My opinion on why we study English lexicology How many words are there in the modern English language? There is no single sensible answer to this question. It is impossible to count the number of words in a language, because it is so hard to decide what counts as a word. But it is widely accepted by linguists that there are one million or so English words now. If so, a subject is needed to study and analyze modern English vocabulary. Thus, English-lexicological learning is important in some aspects. ?Better understanding low context culture Studying English lexicology can help us better understand different thinking styles.
According to anthropologist Edward Hall, the U. S is a low context country, which communication is explicit, clear and unambiguous. Individuals come directly to the point and say precisely what they mean. China is a typically high context country, which much important information is conveyed beyond and outside the words actually spoken. Individuals need to be able to have a high degree of sensitivity to ambiguity and able to read between the lines and a knowledge of the unwritten or unspoken rules of communication. So the different thinking styles between two countries lead to different choices and applications of vocabulary.
Americans tend to express themselves with direct, clear and explicit words, while Chinese prefer choosing ambiguous, unclear and implicit words. For instance, when talking about love, there is a pop song in the U. S singing that: adore you girl I want you the one I cant live without that’s you that’s you you’re my special little lady the one that makes me crazy of all the girls I’ve ever known it’s you, it’s you my favorite, my favorite my favorite, my favorite girl a pop song in China singing that: ???????? ?????? ???????????? ???????
We can easily see the big difference from the lyrics; they express the same affection, but different styles. Thus, whether it is from a high to low, or low to high, people need to understand foreign vocabulary well. Thus, a good understanding of English vocabulary is essential to understand western people. Such phenomenon let me think of the chapter “meaning and context”, low context culture and high context culture have some degree of similarities with Extra-linguistic Context and Linguistic Context. As most words have more than one meaning, it’s often impossible to tell the meaning of a word before it is used in context.
Context is very important because the meaning is influenced immediately by the linguistic context, and in many cases by the whole speech situation as well, At least, with context there is generally no danger of misinterpretation. 1): Extra-linguistic Context: It’s generally related to the speaker himself, what he/she is thinking, and what angle he/she has taken, what attitude, mood. 2): Linguistic Context: there are two kinds: a): Lexical context: refers to the words that occur with together with the words in question, their meaning are often affected and defined by the neighboring words. ): Grammatical Context: in many cases, the meaning is influenced by the structure in which it occurs. 2): the role of context: a): Elimination of Ambiguity; b):Indication of Referents; c): Provision of Clues for Inferring Word-meaning. ( by definition; explanation; example; synonymy; antonym; hyponymy; relevant details; word structure. ) In conclusion, if we have a good master of Extra-linguistic Context and Linguistic Context, we can better understand low context culture and high context culture. ?Memorizing vocabulary more efficiently
We know that there are tons of words in English dictionary, so how can we master these words in a relatively easy way? Lexicology gives us the answer. Here I simply summarize the various processes that form words, according to teacher Yin. 1. Affixation Affixation is the process of forming words by adding derivational affixes to stems. It is also called derivation. Words formed in this way are derivatives. 1) Prefixation Prefixation is a way of forming new words by adding prefixes to stems. Usually, prefixes do not change the part of speech of a word. Their chief function is to modify its meaning, although there are exceptions.
