Lexicology of the English Language

Lexicology of the English Language


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This course of lexicology which forms a part of the curriculum for the English sections of linguistic departments of teacher-training colleges is intended for students of the third year of the day department. It includes 15 lectures and 12 seminars which cover the main themes of Modern English lexicology: wordbuilding, semantic changes, phraseology, borrowings, semasiology, neology, lexicography. The material for seminars includes topics to be discussed, test questions and lexical units to be analized. Lexical units for the analysis were chosen mainly among neologisms. There is also a brief list of recommended literature.

The aim of the course is to teach students to be word-conscious, to be able to guess the meaning of words they come across from the meanings of morphemes, to be able to recognize the origin of this or that lexical unit.



Language units



Compound words



Stone wall combinations


Seconadary ways of wordbuilding

Semantic changes



Metaphor and metonymy


Ways of forming phraseological units

Semantic classification of phraseological units

Structural classification of phraseological units

Syntactical classification of phraseological units


Classification of borrowings according to the borrowed aspect

Classification of borrowings according to the degree of assimilation

Classification of borrowings according to the language from which they were borrowed.

Romanic borrowings/ Latin, French, Italian, Spanish/.

Germanic borrowings /Scandinavian, German, Holland/ .

Russian borrowings.

Etymological doublets.


Word - meaning.

Lexical meaning - notion.



Synonyms .

Antonyms .

Local varieties of English.

British and American English.





The term lexicology is of Greek origin / from lexis - word and
logos - science/ . Lexicology is the part of linguistics which deals with the vocabulary and characteristic features of words and word-groups.
The term vocabulary is used to denote the system of words and word- groups that the language possesses.
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, e.g. the word-group as loose as a goose means
clumsy and is used in a sentence as a predicative / He is as loose as a goose/.
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.


