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Lectures in Contrastive Lexicology of the English and Ukrainian Languages

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T.O. Mizin

Kyiv - 2005

Мизин Т.О. Курс лекцій з порівняльної лексикології англійської та української мов. Навчальний посібник для студентів III курсу факультету лінгвістики. Київ,

2005. – с.

Рецензенти: кандидат філологічних наук, доцент Т.А. Мирончук (Міжнародна Академія управління персоналом);

кандидат філологічних наук, доцент І.В. Тіменко (Київський міжнародний університет)

Даний посібник включає лекції, які охоплюють програму курсу порівняльної лексикології англійської та української мов. Розглядаються питання теорії слова та словотвору, семантичної структури слова, фразеології англійської та української мов, етимології, загальної характеристики вокабуляру.

Посібник розрахований на студентів III курсу факультету лінгвістики.

Друкується за рішенням Вченої Ради Київського міжнародного університету.


Lectures in Contrastive Lexicology of the English and Ukrainian Languages are intended for students of English at universities. Lectures are devoted to the following topics: the Morphological and Semantic Structures of Words; Synonyms. Antonyms. Homonyms; Word Combinations and Phraseology in Modern English and Ukrainian Languages; the Etymology of English and Ukrainian Words; General Characteristics of the Vocabulary.

The aim of the lectures is to lead the students to a deeper understanding of the Modern English and Ukrainian lexical systems.

The list of bibliographical references will serve as a guide to those who would like to attain a more complete view of the topics discussed.


1. General problems of the theory of the word.

2. The structure of the word. Types of morphemes and their specific features.

3. Affixation.

4. Conversion.

5. Composition.

6. Shortening.

7. Back-formation.

8. Blending.

9. Gradation.

10. Stress interchange.

11. Sound imitation.

1. General Problems of the Theory of the Word. The Definition of the Word

The problems associated with the definition of the word have always been most complex and remain disputable. Determining the word involves considerable difficulties for the criteria employed in establishing it are of different character and each language presents a separate system with its own patterns of vocabulary items, its specific types of structural units and its own ways of distinguishing them. The matter is that the simplest word has many different aspects. It has a sound form because it is a certain arrangement of phonemes.

It has its morphological structure, being a certain arrangement of morphemes.

Being the central element of any language system, the word is a sort of focus for the problems of phonology, lexicology, syntax, morphology and also some other sciences that have to deal with language and speech, such as philosophy, psychology and probably quite a few other branches of knowledge. All attempts to characterise the word are necessarily specific for each domain of science and are considered one-sided by the representatives of all the other domains and criticised for incompleteness,

The definition of the word from the point of view of philosophy:

Words are not mere sounds but names of matter (T. Hobbes).

The definition of the word from the point of view of physiology:

A word is a universal signal that can substitute any other signal from the environment in evoking a response in a human organism (I. Pavlov).

The definition of the word from the point of view of Machine Mathematical Linguistics:

A word is a sequence of graphemes between two blanks.

The definition of the word from the point of view of syntax:

A word is a minimum sentence (H. Sweet).

A word is a minimum free form (L. Bloomfield).

The definition of the word from the point of view of semantics:

Words are meaningful units (S. Ullmann).

The definition of the word from the point of view of syntax and semantics:

A word is one of the smallest completely satisfying bits of isolated units into which the sentence resolves itself (E. Sapir).

The definition of the word from the point of view of semantics and phonology:

A word is an articulate sound-symbol in its aspect of denoting something which is spoken about ( A. Gardiner).

The definition of the word from the point of view of semantics, phonology and grammar:

A word is the association of a given meaning with a given group of sounds susceptible to a given grammatical employment (A. Meillet).

Many scholars have attempted to define the word as a linguistic phenomenon. Yet none of the definitions can be considered totally satisfactory in all aspects. The definition which is a bit extended but takes into account different aspects and hence can be considered optimal is the definition of the word given be I. Arnold:

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

  1. The Structure of the Word. Types of Morphemes and their Specific Features

If viewed structurally, words appear to be divisible into smaller units which are called morphemes. Like a word a morpheme is an association of a given meaning with a given group of sounds. But unlike a word it is not autonomous. Morphemes occur as constituents of words. But there are quite a lot of words which contain only one morpheme.

The word morpheme is of the Greek origin. Morphe means form, the suffix –eme means the smallest unit.

Morphemes can be divided into two main types: free (those that can occur alone) and bound (those which cannot occur alone).The word wool, for instance, has one free morpheme, the word woolen consists of two morphemes: wool (which is free) and –en (which is bound). The word лісистий consists of the free morpheme ліс and the bound morpheme –ст.

A word has at least one lexical morpheme represented by a root by which we mean the ultimate constituent element which remains after the removal of affixes and it does not admit any further analysis. It is the common element of words within a word-family. It is the primary element of the word, its basic part conveys its fundamental lexical meaning. There are many root-morphemes which can stand alone as words: table, car chair, room. It is one of the specific features of the English language. Free morphemes can be found only among roots. But not all roots are free morphemes. Only productive roots are free.

Unlike roots affixes are usually bound morphemes. According to their function and meaning prefixes and suffixes are divided into derivational and functional. There are several differences between them. Derivational affixes are those by means of which new words are formed: to teach – a teacher. Functional are those by means of which new forms of words are formed: teach – teaches. Derivational affixes permit the substitution of one word by another without this affix. Functional affixes do not permit such substitution without violating grammar rules. Derivational affixes permit further derivation: teach – teaching – teaching-room. Functional affixes do not permit such derivation. Derivational affixes do not combine freely. Functional affixes combine more or less freely. The suffix

–s can be added practically to any noun to form the plural form.

3. Affixation

Affixation is the creation of a word by modifying its root with an affix. It is a very productive type of word formation.

In conformity with the division of derivational affixes into suffixes and prefixes affixation is subdivided into suffixation and prefixation.

A careful study of a great many suffixal and prefixal derivatives has revealed an essential difference between them.

First of all in modern English suffixation is characteristic of noun and adjective formation. Prefixation is typical of verb formation.

Prefixes modify the lexical meaning of stems to which they are added. A prefixal derivative usually joins the part of speech the unprefixed word belongs to.

e.g.: definite – indefinite; convenient – inconvenient.

In a suffixal derivative the suffix does not only modify the lexical meaning of the stem it is affixed to, but the word itself is usually transferred to another part of speech.

e.g.: care(N) – careless (A), good (A) – goodness (N).

A suffix closely knit together with a stem forms a fusion retaining less of its independence than a prefix which is, as a general rule, more independent semantically.

e.g.: writing – the act of one who writes; the ability to write;

to rewrite – to write again.

In the English language there prevails either suffixation or prefixation, in the Ukrainian language they can be used in the same word.

English suffixes usually transfer a word from one part of speech into another, Ukrainian affixes never do it.


Derivational morphemes affixed before the stem are called prefixes. They modify the lexical meaning of the stem, but in doing so they seldom affect its basic lexico-grammatical component. Unlike suffixation, which is usually bound up with a paradigm of a certain part of speech, prefixation is considered to be neutral in this respect. The only exceptions are the prefixes be-, en-, a-, pre-, post.

e.g.: little (A) – belittle (V);

friend (N) – befriend (V);

able (A) – enable (V);

courage (N) – encourage (V);

sleep (N) – asleep (word of the category of state);

foot (N) – afoot (Adv);

war (N) – prewar (A) ;

war (N) – postwar (A).

But usually prefixes do not change a part of speech.

The Source of Prefixes

Prefixes originated from notional words, which in the course of time lost their independent meanings and became prefixes.

e.g.: re (Lat. Adv.) – once again or back;

under (OE Adv., Prep.) - under;

fore (OE Adv., Prep) – foresee.

Nowadays this process continues. In Modern English there exist the so-called semi-prefixes - words which are losing their meanings.

e.g.: stone-blind, stone-deaf, ill-tempered, ill-fated.

The Classification of Prefixes

Prefixes can be classified from the point of view of their meanings.

Among them we can single out prefixes of the negative meaning: un-, in-, dis-, mis-.

e.g.: comfortable – uncomfortable, convenient – inconvenient, satisfied – dissatisfied, understand – misunderstand.

Prefixes denoting reversal or repetition of an action: un-, dis-, re-, роз-, пере-.

e.g.: lockunlock, regarddisregard, considerreconsider, єднати – роз’єднати, писати – переписати.

In the Ukrainian language the most productive is the prefix не-, which is used to form adjectives and nouns, but never verbs: нелегкий, невільний. A very productive prefix is the prefix без-: безпомічний. In the English language this prefix corresponds to the suffix –less: defenceless. The prefixes де-, дис-, а- are used as parts of borrowed words and they are unproductive: децентралізація, дисбаланс, асиметричний.

Prefixes denoting space and time relations: fore-, pre-, post-, over-, super-, до-, перед-, над-, під-, пере-, після-.

e.g.: tellforetell, warprewar, warpostwar, spreadoverspread, structuresuperstructure, історичний – доісторичний, воєнний – післявоєнний, водний – підводний.

Prefixes can be international:

  • Anti-/анти- (antifascist, антифашист);

  • Counter-/контр (countermarch, контрмарш);

  • sub-/суб (submarine, субмарина).

Some prefixes can have a semantic identity only (but no linguistic similarity):

  • foresee – передбачити;

  • extranatural – надприродний.

There can be semantically alien prefixes pertaining to one of the contrasted languages:

  • de- (decamp);

  • mis- (misstate);

  • по- (по-українському);

  • що- (щонайкраще).

A specifically Ukrainian phenomenon is the usage of the prefix по- (попоїсти).


Suffixation is the formation of words with the help of suffixes. Suffixes usually modify the lexical meaning of stems and transfer words to a different part of speech. There are suffixes, however, which do not shift words from one part of speech into another. A suffix of this kind usually transfers a word into a different semantic group.

e.g.: A concrete noun becomes an abstract one: child – childhood.

Suffixes can be classified according to their ability to form a new part of speech, to their origin, productivity.

Noun-forming suffixes:

  • -er (teacher, worker),

  • -ing (living, reading);

  • -ness (kindness, tenderness). These suffixes are productive.

  • -age (voyage, courage);

  • -ard (coward, drunkard);

  • -ment (agreement, employment);

  • -th (strength, length). These suffixes are non-productive.

In the Ukrainian language these are the following suffixes:

  • -ар (шахтар, лікар);

  • -ик (історик, радник);

  • -ець (гравець, українець);

  • -ач (оглядач, наглядач);

  • -ак (співак, мастак);

  • -нь (учень, здоровань).

Adjective-forming suffixes:

  • -able (movable, readable);

  • -ful (powerful, delightful);

  • -ish (whitish, bookish);

  • -less (useless, hopeless);

  • -y (noisy, sunny). These are productive suffixes.

  • -en (golden, woollen) – non-productive.

In the Ukrainian language these are the following suffixes:

  • ов- (зимовий, раптовий)

  • н- (хмарний, класний)

  • ив- (щасливий, кмітливий)

  • ськ-/ цьк- (англійський, німецький).

Some suffixes are homonymous. For example, the suffix ful- can form adjectives and nouns: careful (Adj) – handful (N).

In the Ukrainian language (but not in English) diminutive suffixes are often used:

-ньк (малесенький), -чк (дівчатко), -ець(вітерець).

Numeral-forming suffixes:

  • -teen (thirteen, fifteen);

  • -ty (sixty, seventy);

  • -th (seventh, eighth). These are non-productive suffixes.

Pronoun-forming suffixes:

  • -s (ours, yours). The suffix is non-productive.

Verb-forming suffixes:

  • - ate (complicate, navigate);

  • - en (darken, strengthen);

  • - fy (signify, simplify);

  • - ute (attribute, execute). These suffixes are non-productive.

In the Ukrainian language these are the suffixes: (ув)ати-, ити-(сушити, головувати).

Adverb—forming suffixes:

  • - ly (quickly, lately);

  • - long (sidelong, headlong);

  • - ward(s) forward, toward(s);

  • -ways, wise (clockwise, otherwise, crabways). Of all these suffixes only the suffix

-ly is productive.

In the Ukrainian language that is the suffix о-: високо, широко.

From the point of view of semantics suffixes can be classified in the following way:

  1. Agent suffixes:

  • -ist/ -іст/-ист (journalist, артист) ;

  • ar/ -ар/-яр (scholar, школяр);

  • ier-/-yer/ -ир (cashier, бригадир).

  1. Suffixes denoting abstract notions:

  • -ism/ -ізм (socialism, комунізм);

  • -tion/ -ац (demonstration, демонстрація);

  • -dom/ -ств/-цтв (kingdom, газетярство);

  • -hood/ -ств (brotherhood, братство).

  1. Evaluative suffixes:

  • -ette (kitchenette);

  • -y/-ie/-ey (sissy);

  • -ling (duckling).

  • -атк/ ятк (дівчатко, оленятко)

  • -ик (ротик);

  • -ечк (донечка);

  • -ичк (сестричка);

  • -ньк (дівчинонька).

All Ukrainian diminutive suffixes are productive. In English only –ie/ey, -ette are productive.

  1. Gender/sex expressing suffixes.

In the Ukrainian language they can express masculine gender:

- -ар/яр (лікар, школяр);

- -ист/іст (бандурист);

- -ій (водій);

- -ант/ент (студент).

Feminine gender can be expressed by means of the following suffixes:

  • -к (артистка);

  • -их (кравчиха).

Neuter gender is expressed by means of:

  • -атк (курчатко);

  • -к (вушко);

  • -ц (винце).

English gender suffixes are only sex expressing: actor – actress.

  1. International suffixes:

  • -er/or ор(conductor, кондуктор);

  • -ist/іст (socialist, соціаліст);

  • -tion/ц (revolution, революція);

  • -able/абельн(readable, читабельний).

In both languages there are semi-affixes. In English these are the elements:

loadsa-, friendly, -something.

In Ukrainian the semi-suffixes are: повно-, ново-, само-, авто-, -вод, -воз (повноправно, автопілот, водовоз, тепловоз).

4. Conversion

Conversion (zero derivation, root formation, functional change) is the process of coining a new word in a different part of speech and with different distribution characteristics but without adding any derivative element, so that the basic form of the original and the basic form of derived words are homonymous. This phenomenon can be illustrated by the following cases: work – to work, love – to love, water – to water.

If we regard these words from the angle of their morphemic structure, we see that they are root words. On the derivational level, however, one of them should be referred to a derived word, as having the same root morpheme they belong to different parts of speech. Consequently the question arises here: “What serves as the word-building means in such cases?” It would appear that the noun is formed from the verb (or vice versa) without any morphological change, but if we probe deeper into the matter, we inevitably come to the conclusion that the two words differ only in the paradigm. Thus, it is the paradigm that is used as a word-building means. Hence, we can define conversion as the formation of a new word through changes in its paradigm.

The change of the paradigm is the only word-building means of conversion. As the paradigm is a morphological category, conversion can be described as a morphological way of forming words.

As a type of word-formation conversion exists in many languages. What is specific for the English vocabulary is not its mere presence, but its intense development.

