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Most of lex. items in English are polysemantic.




Michael Breat: “Polysemy is a semantic universal”.

In case of polysemy, we deal with modification of the content plane. Different meanings of one & the same word are closely interrelated. Ex.: - 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.

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

2. Specialization Ex.: partner 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)

Ex.: 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. Ex.: executive 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.

In linguistics, a homonymy is, in the strict sense, one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings.

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)

Ex.: 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]

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) scholarb) apple of an eye (зрачок)

To distinguish between polysemy & homonymy 3 factors should be taken into account:


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