The main unit of the lexical system of a language resulting from the association of a group of sounds with 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.
A word, however, 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 wordbuilding 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- (apocopy produced by clipping the word miniature), such as
miniplane, minijet, minicycle, minicar, miniradio and many others. All of these words denote obects of smaller than normal dimensions.
On the analogy with mini- there appeared the splinter maxi- (apocopy produced by clipping the word maximum), such words as maxi-series,
maxi-sculpture, maxi-taxi and many others appeared in the language.
When European economic community was organized quite a number of neologisms with the splinter Euro- (apocopy produced by clipping the word
European) were coined, such as: Euratom Eurocard, Euromarket,
Europlug, Eurotunnel and many others. These splinters are treated sometimes as prefixes in Modern English.
There are also splinters which are formed by means of apheresis, that is clipping the beginning of a word. The origin of such splinters can be variable, e.g. the splinter burger appeared in English as the result of clipping the German borrowing Hamburger where the morphological structure was the stem Hamburg and the suffix -er. However in English the beginning of the word Hamburger was associated with the English word
ham, and the end of the word burger got the meaning a bun cut into two parts. On the analogy with the word hamburger quite a number of new words were coined, such as: baconburger, beefburger, cheeseburger,
fishburger etc.
The splinter cade developed by clipping the beginning of the word
cavalcade which is of Latin origin. In Latin the verb with the meaning
to ride a horse is cabalicare and by means of the inflexion -ata the corresponding Participle is formed. So the element cade is a combination of the final letter of the stem and the inflexion. The splinter cade serves to form nouns with the meaning connected with the procession of vehicles denoted by the first component, e.g. aircade - a group of airplanes accompanying the plane of a VIP , autocade - a group of automobiles escorting the automobile of a VIP, musicade - an orchestra participating in a procession.
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.
The splinter napper was formed by clipping the beginning of the word
kidnapper and is used to denote different types of crimesters, such as :
busnapper, babynapper, dognapper etc. From such nouns the corresponding verbs are formed by means of backformation, e.g. to busnap,
to babynap, to dognap.
The splinter omat was formed by clipping the beginning of the word
automat (a cafe in which meals are provided in slot-machines). The meaning self-service is used in such words as laundromat, cashomat etc.
Another splinter eteria with the meaning self-service was formed by clipping the beginning of the word cafeteria. By means of the splinter
eteria the following words were formed: groceteria, booketeria,
booteteria and many others.
The splinter quake is used to form new words with the meaning of
shaking, agitation. This splinter was formed by clipping the beginning of the word earthquake. Ther following words were formed with the help of this splinter: Marsquake, Moonquake, youthquake etc.
The splinter rama(ama) is a clipping of the word panorama of Greek origin where pan means all and horama means view. In Modern
English the meaning view was lost and the splinter rama is used in advertisements to denote objects of supreme quality, e.g. autorama means
exhibition-sale of expensive cars, trouserama means sale of trousers of supreme quality etc.
The splinter scape is a clipping of the word landscape and it is used to form words denoting different types of landscapes, such as:
moonscape, streetscape, townscape, seascape etc.
Another case of splinters is tel which is the result of clipping the beginning of the word hotel. It serves to form words denoting different types of hotels, such as: motel (motor-car hotel), boatel (boat hotel),
floatel (a hotel on water, floating), airtel (airport hotel) etc.
The splinter theque is the result of clipping the beginning of the word
apotheque of Greek origin which means in Greek a store house. In
Russian words: , , the element
corresponding to the English theque preserves the meaning of storing something which is expressed by the first component of the word. In
English the splinter theque is used to denote a place for dancing, such as: discotheque, jazzotheque.
The splinter thon is the result of clipping the beginning of the word
marathon. Marathon primarily was the name of a battle-field in Greece, forty miles from Athens, where there was a battle between the Greek and the Persian. When the Greek won a victory a Greek runner was sent to Athens to tell people about the victory. Later on the word Marathon was used to denote long-distance competitions in running. The splinter
thon(athon) denotes something continuing for a long time, competition in endurance e.g. dancathon, telethon, speakathon, readathon,
walkathon, moviethon, swimathon, talkathon, swearthon etc.
Splinters can be the result of clipping adjectives or substantivized adjectives. The splinter aholic (holic) was formed by clipping the beginning of the word alcoholic of Arabian origin where al denoted
the, kohl - powder for staining lids. The splinter (a)holic means infatuated by the object expressed by the stem of the word , e.g.
bookaholic, computerholic, coffeeholic, cheesaholic, workaholic and many others.
The splinter genic formed by clipping the beginning of the word
photogenic denotes the notion suitable for something denoted by the stem, e.g. allergenic, cardiogenic, mediagenic, telegenic etc.
As far as verbs are concerned it is not typical of them to be clipped that is why there is only one splinter to be used for forming new verbs in this way. It is the splinter cast formed by clipping the beginning of the verb broadcast. This splinter was used to form the verbs
telecast and abroadcast.
Splinters can be called pseudomorphemes because they are neither roots nor affixes, they are more or less artificial. In English there are words which consist of two splinters, e.g. telethon, therefore it is more logical to call words with splinters in their structure compound- shortened words consisting of two clippings of words.
Splinters have only one function in English: they serve to change the lexical meaning of the same part of speech, whereas prefixes and suffixes can also change the part-of-speech meaning , e.g. the prefix en- and its allomorph em can form verbs from noun and adjective stems (embody,
enable, endanger), be- can form verbs from noun and adjective stems
(becloud, benumb), post- and pre- can form adjectives from noun stems (pre-election campaign, post-war events). The main function of suffixes is to form one part of speech from another part of speech, e.g. - er, -ing, -ment form nouns from verbal stems (teacher, dancing,
movement), -ness, -ity are used to form nouns from adjective stems
(clannishnes, marginality).
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 inlexion, 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, hippies, hippies. The stem
job-hop can be found in the words : job-hop, job-hops, job-hopped,
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.
As far as words with splinters are concerned it is difficult to distinguish between derived words and compound-shortened words. If a splinter is treated as an affix (or a semi-affix) the word can be called derived , e.g.-, telescreen, maxi-taxi , shuttlegate, cheeseburger.
But if the splinter is treated as a lexical shortening of one of the stems
, the word can be called compound-shortened word formed from a word combination where one of the components was shortened, e.g. busnapper was formed from bus kidnapper, minijet from miniature jet.
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.
Among language units we can also point out word combinations of different structural types of idiomatic and non-idiomatic character, such as the first fiddle, old salt and round table, high road. There are also sentences which are studied by grammarians.
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-building is one of the main ways of enriching vocabulary. There are four main ways of word-building in modern English: affixation, composition, conversion, abbreviation. There are also secondary ways of word-building: sound interchange, stress interchange, sound imitation, blends, back formation.


Affixation is one of the most productive ways of word-building throughout the history of English. It consists in adding an affix to the stem of a definite part of speech. Affixation is divided into suffixation and prefixation.