The main reason for the widespread development of conversion in present-day English is no doubt the absence of morphological elements serving as classifying signals, or, in other words, of formal signs marking the part of speech to which the word belongs. The fact that the sound pattern does not show to what part of speech the word belongs may be illustrated by the word back. It may be a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb.

Many affixes are homonymous and therefore the general sound pattern does not contain any information as to the possible part of speech.

e.g.: maiden (N), darken (V), woollen (A), often (Adv).

O. Jesperson points out that the causes that made conversion so widely spread are to be approached diachronically. The noun and verb have become identical in form firstly as a result of the loss of endings. More rarely it is the prefix that is lost (mind < gemynd). When endings had disappeared phonetical development resulted in the merging of sound forms for both elements of these pairs.

e.g.: OE carian (verb) and caru (noun) merged into care (verb, noun); OE drinkan (verb) and drinca, drinc (noun) merged into drink (verb, noun).

A similar homonymy resulted in the borrowing from French of pairs of words of the same root but belonging in French to different parts of speech. These words lost their affixes and became phonetically identical in the process of assimilation.

Prof. A. Smirnitsky is of the opinion that on a synchronic level there is no difference in correlation between such cases as listed above, i.e. words originally differentiated by affixes and later becoming homonymous after the loss of endings (sleep – noun :: sleep – verb) and those formed by conversion (pencil – noun :: pencil – verb).

Prof. I. Arnold is of the opinion that prof. Smirnitsky is mistaken. His mistake is in the wish to call both cases conversion, which is illogical if he, or any of his followers, accepts the definition of conversion as a word-building process which implies the diachronistic approach. Prof. I. Arnold states that synchronically both types sleep (noun) – sleep (verb) and pencil (noun) – pencil (verb) must be treated together as cases of patterned homonymy. But it is essential to differentiate the cases of conversion and treat them separately when the study is diachronistic.

Conversion has been the subject of a great many discussions since 1891 when

H. Sweet first used the term in his New English Grammar. Various opinions have been expressed on the nature and character of conversion in the English language and different conceptions have been put forward.

The treatment of conversion as a morphological way of forming words was suggested by A.I. Smirnitsky and accepted by R.Z. Ginzburg, S.S. Khidekel,

G.Y. Knyazeva, A.A. Sankin.

Other linguists sharing, on the whole, the conception of conversion as a morphological way of forming words disagree, however, as to what serves here as a word-building means. Some of them define conversion as a non-affixal way of forming words pointing out that its characteristic feature is that a certain stem is used for the formation of a categorically different word without a derivational affix being added

(I.R. Galperin, Y.B. Cherkasskaya).

Others hold the view that conversion is the formation of new words with the help of a zero-morpheme (H. Marchand).

There is also a point of view on conversion as a morphological-syntactic word-building means (Y.A. Zhluktenko), for it involves, as the linguists sharing this conception maintain, both a change of the paradigm and of the syntactic function of the word.

e.g.: I need some paper for my room : He is papering his room.

Besides, there is also a purely syntactic approach commonly known as a functional approach to conversion. In Great Britain and the United States of America linguists are inclined to regard conversion as a kind of functional change. They define conversion as a shift from one part of speech to another contending that in modern English a word may function as two different parts of speech at the same time.

The two categories of parts of speech especially affected by conversion are the noun and the verb. Verbs made from nouns are the most numerous among the words produced by conversion.

e.g.: to hand, to face, to nose, to dog, to blackmail.

Nouns are frequently made from verbs: catch, cut, walk, move, go.

Verbs can also be made from adjectives: to pale, to yellow, to cool.

A word made by conversion has a different meaning from that of the word from which it was made though the two meanings can be associated. There are certain regularities in these associations which can be roughly classified. In the group of verbs made from nouns some regular semantic associations are the following:

- A noun is a name of a tool – a verb denotes an action performed by the tool: to knife, to brush.

- A noun is a name of an animal – a verb denotes an action or aspect of behaviour typical of the animal: monkey – to monkey, snake – to snake. Yet, to fish does not mean to behave like a fish but to try to catch fish.

- A noun denotes a part of a human body – a verb denotes an action performed by it : hand – to hand, shoulder – to shoulder. However, to face does not imply doing something by or even with one’s face but turning it in a certain direction.

- A noun is a name of some profession or occupation – a verb denotes an activity typical of it : a butcher – to butcher, a father – to father.

- A noun is a name of a place – a verb denotes the process of occupying this place or putting something into it: a bed – to bed, a corner – to corner.

- A noun is the name of a container – a verb denotes an act of putting something within the container: a can – to can, a bottle – to bottle.

- A noun is the name of a meal – a verb denotes the process of taking it: supper – to supper, lunch – to lunch.

The suggested groups do not include all the great variety of verbs made from nouns by conversion. They just represent the most obvious cases and illustrate the great variety of semantic interrelations within the so-called converted pairs and the complex nature of the logical associations which underlie them.

In actual fact, these associations are more complex and sometimes even perplexing.

Types of Conversion

Partial conversion is a kind of a double process when first a noun is formed by conversion from a verbal stem and next this noun is combined with such verbs as to give, to make, to take to form a separate phrase: to have a look, to take a swim, to give a whistle.

There is a great number of idiomatic prepositional phrases as well: to be in the know, in the long run, to get into a scrape. Sometimes the elements of these expressions have a fixed grammatical form, as, for example, where the noun is always plural: It gives me the creeps (jumps). In other cases the grammatical forms are free to change.

Reconversion is the phenomenon when one of the meanings of the converted word is a source for a new meaning of the same stem: cable (металевий провідник) – to cable (телеграфувати) – cable(телеграма); help(допомога) – to help (допомагати пригощати) – help (порція їжі), deal (кількість) – to deal (роздавати) – deal (роздача карт).

Substantivation can also be considered as a type of conversion. Complete substantivation is a kind of substantivation when the whole paradigm of a noun is acquired: a private - the private – privates – the privates. Alongside with complete substantivation there exists partial substantivation when a feature or several features of a paradigm of a noun are acquired: the rich. Besides the substantivized adjectives denoting human beings there is a considerable group of abstract nouns: the Singular, the Present. It is thus evident that substantivation has been the object of much controversy. Those who do not accept substantivation of adjectives as a type of conversion consider conversion as a process limited to the formation of verbs from nouns and nouns from verbs. But this point of view is far from being universally accepted.

Conversion is not characteristic of the Ukrainian language. The only type of conversion that can be found there is substantivation: молодий, хворий.

5 Composition

Composition can be defined as the formation of a lexical unit out of two or more stems, usually the first differentiating, modifying or qualifying and the second identifying. The last element expresses a general meaning, whereas the prefixed element renders it less generally. Any compound word has at least two semantic centres but they are never equal in their semantic value. Thus a compound word is characterised by both structural and semantic unity. It makes them function in a sentence as a separate lexical unit.

Compound words are unusually graphic. They often come into existence by popular demand. They are formed simply by combining two words that are in current usage. There are three types of compound words:

- Compound words with the solid representation: spacecraft, hardtop, землевласник.

- Hyphenated compound words: sit-in, freeze-dry, диван-ліжко.

- Compound words represented by a phrase: cold war, free flight.

Compound words can be further classified: from the functional point of view, from the point of view of the way the components of the compounds are linked together, from the point of view of different ways of composition.

Functionally compounds are viewed as words belonging to different parts of speech. The bulk of modern English compounds belong to nouns and adjectives: hot-dog, slow-coach, worldold. Adverbs and connectives are represented by an insignificant number of words: outside. Composition in verbs is not productive either: to rough-house, to backbite.

In the English language compound words can be graded according to frequency in the following way: nouns – adjectives – verbs. In the Ukrainian language the scheme will be the following; adjectives – nouns – verbs.

According to the type of relationship between the components compound words can be coordinative and subordinative.

Coordinative are the compounds in which neither of the components dominates the other, both are structurally and semantically independent: secretary-stenographer, actor-manager, лікар-кардіолог. The constituent stems belong to the same part of speech. They are divided into three groups: additive, reduplicative and those formed by joining the phonetically variated rhythmic forms.

Additive compounds denote a person or an object that is two things at the same time: actor-manager is an actor and a manager at the same time. Лікар-кардіолог is лікар and кардіолог at the same time.

Reduplicative compounds are the result of the repetition of the same stem: fifty-fifty, tick-tick. Such words in the Ukrainian language are not considered to be compounds.

Compounds which are formed by joining the phonetically variated rhythmic forms of the same stem are: drip-drop, ding-dong, helter-skelter.

Coordinative compounds of the last two groups are mostly restricted to the colloquial layer and are characterised by a heavy emotive charge.

Subordinative compounds are the words in which the components are not equal either semantically or structurally. The second component is the structural centre, the grammatically dominant part of the word, which imparts its part-of-speech meaning to the whole word: stone-deaf, age-long, wrist-watch, baby-sitter, миротворець, самозахист.

According to the order of components subordinative compounds are divided into syntactic and asyntactic.

Syntactic are the words the components of which are placed in the order of words in free phrases: bluebell, slow-coach, know-nothing.

Asyntactic are the words whose stems are not placed in the order that resembles the order of words in a free phrase: red-hot, tear-stained, oil-rich.

According to the degree of motivation compound words can be motivated, partially motivated and non-motivated.

Motivated compounds are those whose meanings are the sum of meanings of their components: blackboard, classroom. Partially motivated compounds are those in which one of the components has changed its meaning: chatter-box, lady-killer. Non-motivated compounds are those in which neither of the elements preserves its meaning: ladybird, tallboy.

Structurally compounds can be classified into neutral, morphological and syntactic.

Neutral compounds that are formed without any linking elements are called simple neutral: sun-flower, shop-window, лікар-терапевт, місто-побратим. Neutral-derived compounds are formed by means of some affix: blue-eyed, new-comer. Neutral contracted compounds are those in which one of the parts is contracted: TV-set, V-day. Morphological compounds are formed by means of some linking element: Anglo-Saxon, spokesman, handicraft, жовтоблакитний, доброзичливий. Syntactic compounds are formed from segments of speech: Jack-of-all-trades, pick-me-up, go-between, Jack-in-the-box, stay-at-home, не сьогодні-завтра.

It should be mentioned that among compound words the group of bahuvrihi is pointed out. The term bahuvrihi is borrowed from the grammarians of ancient India. Its literal meaning is “much-riced”. These are the compounds consisting of A+N stems and naming a thing metonymically: Big wig, green-horn, lazy-bones одчайдух, жовтобрюх. Semantically the bahuvrihi are almost invariably characterised by a depreciative, ironical, emotional tone.

In the English language there are many words which were compounds though just now they are not treated as such: window (vind + auga), daisy (day’s eye), always (all+way+s), woman (wif+man), breakfast (break+fast). Such compounds are called hidden or disguised.

6. Shortening

Word-building processes involve not only qualitative but also quantitative changes.

As a type of word-building shortening of spoken words also called clipping, curtailment or contraction, is recorded in the English language as far back as 15 century. It is another fairly productive way of vocabulary enrichment. The moving force behind it is economy of effort expressed in the trend towards monosyllabism that has always been characteristic of the English vocabulary.

Among shortenings distinction should be made between lexical abbreviations and clippings.

Lexical abbreviations are formed by a simultaneous operation of shortening and compounding.

Distinction should be made between shortening of words in written speech and in the sphere of oral intercourse. Shortening of words in written speech results in graphical abbreviations which are, in fact, signs representing words and word groups of high frequency in various spheres of human activity: RD for road, St for street on envelopes. English graphical abbreviations include rather numerous shortened variants of Latin and French words and word groups: a.m. (Lat. ante meridiem) – in the morning, before noon; p.m. (Lat. post meridiem) – in the afternoon; i.e. (Lat. id.est) – that is.

The characteristic feature of graphical abbreviations is that they are restricted in use to written speech, occurring only in various kinds of texts, articles, books. In reading many of them are substituted by the words and phrases that they represent: Mr (Mister), Oct. (October). It is natural that some graphical abbreviations should gradually penetrate into the sphere of oral intercourse : SOS (Save our Souls), MP (Member of Parliament).

The words formed from the initial letters of each of the successive or major parts of a compound term are called acronyms: the USA (United States of America), the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), WASP (Women’s Air Force Service Pilots), США (Сполучені Штати Америки), ООН (Організація Об’єднаних Націй). They are used as words and if an abbreviation that has a wide currency is inconvenient for articulation, it is sometimes altered: W.R.N.S. (Women’s Royal Naval Service) was difficult to pronounce, so it was changed to WRENS.

There are two possible ways of reading acronyms in the English language. If the abbreviated written form can be read as though it were an ordinary English word it will be read like one: the NATO, the UNESCO, the UNO. The second way of reading acronyms is reading according to the ABC: BBC (the British Broadcasting Corporation), G.I. (Government Issue).

The second group of shortened words is represented by clippings. Clipping consists in the cutting off of one of several syllables of the word. It can be of three types: aphaeresis, syncope, apocope.

Aphaeresis is the omission of the initial part of the word. In many cases the shortened word differs from its source only stylistically: telephone – phone, omnibus – bus. Sometimes, however, the shortened word is somewhat modified in meaning or even altered: acute (sharp) – cute (pretty, clever), espy (see at a distance) – spy (to try to get secret information).

Some words owe their historical development to aphaeresis as for instance down from adown which in its turn developed from the Anglo-Saxon of dune (from the hill, from the down).

Many first names were shortened the aphaeresis way: Bess (Elisabeth), Becky (Rebecca) etc.

Syncope is the omission of an unstressed middle syllable: fantasy – fancy, courtesy – curtsy. Syncopated words used to be popular with poets (e’en – even, ne’er – never) because of purely rhythmical considerations. Modern poetry seldom if ever resorts to syncope. There are some graphical abbreviations of this type: Mr, Mrs, LP.

Apocope is the omission of the final part of the word. It is the most productive type of shortening. It is mostly through apocope that stylistic synonyms are coined. It is the colloquial layer that profits from apocope: gym (gymnasium), specs (spectacles), croc (crocodile). Proper names are also apocopated: Nick (Nicholas), Ed (Edward), Люда (Людмила). There are some words that are seldom if ever used in their unapocopated form (pub for public house, brig for brigantine).

Apocope and syncope are not characteristic of the Ukrainian language. Though apocope is used in Ukrainian slang: універ, лаби. Apocope is often used with compounding: генпрокуратура, міськрада. There are not so many words of this type in English: Internet, Eurobank.

Cases of a combination of several shortening devices are also possible: perambulator – pram (syncope + apocope); refrigerator – fridge (aphaeresis + apocope).

Shortening brings new words in the same part of speech. Most lexical units of this type are nouns. Shortened verbs like rev from revolve, tab from tabulate are very rare. Such verbs as to phone, to tot up (to sum up, total), to taxi, to vac come to look like clipped words but are in fact, denominal verbs made through conversion. Clipped adjectives are also few in number: comfortable – comfy, awkward – awk, impossible – imposs.

