A. A. Sankin a course in modern english lexicology second edition revised and Enlarged Допущено Министерством высшего и среднего специального образования СССР в качестве учебник icon

A. A. Sankin a course in modern english lexicology second edition revised and Enlarged Допущено Министерством высшего и среднего специального образования СССР в качестве учебник



НазваниеA. A. Sankin a course in modern english lexicology second edition revised and Enlarged Допущено Министерством высшего и среднего специального образования СССР в качестве учебник
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1. /Гинзбург С. - Лексикология английского языка.docA. A. Sankin a course in modern english lexicology second edition revised and Enlarged Допущено Министерством высшего и среднего специального образования СССР в качестве учебник
begin (start) — commence (Fr.) — initiate (L.); rise — mount (Fr.) — ascend (L.). In most of these sets the native synonym is felt as more colloquial, the Latin or Greek one is characterised by bookish stylistic reference, whereas the French stands between the two extremes.

There are some minor points of interest that should be discussed in connection with the problem of synonymy. It has often been found that subjects prominent in the interests of a community tend to attract a large number of synonyms. It is common knowledge that in “Beowulf” there are 37 synonyms for hero and at least a dozen for battle and fight. The same epic contains 17 expressions for sea to which 13 more may be added from other English poems of that period. In Modern American English there are at least twenty words used to denote money: beans, bucks, the chips, do-re-mi, the needful, wherewithal, etc. This linguistic phenomenon is usually described as the law of synonymic attraction.

It has also been observed that when a particular word is given a transferred meaning its synonyms tend to develop along parallel lines. We know that in early New English the verb overlook was employed in the meaning of ‘look with an evil eye upon, cast a spell over’ from which there developed the meaning ‘deceive’ first recorded in 1596. Exactly half a century later we find oversee a synonym of overlook employed in the meaning of ‘deceive’.1 This form of analogy active in the semantic development of synonyms is referred to as radiation of synonyms.

Another feature of synonymy is that the bulk of synonyms may be referred to stylistically marked words, i.e. they possess a peculiar connotational component of meaning. This can be observed by examining the synonyms for the stylistically neutral word money listed above. Another example is the set of synonyms for the word girl (young female): doll, flame, skirt, tomato, broad, bag, dish, etc. all of which are stylistically marked. Many synonyms seem to possess common emotive charge.

Thus it was found that according to Roget 2 44 synonyms of the word whiteness imply something favourable and pleasing to contemplate (purity, cleanness, immaculateness, etc.).


§ 50. Semantic Contrasts and Antonymy

Antonymy in general shares many features typical of synonymy. Like synonyms, perfect or complete antonyms are fairly rare.


It is usual to find the relations of antonymy restricted to certain contexts. Thus thick is only one of the antonyms of thin (a thin slice—a thick slice), another is fat (a thin man—a fat man).

The definition of antonyms as words characterised by semantic polarity or opposite meaning is open to criticism on the points discussed already in connection with synonymy. It is also evident that the term opposite meaning is rather vague and allows of essentially different interpretation.

1 In Modern English both words have lost this meaning. See also 'Semasiology', § 15, p. 24.

2 Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. London, 1962.

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If we compare the meaning of the words kind — ‘gentle, friendly, showing love, sympathy or thought for others’ and cruel — ‘taking pleasure in giving pain to others, without mercy’, we see that they denote concepts that are felt as completely opposed to each other. Comparing the adjective kind and unkind we do not find any polarity of meaning as here semantic opposition is confined to simple negation. Unkind may be interpreted as not kind which does not necessarily mean cruel, just as not beautiful does not necessarily mean ugly.

It is more or less universally recognised that among the cases that are traditionally described as antonyms there are at least the following four groups.1

1. Contradictories which represent the type of semantic relations that exist between pairs like dead and alive, single and married, perfect and imperfect, etc.

To use one of the terms is to contradict the other and to use not before one of them is to make it semantically equivalent to the other, cf. not dead=alive, not single=married.

Among contradictories we find a subgroup of words of the type young — old, big — small, and so on. The difference between these and the antonymic pairs described above lies in the fact that to say not young is not necessarily to say old. In fact terms like young and old, big and small or few and many do not represent absolute values. To use one of the terms is to imply comparison with some norm: young means ‘relatively young’. We can say She is young but she is older than her sister. To be older does not mean ‘to be old’.