The main function of suffixes in Modern English is to form one part of speech from another, the secondary function is to change the lexical meaning of the same part of speech. ( e.g. educate is a verb, educatee is a noun, and music is a noun, musicdom is also a noun) .
There are different classifications of suffixes :
1. Part-of-speech classification. Suffixes which can form different parts of speech are given here : a) noun-forming suffixes, such as : -er (criticizer), -dom (officialdom),
-ism (ageism), b) adjective-forming suffixes, such as : -able (breathable), less
(symptomless), -ous (prestigious), c) verb-forming suffixes, such as -ize (computerize) , -ify (micrify), d) adverb-forming suffixes , such as : -ly (singly), -ward (tableward), e) numeral-forming suffixes, such as -teen (sixteen), -ty (seventy).

2. Semantic classification . Suffixes changing the lexical meaning of the stem can be subdivided into groups, e.g. noun-forming suffixes can denote: a) the agent of the action, e.g. -er (experimenter), -ist (taxist), -ent
(student), b) nationality, e.g. -ian (Russian), -ese (Japanese), -ish (English), c) collectivity, e.g. -dom (moviedom), -ry (peasantry, -ship
(readership), -ati ( literati), d) diminutiveness, e.g. -ie (horsie), -let (booklet), -ling (gooseling),
-ette (kitchenette), e) quality, e.g. -ness (copelessness), -ity (answerability).

3. Lexico-grammatical character of the stem. Suffixes which can be added to certain groups of stems are subdivided into: a) suffixes added to verbal stems, such as : -er (commuter), -ing
(suffering), - able (flyable), -ment (involvement), -ation
(computerization), b) suffixes added to noun stems, such as : -less (smogless), ful
(roomful), -ism (adventurism), -ster (pollster), -nik (filmnik), -ish
(childish), c) suffixes added to adjective stems, such as : -en (weaken), -ly
(pinkly), -ish (longish), -ness (clannishness).

4. Origin of suffixes. Here we can point out the following groups: a) native (Germanic), such as -er,-ful, -less, -ly. b) Romanic, such as : -tion, -ment, -able, -eer. c) Greek, such as : -ist, -ism, -ize. d) Russian, such as -nik.

5. Productivity. Here we can point out the following groups: a) productive, such as : -er, -ize, --ly, -ness. b) semi-productive, such as : -eer, -ette, -ward. c) non-productive , such as : -ard (drunkard), -th (length).

Suffixes can be polysemantic, such as : -er can form nouns with the following meanings : agent,doer of the action expressed by the stem
(speaker), profession, occupation (teacher), a device, a tool
(transmitter). While speaking about suffixes we should also mention compound suffixes which are added to the stem at the same time, such as
-ably, -ibly, (terribly, reasonably), -ation (adaptation from adapt).
There are also disputable cases whether we have a suffix or a root morpheme in the structure of a word, in such cases we call such morphemes semi-suffixes, and words with such suffixes can be classified either as derived words or as compound words, e.g. -gate (Irangate), -burger
(cheeseburger), -aholic (workaholic) etc.


Prefixation is the formation of words by means of adding a prefix to the stem. In English it is characteristic for forming verbs. Prefixes are more independent than suffixes. Prefixes can be classified according to the nature of words in which they are used : prefixes used in notional words and prefixes used in functional words. Prefixes used in notional words are proper prefixes which are bound morphemes, e.g. un- (unhappy). Prefixes used in functional words are semi-bound morphemes because they are met in the language as words, e.g. over- (overhead) ( cf over the table ).
The main function of prefixes in English is to change the lexical meaning of the same part of speech. But the recent research showed that about twenty-five prefixes in Modern English form one part of speech from another
(bebutton, interfamily, postcollege etc).

Prefixes can be classified according to different principles :

1. Semantic classification : a) prefixes of negative meaning, such as : in- (invaluable), non-
(nonformals), un- (unfree) etc, b) prefixes denoting repetition or reversal actions, such as: de-
(decolonize), re- (revegetation), dis- (disconnect), c) prefixes denoting time, space, degree relations, such as : inter-
(interplanetary) , hyper- (hypertension), ex- (ex-student), pre- (pre- election), over- (overdrugging) etc.

2. Origin of prefixes: a) native (Germanic), such as: un-, over-, under- etc. b) Romanic, such as : in-, de-, ex-, re- etc. c) Greek, such as : sym-, hyper- etc.

