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The structure of the word

1.Ефименко А.З. Цены и ценовая политика. // Экономика строительства. - 2000. - №1. - С.54-61.

2.Цены и ценообразование: Учебник для вузов / Под ред. И.К. Салимжанова. - М.: ЗАО «Финстатинформ», 2003.

3.Дерябин А.А. Система ценообразования и финансов, пути совершенствования. М., Экономика, 2001

4.Певший Ф.М. Мировой рынок, конъюнктура, цены и маркетинг. М., МО, 2003

5.Ценообразование и рынок под ред. Салижманова И.K. М., Финстатинформ, колл. авторов, М., Прогресс, 2002

The Object of Lexicology

Antrushina G.B. English Lexicology

(pp. 6 – 11)


1. What is lexicology?

2. The structure of the word.

3. The main problems of lexicology.

4. Phraseology.

5. Vocabulary as a system.


What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet…

(W. Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet)

Что в имени твоём? То, что зовём мы розой, -

И под другим названьем сохраняло б

Свой сладкий запах!

(перевод Щепкиной-Куперник)


1. What is lexicology?

These famous lines reflect one of the fundamental problems of linguistic research: what is in a name, in a word? Is there any direct connection between a word and the object it represents? Could a rose have been called by “any other name” as Juliet says?

These and similar questions are answered by lexicological research. Lexicology,a branch of linguistics, is the study of words.

“Lexicology(from Gr lexis ‘word’ and logos ‘learning’) is the part of linguistics dealing with the vocabulary of a language and the properties of words as the main units of language. The term vocabularyis used to denote the system formed by the sum total of all the words that the language possesses.

The term worddenotes the basic unit of a given language resulting from the association of a particular meaning with a particular group of sounds capable of a particular grammatical employment. A word therefore is simultaneously a semantic, grammatical and phonological unit.”

(I. Arnold, Lexicology, p.9)

We do not know much about the origin of language and, consequently, of the origin of words. We know almost nothing about the mechanism by which a speaker’s mental process is converted into sound groups called “words”, nor about the reverse process whereby a listener’s brain converts the acoustic phenomena into concepts and ideas, thus establishing a two-way process of communication.

We know very little about the nature of relations between the word and the referent (i.e. object, phenomenon, quality, action, etc. denoted by the word). If we assume that there is a direct relation between the word and the referent it gives rise to another question: how should we explain the fact that the same referent is designated by quite different sound groups in different languages.

We do knowby now that there is nothing accidental about the vocabulary of the language (the total sum of its words);that each word is a small unit within a vast, efficient and perfectly balanced system.

What do we know about the nature of the word?

First, we know that the word is a unit of speech which serves the purposes of human communication. Thus, the word can be defined as a unit of communication.

Secondly, the word can be perceived as the total of the sounds which comprise it.

Third, the word, viewed structurally, possesses several characteristics.

The structure of the word

The modern approach to word studies is based on distinguishing between the externaland theinternalstructures of the word.

By external structure of the wordwe mean its morphological structure. For example, in the word post-impressionists the following morphemes can be distinguished: the prefixes post-, im-, the root press, the noun-forming suffixes -ion, -ist, and the grammatical suffix of plurality -s. All these morphemes constitute the external structure of the word post-impressionists.

The internal structure of the word,or its meaning,is commonly referred to as the word’s semantic structure.This is the word’s main aspect. Words can serve the purposes of human communication solely due to their meanings.

The area of lexicology specializing in the semantic studies of the word is called semantics.

Another structural aspect of the word is its unity. The word possesses both external (or formal) unity and semantic unity. Formal unity of the word is sometimes interpreted as indivisibility. The example of post-impressionists has already shown that the word is not indivisible. Yet, its component morphemes are permanently linked together in opposition to word-groups, both free and with fixed contexts, whose components possess a certain structural freedom, e.g. bright light, to take for granted.

The formal unity of the word can best be illustrated by comparing a word and a word-group comprising identical constituents. The difference between a blackbird and a black bird is explained by their relationship with the grammatical system of the language. The word blackbird, which is characterized by unity, possesses a single grammatical framing: blackbird/s. The first constituent black is not subject to any grammatical changes. In the word-group a black bird each constituent can acquire grammatical forms of its own: the blackest birds I’ve ever seen. Other words can be inserted between the components: a black night bird.

The same example may be used to illustrate what we mean by semantic unity.

In the word-group a black bird each of the meaningful words conveys a separate concept: bird – a kind of living creature; black – a colour.

The word blackbird conveys only one concept: the type of bird. This is one of the main features of any word: it always conveys one concept, no matter how many component morphemes it may have in its external structure.

A further structural feature of the word is its susceptibilityto grammatical employment. In speech most words can be used in different grammatical forms in which their interrelations are realized.

All that we have said about the word can be summed up as follows.

The wordis a speech unit used for the purposes of human communication, materially representing a group of sounds, possessing a meaning, susceptible to grammatical employment and characterized by formal and semantic unity.

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