Лекции Л. И. Городнего по лексикологии английского языка


Learning objectives: After you have studied the lecture you should able to:

1)define the term semasiology;

2) speak about the problem of defining the term

3) explain the essence of

a) the referential approach to the problem of defining the meaning

b) the functional approach;

4)express your own appreciation of the problem under analysis.

5) give (draw) a basic triangle (E.g.: The shop houses 15-ton crane; A naked conductor ran along the car).

The brunch of lexicology, that is devoted to the study of meaning is known as Semasiology.

Semasiology (from Gr . semasia - "signification") deals not with every kind of linguistic meaning only. This does not mean that we need not pay attention to the grammatical meaning. On the contrary, grammatical meaning must be taken into consideration in so far as it bears a specific influence upon lexical meaning.

The main objects of semasiological study are as follows: semantic development of words,

its causes and classification, relevant distinctive features and types of lexical meaning, polysemy and semantic structure of word, semantic groupings and connections in the vocabulary system, i.e. synonyms, antonyms, etc.

Meaning is one of the most controversial terms in the theory of language. An exact definition of lexical meaning becomes especially difficult due to complexity of the process, by which language and human consequence serve to reflect outward reality. Since there is no universally accepted definition meaning we shall give a brief survey of the problem as it is viewed in modern linguistics. There are 2 approaches to the problem: 1) the referential approach, which formulates the essence of meaning as the interdependence between words and things or concepts they denote; 2) the functional approach, which studies the functions of a word in speech. This approach is (sometimes described as contextual) based on the analysis of various contexts.

The essential feature of the first approach is that in distinguishes between the three components, connected with meaning:

1) the sound form of the linguistic sign (sign or symbol);

2) the concept underlying this sound form (meaning; thought or reference).

3 ) the actual referent, i.e. the part or the aspect of reality to which the linguistic sign refers (thing meant).

The best known referential model of meaning is so-called "basic triangle", which may be represent in a simplified form:

Concept (meaning, thought, referent)

Sound form referent (thing meant)

(sign, symbol)

As we can see from the diagram, the sound form of the linguistic sign, for instance [kot] is connected with our concept of a small which it denotes, and though it with the referent, i.e. the actual thing. The common feature of the referential approach is the implacation that meaning in some form or other connected with referent.

Let us examine the interrelation between:

1-Meaning and sound form

The sound-form of the word is not identical with, its meaning namely [kot] is the sound form, used to denote a bed for a child There are inherent connections between this sound form, used to denote a bed for a child. There are inherent connections between this sound form and the meaning of the word "cot", but they are conventional and arbitrary. We may prove it by comparing the sound-forms of different languages, conveying one and the same meaning, cf. English [kot] and Russian [krovatka]. On the contrary, the sound-cluster [kot] in the English language is almost identical to the sound form in Russian language possessing the meaning "male-cat".

2-Meaning and concept

When we examine a word, we see that its meaning, though connected with the underlying concept is not identical with it. To begin with, concept is a category of human cognition. Concept is the thought of the object that singles out its essential features. Our concepts abstracts and reflect the most common and typical features of the different objects and phenomena of the world. Being the result of abstraction the concepts are thus almost the same for the whole of humanity. The meanings of worlds, however, are different in different languages. In other words, words expressing identical concepts may have different semantic structures in different languages. The concept of "a building for human habitation” is expressed in English by the word house, in Russian by the word дом, but the meaning of the English word is not identical with that of the Russian as house does not possess the meaning of "fixed residence of family or household", which that of the Russian as house does not possess the meaning of the Russia word дом; it is expressed by another English word, namely home.

The difference between meaning and concept can also be observed by comparing synonymous words and word-groups expressing the same concepts, but possessing linguistic meaning, which is felt as different in each of the units under considerations:

Big - large;

To die - to pass away - kick the bucket - join the majority;

Child - baby-babe-infant;

Daddy - father - governor - etc.

3-Meaning and referent

To distinguish meaning from the referent, i.e. from the thing denoted by the linguistic sign is of the utmost importance. To begin with, meaning is a linguistic phenomenon whereas the denoted object or the referent is beyond the scope of language. We can denote one and the same object by more than one word of a different meaning. For example, an apple can be denoted by the words apple, fruit, smth, this, etc. So far as all these words have the same referent.

Thus meaning is not to be identified with either of the three points of the triangle. It is closely connected, but not identical with sound-form, concept or referent. Yet even the linguists, who accepted this view disagree as to the nature of meaning. Some of them regard meaning as the interrelation of the three points the triangle within the framework of the given language, but not as an objectively exiting part of the linguistic sign. Others and among them the outstanding Russian scholar Smirnitsky A. I. understand the linguistic sign as a two-facet unit. They view meaning as "a certain reflection in our mind of objects, phenomena or relations that makes part of the linguistic sign - its so called inner facet, whereas the sound-form functions as its outer facet" The outer facet of the linguistic sign is indispensable to meaning and intercommunication. Meaning is to be found in all linguistic units and together with their sound-form constitutes by linguistic science. The linguistic signs studied by linguistic science.