When we analyze such words as : adverb, accompany where we can find the root of the word (verb, company) we may treat ad-, ac- as prefixes though they were never used as prefixes to form new words in English and were borrowed from Romanic languages together with words. In such cases we can treat them as derived words. But some scientists treat them as simple words. Another group of words with a disputable structure are such as : contain, retain, detain and conceive, receive, deceive where we can see that re-, de-, con- act as prefixes and -tain, -ceive can be understood as roots. But in English these combinations of sounds have no lexical meaning and are called pseudo-morphemes. Some scientists treat such words as simple words, others as derived ones.
There are some prefixes which can be treated as root morphemes by some scientists, e.g. after- in the word afternoon. American lexicographers working on Webster dictionaries treat such words as compound words. British lexicographers treat such words as derived ones.


Composition is the way of wordbuilding when a word is formed by joining two or more stems to form one word. The structural unity of a compound word depends upon : a) the unity of stress, b) solid or hyphonated spelling, c) semantic unity, d) unity of morphological and syntactical functioning. These are charachteristic features of compound words in all languages. For English compounds some of these factors are not very reliable. As a rule English compounds have one uniting stress (usually on the first component), e.g. hard-cover, best-seller. We can also have a double stress in an English compound, with the main stress on the first component and with a secondary stress on the second component, e.g. blood- vessel. The third pattern of stresses is two level stresses, e.g. snow- white,sky-blue. The third pattern is easily mixed up with word-groups unless they have solid or hyphonated spelling.
Spelling in English compounds is not very reliable as well because they can have different spelling even in the same text, e.g. war-ship, blood- vessel can be spelt through a hyphen and also with a break, iinsofar, underfoot can be spelt solidly and with a break. All the more so that there has appeared in Modern English a special type of compound words which are called block compounds, they have one uniting stress but are spelt with a break, e.g. air piracy, cargo module, coin change, pinguin suit etc.
The semantic unity of a compound word is often very strong. In such cases we have idiomatic compounds where the meaning of the whole is not a sum of meanings of its components, e.g. to ghostwrite, skinhead, brain-drain etc.
In nonidiomatic compounds semantic unity is not strong, e. g., airbus, to bloodtransfuse, astrodynamics etc.
English compounds have the unity of morphological and syntactical functioning. They are used in a sentence as one part of it and only one component changes grammatically, e.g. These girls are chatter-boxes.
Chatter-boxes is a predicative in the sentence and only the second component changes grammatically.
There are two characteristic features of English compounds: a) Both components in an English compound are free stems, that is they can be used as words with a distinctive meaning of their own. The sound pattern will be the same except for the stresses, e.g. a green-house and
a green house. Whereas for example in Russian compounds the stems are bound morphemes, as a rule. b) English compounds have a two-stem pattern, with the exception of compound words which have form-word stems in their structure, e.g. middle- of-the-road, off-the-record, up-and-doing etc. The two-stem pattern distinguishes English compounds from German ones.

Compound words in English can be formed not only by means of composition but also by means of : a) reduplication, e.g. too-too, and also by means of reduplicatin combined with sound interchange , e.g. rope-ripe, b) conversion from word-groups, e.g. to micky-mouse, can-do, makeup etc, c) back formation from compound nouns or word-groups, e.g. to bloodtransfuse, to fingerprint etc , d) analogy, e.g. lie-in ( on the analogy with sit-in) and also phone-in, brawn-drain (on the analogy with brain-drain) etc.


1. According to the parts of speech compounds are subdivided into: a) nouns, such as : baby-moon, globe-trotter, b) adjectives, such as : free-for-all, power-happy, c) verbs, such as : to honey-moon, to baby-sit, to henpeck, d) adverbs, such as: downdeep, headfirst, e) prepositions, such as: into, within, f) numerals, such as : fifty-five.

2. According to the way components are joined together compounds are divided into: a) neutral, which are formed by joining together two stems without any joining morpheme, e.g. ball-point, to windowshop, b) morphological where components are joined by a linking element : vowels o or i or the consonant s, e.g. {astrospace, handicraft,
sportsman), c) syntactical where the components are joined by means of form-word stems, e.g. here-and-now, free-for-all., do-or-die .

