Homonyms in English and their specific features
An analysis of homonyms is in Modern English. Lexical, grammatical and lexico-grammatical, distinctions of homonyms in a language. Modern methods of research of homonyms. Practical approach is in the study of homonyms. Prospects of work of qualification.
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MINISTRY OF HIGHER AND SECONDARY SPECIAL EDUCATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF UZBEKISTAN
GULISTAN STATE UNIVERSITY
The English and Literature department
Abdukarimov Doniyor's qualification work on speciality 5220100, English philology on theme:
УHomonyms in English and their specific featuresФ
Supervisor: Ibragimov. O.O.
1.1. The tasks and purposes of the work
2.1. The main items of the work
II. Main Part
1.2. Chapter1 Common analysis of homonyms in Modern English
1.1.2. Phonetic coincidence and semantic differentiation of homonyms
2.1.2. Classification of homonyms
3.1.2. Diachronically approach of homonyms
4.1.2. Synchronically approach in studying homonymy
5.1.2. Lexical, grammatical and lexico-grammatical distinctions of homonyms
2.2. Chapter2. The interrelations between homonymy and polysemantic words.
1.2.2. Etymological and semantic criteria in polysemy and homonymy
2.2.2. Comparative typological analysis of two linguistic phenomena in English, Uzbek and Russian
3.2.2. Modern methods of investigating homonyms
4.2.2. Practical approach in studying homonyms
5.2.2.Polysemy and Homonymy: Etymological and Semantic Criteria
6.2.2. Typological analysis of homonymy and polysemy in three languages.
1.3. Common review of the essence of the work
2.3. Perspectives of the qualification work
1.1 The tasks and purposes of the work
The theme of my qualification work sounds as following: УHomonyms in English and their Specific FeaturesФ. This qualification work can be characterized by the following:
The actuality of this work caused by several important points. We seem to say that the appearance of new, homonymic meanings is one of the main trends in development of Modern English, especially in its colloquial layer, which, in its turn at high degree is supported by development of modern informational technologies and simplification of alive speech. So the significance of our work can be proved by the following reasons:
a) Studying of homonyms of words is one of the developing branches of lexicology nowadays.
b) Homonyms reflect the general trend of simplification of a language.
c) Homonymic meanings of words are closely connected with the development of modern informational technologies.
d) Being a developing branch of linguistics it requires a special attention of teachers to be adequated to their specialization in English.
e) The investigation of homonyms and their differentiation with polysemantic words is not being still investigated in the sufficient degree and this problem is still waiting for its investigator. Our qualification work is one another attempt to investigate this problem.
Having based upon the actuality of the theme we are able to formulate the general goals of our qualification work.
a) To study, analyze, and sum up all the possible changes happened in the studied branch of linguistics for the past fifty years.
b) To teach the problem of homonyms to young English learners.
c) To demonstrate the significance of the problem for those who want to brush up their English.
d) To mention all the major linguists' opinions concerning the subject studied.
If we say about the new information used within our work we may note that the work studies the problem from the modern positions and analyzes the modern trends appeared in this subject for the last ten years. In particular, the new meanings of the old habitual words were mentioned in our qualification work.
The practical significance of the work can be concluded in the following items:
a) The work could serve as a good source of learning English by young teachers at schools and colleges.
b) The lexicologists could find a lot of interesting information for themselves.
c) Those who would like to communicate with the English-speaking people through the Internet will find new causing homonymic terms in our qualification work.
Having said about the linguists studied the material before we can mention that our qualification work was based upon the investigations made by a number of well known English, Russian and Uzbek lexicologists as A.I.Smirnitsky, B.A. Ilyish, N.Buranov, V.V. Vinogradov, O.Jespersen and some others.
If we say about the methods of scientific approaches used in our work we can mention that the method of typological analyses was used.
The newality of the work is concluded in including the new homonymic meanings of words appeared during for the last ten years by means of development and applying of the internet technologies.
The general structure of our qualification work looks as follows:
The work is composed onto three major parts: introduction, main part and conclusion. Each part has its subdivision onto the specific thematically items. There are two points in the introductory part: the first item tells about the general content of the work while the other gives us the general explanation of the lexicological phenomenon of homonymy in a language. The main part bears two chapters itself which, in their turn, are subdivided onto several specific items. The first chapter it explains the common analysis of homonyms in Modern English. Here we analyzed phonetic coincidence and semantic differentiation of homonyms in Modern English (the first item), accepted classification of the homonymic units of a language (the second item), diachronic and synchronic research to the problem studied (third and fourth items subsequently). The second chapter shows the interrelations between homonyms and polysemantic words. In the first item we made the etymological and semantic criteria of distinguishing of homonyms and polysemantic words in the English language. The second item of the work shows the typological analysis of the two linguistic phenomena in the three languages compared: English, Russian and Uzbek. The third and the fourth items summarize the ideas concerning the modern methods and practical approaches in investigating the linguistic phenomenon of homonyms and polysemantic words.