It is a well-known fact that in the course of time a good many slang clippings have found their way into standard English. Some of them occur both in spoken and written English, others keep only colloquial tinge.

The coining of clipped word-forms may result either in the ousting of one of the words from the vocabulary or in establishing a clear semantic differentiation between the two units. In a few cases the full words become new roots: chapman – chap, brandywine – brandy. But in most cases a shortened word exists in the vocabulary together with the longer word from which it is derived and usually has the same lexical meaning differing only in stylistic reference. The question naturally arises whether the shortened and original forms should be considered separate words. Though it is obvious that in the case of semantic difference between a shortened unit and a longer one from which it is derived they can be termed as two distinct words: cabriolet – cab. Some linguists hold the view that as the two units do not differ in meaning but only in stylistic application, it would be wrong to apply the term word to the shortened unit. In fact, the shortened unit is a word-variant. Other linguists contend that even when the original word and the shortened form are generally used with some difference in style, they are both to be recognised as two distinct words. If this treatment of the process of word-shortening is accepted, the essential difference between the shortening of words and the usual process of word-formation should be pointed out.

- Words built by affixation, for example, are of a more complex character both structurally and semantically. Shortened words are structurally simple words and in most cases have the same lexical meaning as longer words from which they are derived.

- There are no structural patterns after which new shortened words could be coined. At any rate, linguistic research has failed to establish any so far.

Lexical abbreviations and clipped words possess some peculiarities. They are the following:

- When performing syntactical functions of ordinary words they take on grammatical inflections: exams, MPs.

- They may be used with articles: a bike, the BBC.

- They may be combined with derivational affixes and used in compounding: M.Pess (woman – member of Parliament), hanky from handkerchief

- Clipped words are characteristic of colloquial speech, lexical abbreviations are used in written speech.

7. Back Formation

Back formation or back derivation is a term of diachronistic linguistics. It implies the inferring of a short word from a long one. If we take, for example, the word speaker we reasonably connect it with the verb to speak. The existence of a derivative speaker suggests that the basic word speak also exists. Now, if speaker is correlated to speak, then editor must have the basis, edit too. But historically speaking, things are different.

There are words in English which owe their origin to one part of a word being mistaken for some derivative suffix or more rarely a prefix. A word of this kind has often been supposed to imply the existence of a primary word from which it has been derived. Similarly, the new verb to burgle has been created from burglar, evidently through reinterpretation on the analogy to the lie from liar. Further examples of back formation are: to hush from husht, to pettifog from pettifogger, to audit from auditor, to peeve from peevish. These examples show that simple, derived words were formed from other root lexical units by means of splitting the root.

Back formation may be also based on the analogy of inflectional forms as testified by the singular nouns pea and cherry. Pea (Plural peas) is from ME pese < OE pise< Lat. pisa, Plural pesum. The ending s being the most frequent mark of the plural in English, English speakers thought that sweet peas(e) was a plural and turned peas(e)(soup into pea soup. Cherry is from OFr. cherise and the se was dropped for exactly the same reason.

At the present time back formation is applied intentionally. At the beginning of the 19th century to diddle appeared by means of back formation from the surname Jeremy Diddler (the character in J.Kenney’s work “Raising the Wind”. At the beginning of the 20th century the verb to maffick appeared under the influence of the spirit which was in London during Anglo-boerish war after the town Mafeking yielded.

Back formation is held due to the rules of the development of the English language. It is not by chance that such words as to beg, to peeve, to resurrect were formed on the analogy of the existing word-building pattern.

8. Blending

The term blending is used to designate the method of merging parts of words (not morphemes) into one new word. The result of it is a blend, also known as a portmanteau word. It was Lewis Carroll , the author of the well-known book “Alice in Wonderland”, who called such creations portmanteau words and described them as words into which two meanings are packed like in a portmanteau.

We always look for a way of saving time. This explains the growing popularity of blends. Why use two words if one will do? If, for example, you get up too late for breakfast and too early for lunch you can have brunch. If a state decides to execute a criminal with the aid of electricity it electrocutes him. A telegram sent by cable is a cablegram. The astronaut has a tool, a space hammer, which is known as spammer. News that is broadcast is a newscast. If фрукт is added to йогурт you will get фругурт.

Many blends are short-lived. A fair proportion has become established in the vocabulary. In most cases blends belong to the colloquial layer of the vocabulary sometimes bordering on slang: slanguage = slang + language, pollutician = pollute + politician.

The process when the final part of one word and the initial part of another coincide is called telescoping because the words seem to slide into one another like sections of a telescope: infanticipate = infant + anticipate.

9. Sound Interchange

Another term for sound interchange is gradation. It is the feature that is characteristic of all Indo-European languages. In English sound interchange used to play a certain role in word-building: sit – sat, fall – fell. Vowel interchange is the most widespread case: food – feed, tooth – teeth, стіл – стола. Consonant interchange is a more rare case: advice – advise, сів - сіла. In other cases both vowel and consonant interchange takes place: bath – to bathe, grass – to graze, сидіти - село. Sometimes sound interchange is accompanied by affixation: deep – depth, long – length.

10. Stress Interchange

Many English verbs of Latin-French origin are distinguished from the corresponding nouns by the position of the stress: 'conduct – to con'duct, 'present – to pre'sent, 'export – to ex'port, 'import – to im'port. Stress interchange is not restricted to pairs of words consisting of a noun and a verb. Adjectives and adverbs can undergo this process: 'frequent - to fre'quent, 'absent – to ab'sent. Stress distinction is, however, neither productive nor regular. There are many denominal verbs that are forestressed and thus homonymous with the corresponding nouns: 'figure – to 'figure, 'programme – to 'programme. There is a large group of disyllabic loan words that retain the stress on the second syllable both in nouns and verbs: ac'count – to ac'count, de'feat – to de'feat.

In the Ukrainian language homonyms can also be formed by means of stress interchange: до'рога – доро'га, дере'вина – дереви'на.

It is worth noting that stress alone, unaccompanied by any other differentiating factor, does not seem to provide a very effective means of distinguishing words and that is, probably, the reason why oppositions of this kind are neither regular nor productive.

11. Sound Imitation

Other terms for sound imitation are onomatopoeia and echoism. Words coined by this type of word building are made by imitating different kinds of sounds that may be produced by animals, birds, human beings and inanimate objects.

Dogs bark, cocks cock-a-doodle-doo, ducks quack, frogs croak, cats mew (miaow, meow), cows moo (low). Гав-гав, кукуріку, кря-кря, ква-ква, мяу: промовляють українські тварини та птахи.

There is a hypothesis that sound imitation as a way of word building should be viewed as something much wider than just the production of words by the imitation of purely acoustic phenomena. Some scholars suggest that words may imitate through their sound form certain acoustic features and qualities of inanimate objects, actions or that the meaning of the word can be regarded as the immediate relation of the sound group to the object. If a young chicken or kitten is described as fluffy there seems to be something in the sound of the adjective that conveys softness. To glance, to glide, to slide, to slip convey the meaning of an easy movement over a slippery surface. To rush, to dash, to flash render the meaning of brevity, swiftness.

Some scholars have given serious consideration to this theory. However, it has not yet been properly developed.


1. Semasiology as a branch of Linguistics.

2. The word and its meaning.

3. Types of meaning.

4. Polysemy of English and Ukrainian words.

5. The main semantic processes.

1. Semasiology as a Branch of Linguistics

The branch of the study of language concerned with the meaning of words and word equivalents is called semasiology. The name comes from the Greek word semasia meaning signification. As semasiology deals not with every kind of meaning but with the lexical meaning only, it may be regarded as a branch of Lexicology.

This does not mean that a semasiologist need not pay attention to the grammatical meaning. On the contrary, the grammatical meaning must be taken into consideration in so far as it bears a specific influence upon the lexical meaning.

If treated diachronically, semasiology studies the change in meaning which words undergo. Descriptive synchronic approach demands a study not of individual words but of semantic structures typical of the language studied and of its general semantic system.

Sometimes the words semasiology and semantics are used indiscriminately. They are really synonyms but the word semasiology has one meaning, the word semantics has several meanings.

Academic or pure semantics is a branch of mathematical logic originated by Carnap. Its aim is to build an abstract theory of relationships between signs and their referents. It is a part of semiotics – the study of signs and languages in general, including all sorts of codes (traffic signals, military signals). Unlike linguistic semantics which deals with real languages, pure semantics has as its subject formalised language.

Semasiology is one of the youngest branches of linguistics, although the objects of its study have attracted the attention of philosophers and grammarians since the times of antiquity. A thousand years before our era Chinese scholars were interested in semantic change. We find the problems of word and notion relationship discussed in the works of Plato and Aristotle and the famous grammarian Panini.

For a very long period of time the study of meaning formed part of philosophy, logic, psychology, literary criticism and history of the language.

Semasiology came into its own in the 1830’s when a German scholar Karl Reisig, lecturing in classical philology, suggested that the studies of meaning should be regarded as an independent branch of knowledge. Reisig’s lectures were published by his pupil F. Heerdegen in 1839 some years after Reisig’s death. At that time, however, they produced but little stir. It was Michel Breal, a Frenchman, who played a decisive part in the creation and development of the new science. His book “Essai de semantique” (Paris, 1897) became widely known and was followed by a considerable number of investigations and monographs on meaning not only in France, but in other countries as well.

The treatment of meaning throughout the 19th century and in the first decade of the 20th was purely diachronistic. Attention was concentrated upon the process of semantic change and the part semantic principles should play in etymology. Semasiology was even defined at that time as a science dealing with the changes in word meaning, their causes and classification. The approach was “atomistic”, i.e. semantic changes were traced and described for isolated words without taking into account the interrelation of structures existing within each language. Consequently, it was impossible for this approach to formulate any general tendencies peculiar to the English language.

As to the English vocabulary, the accent in its semantic study, primarily laid upon philosophy, was in the 19th century shifted to lexicography. The Golden age of English Lexicography began in the middle of the 19th century, when the tremendous work on the many volumes of the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language on Historical Principles was carried out. The English scholars R.C. Trench, J. Murray, W. Skeat constantly reaffirmed the primary importance of the historical principle, and at the same time elaborated the contextual principle. They were firmly convinced that the complete meaning of a word is always contextual, and no study of meaning apart from a complete context can be taken seriously.

Since that time indications of semantic change were found by comparing the contexts of words in older written records and in contemporary usage, and also by studying different meanings of cognate words in related languages.

In the 20th century the progress of semasiology was uneven. The 1930’s were said to be the most crucial time in its whole history. After the work of F. de Saussure the structural orientation came to the forefront of semasiology when Jost Trier, a German philologist, offered his theory of semantic fields, treating semantic phenomena historically and within a definite language system at a definite period of its development.

In the list of current ideas stress is being laid upon synchronic analysis in which present-day linguists make successful efforts to profit by structuralist procedures combined with mathematical statistics and symbolic logic.

2. The Word and its Meaning

There are broadly speaking two schools of thought in present-day linguistics representing the main lines of contemporary thinking on the problem: the referential approach which seeks to formulate the essence of meaning by establishing the interdependence between words and things or concepts they denote, and the functional approach, which studies the functions of a word in speech and is less concerned with what meaning is than with how it works.

All major works on semantic theory have so far been based on referential concepts of meaning. The essential feature of this approach is that it distinguishes between the three components closely connected with meaning: the sound form of the linguistic sign, the concept underlying this sound form and the referent, i.e. that part or that aspect of reality to which the linguistic sign refers. The best known referential model of meaning is the so-called “basic triangle”.



As can be seen from the diagram the sound form of the linguistic sign, e.g. [teibl] , is connected with our concept of the piece of furniture which it denotes and through it with the referent, i.e. the actual table. The common feature of any referential approach is the implication that meaning is in some form or other connected with the referent.

Meaning and Sound Form

The sound form of the word is not identical with its meaning, e.g. [d v] is the sound form used to denote a pearl-grey bird. There are no inherent connections, however, between this particular sound cluster and the meaning of the word dove. The connections are conventional and arbitrary. This can be easily proved by comparing the sound forms of different languages conveying the same meaning: стіл- стол- table – tisch.

It can also be proved by comparing almost identical sound forms that possess different meanings in different languages. E.g.: [ ni:s] - a daughter of a brother or a sister (English); ніс - a part of a face (Ukrainian).

For more convincing evidence of the conventional and arbitrary nature of the connection between sound form and meaning all we have to do is to point to homonyms. The word case means something that has happened and case also means a box, a container.

Besides, if meaning were inherently connected with the sound form of a linguistic unit, it would follow that a change in the sound form of the word in the course of its historical development does not necessarily affect its meaning.

Meaning and Concept

When we examine a word we see that its meaning though closely connected with the underlying concept or concepts is not identical with them.

Concept is the category of human cognition. Concept is the thought of the object that singles out its essential features. Our concepts reflect the most common and typical features of different objects. Being the result of abstraction and generalisation all concepts are thus almost the same for the whole of humanity in one and the same period of its historical development. That is to say, words expressing identical concepts in English and Ukrainian differ considerably.

e.g.: The concept of the physical organism is expressed in English by the word body, in Ukrainian by тіло, but the semantic range of the English word is not identical with that of Ukrainian. The word body is known to have developed a number of secondary meanings and may denote: a number of persons and things, a collective whole (the body of electors) as distinguished from the limbs and the head; hence, the main part as of an army, a structure of a book (the body of a book). As it is known, such concepts are expressed in Ukrainian by other words.

The difference between meaning and concept can also be observed by comparing synonymous words and word-groups expressing the same concepts but possessing a linguistic meaning which is felt as different in each of the units under consideration.

e.g.: - to fail the exam, to come down, to muff;

- to be ploughed, plucked, pipped.

Meaning and Referent

Meaning is linguistic whereas the denoted object or the referent is beyond the scope of language. We can denote the same object by more than one word of a different meaning.

e.g.: a table can be denoted by the words table, a piece of furniture, something, this as all these words may have the same referent.

Meaning cannot be equated with the actual properties of the referent. The meaning of the word water cannot be regarded as identical with its chemical formula H2O as water means essentially the same to all English speakers including those who have no idea of its chemical composition.

Among the adherents of the referential approach there are some who hold that the meaning of a linguistic sign is the concept underlying it, and consequently they substitute meaning for concept in the basic triangle. Others identify meaning with the referent. Meaning is closely connected but not identical with the sound form, concept or referent. Yet, even those who accept this view disagree as to the nature of meaning. Some linguists regard meaning as the interrelation of the three points of the triangle within the framework of the given language, but not as an objectively existing part of the linguistic sign. Others proceed from the basic assumption of the objectivity of language and meaning and understand the linguistic sign as a two-facet unit. They view meaning as a certain reflection in our mind of objects, phenomena or relations that makes part of the linguistic sign – its so-called inner facet, whereas the sound form functions as its outer facet.

Functional Approach to Meaning

The functional approach maintains that a linguistic study of meaning is the investigation of the relation of sign to sign only. In other words, they hold the view that the meaning of a linguistic unit may be studied only through its relation to either concept or referent.

e.g.: We know that the meaning of the two words a step and to step is different because they function in speech differently. To step may be followed by an adverb, a step cannot, but it may be proceeded by an adjective.