It is also usual for one member of each pair to always function as the unmarked or generic term for the common quality involved in both members: age, size, etc.

This generalised denotational meaning comes to the fore in certain contexts. When we ask How old is the baby? we do not imply that the baby is old. The question How big is it? may be answered by It is very big or It is very small.

It is of interest to note that quality nouns such as length, breadth, width, thickness, etc. also are generic, i.e. they cover the entire measurement range while the corresponding antonymous nouns shortness, narrowness, thinness apply only to one of the extremes.

2. Contraries differ from contradictories mainly because contradictories admit of no possibility between them. One is either single or married, either dead or alive, etc. whereas contraries admit such possibilities. This may be observed in cold — hot, and cool and warm which seem to be intermediate members. Thus we may regard as antonyms not only cold and hot but also cold and warm.

Contraries may be opposed to each other by the absence or presence of one of the components of meaning like sex or age. This can be illustrated by such pairs as manwoman, man — boy.

1 See, e. g., Webster’s Dictionary of Synonyms. Springfield, USA, 1961, Introductory Matter, Antonyms. Analysis and Definition.

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3. Incompatibles. Semantic relations of incompatibility exist among the antonyms with the common component of meaning and may be described as the reverse of hyponymy, i.e. as the relations of exclusion but not of contradiction. To say morning is to say not afternoon, not evening, not night. The negation of one member of this set however does not imply semantic equivalence with the other but excludes the possibility of the other words of this set. A relation of incompatibility may be observed between colour terms since the choice of red, e.g., entails the exclusion of black, blue, yellow and so on. Naturally not all colour terms are incompatible. Semantic relations between scarlet and red are those of hyponymy.

We know that polysemy may be analysed through synonymy. For example, different meaning of the polysemantic word handsome can be singled out by means of synonymic substitution a handsome man—a beautiful man; but a handsome reward—a generous reward. In some cases polysemy may be also analysed through antonymy (e.g. a handsome manan ugly man, a handsome reward—an insufficient reward, etc.). This is naturally not to say that the number of meanings of a polysemantic word is equal to the number of its antonyms. Not all words or all meanings have antonyms (e.g. table, book, etc. have no antonyms). In some cases, however, antonymy and synonymy serve to differentiate the meanings as in the word handsome discussed above. Interchangeability in certain contexts analysed in connection with synonyms is typical of antonyms as well. In a context where one member of the antonymous pair can be used, it is, as a rule, interchangeable with the other member. For instance, if we take the words dry and wet to be antonymous, they must be interchangeable in the same context (e.g. a wet shirta dry shirt). This is not to imply that the same antonyms are interchangeable in all contexts. It was pointed out above that antonyms that belong to the group of contraries are found in various antonymic pairs. Thus, for instance there are many antonyms of dry damp, wet, moist, etc.

The interchangeability of each of them with dry is confined to certain contexts. In contrast to dry air we select damp air and in contrast to dry lips—we would probably use moist lips.

It is therefore suggested that the term "antonyms" should be used as a general term to describe words different in sound-form and characterised by different types of semantic contrast of denotational meaning and interchangeability at least in some contexts.

§ 51. Semantic Similarity

of Morphemes

and Word-Families

Lexical groups composed of words with semantically and phonemically identical root-morphemes are usually defined as word-families or word-clusters. The term itself implies close links between the members of the group. Such are word-families of the type: lead, leader, leadership; dark, darken, darkness; form, formal, formality and others. It should be noted that members of a word-family as a rule belong to different parts of speech and are joined together only by the identity of root-morphemes. In the word-families discussed above the root-morphemes are identical not only in

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meaning but also in sound-form. There are cases, however, when the sound-form of root-morphemes may be different, as for example in sun, sunny, solar; mouth, oral, orally; brother, brotherly, fraternal, etc.; their semantic similarity however, makes it possible to include them in a word-family. In such cases it is usual to speak of lexical suppletion, i.e. formation of related words of a word-family from phonemically different roots. As a rule in the word-families of this type we are likely to encounter etymologically different words, e.g. the words brother and mouth are of Germanic origin, whereas fraternal and oral can be easily traced back to Latin. We frequently find synonymic pairs of the type fatherly— paternal, brotherly—fraternal.

