Methods and procedures of lexicological research.

The process of scientific investigation may be subdivided into several stages:

1. Observation (statements of fact must be based on observation)

2. Classification (orderly arrangement of the data)

3. Generalization(formulation of a generalization or hypothesis, rule a law)

4. The verifying process. Here, various procedures of linguistic analysis are commonly applied:

1). Contrastive analysis attempts to find out similarities and differences in both philogenically related and non-related languages. In fact contrastive analysis grew as the result of the errors which are made recurrently by foreign language students. They can be often traced back to the differences in structure between the target language and the language of the learner, detailed comparison of these two languages has been named contrastive analysis.

Contrastive analysis brings to light the essence of what is usually described as idiomatic English, idiomatic Russian etc., i.e. the peculiar way in which every language combines and structures in lexical units various concepts to denote extra-linguistic reality.

2). Statistical analysis is the quantitative study of a language phenomenon. Statistical linguistics is nowadays generally recognised as one of the major branches of linguistics. (frequency room, collocability)

3). Immediate constituents analysis.The theory of Immediate Constituents (IC) was originally elaborated as an attempt to determine the ways in which lexical units are relevantly related to one another. The fundamental aim of IC analysis is to segment a set of lexical units into two maximally independent sequences or ICs thus revealing the hierarchical structure of this set.

4). Distributional analysis and co-occurrence.By the term distributionwe understand the occurrence of a lexical unit relative to other lexical units of the same level (the position which lexical units occupy or may occupy in the text or in the flow of speech). Distributional analysis is mainly applied by the linguist to find out sameness or difference of meaning.

5). Transformational analysiscan be definedas repatterning of various distributional structures in order to discover difference or sameness of meaning of practically identical distributional patterns. It may be also described as a kind of translation (transference of a message by different means).

6). Componental analysis (1950s). In this analysis linguists proceed from the assumption that the smallest units of meaning are sememes ( - ) or semes ( ( )) and that sememes and lexemes (or lexical items) are usually not in one-to-one but in one-to-many correspondence (e.g. in lexical item woman, semems are human, female, adult). This analysis deals with individual meanings.

7).Method of Semantic Differential (set up by American psycholinguists). The analysis is concerned with measurement of differences of the connotational meaning, or the emotive charge, which is very hard to grasp.


Encyclopedic dictionaries are scientific reference books dealing with every branch of knowledge, or with one particular branch, usually in alphabetical order, e.g. the Oxford Paperback Encyclopedia, Random House Webster's Biographical Dictionary. Encyclopedic dictionaries are thing-books, that give information about the extra-linguistic world, they deal with facts and concepts. The best-known encyclopedias of the English-speaking world are the Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Encyclopaedia Americana.


Linguistic dictionaries are word-books the subject-matter of which is lexical units and their linguistic properties such as pronunciation, meaning, origin, peculiarities of use, and other linguistic information.

Linguistic dictionaries can be further divided into different categories by different criteria.


1)According to the scope of their word-list linguistic dictionaries are divided into general and restricted.

General dictionaries represent the vocabulary as a whole with a degree of completeness depending upon the scope and the bulk of the book in question. Some general dictionaries may have specific aims and still be considered general due to their coverage. They include frequency dictionary, a rhyming dictionary, a Thesaurus, etc.

Restricted dictionaries cover only a certain specific part of the vocabulary. Restricted dictionaries can be subdivided depending on whether the words are chosen according to the sphere of human activity in which they are used (1), the type of the units themselves (2) or the relations existing between them (3).


2)According to the information they provide all linguistic dictionaries fall into two groups: explanatory and specialized.

Explanatory dictionaries present a wide range of data, especially with regard to the semantic aspect of the vocabulary items entered, e.g. the New Oxford Dictionary of English.

Specialized dictionaries deal with lexical units only in relation to some of their characteristics, i.e. only in relation to their etymology, frequency, pronunciation, usage, e.g. the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary.


3)According to the language of explanations, whether the information about the items entered given in the same language or in another language, all dictionaries are divided into: monolingual and bilingual.


In monolingual dictionaries the words and the information about them are given in the same language, e.g. the New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

Bilingual dictionaries are those that explain words by giving their equivalents in another language, e.g. the English-Russian Phraseological Dictionary (by Kunin). They may have two principal purposes: reference for translation and guidance for expression. Bilingual dictionaries must provide an adequate translation of every item in the target language and expression in the source language.


4) Dictionaries also fall into diachronic and synchronic with regard to time.

Diachronic (historical) dictionaries reflect the development of the English vocabulary by recording the history of form and meaning for every word registered, e.g. the Oxford English Dictionary.

Synchronic (descriptive) dictionaries are concerned with the present-day meaning and usage of words, e.g. the Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English.


Principles of compiling


The most important problems of lexicography are connected with:

1) the selection of lexical units for inclusion;

2) the arrangement of the selected lexical units;

3) the setting of the entry;

4) the selection and arrangement of word-meanings;

5) the definition of meanings;

6) the illustrative material.


1)The selection of lexical units for inclusion. The choice of lexical units for inclusion is the first problem the lexicographer faces. It is necessary to decide:

what types of lexical units will be chosen for the inclusion;

the number of these items;

what to select and what to leave out in the dictionary;

which form of the language, spoken or written or both, the dictionary is to reflect;

whether the dictionary should contain obsolete units, technical terms, dialectisms, colloquialisms, and some others.


The choice among different possible answers depends upon the type to which the dictionary will belong, the aim the compilers pursue, the prospective user of the dictionary, the size of the dictionary, the linguistic concepts of the dictionary-makers and some other considerations. The units for inclusion may be drawn either from other dictionaries or/and from some reading matter or/and from the spoken discourse. For example, in the New Oxford Dictionary of English the extensive use has been made of the British National Corpus.


2)The arrangement of the selected lexical units. There are two modes of presentation of entries, the alphabetical order and the cluster-type, i. e. when the units entered are arranged in nests, based on this or that principle. For example, in synonym-books words are arranged in synonymic sets and its dominant member serves as the head-word of the entry.


3)The setting of the entry. The most complicated type of entry is that found in general explanatory dictionaries of the synchronic type. In such dictionaries the entry usually presents the following data: accepted spelling and pronunciation; grammatical characteristics including the indication of the part of speech of each entry word, whether nouns are countable or uncountable, the transitivity/intransitivity of verbs and irregular grammatical forms; definitions of meaning; modern currency; illustrative examples; derivatives; phraseology; etymology; sometimes synonyms and antonyms.

4)The selection and arrangement of word-meanings. There are at least three different ways in which the word meanings are arranged:

in the historical order (in the sequence of their historical development)

in the empirical or actual order (in conformity with their frequency of use)

in the logical order (according to their logical connection)


5)The definition of meanings. Meanings of words may be defined in different ways: a) by means of linguistic definitions that are only concerned with words as speech material. They are used in the majority of entries; b) by means of encyclopedic definitions that are concerned with things for which the words are names; c) by means of synonymous words and expressions; d) by means of cross-references.

The illustrative material. The presentation of illustrative material depends on the type of the dictionary and on the aim the compilers set themselves. They can illustrate the first and the last known occurrences j of the entry word, the successive changes in its meaning, as well as graphic and phonetic forms, the typical patterns and collocations; they place words in a context to clarify their meanings and usage.



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