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Shortening. Types of shortening.

As a type of word-building shortening of spoken words also called clipping

Clipping consists in the cutting off of one of several syllables of the word. It can be of three types: aphaeresis, syncope, apocope.

Aphaeresis is the omission of the initial part of the word. In many cases the shortened word differs from its source only stylistically: telephone phone, omnibus bus.

Syncope is the omission of an unstressed middle syllable: fantasy fancy, courtesy curtsy. Syncopated words used to be popular with poets (een even, neer never) because of purely rhythmical considerations. Modern poetry seldom if ever resorts to syncope. There are some graphical abbreviations of this type: Mr, Mrs, LP.

Apocope is the omission of the final part of the word. It is the most productive type of shortening. It is mostly through apocope that stylistic synonyms are coined. It is the colloquial layer that profits from apocope: gym (gymnasium), specs (spectacles), croc (crocodile). Proper names are also apocopated: Nick (Nicholas), Ed (Edward), (). There are some words that are seldom if ever used in their unapocopated form (pub for public house, brig for brigantine).

Some Non-Productive Affixes


14. Non-productive ways of word-formation.

Noun-forming suffixes -th, -hood

Adjective-forming suffixes -ly, -some, -en, -ous

Verb-forming suffix -en

Note. The native noun-forming suffixes -dom and -ship ceased to be productive centuries ago. Yet, Professor I. V. Arnold in The English Word gives some examples of comparatively new formations with the suffix -dom: boredom, serfdom, slavedom. The same is true about -ship (e. g. salesmanship). The adjective-forming -ish, which leaves no doubt as to its productivity nowadays, has comparatively recently regained it, after having been non-productive for many centuries.



15. Definition of meaning of a word. Types of meaning. Referential and functional approaches to meaning.

1. Something that is conveyed or signified; sense or significance.

2. Something that one wishes to convey, especially by language: The writer's meaning was obscured by his convoluted prose.

3. An interpreted goal, intent, or end: "The central meaning of his pontificate is to restore papal authority" (Conor Cruise O'Brien).

4. Inner significance: "But who can comprehend the meaning of the voice of the city?" (O. Henry).

two types of meaning--Denotative and Connotative.

Denotative Meaning is the meaning of an symbol that is shared by a group of people. If you say the word,"dog," most English speakers will point to the same type of animal. Denotative meaning is what makes symbols work for communication.

Connotative Meaning is the meaning of a symbol that is personal to an individual and not shared. For example, when I was a young child, my father was the warden of a small 3 cell prison located in the Montana wasteland near the Canadian border.

Referential and functional approaches to meaning a sum of the meanings of its morphemes: un/eat/able = "not fit to eat" where not stands for un- and fit for -able.

There are numerous derived words whose meanings can really be easily deduced from the meanings of their constituent parts. Yet, such cases represent only the first and simplest stage of semantic readjustment within derived words. The constituent morphemes within derivatives do not always preserve their current meanings and are open to subtle and complicated semantic shifts.

Let us take at random some of the adjectives formed with the same productive suffix -y, and try to deduce the meaning of the suffix from their dictionary definitions:

brainy (inform.) intelligent, intellectual, i. e. characterised by brains

catty quietly or slyly malicious, spiteful, i. e. characterised by features ascribed to a cat

chatty given to chat, inclined to chat

dressy (inform.) showy in dress, i. e. inclined to dress well or to be overdressed

fishy (e. g. in a fishy story, inform.) improbable, hard to believe (like stories told by fishermen)

foxy foxlike, cunning or crafty, i. e. characterised by features ascribed to a fox

stagy theatrical, unnatural, i. e. inclined to affectation, to unnatural theatrical manners

touchy apt to take offence on slight provocation, i. e. resenting a touch or contact (not at all inclined to be touched)1 



16. Polysemy. Semantic Structure of the Word

The semantic structure of the word does not present an indissoluble unity (that is, actually, why it is referred to as "structure"), nor does it necessarily stand for one concept. It is generally known 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.

Polysemy is certainly not an anomaly. Most English words are polysemantic. It should be noted that the wealth of expressive resources of a language largely depends on the degree to which polysemy has developed in the language. Sometimes people who are not very well informed in linguistic matters claim that a language is lacking in words if the need arises for the same word to be applied to several different phenomena. In actual fact, it is exactly the opposite: if each word is found to be capable of conveying, let us say, at least two concepts instead of one, the expressive potential of the whole vocabulary increases twofold. Hence, a well-developed polysemy is not a drawback but a great advantage in a language.