Semantic and phonemic identity of affixational morphemes can be observed in the lexical groups of the type darkness, cleverness, calmness, etc.; teacher, reader, writer, etc. In such word-groups as, e.g. teacher, musician, etc., only semantic similarity of derivational affixes is observed. As derivational affixes impart to the words a certain generalised meaning, we may single out lexical groups denoting the agent, the doer of the action (Nomina Agenti)—teacher, reader, etc. or lexical groups denoting actions (Nomina Acti)—movement, transformation, etc. and others.

§ 52. Summary and Conclusions

1. Paradigmatic (or selectional) and syntagmatic (or combinatory) axes of linguistic structure represent the way vocabulary is organised.

Syntagmatic relations define the word-meaning in the flow of speech in various contexts.

Paradigmatic relations define the word-meaning through its interrelation with other members within one of the subgroups of vocabulary units.

  1. On the syntagmatic axis the word-meaning is dependent on different types of contexts. Linguistic context is the minimal stretch of speech necessary to determine individual meanings.

  2. Linguistic (verbal) contexts comprise lexical and grammatical contexts and are opposed to extra-linguistic (non-verbal) contexts. In extra-linguistic contexts the meaning of the word is determined not only by linguistic factors but also by the actual speech situation in which the word is used.

  3. The semantic structure of polysemantic words is not homogeneous as far as the status of individual meanings is concerned. A certain meaning (or meanings) is representative of the word taken in isolation, others are perceived only in various contexts.

  4. Classification of vocabulary into thematic groups is based on common contextual associations. Contextual associations are formed as a result of regular co-occurrence of words in similar, repeatedly used contexts within the framework of sentences.

  5. The main criterion underlying semantic classification of vocabulary items on the paradigmatic axis is the type of meaning relationship between words.

The criterion of common concept serves to classify words into semantic fields and lexico-semantic groups.

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Semantic relationship of inclusion is the main feature of hyponymic hierarchical structure Semantic similarity and semantic contrast is the type of relationship which underlies the classification of lexical items into synonymic and antonymic series.

  1. Synonymy and antonymy are correlative and sometimes overlapping notions. Synonymous relationship of the denotational meaning is in many cases combined with the difference in the connotational (mainly stylistic) component.

  2. It is suggested that the term synonyms should be used to describe words different in sound-form but similar in their denotational meaning (or meanings) and interchangeable at least in some contexts.

The term antоnуms is to be applied to words different in sound-form characterised by different types of semantic contrast of the denotational meaning and interchangeable at least in some contexts.

111. Word-Groups and Phraseological Units

Words put together to form lexical units make phrases or word-groups. It will be recalled that lexicology deals with words, word-forming morphemes and word-groups. We assume that the word is the basic lexical unit.1 The smallest two-facet unit to be found within the word is the morpheme which is studied on the morphological level of analysis. The largest two-facet lexical unit comprising more than one word is the word-group observed on the syntagmatic level of analysis of the various ways words are joined together to make up single self-contained lexical units.

The degree of structural and semantic cohesion of word-groups may vary. Some word-groups, e.g. at least, point of view, by means of, take place, seem to be functionally and semantically inseparable. Such word-groups are usually described as set-phrases, word-equivalents or phraseological units and are traditionally regarded as the subject matter of the branch of lexicological science that studies phraseology.

The component members in other word-groups, e.g. a week ago, man of wisdom, take lessons, kind to people, seem to possess greater semantic and structural independence. Word-groups of this type are defined as free or variable word-groups or phrases and are habitually studied in syntax.

Here, however, we proceed from the assumption that before touching on the problem of phraseology it is essential to briefly outline the features common to various types of word-groups viewed as self-contained lexical units irrespective of the degree of structural and semantic cohesion of the component words.

SOME BASIC FEATURES OF WORD-GROUPS

To get a better insight into the essentials of structure and meaning of word-groups we must begin with a brief survey of the main factors active in uniting words into word-groups. The two main linguistic factors to be considered in this connection are the lexical and the grammatical valency of words.