The conclusion of the qualification work sums up the ideas discussed in the main part (the first item) and shows the ways of implying of the qualification work (in the second item).
2.1. The main items of the work.
Words identical in sound-form but different in meaning are traditionally termed homonymous.
Modern English is exceptionally rich in homonymous words and word-forms. It is held that languages where short words abound have more homonyms than those where longer words are prevalent. Therefore it is sometimes suggested that abundance of homonyms in Modern English is to be accounted for by the monosyllabic structure of the commonly used English words.1
Not only words but other linguistic units may be homonymous. Here, however, we are concerned with the homonymy of words and word-forms only, so we shall not touch upon the problem of homonymous affixes or homonymous phrases. When analyzing different cases of homonymy we find that some words are
homonymous in all their forms, i.e. homonymy of the paradigms of two or more different words as, e.g., in seal!--'a sea animal' and seal2--'a design printed on paper by means of a stamp'. The paradigm "seal, seal's, seals, seals'" is identical for both of them and gives no indica-tion of whether it is sea or seal that we are analyzing. In other cases, e.g. seal--'a sea animal' and (to) seal--'to close tightly', we see that although some individual word-forms are homonymous, the whole of the paradigm is not identical. Compare, for instance, the paradigms:
It is easily observed that only some of the word-forms (e.g. seal, seals, etc.) are homonymous, whereas others (e.g. sealed, sealing) are not. In such cases we cannot speak of homonymous words but only of homonymy of individual word-forms or of partial homonymy. This is true of a number of other cases, e.g. compare find [famdj, found [faund], found [faund] and found [faundj, founded ['faundidj, founded [faundid]; know [nou], knows Jnouz], knew [nju:], and no [nou]; nose [nouz], noses [nouzizj; new [nju:J in which partial homonymy is observed. Consequently all cases of homonymy may be classified into full and partial homonymy, homonymy of words and homonymy of individual word-forms.
1) Professor 0. Jespersen calculated that there are roughly four times as many monosyllabic as polysyllabic homonyms. 0. Jespersen. Linguistics. Copenhagen-London, J933, p. 398.
1.1.2 Words identical in sound-form but different in meaning are traditionally termed homonymous
Modern English is exceptionally rich in homonymous words and word-forms. It is held that languages where short words abound have more homonyms than those where longer words are prevalent. Therefore it is sometimes suggested that abundance of homonyms in Modern English is to be accounted for by the monosyllabic structure of the commonly used English words.
Not only words but other linguistic units may be homonymous. Here, however, we are concerned with the homonymy of words and word-forms only, so we shall not touch upon the problem of homonymous affixes or homonymous phrases When analyzing different cases of homonymy we find that some words are homonymous in all their forms, i.e. we observe full homonymy of the paradigms of two or more different words as, e.g., in seal a sea animal and seal--a design printed on paper by means of a stamp'. The paradigm "seal, seal's, seals, seals'" is identical for both of them and gives no indication of whether it is seal (1) or seal (2) that we are analyzing. In other cases, e.g. seal--a sea animal' and (to) seal (3)--'to close tightly, we see that although some individual word-forms are homonymous, the whole of the paradigm is not identical. Compare, for instance, the-paradigms:
2. seal-seals-sealed-sealing, etc.
1 Professor O. Jespersen1) calculated that there are roughly four times as many monosyllabic as polysyllabic homonyms. It is easily observed that only some of the word-forms (e.g. seal, seals, etc.) are homonymous, whereas others (e.g. sealed, sealing) are not. In such cases we cannot speak of homonymous words but only of homonymy of individual word-forms or of partial homonymy. This is true of a number of other cases, e.g. compare find [faind], found [faund], found [faund] and found [faund], founded ['faundidj, founded [faundid]; know [nou], knows [nouz], knew [nju:], and no [nou]; nose [nouz], noses [nouziz]; new [nju:] in which partial homonymy is observed.
From the examples of homonymy discussed above it follows that the bulk of full homonyms are to be found within the same parts of speech (e.g. seal(1) n--seal(2) n), partial homonymy as a rule is observed in word-forms belonging to different parts of speech (e.g. seal n--seal v). This is not to say that partial homonymy is impossible within one part of speech. For instance in the case of the two verbs Me [lai]--'to be in a horizontal or resting position'--lies [laiz]--lay [lei]--lain [lein] and lie [lai]--'to make an untrue statement'--lies [laiz]--lied [laid]--lied [laid] we also find partial homonymy as only two word-forms [lai], [laiz] are homonymous, all other forms of the two verbs are different. Cases of full homonymy may be found in different parts of speech as, e.g., for [for]--preposition, for [fo:]--conjunction and four [fo:] --numeral, as these parts of speech have no other word-forms.