Prefixes can be divided, based on their meanings, into: negative prefixes, reversative prefixes, pejorative prefixes, prefixes of degree or size, locative prefixes, prefixes of time and order, number prefixes and miscellaneous prefixes. For example, pre-: before in time, place, or rank pro-: forward, ahead of; or favoring 1. __pro______gress (move forward) 2. ___pre_____cede (come before in time) 3. ____pre____dict (tell about sth. before it happened) 4. ____pro____spect (looking forward) 5. ____pro____slavery (favoring the institution of slavery) 6. ____pre____caution (care taken beforehand) . ____pre____side (to sit before and act as chairman) 8. _____pre___vious (occurring before in time or order) 9. _____pro___mote (to move ahead) 10. _____pro___ceed (go forward) 2) Suffixation Suffixation is the process of forming new words by adding suffixes to the end of stems. The chief role of a suffix is not to modify the meaning of a stem, rather to change the grammatical function of a stem, though there are a few exceptions. Suffixes can be divided into noun suffixes, adjective suffixes, adverb suffixes and verb suffixes. For example, 1. -fer-: take, carry, bear . g. refer: carry back (to its origin) differ: apart + carry transfer: from one … to another … + take / carry offer: to + take suffer: under + bear 1. She withdrew to confer with her advisers before announcing a decision. 2. I shall defer replying till I hear from home. 3. The fertility of the soil has been greatly improved by the use of pesticides. 2. Compounding 1) Definition Compounding is a process of word formation by which two or more stems are put together to make one word. The word formed in this way is called a compound. For example, ) Characteristics of compounds (1)Phonetic feature The word stress of a compound usually falls on the first element, while in a free phrase; the second element is usually stressed. If a compound has two stresses, it is the first element that receives the primary stress. Bluebird a bird that is blue Blackboard a board that is black in color Bluebottle a bottle which is blue (2)Semantic feature The meaning of a compound is a semantic unity, which, usually, is not the total sum of all the meanings of the constituent words in a compound. Sunset the time of the sun’s setting
Backdoor a door at the back of a house or other building Workday a day for work (3) Grammatical feature A compound usually plays a single grammatical role in a sentence. For example, Air-line acid-head 3. Conversion 1) Definition Conversion is the formation of new words by converting words of one part of speech to the words of another part of speech, without changes in morphological structures. Words created are new only in a grammatical sense. 2) Types of conversion (1)Conversion to Nouns a. verb to noun attack: the enemy launched an attack on us at night. . adjective to noun This is a school for the deaf and the blind. c. other conversions Is Joan’s new baby a he? (pron. —– n. ) (2)Conversion to Verbs a. noun to verb mushroom: to spead or grow rapidly. b. adjective to verb dim out slow down narrow c. other conversions The department head pooh-poohed our plan. (interj. —– v. ) 3)Semantic features of conversion 1)Verb to noun The new words obtained through conversion are usually related to the original words in the following ways: (1) state of mind or sensation (2)event or activity 3)result of the action (4)doer of the action (5)tool or instrument to do the action with (6)place of the action 2)Noun to verb (1)to put in or on N (2)to give N or to provide with N (3)to remove N from (4)to do with N (5)to be or act as n (6)to make or change into N (7)to send or go by N 4. Blending 1) Definition Blending is the formation of new words by combining parts of two words or a word plus a part of another word 2)Categories of Blending (1)the first part of the first word + the last part of the second word: botel: boat + hotel ?????? 2) the whole part of the first word + last part of the second word: lunarnaut: lunar + astronaut ????? (3)the whole form of the second word + the first part of the first word: Eurasian: Europe + Asian ????? (4)the first part of the first word + the first part of the second word: sitcom: situation + comedy ???? 5. Clipping 1) Definition Clipping is to shorten a long word by cutting a part off the original and use what has remained as a word. 2) Types of Clipping (1)Front clipping: “phone” from telephone (2)Back clipping: “ad” from advertisement (3)Front and back clipping: “flu” from influenza 4)Phrase clipping: “pub” from public house 6. Acronym 1) Definition Acronym is the process of forming new words by joining the initial letters of phrases. 2)Types of Acronym (1)Initializes Initializes are words pronounced letter by letter: VOA from Voice of America (2)Acronyms Acronyms are words formed from initial letters but pronounced as a normal word. 7. Backformation Back-formation is the opposite process of suffixation. It is the process of making a new word by dropping the supposed suffix: e. g. “burgle” from burglar. 8. New Words from Proper Names ) Names of people Pasteurize, meaning to destroy germs and check fermentation in milk, beer, or wine by the use of high temperature, comes from the name of Louis Pasteur, the famous French chemist and the father of modern bacteriology. 2)Names of places Watergate, a name of a building complex in Washington, D. C now means a scandal. 3)Names of books Uncle Tom, is a term of contempt, meaning “a Negro whose behavior toward whites is regarded as fawning or servile”. This word is after the main character, an elderly Neogro slave, in H. B. Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. 1852) 4)Tradenames Micky Mouse, formerly a trademark used for a cartoon character, is now an adjective, meaning “petty” . Above all, knowledge of word-formation is, therefore, one of the most effective aids to the expanding of one’s vocabulary, and is of great value in inferring word-meaning. In conclusion, lexicology is significant in culture and vocabulary. After half year’s studying, lexicology is no longer a mystery for me. As a matter of fact, I am greatly interested in this subject. And I hope to further study lexicology when becoming a graduate.