The same is true of the different meanings of the same word. Analysing the function of a word in linguistic contexts and comparing these contexts, we conclude that meanings are different (or the same): to take a tram, taxi as opposed to to take to somebody. Hence, meaning can be viewed as the function of distribution.

When comparing the two approaches described above we see that the functional approach should not be considered as alternative, but rather a valuable complement to the referential theory. There is absolutely no need to set the two approaches against each other; each handles its own side of the problem and neither is complete without the other.

3. Types Of Meaning

The two main types of meaning are the grammatical and lexical meanings.

Grammatical Meaning

We notice, for example, that word-forms such as tables, chairs, bushes though denoting widely different objects of reality have something in common. This common element is the grammatical meaning of plurality.

Thus, grammatical meaning may be defined as the component of meaning recurrent in identical sets of individual forms of different words. e.g.: the tense meaning in the word-forms of verbs (asked, spoke) or the case meaning in the word-forms of various nouns (the girl’s, the night’s).

In modern linguistic science it is commonly held that some elements of grammatical meaning can be identified by their distribution. The word-forms asks, speaks have the same grammatical meaning as they can all be found in identical distribution (e.g. only after the pronouns he, she but before such adverbs and phrases as yesterday, last month, etc.). It follows that a certain component of the meaning of a word is described when you identify it as a part of speech, since different parts of speech are distributionally different. The part-of-speech meaning of the words that possesses but one form, as prepositions, is observed only in their distribution (cf: to come in (here) and in (on, under) the table.

Lexical Meaning

Unlike the grammatical meaning this component of meaning is identical in all the forms of the word. e.g.: the words write – writes – wrote – written possess different grammatical meanings of tense, person but in each of these forms we find the same semantic component denoting the process of putting words on the paper. This is the lexical meaning of the word which may be described as a linguistic unit recurrent in all the forms of the word and in all possible distributions of these forms.

The difference between the lexical and the grammatical component of meaning is not to be sought in the difference of the concepts underlying the two types of meaning rather in the way they are conveyed. The concept of plurality, for example, may be expressed by the lexical meaning of the word plurality. It may also be expressed in the forms of different words irrespective of their lexical meaning (girls, boards).

The interrelation of the lexical and the grammatical meaning and the role played by each varies in different word classes and even in different groups of words within one and the same class. In some parts of speech the prevailing component is the grammatical type of meaning. The lexical meaning of prepositions is, as a rule, relatively vague (to think of somebody, independent of somebody, some of the students). The lexical meaning of some prepositions is however comparatively distinct (in, on, under the table).

The lexical meaning of the word can be of two types: denotational and connotational.

One of the functions of the words is to denote things, concepts, etc. Users of a language cannot have any knowledge or thought of the objects or phenomena of the real world around them unless this knowledge is ultimately embodied in words which have essentially the same meaning for all speakers of that language. This is the denotational meaning, i.e. that component of the lexical meaning which makes communication possible. There is no doubt that a doctor knows more about pneumonia than a dancer does but they use the word and understand each other.

The second component of the lexical meaning is the connotational component which has some stylistic value of the word, the emotive charge.

Words contain an element of emotive evaluation as part of the connotational meaning. The word hovel denotes a small house or cottage and besides implies that it is a miserable dwelling place, dirty, in bad repair and unpleasant to live in.

Many connotations associated with names of animals, birds, insects are universally understood and used.

e.g.: calf (теля)– a young inexperienced person;

donkey (осел)– a foolish person;

monkey (мавпа)– a mischievous child;

serpent (змія)– a treacherous, malicious person.

But it should be mentioned here that different peoples structure the world differently. E.g.: the word bug has such figurative meanings in the English language as a crazy, foolish person and an enthusiast, the word shark means a swindler. In the Ukrainian language the words жук and акула do not have such meanings. Sometimes words in different languages can have different meanings. E.g.: the word gull means a fool, a swindler, in the Ukrainian language the word чайка can be applied to a woman or a girl. The word hawk possesses a negative meaning in the English language (a deceiver), the word сокіл is applied to a handsome and strong young man.

Metals possess well-established connotations, derived from their individual qualities. The word gold is associated with great worth. Iron and steel connote strength, brass - audacity, lead – sluggishness or weight.

Words may also contain an element of emotive force as part of the connotational meaning. This is in fact one of the objective semantic features proper to some words as linguistic units and forming part of the connotative value. Such are, for example, stylistically coloured words synonymous with their neutral counterparts: child – kid – kiddie; girl – lass – girlie – lassie.

In interjections this meaning is known to prevail.

We must naturally distinguish between the emotive element as inherent in some words forming part of the connotation and the subjective use of words that are not otherwise emotionally coloured.

In actual speech expressive nuances may be obtained in different ways. In various contexts, linguistic or situational, words devoid of any emotive element may be endowed with a distinct expressive function depending on the speaker’s attitude towards his interlocutor or to the thing spoken about.

There are some other types of lexical meaning. They are abstract and concrete (hope, love - window, book); primary and secondary (wall of the room - wall of misunderstanding); bookish and colloquial (young man - chap, lad).

4. Polysemy of Words

A word that has more than one meaning in the language is called polysemantic. Its meanings form its semantic structure. It is an organised set of recurrent variants and shades of meaning a given sound complex can assume in different contexts, together with their emotional colouring, stylistic peculiarities and other typical connotations, if any. The semantic structure of the word is a fact of language, not of speech. It is developed and fixed in the course of the history of the language.

Since the number of lexical units is not necessarily increased with the appearance of new ideas and objects it is usually achieved by making an already existing word do this work. Change of meaning is a commonplace and indeed it would appear to be fundamental in the living language.

Examples to illustrate the statement are not far to seek. When watches were invented no new words were invented to denote this object and its parts. The word face meaning front part of a human head was made to serve as the name of the front part of the watch where all the changes of time were shown; the word hand meaning part of a human body used to work and indicate things with was made to serve as the name of the indicator.

Or the Ukrainian word лінія – вузька смужка, що тягнеться на якій-небудь поверхні. Closely connected with it are the following meanings: уявна смужка (лінія горизонту), шлях (трамвайна лінія), послідовний ряд кровно споріднених осіб (по материнській лінії), спосіб дії (лінія поведінки).

Thus words develop plurality of meanings, or, in other words, become polysemantic.

In polysemantic words we are faced not with the problem of the analysis of different meanings but primarily with the problem of interrelation and interdependence of the various meanings in the semantic structure of the same word.

Some questions can arise in this connection.

- Are all meanings equally representative of the semantic structure of the word?

- Is the order in which the meanings are enumerated in dictionaries purely arbitrary or does it reflect the comparative value of individual meanings, the place they occupy in the semantic structure of the word?

The most objective criterion of the comparative value of individual meanings seems to be the frequency of their occurrence in speech.

Of great importance is the stylistic stratification of meanings of a polysemantic word as not only words but individual meanings too may differ in their stylistic reference. The stylistic status of monosemantic words is easily perceived.

e.g.: daddy can be referred to the colloquial stylistic layer, the word parent – to bookish.

Polysemantic words as a rule cannot be given any much restrictive labels. There is nothing colloquial or slangy about the word jerk in the meaning of a sudden movement or stopping of movement. But when jerk is used in the meaning of an odd person it is slangy.

Stylistically neutral words are more frequent.

It should be mentioned that some meanings are representative of the word in isolation, i.e. they invariably occur to us when we hear the word or see it written. Other meanings come to the fore only when the word is used in certain contexts. The meaning or meanings representative of the semantic structure of the word and least dependent on context are described as free or denominative meanings.

By the word context we understand the minimal stretch of speech determining each individual meaning of the word.

The meaning or meanings of polysemantic words observed only in certain contexts may be viewed as determined either by linguistic (lexical and grammatical or verbal) or extra-linguistic (non-verbal) contexts.

In lexical contexts of primary importance are the lexical groups combined with the polysemantic word under consideration.

e.g.: The verb to take in isolation has the meaning to lay hold of with the hands, grasp, seize. When combined with the lexical group of words denoting some means of transportation (to take a bus, a train) it acquires the meaning synonymous with the meaning of the verb to go. The meanings determined by lexical contexts are sometimes referred to as lexically or phraseologically bound meanings which implies that such meanings are to be found only in certain lexical contexts.

In grammatical contexts it is the grammatical (mainly the syntactic) structure of the context that serves to determine various individual meanings of a polysemantic word.

e.g.: One of the meanings of the verb to make (to force, to induce) is found only in the grammatical context possessing the structure make + N+Infinitive ( to make somebody do something). Another meaning to become is observed when make is followed by an adjective or noun (to make a good teacher) . Such meanings are sometimes described as grammatically or structurally bound meanings.

In a number of contexts, however, we find that both the lexical and the grammatical aspect should be taken into consideration. If, for example, we compare the contexts of different grammatical structures (to take+N and to take to+N) we can assume that they represent different meanings of the verb to take, but it is only when we specify the lexical context, i.e. the lexical group with which the verb is combined in the structure to take+N (to take tea, books, a bus) that we can say that the context determines the meaning.

The same pattern to take+N may represent different meanings of the verb to take dependent mainly on the lexical group of the nouns with which it is combined.

There are cases when the meaning of the word is ultimately determined not by linguistic factors but by the actual speech situation in which this word is used. The meaning of the phrase I’ve got it is determined not only by the grammatical or lexical context but by the actual speech situation. To get may mean to possess or to understand.

Monosemantic words are comparatively rare in the English language. These are pronouns and numerals. The greatest number of monosemantic words can be found among terms, the very nature of which requires precision. But even here we must mention that terms are monosemantic only within one branch of science.

e.g.: to dress – to bandage a wound (medical terminology);

to dress – to prepare the earth for sowing (terminology of agriculture);

to dress – to decorate with flags (naval terminology).

Words belonging to the most active, vitally important and widely used part of the English vocabulary are generally polysemantic.

5. The Main Semantic Processes

Extension of meaning means extension of the word range. In most cases it is naturally combined with a higher degree of abstraction than implied in the earlier meaning of the word.

Most words begin as specific names for things. however, this precise denotation is lost ant the meaning of the word gets extended and generalised.

e.g.: Season once had the meaning spring, time for sowing. Now it embraces all parts of the year.

Salary once had the meaning the money to buy salt for. Now it means money to buy anything.

Thing once meant anything that can be agreed on in trade. Now it has a generic meaning.

Town once meant fence. Now it denotes a settlement.

Arrive once meant to land, to reach the shore. Now any place of destination is presupposed.

Free once meant dear. Then according to the process of generalisation it acquired the meaning free. At first it was used in regard to someone from the family of a slave-owner, who he loved and respected. Then it was applied to any relative of a slave-owner. The opposition – free and slave – brought to the extension and change of meaning of the word.

Стріляти meant випускати стрілу. Now it is used in a broader sense.

Столяр meant той, що виготовляє столи. Now it means той, хто виготовляє вироби з дерева.

Поле meant порожній великий простір. Now it means ділянка землі відведена під що-небудь, простір, у межах якого відбувається якась дія, сфера діяльності, смужка вздовж краю аркуша паперу, відігнуті краї капелюха.

Narrowing of meaning is the process when a word acquires a specialised sense in which it is applicable only to some of the objects it had previously denoted or a word of wide usage is restricted in its application and comes to be used only in a special sense.

e.g.: In Shakespeare’s „King Lear“ there is a reference made to mice and rats and such small deer. In Old English deer meant any beast.

Coffin once meant a box. Then it began to mean a special box for the dead.

These are the cases in which narrowing took place due to the concretization of meaning. Sometimes narrowing takes place due to the differentiation of concepts. This is the case when two words were synonyms once and then they acquired different meanings.

e.g.: Stool once meant табурет і стілець. After the word chair was borrowed from French, the word stool began to be used only for табурет.

Attributes when used continuously with a word may lead to the narrowing of meaning: corn (Indian corn), private (private soldier).

Narrowing can take place when the name of the material is transferred onto the thing made of this material: iron, kids.

It is a well-known fact that people tend to specialise and thus to narrow the meanings of words connected with their special activities.

e.g.: The word operation(операція) has quite different meanings to a financial worker, to a mathematician, to a military man and to a physician.

Печиво meant усе спечене з борошна. Now it means кондитерські вироби з борошна.

Квас meant усе кисле. Now the word means кислуватий напій з житнього хліба або житнього борошна.

Elevation of meaning presupposes the following thing. Words often rise from humble beginnings to positions of greater importance. Such changes are not always easy to account for in detail, but, on the whole, we may say that social changes are of the very first importance with words that acquire better meanings.

Some highly complimentary words were originally applied to things of comparatively slight importance.

e.g.: Fame meant news (good or bad). Now it means glory.

Nice meant foolish. The word was gradually specialised in the sense foolishly particular about trifles. Then the idea of folly was lost and particular about small things, accurate came into existence.

To adore had the meaning to speak with, to greet, to address. Now it means to love, to worship.

The words офіс, менеджмент, кур’єр are considered to have better meanings than контора, управління, посильний.

Degradation of meaning is the process whereby for one reason or another a word falls into disrepute. Words once respectable may become less respectable. Some words reach such a low point that it is considered improper to use them at all.

e.g.: Idiot meant private in Greek and uneducated in Latin. Now it has a negative meaning of a fool in both languages.

Greedy meant hungry. Now it means stingy.

Villain meant a person living in the country. Now it means a scoundrel.

Metaphor is a transfer of name based on the association of similarity and thus is actually a hidden comparison. It presents a method of description which likens one thing to another by referring to it as if it were some other one. In actual usage the motivation of the word meaning may be obscured or completely lost. The latter leads to the development of the so-called fossilised or trite metaphors by origin. Fossilised metaphors belong to the vocabulary of a given language as a system. In such cases the connection between the original and transferred word meaning is lost. Such transpositions may lead to a complete semantic change of a word, wherein the secondary figuratively derived meaning becomes, in fact, primary. The word metaphor itself is a metaphor, meaning to carry over, across a term or expression from its normal usage to another.

Metaphors may be created on the similarity of different physical properties, such as:

- similarity of shape : needle’s eye, table’s leg; вушко голки, павутина доріг;

- similarity of size: midget, elephantine; карликовий;

- similarity of colour: orange, violet; трояндовий, бузковий;

- similarity of function: hand, finger-post; рушниця стріляє, металеве перо;

- similarity of position: back of the chair, foot of the mountain; підніжжя гори;

- similarity of firmness: egg-shell china, steel resolution; метал у голосі.

It must be borne in mind that linguistic metaphor is different from metaphor as a literary device. When the latter is offered and accepted both the author and the reader are to a greater or lesser degree aware that this reference is figurative, that the object has another name. The relationship of the direct denotative meaning of the word and the meaning it has in the literary context in question is based on the similarity of some features in the objects compared. The poetic metaphor is the result of the author’s creative imagination. In a linguistic metaphor, especially if it is dead as a result of long usage, the thing named often has no other name. In a dead metaphor the comparison is completely forgotten. The meaning of such expressions as a sun beam or beam of light are not explained by allusions to a tree, although the word is actually derived from Old English beam (tree).