2.1.2 Classification of homonyms
Modern English has a very extensive vocabulary; the number of words according to the dictionary data is no less than 400, 000.A question naturally arises whether this enormous word-stock is composed of separate independent lexical units, or may it perhaps be regarded as a certain structured system made up of numerous interdependent and interrelated sub-systems or groups of words. This problem may be viewed in terms of the possible ways of classifying vocabulary items. Words can be classified in various ways. Here, however, we are concerned only with the semantic classification of words which gives us a better insight into some aspects of the Modern English word-stock. Attempts to study the inner structure of the vocabulary revealed that in spite of its heterogeneity the English word-stock may be analyzed into numerous sub-systems the members of which have some features in common, thus distinguishing them from the members of other lexical sub-systems. Classification into monosynaptic and polysemantic words is based on the number of meanings the word possesses. More detailed semantic classifications are generally based on the semantic similarity (or polarity) of words or their component morphemes. Below we give a brief survey of some of these lexical groups of current use both in theoretical investigation and practical class-room teaching.
3.1.2 Diachronically approach of homonyms
Now let us analyze the semantic similarity of morphemes. Lexical groups composed of words with semantically and phonemically identical root-morphemes are usually described 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 meaning but also in sound-form Ginzburg R.S. et al. A Course in Modern English Lexicology. M., 1979 pp.72-82. 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 supplementation, 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 affixation 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, doctor, musician, etc., only semantic similarity of derivational affixes is observed. As derivational affixes impart to the words a certain generalized meaning, we may single out lexical groups denoting the agent, the doer of the action (Nomina Agenti)--teacher, reader, doctor, etc. or lexical groups denoting actions [Nomina
Acti] -- movement, transformation, and others.
Now we shall study the semantic similarities and polarities of words. Semantic similarity or polarity of words may be observed in the similarity of their denotational or connotation meaning. Similarity or polarity of the denotational component of lexical meaning is to be found in lexical groups of synonyms and antonyms. Similarity or polarity of the connotation components serves as the basis for stylistic stratification of vocabulary units. Stylistic features of words and problems of stylistic stratification in general were discussed in connection with different types of meaning. So here let us confine ourselves mainly to the discussion of the problems of the main word phenomena containing the English word stock: i.e. we mean synonyms and antonyms.
4.1.2 Synchronically approach in studying homonyms
Synonymy, polysemy and homonymy in the language hierarchy are usually felt to be correlative notions: firstly because the criterion of synonymy is semantic similarity which is in exact opposition to the criterion of antonym--semantic polarity. Secondly, because synonyms and polysemantic words seem to overlap in a number of cases. For instance, when we speak of the words УdaddyФ and УparentФ as synonyms, we do so because of the similarity of their denotational meaning and polarity of their stylistic reference (cf. daddy--colloquial, parent--bookish).
The problem of synonymy is treated similarity differently by different linguists. The most debatable problem is the definition of synonyms. Synonyms are traditionally described as words different in sound-form but identical or similar in meaning. This definition has been severely criticized on many points. Firstly it seems impossible to speak of identical or similar meaning of words as such, as this part of the definition cannot be applied to polysemantic words. It is inconceivable that polysemantic words could be synonymous in all their meanings. The verb УlookФ, for instance, is usually treated as a synonym of the following words:ФseeФ, УwatchФ, УobserveФ, etc., but in another of its meanings it is not synonymous with this group of words but rather with the verbs seems, appear (cf. to look at smb. and to look pale). The number of synonymic sets of a polysemantism word tends as a rule to be equal to the number of individual meanings the word possesses.
5.1.2. Lexical, grammatical and lexico-grammatical
In the discussion of polysemy and context we have seen that one of the ways of discriminating between different meanings of a word is the interpretation of these meanings in terms of their synonyms, e.g. the two meanings of the adjective handsome are synonymously interpreted as handsome--'beautiful' (usually about men) and handsome--'considerable, ample' (about sums, sizes, etc.).
Secondly it seems impossible to" speak of identity or similarity of lexical meaning as a whole as it is only the denotation component that may be described as identical or similar. If we analyses words that are usually considered synonymous, e.g. to die, to pass away; to begin, to commence, etc., we find that the connotation component or, to be more exact, the stylistic reference of these words is entirely different and it is only the similarity of the denotation meaning that makes them synonymous. The words, e.g. to die, to walk, to smile, etc., may be considered identical as to their stylistic reference or emotive charge, but as there is no similarity of denotation meaning they are never felt as synonymous words.
