Categories of Word-Combinations





Тема 1. Types of language Units

Lexicology

Language Units.

Structural Types of words.

Word combination

Lexicology

Lexicology is the part of linguistics which deals with the vocabulary and

characteristic features of words and word-groups.

The term word denotes the main lexical unit of a language resulting from the

association of a group of sounds with a meaning. This unit is used in grammatical

functions characteristic of it. It is the smallest unit of a language which can stand

alone as a complete utterance.

The term word-group denotes a group of words which exists in the language

as a ready-made unit, has the unity of meaning, the unity of syntactical function.

Lexicology can be general and special. General lexicology is the lexicology

of any language, part of General Linguistics. It is aimed at establishing language

universals – linguistic phenomena and properties common to all languages.

Special lexicology is the lexicology of a particular language (English,

German, Russian, etc.).

Lexicology can study the development of the vocabulary, the origin of

words and word-groups, their semantic relations and the development of their

sound form and meaning. In this case it is called historical lexicology.

Another branch of lexicology is called descriptive and studies the

vocabulary at a definite stage of its development.

Lexicology is closely connected with other branches of linguistcs:

1. It is connected with Phonetics because the word‘s sound form is a fixed

sequence of phonemes united by a lexical stress.

2. Lexicology is connected with Morphology and Word-Formation as the

word‘s structure is a fixed sequence of morphemes.

 

 

3. It is connected with Morphology because the word‘s content plane is a

unity of lexical and grammatical meanings.

4. The word functions as part of the sentence and performs a certain

syntactical function that is why it is also connected with Syntax.

5. The word functions in different situations and spheres of life therefore it

is connected with Stylistics, Socio- and Psycholinguistics.

But there is also a great difference between lexicology and other linguistc

disciplines. Grammatical and phonological systems are relatively stable. Therefore

they are mostly studied within the framework of intralinguistics.

Lexical system is never stable. It is directly connected with extralinguistic

systems. It is constantly growing and decaying. It is immediately reacts to changes in social life, e.g. the intense development of science and technology in the 20th century gave birth to such words as computer, sputnik. Therefore lexicology is a sociolinguistic discipline. It studies each particular word, both its intra- and extralingiustic relations.

Lexicology is subdivided into a number of autonomous but interdependent

disciplines:

1. Lexicological Phonetics. It studies the expression plane of lexical units in

isolation and in the flow of speech.

2. Semasiology. It deals with the meaning of words and other linguistic

units: morphemes, word-formation types, morphological word classes and

morphological categories.

3. Onomasiology or Nomination Theory. It deals with the process of

nomination: what name this or that object has and why.

4. Etymology. It studies the origin, the original meaning and form of words.

5. Phraseology. It deals with phraseological units.

6. Lexicography. It is a practical science. It describes the vocabulary and

each lexical unit in the form of dictionaries.

7. Lexical Morphology. It deals with the morphological structure of the word.

 

 

8. Word-formation. It deals with the patterns which are used in coining new

words.

Modern English lexicology investigates the problems of word structure and word formation; it also investigates the word structure of English, the classification of vocabulary units; the relations between different lexical layers of the English vocabulary and some other. Lexicology came into being to meet the demands of different branches of applied linguistic!

 

 

Language units

The main unit of the lexical system of a language resulting from the association of a group of soundswith a meaning is a word. This unit is used in grammatical functions characteristic of it. It is the smallest language unit which can stand alone as a complete utterance.

The modern approach to word studies is based on distinguishing between the

external and the internal structures of the word.

By external structure of the word we 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.

The external structure of the word, and also typical word-formation patterns,

are studied in the framework of word-building.

The internal structure of the word, or its meaning, is nowadays commonly

referred to as the word‘s semantic structure. This is the word‘s main aspect.

The area of lexicology specialising in the semantic studies of the word is

called semantics.

One of the main structural features of the word that it possesses both

external (formal) unity and semantic unity.

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

 