One can speak of different degrees of deadness as it were taking for illustration such metaphors as to ruminate (to think), originally applied to a cow’s cud chewing or, say, such metaphors as time flies, a cold look which are quite faded. Such adjective metaphors as orange, violet are no longer felt as figurative.

Metonymy is a device in which the name of one thing is changed for that of another to which it is related by association of ideas as having close relationship to one another. The simplest case of metonymy is synecdoche. Synecdoche means giving a part for the whole or vice versa.

e.g.: foot (infantry), town may be applied to the inhabitants of it. The word violin is often used to denote not the instrument but the musician who plays it.

In the Ukrainian language the examples of synecdoche can be represented by the following examples: носа не показувати, роботящі руки, білява куделя оглянулася.

Faded metonymy can be found in the political vocabulary when the place of some establishment is used not only for the establishment itself or its staff but also for its policy: the White House, the Pentagon, Інститут святкує своє десятиріччя.

Other examples of metonymy include:

1. The sign for the thing signified: grey hair (old age).

2. The instrument for the agent: the best pens of the day (the best writers).

Він – перша скрипка.

3. The container for the thing contained: He drank a cup. Чайник закипів.

4. The names of various organs can be used in the same way: head can be used for brains; heart often stands for emotions. Honey tongue, a heart of gall.У неї золоте серце.

5. A part of species substituted for a whole or genus: He manages to earn his bread (the necessaries of life).

6. A whole or genus substitutes for a part or species: He is a poor creature (man). Він – бідне створіння.

7. The name of the material which stands for the thing made of this material: iron, kid, фарфор, фаянс.

Due to a great variety of associations there are a lot of cases where metonymy is disguised.

e.g.: sandwich is named after John Montague, earl of Sandwich, who invented this kind of meal;

champagne – a white sparkling wine made in the province of Champagne (France);

nicotine – a poisonous alkaloid which got its name after Jean Nicot, who introduced tobacco into France.


  1. Synonyms

  1. the definition of synonyms;

  2. classifications of synonyms;

  3. sources of synonymy;

d) criteria of synonymy.

2. Antonyms

  1. the definition of antonyms;

  2. classifications of antonyms;

  3. criteria of antonyms.

  1. Homonyms

  1. the definition of homonyms;

  2. sources of homonymy;

  3. classifications of homonyms.

  1. Synonyms

  1. The Definition of Synonyms

Grouping of words is based upon similarities and contrasts. Taking up similarity of meaning and contrasts of phonetic shape we observe that every language has in its vocabulary a variety of words kindred in meaning but different in morphemic composition, phonemic shape and usage. The more developed the language is, the richer the diversity and therefore the greater the possibilities of lexical choice enhancing the effectiveness and precision of speech.

Synonyms can be defined as two or more words of the same language, belonging to the same part of speech and possessing one or more identical or nearly identical denotational meanings, interchangeable at least in some contexts, without any alteration on the denotational meaning, but differing in the morphemic composition, phonemic shape, shades of meaning, connotations, affective value, style, valency and idiomatic use.

The words to annoy, to vex, to irk, to bother are synonyms. To annoy, to vex may mean both a non-intentional influence and an intentional one. To irk, to bother presuppose only the intentional influence. To annoy is a neutral word. To vex has a stronger shade. To bother presupposes the slightest reaction. The denotational meaning of all these words is the same: to make somebody a little angry by especially repeated acts. As it is seen from the example the synonymic group comprises a dominant element. This is the synonymic dominant, the most general term of its kind potentially containing the specific features rendered by all the other members of the group. Or in the Ukrainian language the word бридкий is a synonymic dominant in the synonymic row: бридкий, огидний, гидкий, потворний, осоружний, негарний.

The majority of English words are polysemantic. The result of it is that one and the same word may belong in its various meanings to several synonymic groups.

e.g.: to appear may have the synonyms, to emerge, to come into sight and to look, to seem.

b) Classifications of Synonyms

Absolute synonyms are very rare in the language. They are mostly different names for one and the same plant, animal, disease etc.

e.g.: luce – pike, compounding – composition, castor – beaver, алфавіт – абетка, буква – літера, процент – відсоток, площа – майдан, нагідки – календула.

In the course of time absolute synonyms come to have either a different shade of meaning or different usage. If two words exactly coincide in meaning and use the natural tendency is for one of them to change its meaning or drop out of the language.

Ideographic synonyms differ from each other in shades of meaning. Synonyms of this kind are very numerous in the English language. In such synonyms we can easily find the general and the particular. The general connects such synonyms into one group, makes them representatives of one concept whereas the particular allows every synonym of the group to stress a certain feature of the concept. Thus all the synonyms express the concept in all its many-sided variety and completeness.

Not all ideographic synonyms are of the same kind. We can distinguish between those which are very close in their meanings (horrible – terrible, screech – shriek), synonyms which differ in meaning considerably. Thus, interpreter and translator denote the same concept of a person rendering the expressions of one language into the expressions of another but the oral side of the work is associated with the interpreter whereas the translator is connected with writing. Both ladder and stairs denote a set of parallel bars used for climbing up but ladder is associated with a rope contrivance or a portable device consisting of two beams crossed by a set of parallel bars while stairs represents a permanent arrangement mostly within a building, of blocks of wood or slabs of marble joined to form a long series of steps, stairway or staircase.

Among verbs we find ideographic synonyms which differ in the manner of the action expressed by the verb: to look (the synonymic dominant), to glance (to look quickly), to gaze (to look with surprise, curiosity), to stare (to look fixedly), to regard (to look attentively), to view (to look searchingly), to eye (to look from head to foot), to peep (to look stealthily).

Synonyms can differ in the degree of a given quality, in the intensity of the action performed or the intensity of the emotions: to want – to desire – to long for; to ask – to beg – to pray; to work – to toil – to slave.

Synonyms can also differ in the emotional colouring: big – great; boy – lad.

Synonyms can differ in the volume of the concept they express: border – frontier. Border is wider in meaning than frontier for the latter means mostly a state border whereas border is any limit, edge, etc. Happy is wider than lucky which implies only happy circumstances attending one’s undertakings.

There are synonyms where one expresses continuity of action or state while the other expresses a momentary action of the same nature: to speak – to say; to remember – to memorise.

Ukrainian scholars call such synonyms semantic: хата – дім – будинок, череда – отара – зграя.

Stylistic synonyms do not differ in shades of their common meaning. They differ in usage and style: doctor (official) – doc (familiar); to commence (official) – to begin (neutral). They also show the attitude of the speaker towards the event, object or process described: to die – to depart, to expire – to kick the bucket; говорити – балакати, базікати; ходити – шкандибати, дибати, пхатися, читальний зал – читалка, здібний – кмітливий.

Ukrainian scholars distinguish between semantic-stylistic synonyms: архітектор – зодчий.

Phraseological synonyms are those which do not necessarily differ materially in their meanings or stylistic value. They differ in their combinative power. Thus, in such groups as few – little, many – much we can speak not so much of any immediate difference in the meanings of words as of their difference in application (much time – little water; many children – much air). We say a sunny day, a moonlit night but we should use the solar system, a lunar eclipse.

Phraseological synonyms can replace each other in some combinations but are not interchangeable in others. Use and benefit are synonyms in such expressions as public use, public benefit whereas they are no longer synonyms and cannot replace each other in expressions like I have no use for such books, or He was given the benefit of the doubt. Перед, напередодні cease to be synonyms if they are used in the context: перед мостом, напередодні свята.

Contextual synonyms are similar in meaning only under some specific distributional conditions. The verbs to bear, to suffer and stand are semantically different and not interchangeable except when used in the negative form.

c) Sources of Synonymy

One of the sources of synonymy is borrowings. In Modern English a great number of synonyms serve to differentiate the meanings of words, their colloquial or bookish character. Most of bookish synonyms are of foreign origin, while popular and colloquial words are mostly native. Many native synonyms were either restricted or ousted by foreign terms.

e.g.: The native word heaven has been more and more restricted to the figurative and religious use for the Danish word sky began to be used exclusively in the meaning of the blue above us though originally sky meant only cloud. The Danish word call has ousted the Old English word heitan, the French word army ousted the native word here.

Shifts of meaning can lead to the appearance of synonyms: knave and villain once were not synonyms but their meanings degradated and they became synonyms.

Shortening can result in the appearance of synonyms: advertisement – ad; examination – exam.

Conversion can be a source of synonymy: a corner – to corner.

d) Criteria of synonymy

Notional criterion: Synonyms are words of the same category of parts of speech conveying the same notion but differing either in shades of meaning or in stylistic characteristics.

Semantic criterion: In terms of componential analysis synonyms may be defined as words with the same denotation or the same denotative component but differing in connotations or in the connotative component.

The criterion of interchangeability: Synonyms are words which are interchangeable at least in some contexts without any considerable alteration in the denotational meaning.

2. Antonyms

a) The Definition of Antonyms

Words with diametrically opposite meanings are called antonyms. We find antonyms among words denoting:

- quality: hard – soft; good – bad; здоровий – кволий;

- state: clean – dirty; wealth – poverty; чистий – брудний;

- manner: quickly – slowly; willingly – unwillingly; швидко – повільно;

- direction: up – down; here – there; тут – там;

- action or feeling: to smile – to frown; to love – to hate; любити – ненавидіти;

- features: tall – short; beautiful – ugly; високий – низький.

Words which do not have relative features do not have antonyms.

  1. Classifications of Antonyms

Antonyms can be divided into two groups: those which are formed with the help of negative affixes (derivational) and those which are of different roots. There are affixes in English which impart to the root the meaning of either the presence or the absence of a certain quality, property or state.

The most productive antonym-forming negative prefixes are un- (unhappy, unimportant), mis-(misfortune, misunderstanding). In the Ukrainian language that is the prefix не-(неправда, неволя). The prefix без- is also rather productive: безстрашний, безлад).

Antonym-forming suffixes impart to the word the meaning of the presence or absence of the quality or feature indicated by the root. The most productive antonym-forming suffixes are –ful,-less: fruitful – fruitless; hopeful – hopeless.

The second group (antonyms proper) includes words of different roots: day – night; rich – poor, радість – горе, дружити – ворогувати.

Considered in meaning antonyms can be divided into absolute, phraseological and complex.

Absolute antonyms are diametrically opposite in meaning and remain antonyms in any word-combinations. These are mostly found among negative affix-formed antonyms.

Phraseological antonyms. When they become components of phraseological groups or compound words they sometimes lose their absolutely antonymic nature.

e.g.: to give –to take: to give a book – to take a book but to give way will not have to take way as its antonym.

Phraseological antonyms cannot be used in parallel antonymic expressions indiscriminately. We can say The books are alike - The books are different but we cannot say an alike book though we do say a different book.

Complex antonyms are those polysemantic words that have different antipodes for their various meanings.

e.g.: Soft has such meanings as

- not hard, yielding (soft seat, soft nature);

- not loud, subdued (soft voice, soft colours);

- mild, not severe (soft climate, soft punishment).

Naturally all these meanings will find different words for antipodes:

- hard (hard seat, hard nature);

- loud, harsh (loud voice, harsh colours);

- severe (severe climate, severe punishment).

The Ukrainian word сухий can have the following antonyms: мокрий, м’який, повний, емоційний.

с)Criteria of Antonyms

Antonyms have traditionally been defined as words of opposite meanings. This definition is not sufficiently accurate, as it only shifts the problem to the question of what words may be regarded as words of opposite meanings. Two words are considered antonyms if they are regularly contrasted in actual speech. A regular and frequent co-occurrence in such contexts is the most important characteristic feature of antonyms.

Another criterion is the possibility of substitution and identical lexical valency. Members of the same antonymic pair reveal nearly identical spheres of collocation.

e.g.: The adjective hot in its figurative meanings angry and excited is chiefly combined with unpleasant emotions (anger, scorn) . Its antonym cold occurs with the same words. But hot and cold are used in combinations with the emotionally neutral words fellow, man, but not with the nouns implying positive evaluation friend, supporter.

Antonyms form binary oppositions, the distinctive feature of which is semantic polarity; its basis is regular co-occurrence in typical contexts combined with approximate sameness of distribution and stylistic and emotional equivalence.

  1. Homonyms

  1. The Definition of Homonyms

Considering the word from the viewpoint of its semantic relations with other words we submit to our examination words having the same form but quite differing in meaning or homonyms. Saying the same form we must add that the identity of form may be complete or partial.

There are perfect homonyms, that is words having entirely different meanings but absolutely identical in spelling and sound: ball – м’яч; ball – тюлень; деркач – птах, деркач – віник; бал – вечір танців, бал - оцінка.

Partial homonyms are of two types: homographs and homophones. Homographs are words identical in spelling but different in sound and meaning: bow [bou] – bow [bau], row [rou] – row [rau], о'бід - 'обід, за'мок -'замок. Homophones are the words identical in sound but different in spelling and meaning: knight – night; piece – peace; цеглина – це глина, потри – по три.

c) Classifications of Homonyms

From the viewpoint of their origin homonyms are divided into historical and etymological.

Historical homonyms are those which result from the breaking up of polysemy; then one polysemantic word will split up in two or more separate words.

e.g.: plant (рослина) – plant (завод); pupil (учень) – pupil (зрачок).

But sometimes it is difficult to decide whether all connection between the meanings of such words is lost and even the compilers of dictionaries hesitate how to treat such words.

Etymological homonyms are words of different etymology which come to be alike in sound or spelling. Various causes explain their appearance. Among these phonetical changes both in native and borrowed words played a great role.

e.g.: can (могти) - Old English cunnan (знати);

can (банка) – Old English canne (банка);

here (тут) – Old English her (тут);

to hear (чути) – Old English hieran (чути).

Sometimes a native word and a borrowed word coincide in form, thus producing homonyms.

e.g.: to bark (гавкати) – Old English beorcan and bark (кора дерева) from Scandinavian borkr (баркас). Or the Ukrainian word мул (дрібні частинки у водоймах) coincided with мул (назва тварини, which is a Latin word).

In other cases homonyms are a result of borrowing when several different words became identical in sound and/or in spelling.

e.g.: The Latin word vitim (wrong, an immoral habit) has given the English vice (порок), the Latin word vitis (a spiral) has given the English word vice (лещата). The Latin word vice (instead, in place) is found in vice-president.

In the Ukrainian language the word гриф (міфічна істота, which is a borrowing from Greek), гриф (частина струнного музичного інструмента, a borrowing from German), гриф (штемпель на документі,a borrowing from French).

Considering homonyms in their morphological aspect prof. Smirnitsky classifies them into lexical and lexico-grammatical. Lexical homonyms are of two types: perfect and partial. Perfect homonyms belong to the same part of speech with all forms coinciding: case (випадок) – case (сумка). Partial homonyms belong to the same part of speech but coincide only in some of their forms: to lie -–lay – lain; to lie – lied – lied. Lexico-grammatical homonyms are represented by:

a) words belonging to the same part of speech but homonymic in their grammatical forms (excluding their initial forms): bore -to bore (the Past Indefinite of to bear);

b) words belonging to different parts of speech and homonymic only in some of their forms: I – to eye; nose – knows.