The great stumbling block in referential theories of meaning has always been that they operate with subjective and intangible mental processes. The results of the semantic investigation therefore depend to a certain extent on "the feeling of language" and cannot be verified by another investigator analyzing the same linguistic data. So, semasiology has to rely too much on linguistic intuition and unlike other fields of linguistics (phonetics, history of language) does not posses objective methods of investigation.

Functional approach to Meaning

In recent years a new and entirely different approach to meaning has appeared in structural linguistics. This approach maintains that a linguistic study of meaning is the investigation of the relation of sign to sign only. In other words, they hold the view that the meaning of a linguistic unit may be studied only through its relation to other linguistic units and not through its relation to either concept or referent. Thus, the meaning of the 2 words move and movement is different because they function in speech differently. Really, they occupy different positions in relation to other words. (To) move can be followed by a noun (move the chair), preceded by a pronoun (we move), etc. The position occupied by the word movement is different: it may be followed by a preposition (movement of smth) preceded by an adjective (slow movement) and so on. As the distribution ("the position of a linguistic sign in relation to other linguistic signs) of the 2 words is different they cone to the conclusion that not only they belong to different classes of words, but that that not only meanings are different too.

It follows that in the functional approach meaning may be viewed as the function of distribution: 1) semantic investigation is confined to the analysis of the different or sameness meaning; 2)meaning is understood essentially as the function or the use of linguistic signs.

Relation between the 2 approaches

When comparing the two approaches in terms of methods of linguistic analysis, we may see that the functional approach should not be considered an alternative, but rather a valuable complement to the referential theory. It is only natural that linguistic investigation must start by collecting an adequate number of samples of context. Once this phase had been completed, it seems but logical, to pass on to the referential phase and try to formulate the meaning thus identified. There is absolutely no need to set the two approaches against each other; each handles - its is side of the problem and neither is complete without the other.

The meaning of the word, its components

The word is one of the fundamental units of language. It is a dialectal unity of form and content. Its content or meaning is not identical to notion, but it may reflect human notion, but it may reflect human notion and is considered as the form of their existence. So the definition of a word is one of the most difficult in linguistics, because the simplest word has many different aspects: a sound form, its morphological structure, it may occur in different word-forms and have various meanings.

It is universally recognized that word meaning is not homogeneous, but it is made up of various components, which are described as types of meaning. There are 2 types of meaning to be found in words and word forms:

  1. the grammatical meaning;

  2. the lexical meaning.

Such word forms as “girls”, “writers”, “tables”, etc., though denoting different objects of reality have smth in common, namely the grammatical meaning of plurality, which can be found in all of them. Thus, the grammatical meaning is the component of meaning in the word forms of verbs (asked, thought, walked, etc.) or the case meaning in the word forms of various nouns (girls, boys, nights).

Word forms “speaks”, “reads”, “writers” have one and the same grammatical meaning as they can all be found in identical distributation, only after pronouns “she”, “he”, “they” and before such adverbs and adverbal phrases as “yesterday”, “last years”, “two hours ago”, etc.

The grammatical aspect of the part of speech meaning is conveyed as a rule by individual sets of word forms expressing the grammatical meaning of singularity (e.g. table) plurality (tables) and so on.

A verb is understood to possess sets of forms expressing, for instance, tense meaning (works-worked), mood meaning (work – I work).

The part of speech meaning of the words that possess but one form, e.g. prepositions, some adverbs, etc., is observed only in their disrtibutations (c.f. to come in (here, there) and in (on, under) the table).

Lexical meaning

Besides the grammatical meaning, there is another component of meaning. Unlike the grammatical meaning this component is identical in all the forms of the word. Thus the word-forms “go”, “goes”, “went”, “going” possess different grammatical meanings of tense, person and so on, but in each of these forms we find one and the same semantic component denoting the process of movement. This is the lexical meaning of the word, which may be described as the component of meaning proper to the word as a linguistic unit.

Thus, by lexical meaning we designate1 the meaning proper to the given linguistic unit in all its forms and disrtibutations, while by grammatical meaning we designate the meaning proper to sets of word forms common to all words of a certain class.

Both lexical and the grammatical meanings make up the word meaning as neither can exist without the other.

The interrelation of the lexical and the grammatical meaning and the role, played by each varies in different word classes and evening different groups of words within one and the same class. In some parts of speech the prevailing component is the grammatical type of meaning. The lexical meaning of prepositions is, as a rule, relatively vague2 (cf. to think/speak of smb., independent of smb., one of the friends, the room of the house). The lexical meaning of some preposition, however, may be comparatively distinct (cf. in/on/under the table). In verbs the lexical meaning usually comes to the fore3, although in some of them, the verb “to be”, e.g. the grammatical meaning of a linking element prevails (cf. “he works as a teacher”).

