1 2 3


1. Two approaches the correlation of a shortened word with its prototype
2. Classification: apocope, aphaeresis, syncope,

3. Ellipsis

4. Blending (fusion)

5. Abbreviations. Acronyms


1. Seme. Sememe.

2. Referential and functional approaches.

3. Types of mg: lexical and grammatical; denotational and connotational.

4. Change of meaning: narrowing and widening of meaning.

5. Processes of generalization and specialization.


1. Diachronical and synchronical approaches

2. Role of a context in understanding a word: lexical, grammatical, extra-linguistic.

3. Metaphor: anthropomorphic, dead /live, spread .

4. Metonymy, synecdoche.


  1. Homonyms proper.

  2. Homophones

  3. Paronyms

  4. Diachronical and synchronical approaches

  5. Difference from polysemy

  6. Homonymy in morphology and syntax

Relations of Similarity and Polarity


  1. Difference between pairs of synonyms: spheres of application, origin (native – borrowed), stylistic application. Relations of inclusion between pairs of synonyms. Quasi-synonyms.

  2. Basis for synonymy: denotational and connotational meaning.

  3. Recognition of synonyms: criterion of referent, criterion of interchangeability.

  4. Synonymy in morphemes, phrases, sentences.


  1. Basis for antonymy: degree of a quality, direction of action, polar sites in space and time. Non-nominative types of mg.

Other types of words based on polarity of meaning. Two-member opposition: complementary antonyms. Reverse relations: reversives (conversives).

Relations of inclusion

1. Hyponymy – Hyperonymy

Other groups of wds

1. Lexico-grammatical group

2. Semantic field

3. Terminology


  1. Terminology: set expressions, phrases, phraseological units, idioms, collocations.

  2. Free word groups / phraseological units.

  3. Classification: phraseological fusions, phraseological unities, phraseological collocations

  4. National peculiarities of phraseological units.

  5. Translation

  6. International phraseological units

  7. Criterion to differentiate fixed and free word groups.

  8. Synonymic and antonymic pairs of phrases.

Variants and dialects of the English language.

  1. Different variants and dialects of English.

  2. Status of British and American English

  3. History of American English

  4. Influences from the different cultures and languages

American English

  1. Peculiarities in phonetics.

  2. Peculiarities in spelling.

  3. Peculiarities in vocabulary. Reasons. Different groups of Americanisms.

Peculiarities in grammar.

Вопросы к экзамену

  1. The subject of lexicology. Relations of lexicology with other linguistic sciences.

  2. Types of word motivation (phonetic, morphological, semantic).

  3. The etymological diversity of the English vocabulary.

  4. Typical features of native words.

  5. General features of borrowings. International words.

  6. The assimilation of borrowings. Interrelations of native words and borrowings.

  7. Types of morphemes.

  8. Word structure and its development. The root, the stem and patterns of word-structure.

  9. Peculiarities of prefixes. General problems of affixation in English.
  10. Classification of English suffixes.

  11. Polysemy, homonymy and synonymy of derivational affixes.

  12. General features of word-compounding. Structural and semantic secularities of English compounds.

  13. The classification of English compounds.

  14. The meaning of English compounds . Their motivation.

  15. Special groups of compounds.

  16. General problems of conversion. Treatment of conversion in linguistic literature.

  17. Semantic relations between conversion pairs.

  18. Sources of conversion . Its productivity.

  19. General problems of shortening. Peculiarities of English shortenings . Classification of shortenings.

  20. General problems of semasiology. Referential and functional approaches to the meaning of English words.

  21. Types of meaning.

  22. Change of meaning.

  23. Polysemy. Metaphor and metonymy.

  24. Homonymy and its relations to polysemy .

  25. Synonyms, antonyms and other semantic groups of words.

  26. Phraseology. Phraseological units , their features. Phraseological units and fee word-combinations.

  27. Classifications of phraseological units .

  28. Variants and dialects of the English languages. The American variant of English.

  29. The development of the English vocabulary . Archaisms and neologisms.


Origin of English Words

Ex. 1

Translate the following into Russian. State from what languages the following expressions and shortenings are borrowed.

coup d’état, kindergarten, tête-à-tête, Blitzkrieg, enfant terrible, persona grata, beau monde, leit-motiv, bon mot, prima donna, ottava rima, Hun, nazi, etc., e. g., a. m., p. m.

Ex. 2

Group the following words according to their origin.

caftan, operetta, machine, vanilla, waltz, skipper, algebra, telephone, dollar, wigwam, mazurka, pagoda, kangaroo, taboo, gorilla, tobacco, chauffeur, beauty, umbrella, squaw, nun, sputnik, cosmodrome.

Ex. 3

Compare the meaning of the following Russian and English words. Use them in sentences of your own.

характер - character, реализовать - reralize, агитатор - agitator, кондуктор - conductor, магазин - magazine, спекулировать - speculate, инцидент - incident, объект - object, принципиальный – principal

Ex. 4

Explain the etymology of the following words. Write them out in three columns: a) fully assimilated words; b) partially assimilated words; c) unassimilated words. Explain the reasons for your choice in each case.

ballet, beet, butter, skin, take, cup, police, monk, garage, phenomenon, wine, large, lesson, criterion, nice, coup d’état, river, loose, skirt.

Ex. 5

Give 5 own examples of words which could be translator’s false friends.



Pick out words with noun-building suffixes. Explain the meaning of the words.