Thirdly it does not seem possible to speak of identity of meaning as a criterion of synonymy as identity of meaning is very rare even among monosynaptic words. In fact, cases of complete synonymy are very few and are, as a rule, confined to technical nomenclatures where we can find monosynaptic terms completely identical in meanings as, for example, spirant and fricative in phonetics. Words in synonymic sets are in general differentiated because of some element of opposition in each member of the set. The word handsome, e.g., is distinguished from its synonym beautiful mainly because the former implies the beauty of a male person or broadly speaking only of human beings, whereas beautiful is opposed to it as having no such restrictions in its semantic structure O. Jespersen. Linguistics. London, 1983, pp. 395-412.Thus it seems necessary to modify the traditional definition and to word it as follows: synonyms are words different in sound-form but similar in their denotational meaning or meanings. Synonymous relationship is observed only between similar denotational meanings of phonemically different words.Differentiation of synonyms may be observed in different semantic components--denotational or connotation.
It should be noted, however, that the difference in denotation meaning cannot exceed certain limits and is found only as a variation of some common denotational component. The verbs look, seem, appear, e.g., are viewed as members of one synonymic set as all three of them possess a common denotational semantic component "to be in one's viewФ. Semantic similarity of affixation morphemes is treated in more detail in the chapter about Word-Formation in Prof. Ginsburg's textbook on lexicology, judgment, but not necessarily in fact" and come into comparison in this meaning (cf. he seems (looks) (appears) tired). A more detailed analysis shows that there is a certain difference in the meaning of each verb: seem suggests a personal opinion based on evidence (e.g. nothing seems right when one is out of sorts); look implies that opinion is based on a visual impression (e.g. the city looks its worst in March), appear sometimes suggests a distorted impression (e.g. the setting sun made the spires appear ablaze). Thus similarity of denotational meaning of all members of the synonymic series is combined with a certain difference in the meaning of each member..Smirnitsky A.I. Homonyms in English M.1977 pp.57-59,89-90
It follows that relationship of synonymy implies certain differences in the denotational meaning of synonyms. In this connection a few words should be said about the traditional classification of vocabulary units into ideographic and stylistic synonyms. This classification proceeds from the assumption that synonyms may differ either in the denotational meaning (ideographic synonyms) or the connotation meaning, i.e. stylistic reference (stylistic synonyms). This assumption cannot be accepted as synonymous words always differ in the denotational component irrespective of the identity or difference of stylistic reference. The stylistic reference in the synonymous verbs seem, appear, look may be regarded as identical though we observe some difference in their denotational component. Difference in the denotational semantic component is also found in synonymous words possessing different connotational components. The verbs see and behold, e.g., are usually treated as stylistic synonyms; see is stylistically neutral and behold is described as bookish or poetic. It can be readily observed, however, that the difference between the two verbs is not confined solely to stylistic reference. Though they have a common denotational component 'to take cognizance of something by physical (or mental) vision', there is a marked difference in their comparable meanings. The verb behold suggests only 'looking at that which is seen', e.g. "behold them sitting in their glory" (Shelley), The verb see denotes 'have or use power of sight' (e.g. the blind cannot see), 'understand' (e.g. don't you see my meaning?), have knowledge or experience of (e.g. he has seen a good deal in his long life) and others.
Consequently, the interrelation of the denotational and the connotational meaning of synonyms is rather complex. Difference or rather variation of the denotational component does not imply difference in either the stylistic reference or the emotive charge of members of synonymic series. Difference of the connotational semantic component is invariably accompanied by some variation of the denotational meaning of synonyms. Therefore it would be more consistent to subdivide synonymous words into purely ideographic (denotational) and ideographic-stylistic synonyms. It should be pointed out that neither criterion the traditional definition of synonyms modified version suggested here provide for any objective criterion of similarity of meaning. Judgment as to semantic similarity is based solely on the linguistic intuition of the analyst. Dubenets E.M. Modern English Lexicology (Course of Lectures) M., Moscow State Teacher Training University Publishers 2004 pp.17-31
It is sometimes argued that the meaning of two words is identical if they can denote the same referent, in other words, if an object or a certain class of objects can always be denoted by either of the two words. For example in the sentence "Washington is the capital of the United States"--"Washington" and "the capital of the United States" have obviously the same referent, but there is no linguistic relationship of synonymy between the two lexical units.
Recently attempts have been made to introduce into the definition of synonymy the criterion of interchangeability in linguistic contexts. It is argued that for the linguistic similarity of meaning implies that the words are synonymous if either of them can occur in the same context. In this case the relationship of synonymy is defined as follows: "If A and B have almost identical environment except chiefly for sentences which contain both, we say they are synonyms" (cf. eye-doctor, oculist).
