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Structure Of The English Vocabulary Essay

2208 words - 9 pages


English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England.Following the economic, political, military, scientific, cultural, and colonial influence of Great Britain and the United Kingdom from the 18th century, via the British Empire, and of the United States since the mid-20th century, it has been widely dispersed around the world, become the leading language of international discourse, and has acquired use as lingua franca in many regions. It is widely learned as a second language and used as an official language of the European Union and many Commonwealth countries, as well as in many world organizations. It is the third most ...view middle of the document...

Merriam Webster online dictionary provides the following definitions of vocabulary :
1.a list or collection of words or of words and phrases usually alphabetically arranged and explained or defined : lexicon

2 a : a sum or stock of words employed by a language, group, individual, or work or in a field of knowledge
b : a list or collection of terms or codes available for use (as in an indexing system)
3 : a supply of expressive techniques or devices (as of an art form) [5]
It includes passive vocabulary (all the words recognized and understood, although not necessarily used, by a particular person[6]) and active vocabulary (all the words used by a particular person, socioeconomic group, profession, etc.[7]).
All living languages are constantly changing and English is no exception. From the linguistic point of view, changes in pronunciation and grammar are much slower than changes in vocabulary that is constantly changing, growing and decaying.
The changes in the vocabulary of a language are due both to linguistic and extralinguistic causes. Vocabulary is a permanent subject to change, as a reaction to changes in social life of speech communities.
Dimensions of the English vocabulary
According to Lipka (2002:21) the English vocabulary has two dimensions: a temporal and a geographical one.
The temporal dimension is visible in its stratification through various influences at different times. The geographical dimension is very important and concerns the differencies between varieties of English. Considering the spread of the English language throughout the world, some linguists speak even of English vocabularies.
Among the varieties of English the most famous is the case of American and British English.
In many textbooks we can find pairs such as the following:

Am E : railroad, baggage, sidewalk, truck
BrE : railway, luggage, pavement, lorry

Structure of the English Vocabulary
Modern English has a very extensive vocabulary. A question naturally arises whether this enormous word-stock is composed of separate independent lexical units, or it should perhaps be regarded as a certain structured system made up of numerous interdependent and interrelated sub-systems or groups of words. This problem may be viewed in terms of the possible ways of classifying vocabulary items. Barbara Strang, in her book, Modern English Structure, states the following : “While grammar is the domain of systems , lexis is the domain of vast lists of formal items about which rather little generalization can be made” (1968:215). But even if from the historical point of view, the vocabulary is an accumulation of words, it is not merely a list of items. A number of important generalizations can be made.[8] Vocabulary is not simply an inventory of unconnected, isolated elements, but a lexico-semantic system of interdependent and interrelated elements. A change in one part of the system brings a change into...

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