§ 1. Lexical Valency (Collocability)
It is an indisputable fact that words are used in certain lexical contexts, i.e. in combination with other words.2 The noun question, e.g., is often combined with such adjectives as vital, pressing, urgent, disputable, delicate, etc. This noun is a component of a number of other word-groups, e.g. to raise a question, a question of great importance, a question of the agenda, of the day, and many others. The aptness of a word to appear in various combinations is described as its lexical valency or collocability.

1 See ‘Introduction’, §§ 4, 5.

2 See ‘Semasiology’, §41, p. 48.

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The range of the lexical valency of words is linguistically restricted by the inner structure of the English word-stock. This can be easily observed in the selection of synonyms found in different word-groups. Though the verbs lift and raise, e.g., are usually treated as synonyms, it is only the latter that is collocated with the noun question. The verb take may be synonymically interpreted as ‘grasp’, ’seize’, ‘catch’, ‘lay hold of, etc. but it is only take that is found in collocation with the nouns examination, measures, precautions, etc., only catch in catch smb. napping and grasp in grasp the truth.

There is a certain norm of lexical valency for each word and any departure from this norm is felt as a literary or rather a stylistic device. Such word-groups as for example a cigarette ago, shove a question and the like are illustrative of the point under discussion. It is because we recognise that shove and question are not normally collocable that the junction of them can be effective.

Words habitually collocated in speech tend to constitute a cliché. We observe, for example, that the verb put forward and the noun question are habitually collocated and whenever we hear the verb put forward or see it written on paper it is natural that we should anticipate the word question. So we may conclude that put forward a question constitutes a habitual word-group, a kind of cliché. This is also true of a number of other word-groups, e.g. to win (or gain) a victory, keen sight (or hearing). Some linguists hold that most of the English in ordinary use is thoroughly saturated with cliches.1

The lexical valency of correlated words in different languages is not identical. Both the English word flower and its Russian counterpart — цветок, for example, may be combined with a number of other words all of which denote the place where the flowers are grown, e.g. garden flowers, hot-house flowers, etc. (cf. the Russian садовые цветы, оранжерейные цветы, etc.). The English word, however, cannot enter into combination with the word room to denote flowers growing in the rooms (cf. pot flowers комнатные цветы).

One more point of importance should be discussed in connection with the problem of lexical valency — the interrelation of lexical valency and polysemy as found in word-groups.

Firstly, the restrictions of lexical valency of words may manifest themselves in the lexical meanings of the polysemantic members of word-groups. The adjective heavy, e.g., is combined with the words food, meals, supper, etc. in the meaning ‘rich and difficult to digest’. But not all the words with more or less the same component of meaning can be combined with this adjective. One cannot say, for instance, heavy cheese or heavy sausage implying that the cheese or the sausage is difficult to digest."

Secondly, it is observed that different meanings of a word may be described through the possible types of lexical contexts, i.e. through the

1 See, e. g., R. Quirk, op. cit., p. 206. ‘It is self-evident that clichés are of great importance in practical language learning as speech is not so much the mastery of vocabulary as such, but acquisition of a set of speech habits in using word-groups in general and clichés in particular.’

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lexical valency of the word, for example, the different meanings of the adjective heavy may be described through the word-groups heavy weight (book, table, etc.), heavy snow (storm, rain, etc.), heavy drinker (eater, etc.), heavy sleep (disappointment, sorrow, etc.), heavy industry (tanks, etc.), and so on.

From this point of view word-groups may be regarded as the characteristic minimal lexical sets that operate as distinguishing clues for each of the multiple meanings of the word.

§ 2. Grammatical Valency

Words are used also in grammatical contexts.1 The minimal grammatical context in which words are used when brought together to form word-groups is usually described as the pattern of the word-group. For instance, the adjective heavy discussed above can be followed by a noun (e.g. heavy storm or by the infinitive of a verb (e.g. heavy to lift), etc. The aptness of a word to appear in specific grammatical (or rather syntactic) structures is termed grammatical valency.

The grammatical valency of words may be different. To begin with, the range of grammatical valency is delimited by the part of speech the word belongs to. It follows that the grammatical valency of each individual word is dependent on the grammatical structure of the language.

This is not to imply that grammatical valency of words belonging to the same part of speech is necessarily identical. This can be best illustrated by comparing the grammatical valency of any two words belonging to the same part of speech, e.g. of the two synonymous verbs
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