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LEXICOLOGY

Structure of the lexicon

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QUESTIONS:
What do we mean by lexicon?
In what sense can we say that the lexicon
has structure?
What do we understand by lexical
structure?

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Definitions of LEXICON (I):
LDCE: LEXICON= a dictionary, especially of an ancient language

COD: LEXICON= a dictionary, especially of Greek, Hebrew or


Arabic;
(fig.) = vocabulary of e person, language of a branch of
knowledge.

LEXICON= A POOL OF WORDS THAT FORMS THE BASIS OF


ANY LANGUAGE

(etymology: Gk lexis = word, lexicon= inventory of words)

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Definition of LEXICON (II)

LEXICON = the vocabulary of a language, an accumulation of words; these are


not unconnected

THE LEXICON HAS STRUCTURE


(a) Structure of the lexicon (external to the word): paradigmatic (oppositional)
syntagmatic (combinatorial)

(E. Coserius Model, 1970)

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(b) Structure of the lexical items (internal to the word):

- simple items
- complex items

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Early studies in lexicology
19th century R. Chenevix Trench (1807 1866) lectures to
students 2 volumes:
- On the study of words (1850)
- English past and present (1855)

Interest in the semantic evolution of words


Basic idea: words often embody facts of history

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Relationship of lexicology to other
branches of linguistics
Lexicology and phonetics word stress
e.g. the White House vs. the white house

Lexicology and grammar


- the plural can serve to form special lexical meanings:
e.g. damage vs. damages; custom vs. customs
- the lexical meaning of the DO may change the meaning of the verb:
e.g. to do homework vs. to do time; to grow potatoes vs. to grow a beard
- the syntactic position of a word may change both its function and its lexical
meaning:
e.g. girls school vs. school-girls, shop window vs. window-shop

Lexicology and stylistics selection of lexical units adapted to style:


e.g. The knight mounted his stallion (historical writings)
The child climbed his gee-gee (childrens narratives)
* The knight mounted his gee-gee.

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LEXICAL UNITS: STRUCTURE AND CLASSIFICATION

WORD IDENTIFICATION AND DEFINITION


Difficulties in arriving at a consistent use of the term
WORD:

Due to word identification decisions over word


boundaries: e.g. bee sting 1 word or 2 words?
- decisions over the status: e.g. is
the/a a word in the same sense as mother?

b) Due to word definition a major problem of linguistic


theory

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Definitions of the term word
A unit of expression which has universal
intuitive recognition by native speakers;
A linguistic form that can be meaningfully
be spoken in isolation;
An element of human speech, to which
meaning is attached, apt to be used
grammatically; it can be understood by a
human collectivity constituted in a
historical community.
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Three main senses of the term
word
(a) Word a physically definable unit
encountered
-in a stretch of writing (separated by
space) orthographic word
- in a stretch of speech (bounded by
pauses) phonological word
A neutral term that covers both: WORD
FORM
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(b) Word (in a more abstract sense) the
common factor underlying a set of forms
(i.e. variants of the same unit)

e.g. talk, talk, talking, talked, talker have


TALK as a common factor or lexeme = an
abstract entity found in a dictionary that has
a certain meaning

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(c) Word: an abstract unit to be set up to show how
words work in GRAMMAR. Thus, word= a
grammatical unit of the same kind as the
morpheme.

Morpheme= the smallest unit that has meaning or


that serves a grammatical function

TALK (lexeme)
Talks, talking, talker, talked (word forms of TALK)
{talk}, {-s}, {-ing}, {-er}, {-ed} (morphemes)

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Classification of morphemes (I)
Lexical Grammatical
(semantic/derivational) (functional/inflectional)
-denote extralinguistic objects -denote grammatical functions and
syntactic relations
-open set
-closed set
-precede grammatical morphemes (in -follow lexical morphemes
Gm. lgs)
-combination with other morphemes
-combination with other lexical relatively unrestricted
morphemes often restricted -result of combination=new word
-result of combination=new lexemes forms
-change either the word-class or -they dont change the meaning or the
word-class of the root
meaning of the root they are
attached to

INFLECTION
WORD FORMATION

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Classification of morphemes (II)
Free Bound
Content words (nouns, Suffixes
verbs, adjectives) Prefixes
vs. Infixes
Function words Bound bases (-ceive,
(prepositions, duce, -sist, -tain)
conjunctions, articles) Bound roots (sanct-,
tox-)
Blocked morphemes
(Fri -, cran-)
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Roots, stems, bases, and affixes
Root = basic part of a lexeme; can not be
further analysed either in terms of
derivational or inflectional morphology;
part of a word-form that remains when all
inflectional and derivational affixes have
been removed
e.g. underprivileged

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