Lexicology of the English Language


Besides two main groups of borrowings (Romanic and Germanic) there are also borrowings from a lot of other languages. We shall speak about Russian borrowings, borrowings from the language which belongs to Slavoninc languages.

Russian borrowings.

There were constant contacts between England and Russia and they borrowed words from one language into the other. Among early Russian borrowings there are mainly words connected with trade relations, such as: rouble, copeck, pood, sterlet, vodka, sable, and also words relating to nature, such as: taiga, tundra, steppe etc.

There is also a large group of Russian borrowings which came into English through Rushian literature of the 19-th century, such as : Narodnik, moujik, duma, zemstvo. volost, ukase etc, and also words which were formed in Russian with Latin roots, such as: nihilist, intelligenzia, Decembrist etc.

After the Great October Revolution many new words appeared in Russian connected with the new political system, new culture, and many of them were borrowed into English, such as: collectivization. udarnik, Komsomol etc and also translation loans, such as: shock worker, collective farm, five-year plan etc.

One more group of Russian borrowings is connected with perestroika, such as: glasnost, nomenklatura, apparatchik etc.


Sometimes a word is borrowed twice from the same language. As the result, we have two different words with different spellings and meanings but historically they come back to one and the same word. Such words are called etymological doublets. In English there are some groups of them:

Latino-French doublets.

Latin English from Latin English from French

uncia inch ounce

moneta mint money

camera camera chamber

Franco-French doublets

doublets borrowed from different dialects of French.

Norman Paris

canal channel

captain chieftain

catch chaise

Scandinavian-English doublets

Scandinavian English

skirt shirt

scabby shabby

There are also etymological doublets which were borrowed from the same language during different historical periods, such as French doublets: gentil - , , etymological doublets are: gentle - , and genteel - . From the French word gallant etymological doublets are : gallant - and gallant - , .

Sometimes etymological doublets are the result of borrowing different grammatical forms of the same word, e.g. the Comparative degree of Latin super was superior which was borrowed into English with the meaning high in some quality or rank. The Superlative degree (Latin supremus)in English supreme with the meaning outstanding, prominent. So superior and supreme are etymological doublets.


The branch of lexicology which deals with the meaning is called semasiology.


Every word has two aspects: the outer aspect (its sound form) and the inner aspect (its meaning) . Sound and meaning do not always constitute a constant unit even in the same language. E.g. the word temple may denote a part of a human head and a large church In such cases we have homonyms. One and the same word in different syntactical relations can develop different meanings, e.g. the verb treat in sentences:

a) He treated my words as a joke.

b) The book treats of poetry.

c) They treated me to sweets.

d) He treats his son cruelly.

In all these sentences the verb treat has different meanings and we can speak about polysemy.

On the other hand, one and the same meaning can be expressed by different sound forms, e.g. pilot , and airman, horror and terror. In such cases we have synonyms.

Both the meaning and the sound can develop in the course of time independently. E.g. the Old English /luvian/ is pronounced /l^v / in Modern English. On the other hand, board primariliy means a piece of wood sawn thin It has developed the meanings: a table, a board of a ship, a stage, a council etc.

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