Another well-known definition also proceeding from the contextual approach is the definition of synonyms as words which can replace each other in any given context without the slightest alteration either in the denotational or connotational meaning.
The contextual approach also invites criticism as words interchangeable in any given context are rarely found. This fact may be explained as follows: firstly, words synonymous in some lexical contexts may display no synonymity in others. As one of the English scholars aptly remarks, the comparison of the sentences "the rainfall in April was abnormal" and "the rainfall in April was exceptional" may give us grounds for assuming that exceptional and abnormal are synonymous. The same adjectives in a different context are by no means synonymous, as we may see by comparing "my son is exceptional" and "my son is abnormal". Canon G. Historical Changes and English Wordformation: New Vocabulary items. N.Y., 1986. p.284
Secondly, it is evident that interchangeability alone cannot serve as a criterion of synonymity. Werner safely assumes that synonyms are words interchangeable in some contexts. But the reverse is certainly not true as semantically different words of the same part of speech are, as a rule, interchangeable in quite a number of contexts. For example, in the sentence "I saw a little girl playing in the garden" the adjective little may be formally replaced by a number of semantically different adjectives, e.g. pretty, tall, English, etc.
Thus a more acceptable definition of synonyms seems to be the following:
synonyms are words different in their sound-form, but similar in their denotational meaning or meanings and interchangeable at least in some contexts.
Theoretically, the degree of synonymity of words may be calculated by the number of contexts in which these words are interchangeable. The simplest technique of such semantic analysis is substitution in various contexts. It is argued that two synonymous adjectives, e.g. deep and profound, could be analyzed in relation to each other by ascertaining how far they are interchangeable in different contexts, say, in combination with water, voice, remark, relief; what changes of denotational meaning and emotive charge occur when they are interchanged (cf. deep relief--profound relief); what is their proper antonym in each of these combinations (shallow, high, superficial); in how many of the possible contexts they are interchangeable without any considerable alteration of the denotational meaning, etc.
The English word-stock is extremely rich. Synonymic accounted for by abundant borrowing. '" English Quite a number of words in a synonymic set are usually of Latin or French origin. For instance, out of thirteen words making up the set see, behold, descry, espy, view, survey, contemplate, observe, notice, remark, note, discern, perceive only see and behold can be traced back to Old English (OE. seen and beheading), all others are either French or Latin borrowings Howard Ph. New words for Old. Lnd., 1980. p.311.
Thus, a characteristic pattern of English synonymic sets is the pattern including the native and the borrowed words. Among the best investigated are the so called double-scale patterns: native versus Latin (e.g. bodily--corporal, brotherly-- fraternal); native versus Greek or French (e.g. answer-- reply, fiddle--violin). In most cases the synonyms differ in their stylistic reference, too. The native word is usually colloquial (e.g. bodily, brotherly), whereas the borrowed word may as a rule be described as bookish or highly literary (e.g. corporal, fraternal).
Side by side with this pattern there exists in English a subsidiary one based on a triple-scale of synonyms: native-- French and Latin or Greek [e.g. begin (start)--commence (Fr.)--initiate (/.); rise--mount (Fr.)--ascend (/,)]. In most of these sets the native synonym is felt as more colloquial, the Latin or Greek one is characterized 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 or prince 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".
1.2.2 Etymological and semantic criteria in polysemy and homonymy
As it was mentioned before, two or more words identical in sound and spelling but different in meaning, distribution and (in many cases) origin are called homonyms. The term is derived from Greek (homos 'similar' and onoma 'name') and thus expresses very well the sameness of name combined with the difference in meaning.
There is an obvious difference between the meanings of the symbol fast in such combinations as run fast 'quickly' and stand fast 'firmly'. The difference is even more pronounced if we observe cases where fast is a noun or a verb as in the following proverbs: A clean fast is better than a dirty breakfast; Who feasts till he is sick, must fast till he is well.
Fast as an isolated word, therefore, may be regarded as a variable that can assume several different values depending on the conditions of usage, or, in other words, distribution. All the possible values of each linguistic sign are listed in dictionaries. It is the duty of lexicographers to define the boundaries of each word, i.e. to differentiate homonyms and to unite variants deciding in each case whether the different meanings belong to the same polysemantic word or whether there are grounds to treat them as two or more separate words identical in form. In speech, however, only one ∞f all the possible values is determined by the context, so that no ambiguity may normally arise. There is no danger, for instance that the listener would wish to substitute the meaning 'quick' into the sentence: It is absurd to have hard and fast rules about anything or think that fast rules here are 'rules of diet'. Combinations when two or more meanings are possible are either deliberate puns, or result from carelessness. Both meanings of liver, i.e. 'a living person' and 'the organ that secretes bile' are, for instance, intentionally present in the following play upon words: "7s life worth living?" "It depends upon the liver.''
