Lexicon: What's in a word?


Research your assigned word (assigned in class) in an unabridged dictionary as well as a student (learner’s) dictionary - use whatever you can find in the library and online. Copy and paste the questions into a document.  Use that document to do your research.  Bring a copy of the document with answers to class on Monday, 30 Sept.  Write notes only.  Submit your assignment by noon on Monday. 

1. What part of speech is your word?

2. If your word is a noun, how do you form the plural? How do you form the possessive?

3. If it is a verb, how do you form the present tense? Past tense? Present participle? Past participle? Is it a "regular" verb?

4. If it is an adjective, how do you show comparative and superlative forms?

5. Does your word take any prefixes or suffixes other than –er, -ed, -ing, -est? What happens when you apply the affixes?

6. How is it spelled? Are there any potential difficulties/irregularities for learners?

7. What are the potential pronunciation problems for this word and its forms?

8. What does your word mean?

9. How many meanings does it have? Is there reference to other Englishes in the dictionary?

10. Are there other words with similar meanings?

11. Is your word used in any idiomatic constructions?

12. Is this word frequently used with other words (collocations) such as 'depend on' or 'rancid butter'? Which ones?

13. Does the word have positive or negative connotations for you?

14. What well-known associations does it have? (e.g. as good as gold).

15. Is the word formal, informal or slang?

16. Is it an important word? How often do you use it?

17. Does it have any cultural overtones (cf. cricket/baseball)?

18. Does it have homophones? homonyms? synonyms? antonyms?

19. Think of a particular English language student (proficiency level, study purpose and context). How much of the above would you teach? Will it be easy or difficult to teach the word?

20. What does it mean to say you know a word?