Lexicology of the English Language


The third way of specialization is the formation of Proper names from common nouns, it is often used in toponimics, e.g. the City - the business part of London, Oxford - university town in England, the Tower -originally a fortress and palace, later -a prison, now - a museum.

The fourth way of specialization is ellipsis. In such cases primaraly we have a word-group of the type attribute + noun, which is used constantly in a definite situation. Due to it the attribute can be dropped and the noun can get the meaning of the whole word-group, e.g. room originally meant space, this meaning is retained in the adjective roomy and word combinations: no room for, to take room, to take no room. The meaning of the word room was specialized because it was often used in the combinations: dining room, sleeping room which meant space for dining , space for sleeping.


It is a process contrary to specializaton, in such cases the meaning of a word becomes more general in the course of time.

The transfer from a concrete meaning to an abstract one is most frequent, e.g. ready (a derivative from the verb ridan - ride) meant prepared for a ride, now its meaning is prepared for anything. Journey was borrowed from French with the meaning one day trip, now it means a trip of any duration.

All auxiliary verbs are cases of generalization of their lexical meaning because they developed a grammatical meaning : have, be, do, shall , will when used as auxiliary verbs are devoid of their lexical meaning which they have when used as notional verbs or modal verbs, e.g. cf. I have several books by this writer and I have read some books by this author. In the first sentence the verb have has the meaning possess, in the second sentence it has no lexical meaning, its grammatical meaning is to form Present Perfect.


It is a transfer of the meaning on the basis of comparison. Herman Paul points out that metaphor can be based on different types of similarity:

a) similarity of shape, e.g. head (of a cabbage), bottleneck, teeth (of a saw, a comb);

b) similarity of position, e.g. foot (of a page, of a mountain), head (of a procession);

c) similarity of function, behaviour e.g. a whip (an official in the British Parliament whose duty is to see that members were present at the voting);

d) similarity of colour, e.g. orange, hazel, chestnut etc.

In some cases we have a complex similarity, e.g. the leg of a table has a similarity to a human leg in its shape, position and function.

Many metaphors are based on parts of a human body, e.g. an eye of a needle, arms and mouth of a river, head of an army.

A special type of metaphor is when Proper names become common nouns, e.g. philistine - a mercenary person, vandals - destructive people, a Don Juan - a lover of many women etc.


It is a transfer of the meaning on the basis of contiguity. There are different types of metonymy:

a) the material of which an object is made may become the name of the object , e.g. a glass, boards, iron etc;

b) the name of the place may become the name of the people or of an object placed there, e.g. the House - members of Parliament, Fleet Street - bourgeois press, the White House - the Administration of the USA etc;

c) names of musical instruments may become names of musicians, e.g. the violin, the saxophone;

d) the name of some person may becom a common noun, e.g. boycott was originally the name of an Irish family who were so much disliked by their neighbours that they did not mix with them, sandwich was named after Lord Sandwich who was a gambler. He did not want to interrupt his game and had his food brought to him while he was playing cards between two slices of bread not to soil his fingers.

e) names of inventors very often become terms to denote things they invented, e.g. watt , om, rentgen etc

f) some geographical names can also become common nouns through metonymy, e.g. holland (linen fabrics), Brussels (a special kind of carpets) , china (porcelain) , astrachan ( a sheep fur) etc.

 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15 
 16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30 
 31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38