Denotational meaning

Proceeding with the semantic analysis we observe that lexical meaning may be analyzed as including denotational and connotational components. One of the functions of words is to denote things, concepts and so on. Users of a language cannot have only knowledge or thought of the object or phenomena of the real world around them, unless this knowledge is ultimately embodied in words, which have essentially the same meaning for all speakers of the language. This is the denotational meaning, i.e. that component of which the lexical meaning makes the communication possible.

Connotational meaning

The connotational meaning4 is the second component of lexical meaning. This component or the connotation includes the emotive charge and the stylistic value of the word.

Emotive charge is a part of the connotational meaning of a word; e.g. a hovel5 denotes “a small house or cottage” and besides implies6 that it is a miserable dwelling place, duty in bad repair and, in general, unpleasant place to live in.

When examing such groups of words as “large”, “big”, “tremendous” and “like”, “love”, “worship” and “girl”, “girlie” we observe the difference in the emotive charge of the words “tremendous”, “worship” and “girlie” is heavier than those of words “large”, “like” and “girl”.

The emotive charge does not depend on the “feeling” of the individual speaker, but is true for all speakers of English. The emotive charge is one of the objective semantic features of word as linguistic units and forms part of the connotational component of meaning.

But it should be confused with emotive implication that the words may acquire in speech. The emotive implication of the word is to a great extent selective as it greatly depends on the personal experience of the speaker, the mental imagery7 the word envokes in him.

Learning objection of the lecture ”The meaning of the word, its components”

After you have studied the lecture, you should be able:

  1. To explain the essence of the notions:

    1. The meaning of the word, its main types;

    2. The grammatical meaning;

    3. The lexical meaning;

    4. Interrelation between them.

  2. To give the semantic analyze of the lexical meaning of a word:

    1. The denotational component,

    2. The connotative component.

  3. To speak about stylistic reference of words.

1 обозначать

2 неясный, смутный

3 выходить, выдвигаться вперед

4 Сопутствующее значение, то, что подразумевается

5 Лачуга, хибара

6 Подразумевать

7 Образ(ы), образность

04 Polysemy. Semantic Structure of the Word

The modern approach to semasiology is based on the assump­tion that the inner form (or facet) of the word (i.e. its meaning) presents a structure, which is called the semantic structure of the word.

We know that most words convey several concepts and thus possess the corresponding number of meanings. A word having se­veral meanings is called polysemantic, and the ability of words to have more than one meaning is described by the term polysemy

The word "polysemy" (from Greece "polus"-many and "sema"-meaning) means a plurality of meanings.

The system of meanings of any polysemantic word develops gradually, mostly over the, centuries. These complicated processes of polysemy development involve both the appearance of the new meanings and the loss of old ones. Yet, the general tenden­cy with English vocabulary at the modern stage of its history is to increase the total number of its meanings and to provide for a quantitieve and qualitative growth of the expressive resources of the language.

Thus, word counts show that the total number of meanings separately registered in the New English Dictionary (NED) for the 1st thousand of the most frequent English words is almost 25 000,i.e. the average number of meanings for each of these words is 25.

For example: the word "power" has 15 meanings:

  1. Capacity of producing some effect (the power of heart burn)

  2. Control over some people (the power of Government)

  3. Delegated authority (the president exuded his power)

  4. Physical Strength (all the power of his muscles)

  5. Moral or intellectual force, energy

  1. A person of influence (he is a power in the town)

11) An effective quality of style in writing (a writer of great power)

12) Personal influence (a man's power means the readiness of other; men to obey him)

The elements of the semantic structure.

There arу no universally acsepfed criteria for differentiating these variants within one polysemantic word.The following terms may be found with different authors:

the meaning is direct or nominative when it nominates the object without the help of context,in insolation, i.e., in one,word sentences for example the "Rain" etc.

The meaning is figurative when the object is named and at the same time characterized. through its similarity, with - another object, while naming the object the word simultaneously describes it.

Other oppositions are:

Main or primary – secondary

Central - periphery

Narrow - extended

General – particular

Concrete - Abstract, etc.

Take, for example, the noun "screen". We find it in its direct meaning when it names a movable piece of furniture" used to hide smth. or protect smb, as in case of "fire screen" placed in front of a fireplace. The meaning is figurative when the word is applied to anything which protects by hiding, I as in "smoke screen". We define this meaning as figurative comparing it to the first that we called direct. Again,- when by a "screen" a speaker means "a silver-coloured sheet on which pictures are shown, this meaning in comparison with the first will be secondary. When the same word is used attributitively in such combinations as "screen actor", "screen star", "screen version", etc., it comes to mean "pertaining to the ci­nema" and is abstract to comparison with the first meaning which is called concrete. The main meaning is that which possesses the highest frequency, at the present stage of development all these terms reflect, relationship existing between different meanings of a word at the same period, so the classification may be called synchronic and. paradigmatic, although the terms are borrowed from historical lexicology and stylistics.