Very seldom can ambiguity of this kind interfere with understanding. The following example quoted from lies, 1 sound somewhat artificial, but may him also a deliberate joke and not carelessness: The girls will be playing cricket in white stockings. We hope they won't get too many runs. Runs in this context may mean either 'ladders in stockings' or 'the units of scoring, made by running once over a certain course' (a cricket term).
Homonymy exists in many languages, but in English it is particularly frequent, especially among monosyllabic words. In the list of 2540 homonyms given in the Oxford English Dictionary 89% are monosyllabic words and only 9,1% are words of two syllables. From the viewpoint of their morphological structure, they are mostly one-morpheme words. Many words, especially those characterized by a high frequency rating, are not connected with meaning by a one-to-one relationship. On the contrary, one symbol as a rule serves to render several different meanings. The phenomenon may be said to be the reverse of synonymy where several symbols correspond to one meaning.
2.2.2 Comparative typological analysis of two linguistic phenomena in English, Russian and Uzbek
The most widely accepted classification is that recognizing homonyms proper, homophones and homographs. Homonyms proper are words identical in pronunciation and spelling, like/as if and liver above or like scale 'one of the thin plates that form the outer covering of most fishes and reptiles' and scale, 'a basis for a system of measuring'. Homophones are words of the same sound but of different spelling and meaning: air :: heir; arms :: alms; buy :: bye : by; him :: hymn; knight :: night; not :: knot; or :: ore :: oar; piece ; peace; rain :: reign; scent :: cent :: sent; steel :: steal; storey ;: story write :: right :: rite and many others.
For example, in the sentence УThe millwright on my right thinks it right that some conventional rite should symbolize the right of every man to write as he pleases.Ф the sound complex [rait] is noun, adjective, adverb and verb, has four different spellings and six different meanings Halliday M.A.K. Language as Social Semiotics. Social Interpretation of Language and Meaning. Lnd., 1979.p.53,112.
The difference may be confined to the use of a capital letter as in bill and Bill, in the following example: "How much is my milk bill?" "Excuse me, Madam, but my name is John." Homographs are words different in sound and in meaning but accidentally identical in spelling: bow [bou] :: bow IbauJ; lead [li:d] :: lead [led]; row [rouj :: row [rau]; sewer I'soua] :: sewer [sjual; tear [tea] :: tear [tia]; wind [wind] :: wind [wand] and many more.
It has been often argued that homographs constitute a phenomenon that should
be kept apart from homonymy as the object of linguistics is sound language. This viewpoint cans hardly be accepted. Because of the effects of education and culture written English is a generalized national form of expression. An average speaker does not separate the written and oral form. On the contrary he is more likely to analyze the words in Terries of letters than in terms of phonemes with which he is less familiar. That is why a linguist must take into consideration both the spelling and the pronunciation of words when analyzing cases of identity of form and diversity of content. Maurer D.W. , High F.C. New Words - Where do they come from and where do they go. American Speech., 1982.p.171
Various types of classification for homonyms proper have been suggested. The one most often used in present-day Annalistic in Russia it is that suggested by Prof. A. I. Smirnitsky1). It has been criticized for failing to bring out the main characteristic features of homonyms.
A more comprehensive system may be worked out on the same basis if we are guided by the theory of oppositions and in classifying the homonyms take into consideration the difference or sameness in their lexical and grammatical meaning, paradigm and basic form. The distinctive features shown in the table on lexical meaning (different denoted by A, or nearly same denoted by A l) grammatical meaning (different denoted by B, or same denoted by B), paradigm (different denoted by C or same denoted by C), and basic form (different D and same D).
The term "nearly same lexical meaning" must not he taken too literally. It means only that the corresponding members of the opposition have some important invariant components in common. "Same grammatical meaning" implies that both members belong to the same part of speech.
Same paradigm comprises also cases when there is only one word form, i.e. when the words are unchangeable. Inconsistent combinations of features are crossed out in the table. It is, for instance, impossible for two words to be identical in all word forms and different in basic forms, or for two homonyms to show no difference either in lexical or grammatical meaning, because in this case they are
not homonyms. That leaves seven possible classes.
ABCD, Members of the opposition УlightФ (noun) - УlightФ (adjective) are different in lexical and grammatical meaning, have different paradigms but the same basic form. The class is very numerous. A further subdivision might take into consideration the parts of speech to which the members belong, namely the oppositions of noun vs. verb, adjective vs. verb, noun vs. adjective, etc.