A word can be divided into smaller sense units - morphemes. The morpheme is the smallest meaningful language unit. The morpheme consists of a class of variants, allomorphs, which are either phonologically or morphologically conditioned, e.g. please, pleasant, pleasure.
Morphemes are divided into two large groups: lexical morphemes and grammatical (functional) morphemes. Both lexical and grammatical morphemes can be free and bound. Free lexical morphemes are roots of words which express the lexical meaning of the word, they coincide with the stem of simple words. Free grammatical morphemes are function words: articles, conjunctions and prepositions ( the, with, and).
Bound lexical morphemes are affixes: prefixes (dis-), suffixes (-ish) and also blocked (unique) root morphemes (e.g. Fri-day, cran-berry). Bound grammatical morphemes are inflexions (endings), e.g. -s for the Plural of nouns, -ed for the Past Indefinite of regular verbs, -ing for the Present Participle, -er for the Comparative degree of adjectives.
In the second half of the twentieth century the English wordbuilding system was enriched by creating so called splinters which scientists include in the affixation stock of the Modern English word building system. Splinters are the result of clipping the end or the beginning of a word and producing a number of new words on the analogy with the primary word-group. For example, there are many words formed with the help of the splinter mini- (apocopе) produced by clipping the word «miniature»), such as «miniplane», «minijet», «minicycle», «minicar», «miniradio» and many others. All of these words denote objects of smaller than normal dimensions.
On the analogy with «mini-» there appeared the splinter «maxi»- (apocopе produced by clipping the word «maximum»), such words as «maxi-series», «maxi-sculpture», «maxi-taxi» and many others appeared in the language.
In the seventieths of the twentieth century there was a political scandal in the hotel «Watergate» where the Democratic Party of the USA had its pre-election headquarters. Republicans managed to install bugs there and when they were discovered there was a scandal and the ruling American government had to resign. The name «Watergate» acquired the meaning «a political scandal», «corruption». On the analogy with this word quite a number of other words were formed by using the splinter «gate» (apheresis of the word «Watergate»), such as: «Irangate», »Westlandgate», »shuttlegate», »milliongate» etc. The splinter «gate» is added mainly to Proper names: names of people with whom the scandal is connected or a geographical name denoting the place where the scandal occurred.
The splinter «mobile» was formed by clipping the beginning of the word «automobile» and is used to denote special types of automobiles, such as: «artmobile», «bookmobile», «snowmobile», «tourmobile» etc.

 

3.According to the nature and the number of morphemes constituting a word there are different structural types of words in English: simple, derived, compound, compound-derived.
Simple words consist of one root morpheme and an inflexion (in many cases the inflexion is zero), e.g. «seldom», «chairs», «longer», «asked».
Derived words consist of one root morpheme, one or several affixes and an infection, e.g. «deristricted», «unemployed».
Compound words consist of two or more root morphemes and an inflexion, e.g. «baby-moons, «wait-and-see (policy)».
Compound-derived words consist of two or more root morphemes, one or more affixes and an inflexion, e.g. «middle-of-the-roaders»«job-hopper»

 

When speaking about the structure of words stems also should be mentioned. The stem is the part of the word which remains unchanged throughout the paradigm of the word, e.g. the stem «hop» can be found in the words: «hop», «hops», «hopped», «hopping». The stem «hippie» can be found in the words: «hippie», «hippies», «hippie’s», «hippies’». The stem «job-hop» can be found in the words : «job-hop», «job-hops», «job-hopped», «job-hopping».
So stems, the same as words, can be simple, derived, compound and compound-derived. Stems have not only the lexical meaning but also grammatical (part-of-speech) meaning, they can be noun stems («girl» in the adjective «girlish»), adjective stems («girlish» in the noun «girlishness»), verb stems («expell» in the noun «expellee») etc. They differ from words by the absence of inflexions in their structure, they can be used only in the structure of words.
Sometimes it is rather difficult to distinguish between simple and derived words, especially in the cases of phonetic borrowings from other languages and of native words with blocked (unique) root morphemes, e.g. «perestroika», «cranberry», «absence» etc.

In the English language of the second half of the twentieth century there developed so called block compounds, that is compound words which have a uniting stress but a split spelling, such as «chat show», «pinguin suit» etc. Such compound words can be easily mixed up with word-groups of the type «stone wall», so called nominative binomials. Such linguistic units serve to denote a notion which is more specific than the notion expressed by the second component and consists of two nouns, the first of which is an attribute to the second one. If we compare a nominative binomial with a compound noun with the structure N+N we shall see that a nominative binomial has no unity of stress. The change of the order of its components will change its lexical meaning, e.g. «vid kid» is «a kid who is a video fan» while «kid vid» means «a video-film for kids» or else «lamp oil» means «oil for lamps» and «oil lamp» means «a lamp which uses oil for burning».
Thus, we can draw the conclusion that in Modern English the following language units can be mentioned: morphemes, splinters, words, nominative binomials, non-idiomatic and idiomatic word-combinations, sentences.

Word-Combination

The word-combination (WC) is the largest two-facet lexical unit observed

on the syntagmatic level of analysis. By the degree of their structural and semantic

cohesion

Lexical combinability (collocation) is the aptness of a word to appear in

certain lexical contexts, e.g. the word question combines with certain adjectives:

delicate, vital, important.

Each word has a certain norm of collocation. Any departure from this norm

is felt as a stylistic device: to shove a question.