On the other hand, it should be pointed out that the number of sound combinations that human speech organs can produce is limited. Therefore at a certain stage of language development the production of new words by morphological means becomes limited, and polysemy becomes increasingly important in providing the means for enriching the vocabulary. From this, it should be clear that the process of enriching the vocabulary does not consist merely in adding new words to it, but, also, in the constant development of polysemy.

The system of meanings of any polysemantic word develops gradually, mostly over the centuries, as more and more new meanings are either added to old ones, or oust some of them (see Ch. 8). So the complicated processes of polysemy development involve both the appearance of 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 in this way to provide for a quantitative and qualitative growth of the language's expressive resources.

When analysing the semantic structure of a polysemantic word, it is necessary to distinguish between two levels of analysis.

On the first level, the semantic structure of a word is treated as a system of meanings. For example, the

semantic structure of the noun fire could be roughly presented by this scheme (only the most frequent meanings are given): 

Fire, n.


An instance of destructive burning; e. g. a forest fire. Burning material in a stove, fireplace, etc.; e. g. There is a fire in the next room. A camp fire. The shooting of guns, etc.; e. g. to open (cease) fire. Strong feeling, passion, enthusiasm; e. g. a speech lacking fire.


17. Synchronic and diachronic approaches to polysemy.


If polysemy is viewed diachronically it is understood as the growth and development or as a change in semantic structure of the word. Polysemy in diachronic term implies that a word may retain its previous meaning or meanings and at the same time acquire one or several new ones.

According to this approach in the semantic structure of a word two types of meaning can be singled out: the primary meaning and the secondary meaning.

In the course of a diachronic semantic analysis of the polysemantic word table we find that of all the meanings it has in Modern English, the primary meaning is a flat slab of stone or wood, which is proper to the word in the Old English period (OE. tabule from L. tabula); all other meanings are secondary as they are derived from the primary meaning of the word and appeared later.

The main source of polysemy is a change in the semantic structure of the word. Semantic changes result as a rule in new meanings being added to the ones already existing in the semantic structure of the word. Some of the old meanings may become obsolete or even disappear, but the bulk of English words tend to an increase in number of meanings.


Synchronically polysemy is understood as the coexistence of various meanings of the same word at a certain historical period of the development of the English language. In the course of a synchronic semantic analysis of the world table all its meanings represent the semantic structure of it. The central (basic) place in the semantic structure occupies the meaning a piece of furniture. This emerges as the central (basic) meaning of the word, and all other meanings are marginal (minor) meanings.

The central meaning occurs in various and widely different contexts, marginal meanings are observed only in certain contexts. There is a tendency in modern linguistics to interpret the concept of the central meaning in terms of the frequency of occurrence of this meaning. The word table in the meaning of a piece of furniture possesses the highest frequency of value and makes up the highest percent of all uses of this word.



18. Change of word meaning.


Words often change their meanings. A word's new meaning sometimes replaces the old one entirely.

Here are some common ways in which words change meanings:

-by generalisation.

-a word originally with a restricted sense can be used more extendedly.

-example: the verb to arrive comes from the Latin word ad ripam which means to the shore or riverbank. However, to arrive is no longer restricted to water transport.

-by specialisation.

-opposite of generalisation.

-although a hound was initially any kind of dogs, it was later used only of larger types of dogs when the word dog was adopted in the Middle Ages.

-by degeneration.

-the words' core meaning are removed, leaving only some vague idea.

-example: amazingly and terribly.

-by deterioration.

-a word will have a less favourable meaning than the original one.

-example: lewd used to mean ignorant which was originally used of someone who was not a member of the clergy.

-by euphemism.

-a word is given a new sense to replace the one that has negative connotations.

-example: lavatory-toilet, little boy's room, powder room, cloakroom, reest-room, and so on.

-by amelioration.

-opposite of deterioration.

-a word loses its pejorative connotaions.

-example: nice comes from a Latin word meaning ignorant.

-by regeneration.

-a word considered to be slang or vulgar becomes part of the standard vocabulary.

