What Is a Word? What Is Lexicology?
What's is a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet...
(W. Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Sc. 2)
These famous lines reflect one of the fundamental problems of linguistic research: what is in a name, in a word? Is there any direct connection between a word and the object it represents? Could a rose have been called by "any other name" as Juliet says?
These and similar questions are answered by lexicological re-search. Lexicology, a branch of linguistics, is the study of words.
For some people studying words may seem uninteresting. But if studied properly, it may well prove just as exciting and novel as un-earthing the mysteries of Outer Space.
It is significant that many scholars have attempted to define the word as a linguistic phenomenon. Yet none of the definitions can be considered totally satisfactory in all aspects. It is equally surprising that, despite all the achievements of modern science, certain essential aspects of the nature of the word still escape us. Nor do we fully un-derstand the phenomenon called "language", of which the word is a fundamental unit.
We do not know much about the origin of language and, conse-quently, of the origin of words. It is true that there are several hy-potheses, some of them no less fantastic than the theory of the divine origin of language.
We know nothing — or almost nothing — about the mechanism by which a speaker's mental process is converted into sound groups called "words", nor about the reverse process whereby a listener's brain converts the acoustic phe-nomena into concepts and ideas, thus establishing a two-way process of communication.
We know very little about the nature of relations between the word and the referent (i. e. object, phenomenon, quality, action, etc. denoted by the word). If we assume that there is a direct relation be-tween the word and the referent — which seems logical — it gives rise to another question: how...