The word is a nominative language unit, an association of a particular meaning with a particular series of sounds, capable of grammatical employment
1.5. There are several approaches to the study of the word.
1) Some decades ago lexicology was characterized by an atomistic approach, which is now obsolete, i.e. lexical units were studied as unconnected separate items.
2) The vocabulary is studied as a system (systemic approach), i.e. the word is studied in its relations to other words in the vocabulary as a component of various sets, groups, fields.
e.g. the word high is studied through its relations to other words: high - tall (synonymy), high - low (antonymy), high - highly, highness (derivational cluster), etc.
(3) The word is studied through its relation to its referent as a nominative unit (nominative approach). The nominative approach is concerned with how things get their names.
e.g. The escalator began life as the "Reno Inclined Elevator", named after its inventor, Jesse Reno, who installed the first one in 1896. "Escalator" was the trade name used by the Otis Elevator Company when it joined the market with a version of its own four years later, but for years afterwards most people called it "a movable stairway".
4) The functional approach studies how words are combined in speech, i.e. a word is observed, studied and described in its typical contexts,
e.g. the notion "group of the same kind of living things" is expressed by the words herd, flock, flight, shoal, school, pack, troop, colony, but flock is used only with sheep, goats, or birds.
5) The communicative approach studies how words are used for purposes of communication, e.g. it studies pragmatic conventions about language use (social and cultural), speech etiquette, i.e. the appropriate use of language unites in various situations.
e.g. OK is one of the most important discourse markers in English.
a) It indicates you accept an offer, suggestion, request.
b) It serves as a bridge between two topics or stages of a talk.
c) It shows the talk is drawing to a close, etc.
2.1.What is nomination?
2.2.The main stages in the process of nomination: the formation of the concept, of the meaning, of the word-form.
2.3.Ways and means of nomination.
2.1. Nomination is the process of giving names to things. The branch of linguistics which studies the nominative function of lexical units is termed onomasiology.
There are two main participants in the process of nomination; (1) the nominator, i.e. one who names an object, (2) the referent, i.e. the named object, which is the starting point in the process of nomination.
2.2. The process of nomination begins with forming a concept of a referent.
The concept is a category of human cognition. It's a generalized idea of a class of objects, summing up the most essential characteristics of the given class that help to distinguish it from any other class of objects.
Concepts are basically similar for all people - speakers of different languages because (1) the formation of concepts is determined by cognitive abilities of Man, (2) all people live in the same real world, whose features concepts abstract, generalize and reflect. There is a real world we share irrespective of the language we use.
Some factors that influence the formation of concepts and may account for some differences in concepts in different language communities are as follows:
1) the objective reality itself,
e.g. Eng. "to drink soup" because in England soup is liquid; in Rus. "есть суп" as in Russia the dish is half-liquid and half-solid, that is why one chews it. They are real-world distinctions.
2) the level of knowledge about the nature of a referent,
e.g. the knowledge about the universe, and thus the concepts of a star, space, etc. in the 11th century and today.
3) the general system of notions of a given language community,
e.g. the system of religious beliefs: in Ancient Egypt a cat was a sacred animal, in India a cow is sacred, but neither has ever been sacred in England or Russia.
Speakers of different languages clearly have different pictures of the world.
e.g. the Eskimos have three different words for snow depending on whether it is falling, lying on the ground or used for igloos: the words of a language often reflect not so much the reality of the world as the interests of the people who speak it.
Still, if we do not have the same picture of the world as the speakers of other languages, we nevertheless have a picture that can be related to and in some degree "mapped upon" the picture that others have. That this is so is proved by the fact that we can investigate other languages and that we can translate.
e.g. in Russian there are two words синий, голубой and in English only one word blue corresponds to them. And yet, English people are not colour-blind, of course they distinguish different shades of blue and the language reflects it: light-blue, dark-blue.
The second stage of nomination is the formation of meaning.
The meaning of the word is closely connected with the concept but is not identical with it. Bloomfield argued that salt could be clearly defined as sodium chloride (or NaCl). He was wrong to do so, the meaning of the word salt cannot be regarded as identical with its chemical formula as salt means the same (substance that appears on our tables) to all English speakers including those that have no idea of its chemical composition.