3. According to their structure compounds are subdivided into:

a) compound words proper which consist of two stems, e.g. to job-hunt, train-sick, go-go, tip-top ,

b) derivational compounds, where besides the stems we have affixes, e.g. ear-minded, hydro-skimmer,

c) compound words consisting of three or more stems, e.g. cornflower- blue, eggshell-thin, singer-songwriter,

d) compound-shortened words, e.g. boatel, tourmobile, VJ-day, motocross, intervision, Eurodollar, Camford.

4. According to the relations between the components compound words are subdivided into :

a) subordinative compounds where one of the components is the semantic and the structural centre and the second component is subordinate; these subordinative relations can be different:

with comparative relations, e.g. honey-sweet, eggshell-thin, with limiting relations, e.g. breast-high, knee-deep, with emphatic relations, e.g. dog-cheap, with objective relations, e.g. gold-rich, with cause relations, e.g. love-sick, with space relations, e.g. top-heavy, with time relations, e.g. spring-fresh, with subjective relations, e.g. foot-sore etc

b) coordinative compounds where both components are semantically independent. Here belong such compounds when one person (object) has two functions, e.g. secretary-stenographer, woman-doctor, Oxbridge etc. Such compounds are called additive. This group includes also compounds formed by means of reduplication, e.g. fifty-fifty, no-no, and also compounds formed with the help of rhythmic stems (reduplication combined with sound interchange) e.g. criss-cross, walkie-talkie.

5. According to the order of the components compounds are divided into compounds with direct order, e.g. kill-joy, and compounds with indirect order, e.g. nuclear-free, rope-ripe .


Conversion is a characteristic feature of the English word-building system. It is also called affixless derivation or zero-suffixation. The term conversion first appeared in the book by Henry Sweet New English
Grammar in 1891. Conversion is treated differently by different scientists, e.g. prof. A.I. Smirntitsky treats conversion as a morphological way of forming words when one part of speech is formed from another part of speech by changing its paradigm, e.g. to form the verb to dial from the noun dial we change the paradigm of the noun (a dial,dials) for the paradigm of a regular verb (I dial, he dials, dialed, dialing). A. Marchand in his book The Categories and Types of Present-day
English treats conversion as a morphological-syntactical word-building because we have not only the change of the paradigm, but also the change of the syntactic function, e.g. I need some good paper for my room. (The noun
paper is an object in the sentence). I paper my room every year. (The verb paper is the predicate in the sentence).
Conversion is the main way of forming verbs in Modern English. Verbs can be formed from nouns of different semantic groups and have different meanings because of that, e.g. a) verbs have instrumental meaning if they are formed from nouns denoting parts of a human body e.g. to eye, to finger, to elbow, to shoulder etc.
They have instrumental meaning if they are formed from nouns denoting tools, machines, instruments, weapons, e.g. to hammer, to machine-gun, to rifle, to nail, b) verbs can denote an action characteristic of the living being denoted by the noun from which they have been converted, e.g. to crowd, to wolf, to ape, c) verbs can denote acquisition, addition or deprivation if they are formed from nouns denoting an object, e.g. to fish, to dust, to peel, to paper, d) verbs can denote an action performed at the place denoted by the noun from which they have been converted, e.g. to park, to garage, to bottle, to corner, to pocket, e) verbs can denote an action performed at the time denoted by the noun from which they have been converted e.g. to winter, to week-end .
Verbs can be also converted from adjectives, in such cases they denote the change of the state, e.g. to tame (to become or make tame) , to clean, to slim etc.
Nouns can also be formed by means of conversion from verbs. Converted nouns can denote: a) instant of an action e.g. a jump, a move, b) process or state e.g. sleep, walk, c) agent of the action expressed by the verb from which the noun has been converted, e.g. a help, a flirt, a scold , d) object or result of the action expressed by the verb from which the noun has been converted, e.g. a burn, a find, a purchase, e) place of the action expressed by the verb from which the noun has been converted, e.g. a drive, a stop, a walk.
Many nouns converted from verbs can be used only in the Singular form and denote momentaneous actions. In such cases we have partial conversion. Such deverbal nouns are often used with such verbs as : to have, to get, to take etc., e.g. to have a try, to give a push, to take a swim .