The collocationsof correlated words in different languages are not identical,

e.g. both the English flower and its Russian counterpart can be combined

with a number of words denoting the place where the flowers are grown: garden-

flowers, hot-house flowers; садовыецветы, оранжерейныецветы. But the

English word cannot enter into combination with the word room to denote flowers

growing in the rooms, cf.: комнатныецветы – pot flowers.

Grammatical combinability (colligation) is the aptness of a word to appear

in certain grammatical contexts, e.g. the adjective heavy can be followed by a noun

(heavy storm), by an infinitive (heavy to lift). Each grammatical unit has a certain

norm of colligation: nouns combine with pre-positional adjectives (a new dress),

relative adjectives combine with pre-positional adverbs of degree (dreadfully

tired).

The departure from the norm of colligation is usually impossible:

mathematics at clever is a meaningless string of words because English nouns do

not allow of the structure N + at + A.

 

Categories of Word-Combinations

The study of WCs is based on the following set of oppositions each

constituting a separate category:

1. Neutral and stylistically marked WCs: old coat – old boy;

2. Variable and stable WCs: take a pen – take place;

3. Non-idiomatic and idiomatic WCs: to speak plainly – to call a spade a

spade;

 

 

4. Usual and occasional WCs: blue sky – angry sky;

5. Conceptually determined and conceptually non-determined WCs: clean

dress – clean dirt;

6. Sociolinguistically determined and sociolinguistically non-determined

WCs: cold war – cold soup.

 

II. Meaning of Word-Combinations

 

 

Meaning of WCs is anlysed into lexical and grammatical (structural

components).

Lexical meaning of the WC is the combined lexical meanings of its component

words: red flower – red + flower. But in most cases the meaning of the whole

combination predominates over the lexical meaning of its constituents, e.g. the

meaning of the monosemantic adjective atomic is different in atomic weight and

atomic bomb.

Polysemantic words are used in WCs in one of their meanings: blind man

(horse, cat) – blind type (print, handwriting). Only one meaning of the adjective

blind (unable to see) is combined with the lexical meaning of the noun man

(human being) and only one meaning of man is realized in combination with blind.

The meaning of the same adjective in blind type is different.

Structural meaning of the WC is conveyed by the pattern of arrangement of

the component words, e.g. the WCs school grammar and grammar school consist

of identical words but are semantically different because their patterns are

different. The structural pattern is the carrier of a certain meaning quality-

substance that does not depend on the lexical meanings of the words school and

grammar.

 

 

III. Interdependence of Structure and Meaning in Word-Combinations

 

 

The pattern of the WC is the syntactic structure in which a given word is

used as its head: to build + N (to build a house); to rely + on + N (to rely on sb).

The pattern and meaning of head-words are interdependent. The same head-word

is semantically different in different patterns, cf.: get+N (get a letter); get+to+N

(get to Moscow); get+N+inf (get sb to come).

In these patterns notional words are represented in conventional symbols

whereas form-words are given in their usual graphic form. The reason is that

 

 

individual form-words may change the meaning of the word with which it is

combined: anxious+for+N (anxious for news), anxious+about+N (anxious about

his health).

Structurally simple patterns are usually polysemantic: the pattern take+N

represents several meanings of the polysemantic head-word: take tea (coffee), take

neasures (precautions). Structurally complex patterns are usually monosemantic:

the pattern take+to+N represents only one meaning of take – take to sports (to sb).

 

 

IV. Motivation in Word-Combinations

 

 

Motivation in WCs may be lexical or grammatical (structural). The WC is

motivated if its meaning is deducible from the meaning, order and arrangement of

its components: red flower – red+flower – quality+substance – A+N. Non-

motivated WCs are indivisible lexically and structurally. They are called

phraseological units.

The WC is lexially non-motivated if its combined lexical meaning is not

deducible from the meaning of its components: red tape –bureaucratic methods.

The WC represents a single indivisible semantic entity.

The WC is structurally non-motivated if the meaning of its pattern is not

deducible from the order and arrangement of its components: red tape – substance

– N. The WC represents a single indivisible structural entity.

 

 

V. Categories of Word-Combinations

 

 

The study of WCs is based on the following set of oppositions each

constituting a separate category:

1. Neutral and stylistically marked WCs: old coat – old boy;

2. Variable and stable WCs: take a pen – take place;

3. Non-idiomatic and idiomatic WCs: to speak plainly – to call a spade a

spade;

 

 

4. Usual and occasional WCs: blue sky – angry sky;

5. Conceptually determined and conceptually non-determined WCs: clean

dress – clean dirt;

6. Sociolinguistically determined and sociolinguistically non-determined

WCs: cold war – cold soup.





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