Most of lex. items in English are polysemantic.
Michael Breat: “Polysemy is a semantic universal”.
“The alternative to it is quite unthinkable: it would mean that we would have to store in our brains a tremendous stock of words with separate names for any possible subject we might wish to talk about. It would also mean that there would be no metaphors & that language would be robbed of much of its expressiveness & flexibility.”
Urban: “The double reference of verbal signs is precisely what makes language an instrument of knowing”.
- - family - She lost both of her parents.
- - parent - Envy is the parent of all evils.
- My family comes from Scotland.
- The cat family includes lions & tigers. (семейство кошачьих)
- A family of languages, etc.
There are monosemantic words:
In case of polysemy, we deal with modification of the content plane.
Different meanings of one & the same word are closely interrelated.
Polysemy is a result of:
1. Shifts in application (сдвиг в употреблении)
Ex.: adj. red
- red ink (is really red)
- red hair
- red deer
- red cabbage
- red Indian
Basic meaning; a type of relationship between 2 or more people.
- - business partner
- - marriage partner
- - partner in crime
3. Metaphorical extension (a fundamental feature of any language)
- leaf of a tree – leaf of a book
- hands of a person – hands of a clock
Polysemy has been complicated by the tendency of words to pick up the meanings from other dialects, languages & slang.
BrE – one who acts under the direction of somebody – исполнитель
AmE – a manager
now: AmE meaning is more widely used.
New & old meanings become interrelated, form a hierarchy.
They have some common semantic features, which preserve the integrity of the word.
Homonyms can be of 3 kinds:
- 1. Homonyms proper (the sound & the spelling are identical)
- 2. Homophones (the same sound form but different spelling)
- 3. Homographs (the same spelling)
1. bat – bat - flying animal (летучая мышь)
- cricket bat (бита)
2. flower – flour
sole – soul
rain – reign
3. tear [iə] – tear [εə]
lead [i:] – lead [e]
One of the sources is its development from polysemy.
At a certain point, variation within a word may bring to a stage when its semantic core is no longer elastic. It can’t be stretched any further & as a result a new word comes into being.
Homonymy differs from polysemy because there is no semantic bond (связь) between homonyms; it has been lost & doesn’t exist.
Homonyms appear as a result of:
1. The phonetic convergence of 2 words of different pronunciation & meaning.
Ex.: race → a) people derives from Old Norwegian “ras”
b) running, from French “race”
2. The semantic divergence or loss of semantic bond between 2 words polysemantically related before.
Ex.: pupil→ a) scholar
b) apple of an eye (зрачок)
To distinguish between polysemy & homonymy 3 factors should be taken into account:
1. The semantic proximity of them
2. The derivation capacity
3. The range of collocability
1. The semantic proximity.
The 1st way to establish polysemy or homonymy is to look for a central core meaning.
It’s easier when we have examples of metaphor or transfer meanings.
(adj-s are particularly interesting in this respect because they often develop polysemy by adding new nominative-derivative meanings to their semantic structure).
Ex.: sour – кислый
- disagreeable (new meaning)
juicy – сочный
The media were delighted to have a juicy news story.
Board – a piece of wool
- a company or council (комиссия)
- meals (пансион)
Whether it is a case of polysemy or homonymy?
Set up – to establish (basic meaning)
It has a number of nominative & nom.-derivative meanings.
a) the derivative meaning
- to arrange
We need to set up emergency procedures to deal with this problem.
- to equip
The next band was already setting up on the other stage.
- to build
The army has set up roads round the city.
They are related to the core meaning.
b) the nominative meanings.
- to cause, to begin
The reactor car set up a chain reaction.
- to make smb seem guilty, to deceive smb
We sent our money but it turned out that the company didn’t exist and we
were just set up.
- to make smb healthy, full of energy
Full breakfast will set you up for the day.
Nominative meanings are more isolated & may give rise to homonyms.
2. Derivation capacity
Potential homonyms typically develop their own sets of derivatives.
Ex.: custom – 1. обычай, 2. клиентура, 3. (мн.ч.) таможня.
1. custom – customary
It is customary for the most important person to sit at the end of the table.
2. We don’t want to lose our customers.
3. Customs officer, customs shed
“custom” 1,2,3 are potential homonyms because they have different derivatives.
3. The range of collacability.
The word’s collacability is the functioning of the word in speech & the company it keeps with other items.
Potential homonyms have quite different range of phraseology.
Ex.: charge 1. price
free of charge
of no extra charge
2. (when smb is guilty)
to bring charges
to press charges
to drop the charges
“charge” 1,2 are potential homonyms.
Прислала Алена Жильцова