1. He did not know how the officialdom would end the scandal. 2. Gemma’s friendship, her charm, her simple comradeship were the brightest things in his life. 3. Gabriel’s wife served out spoonfuls of the pudding and passed the plates down the table. 4. It was a dull, respectable, uninspired townlet, but scarcely a hole. 5. The grey changelessness of things got hold of me. 6. The cat is a splendid mouser. 7. When he returned to the palace the marketing began. 8. “Please,” auntie says, “will you try a piece of our Mayday cake?” 9. The pavement of the road took two months. 10. Shall I tell the receptionist that Mrs. Baird is a regular case and open an account for her?

Ex. 2

Read the following sentences. Translate the words in bold type into Russian.

1. In a thoughtless moment he put his hand in his pocket. 2. She seemed resistless. 3. He continued in his honeyed voice. 4. The coffee was so sweetish, it made her shudder. 5. He passed a curtained corridor. 6. The boy was still standing there, peering trainward. 7. These professions are only in seasonal demand. 8. Can’t you see she is edgy after being up all night? 9. “No sense in getting panicky,” she assured herself. 10. She was more spiteful than all the rest put together. 11. His words were playful but his look became grave.

Ex. 3

State the origin and explain the meaning of the suffixes in: childhood, hardship, freedom, toward, brotherly, granny, hatred, hireling, village, drunkard, limitation.

Ex. 4

Explain the difference between the meanings of the following words produced from the same root by means of different affixes. Translate them into Russian: watery – waterish, embarrassed – embarrassing, colourful – coloured, respected – respectful, respectable, manly – mannish.


Read the following sentences, translate them. Define what part of speech the words in bold type are and what part of speech they are derived from.

1. Her heart hungered for action. 2. The road was mined. 3. The cows are milking well now. 4. His face chilled suddenly. 5. Cal voiced his dream. 6. The pages had yellowed with age. 7. He slowly corked the bottle. 8. A butterfly winged its way into the air. 9. He weekended with us. 10. She carefully bandaged the arm.

Ex. 2

Explain the meanings of the verbs in bold type. Translate the verbs into Russian.

to powder one’s nose, to elbow one’s way, to head a delegation, to parrot the grown-ups, to nurse the wounded, to boss the job, to dock the ship, to garage the car, to barrel beer, to torture the prisoner, to anger the mother, to inconvenience the host

Ex. 3

Supply the verbs which the nouns in bold type are derived from. Translate the original and the converted words into Russian. Comment on the semantic character of the derived nouns.

1. She is an awful tease. 2. The boy happened to be a cheat. 3. She is the well-know gossip of the town. 4. The night watch rushed to his help. 5. Then followed an interminable wait. 6. His long hunt for the book resulted in a failure. 7. The station is a half-an-hour walk from our house. 8. Christine had the run of Mrs. Herbert’s kitchen. 9. With his heavy bag and torn shoes he looked like a tramp. 10. He was certainly on the move.

Ex. 4

Comment on relations within the conversion pairs. Use the verbs in your own sentences: dog – to dog, finger – to finger, dress– to dress, pocket– to pocket, back– to back, monkey – to monkey

Ex. 5

Translate and explain the following cases of conversion: to pirate, to worm, to up, to engineer, to oh-oh, to thou.



Read the following sentences. Explain the meaning of the adjectives in bold type in English.

1. He was wearing a brand-new overcoat and hat. 2. His hair was a bit reddish before he went piebald. 3. It was a snowy pitch-black night. 4. The colour deepened in her rain-wet cheeks. 5. She never said she was homesick. 6. He ignored the red light as if he were colour-blind. 7. Don’t be so blood-thirsty, father! 8. He acted with pride, which one could not expect from such a lackey-minded person. 9. She is a tall woman with black hair and eyes and an ivory-white face. 10. The woman stared at her papers with sleep-filmed eyes. 11. He held his hands for a moment against his deep-lined cheeks.

Ex. 2

Comment on the meanings of the following compound nouns. Translate them into Russian.

thumb-nail, nerve-knot, danger-point, daylight, cream-puff, corner-room, breast-pocket, side-door, egg-plant, jelly-fish, box-car, air-brake, inkstain, love-quarrel, girl-page, restaurant-car, money-box, hand-shake, stop-light, sun-light

Ex. 3

Arrange the following compounds into three groups according to their motivation: fully or partially-motivated and unmotivated: light-hearted, butterfly, cabman, blackberry, wolf-dog, dragon-fly, looking-glass, bluestocking, necklace, earthquake.

Ex. 4

Form as many compounds as possible with grass-, hand-, tree-, -looking.


Ex. 1

Write out in full the following shortened words:

A.T., UNO, ad, comfy, U-boat, cycle, para troops, prep, props, sub, B-girl, B.M.O.C.

Ex. 2

Translate the following shortenings and comment on the type of them, give their full form:

H-bomb, mike, tec, comfy, UNESCO, Bella, cause, para troops, props.


Ex. 1

Read the following sentences. Define the means by which the words in bold type are built. Translate the words into Russian.

1. She steeled herself to endure the bumping over the rough road. 2. She looked after the nurse with a doglike expression and slowly began to put on her dressing-gown. 3. Feelings continually voiced cease to be feelings and feelings never voiced deepen with their dumbness. 4. Life had rooted these ideas firmly in their minds. 5. He glanced at the clock and edged nearer to the door. 6. He was going to have tea with his aunties. 6. She had no intention of being sidetracked from the subject. 7. Then her mind pictured the layout. 8. “Frightfully bad roads! The bus was ditched in that narrow turning.” 9. He took the hours-old dish away. 10. He was heart-sore over the sudden collapse of a promising career. 11. I need not say that such a breach of confidence is unthinkable. 12. Then she catfooted to the opening, pausing for another second to listen. 13. It was a long hall papered and carpeted in dark green. 14. I’m always called “Mother” at home, because I’ve mothered him ever since my dear mother died.