  1. Free and non-free word combinations.

2. Classifications of phraseological units.

3. Synonyms in phraseology.

4. Antonyms in phraseology.

5. Proverbs, sayings.

1. Free and Non-Free Word Combinations

The vocabulary of a language includes not only words but also stable word combinations which also serve as a means of expressing concepts. They are phraseological word equivalents reproduced in speech the way words are reproduced and not created anew in actual speech.

An ordinary word combination is created according to the grammatical rules of the language in accordance with a certain idea. The general meaning of an ordinary free word combination is derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements. Every notional word functions here as a certain member of the sentence. Thus, an ordinary word combination is a syntactical pattern.

A free word combination is a combination in which any element can be substituted by another.

e.g.: I like this idea. I dislike this idea. He likes the idea. I like that idea. I like this thought.

But when we use the term free we are not precise. The freedom of a word in a combination with others is relative as it is not only the syntactical pattern that matters. There are logical limitations too.

The second group of word combinations is semi-free word combinations. They are the combinations in which the substitution is possible but limited.

e.g.: to cut a poor/funny/strange figure.

Non-free word combinations are those in which the substitution is impossible.

e.g.: to come clean, to be in low water.

2. Classifications of Phraseological Units

A major stimulus to intensive studies of phraseology was prof. Vinogradov’s research. The classification suggested by him has been widely adopted by linguists working on other languages. The classification of phraseological units suggested by V.V. Vinogradov includes:

- standardised word combinations, i.e. phrases characterised by the limited combinative power of their components, which retain their semantic independence: to meet the request/requirement, подавати надію, страх бере, зачепити гордість, покласти край;

- phraseological unities, i.e. phrases in which the meaning of the whole is not the sum of meanings of the components but it is based on them and the motivation is apparent: to stand to one’s guns, передати куті меду, прикусити язика, вивести на чисту воду, тримати камінь за пазухою;

- fusions, i.e. phrases in which the meaning cannot be derived as a whole from the conjoined meanings of its components: tit for tat, теревені правити, піймати облизня, викинути коника, у Сірка очі позичити.

Phraseological unities are very often metaphoric. The components of such unities are not semantically independent, the meaning of every component is subordinated to the figurative meaning of the phraseological unity as a whole. The latter may have a homonymous expression - a free syntactical word combination.

e.g.: Nick is a musician. He plays the first fiddle.

It is his wife who plays the first fiddle in the house.

Phraseological unities may vary in their semantic and grammatical structure. Not all of them are figurative. Here we can find professionalisms, coupled synonyms.

A.V. Koonin finds it necessary to divide English phraseological unities into figurative and non-figurative.

Figurative unities are often related to analogous expressions with direct meaning in the very same way in which a word used in its transferred sense is related to the same word used in its direct meaning.

Scientific English, technical vocabulary, the vocabulary of arts and sports have given many expressions of this kind: in full blast; to hit below the belt; to spike smb’s guns.

Among phraseological unities we find many verb-adverb combinations: to look for; to look after; to put down; to give in.

Phraseological fusions are the most synthetical of all the phraseological groups. They seem to be completely unmotivated though their motivation can be unearthed by means of historic analysis.

They fall under the following groups:

Idiomatic expressions which are associated with some obsolete customs: the grey mare, to rob Peter to pay Paul.

Idiomatic expressions which go back to some long forgotten historical facts they were based on: to bell the cat, Damocles’ sword.

Idiomatic expressions expressively individual in their character: My God! My eye!

Idiomatic expressions containing archaic elements: by dint of (dint – blow); in fine (fine – end).

Semantic Classification of Phraseological Units

1. Phraseological units referring to the same notion.

e.g.: Hard work - to burn the midnight oil; to do back-breaking work; to hit the books; to keep one’s nose to the grindstone; to work like a dog; to work one’s fingers to the bone.

Compromise – to find middle ground; to go halfway.

Independence – to be on one’s own; to have a mind of one’s own; to stand on one’s own two feet.

Experience – to be an old hand at something; to know something like the back of one’s palm; to know the rope.Ледарювати – байдики бити, ханьки м’яти, ганяти вітер по вулицях, тинятися з кутка в куток, і за холодну воду не братися.

2. Professionalisms

e.g.: on the rocks; to stick to one’s guns; breakers ahead. 3. Phraseological units having similar components

e.g.: a dog in the manger; dog days; to agree like cat and dog; to rain cats and dogs. To fall on deaf ears; to talk somebody’s ear off; to have a good ear for; to be all ears. To see red; a red herring; a red carpet treatment; to be in the red; з перших рук; як без рук; горить у руках; не давати волі рукам.

4. Phraseological units referring to the same lexico-semantic field.

e.g.: Body parts – to cost an arm and leg; to pick somebody’s brain; to get one’s feet wet; to get off the chest; to rub elbows with; not to have a leg to stand on; to stick one’s neck out; to be nosey; to make a headway; to knuckle down; to shake a leg; to pay through the noser; to tip toe around; to mouth off; без клепки в голові; серце з перцем; легка рука.

Fruits and vegetables – red as a beet; a couch potato; a hot potato; a real peach; as cool as a cucumber; a top banana;гриби після дощу; як горох при дорозі; як виросте гарбуз на вербі.

Animals – sly as a fox; to be a bull in a china shop; to go ape; to be a lucky dog; to play cat and mouse; як з гуски вода, як баран на нові ворота; у свинячий голос; гнатися за двома зайцями.

Structural Classification of Phraseological Units

Еnglish phraseological units can function like verbs (to drop a brick; to drop a line; to go halves; to go shares; to travel bodkin), phraseological units functioning like nouns (brains trust, ladies’ man, phraseological units functioning like adjectives (high and dry, high and low,ill at ease, phraseological units functioning like adverbs (tooth and nail, on guard; by heart, phraseological units functioning like prepositions (in order to; by virtue of), phraseological units functioning like interjections (Good heavens! Gracious me! Great Scot!).

Ukrainian phraseological units can function like nouns (наріжний камінь, біла ворона, лебедина пісня), adjectives ( не з полохливого десятка, не остання спиця в колесі, білими нитками шитий), verbs ( мотати на вус, товкти воду в ступі, ускочити в халепу), adverbs ( не чуючи землі під ногами, кров холоне в жилах, ні в зуб ногою), interjections (цур тобі, ні пуху ні пера, хай йому грець).

Another structural classification was initiated by A.V. Koonin. He singles out Nominative, Nominative and Nominative-Communicative, Interjective, Communicative phraseological units.

Nominative phraseological units are of several types. It depends on the type of dependence. The first one is phraseological units with constant dependence of the elements.

e.g.: the Black Maria; the ace of trumps; a spark in the powder magazine.

The second type is represented by the phraseological units with the constant variant dependence of the elements.

e.g.: dead marines/men; a blind pig/tiger; a good/great deal.

There also exist phraseological units with grammar variants.

e.g.: Procrustes’ bed = the Procrustean bed = the bed of Procrustes.

Another type of the Nominative phraseological units is units with quantitative variants. They are formed with the help of the reduction or adding the elements.

e.g.: the voice of one crying in the wilderness = a voice crying out in the wilderness= a voice crying in the wilderness = a voice in the wilderness.

The next type of the Nominative phraseological units is adjectival phraseological units.

e.g.: mad as a hatter; swift as thought; as like as two peas; fit as a fiddle.

The function of the adverbial phraseological units is that of an adverbial modifier of attendant circumstances.

e.g.: as cool as a cucumber; from one’s cradle to one’s grave; from pillar to post; once in a blue moon.

Nominative and Nominative-Communicative phraseological units are of several types as well. The first type is verbal phraseological units. Verbal phraseological units refer to this type in such cases: a) when the verb is not used in the Passive voice ( to drink like a fish; to buy a pig in a poke; to close one’s eyes on something ; b) if the verb is not used in the Active voice (to be reduced to a shadow; to be gathered to one’s fathers).

Nominative and Nominative-Communicative phraseological units can have lexical variants.

e.g.: to tread/walk on air; to close/shut books; to draw a red herring across the trail/track; to come to a fine/handsome/nice/pretty pass; to sail close/near to the wind; to crook/lift the elbow/the little finger.

Grammar variants are also possible.

e.g.: to get into deep water = to get into deep waters; to pay nature’s debt = to pay the debt of nature.

Examples of quantitative variants can also be found: to cut the Gordian knot = to cut the knot; to lead somebody a dance = to lead somebody a pretty dance.

Lexico-grammar variants are also possible: to close/shut a /the door/doors on/upon/to somebody.

Interjective phraseological units are represented by: by George! By Jove! Good heavens! Gracious me!

Communicative phraseological units are represented by proverbs and sayings.

e.g.: Rome was not built in a day. An apple a day keeps a doctor away. That’s another pair of shoes. More power to your elbow. Carry me out.

3. Synonyms in Phraseology

Synonymy in phraseology has been greatly enriched by various processes of the meaning shift, by the influx of foreign words and phrases.

Absolute synonyms which have the same meaning and connotation are comparatively rare.

e.g.: over head and ears = up to the neck;

a pretty kettle of fish = a nice pair of shoes;

байдики бити – давати горобцям дулі.

Relative synonyms denote different shades of different degrees of common meaning:

e.g.: to come to a conclusion; to jump at a conclusion; to leap at a conclusion.

There is every reason to establish a stylistic differentiation of synonyms. The synonyms of a particular phrase are not always interchangeable with that phrase as their use depends on the linguistic situation, the audience addressed, the speaker’s attitude towards the subject. Some of them are stylistically neutral, others have an emotional connotation. In stylistic synonyms the difference is not so much in the meaning as in the emotional colouring.

e.g.: word of honour (neutral) – as I live by bread (colloquial);

to be in high spirits (neutral) – to be on high ropes (colloquial);

заснути вічним сном (neutral) – простягти ноги (colloquial).

4. Antonyms in Phraseology

Antonyms can be opposed to each other in their concrete meanings.

e.g.: an old sea wolf – a young calf of a mate; вбити собі в голову – викинути з голови, набитий гаманець – вітер у кишенях свистить.

The elements of the phraseological units-antonyms are expressed by the same part of speech.

e.g.: safe and sound – dead and gone; dead from the neck up – as wise as a serpent, макітра розуму – пустий лоб.

It is not investigated yet whether it is possible to use the negative particle not to form an antonym. We can use the negation in to step into somebody’s boots but we cannot use it in the expression to take a leaf from somebody’s book though it has the same meaning. In the Ukrainian language it is possible to use a negation in the following examples: велике цабе – невелике цабе, з легким серцем – з нелегким серцем.

5. Proverbs, Sayings

A proverb is a short familiar epigrammatic saying expressing popular wisdom, the truth or a moral lesson in a concise and imaginative way. Proverbs have much in common with phraseological units because their lexical components are also constant, their meanings are traditional and mostly figurative and they are introduced into speech ready-made. That is why some scholars following V.V. Vinogradov think proverbs must be studied together with phraseological units. Another reason why proverbs must be taken into consideration together with phraseological units is that they often form the basis of phraseological units.

A proverb is always a sentence. Very often they are realised in superphrasal units.

Proverbs may have different contents.

War is condemned: War is sweet to them who know it not. War is the sport of kings.

Fools are laughed at: Fools grow without watering. He who is borne a fool is never cured.

Lazy-bones are criticised: Idleness is the root of all evil.

Proverbs teach to be economical: A penny saved is a penny gained. Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves.

Proverbs teach to work hard: He that will eat the kernel must crack the nut. He that would eat the fruit must climb the tree. He that would catch fish must not mind getting wet. He would search for pearls must dive below.

Grammatical Structure of Proverbs

1. Simple affirmative sentences.

Appetite comes with eating. A cat may look at a king. Money makes the mare go. A little pot is soon hot. The voice of one man is the voice of no one. Друзі пізнаються в біді.

2. Simple negative sentences.

You cannot judge a tree by its bark Plenty is no plague. Hungry bellies have no ears. Нема науки без муки.

3. Compound sentences.

God sends meat and the devil sends cooks. Nothing venture, nothing gain. Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper. За морем тепліше, та вдома миліше. Від меча рана загоїться, а від лихого слова – ніколи.

4. Complex sentences.

He is lifeless that is faultless. He that lies down with/sleeps with dogs must rise up with fleas. If the things were to be done twice all would be wise. As the fool thinks, so the bell clinks. Хто мусить, той і каменя вкусить. Шануй свою голову, бо друга не виросте.

5. Imperative sentences.

Don’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs. Look before you leap. Don’t cross the bridges before you come to them. Не брудни криниці, бо схочеш водиці. Вмієш казати, вмій і мовчати.

6. Interrogative sentences.

Can the leopard change his spots? What can you expect from a hog but a grunt?

A.V.Koonin suggests the following classification of Еnglish proverbs:

  1. Proverbs with the constant dependence of their elements.

They are the most wide-spread. Their characteristic feature is that they are monosemantic.

e.g.: A burnt child dreads the fire. A great ship asks deep waters.

  1. 2. Proverbs with the constant-variant dependence of their elements. Among them there are proverbs with lexical variants.

e.g.: Every cloud has a/its silver lining. The parson/priest always christens his own child first. Rats desert/forsake/leave a sinking ship.

Grammar variants are represented by the following examples: Constant dropping wears away/will wear away a stone. Small rain lays/will lay great dust.

There are proverbs with quantitative variants: First catch your hare then cook him = First catch your hare. There is no rose without a thorn = No rose without a thorn.

Some lexico-grammar variants have been registered: A burden of one’s choice is not felt = The burden one likes is cheerfully borne. Do in Rome as the Romans do = When at Rome do as the Romans do. Still waters run deep = Still waters have deep bottoms. There are spots even in the sun =There are spots on the sun.


Sayings are communicative phrasal units of a non-proverbial character.

They can be represented by affirmative sentences: The answer is a lemon. The world is a small place. That is a horse of another colour. All is fish that comes to his net. Часом густо, а часом і пусто. Сорока на хвості принесла.

Interrogative sentences: Do you see any green in my eye? What’s the good word? Where do you hail from?

Negative sentences: Не нашого поля ягода. Не святі горшки ліплять.

Imperative sentences: Carry me out! Put that in your pipe and smoke it!


1. The native element and borrowed words.

2. Causes and ways of borrowing words.

3. Criteria of borrowings in English.

4. The Celtic element in the English vocabulary.

5. The classical element in the English language.

6. The Scandinavian element in the English vocabulary.

7. The Norman-French element in the English vocabulary.

8. Various other elements in the vocabulary of the English and Ukrainian languages.

9. False etymology.

10.Types of borrowings.

1. The Native Element and Borrowed Words

The most characteristic feature of English is usually said to be its mixed character. Many linguists consider foreign influence, especially that of French, to be the most important factor in the history of English. This wide-spread viewpoint is supported only by the evidence of the English word-stock, as its grammar and phonetic systems are very stable and not easily influenced by other languages.

