The common core of the vocabulary
(the basic vocabulary)
stylistically neutral words
characterized by high frequency
cover the greater portion of every utterance
names of things and phenomena of the
surrounding nature (sun, moon, water, fire,
earth, snow, rain),
• names of human beings and of dwelling
places, parts of human body (man, woman,
mother, father, house, head, hand),
The common core of the vocabulary
(the basic vocabulary)
• names of the main spectral colours and of the
processes of life activity (red, green, young,
go, come, drive, live, make), etc.
• mostly of native origin.
• known to all English speaking people.
• lack connotations.
Stylistically coloured (stylistically
marked) words
words suitable only on certain definite occasions
in specific spheres and suggestive of specific
conditions of communication.
Functional style is a system of expressive means
peculiar to a specific sphere of communication.
• Formal
• Informal.
Informal vocabulary
• is used in personal two-way everyday
communication, e.g. in dialogues between
friends, colleagues, etc.
• Informal style is relaxed, familiar and
• The choice of words may be determined
socially or regionally.
Types of informal words
• colloquial
• slang
• dialect words
Colloquial words (colloquialisms)
are the least exclusive: they are used by
everybody, and their sphere of communication
is comparatively wide
• literary
• familiar
• low colloquial words
Literary colloquial words
• are used by educated people in the course of
ordinary conversation or when writing letters to
intimate friends.
• are used by English and American writers to
create an intimate, warm and informal
• E.g. pal, chum (friend); girl (woman of any age);
bite, snack (meal), etc.
• Shortenings: E.g. pram (perambulator), exam,
fridge, flu, etc.
• Phrasal verbs: put up, make out, do away, turn in,
Familiar colloquial words
• are used mostly by the young and semi-educated.
• are more emotional, free and careless than
literary colloquial.
• are characterised by a great number of jocular or
ironical expressions and nonce-words.
• E.g. doc (for doctor), ta-ta (for good-bye), to kid
smb. (to tease smb.), to pick smb. up (to make a
quick and easy acquaintance), shut up, beat it (go
away), etc.
Low colloquial words
• illiterate popular speech.
• contains more vulgar words, and sometimes
also elements of dialect.
Dialectal words
• Dialect is a regional or social variety of a
language characterized by its own
phonological, syntactic, and lexical properties.
• Standard English is the English language as it
is written and spoken by literate people in
both formal and informal usage and that is
universally current while incorporating
regional differences.
Dialectal words
• are constantly being incorporated into colloquial
speech and slang.
• can be transferred into the common stock and
even into formal speech. E.g. car, trolley, tram
• regional differences in lexical items:
E.g. a sandwich on a large roll with a variety of
meats and cheeses: a grinder, a sub, a hero, or a
poor boy (USA).
a carbonated soft drink: soda, pop, tonic, soda pop
• a variety of vocabulary strata that consists either of
newly coined words and phrases or of current
words employed in special meaning
• expressive, mostly ironical words serving to create
fresh names for some things that are frequent
topics of discourse.
• sound somewhat vulgar, cynical and harsh, aiming
to ridicule the object of speech.
• E.g. slang words denoting money: beans, brass,
dough, chink, wads
• head: attic, brain-pan, hat peg, nut, upper storey
• drunk: boozy, cock-eyed, high, soaked, tight
• Slang words accepted into literary vocabulary: bet,
bore, chap, donkey, fun, humbug, mob, odd, pinch,
shabby, etc.
• Most slang terms disappear from use within a
generation or so.
• Slang is mostly used by the young and uneducated.
• Reasons for using slang: to be picturesque, striking,
modern, different from others.
• Slang is a sign of group identity.
• The form of any particular slang will differ according to
the interests of the group that employs it.
Formal words
• used in formal situations: monologues
addressed by one person to many, and often
prepared in advance.
• precise
• elaborate
• national, i.e. not limited socially or
Types of formal words
• learned words
• archaic and obsolete words
• professional terminology
Learned words
• Words of scientific prose: e.g. approximate,
feasible, heterogeneous, homogeneous,
indicate, initial, miscellaneous, respectively,
• Officialese (official, bureaucratic language):
e.g. assist (help), endeavor (try), proceed (go),
approximately (about), sufficient (enough),
attired (dressed), inquire (ask), etc.
Learned words
• Literary (mostly polysyllabic words borrowed
from the Romance languages): e.g. solitude,
sentiment, fascination, fastidiousness,
delusion, elusive, etc.
• Modes of poetic diction: e.g. array (убор,
наряд); brine (морская вода, слезы); steed
(конь); behold (узреть); hearken
(прислушиваться); murky (темный); uncouth
(странный). Poetic words have a lofty, highflown, sometimes archaic colouring.
Professional terminology
• Term is a word or a word-group which is
specifically employed by a particular branch of
science, technology, trade or the arts to convey a
concept peculiar to this particular activity. E.g.
bilingual, interdental, labialization, palatalization,
etc. (theoretical phonetics).
• An “ideal” term is monosemantic, possesses no
• a term may become substituted by another term
or determinologized
Archaic and obsolete words
• Archaic words are words that were common some
time ago but have been ousted from the language by
their modern synonyms and are no longer used in
neutral or colloquial intercourse. E.g. thou (ты),
hereby (настоящим), damsel (девица), errant
(странствующий), woe (горе), etc.
• Obsolete words are words which have completely
gone out of use and are no longer understood by the
present generation. E.g. whilom (formerly), wight
(fellow), anon (at once), etc.
• Historisms are words denoting objects and
phenomena, which are things of the past and no
longer exist. E.g. brougham, berlin , hansom,
phaeton, etc.

The common core of the vocabulary (the basic vocabulary)