Ex. 1

State the semes of the following words: baby, monkey.

Ex. 2

Give the denotational and connotational meaning of the following words:

granny, to pass away, to feather-bed, to soft-soap, to cosmeticize.


Ex. 1

Pick out all the phraseological units from the following sentences and classify them. Translate all the passages into Russian.

1. … “I’d like to have a day or two in which to think it over… .” “Why, certainly, certainly, Mr. Cowperwood,” replied Stener genially. “That’s all right. Take you time.” 2. Jos, a clumsy and timid horseman, did not look to advantage in the saddle. “Look at him, Amelia dear… . Such a bull in a china shop I never saw.” 3. In the end he parted friends with both Tighe and Rivers. “That’s a smart young fellow,” observed Tighe, ruefully. “He’ll make his mark,” rejoined Rivers. 4. There was no reason why Anna should not make a splendid match. Joe and Ed might also marry since they were not destined to set the world on fire in commerce. 5. And he concluded … that no man could tell what he would do if he were in the shoes of another man. 6. A simple cold, caught in the room with double windows … and James was in deep waters. 7. “Jo,” he said. “I should like to hear what sort of water you’re in. I suppose you’re in debt?” 8. He was not vastly interested in Clare. She had always been to him one of those women who took the bit between their teeth and were bound to fetch up now and again with broken knees. 9. … the sooner you are gone bag and baggage, the better for all parties. 10. This lady knew all the Forsytes, and having been at June’s “at home,” was not at a loss to see with whom she had to deal. 11. The sea run high and the boat may be dashed to pieces on the rocks. 12. I guess I’ll pop outside and have a word with Miss Bunting. 13. The matter with her is that I played the fool with her, that’s all. 14. If you cry I will give Miss Wilson a piece of my mind for worrying you. 15. I know that we cut a very poor figure beside you.

Ex. 2

Complete the following phrases so that they make English proverbs and phraseological units. Explain the meaning of the given part.

1. A bird in the hand. 2. The last straw. 3. To eat one’s cake and have it. 4. Old bird. 5. The early bird. 6. Half the battle. 7. A silver lining. 8. Fine feathers. 9. A new broom. 10. A bee in one’s bonnet. 11. Spilt milk. 12. A mare’s nest.

Ex. 3

Give as many phraseological units as possible, using any of the following words:

to beat, to catch, to mind, bone, love, mouth, dead, ready

Transfer of meaning

Ex. 1

Explain the logic of the transfer of meaning.

1.The wings of a bird, of a plane, of a mill; on wings of joy.

2.The foot of a man, of a hill, of a bottle.

3.Tongues of flame; The child’s tongue is coated.

4.The neck of a girl, of a bottle.

5.Moscow is the heart of the country; My heart is beating with excitement.

6.The mouth of a pot, of a river, of a cave.

Ex. 2

Discuss the following cases of metonymy:

1. He is the hope of the family. 2. She was the pride of her school. 3. I have never read Balzac in the original. 4. My sister is fond of old china. 5. The coffee-pot is boiling. 6. The pit loudly applauded. 7. He succeeded to the crown.


Ex. 1

Give all the meanings you know of the following words, illustrating them with examples:

to take, to feel, to let, power, drift, institute, to dress


Ex. 1

Spell the following homophones. Translate them into Russian and use them in sentences of your own.

[´siəriəl], [´fa:ðə], [lein], [meiz], [diə], [pleit], [prei], [Θroun], [bi:t], [´beri], [seil], [sent], [pi:s]

Ex. 2

Transcribe the following homographs. State their different meaning.

lead, compact, row, invalid, polish, desert, wind, bow, tear, close

Ex. 3

Choose the right word:

1)Our team will (loose, lose) unless it learns to pass the ball.

2)After dinner we all (set, sat) round the table.

3)Ann will clean all the carpets (accept, except) this one.

4)Liz (quite, quiet, quit) likes her job and spends a lot of time at work.

5)Nick is not sure (weather, whether) Jeff is going with us.

6)Kim (through, threw) the javelin a record distance.

Ex. 4

Speak about the type of homonyms and explain the difference:

  1. proceed – precede

  2. affect – effect

  3. access – excess

  4. principal – principle

  5. stationary – stationery

  6. dessert – desert n – desert v

  7. cite – site – sight

  8. persecute – procecute

  9. peace - piece

Ex. 5

Translate paying attention to homonyms:

  1. After an incident in Croydon involving a prison van and a concrete mixer, police are looking for eighteen hardened criminals.

  2. Eth: A professional burglar! Mr. Glum, you told me Ron’s Uncle Charlie was a biologist.

  3. Mr. Glum: All I said was, he studies cell structures.
Ex. 6

Explain what stylistic device is used in these proverbs and sayings, what it is based upon.

  1. A clean fast is better than a dirty breakfast.

  2. Who feasts till he is sick, must fast till he is well.

  3. Feast today and fast tomorrow.

  4. Is life worth living? - It depends upon the liver.

  5. What do you do with the fruit? -We eat what we can, and what we can’t eat we can.
  6. Her nose was sharp, but not so sharp as her voice or the suspiciousness, with which she faced me.

  7. Nowadays all of us are so hard up, that only pleasant things to pay are compliments, it’s the only thing we pay.

  8. O’Henry about a café: It’s atmosphere was thick, it’s napery and soup were thin.

Synonyms and Antonyms

Ex. 1

Translate the following words into English and give as many synonyms to them as you can.

