Language study quote 2

Posted: March 3, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Proper names

“Are proper names part of the English lexicon? Should all words beginning with a capital letter be excluded from the vocabulary count of the language? (…) There is an intuitive difference between such words as table and sleep, on the one hand, and Paris and Sartre, on the other. We do not usually count the latter as true vocabulary. If it were otherwise, we could call ourselves lexically fluent whenever we toured in a foreign country, and got to know its towns, streets, and shop names.

However, proper names cannot be so easily dismissed. There is a sense in which they are part of the learning of a language.

(…) We have to conclude that English proper names are on the boundary of the lexicon. Some of theme are so closely bound up with the way meaning is structured in the language that it would be difficult to exclude them from an superdictionary.”

– Quote taken from the second edition of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language by David Crystal

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