ABCD. Same as above, only not both members are in their basic form. The noun (here might) is in its basic form, the singular, but the verb will coincide with it only in the Past Tense. This lack of coincidence between basic forms is not frequent, so only few examples are possible.
Cf. also УbitФ (noun) - 'a small piece' and УbitФ - Past Tense and Participle II of УbiteФ.
ABCD, Represents pairs different in lexical and grammatical meaning but not in paradigm, as these are not changeable words. For example, УforФ (preposition) contrasted to УforФ - conjunction.
ABCD. Patterned homonymy.1 Differs from the previous (i.e. ABGD) in the presence of some common component in the lexical meaning of the members, some lexical invariant:
For example, the word УbeforeФ has the following lexical invalidations: УbeforeФ (prep.), УbeforeФ (adv), УbeforeФ (conj.), though they all express some priority in succession. This type of opposition is regular among form words.
ABCD. Contains all the cases due to conversion:
For example, УeyeФ (noun) vs. УeyeФ (verb). These members differ in grammatical meaning and paradigm. It should be borne in mind that they also belong to patterned homonymy. Examples of such noun-to-verb or verb-to-noun homonymy can be augmented almost indefinitely The meaning of the second can always be guessed if the first is known.
ABCD. Different lexical meaning, same grammatical meaning; and different paradigm:
e.g. lie ~ lay ~ lain and lie - lied - lied in many cases belong to this group. We should also underline the configuration of cases of double plural
cf.: УgeniusФ - УgeniusesФ and УgeniusФ - УgeniiФ.
ABCD. The most typical case of homonymy accepted by everybody and exemplified in every textbook. Different lexical meanings but the homonyms belong to the same part of speech: For example, the word УspringФ can be understood as a leap, УspringФ as a source and УspringФ as the season in which vegetation begins.
It goes without saying that this is a model that gives a general scheme. Actually, a group of homonyms may contain members belonging to different groups in this classification.
3.2.2 Modern methods of investigating homonyms
The intense development of homonymy in the English language is obviously due not to one single factor but to several interrelated causes, such as the monosyllabic character of English and its analytic structure. Inflections have almost disappeared in present-day English and have been superseded by separate words of abstract character (prepositions, auxiliaries, etc.) stating the relations that once expressed by terminations. Canon G. Historical Changes and English Word formation: New Vocabulary items. N.Y., 1986. p.284
The abundance of homonyms is also closely connected with a characteristic feature of the English language as the phonetic unity of word and stem or, in other words, the predominance of forms among the most frequent roots. It is very obvious that the frequency of words stands in some inverse relationship to length, the monosyllabic words will be the most frequent moreover, as the most frequent words are also highly polysemantic, It is only natural that they develop meanings which in the course of time may deviate very far from the central one. When the inter-mediate links fall out, some of these new meanings lose all with the rest of the structure and start a separate existence. Phenomenon is known as disintegration or split of polysemy, Different causes by which homonymy may be brought about subdivided into two main groups:
1) Homonymy through convergent sound development, when or three words of different origin accidentally coincide in sound;
2) Homonymy developed from polysemy through divergent development. Both may be combined with loss of endings and 0tJier morphological processes.
In Old English the words УgesundФ- 'healthy' and УsundФ- 'swimming' were separate words both in form and in meaning. In the course of time they have changed their meaning and phonetic form, and for latter accidentally coincided: OE УsundФ in ME УsoundФ 'strait'. The group was joined also accidentally by the noun sound 'what is or may be heard' with the corresponding verb that developed from French and ultimately the Latin word УsonusФ, and the verb sound 'to measure the depth' of dubious etymology. The coincidence is purely accidental.
Two different Latin verbs: УcadereФ-'to fair and УcapereФ- 'to hold' are the respective sources of the homonyms In case1 'instance of thing's occurring' and case a box. Homonymy of this type is universally recognized. The other type is open to discussion.