просить, возможно, глупый, веселый, несчастье, начинать, выбирать, путешествие

Ex. 2

In what respects do the following synonyms differ?

1.policeman, bobby, cop

2.master, owner, head, proprietor, possessor

3.worker, labourer, toiler, hand

4.fabricate, construct, frame, invent, forge, manufacture, feign

5.mansion, house, habitation, residence, abode

Ex. 3

Change the following sentences so that they express the contrary meaning by using antonyms. State whether they are absolute or derivational antonyms.

1. All the seats were occupied. 2. The room was lighted by the strong rays of the sun. 3. He added three hundred to the sum. 4. I came in while you were asleep. 5. A lamp is a necessary thing in this room. 6. The door was closed and locked. 7. In the second year of their residence the company seemed especially to increase. 8. The little boy was outside the car. 9. He drew two crooked lines. 10. Light curtains hung in the dining-room windows; therefore it was light.
Ex. 4

Are the following words synonyms? Prove your point of view.

n. pillow, cushion

sink, basin

desktop, laptop

stove, vent,

linen, underwear

mustache, whiskers

reck, shelf

clock, watch

rocket, missile

mirror, looking glass

jetty, port

fireplace, mantelpiece

watch, clock

v. sail, float, swim

hurt, ache

cut, slice, chop

clean, peel

adj. eatable, edible

private, personal

Ex. 5

Do you think that Sonnet 66 by W.Shakespeare is based on polarity of words? Are these words antonyms? Why?

W.Shakespeare Sonnet LXVI

Tired with all these, for restful death I cry,

As, to behold desert a beggar born,

And needy nothing trimme’d in jollity,

A purest faith unhappily forsworn,

And gilded honour shamefully misplaced,

And maiden virtue rudely sytrumpeted,

And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,

And strength by limping sway disabled,

And art made tongue-tired by authority,

And folly doctor-like controlling skill,

And simple truth miscall’d simplicity,

And captive good attending captain ill;

Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,

Save that, to die, I live my love alone.

Ex. 6

Is Sonnet 80 by W.Shakespeare based on similarity of meaning of words? Are those words synonyms? Prove.

W.Shakespeare Sonnet CXXX

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I’ve seen roses damaske’d, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

That in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasant sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;

My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground;

And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare

As any she belied with false compare.


Remember 5 titles of different types of pieces of fiction (stories, novels, plays), based on antonymy.

American English

Ex. 1

Translate the following words into English, giving two variants – British and American:

каникулы, бензин, вата, детская коляска, плащ, консервная банка, студент 2 курса, почтальон, шашки, очередь, бумажник, справочное бюро

Ex. 2

Point out words: 1) the meaning of which in American English is entirely different from that in British English, 2) the general meaning of which is the same in both American and British English, but which have acquired an additional specific meaning in American English.

apartment, tardy, guess, homely, mad, sick, billion, corn, dessert, commute, lunch, cane

Ex. 3

Translate the following, using the prepositions current in America and then in England.

стоять на углу, ездить на поезде, сходить с поезда, жить на улице Н., без четверти девять, четверть десятого, заполнить бланк

Ex. 4

Give the English spelling of the following words:

thru, humor, apologize, center, pretense, inflexion, jewelry, quarreled, woolen, harbor, pijamas, gipsy, program


1.”To electrocute” is an example of…

a)abbreviation. b)shortened word combination.

c)blending. d)conversion.

2.a)Affixational morphemes are always free.

b) Affixational morphemes are always bound.

c) Affixational morphemes can be bound and free.

d) Affixational morphemes carry no meaning.

3.”Glance” is the … of “look”.

a)hyponym b)hyperonym c)antonym d)homonym

4.”To be over the moon” is…

a)an idiom. b)a free phrase.

c)a sentence. d)a compound word.

5.The word “dance” is pronounced like [dæns]

a)in the British variant. b)in the American variant.

c)only by uneducated people. d)only by educated people.

6.”Lounge music“ is…

a)an archaism. b)an antonym. c)a neologism. d)a synonym.

7.”Skin”, “sky”, “skate” are of … origin.

a)Latin b)Celtic c)Scandinavian d)native

8.Military terms were borrowed from …

a)Spanish b)French c)Italian d)Latin

9.”Skin-deep” and “true-blue” are…

a)derived words. b)compound words. c)compound derivatives. d)root words.

10.Sound interchange is…

a)a highly productive type of word-formation.

b)widely-spread in English.

c)a non-productive type of word-formation.

d)never used in word-formation.

11.The interjections “Wow!”, “Gee!” have…

a)only a grammatical meaning. b)only a denotational meaning.

c)no meaning at all. d)only a connotational meaning.

12.The words “circle”, “to encircle”, “circular” represent …

a)synonyms b)hyponyms c)different parts of speech d)compounds

13.”Face to face” is…

a)a free phrase. b)a set phrase.

c)similar to a noun. d)similar to a verb.

14.”All that glitters is not gold” is…

a)an ordinary sentence. b)a word combination.

c)a proverb. d)a free phrase.

15.Odd one out.

a)a synonym b)a homonym c)an historism d)a hyponym

16.The pattern of the expression “by hook or by crook” is…

a)Adv +N +pr+ Adv +N b)pr + N + con + pr + N c)pr +N +pr + pr +N d)Adv +con+ Adv

17.Australian English …

a)is a variant of the language. b)is an independent language.

c)is a dialect. d)doesn’t exist.

18.”Strong-willed” and “warm-hearted” are…

a)root words. b)compound-derivatives.

c)derived words. d)compound words.