In cases of conversion the problem of criteria of semantic derivation arises : which of the converted pair is primary and which is converted from it. The problem was first analized by prof. A.I. Smirnitsky. Later on P.A.
Soboleva developed his idea and worked out the following criteria:
1. If the lexical meaning of the root morpheme and the lexico-grammatical meaning of the stem coincide the word is primary, e.g. in cases pen - to pen, father - to father the nouns are names of an object and a living being. Therefore in the nouns pen and father the lexical meaning of the root and the lexico-grammatical meaning of the stem coincide. The verbs
to pen and to father denote an action, a process therefore the lexico- grammatical meanings of the stems do not coincide with the lexical meanings of the roots. The verbs have a complex semantic structure and they were converted from nouns.
2. If we compare a converted pair with a synonymic word pair which was formed by means of suffixation we can find out which of the pair is primary. This criterion can be applied only to nouns converted from verbs, e.g. chat n. and chat v. can be compared with conversation -
3. The criterion based on derivational relations is of more universal character. In this case we must take a word-cluster of relative words to which the converted pair belongs. If the root stem of the word-cluster has suffixes added to a noun stem the noun is primary in the converted pair and vica versa, e.g. in the word-cluster : hand n., hand v., handy, handful the derived words have suffixes added to a noun stem, that is why the noun is primary and the verb is converted from it. In the word-cluster: dance n., dance v., dancer, dancing we see that the primary word is a verb and the noun is converted from it.


Some scientists (Yespersen, Kruisinga ) refer substantivization of adjectives to conversion. But most scientists disagree with them because in cases of substantivization of adjectives we have quite different changes in the language. Substantivization is the result of ellipsis (syntactical shortening ) when a word combination with a semantically strong attribute loses its semantically weak noun (man, person etc), e.g. a grown-up person is shortened to a grown-up. In cases of perfect substantivization the attribute takes the paradigm of a countable noun , e.g. a criminal, criminals, a criminals (mistake) , criminals (mistakes). Such words are used in a sentence in the same function as nouns, e.g. I am fond of musicals. (musical comedies).
There are also two types of partly substantivized adjectives: those which have only the plural form and have the meaning of collective nouns, such as: sweets, news, empties, finals, greens, those which have only the singular form and are used with the definite article. They also have the meaning of collective nouns and denote a class, a nationality, a group of people, e.g. the rich, the English, the dead .

The problem whether adjectives can be formed by means of conversion from nouns is the subject of many discussions. In Modern English there are a lot of word combinations of the type , e.g. price rise, wage freeze, steel helmet, sand castle etc.
If the first component of such units is an adjective converted from a noun, combinations of this type are free word-groups typical of English
(adjective + noun). This point of view is proved by O. Yespersen by the following facts:
1. Stone denotes some quality of the noun wall.
2. Stone stands before the word it modifies, as adjectives in the function of an attribute do in English.
3. Stone is used in the Singular though its meaning in most cases is plural,and adjectives in English have no plural form.
4. There are some cases when the first component is used in the
Comparative or the Superlative degree, e.g. the bottomest end of the scale.
5. The first component can have an adverb which characterizes it, and adjectives are characterized by adverbs, e.g. a purely family gathering.
6. The first component can be used in the same syntactical function with a proper adjective to characterize the same noun, e.g. lonely bare stone houses.
7. After the first component the pronoun one can be used instead of a noun, e.g. I shall not put on a silk dress, I shall put on a cotton one.
However Henry Sweet and some other scientists say that these criteria are not characterisitc of the majority of such units.

They consider the first component of such units to be a noun in the function of an attribute because in Modern English almost all parts of speech and even word-groups and sentences can be used in the function of an attribute, e.g. the then president (an adverb), out-of-the-way vilages (a word-group), a devil-may-care speed (a sentence).
There are different semantic relations between the components of stone wall combinations. E.I. Chapnik classified them into the following groups:
1. time relations, e.g. evening paper,
2. space relations, e.g. top floor,
3. relations between the object and the material of which it is made, e.g. steel helmet,
4. cause relations, e.g. war orphan,
5. relations between a part and the whole, e.g. a crew member,
6. relations between the object and an action, e.g. arms production,
7. relations between the agent and an action e.g. government threat, price rise,
8. relations between the object and its designation, e.g. reception hall,
9. the first component denotes the head, organizer of the characterized object, e.g. Clinton government, Forsyte family,
10. the first component denotes the field of activity of the second component, e.g. language teacher, psychiatry doctor,
11. comparative relations, e.g. moon face,
12. qualitative relations, e.g. winter apples.