-example: budge, coax, mob, shabby, sham, snob, stingy, strenous, tiff.

-the words' core meaning are removed, leaving only some vague idea.

-example: amazingly and terribly.

-by deterioration.

-a word will have a less favourable meaning than the original one.

-example: lewd used to mean ignorant which was originally used of someone who was not a member of the clergy.

-by euphemism.

-a word is given a new sense to replace the one that has negative connotations.

-example: lavatory-toilet, little boy's room, powder room, cloakroom, reest-room, and so on.

-by amelioration.

-opposite of deterioration.

-a word loses its pejorative connotaions.


19. Change of the denotational component of the word meaning. Extension and narrowing.

The leading semantic component in the semantic structure of a word is usually termed denotative component (also, the term refer-ential component may be used). The denotative component ex-presses the conceptual content of a word.

The following list presents denotative components of some Eng-lish adjectives and verbs: Denotative components
lonely, adj. ------- [ alone ]
notorious, adj. ------- itht[ widely
celebrated, adj. ------- k][ widely k
to glare, v. ------- ][ to look ] ........
to glance, v. ____ [ to look ] ........
to shiver, v. ____ [ to tremble ].
to shudder, v. ------- [ to tremble ]

The process reverse to specialisation is termed generalisation and widening of meaning. In that case the scope of the new notion is wider than that of the original one (hence widening), whereas the content of the notion is poorer. In most cases generalisation is combined with a higher order of abstraction than in the notion expressed by the earlier meaning. The transition from a concrete meaning to an abstract one is a most frequent feature in the semantic history of words. The change may be explained as occasioned by situations in which not all the features of the notions rendered are of equal importance for the message.

The history of the noun lady somewhat resembles that of girl. In Old English the word ( hl.fdiZe) denoted the mistress of the house, i. e. any married woman. Later, a new meaning developed which was much narrower in range: "the wife or daughter of a bar-onet" (aristocratic title). In Modern English the word lady can be ap-plied to any woman, so that its range of meaning is even broader than that of the OE hl.fdiZe. In Modern English the difference between girl and lady in the meaning of woman is that the first is used in col-loquial style and sounds familiar whereas the second is more formal and polite. Here are some more examples of narrowing of meaning:

Deer: \ any beast] > [ a certain kind of beast ]

Meat: [ any food] > | a certain food product [

Boy: | any young person of the male sex [ > [ servant of the male sex ]

It should be pointed out once more that in all these words the sec-ond meaning developed through transference based on contiguity, and that when we speak of them as examples of narrowing of mean-ing we simply imply that the range of the second meaning is more narrow than that of the original meaning.

20. Change of the connotational component of the word meaning. Elevation and degradation of meaning.

To give a more or less full picture of the meaning of a word, it is necessary to include in the scheme of analysis addi-tional semantic components which are termed connotations or con-notative components.

Let us complete the semantic structures of the words given above introducing connotative components into the schemes of their semantic structures. Denotative components Connota-tive com-ponents
lonely, adj. ===> alone, without company + melancholy, sad Emotive con-notation
celebrated, adj. -- widely known + for special achievement in science, art, etc. Evaluative connotation, positive
to glare, v. | to look | + steadily, lastingly in anger, rage, etc. 1. Connota-tion of dura-tion 2. Emotive connotation  
to glance, v. ===> | to look | + briefly, passingly Connota-tion of duration  
to shiver, v. | to tremble + [ lastingly ] + (usu) with the cold 1. Connota-tion of dura-tion 2. Connota-tion of cause  
to shudder, v. [ to tremble | + [ briefly | with horror, disgust, etc. 1. Connota-tion of dura-tion 2. Connota-tion of cause 3. Emotive connotation  

The above examples show how by singling out denotative and connotative components one can get a sufficiently clear picture of what the word really means. The schemes presenting the semantic structures of glare, shiver, shudder also show that a meaning can have two or more connotative components.

The given examples do not exhaust all the types of connotations but present only a few: emotive, evaluative connotations, and also connotations of duration and of cause.