To comprehend the nature of the English vocabulary and its historical development it is necessary to examine the etymology of different layers, the historical causes of their appearance, their volume and role and the comparative importance of native and borrowed elements in enriching the English vocabulary.

According to their origin words can be native and borrowed. A native word is a word which belongs to the original English stock as known from the earliest available manuscripts of the Old English period.

Native words are further subdivided into the words of the Indo-European stock and those of the Common Germanic origin. The words having cognates in the vocabularies of different Indo-European languages form the oldest layer. It has been noticed that they readily fall into definite semantic groups. Among them we find terms of kinship (mother, father, son, daughter), names of animals and birds (cat, wolf, goose), parts of human body (arm, eye). Some of the most frequent verbs belong to this word stock: come, sit, stand. Most numerals are also of the Indo-European origin.

A bigger part of the native vocabulary consists of the words of the Common Germanic word stock. Such nouns as summer, winter, rain, ice, hat; the verbs to bake, to buy, to make, to meet; the adjectives deaf, dead, deep are of the Common Germanic origin. Most adverbs and pronouns also belong here.

Together with the words of the Common Indo-European stock the Common Germanic words form the bulk of the most frequent elements used in any style of speech.

Characteristic Features of the Native Vocabulary

1. The words are monosyllabic: sun, wood, break.

  1. They are polysemantic: hand – 1. Part of the human body. 2. Power, possession, by a responsibility.3. Influence. 4. Person from whom news comes. 5. Skill in using one’s hands. 6. Person who does what is indicated by the context, performer. 7. Workman. 8. Share in activity. 9. Pointer, indicator. 10. Position or direction. 11. Handwriting. 12. Signature. 13. Number of cards held by a player. 14. Unit of measurement. 15. Applause by clapping.

3. They are characterised by high frequency.

4. Native words are usually found in set-expressions.

5. Verbs with post-positions are usually native: to look for, to look after.

6. They are characterised by a wide range of lexical and grammatical valency.

7. If words begin with wh, wr, tw, dw, sw, sh. th; if at the end they have dge, tch,nd, ld; if the roots have ng, aw, ew, ee, oo they are native.

2. Causes and Ways of Borrowing into English

In its fifteen century long history recorded in written manuscripts the English language happened to come in long and close contact with several other languages, mainly Latin, French, Old Norse. The great influx of borrowings from these sources can be accounted for by a number of historical causes. Due to the great influence of the Roman civilisation Latin was for a long time used in England as the language of learning and religion. Old Norse was the language of the conquerors who brought with them a lot of new notions of a higher social system – developed feudalism – it was the language of upper classes, of official documents from the middle of the 11th century to the end of the 14th century.

In the study of the borrowed element in English the main emphasis is as a rule placed on the Middle English period. Borrowings of the later periods became the object of investigation only in recent years. These investigations show that the flow of borrowings has been steady and uninterrupted. The greatest number of them has come from French. A large portion of them (41) is scientific and technical terms.

The number and character of borrowings do not only depend on the historical conditions, on the nature and length of contacts but also on the degree of the genetic and structural proximity of the languages concerned. The closer the languages the deeper and more versatile is the influence. Thus under the influence of the Scandinavian languages, which were closely related to Old English, some classes of words were borrowed that could not have been adopted from non-related or distantly related languages.

Borrowings enter the language in two ways: through oral and written speech. Oral borrowing took place chiefly in the early periods of history, whereas in recent times written borrowing gained importance. Words borrowed orally are usually short and they undergo more changes in the act of adoption. Written borrowings preserve their spelling.

Borrowings can be borrowed through transcription (football, trailer, jeans), transliteration (cruise, motel, club). Besides there can be loan words (blue stocking, collective farm).

3. Criteria of Borrowings in English

Though borrowed words undergo changes in the adopting language, they preserve some of their former peculiarities for a comparatively long period. This makes it possible to work out some criteria for determining whether the word belongs to the borrowed element.

In some cases the pronunciation of the word, its spelling and the correlation between sounds and letters are an indication of the foreign origin of the word: waltz (German), psychology (Greek). The initial position of the sounds [v], [dz], [z] or of the letters x, j, z is a sure sign that the word has been borrowed : vase (French), jungle (Hindi), gesture (Latin).

The morphological structure of the word and its grammatical forms may also show that the word has been borrowed. The suffixes in the words neurosis (Greek), violoncello (Italian) betray the foreign origin of the words. The same is true of the irregular plural forms bacteria, media, phenomena.

The lexical meaning of the word can show the origin of the word. Thus the concept denoted by the words pagoda (Chinese), kangaroo (Australian) make us suppose that we deal with borrowings.

These criteria are not always helpful. Some early borrowings have become so thoroughly assimilated that they are unrecognisable as adoptions without a historical analysis: chalk (Latin), ill (Scandinavian), car (French).

Sometimes the form of the word and its meaning in Modern English enable us to tell the immediate source of borrowing. Thus, if the digraph ch is sounded as [ ] the word is a late French borrowing (echelon) ; if it is sounded as [k] the word came from the Greek language (archaic); if it is pronounced as [t ] it is either an early borrowing or a word of the Anglo-Saxon origin.

4. The Celtic Element in the English Vocabulary

When the invading Anglo-Saxon tribes came to the British Isles and encountered the aboriginal population, the latter did not influence Anglo-Saxon to any serious extent – these were not more than some 10-12 Celtic words. Besides not all of them were originally Celtic. No historian as yet has explained the reason why the Celtic traces in the English vocabulary have been so slight. One of the explanations may be that before the Anglo-Saxons came Britain had been under Roman oppression for about four centuries and the native Celtic population must have been greatly reduced by the Roman invaders. The Roman legions left Britain to defend their capital from the advancing Goths. At the approach of the new invaders the Britons fled to Wales and Cornwall, the Celtic tribes of Ireland accepted the English language and the Celtic tribes of Scotland were influenced in their speech by the Northern form of English. Now the Celtic tongues exist in the form of Welsh, Irish, Gaelic and Highland Scotch and exercise their influence upon the local dialects.

The Celtic element includes such words as crag (rock), dun (greyish-brown), down (hill). There are some geographical names like Kent, Avon (river), Dover (water). Celtic elements are found in such place names as Duncombe, Helcombe ( cum – canyon), Llandaff (llan – church), Inverness (inver – river mouth). Some of the early Latin, French, Spanish borrowings came through Celtic (cloak, car, clock, carry).

On the whole, Celtic borrowings in the English language can be considered of the least importance.

5. The Classical Element in the English Language

By the classical element we mean Latin and Greek.

Lexicographers have estimated that approximately a quarter of the Latin vocabulary has been taken over by English. But Latin words are not a homogeneous layer. We must distinguish between those borrowed through the immediate contact at the early stages of the development of the language and those later borrowings that came through writing. The first are mostly monosyllabic and denote things of everyday importance while the latter are mostly polysyllabic bookish words. The first are completely assimilated: pea, wine, cup, line.

Borrowings of the 5th century have a military favour about them for the Romans built fortifications, military camps and roads: port, street, wall. All these words got completely assimilated in the English language. Many of the Latin borrowings of this period did not survive but they are sometimes retained in English place-names: Manchester (castra – camp), Greenwich, Harwich (vicus – village).

Taken together these two periods form the first stratum of Latin borrowings.

The second great stratum of Latin words came into English at the end of the 6th-7th centuries when the people of England were converted to Christianity. Since Latin was the language of the church many Latin words denoting religious concepts came into English: abbot, bishop, candle, mass, temple. Some words changed their meanings. Many Latin words borrowed at that period can be referred to other spheres of life, such as things of everyday life (cap, chest), names of vegetables and plants (beet, plant). Since monasteries were also cultural centres where books were written and translations made such words as school, verse were borrowed.

Another great influx of Latin words came through French after the Norman conquest. They are generally referred to as the 3rd stratum of Latin borrowings. Their original source is Latin and their immediate source is French.

The greatest stream of Latin borrowings poured into the English vocabulary during the period of Renaissance. At that time words belonging to the following spheres were borrowed: terms of philosophy, mathematics, physics (fundamental, vacuum), terms of law and government (alibi, veto), terms of botany (mallow, petal), topographical terms (equator, tropical).

Nowadays when there appears a need to coin some term it is coined from the existing Latin or Greek elements.

Greek borrowings are recognised by their specific spelling (ch – character, ph - philosophy, pn – pneumonia, rh – rhetoric, ist – socialist, ics – mathematics, osis – neurosis).

To a certain extent Greek borrowings were latinized in form with the change of the Greek u into Latin y, the Greek k into the Latin c. When the Latin c changed its pronunciation before e, i, y many Greek words were changed beyond recognition

( kuriakon – church, kyklos – cycle). Some Greek proper names are widely used in Great Britain (Margaret, Sophia, Irene). Many Greek words were borrowed during the period of Renaissance. They belong to the following lexico-semantic fields: literature and art (poet, comedy), lexicology (antonym, dialect, philosophy and mathematics (theory, thesis, diagram), medicine (diagnosis, rheumatism), physics (pneumatic, thermometer).

6. The Scandinavian Element in the English Vocabulary

The Scandinavian invasion of England which proved to be of linguistic importance began in the 8th century. In 1017 the Danes conquered the whole of England and reigned over up to 1042.

The Danish settlers intermingled with the native population. The fact of both languages being Germanic facilitated mutual understanding and word borrowings. That is why it is difficult sometimes to say whether a word is native or borrowed from Scandinavian. Words are sometimes considered to be of the Scandinavian origin if they were not met in Anglo-Saxon written documents up to the 11th century. Some examples of Scandinavian borrowings are the following: anger (OSc. angr – sorrow); gate (OSc. gata); sky (OSc. sky – cloud); want ( OSc. vant – lacking); to hit (OSc. hitta – not to miss); ill (OSc. illr – bad); ugly (OSc. uggligr – frightful).

In distinguishing Scandinavian words we may sometimes apply the criterion of sound such as [sk] – skill, scare, scream. The hard [g] and [k] sounds before i and e speak for the Scandinavian origin of the word since English words started having the palatalised [j] and [t ] sounds before i and e already in Old English. But these features are not always sufficient because sometimes we find [sk] in words of Latin, Greek or French origin or in Northern dialects.

Some English words changed their meanings taking on the meanings of the corresponding Scandinavian words: OSc. draurmdream (OE dream – joy), OSc.– brauth – bread (OE bread – crumb, fragment).

Scandinavian settlements in England left their toponymic traces in a great number of place names: OSc. byr – village (Derby, Rugby); OSc. foss – waterfall (Fossbury, Fossway); OSc. toft – cite, plot of land (Brimtoft, Langtoft).

7. The Norman-French Element in the English Vocabulary

The French layer rates second to Latin in bulk. It has been estimated that English owes one fourth of its vocabulary to French. French borrowings penetrated into English in two ways: from the Norman dialect (during the first centuries after the Norman Conquest of 1066) and from the French national literary language beginning with the 15th century.

The Normans who conquered England in 1066 were of Scandinavian origin and their French differed somewhat from the central dialect of France. During two centuries after the Norman Conquest the linguistic situation in England was rather complicated; the feudal lords spoke the Norman dialect of the French language, the people spoke English, scientific and theological literature was in Latin, the court literature was in French. Latin and French were used in administration and school teaching. Still English was in common use and therefore the Norman dialect was to a certain extent influenced by English in some phonetical and lexical points. Gradually English assimilated many French words that either ousted their Saxon equivalents (OE unhope – despair; OE tholemodness – patience), brought new concepts (exchequer, parliament) or became synonyms to native words (to help = to aid; weak = feeble).

Before the Norman Conquest only a few words were borrowed: proud, market.

French words borrowed during the period of the 12th –16th centuries show the social status of the Norman invaders and their supremacy in economic, cultural and political development. At that time a lot of terms were borrowed into the English language:

  • terms of rank: duke, prince, baron;

  • law terms: prison, jury, judge;

  • military terms: army, peace, soldier;

  • religious terms: pray, faith, saint;

  • terms of art: art, beauty, paint;

  • terms of architecture: pillar, palace, castle.

In most cases such words were completely assimilated.

Later French borrowings can be easily identified by their peculiar form and pronunciation: garage, technique, machine.

8. Various Other Elements in the English Vocabulary

Quite a number of words were borrowed from other languages: Dutch, Italian, Spanish. England was in commercial contact with the Netherlands during the Middle ages. There lived and worked many skilful Dutch artisans in England (weavers, shipbuilders). Hence, the terminology of some professions owes much to Dutch and Flemish: cruise, dock, reef. Among borrowings there are also weaving terms: rock, spool.

Dutch art terms came to English as a result of the influence of Dutch art (landscape, easel).

The Italian language began to contribute to the English vocabulary in the16thcentury. Many Italian words such as military terms entered through French. During the period of Renaissance Italian culture greatly influenced the cultural life of England. Many musical terms were borrowed at that time: piano, opera, sonata. Among borrowings we find artistic terms (studio, fresco), literary terms (stanza, canto), business terms (bank, traffic), words denoting realities of Italian life (gondola, macaroni).

Spanish brought some words as well. Many words belonging to various languages of the native population of America came through Spanish: banana, canyon, cargo, potato, Negro.

Some Portuguese words came through French, Spanish and Dutch: caste, fetish. There are not many words borrowed immediately from Portuguese: tank, cobra, port (wine), emu.

There are borrowings from the German language: cobalt, quartz, leitmotiv, kindergarten, rucksack.

Some other languages contributed to the English vocabulary as well. Arabian gave some terms: algebra, Moslem, mufti, sherbet.

With the beginning of England’s colonial expansion in the 16th-17th centuries many words penetrated into the English vocabulary from the languages of colonial countries: cashmere, jungle, rupee (Hindi), ginseng, serge (Chinese), hara-kiri, rickshaw (Japanese).

The Russian language also contributed to the English vocabulary: rouble, kopeck, taiga, sable, sarafan, tsar.

In the Ukrainian language there borrowings from the Polish language (в’язень, застава, ліжко, зичити), from the Check language (брама, праця, вагатися). There also exist Turkic words (кабан, кайдани) in the Ukrainian language.

Words borrowed from the English language are partially assimilated (футбол, хокей). Some borrowings in the Ukrainian language are restricted in word-formation. Such words as ноу-хау, от кутюр have no derivatives.

International words are used in both languages: organisation, telephone, judo, banana. Some international words can coincide only in one of the meanings. E.g.: the words stress, faculty, data. They are called pseudointernationalisms.

9. False Etymology

The historical development of borrowed words often brings about an indistinctness of the word’s etymological meaning. The words are then wrongly associated with their ultimate source whereas actually the word may have come through some intermediate language. The word debt comes not from the Latin word debit but from the French dette while doubt comes not from the Latin word dubitare but from the French word doute. But scientists wrongly attributed them directly to the Latin source and consequently introduced the missing b which never came to be pronounced.

