The main difference between lexicon and vocabulary is that the lexicon refers to the list of words along with its related knowledge on their linguistic significance and usage etc. while the vocabulary merely means the list of words a person knows of a particular language.
Linguistics is the study of the evolution and the science of language. The two terms lexicon and vocabulary are essential terms with regard to linguistics. Both lexicon and vocabulary consist of words in a language. However, lexicon encapsulates a wider knowledge of words in a language along with their proper usage.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Lexicon
– Definition, Features, Characteristics
2. What is Vocabulary
– Definition, Features, Characteristics
3. What is the Similarity Between Lexicon and Vocabulary
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Lexicon and Vocabulary
– Comparison of Key Differences
Lexicon, Linguistics, Language, Study, Vocabulary, Usage
What is Lexicon
Lexicon by definition means the vocabulary of a person, language, or branch of knowledge. This can include the technical terms of a particular subject or field as well. Moreover, lexicon can also mean a book containing an alphabetical arrangement of the words in a language and their definitions.
However, in linguistics, the term lexicon denotes a broader understanding of the language. Accordingly, lexicon is ‘the knowledge that a native speaker has about a language’. This includes information about,
- the form and meanings of words and phrases
- lexical categorization
- the appropriate usage of words and phrases
- relationships between words and phrases, and
- categories of words and phrases.
It is also important to note that phonological and grammatical rules are not considered part of the lexicon.
Therefore, lexicon covers a wider understanding of words and their related usage, their function according to the context, classification of the words, the relationship of words with other phrases, etc. Hence, lexicon offers an insight into the range of words and their application in communication.
What is Vocabulary
Vocabulary means the list of words a person knows of a particular language or a field. Therefore, vocabulary is mostly the person’s awareness of the words that will assist him in his daily communication. Or in brief, vocabulary is the set of familiar words within a person’s language.
Therefore, unlike lexicon, which denotes a complete group of all words in a language, vocabulary only refers to a subset of words in a language that are used in a particular context or of a particular person.
Therefore, unlike lexicon, which covers a linguistic insight, vocabulary is mostly about the individual’s list of words used in the daily usage. Moreover, to have one’s own set of vocabulary one need not gain a sound knowledge of linguistics since vocabulary only enhances one’s capacity for expression and communication.
On the contrary, knowledge of the lexicon suggests a sound knowledge of the linguistic aspect of those words.
Similarity Between Lexicon and Vocabulary
- Both these terms indicate words in a particular language or a field of study.
Difference Between Lexicon and Vocabulary
Lexicon refers to the list of words along with its related knowledge on their linguistic significance and usage while vocabulary merely refers to the list of words a person knows of a particular language.
Lexicon has a broader coverage on the linguistic significance and the usage of the words in a language accordingly while vocabulary only defines the list of words a person knows of a language.
The term lexicon is often used in a linguistic context while the term vocabulary is used on a general context on daily use among people.
Both lexicon and vocabulary contain words related to a language or to a specific field of study. Therefore, both these terms appear related, which makes most people use them interchangeably. Nevertheless, these two terms have a significant difference between them. The difference between lexicon and vocabulary is that lexicon refers to the list of words along with its related knowledge on their linguistic significance and usage while vocabulary merely refers to the list of words a person knows of a particular language.