DEGENERATION and ELEVATION of meaning Another semantic change consisting of degeneration of meaning is observed in large number of English words. A word may degrade or deteriorate in status and come to mean something worse than originally denoted. This process is called degeneration or catachresis. the adjectives crafty and cunning were both attributes of praise in early English, while at present, they have a derogatory sense. Similarly we find words like lewed(lewd),wantowne(wanton), and vileyenge(villainy) used by Chaucer in none of the indecent implications suggested today in modern English. A lewd person was merely an ignorant member of the city as opposed to the learned clergyman. A wanton person meant a gay one, and a harlot was a base fellow or a vagabond. Vileyenge only meant something unworthy in a gentleman or something characteristic of a villain or a slave serving in a villa. The word fiend is another that has undergone degeneration in meaning. It is from the Old English word feondwhich only meant notorious or foe.. The word lust originally meant only pleasure and gossip is derived from Old English. godsib meaning relating to God . Later it was applied to ones Godparents and still further it got the meaning of sponsor, companion, and confidant and finally the sense attributed to it was that of a babbler. The opposite phenomenon of the same is called elevation or amelioration of meaning where in the process of change the word rises in status and there is an elevation in the sense. The word fond has risen in elevation from its meaning of foolish to affectionate. The word success changes its meaning from success to favorable success. Knight, which in Old English meant servant or lad has been progressively undergoing change with elevation of meaning till it ahs come to mean a nobleman with a title.

21. The theory of semantic field. Thematic groups.

A further subdivision within the lexico-grammatical groups is achieved in the well-known thematic subgroups, such as terms of kinship, names for parts of the human body, colour terms, military terms and so on.

Thematic groups as well as ideographic groups, i.e. groups uniting words of different parts of speech but thematically related, have been mostly studied diachronically. Thus A.A. Ufimtseva wrote a monograph on the historical development of the words: eorþe, land, grund;, mideanzeard, molde, folde and hruse.

The evolution of these words from the Old-English period up to the present is described in great detail. The set in this case is defined by enumerating all its elements as well as by naming the notion lying at the basis of their meaning. Many other authors have also described the evolution of lexico-semantic groups. The possibility of transferring the results obtained with limited subsets on the vocabulary as a whole adaptive system remains undefined. Subsequent works by A.A. Ufimtseva are devoted to various aspects of the problem of the lexical and lexico-semantic system.

The theory of semantic fields continues to engage the attention of linguists. A great number of articles and full-length monographs have been written on this topic, and the discussion is far from being closed.

Groups were obtained without making use of their meaning on a strictly formal basis, and their elements proved to be semantically related. For example: faint, feeble, weary, sick, tedious and whole healthy formed one group. Thin, thick, subtle also came together. The experiment shows that a purely formal criterion of co-occurrence can serve as a basis of semantic equivalence.

A syntactic approach to the problem of semantic fields has been initiated by the Moscow structuralist group. From their point of view, the detailed syntactic properties of the word are its meaning. Y. Apresyan proposes an analysis, the material of which includes a list of configuration patterns (phrase types) of the language as revealed by syntactic analysis, an indication of the frequency of each configuration pattern and an enumeration of meanings (already known, no matter how discovered) that occur in each pattern. Preliminary study of English verbs as constituents of each pattern has yielded corresponding sets of verbs with some semantic features in common. A semantic field can therefore be described on the basis of the valency potential of its members. Since a correlation has been found between the frequency of a configuration pattern and the number of word meanings which may appear in it, Y. Apresyan proposes that a hierarchy of increasingly comprehensive word fields should be built by considering configuration patterns of increasing frequency. Of the vast literature on semantic fields special attention should be paid to the works by G. Šcur.2

22. Synonyms. Types of synonyms. Sources of synonyms.

Synonymy is one of modern linguistics' most controversial prob-lems. The very existence of words traditionally called synonyms is disputed by some linguists; the nature and essence of the relationships of these words is hotly debated and treated in quite different ways by the representatives of different linguistic schools. 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[1] meaning, but differing in morphemic composition, phonemic shape[2], shades of meaning, connotation, affective value, style, emotional coloring and valence[3] peculiar to one of the elements in a synonymic group. Traditionally the synonyms are defined as words different in sound-form, but identical or similar in meaning.

The only existing classification system for synonyms was established by Academician V.V.Vinogradov. In his classification there are 3 types of synonyms: 1. ideographic; 2. stylistic; 3. absolute.

Ideographic are words conveying the same concept, but different in the shades of meaning.

Stylistic are words different in stylistic characteristics.