In many cases words lose their etymological clarity. The word buttery (larder) which came from the Latin word botaria (Latin bota – barrel, bottle) was wrongly associated with the English word butter. Such instances of the so-called folk etymology are not very rare in the English language.

In some cases folk etymology leads to the appearance of compound words which are tautological. In the word greyhound the first element of which comes from the Scandinavian grey (собака) was associated with grey meaning colour.

Sometimes under the influence of folk etymology the spelling of the word is changed. The word hiccough was written hicket but it was associated with the word cough and a new spelling was introduced.

10. Types of Borrowings

1. Aliens – words like eau-de-Cologne, phenomenon – phenomena, retaining their foreign look, their phonetical and grammatical peculiarities.

2. Denizens – loan-words that received the “right of citizenship” in English and are not easily recognised as borrowings (wine, table).

3. Barbarisms – words usually having synonyms among the completely assimilated or native words limited to official, literary, bookish usage (en regale, tete-a-tete).

4. Translation loans – a word-for-word or element—for-element translation of a unit of the lexical source language (blue stocking, collective farm).

5. Semantic borrowings – the words which changed their meanings under the influence of a foreign language: cadres (військовий персонал – кадри).


  1. Ways of classifying the vocabulary.

  2. Special literary vocabulary

  1. neologisms;

  2. archaisms.

  1. Special Colloquial vocabulary

a) dialects.

b) slang.

  1. Ways of Classifying the Vocabulary

The whole of the word-stock of the English language can be divided into three main layers: the literary layer, the neutral layer and the colloquial layer. The literary and colloquial layers contain a number of subgroups each of which has a property it shares with all the subgroups within the layer. Prof. I. Galperin calls this common property the aspect. The aspect of the literary layer is its markedly bookish character. It makes the layer more or less stable. The aspect of the colloquial layer is its lively spoken character which makes the layer unstable. The aspect of the neutral layer is its universal character. That means it is unrestricted in its use. It can be used in all styles of the language. It is this feature that makes the layer the most stable of all.

The subgroups of the special literary vocabulary are the following: terms, poetical words, foreignisms and barbarisms, archaic words, nonce-words.

The subgroups of the special colloquial layer are such: dialectical words, vulgarisms, slang, jargon, professionalisms, nonce-words.

The common literary, neutral and common colloquial words are grouped under the term Standard English vocabulary. Other groups in the literary layer are regarded as special literary vocabulary and those in the colloquial layer are regarded as special colloquial vocabulary.

Words can be classified from the point of view of their origin. They can be native and borrowed (See the previous chapter).

  1. Special Literary Vocabulary

a) Neologisms

Neologisms are words and expressions used for new concepts that appear in the course of the language development, new meanings of the already existing words and new names of old concepts.

Neologisms appear all the time. The words table, sky once were neologisms. But soon they became vital and widespread to be felt neologisms. Names of different fruit, species were new names of new concepts (pea, cherry, pepper). The introduction of Christianity brought with it a great number of new concepts and words (church, candle). The Norman Conquest also contributed to the enrichment of the English vocabulary (army).

The development of industry, the development of technology, new inventions caused the appearance of new words (film, television, self-starter).

A great number of neologisms appeared during the periods of great social upheavals (machine, bank, investment).

After the Bourgeois Revolution in France there appeared such words as bureaucracy, revolution, regime, terrorism.

After World War I such neologisms as blackout, camouflage, air-raid appeared.

After World War II such words as H-bomb, the UNO, cold war entered the language.

In the 70-s of the 20th century neologisms were connected with all spheres of life: computerization (multi-user, neurocomputer, liveware, telepost, telebanking,

finger-print) ; exploration of space (space-bike, cargo-module, link-up); development of the arts (soft art, action painting, kinetic art; development of cinema, TV, video (inflight videosystem, satellite-delivered show, kidvid); theatrical art (theatre of absurd, son et lumiere, revolve); social development (the Lib movement, libbie). In the 70s libbies declared that the English language discriminated women. As a result of it the names denoting occupations and containing the element man underwent some changes. The word cameraman was substituted by operator, fireman – fire-fighter, chairman – chairperson, policeman – police officer. Even in church the word mankind was substituted by people. At the same time the names of women’s professions were changed: stewardess – flight attendant, nurse – male nurse, male secretary. He/she in written speech is used when both sexes are meant. S/he variant is less frequently used.

In the 80-s – 90-s of the 20th century neologisms were connected with lifestyles (belonger, ladies who lunch, theme pub); computerisation (laptop, to back up, to toggle); economics (sunrise industry, sunset industry, dawn raid); music (acid house, MTV, New Age music); mass media (video nasty, video piracy, tabloid television); art (crossfader, body-popping); medicine (to burn out, PWA, ME); education (baker day, City technology college ; fashion (body conscious, leisure wear); cookery (jacket crisp, tapas, yarg).

New semi-affixes were registered: -driven/led (market-led, design-driven); -friendly (environment-friendly, student-friendly); -something (thirty-something, fifty-something); -ware (software, hardware, wetware); -wise (power-wise, money-wise); loadsa- (loadsamoney, loadsabonuses).

Neologisms can be divided into three groups: neologisms proper in which the novelty of the form is combined with the novelty of the contents (audiotyping, bio-computer, thought-processor); transnominations which combine the novelty of the form with the meaning which was already rendered by another form (sudser, big C, bail-out); semantic innovations in which a new meaning is rendered by a form which already exists in the language (bread, drag, gas).

The English language enriches its vocabulary at the expense of borrowings but it happens not so frequently as it was in the Middle Ages or during the period of Renaissance. From the receiving language it turned into the language that gives. It is connected with the fact that it became the language of international communication. Borrowings constitute about 7,5% of all neologisms. The main source of borrowings is French (cinematheque, petit dejeuner). But there appeared a new tendency to borrow words from Japanese (zazen), Yiddish (nudge, zoftig, shlep).

Recently there have appeared many borrowings in the Ukrainian language: електорат, Інтернет, гіпсокартон, дилер, імідж.

b) Archaisms

Language is never stable. In the course of time the vocabulary changes by being supplemented with new words which come into being with the development of science and culture. A certain number of obsolete words usually drop out of the vocabulary of the language. Obsolete words pass out of use completely or remain in the language as elements performing purely historical descriptive functions. The disappearance of old occupations causes the disappearance of their old names. The names of such old occupations can be preserved as family names: Chandler (candle maker), Webster (weaver), Wright (worker). Archaic words can be preserved in proverbs: Many a little makes a mickel. The verb to read in the old meaning to interpret, to guess survived in to read a riddle. An old sense of favour (features, looks) survived in hard-favoured, ill-favoured, well-favoured. The preposition on was once common in the meaning because of. This meaning survives in on purpose, on compulsion. The preposition with originally meant against and now this meaning is preserved in withdraw, withstand. Archaic are the following adverbs: therefore, therefrom, wherein, thereon. Archaic are the participles ending in -en: drunken, gotten, washen.

Archaisms surviving in compounds, phraseological units are only partly understood as archaisms. Oft is not archaic when combined with present and past participles as in oft-recurring. Told is a survival of the Old English word tellan (to count) in all told.

In colloquial speech he word aught survives in for aught I know

(As far as I know).

Archaisms can be classified into lexical and grammatical. Lexical archaisms are words: woe (sorrow), nigh (near), aught (anything). Grammatical archaisms are old grammatical forms: thou (you), the -est inflexion for the 2nd person singular, -th for the 3rd person singular, the plural form of brother (brethren), tense forms like wilt, spake, builded.

Historisms belong to obsolete words. The causes of their appearance are extralinguistic. It is the denotatum that is outdated. They are very numerous as names for social relations and institutions and objects of material culture of the past. The names of ancient weapons, types of boats, types of carriages, instruments belong to historisms: battle axe, battering ram.

Archaisms differ from historisms in this respect that they are obsolete names for existing objects. Archaisms always have synonyms : to deem - to think, glee – joy.

Obsolete words survived as parts of compound words. The word gar, an old word for spear, survives in garlic, garfish. The word mara (incubus, an evil spirit) survives in nightmare.

One can also speak about obsolete meanings not only about obsolete words. Thus, to come used to mean to be seemly or becoming, to fall was used in the meaning of to move quickly. But these meanings are practically forgotten now.

Ukrainian archaic words are: чоло, перст, всує, ланіти, узріти. Смерд, війт, кожум’яка, плахта, аршин are historisms.

3. Special Colloquial Vocabulary


The history of the English language begins with the incursions of the Germanic tribes in the middle of the 5th century. The Jutes came first and occupied the smallest territory (Kent and the Isle of Wight). The Saxons occupied practically all of England south of the Thames with the exception of the Jutish territories and Cornwall. They also occupied some territories north of the Thames. The Angles occupied the greater part of what is now England.

The first dialect that could lay claim to literary precedence was the Northumbrian, the language of the kingdom of Northumbria , including the north of England and the south of Scotland. Other dialects which had grown apart by the 8th century were Mercian, Saxon, Kentish. After the fall of Northumbria from its political supremacy Northumbrian sank to the position of a provincial dialect and under King Alfred in the 9th century the West Saxon dialect came to be predominant and was regarded as a literary language.

The Norman Conquest displaced the southern dialect of Wessex from the position of supremacy. The West Saxon sank to the level of other dialects.

The development of feudalism in England tended to create dialectical divergences of speech. During the 12th- 13th centuries there existed a number of dialects each of which had as much right as any other to be called the English language. During the Middle English period there existed the following dialects: Northern, Midland, Southern. The Northern dialect was the descendant of the Northumbrian dialect of Old English. Later a variety of the Northumbrian dialect was developed into the Scottish language. The Midland dialect was the descendant of the Mercian dialect of the Old English period. It was divided into two distinct varieties: East Midland and West Midland. The Southern dialect was spoken between the Thames and the English Channel. It was a descendant of the West Saxon dialect. Of these three dialects it was the Midland dialect that became the national language of the country. The reason that led to the predominance of the Midland dialect was a large territory which was most important economically, politically and culturally.

The dialect of London was the dialect of such cultural centres as Oxford and Cambridge. It was the form of speech native to Chaucer who wrote in the Midland dialect and contributed greatly to raising it to the position of superiority.

The dialectical peculiarities observed in some of the elements of the Modern English vocabulary go back to the dialects of Old English and to the subsequent dialectical division of the feudal epoch. Those Old English words that were not included into the most stable and widely used layer of the English vocabulary are often preserved in dialects: bairn (child), kemp (fighter). Sometimes dialectical words are not remnants of Old English words but corrupted words and expressions, such as nammut (lunch), gurt (great), zote (soft).

There are also borrowed words used only in dialects: bonny (pretty), tass (cup).

As far as grammatical peculiarities are concerned the following cases can be mentioned: the usage of I be in the South , I is in the North. In the South they use the interrogative and negative constructions without the auxiliary do.

There is one more dialect that enjoys a somewhat peculiar position for it can be met almost anywhere in English-speaking countries – Cockney. Its lexical, phonetical and grammatical peculiarities can be found in the speech of Eliza Doolittle in B.Shaw’s “Pygmalion”.

There are two kinds of ordinary Cockney: – the variety of Modified Standard speech which is the typical Cockney English of London, as spoken by educated middle-class people; - the variety of Modified Standard which is also heard in London but which is spoken by the semi-literate and quite illiterate.

There are several peculiarities of Cockney. In pronunciation speakers consistently drop the sound [h] where it ought to be heard and put in [h] where there is none: ’am an’ heggs (ham and eggs), I ’ate (I hate), in the hopen air (in the open air).

The substitution of [n] by [n] is quite a common thing: mornin’, goin’, puddin’.

The sounds [d] and [t] are also frequently dropped as in an’ (and), hobjec’ (object), nex’ (next).

The sound [w] is dropped : ekal (equal).

The diphthong shift is characteristic of Cockney: [ai] is used instead of [ei], [oi] instead of [ai], [au] instead of [ou].

The Cockney grammar exhibits several anomalies: I’s bin (have been); I ain’t (am not); I, we, you calls; we, you was; I has; he do.

In the Ukrainian language there are three groups of territorial dialects: northern, south-eastern, south-western. E.g.: in the northern dialect such words can be found as: коросліп (пролісок), веселуха (райдуга), хупавий (гарний), жалива (кропива), скот (худоба), но (але) are used in the south-eastern dialect. In the northern dialect such words as бараболя (картопля), стрий (дядько по батькові), банітувати (лаяти), пантрувати (стежити) are used.

b) Slang

By slang we mean words or phrases in common colloquial usage in some or all of their senses hanging on the outskirts of the literary language but continually forcing their way into it. On the other hand, the term is often applied to the words and phrases peculiar to people of some class or profession. Slang is often humorous, witty. It is more and more penetrating into the literary language. The slang word is a deliberate substitute for a word of the vernacular just as a nickname is a substitute for a personal name. Slang is unstable and it has no fixed meaning.

Slang can be of two types: general and special. General slang includes words that are not specific for any social or professional group: bean, block, dome, upper storey for a head; three sheets in the wind, half-seas-over, pin-eyed for drunk. Базар (розмова), здрейфити (злякатися), наїжджати (чіплятися, погрожувати, кльово (дуже добре) are used in the Ukrainian language.

Special slang is peculiar for some groups of people: university slang, football slang etc.

Special slang should be distinguished from terms. When the word is the only name for the special notion it belongs not to slang but to terminology. If the word is a jocular name for something that can be described in some other way it is slang. There are cases when words originated as professional slang later assumed the dignity of special terms or passed on into general slang. The expression to be on the beam was first used by pilots about the beam of the radio beacon indicating the proper course for the aircraft to follow. Then figuratively to be on the beam came to mean to be right and to be off the beam began to mean to be at a loss.

The most important peculiarities of slang concern the plane of content not the plane of form. The lexical meaning of a slang word contains not only the denotational component but also an emotive component. Slang words are clearly motivated: cradle-snatcher (an old man who marries a young woman); belly-robber (the head of a military canteen).


A – Adjective

Adv – Adverb

Lat – Latin

N – Noun

N’s – Noun in the Genitive Case

Num – Numeral

OE – Old English

OFr – Old French

OSc – Old Scandinavian

Prep - Preposition

V - Verb


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  2. Высш.шк., 1986. – 288 с.

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  4. английского языка. – М.: Дрофа, 1999. – 288 с.

  5. Верба Л.Г. Порівняльна лексикологія англійської та української мов. – Вінниця:

  6. Нова книга, 2003. – 153 с.

  7. Гвишиани Н.Б. Современный английский язык. Лексикология. – М.: Изд-во

  8. МГУ, 2000. – 221 с.

  9. Корунець І.В. Порівняльна типологія англійської та української мов. –

  10. Вінниця: Нова книга, 2003. – 464 с.

  11. Смирницкий А.И. Лексикология английского языка. – М.: НТУ, 1998. – 260 с.

  12. Ющук І.П. Українська мова. – К.: Либідь, 2004. – 640 с.

  13. Ющук І.П. Лексика української мови. – К.: КиМУ, 2002. – 130 с.

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