appear in Modern English as well. Mostly

they are words formed with the help of Latin and Greek morphemes. There are

quite a lot of them in medicine (appendicitis, aspirin), in chemistry

(acid, valency, alkali), in technique (engine, antenna, biplane, airdrome),

in politics (socialism, militarism), names of sciences (zoology, physics) .

In philology most of terms are of Greek origin (homonym, archaism,


French borrowings

The influence of French on the English spelling.

The largest group of borrowings are French borrowings. Most of them came

into English during the Norman conquest. French influenced not only the

vocabulary of English but also its spelling, because documents were written

by French scribes as the local population was mainly illiterate, and the

ruling class was French. Runic letters remaining in English after the Latin

alphabet was borrowed were substituted by Latin letters and combinations

of letters, e.g. v was introduced for the voiced consonant /v/ instead of

f in the intervocal position /lufian - love/, the digraph ch was

introduced to denote the sound /ch/ instead of the letter c / chest/

before front vowels where it had been palatalized, the digraph sh was

introduced instead of the combination sc to denote the sound /sh/ /ship/,

the digraph th was introduced instead of the Runic letters 0 and

/this, thing/, the letter y was introduced instead of the Runic letter

3 to denote the sound /j/ /yet/, the digraph qu substituted the

combination cw to denote the combination of sounds /kw/ /queen/, the

digraph ou was introduced to denote the sound /u:/ /house/ (The sound

/u:/ was later on diphthongized and is pronounced /au/ in native words and

fully assimilated borrowings). As it was difficult for French scribes to

copy English texts they substituted the letter u before v, m, n and

the digraph th by the letter o to escape the combination of many

vertical lines /sunu - son, luvu - love/.

Borrowing of French words.

There are the following semantic groups of French borrowings:

a) words relating to government : administer, empire, state, government;

b) words relating to military affairs: army, war, banner, soldier,


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


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


e) words relating to jewelry: topaz, emerald, ruby, pearl ;

f) words relating to food and cooking: lunch, dinner, appetite, to roast,

to stew.

Words were borrowed from French into English after 1650, mainly through

French literature, but they were not as numerous and many of them are not

completely assimilated. There are the following semantic groups of these


a) words relating to literature and music: belle-lettres, conservatorie,

brochure, nuance, piruette, vaudeville;

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


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

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

Italian borrowings.

Cultural and trade relations between Italy and England brought many

Italian words into English. The earliest Italian borrowing came into

English in the 14-th century, it was the word bank /from the Italian

banko - bench/. Italian money-lenders and money-changers sat in the

streets on benches. When they suffered losses they turned over their

benches, it was called banco rotta from which the English word bankrupt

originated. In the 17-th century some geological terms were borrowed :

volcano, granite, bronze, lava. At the same time some political terms were

borrowed: manifesto, bulletin.

But mostly Italian is famous by its influence in music and in all Indo-

European languages musical terms were borrowed from Italian : alto,

baritone, basso, tenor, falsetto, solo, duet, trio, quartet, quintet,

opera, operette, libretto, piano, violin.

Among the 20-th century Italian borrowings we can mention : gazette,

incognitto, autostrada, fiasco, fascist, diletante, grotesque, graffitto


Spanish borrowings.

Spanish borrowings came into English mainly through its American variant.

There are the following semantic groups of them:

a) trade terms: cargo, embargo;

b) names of dances and musical instruments: tango, rumba, habanera,


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

ananas, apricot etc.


English belongs to the Germanic group of languages and there are

borrowings from Scandinavian, German and Holland languages, though their

number is much less than borrowings from Romanic languages.

: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9