In the process of communication words and word-groups can be shortened.
The causes of shortening can be linguistic and extra-linguistic. By extra- linguistic causes changes in the life of people are meant. In Modern
English many new abbreviations, acronyms , initials, blends are formed because the tempo of life is increasing and it becomes necessary to give more and more information in the shortest possible time.
There are also linguistic causes of abbreviating words and word-groups, such as the demand of rhythm, which is satisfied in English by monosyllabic words. When borrowings from other languages are assimilated in English they are shortened. Here we have modification of form on the basis of analogy, e.g. the Latin borrowing fanaticus is shortened to fan on the analogy with native words: man, pan, tan etc.
There are two main types of shortenings : graphical and lexical.

Graphical abbreviations

Graphical abbreviations are the result of shortening of words and word- groups only in written speech while orally the corresponding full forms are used. They are used for the economy of space and effort in writing.
The oldest group of graphical abbreviations in English is of Latin origin. In Russian this type of abbreviation is not typical. In these abbreviations in the spelling Latin words are shortened, while orally the corresponding English equivalents are pronounced in the full form,e.g. for example (Latin exampli gratia), a.m. - in the morning (ante meridiem),
No - number (numero), p.a. - a year (per annum), d - penny (dinarius), lb - pound (libra), i. e. - that is (id est) etc.
Some graphical abbreviations of Latin origin have different English equivalents in different contexts, e.g. p.m. can be pronounced in the afternoon (post meridiem) and after death (post mortem).
There are also graphical abbreviations of native origin, where in the spelling we have abbreviations of words and word-groups of the corresponding English equivalents in the full form. We have several semantic groups of them : a) days of the week, e.g. Mon - Monday, Tue - Tuesday etc b) names of months, e.g. Apr - April, Aug - August etc. c) names of counties in UK, e.g. Yorks - Yorkshire, Berks -Berkshire etc d) names of states in USA, e.g. Ala - Alabama, Alas - Alaska etc. e) names of address, e.g. Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr. etc. f) military ranks, e.g. capt. -captain, col. - colonel, sgt - sergeant etc. g) scientific degrees, e.g. B.A. - Bachelor of Arts, D.M. - Doctor of
Medicine . ( Sometimes in scientific degrees we have abbreviations of Latin origin, e.g., M.B. - Medicinae Baccalaurus). h) units of time, length, weight, e.g. f. / ft -foot/feet, sec. - second, in. -inch, mg. - milligram etc.
The reading of some graphical abbreviations depends on the context, e.g.
m can be read as: male, married, masculine, metre, mile, million, minute,
l.p. can be read as long-playing, low pressure.

Initial abbreviations
Initialisms are the bordering case between graphical and lexical abbreviations. When they appear in the language, as a rule, to denote some new offices they are closer to graphical abbreviations because orally full forms are used, e.g. J.V. - joint venture. When they are used for some duration of time they acquire the shortened form of pronouncing and become closer to lexical abbreviations, e.g. BBC is as a rule pronounced in the shortened form.
In some cases the translation of initialisms is next to impossible without using special dictionaries. Initialisms are denoted in different ways. Very often they are expressed in the way they are pronounced in the language of their origin, e.g. ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United
States) is given in Russian as , SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation
Talks) was for a long time used in Russian as , now a translation variant is used ( - ).
This type of initialisms borrowed into other languages is preferable, e.g.
UFO - , C - JV etc.

There are three types of initialisms in English: a) initialisms with alphabetical reading, such as UK, BUP, CND etc b) initialisms which are read as if they are words, e.g. UNESCO, UNO,
NATO etc. c) initialisms which coincide with English words in their sound form, such initialisms are called acronyms, e.g. CLASS (Computor-based Laboratory for Automated School System).
Some scientists unite groups b) and c) into one group which they call acronyms.
Some initialisms can form new words in which they act as root morphemes by different ways of wordbuilding: a) affixation, e.g. AWALism, ex-rafer, ex- POW, to waafize, AIDSophobia etc. b) conversion, e.g. to raff, to fly IFR (Instrument Flight Rules), c) composition, e.g. STOLport, USAFman etc. d) there are also compound-shortened words where the first component is an initial abbreviation with the alphabetical reading and the second one is a complete word, e.g. A-bomb, U-pronunciation, V -day etc. In some cases the first component is a complete word and the second component is an initial abbreviation with the alphabetical pronunciation, e.g. Three -Ds
(Three dimensions) - .

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