19.”The FBI” is an example of …

a)a shortened word combination. b)abbreviation.

c)blending. d)conversion.

20.”Truth” and “lie” are…

a)derivational antonyms b)absolute antonyms

c)relative antonyms d)never used as antonyms

21.”Flower” is the … of “tulip”.

a)hyponym b)hyperonym c)antonym d)homonym

22.Odd one out:

a)to be on cloud nine b)a bull in a china shop

c)to make both ends meet d)wonderful holidays

23.”To cook well” is…

a)an idiom b)a free phrase c)an infinitive d)a set expression

24.The American spelling of the word “цвет” is …

a)colour b)color c)coloure d)coulor

25.The British sound [a:] in the words “dance”, “chance” is changed into … in the American variant.

a)[o:] b)[æ] c)[Λ] d)[əυ]

26.”Train-surfing” is…

a)an historism b)a barbarism c)an archaism d)a neologism

27.The combination of letters … is a sign of foreign origin.

a)ou b)ie c)eau d)or

28.Astalavista, Chao are…

a)barbarisms b)native words c)partially assimilated words d)completely assimilated words

29.The adjective suffixes –ous, -ful are…

a)homonyms b)synonyms c)antonyms d)free

30.”To burgle” is an example of…

a)conversion b)affixation c)shortening d)back-formation

31.”Just” and “unjust” are…

a)derivational antonyms b)absolute antonyms

c)relative antonyms d)never used as antonyms

32.The British variant of the word “конфета” is…

a)a candy b)a cake c)a sweet d)a chocolate

33.In the phrase “I see thee in my dreams” thee is …

a)a neologism b)a barbarism c)an archaism d)a verb


A Course in Modern English Lexicology. The English Word.

1. The object of lexicology.

2. The notion of the lexical system.

3. Some problems of the theory of words. Types of motivation.

Lexicology is a branch of linguistics which studies words and their usage. Lexicology studies the meaning of a word, its structure, combinability, its formation. It investigates different types of word groups. General lexicology studies linguistic laws, rules, processes in general, characteristic of various languages. Special lexicology either deals with a certain language. Or it studies the language from other aspects (historical, applied, descriptive, etc.).

Lexicology is connected with Grammar, Phonetics, Stylistics, History of this or that language and other linguistic disciplines.

Any language is also a system. For example, the significance of the word hand depends on its relationship with the word arm. Secondly, it’s a lexical system because it’s a system of words.

Within the system of the English language lexical units form some principal types of relationships: syntagmatic and paradigmatic (e.g. within such groups as synonyms, antonyms).

The basic unit of the lexicology is the word. To give definition to the word is a very difficult task as the word has many different aspects: it has its own sound form and some grammar forms. Also words are units of speech, they serve the purposes of human communication.

The modern approach to word studies distinguishes the external and the internal structures of the word. By the external structure of the word we mean its morphological structure: prefixes, suffixes, roots, etc. The internal structure of the word is its meaning or its semantic structure. The area of lexicology specializing in the semantic studies of the word is called semantics.

Another structural aspect of the word is its unity (единство). There are about 500 thousand words in the English language.

The question of motivation is connected with the meaning of a word. The majority of words do not show any motivation. However if it exists, it is of three types: 1) phonetic; 2) morphological (structural); 3) semantic.

Very often we meet words with mixed motivation.

The Origin of English Words

1)The etymological diversity of the English vocabulary.

2)Words of native origin.

3)General features of borrowings.

4)The assimilation of borrowings.

5)Interrelation between native words and borrowings.

6)International words.

The English vocabulary contains a huge number of words of foreign origin. Modern scholars suppose that borrowed words in the English language make about 65-70%. Mostly they come from Latin, French. About 650 words were borrowed from Scandinavian languages.

The character of borrowings depends on the period of British history when they were borrowed.

There can be an original (primary) language and a transmitting one.

E.g. table → Latin (original – tabula) → French (trans.) → English.

There can be two ways of borrowing words: 1)while talking/ communicating; 2)in an indirect way (through literature).

Native words make the backbone of the English language, though they are few in number. Sometimes native words are called Old-English or Anglo-Saxon. They form 2 groups: of common Indo-European origin; of common Germanic origin.

Sometimes scientists distinguish words of the English proper element – words that don’t have similar representatives in other Indo-European or Germanic languages (their roots or other elements are different). Native words in general are the most active part of the vocabulary. Among the 500 most frequently used English words more than 80% are of native origin. They are often used in word-building (word-formation).

Borrowings can be identified by their structural, phonetical, grammatical features. Foe example, you can recognize words of Latin and French origin by certain suffixes, prefixes or endings.

Borrowings undergo a process of adaptation being adjusted to the rules of the receiving language.

Grammatical adaptation consists in a complete change of the former paradigm (the system of the grammatical forms) of the borrowed word.

Lexical (semantic) assimilation deals with changes in the semantic structure of a word, in its meaning.

Phonetical assimilation is reflected in changes of the sound-form and stress.

Some words were adopted by the language through folk etymology (ironical misunderstanding of the meaning of a word).

There can be distinguished: -completely-assimilated borrowings (denizens); -late borrowings (aliens); -barbarisms (not quite assimilated, with a distinct stylistic colour).

Borrowed words caused some important changes in the make-up of the English vocabulary. Some borrowings became so popular that completely replaced native words. Borrowed words also influenced specialization of synonyms. Borrowed words are higher in style, they sound bookish. They are learned words or terms.