Homonymy in English

The learning objectives: after you have studied the lecture you should be able to speak on the following:

  1. Homonyms, its etymology, definition.

  2. Classification of homonyms.

  3. Sources of homonyms.

  4. Relationship among polysemy, homonymy and synonymy.

Seminar on Homonymy and Polysemy:

Consider your answer to the following:

  1. Antrushina G.B. and others “English lexicology”, M., 1999. Pp. 166-182.

Do exercises 1, 2, (8 sent), 4, 5, 7, (6 sent), 8 p. 182

  1. Kasheeva “Practical Lexicology”, pp. 39-40

Homonyms (from Gr. “homos” means “the same”, “omona” means “name”) are the words, different in meaning and either identical both in sound and spelling or identical only in spelling or sound. The most widely accepted classification of them is following:

        1. Homonyms proper (or perfect homonyms)

        2. Homophones

        3. Homographs

  1. Homonyms proper are words identical in pronunciation and spelling:

  1. “Ball” as a round object used in game, “ball” as a gathering of people for dancing;

  2. “Bark” v to utter sharp explosive cries; “bark” n is a noise made by dog or a sailing ship, etc.

      1. “Bay” v is to bark; “bay” n is a part of the sea or the lake filling wide mouth opening of the land, or the European laurel1, or гнедая лошадь.

You should remember, that homonyms are distinct words – not different meanings within one word.

    1. Homophones are words of the same sound, but of different meaning, for example:

“Air” – “heir”, “arms” – “alms”, “bye” – “buy” – “by”, “him” – “hymn”, “knight” – “night”, “rain” – “reign”, “not” – “knot”, “or” – “ore” – “oar”, “piece” – “peace”, “scent” – “cent”, “steal” – “steel” – “still”, “write” – “right”, “sea” – “see”, “son” – “sun”.

In the sentence: “The play-write on my right thinks it that some conventional rite2 should symbolize the right of every man to write as he pleases” the sound complex [rait] is noun, adjective, adverb and verb, has 4 different spellings and 6 different meanings.

The difference may be confined to the use of a capital letter as in “bill” and “Bill”: “How much is my milk bill?” – “Excuse me, madam, but my name is John”. On the other hand, whole sentences may be homophonic: “The sons raise meat” - “The sun’s rays meet”. To understand this one needs a wide context.

    1. Homographs are words different in sound and in meaning but accidentally identical in spelling:

Bow [bou] – лук / [bau] – поклон или нос корабля

Lead [li:d] – вести / [led] – свинец

Row [rou] – грести или ряд / [rau] – шум, скандал

Sever [sov ] – шея / [sjuv ] – сточная труба

Tear [tεe] – рвать / [ti ] – слеза

Wind [wind] – ветер / [waind] – заводить (часы)

Classification of homonyms in full and partial see in: Kasheeva – pp 39-40, Antrushina – pp 128-129.

Sources of homonyms

On of source of homonyms is a phonetic change, which a word undergoes3 in the course of it historical development. As a result of such changes, less or more words, which were formerly pronounced differently, may develop identical sound forms and thus become homonyms.

“Night” and “knight”, for instance, were not homonyms in Old English (O.E.) as the initial “k” in the second word was pronounced. The verb “to write” in O.E. had the form “to writan” and the adjective “right” had the form “reht” or “riht”.

Another source of homonyms is borrowing. A borrowed word may, in the final stage of the phonetic adaptation conclude the form either with a native word or another borrowing. So in the group of homonyms “rite n – to write – right adj.” The second and third words are of native origin, whereas “rite” is Latin borrowing (Latin “ritus”); “bank “ n (“a shore”) is a native word, and bank n (a financial institution) is an Italian borrowing.

Word building also contributes significantly to the growth of homonymy, the most important type of it being conversion. Such pairs of words as “comb” n – “comb” v; “pale” adj. – “pale” v; “make” v – “make” n, etc. are numerous in vocabulary. Homonyms of this type refer to different categories of parts of speech and called lexico-grammatical homonyms.

Shortening is a further type of word-building, which increases the number of homonyms. For example “fan” (an enthusiastic admirer of some sportsmen, actor, singer, etc.) is a shortening produced from “fanatic” [f nжtik]. Its homonym is a Latin borrowing “fan” – an element for waving and produce some cool wind.4

The noun, for instance, “rep”, a kind of fabric, has 4 homonyms:

    1. rep = repertory;

    2. rep = representative;

    3. rep = reputation;

    4. rep = repetition (in school slang smth, need to know by hard)

A further course of homonyms is called split5 polysemy: 2 or more homonyms can originate different meanings of the same word, when for some reason the semantic structure of the word breaks into several parts. We may illustrate this by the 3 following homonyms of the word “spring”, means:

    1. The act of springing, leap;

    2. A place, where a steam of water comes up out to the sky;

    3. A season of the year.

Historically all three originate from the same verb with meaning to jump, to leap. This is the Old English word “springun”6. So that the meaning of the first homonym is the oldest or the most etymological one. The meanings of the 2nd and the 3rd examples were originally made in metaphor. As the head of the strim, the water something lips out of the earth, so that metaphorically such a place could be described as a “leap”. On the other hand, the season of the year, following winter, could be poetically defined as a “leap” from the darkness and cold into sunlight and life.

