Word Study (1) • A word is a linguistic unit that • can be moved around relatively freely in a sentence; • can be stressed; • has only one primary stress; • can be pronounced naturally on its own; • can usually be inserted between two other words, but in the middle of a word.
Levels of Words From a stylistic point of view, words are often divided into three types: • formal • common • colloquial
Formal words • In formal writing: formal words, learned words, or literary words, or big words (e.g. scholarly or theoretical words, political and legal documents, and formal lectures and addresses. ) • 1) Many formal words contain three or more than three syllables; most of them of Greek or Latin origin. • 2) Formal words are seldom used in informal writing.
Common words • Common words: being used by common people every day, and appear in all kinds of writing • Common words are good for all kinds of writing
Colloquial words • Colloquial words are mainly used in informal or familiar conversation. • 1) being short words of one or two syllables and most of them are of Saxon origin • 2) seldom used in formal writing, unless for some special purpose or effect
Slang words • being often used by uneducated speakers, with dialectal words • being highly informal, vivid and interesting
Types of words • Content word • 1) mainly used for its lexical content • 2) has separate entry in the mental lexicon • e.g. charming, fish, fly
Types of words • Function word • mainly used for its grammatical function • has separate entry in the mental lexicon • e.g. and,then, under
Types of words • Word form • shape of word • Doesn't have separate entry, but is included in entry information • e.g. fly, flying, flies, flew
Types of words word, e.g. break word form (inflection) break breaks breaking broke function wordcontent word and, then, there car, happy, steal
Common words only a few thousand words the core of the English vocabulary ordinary people for ordinary purposes learn and remember Formal and technical words useful & formal words by people of special professions or fields political, legal, scientific, technical, business and literary Types of Words
Common words • same，speech，learned，destroy，stiff, try，piece, and so on • used in everyday conversation & in informal writing
Formal words • identical，oration，erudite，annihilate，rigid，endeavor，fragment • used only in formal writing like articles, documents, research papers, manuals and in public speaking
Technical words Technical or special words refer to those words used in various special fields. Every branch of science, every profession or trade, every art and every sort of sports has its own technical terms. Most of the technical terms are Latin or Greek in origin. In fact, they are part of literary words. Since language is constantly changing, the classification of words by level of usage is not absolute.
Standard English words used by all educated speakers of language
not well educated people people of special groups a particular region an age group slang jargon dialectal obsolete Nonstandard words
noun article verb pronoun numeral adjective adverb preposition conjunction interjection Parts of Speech
Examples of nonstandard words • Ain't (am not, is not, has not) jolly (very) cool (very good) • Hot (angry; fast) damn (very) deal (agreement) neat (nice)
Guidelines about the choice of words • Use common or informal words for general purposes; • use formal or nonstandard words only on special occasions or for special purposes;
Guidelines about the choice of words • Use specific and concrete words when giving details; • Use general or abstract words when making summaries;
Guidelines about the choice of words • Use idiomatic expressions and words in acceptable collocations; • avoid combinations that are unidiomatic;
Guidelines about the choice of words When there are synonyms, choose the word that expresses the meaning most exactly and that suits the content and style.
General rules in the domain of vocabulary • Prefer the familiar word to the far-fetched (unnatural) • Prefer the concrete word to the abstract • Prefer the single word to the circumlocution • Prefer the short word to the long • Prefer the Saxon word to the Romance
General & specific word Words are general or specific by comparison. e.g.He has a big house. Note: need not use them either in speech or in writing. Both general and specific words are useful in writing. e.g. He has a two-storeyed house with four bedrooms, two living-rooms, a dining-room and a kitchen.
Concrete and specific words usually think of general words first when we write specific words are more colorful and impressive
Idiomatic expressions are those habitually used by native speakers. Word-for-word translation from Chinese into English generally results in unidiomatic expressions.
Collocations • “没有规律” • "to have no law“ • Book • 书 • strike • 打 • land • 土地 • family • 家
Collocations Collocations in English are often different from collocations in Chinese. Collocations: words can be used together We say in Chinese, for instance, daxue, while in English the word snow is modified not by big but by heavy.
Synonyms Synonyms are words that have the same, or almost the same meaning. e.g. The wall was made ofrocks. The wall was made ofstones.
about abstract to accumulate to administer anyway apparent to appear to assure awful approximately summary to build up to manage besides obvious to seem to guarantee terrible Some Synonyms
to behave beneficial bid bloodless branch business busy (telephone) to act Favourable tender cold department commerce, trade engaged Some Synonyms
to categorize chiefly citation clever completely to confine constant to convey to classify mainly quotation intelligent totally to restrict fixed to communicate Some Synonyms
eager to emphasize to encounter essential to evaluate exactly except extra keen to stress to come across fundamental to assess precisely apart from additional More Synonyms
1. Development of English vocabulary All the words in a language together constitute what is known as its vocabulary. A. English vocabulary as viewed in the historical perspective The history of English begins with the conquest and settlement of what is now England by the Angles, Saxons and the Jutes from about 450 AD.