The difference can be seen if we compare French and Scandinavian loans (borrowed words). Words of Scandinavian origin are democratic in character, that is, homely expressions of everyday importance.

If we look at other relations between native and borrowed words, we will come across etymological doublets. These are words originating from the same etymological source, but differing in phonemic shape and in meaning.

There can be even etymological triplets (groups of three words of common root).

Very often a word is borrowed by several languages. Such words are called international. Many of them are of Latin and Greek origin.

Among international words we should distinguish translator’s false friends and translation-loans.

The Structure and Formation of English Words

1)Types of morphemes.

2)Word-structure and its development. The root, the stem and patterns of word-structure.

3)Peculiarities and types of word-formation.

A lot of (English) words have a composite structure; they consist of elements called morphemes.

Morphemes – the smallest meaningful units in a language (which consist of a word or part of a word that cannot be divided without losing its meaning) (Longman);

e.g. gun + fight + er – 3 morphemes.

All morphemes are subdivided into 2 large classes: root morphemes and affixational morphemes. Affixational morphemes include suffixes and prefixes.

Some words consist only of one root morpheme. They are called root words. There are a lot of root words in the English language thanks to the type of word-building called conversion.

Naturally root morphemes make words, but affixational morphemes can’t make words as a rule. The root morpheme is the lexical nucleus of the word. They contain the main lexical meaning of the word.

Affixational morphemes include derivational affixes (such as –er, -or, -ness and so on), inflexional affixes (which carry the grammatical meaning of the word – looked, the girl’s smile).

Also morphemes can be free and bound. Free morphemes can function independently, as independent words. Usually they are root morphemes, though there can be exceptions.

There can be morphemes which have different phonemic shapes. Such elements are called allomorphs.

Speaking about the structure of words, it depends on different morphemes which they include. According to their structure (English) words are classified into:

1)root words (cat);

2)derived words (built with the help of some derivational affixes – beautiful);

3)compound words (consist of at least 2 root morphemes – football);

4)compound derivatives (include not only root morphemes, but also derivational ones – pig-headed).

The largest class of the 4 above will be derived words.

Apart from some certain structure, each word has a paradigm – the system of all its forms (mostly grammatical).

There are also variants of words. These variants form 2 groups:

1)lexico-semantic variants of polysemantic words;

2) phonetic and morphological variants.

The structure of a word undergoes changes, it can be developed. Some morphemes can be fused (joined) or lost in the course of time.

As for the notion of the root of the word, it’s clear. We need another notion to speak about patterns of word-structure. The stem is that part of the word that remains unchanged throughout the paradigm. In the English language the root and the stem of a word often coincide (can be the same).

The stem structure may be represented in several ways. It may be generalized with the help of symbols: n – for nouns, v – for verbs, adj – for adjectives, adv – for adverbs and so on.

All living languages are characterized by the creation of new words. This process is called word-building or word-formation – the process of creating new words from elements existing in the language with the help of some patterns. That is, if the pattern V + able exists in English we can create words according to it.

New words can appear because of some semantic changes of the word (changes in the lexical meaning).

Derivation, conversion, semantic development are quite productive. As for non-productive ways of word-formation (not really spread), they are: sound-interchange (blood – to bleed); back-formation (baby-sitter – to baby-sit).


1)Peculiarities of English prefixes.

2)Classification of English suffixes.

3)Polysemy, homonymy and synonymy of English affixes.

4)Productivity and origin of derivational affixes.

Affixation is a productive way of word-formation. It is creating new words by adding an affix or several affixes to some root morpheme.

The analysis of such words can be done on two levels:

1)morphemic (we analyze morphemes which build words);

2)derivational (words are analyzed from the point of view of their structure – complex or not).

Simple words contain only the primary stem (man, girl, take, go). Derived or compound words also contain derivational affixes.

Prefixes mostly modify the lexical meaning of the word:

Suffixes do change the meaning of the word, but also they can change the lexico-grammatical class of the word (the part of speech).

It must be said that there are two types of prefixes:

  1. those that can be used as independent words (free morphemes) (like in the words to undercook – to go under);

  2. those that can’t function independently (bound morphemes) (mis- - to misunderstand).

As a rule prefixes do not change the part of speech, but there are several of them which do so. That’s why they are called convertive (changing the form/ the part of speech).

Prefixes can be classified according to their origin. Here they can be divided into native and borrowed.

Prefixes can also be classified into productive (which take part in deriving new words in this particular period of language development) and non-productive. Prefixes can belong to different styles.

According to their meaning English prefixes are grouped the following way (the major groups):

  1. those of negative meaning (dis- - disloyal);

  2. those denoting words with the opposite meaning or with the meaning of repetition of some action (un- - undress);

  3. those denoting space, time and other relations (pre- - prewar).

The main classification of suffixes is based on the parts of speech. There can be:

  1. noun suffixes (-dom – freedom);

  2. adjectival (adjective forming) suffixes (-ful –wonderful);

  3. verb-forming suffixes (-en – to shorten);

  4. adverb suffixes (-ly).

From the point of view of meaning noun suffixes indicate a doer of an action; the relation of possession, belonging to some group; collectivity and other similar notions; diminutiveness; feminine gender.

As for other peculiarities of English suffixes, there are those that change the part of speech and those that don’t do it (grey - greyish).

The semantic type of the word can be changed with the help of some suffixes. For example, some words denoting objects become abstract (leader – leadership).

As well as prefixes, English suffixes can be stylistically coloured or neutral.

Since any living language can develop, there are some changes in the meaning of its affixes. That’s why we have such phenomena as polysemy, homonymy and synonymy of affixes. It’s only natural that affixes have several meanings. Even the most famous ones.