Polysemy, synonymy and homonymy

One of the most complicated problems in semasiology is to define the place of homonyms among other relationships of words. In a simple code each sign has only one meaning and it’s meaning is associated with only one sign. But this ideal is not realized in natural language. When several related meanings are associated with the same form, the word is called polysemantic. When 2 or more unrelated meanings are associated with the same form, these words are homonyms. When 2 or more forms are associated with the same or nearly the same meaning, they are called the synonyms.

1 лавр

2 обряд

3 претерпевают

4 веер

5 расщепление

6 прыгать

Morphological structure of the word

Leaning objectives: After you've studied the material you should be able to:

I. 1) define the terms "morpheme", its free and bound forms; 2) define roots and affixes, give their classification;

II. 3) speak on the ways of enriching, the vocabulary

a) Semantic extension

b) Word-formation (productive types and minor ways): Affixation, Compounding, Conversion, Shortening.

Literature for the seminar:

1. Practical Lexicology by Kashcheyeva pp. 91-128, Ex.l,2cl/2

2. English lexicology by Antrushina G.B.

pp. 78-103 (Ex. I, III, V, VI), pp. 104-120 (Ex. I, II)

Morphological structure of the word

Morphemes, free and bound forms. We describe a. word As an autonomous unit of language in which a particular meaning is associated with a particular sound complex and which is capable of a particular grammatical employment and able to form a sentence by itself, we have the possibility to distinguish it from the other fundamental unit, namely the morpheme.

A morpheme is also an association of a given meaning with a given sound pattern. But unlike a word it is not autonomous. Morphemes occur in speech only as constituent parts of words, not independently, although a word may consist of a single morpheme. Morphemes are not divisible into smaller meaningful units. That is why morphemes: may be defined as the smallest meaningful units of form.

The term morpheme is derived from Gr. Morphe - "form" + erne. The Greek suffix - eme has been adopted by linguists to denote the smallest unit or the minimum distinctive feature (phoneme, sememe). The morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit of form, (a form in these cases is recurring discrete unit of speech) (повторяющаяся отдельная самостоятельная единица речи).

A form is said to be free if it may stand alone without changing its meaning; if not, it is a bound form, because it always bound to something else: for example, if we compare the words sportive and elegant and their parts, we see that sport, sportive, elegant may occur alone as utterances, whereas eleg- -ive, -ant are bound forms because they never occur alone. A word is, by Bloomfield's definition, a minimum free form a morpheme is said to be either bound or free. This statement should be taken with caution. It means that some morphemes are capable of forming words without adding other morphemes: that is, thy are homonymous to free forms.

According to the role they play in constructing words morphemes are subdivided into: ROOTS and AFFIXES. The latter are further subdivided, according to their position, into prefixes, suffixes and infixes, according to their function and meaning, into derivational and functional affixes, the latter are also called ending or outer formatives (словообразующий).

When a derivational or functional affix is stripped from the word, what remains is a stem base. The stem expresses the lexical and the part-of-speech meaning. For the word hearty and for the paradigm heart-hearts (pl.) the stem may be represented heart. This stem is a single morpheme, it contains nothing but the root, so it a simple stem. It is also a free stem because it is homonymous to the word heart.

A stem may also be defined as the part of the word that remains unchanged throughout its paradigm. The stem of the paradigm hearty - heartier - (the) heartiest is hearty. It is a free stem, but as it consists of a root morpheme and an affix, it is not simple but derived. Thus, a stem containing one or more affixes is a derived stem. If after deriving the affix the remaining stem is not homonymous to a separate word of the same root, we call it a bound stem. Thus, in the word cordial (proceeding as if from the heart); the adjective-forming suffix can be separated on the analogy with such words as bronchial [bronkial] radial, social. The remaining stem, however cannot form a separate word by itself: it is bound. In cordial-ly and cordial-ity, on the one hand, the stems are free.

Bound stems are especially characteristic of loan words. The point may be illustrated by the following French borrowings: arrogance, charity, courage , coward, distort, involve; notion; legible and tolerable, to give but a few. After the suffixes of these words are taken away the remaining elements are: arrog-; char-; cour-, cow-, tort-, volve-, nat-, leg-, toler-, which don't ??????? with any semantically related independent words (p. 31 Arnold).