Absolute once coincide in all their shades of meaning and in all their stylistic characteristics.

What is the modern approach to classifying synonyms? Illustrate this classification with examples.

A more modern approach to the classification of synonyms may be based on the definition of synonyms as words differing in connotations:

1. the connotation of degree or intensity.

Can be traced in such groups of synonyms as:

To surprise- to astonish to amaze to astound

To like to admire to love to adore to worship

2. the connotation of duration.

Can be traced in such groups of synonyms as:

To stare to glare to gaze to glance to peep to peer

3. the emotive connotation.

e.g. alone single lonely solitary

4. the evaluative connotation conveys the speakers attitude labeling it as good or bad:

e.g. well-known famous notorious celebrated

5. the causative connotation:

e.g. to sparkle (() ) to glitter (, )

to shiver (with cold, from a chill, because of a frost) to shudder (with fear).

6. the connotation of manner:

e.g. to stroll to stride to trot to pace to swagger to stagger. All these synonyms denote different ways and types of walking encoded in their semantic structure: the length of space, tempo, gait, carriage, purposefulness or lack of purpose.

7. the connotation of attendant circumstances.

To peep smb. through a hole, from behind a screen, a half-closed door, a newspaper, a fan, a curtain.

8. the connotation of attendant features.

e.g. pretty handsome beautiful.

9. stylistic connotation.

e.g. to leave to be off to clear out(col.) to beat it to hoof it to take the air (col.) to depart to retire to withdraw (formal).

All or at least most synonymic groups have a central word whose meaning is equal denotation common to all the synonymic groups. This word is called the dominant synonym.

e.g. to produce to create to fabricate to make to manufacture.

The following characteristic features of the dominant synonym can be underlined:

1. high-frequency of usage; 2. broad combinability (ability to be used in combination with various classes of words); 3. broad general meaning; 4. lack of connotation.

The sources of synonyms: borrowings, shift of meaning, dialectical words, compounds, shortenings, conversion, euphemisms.

There are words in every language which people instinctively avoid because they are considered indecent, indelicate, rude, too direct or impolite. As the "offensive" referents, for which these words stand, must still be alluded to, they are often described in a round-about way, by using substitutes called euphemisms.

All the euphemisms that have been described so far are used to avoid the so-called social taboos. Their use, as has already been said, is inspired by social convention. Euphemisms may, of course, be used due to genuine concern not to hurt someone's feelings. For instance, a liar can be described as a person who does not always strictly tell the truth and a stupid man can be said to be not exactly brilliant. Superstitious taboos gave rise to the use of other type of euphemisms. The reluctance to call things by their proper names is also typical of this type of euphemisms, but this time it is based on a deeply-rooted subconscious fear.

23. Antonyms. Definition. Morphological and semantic classification of antonyms.

We use the term antonyms to indicate words of the same category of parts of speech which have contrasting meanings, such as hot cold, light dark, happiness sorrow, to accept to reject, up down.

Antonymy is not evenly distributed among the categories of parts of speech. Most antonyms are adjectives which is only natural because qualitative characteristics are easily compared and contrasted: high low, wide narrow, strong weak, old young, friendly hostile.

Verbs take second place, so far as antonymy is concerned. Yet, verbal pairs of antonyms are fewer in number. Here are some of them: to lose to find, to live to die, to open to close, to weep to laugh.

Nouns are not rich in antonyms, but even so some examples can be given: friend enemy, joy grief, good evil, heaven earth, love hatred.

Antonymic adverbs can be subdivided into two groups: a) adverbs derived from adjectives: warmly coldly, merrily sadly, loudly softly; b) adverbs proper: now then, here there, ever never, up down, in out.

Morphological classification:

Root words form absolute antonyms.(write - wrong).

The presence of negative affixes creates - derivational antonyms(happy - unhappy).

Semantical classification:

Contradictory notions are mutually opposed and denying one another, i.e. alive means not dead and impatient means not patient.

Contrary notions are also mutually opposed but they are gradable; e.g. old and young are the most distant elements of a series like: old - middle - aged - young.

Incompatibles semantic relations of incompatibility exist among the antonyms with the common component of meaning and may be described as the relations of exclusion but not of contradiction: to say morning is to say not afternoon, not evening, not night.

Date: 2015-01-29; view: 6991

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