Lexicology of the English Language



It is a transfer of the meaning when it becomes better in the course of time, e.g. knight originally meant a boy, then a young servant, then a military servant, then a noble man. Now it is a title of nobility given to outstanding people; marshal originally meant a horse man now it is the highest military rank etc.


It is a transfer of the meaning when it becomes worse in the course of time. It is usually connected with nouns denoting common people, e.g. villain originally meant working on a villa now it means a scoundrel.


It is a transfer of the meaning when the speaker uses exaggeration,

e.g. to hate(doing something), (not to see somebody) for ages.

Hyperbole is often used to form phraseological units, e.g. to make a mountain out of a molehill, to split hairs etc.


It is a transfer of the meaning when the speaker expresses affirmative with the negative or vica versa, e.g. not bad, no coward etc.


The vocabulary of a language is enriched not only by words but also by phraseological units. Phraseological units are word-groups that cannot be made in the process of speech, they exist in the language as ready-made units. They are compiled in special dictionaries. The same as words phraseological units express a single notion and are used in a sentence as one part of it. American and British lexicographers call such units idioms. We can mention such dictionaries as: L.Smith Words and Idioms, V.Collins A Book of English Idioms etc. In these dictionaries we can find words, peculiar in their semantics (idiomatic), side by side with word-groups and sentences. In these dictionaries they are arranged, as a rule, into different semantic groups.

Phraseological units can be classified according to the ways they are formed, according to the degree of the motivation of their meaning, according to their structure and according to their part-of-speech meaning.


A.V. Koonin classified phraseological units according to the way they are formed. He pointed out primary and secondary ways of forming phraseological units.

Primary ways of forming phraseological units are those when a unit is formed on the basis of a free word-group :

a) Most productive in Modern English is the formation of phraseological units by means of transferring the meaning of terminological word-groups, e.g. in cosmic technique we can point out the following phrases: launching pad in its terminological meaning is , in its transferred meaning - , to link up - c, in its tranformed meaning it means -;

b) a large group of phraseological units was formed from free word groups by transforming their meaning, e.g. granny farm - , Troyan horse - , ;

c) phraseological units can be formed by means of alliteration , e.g. a sad sack - , culture vulture - , , fudge and nudge - .

d) they can be formed by means of expressiveness, especially it is characteristic for forming interjections, e.g. My aunt!, Hear, hear ! etc

e) they can be formed by means of distorting a word group, e.g. odds and ends was formed from odd ends,

f) they can be formed by using archaisms, e.g. in brown study means in gloomy meditation where both components preserve their archaic meanings,

g) they can be formed by using a sentence in a different sphere of life, e.g. that cock wont fight can be used as a free word-group when it is used in sports (cock fighting ), it becomes a phraseological unit when it is used in everyday life, because it is used metaphorically,

h) they can be formed when we use some unreal image, e.g. to have butterflies in the stomach - , to have green fingers - - etc.

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