-er – 1) a doer of some action (a living being);

2) an object (boiler);

3) a person who is in some state (watcher);

4) distinguishes a feature of a man (chatter).

1) adverb-forming (quietly, readily);

By productive affixes we mean those that take part in deriving new words in this particular period of language development. The best way to identify productive affixes is to look for them among neologisms (new words and occasional words).

From the etymological point of view affixes are divided into the same two large groups as words: native and borrowed. For the affix to be called borrowed the total number of words with this affix must be considerable in the new language.


1)General features of word-compounding.

2)Structural and semantic peculiarities of English compounds.

3)Classification of compounds.

4)The meaning of compounds.

5)Motivation of English compounds.

6)Special groups of compounds.

Word-compounding is a way of forming new words combining two or more stems. It’s important to distinguish between compound words and word-combinations, because sometimes they look or sound alike. It happens because compounds originate directly from word-combinations.

The major feature of compounds is their inseparability of various kinds: graphic, semantic, phonetic, morphological.

There is also a syntactic criterion which helps us to distinguish between words and word combinations. For example, between the constituent parts of the word-group other words can be inserted (a tall handsome boy).

In most cases the structural and semantic centre of the compound word lies on the second component. It shows what part of speech the word is. The function of the first element is to modify, to determine the second element. Such compounds (with the structural and semantic centre “in” the word) are called endocentric.

There are also exocentric compounds where the centre lies outside (pickpocket).

Another type of compound words is called bahuvrihi – compound nouns or adjectives consisting of two parts: the first being an adjective, the second – a noun.

There are several ways to classify compounds. Firstly, they can be grouped according to their part of speech. Secondly, compounds are grouped according to the way the stems are linked together: morphological compounds (few in number); syntactic compounds (from segments of speech, preserving articles, prepositions, adverbs).

The third classification is according to the combinability of compounding with other ways of word-formation: 1) compounds proper (formed by a mere juxtaposition of two stems);

2) derived or derivational compounds (have affixes in their structure);

3) converted compounds;

4) contractive compounds (based on shortening);

5) compounds based on back formation;

Beside lexical meanings the components of a compound word have distributional and differential meanings. By distributional meaning we understand the order, the arrangement of the stems in the word. The differential meaning helps to distinguish two compounds possessing the same element.

The structural meaning of a compound may be described through the interrelation of its components. e.g. N + Adj (heart-sick – the relation of cpmparison).

In most cases compounds are motivated. They can be completely motivated, partially motivated, unmotivated. In partially motivated compounds one of the components (or both) has changed its original meaning. The meaning of unmotivated compounds has nothing to do with the meanings of their individual parts.

As for special groups of compounds, here we distinguish:

a) reduplicative compounds;

b) ablaut combinations;

c) rhyme combinations.

There’s a certain group of words that stand between compounds and derived. These are words with so called semi-affixes: kiss proof (about lipstick), fireproof, foolproof.


1)General problems of conversion in English.

2)Semantic relations between conversion pairs.

3) Sources and productivity of conversion.

In linguistics conversion is a type of word-formation; it is a process of creating a new word in a different part of speech without adding any derivational element. The morphemic shape of the original word remains unchanged. There are changes in the syntactical function of the original word, its part of speech and meaning.

The question of conversion has been a controversial one in several aspects. The term conversion was first used by Henry Sweet at the end of the 19th century. The nature of conversion has been analyzed by several linguists. A number of terms have been offered to describe the process in question.

The most objective treatment of conversion belongs to Victoria Nikolaevna Yartseva. According to her, it is a combined morphological, syntactical and semantic way of word-formation.

The process was called “non-affixal derivation” (Galperin) or “zero derivation”. These terms have drawbacks, because there can be other examples of non-affixal or zero derivation which are not connected with the process described at the beginning of the lecture.

The term “functional change” (by Arthur Kennedy) also has short-comings. The term implies that the first word merely changes its function and no new word appears. It isn’t possible.

The word conversion we use talking about this way of word-formation is not perfect as well. It means the transformation of something into another thing, the disappearance of the first word. But the old and the new words exist together.

The largest group related through conversion consists of verbs converted from nouns. The relations of the conversion pair in this case can be of the following kind:

1) instrumental relations;

2) relations reflecting some characteristic of the object;

3) locative relations;

4) relations of the reverse process, the deprivation of the object.

The second major division of converted words is deverbial nouns (nouns converted from verbs).

They denote:

1) an instance of some process;

2) the object or the result of some action;

3) the place where the action occurs;

4) the agent or the instrument of the action.

Conversion is not only a highly productive but also a particularly English way of word-building. There are a lot of words in the English language that are short and morphologically unmarked (don’t indicate any part of speech). By short words we mean monosyllables, such words are naturally more mobile and flexible than polysyllables.

In English verbs and nouns are specially affected by conversion. Conversion has restrictions. It’s impossible to use conversion if verbs cannot represent some process as a succession of isolated actions. Besides, the structure of the first word shouldn’t be complicated.

Conversion is typical not only of nouns, verbs and adjectives, but other parts of speech as well, even such minor elements as interjections and prepositions or shortened words.


1. General problems of shortening.

2. Peculiarities of shortenings.

Shortening stands apart from other ways of word-formation because it doesn’t produce new words. It produces variants of the same word. The differences between the new and the original word are in style, sometimes in their meaning.

There are two major groups of shortenings (colloquial and written abbreviations). Among shortenings there can be polysemantic units as well.