Roots are main morphemic vehicles of a given idea in a given language at a given stage of its development. A root may be also regarded as the ultimate constituent element which remains after removal of all functional and derivational affixes and don't admit any further analysis. It i the common element of words within a word - family. Thus heart- is the common root of the following series of words; heart, hearten, dishearten, heartily, heartless, hearty, heartiness, sweetheart, heart-broken, kind-hearted, whole­heartedly, etc. In some of this, as, for example, in hearten, there is only one root; in others the word the root -heart- is combined with some other root, thus forming a compound like sweetheart.

The root in English is very often homonymous with the word, which is one of the most specific features of the English language arising from its general grammatical system on the one hand, and from its phonetic system on the other. The influence of the analytical structure of the language is obvious. The second point, however, calls for some explanation. Actually the usual phonetic shape is one single stressed syllable: bear, find, jump, land, man, sing, etc. This doesn't give much space for a second morpheme to add classifying lexico-grammatical meaning to the lexical meaning already present in root stem, so the lexico-grammatical meaning must be signalled bу distribution.

In the phrases a morning 's drive, a morning 's ride, a morning 's walk the words drive, ride, walk receive the lexico-grammatical meaning of a noun not due to the structure of their stem, but because they are preceded by a noun in the Possessive case.

An English word does not necessarily contain formulates indicating to what part of speech it belongs. This holds true even with respect to inflectable parts of speech, i.e. nouns, verbs, adjective.

Not all roots are free forms, but productive roots (roots capable of the producing new words) usually are.

The semantic realization of an English, word is therefore very specific. Its dependence on distribution is further enhanced by the widespread occurrence of homonymy both among root morphemes ad affixes. Note how many words in this sentence might be ambiguous if taken in isolation: "A change of work is as good as a rest".

Unlike roots, affixes are always bound forms. The difference between affixes and prefixes is not confined to their respective position, suffixes being "fixed after" and

prefixes "fixed before" the stem. It also concerns their function and meaning. A suffix is a derivational morpheme following the stem and forming a new derivative [ ]

(производное слово) in a different part of speech or different word-class, if-en, -y, -less in hearten, hearty, heartless. When both the initial underlying and the resultant forms belong to the same part of speech, the suffix serve to differentiate between lexico-grammatical classes by rendering some very general lexico-grammatical meaning. For instance, both -ify and -er are verb suffixes, but the first characterizes causative verbs, such as horrify, purify, whereas the second is mostly typical of frequentative verbs: flicker, shimmer, turttle and the like.

A prefix is a derivational morpheme standing before the root and modifying meaning: if to hearten - to dishearten. It is only the verbs and statives that a prefix may serve to distinguish one part of speech from another, like in earth n - unearth v, sleep n -asleep (Stative). Preceding a verb stem, some prefixes express the difference between a transitive and an intransitive verbs: stay v. and outstay (smb.) v. with a few exceptions prefixes modify the stem for time (pre-, post-) for example, pre-war, post-war, or express negation (un-, dis-) i.e. undress, disarm, etc. and remain rather independent of the stem.

An infix is an affix placed within the world, like -n- stand. The type isn't productive. An affix should not be confused with a combining form which can be distinguish from the affix historically; it is always borrowed from Latin or Greek in which it existed as a free form i.e. a separate word, or also as a combining form. Thus, cyclo- or its variant cyd- are derived from Greek word kuklos "circle" giving the English word cyclic.


Synonymy in English

Learning objectives: after you have studied the material you should be able to:

1. Define the notion of "synonymy", give the definition of the term "synonyms" by Russian and foreign linguists.

2. Speak on the criteria of synonymy, the sources of synonymy and the main synonymic patterns.

3. Give the classification of synonyms (ideographic, stylistic, absolute).

4. Analyze the entry (article) from a dictionary of synonyms.

Literature to be studied:

• "English Word" by Arnold p. 177-197.

• "A course in Modern English Lexicology" by Ginsburg.

• "English Lexicology" by Antrushina.

• "Practical Lexicology" by Kasheeva pp.70-73, ex. 1, 2; pp.76-77.

• "English Synonyms" by Potapova LA.

• "Webster's Dictionary of Synonyms". Springfield. Mass. USA. 1942.

• Потапова И.А. Краткий словарь синонимов английского языка. Пособие для учителя. Л, 1957.

A characteristic feature of a vocabulary of any language is the existence of synonyms, which is closely connected with the problem of meaning of the word.

The most complicated problem is the definition of the term "synonyms". There are a great many definitions of the term, but there is no universally accepted one. Traditionally the synonyms are defined as words different in sound-form, but identical or similar in meaning. But this definition has been severely criticized on many points.

The problem of synonymy is treated differently by Russian and foreign scientists. Among numerous definitions of the term in our linguistics the most comprehensive and full one is suggested by I.V. Arnold: "Synonyms - are two or more words of the same meaning, belonging to the same part of speech, possessing one or more identical meaning, interchangeable at least in some contexts without any considerable alteration in denotational1 meaning, but differing in morphemic composition, phonemic shape2, shades of meaning, connotation, affective value, style, emotional coloring and valence3 peculiar to one of the elements in a synonymic group."

