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Title: The English word : a critical survey of some aspects of lexicography and lexicology in the English language
Author: McArthur, T. B.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1978
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Chapters 1 and 2 of this study trace the development of English-language lexicography through two distinct traditions: the glossary-to-dictionary line and the lose well-documented vocabulary-to-thesaurus line. It shows that compilers have never explicitly formulated a theory of 'the word'. Instead, they developed many practical techniques for listing, retrieving, defining and illustrating language items which (they assumed) every educated person automatically knew were words. English-language lexicography began as an exercise in translation between Latin and English, but, as Latin material was absorbed into English lexis (from the Renaissance onwards), lexicography became an apparently unilingual activity. The evidence indicates, however, that despite appearances the original bilingualism remains with us, translation being now intra- instead of inter-linguistic. Chapter 3 reviews the counters of words from the early 19th century on, surveying the objective counters (such as Thorndike), and those who sorted words subjectively (such as Palmer), along with a parallel logico-semantic approach (Ogden's Basic English). Here again there was a lack of explicit theory, and the counts were lose than successful because of a failure to be clear on what to count and where to go for the basic data. The word-counters were also inevitably drawn by the logic of their work into the business of compiling dictionaries. In Chapter 4 linguistics is seen as having made few explicit attempts to define words, nevertheless frequently appealing to our inherent assumptions about what words are, so that such units as 'morphemes' could be postulated and put to work. Chapter 5 synthesizes elements in the earlier chapters. A typology is offered for the English word, and a distinction established between words and lexical basin for word-formation. A number of devices are proposed as useful in any theory of words, including structure formulas, a root-and-base distinction, holism, derivational paradigms and compounding patterns. The theoretical position adopted derives from the work of many linguists, but, in particular, from Vendryes, Sapir, Rose, Entuhiatle and Marchand. A review in also made of the problems relating to semantic analysis, as undertaken by the American cognitive anthropologists and by Lyons. It is proposed that English lexis, historically and functionally, is polysystemic, a composite of two (Vernacular and Neo-Latin) 'streams'. These interact in the living language to provide parallel morphologies and reservoir areas for word-coining. Chapter 6 is an attempt to demonstrate how the principles of Chapter 5 can be applied to a specific area: suffixal word-formation in English. It adopts the polysystemic approach, is both diachronic and synchronic, and uses derivational paradigms, paraphrases and glosses to create a new model of productive. suffixation. It is argued that the lexis and morphology of English cannot be adequately understood without recourse to polysystemic models.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available