Learning objectives: After
you have studied the lecture you should
the term semasiology;
speak about the problem of defining the term
explain the essence of
a) the referential approach to the problem of defining the
b) the functional approach;
your own appreciation of the problem under analysis.
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
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
to the problem: 1) the referential
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:
(meaning, thought, referent)
Sound form referent (thing meant)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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,
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
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
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
Thus, by lexical meaning we designate
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
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 vague
(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 fore,
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”).
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.
is the second component of lexical meaning. This component or the
connotation includes the emotive charge and the stylistic value of
charge is a part of the connotational meaning of a word; e.g. a
denotes “a small house or cottage” and besides implies
that it is a miserable dwelling place, duty in bad repair and, in
general, unpleasant place to live in.
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”
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
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 imagery
the word envokes in him.
objection of the lecture ”The meaning of the word, its
you have studied the lecture, you should be able:
To explain the
essence of the notions:
The meaning of the
word, its main types;
To give the semantic
analyze of the lexical meaning of a word:
To speak about
stylistic reference of words.
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
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
Capacity of producing some effect (the power
of heart burn)
Control over some people (the power of
Delegated authority (the president exuded his
Physical Strength (all the power of his
Moral or intellectual force, energy
A person of influence (he is a power in the
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.
no universally acsepfed criteria for differentiating these variants
within one polysemantic word.The following terms may be found with
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
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
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
the same period, so the classification may be called synchronic
and. paradigmatic, although the terms are borrowed from historical
lexicology and stylistics.
learning objectives: after you have studied the lecture you should be
able to speak on the following:
its etymology, definition.
among polysemy, homonymy and synonymy.
on Homonymy and Polysemy:
your answer to the following:
G.B. and others “English lexicology”, M., 1999. Pp.
exercises 1, 2, (8 sent), 4, 5, 7, (6 sent), 8 p. 182
“Practical Lexicology”, pp. 39-40
(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
(or perfect homonyms)
are words identical in pronunciation and spelling:
as a round object used in game, “ball” as a gathering of
people for dancing;
to utter sharp explosive cries; “bark” n is a
noise made by dog or a sailing ship, etc.
v is to bark; “bay” n is a part of the
sea or the lake filling wide mouth opening of the land, or the
should remember, that homonyms are distinct words – not
different meanings within one word.
words of the same sound, but of different meaning, for example:
“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”.
the sentence: “The play-write on my right thinks it that some
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.
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.
are words different in sound and in meaning but accidentally
identical in spelling:
– лук /
[bau] – поклон
или нос корабля
Lead [li:d] –
[led] – свинец
[rou] – грести
или ряд /
[rau] – шум,
[sov ] – шея /
[sjuv ] –
/ [ti ] –
– ветер /
[waind] – заводить
of homonyms in full and partial see in: Kasheeva – pp 39-40,
Antrushina – pp 128-129.
Sources of homonyms
source of homonyms is a phonetic change, which a word
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
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”.
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.
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
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.
noun, for instance, “rep”, a kind of fabric, has 4
rep = repertory;
rep = reputation;
rep = repetition
(in school slang smth, need to know by hard)
further course of homonyms is called split
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:
The act of
A place, where a
steam of water comes up out to the sky;
A season of the
all three originate from the same verb with meaning to jump, to leap.
This is the Old English word “springun”.
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.
synonymy and homonymy
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.
structure of the word
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
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,
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.
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)
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
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
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
according to their function and meaning, into
latter are also called ending
or outer formatives
a derivational or functional affix is stripped from the word, what
remains is a stem
stem expresses the lexical and the part-of-speech meaning. For the
the paradigm heart-hearts
stem may be represented heart. This stem is a single morpheme, it
contains nothing but the root, so it a simple
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.
stem containing one or more affixes is a derived
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
(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
on the one
hand, the stems
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
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).
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.
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,
only one root; in others the word the root -heart- is combined with
some other root, thus forming a compound like sweetheart.
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
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
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
In the phrases
's drive, a morning 's ride, a morning 's walk the
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
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
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
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
derivational morpheme following the stem and forming a new derivative
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
such as horrify,
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
(smb.) v. with
a few exceptions prefixes modify the stem for
post-) for example, pre-war,
express negation (un-, dis-) i.e. undress,
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-
derived from Greek word kuklos
giving the English word cyclic.
objectives: after you have studied the material you should be able
Define the notion of "synonymy", give the definition of
the term "synonyms" by Russian and foreign linguists.
Speak on the criteria of synonymy, the sources of synonymy and the
main synonymic patterns.
Give the classification of synonyms (ideographic, stylistic,
Analyze the entry (article) from a dictionary of synonyms.
to be studied:
"English Word" by Arnold p. 177-197.
"A course in Modern English Lexicology" by
"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.
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 denotational
meaning, but differing in morphemic composition, phonemic shape,
shades of meaning, connotation, affective value, style, emotional
coloring and valence
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 consequently
it should be explained in the same words; they may have some
differences in implication connotation, shades of meaning, idiomatic
considered to be synonymous because they all mean "having smth
in mind which is likely to happen..." But expectation
either of good or of evil. Anticipation
is as a
rule an expectation of smth good. Hope
only a belief but a desire that some event would happen. The
stylistic difference is also quite marked. The Romance words
literary words used only by educated speakers, whereas the native
stylistically neutral. Moreover, they differ in idiomatic usage. Only
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
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
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 interchangeability,
which we may see from the definition.
A synonym is one of two or
more words which have the same or nearly the same essential
(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 indicate
the part of speech and the relations of the ideas involved in a
Synonyms, therefore, are
only such words as may be defined wholly
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 implication.
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 -
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
лётчик - пилот
стерня – пожня.
In English: pilot - airman — flyer – flyingman;
screenwriter - scriptwriter - scripter - сценарист
semasiology – semantics.
The English word-stock is
in synonyms, which can be largely accounted
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
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
NATIVE FROM FRENCH
gather to assemble
rise to mount
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
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
a property of a thing that makes it perceptible to the olfactory
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
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
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
implies abundance of effluvia and therefore does not suggest, as
scent often does, the need of a delicate or highly sensitive sense of
adds to odor
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.
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
the result of a mental process, comprehend
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
you" cried he, turning towards her. "Oh! Yes - I understand
perfectly." Sometimes the difference is more subtle; comprehend
the mental act of grasping or seizing clearly and fully; understand,
to receive and register a clear and true impression. "That ye,
being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend
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."
the piece of God, which passeth all understanding,
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,
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
character." "We do not reproach him for preffering,
apparently, Euripides to Aeschylus. But he should at least appreciate
"The public opinion which thus magnifies patriotism into a
religion is a force of which it is difficult to appreciate
strength." "To appreciate
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
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;