This definition describes the notion "synonymy", gives some criteria of synonymy (identity of meaning, interchangeability), shows some difference in connotation, emotive coloring, style, etc. But this descriptive definition as well as many others has the main drawbacks - there are no objective criteria of "identity" or "similarity" or sameness of meaning. They all are based on the linguistic intuitions of the scholars.

From the definition follows, that the members of the synonymic group in a dictionary should have their common denotational meaning and consequently4 it should be explained in the same words; they may have some differences in implication connotation, shades of meaning, idiomatic usage, etc.

Hope, expectation, anticipation are considered to be synonymous because they all mean "having smth in mind which is likely to happen..." But expectation may be either of good or of evil. Anticipation is as a rule an expectation of smth good. Hope is not only a belief but a desire that some event would happen. The stylistic difference is also quite marked. The Romance words anticipation and expectation are formal literary words used only by educated speakers, whereas the native monosyllabic hope is stylistically neutral. Moreover, they differ in idiomatic usage. Only hope is possible in such set expressions as to hope against hope, to lose hope, to pin one'shopes on smth. Neither expectation nor anticipation could be substituted into the following quotation from T.Eliot: "You don't know what hope is until you have lost it".

Criteria of Synonymy

Not a single definition of the term synonym provides for any objective criterion of similarity or sameness of meaning as far as it is based on the linguistic intuition of the scholars.

Many scholars defined synonyms as words conveying the same notion but differing either in shades of meaning or in stylistic characteristics. In "Webster's Dictionary of Synonyms" its authors used the semantic criterion along with the criterion of interchangeability5, which we may see from the definition.

A synonym is one of two or more words which have the same or nearly the same essential6 (denotational) meaning. It is not a matter of mere likeness in meaning, but a likeness in denotation which may be expressed in its definition. The definition must indicate7 the part of speech and the relations of the ideas involved in a term's meaning.

Synonyms, therefore, are only such words as may be defined wholly8 or almost wholly in the same terms. Usually, they are distinguished from one another by an added implication or connotation, or may differ in their idiomatic use or in their implication9.

They usually are interchangeable within limits, but interchangeability is not the final test, since idiomatic usage is often a preventive of that. The only satisfactory test of synonyms is their agreement in connotation.

Classification of Synonyms

The outstanding Russian philologist A.I. Smirnitsky suggested the classification of synonyms

into 3 types:

1. Ideographic synonyms - words conveying the same notion but differing in shades of

meaning: to understand - to realize

to expect - to anticipate

to look - glance - stare - peep - gaze healthy - wholesome - sound - sane

2. Stylistic - words differing only in stylistic characteristics:

to begin - to commence - to high

to think - to deem

enemy - opponent - foe - adversary

to help - to aid - to assist

courage - valour - dauntlessness - grit - guts

3. Absolute (perfect, complete) - words coinciding in all their shades of meaning and in

all their stylistic characteristics. Absolute synonyms are rare in a language. In Russian, f.e.: лётчик - пилот – авиатор; языкознание – языковедение; стерня – пожня.

In English: pilot - airman — flyer – flyingman; screenwriter - scriptwriter - scripter - сценарист semasiology – semantics.

Synonymic Patterns

The English word-stock is extremely rich in synonyms, which can be largely accounted10 for by abundant borrowing. The synonymic resources of a language tend to form certain characteristic and fairly consistent patterns. Synonyms in English are organized according to 2 basic principles. One of them involves double, the other a triple scale. In English there are countless pairs of synonyms where a native term is opposed to one borrowed from French, Latin, and Greek. In most cases the native word is more spontaneous, more informal and unpretentious whereas the foreign one often has a learned, abstract air. They may also have emotive differences: the Saxon word is apt to be wanner and homelier than its foreign counterpart. The native words are usually colloquial. We quote a few examples of synonymic patterns double scale.

Adjectives: bodily - corporal, brotherly - fraternal, heavenly - celestial, inner - internal, learned - erudite, sharp - acute.

Nouns: fiddle - violin, friendship - amity, help - aid, wire - telegram, world - universe.

Verbs: answer - reply, read - peruse, buy - purchase.

Side-by-side with this main pattern there exists in English a pattern based on a triple scale of synonyms:


to ask11 to question12 to interrogate13 belly stomach abdomen

to end finish complete

to gather to assemble collect

to rise to mount to ascent

teaching guidance instruction

The infiltration of British English by Americanisms also results in the formation of synonyms pairs, one being a traditional Briticism and the other - a new American loan: Leader - editorial; autumn - fall; government - administration; luggage - baggage; wireless -radio; lorry - truck; tin - can; long distance (telephone) call - trunk call; stone - rock; team -squad.

