The problems of definition of a word
Nobody doubts that word is a basic unit of lexicology, alongside with morphemes and phraseological units. Each word is a small unit within a vast, efficient and well-balanced system. It is immediately understood by every native speaker. A word is a dialectical unity of form and content. The definition of the word is one of the most difficult in linguistics because the simplest word is a multi-aspect unit possessing a sound form (a certain arrangement of phonemes). Besides, it has morphological structure (a certain arrangement of morphemes). When it is used in actual speech, it may occur in different word forms and signal different meanings. The word is a sort of focus for the problems of phonology, lexicology, syntax, morphology and also for some other sciences dealing with the language and speech. Each of these sciences suggests its own definition of the word but in fact none of these definitions can be considered totally satisfactory in all aspects. If we try to divorce two facets of the word (form and content), the word will lose its identity. The word is further complicated by the existence of variants and word forms. ‘Write - writing - has been writing - wrote - written’ - these are word forms. They are lexically identical but have different grammatical meaning. These forms constitute the word paradigm. Variants appear when slight modifications in the morphemic or phonemic structure of the word are related with any modification in the content or changes in the plane of expression are linked with the change in the plane of content (‘open’ - ‘opened’). There are a lot of linguistic definitions of the word. It can be defined syntactically (a minimal sentence; a minimal free form which occur in sentences), as a minimal meaningful unit of speech. It can be considered on purely phonetic criterion as a part of the sentence singled out with full stops. Some linguists claim that word is means of nominating any element of...
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