Neither referents nor concepts belong to the language while meaning does. A.I.Smirnitskiy defined 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." Meaning is always connected to a certain sound-form.
The difference between meaning and concept can be proved by comparing synonymous words and phrases expressing essentially the same concept but possessing meaning that is felt as different,
e.g. broad and wide "measuring much from side to side": broad is preferred when full horizontal extent is considered (broad shoulders), wide is used in the presence of limiting features (a wide doorway). Cf. also: baby, babe, child, infant.
Unlike the concept, meaning reflects some features of an object which are not necessarily the most essential ones. The formation of meaning consists in singling out several features or just one feature of an object,
e.g. fur in tabby "mottled or streaked cat esp. of gray or brownish colour with dark stripes". The features underlying the meanings of corresponding words in different languages may be different, e.g. lady-killer and сердцеед.
In the process of nomination, the meaning should be correlated with a certain sound-form (and a graphical form). There are three possibilities of forming the sound-form of a word:
(1) to invent a new sound-form;
(2) to borrow one from another language;
(3) to use already existing units of the given language.
The latter is secondary nomination, while in (1) and (2) we deal with primary nomination. Secondary nomination is much more important than primary nomination, as most units are secondary nominations.
2. 3. Ways of nomination in modern English can be classified as follows:
The external way of nomination is borrowing, i.e. taking over units from other languages. Borrowing has always been important in the English language. The English vocabulary contains an immense number of words of foreign origin (70 - 75%); still, borrowing has never been the chief way of replenishing the vocabulary. Now, borrowings make up 7.5% of all new words in English. The French language remains the main source of borrowing in English; a new tendency is an increasing number of borrowings from Asian and African languages, e.g. karate (Jap), kung fu (Chinese), intifada (Arabic), yeti.
An existing word may develop a new meaning,
e.g. box - "a TV set";
charisma - "a personal charm (of a politician or an artist)" (the old meaning was "spiritual grace").
Existing words may combine and give rise to new word-groups,
e.g. an electronic virus, human dimension.
Word-formation is the formation of new words out of morphemes existing in the language. The main ways of forming new words in English are derivation,compounding,conversion,shortening.
Derivation (suffixation and prefixation) consists in adding prefixes and suffixes to stems. Currently thriving prefixes and suffixes include de-, ex-, anti-, un-, -er, -ion, - age, etc.
e.g. -ie , weepie "a sentimental film", groupie "a pop fan who follows his/her idol everywhere";
Word-composition(compounding) is producing new words by combining two or more stems,
e.g. high-rise "many-storied building", page-turner "a very interesting book":
-aholic "addicted to": bookaholic, chocoholic;
-friendly: consumer-friendly, environment-friendly;
tele- "by telephone": telemarketing, etc.
Conversion is the reallocation of a word to a different part of speech without changing its morphemic structure or sound form, e.g. to stiff "(slang) to be a commercial failure; flop" from stiff, n. "(slang) a corpse; a record, theatrical production, etc. that is a flop".
Shortening(abbreviation) may be of different types. Clipping is making a new word from a syllable (or two) of the original word,
e.g. teen "a teenager", showbiz < showbusiness.
Letter-based abbreviation (initialisms and acronyms) means that a new word is made up of the initial letters of the derivational base that may be a word or a word-group, e.g. AIDS, PC "personal computer", radar. Blending is making a new word from two or more other words, by fusion, e.g. (brunch) or by putting together syllables of other words (Oxbridge, alcoholiday).
Coinage is inventing a new word or phrase. The creation of words without the use of existing words is rare in general usage but common in fiction, esp. fantasy. These words seldom enter the vocabulary but some do,
e.g. Lilliput (created by Swift) or J.R. R.Tolkien's hobbit (1937), Kodak (the trade name invented in the USA in 1988 by George Eastman),the number Googol (invented on request by a 9-year-old boy).
Split of polysemy is the splitting of one polysemantic word into two or more words,
e.g. OE wācian gave birth to the verbs to wake, and to watch.
Lexicalzationmeans that a grammatical form of a word becomes a separate word,
e.g. looks "appearance".
We should distinguish ways and means of nomination. By the latter we understand concrete affixes, patterns and lexical units.