As a rule the Americanisms have a lower frequency index than the British counterparts. Thus, tin is more common than can, team - than squad. But luggage - baggage, lorry - truck, leader -editorial are used sometimes interchangeably.

In a few cases the American synonym has a higher frequency than its British counterpart as in the pair: commuter - a season ticket holder (Br.). Very often 2 synonyms differ stylistically. Br. Synonym is stylistically neutral while the Americanism is stylistically marked (usually as colloquial or slang): intellectual - egghead excuse - alibi angry - mad averse - allergic.

English also used many pairs of synonymous derivatives, the one Hellenic and the other Romance: hypotheses - supposition periphery - circumference sympathy - compassion synthesis - composition.

Another source of synonymy is the so-called euphemism, when a harsh word indelicate or unpleasant or least inoffensive connotation. Thus the denotational meaning of drunk and merry may be the same. The euphemistic expression merry coincides in denotation with the word it substituted but the connotation of the latter faded out and so the utterance on the whole is milder and less offensive.

Very often a learned word which sounds less familiar and less offensive or derogative: for example “drunkenness” – “intoxication”, “sweat” – “perspiration” (cf. Russian terms “экспроприация”, “раскулачивание”). The effect is achieved because the periphrastic expression is not so harsh, sometimes jocular: poor - underprivileged; pregnant - in the family way; lodger - paying guest.

Set expressions consisting of a verb with a postpositive are widely used in present day English: to choose - pick out, abandon - give up, postpone - put off, return - come back, quarrel - fall out.

Even more frequent are, for instance, such set expressions which differ from simple verbs in aspect or emphasis: to laugh - to give a laugh, to sign - to give a sign, to smoke - to have a smoke, to love - to fall in love.

Smell, scent, odor, aroma all denote a property of a thing that makes it perceptible to the olfactory sense. Smell not only is the most general of these terms but tends to be the most colorless. It is the appropriate word when merely a sensation is indicated and no hint or its source, quality or character is necessary.

Scent tends to call attention to the physical basis of the sense of smell and is particularly appropriate when the emphasis is on emanations or explanations from an external object which reach the olfactory receptors rather than impression produced in the olfactory center of the brain. Odor is oftentimes indistinguishable from scent for it too can be thought of as smth. diffused and as smth. by means of which external objects are identified by the sense of smell. But the words are not always interchangeable, for odor usually implies abundance of effluvia and therefore does not suggest, as scent often does, the need of a delicate or highly sensitive sense of smell.

Aroma usually adds to odor the implication of a penetrating, pervasive or sometimes a pungent quality; it need not imply delicacy or fragrance, but it seldom connotes unpleasantness, and it often suggests smth. to be savored.

Understand, comprehend, appreciate are synonyms when they mean to have a clear and true idea or conception, or full and exact knowledge, of smth. They (especially the first two) are often used interchangeably and seemingly without loss; nevertheless, they are distinguishable by fine sharp differences in meaning in precise use. In general, it may be said that understand refers to the result of a mental process, comprehend to the mental process of arriving at such a result; thus , one may come to understand a person although one has had difficulty in comprehending his motives and his peculiarities; one may be unable to comprehend a poem, no matter how clearly one understands every sentence in it. "You begin to comprehend me, do you" cried he, turning towards her. "Oh! Yes - I understand you perfectly." Sometimes the difference is more subtle; comprehend implies the mental act of grasping or seizing clearly and fully; understand, the power to receive and register a clear and true impression. "That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, length, depth, height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge". "Some men can think of thousands of dollars, others have to think of hundreds. It's all their minds are big enough to comprehend." "And the piece of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus". "Charters is so crowded that one must be content to fell what one can, and let the rest go. Understand, we cannot." Appreciate, as here considered, implies a just judgment or the estimation of a thing's true or exact value; therefore, the word is used in reference to persons or things which may be undervaluing or overvaluing. "You are of an age now to appreciate his character." "We do not reproach him for preffering, apparently, Euripides to Aeschylus. But he should at least appreciate Euripides". "The public opinion which thus magnifies patriotism into a religion is a force of which it is difficult to appreciate the strength." "To appreciate the gulf between the ideal and the fact, we have only to contrast such a scheme as that set forth in the "Republic" of Plato with the following description of the state of Greece during the Peloponnesian War".

Differences Between Synonyms

Very often words are completely synonyms in the sense of being interchangeable in any content without the slightest alteration in objective meaning, feeling-tone or evocative meaning. But majority of them may have some distinctive features, which are listed below. These differences are the following:

1. Between general and specific;

2. Between shades of meaning;

1 формальное значение

2 форма

3 сочетаемость

4 следовательно

5 взаимозаменяемость

6 существенный

7 указывает

8 полностью

9 подтекст

10 объясняется

11 задавать вопросы

12 расспрашивать

13 допрашивать



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