The language they spoke was Anglo-Saxon, which replaced the Celtic spoken by the former inhabitants. The next seven hundred years (449-1100) are known as the Old English (OE) or Anglo-Saxon (AS) period of the English language. The vocabulary of Old English contains some fifty or sixty thousand words, which were chiefly Anglo-Saxon with a small mixture of Old Norse (a general term for the Scandinavian language in its very early stage) words as a result of the Scandinavian or the Danish conquests of England in the ninth century.
During the Old English period, English language borrowed a considerable number of Latin words, especially after the introduction of Christianity into Britain in 597. e.g. bargain, cheap, inch, pound; cup, dish, wall, wine; abbot, altar, candle, disciple, hymn, martyr, nun, priest, pope, shrine, temple and a great many others. The transitional period from Old English to Modern English is know as Middle English (ME 1100-1500), which is characterized by the strong influence of French following the Norman Conquest in 1066.
Since the French-speaking Normans were the ruling class, French was used for all state affairs and for most social and cultural matters; but the masses continued to speak English. The French loan words（借词）were found in every section of the vocabulary: e.g. law and governmental administration (judge, jury, justice; government, parliament, state…); military affairs (conquer, sergeant, victory…); religion (baptism, confess, divine, sermon…); clothing (coat, dress, gown, robe…); food (beef, mutton, pork, dinner…); art (beauty, image, design…); literature (chapter, poet, prose…);
science (medicine, remedy, surgeon), and so on. The English language from 1500 to the present is called Modern English. In the early stages of this period (including the years between 1500 and about 1700) the Renaissance brought great changes to vocabulary. In this period, the study of classics were stressed and the result was the wholesale borrowing from Latin. The Latin loan words were mostly connected with science and abstract ideas.
e.g. chemist, function, scientific, vacuum; area, irony, theory, education, adapt, exist, appropriate, precise. The renewed study of Greek also led to the introduction of some Greek words directly into the English vocabulary. Greek borrowings were mostly literary, technical and scientific words. e.g. drama, comedy, tragedy, lexicon, criterion, botany, physics and so on. From the 16th century onward, English borrowed words from an increasing number of languages,
For example, from French: attach, café and so on; Italian (mainly in the fields of music, art and architecture): concert, duet, piano, soprano, solo, tenor; model, bust, studio; dome, balcony, piassa and so on; Spanish: armada, cargo, vanilla, cocoa and cigar; Portuguese: caste and pagoda; German: bismuth, cobalt, nickel and zinc; Dutch: dock, freight and keel; Russian: vodka, troika, ruble and tsar;
Australian: boomerang, kangaroo and dingo; Arabic: sugar, sultan and alcohol; Indian: coolie, cashmere and khaki; Hebrew: schmozzo and schmalts; Chinese: tea, typhoon and yamen; Japanese: kimono and tycoon; African: gorilla and zebra. In fact English has adopted words from almost every known language in the course of its historical development.
As summed up in The Encyclopedia Americana: “…The English language has vast debts. In any dictionary some 80% of the entries are borrowed” English is supposed to have the most copious vocabulary of all the language in the world, estimated at more than a million words. B. The rapid growth of present-day English vocabulary (especially after the World War II) and its causes
After World War II, neologisms (new words or new meanings for established words)（新词语）swept in at any rate much faster than that of the pre-war period. The main reasons for the frequent appearance of neologisms are three: 1. Marked progress of science and technology: Since the end of World War II, tremendous new advances in all fields of science and technology have given rise to the creation in the English language of tens of thousands of new words.
The great majority of these are technical terms known only to the specialists, but a certain number of them have become familiar to the public and passed into general use. e.g. Words used in connection with the nuclear bomb: chain reaction, radioactivity, fall-out; clean bomb, overkill, neutron bomb and medium-range ballistic missiles and so on. Words connected with the exploration of space: astronaut, countdown, capsule, launching pad, spacemen, space suit, space platform and space shuttle etc.
2. Socio-economic, political and cultural changes: (aspects that connect with the introduction of new words) e.g. New social habits and new living conditions: hire purchase, credit card, fringe benefit; chores, house sitter, house sitting, pressure cooker, microwave oven, instant noodle, supermarket etc. Drug addiction: upper (a stimulant drug), downer (a depressant drug) Some subculture: hippie, yuppie, gay, lesbian etc.
Women’s Liberation Movement: Ms, chairperson, spokeswomen, saleswoman, feminism, malechauvinism, and sexism. Changes in education: open classroom “an informal flexible system of elementary education in which open discussions and individualized activities replace the traditional subject-centered studies”, Open University etc. 3. The influence of other cultures and languages: Examining the English vocabulary in its historical perspective, one can see that
English is characterized by a marked tendency to go outside her own linguistic resources and borrow from other languages. Although this borrowing has slowed down, it is still an important factor in vocabulary development. e.g. discotheque from French, sputnik from Russian, mao tai from Chinese and so on. The development of science, the rapid changes in society, the receptive and flexible nature of English with regard to the influence of other cultures and languages---all these have resulted
in a dramatic increase in vocabulary, a growth which in turn contributes to the richness and resourcefulness of the English language.
Good Dictionaries • Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English • Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English