Shortenings are classified a) according to the position of the shortened part of the word (clipped words), b) into shortened word combinations, c) into abbreviations, d) into blendings.

Among clipped words there are cases of apocope, aphaeresis, and syncope. Abbreviations can be read as in the alphabet, as one word.

The Semantic Structure of English Words

1.General problems of semasiology. The referential and the functional approaches to the meaning of English words.

2.Types of meaning.

3.Change of meaning.



6.Synonyms, antonyms and other semantic groupings.

The branch of linguistic which specializes in the study of meaning is called semantics or semasiology. The modern approach to semantics is based on the fact that any word has its inner form which is called the semantic structure.

There are two main approaches to the meaning of a word: referential and functional.

The referential approach is based on the notion of the referent (the object the word is devoted to). It also operates the notions of the concept and word. The word and the referent are related only through the concept. The drawback of the approach is in the fact that it deals with psychology mostly.

According to the functional approach the meaning of a word depends on the function of the word in a sentence. The approach is not perfect because it can help us only to compare the meanings of words. Speaking about the meaning of a word both approaches should be combined.

The meaning of a word can be divided into grammatical and lexical. The latter is divided into denotational and connotational meanings. The denotational meaning gives the general idea which is characteristic of a certain word. The connotational meaning combines the emotive colour and the stylistic value of a word.

The smallest elements of meaning are called semes.

There are words with either only the denotational or the connotational meaning.

Causes of semantic changes can be extra linguistic and linguistic. Extra linguistic causes are historical in their nature. Among linguistic causes we distinguish discrimination of synonyms, ellipsis, linguistic analogy.

As for the nature of semantic changes, it is connected with some sort of association between the old and the new meanings. These associations can be of two types: of similarity (linguistic metaphor), of contiguity (linguistic metonymy).

The result of semantic changes can be seen in denotational and connotational meanings. The denotational meaning can be generalized or specialized. The connotational meaning can be worsened or elevated.

Most words are polysemantic. Monosemantic words are usually found among terms and scientific words. The ability of words to have more than one meaning is called polysemy. Polysemy exists only in the language system.

The semantic structure of a polysemantic word may be described as a combination of its semantic variants. Each variant can be described from the point of view of their denotational and connotational meaning.

Polysemy is closely connected with the notion of the context (the minimum stretch of speech which is sufficient to understand the meaning of a word). The main types of context are lexical and grammatical.

Homonyms are words identical in sound and spelling or at least in one of these aspects, but different in their meaning. According to Profesor Smirnitsky homonyms can be divided into two groups: full homonyms (represent the same part of speech and have the same paradigm), partial homonyms (don’t coincide either in their spelling or paradigm).

Another classification of homonyms deals with homophones and homographs.

The sources of homonyms are phonetic changes, borrowing, word-building (especially conversion), shortening.

There are several classifications of various word groups. The semantic similarity and polarity are connected with synonyms and antonyms.

Synonyms are words different in sound-form but similar in meaning. According to Vinogradov synonyms can be divided ideographic, stylistic and absolute. A dominant synonym (in any row of synonyms) is more frequent in communication and contains the major denotational component of the synonyms in question.

Antonyms are words belonging to the same part of speech with some opposite meaning.

As for other groups of words, there are hyponyms, hyperonyms, semantic fields, thematic groups.

The development of the English vocabulary

1.The development of the vocabulary. Structural and semantic peculiarities of new vocabulary


2.Ways of enriching the vocabulary.

If the language is not dead, it’s developing all the time. The items that disappear are called archaisms. They can be found among numerous lexical units and grammatical forms.

New words or expressions, new meanings of older words are called neologisms. The introduction of new words reflects developments and innovations in the world at large and in society.

Apart from political terms, neologisms come from the financial world, computing, pop scene, drug dealing, crime life, youth culture, education.

Neologisms come into the language through

1)productive ways of word formation;

2)ways without any pattern;

3)semantic changes of old words;

4)borrowing from other languages.

There are numerous cases of blending, compounding, conversion. Borrowed words mostly come from French, Japanese, the American variant of the English language.


Subject of Lexicology

Lexicology (comes from Greek) is a branch of linguistics which studies words and their usage. Lexicology studies the meaning of a word, its structure, combinability, its formation. It investigates different types of word groups. It also studies the vocabulary of this or that society.


Morphemes – the smallest meaningful units in a language (which consist of a word or part of a word that cannot be divided without losing its meaning) (Longman)

All morphemes are subdivided into 2 large classes: root morphemes and affixational morphemes. Affixational morphemes include suffixes and prefixes.

Allomorphs are morphemes which have different phonemic shapes. They are pronounced in different ways.

e.g. to close [z], close (n, adj) [s]

to please [i:z], pleasant [ez], pleasure [ple3]

Etymological diversity of the English language

Native word is a word which belongs to the original English stock as known from the earliest available manuscripts of the old English period.

Borrowed word is a word taken from another language and modified in phonemic shape, spelling, paradigm or meaning according to the standards of English.

The English proper element – words that don’t have similar representatives in other Indo-European or Germanic languages (their roots or other elements are different). E.g. bird, boy, lord, lady, woman, daisy, always.

The assimilation of borrowings - a partial or complete adaptation to the phonetic(al), grammatical, semantic, morphological and graphical systems of the receiving language. The degree of assimilation depends on the importance, frequency and length of use of borrowings.

Etymological doublets are words originating from the same etymological source, but differing in phonemic shape and in meaning.

Translation-loans are a special group of borrowings that is not taken into the vocabulary of another language more or less in the same phonemic shape. It undergoes the process of translation.

<< предыдущая страница   следующая страница >>