Unlike the homonyms case and sound all the homonyms of the box group due to disintegration or split of polysemy are etymologically connected. The sameness of form is not accidental but based on genetic relationship. They are all derived from one another and are all ultimately traced to the Latin УbuxusФ. The Concise Oxford Dictionary1) has five separate entries for box: 1.box n. - 'a kind of small evergreen shrub';
2. box n. 'receptacle made of wood, cardboard, metal, etc. and usually provided with a lid';
3. box v. 'to put into a box';
4. box n. 'slap with the hand on the ear';
5. boxt v. `a sport term meaning 'to fight with fists in padded gloves'. Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English. Longman. 1981pp.23
Such homonyms may be partly derived from one another but their common point of origin lies beyond the limits of the English language. In these with the appearance of a new meaning, very different from the previous one, the semantic structure of the parent word splits. The new meaning receives a separate existence and starts a new semantic structure of its own. Hence the term disintegration or split of polysemy. It must be noted, however, that though the number of examples in which a process of this sort could be observed is considerable, it is difficult to establish exact criteria by which disintegration of polysemy could be detected. The whole concept is based on stating whether there is any connection between the meanings or not, and is very subjective. Whereas in the examples dealing with phonetic convergence, i.e. when we said that Уcase1Ф and Уcase2Ф are different words because they differ in origin, we had definite linguistic criteria to go by, in the case of disintegration of polysemy there are none to guide us; we can only rely on intuition and individual linguistic experience. For a trained linguist the number of unrelated homonyms will be much smaller than for an uneducated person. The knowledge of etymology and cognate languages will always help to supply the missing links. It is easier, for instance, to see the connection between beam 'a ray of light' and beam 'the metallic structural part of a building' if one knows the original meaning of the word, i.e. 'tree' (OE beam, Germ Baum), and is used to observe similar metaphoric transfers in other words. The connection is also more obvious if one is able to notice the same element in such compound names of trees as hornbeam, white beam, etc.
The conclusion, therefore, is that in diachronistic treatment the only rigorous criterion is that of etymology observed in explanatory dictionaries of the English language where words are separated according to their origin,
For example, in the words match1 'a piece of inflammable material you strike fire with' (from OFr УmescheФ, Fr УmecheФ) and match2 (from OE УgemceccaФ 'fellow').
It is interesting to note that out of 2540 homonyms listed in a dictionary1) only 7% are due to disintegration of polysemy, all the others are etymologically different. One must, however, keep in mind that patterned homonymy is here practically disregarded. This underestimation of regular patterned homonymy tends to produce a false impression. Actually the homonymy of nouns and verbs due to the processes of loss of endings on the one hand and conversion on the other is one of the most prominent features of present-day English. . It may be combined with semantic changes as in the pair УlongФ (adj.) - УlongФ (verb). The explanation is that when it seems long before something comes to you, you long for it (long (adj.) comes from OE УlangФ, whereas УlongФ (v.)comes from OE УlangianФ, so that the expression УMe longsФ means 'it seems long to me'.
The opposite process of morphemic addition can also result in homonymy. This process is chiefly due to independent word-formation with the same affix or to the homonymy of derivational and functional affixes. The suffix -er forms several words with the same stem: trail -- trailer 'a creeping plant' vs. trailer 'a caravan', i.e. 'a vehicle drawn along by another vehicle'. The suffix -s added to the homonymous stems -arm- gives УarmsФ (n.) 'Weapon' and УarmsФ (v.) 'Supplies with weapons'. In summing up this dichromatic analysis of homonymy it should be emphasized that there are two ways by which homonyms come into being, namely convergent development of sound form and divergent development of meaning (see table below). The first may consist in
(a) phonetic change only,
(b) phonetic change combined with loss of affixes,
(e) independent formation
from homonymous bases by means of homonymous morphemes. The second, that is divergent development of meaning may be
(a) limited within one lexico-grammatical class of words,
(b) combined with difference in lexico-grammatical class and therefore difference in grammatical functions and distribution,
(c) based on independent formation from the same base by homonymous morphemes.
The process can sometimes be more complicated. At present there are at least two homonyms: УstickФ(noun1) - 'insert pointed things into', a highly polysemantic word, and the no less polysemantic УstickФ (noun) 'a rod'.
In the course of time the number of homonyms on the whole increases, although occasionally the conflict of homonyms ends in word loss.
4.2. 2 Practical approach in studying homonyms
The synchronic treatment of English homonyms brings to the forefront a set of problems of paramount importance for different branches of applied linguistics: lexicography, foreign language teaching and machine translation. These problems are: the criteria distinguishing homonymy from polysemy, the formulation of rules for recognizing different meanings of the same homonym in terms of distribution, and the description of difference between patterned and irregular homonymy. It is necessary to emphasize that all these problems are connected with difficulties created by homonymy in understanding the message by the reader or listener, not with formulating one's thoughts; they exist for the speaker only in so far as he must construct his speech in a way that would prevent all possible misunderstanding.
All three problems are so closely interwoven that it is difficult to separate them. So we shall discuss them as they appear for various practical purposes. For a lexicographer it is a problem of establishing word boundaries. It is easy enough to see that match, as in safety matches, is a separate word from the verb match 'to suit'. But he must know whether he is justified in taking into one entry match, as in football match, and match in meet one's match 'one's equal'. Can the English verb bear in bear a burden, bear troubles, bear fruit, bear offspring be viewed as a single word or as a set of two or perhaps even more homonyms? Similarly, charge, in charge the gun, charge the man with theft, charge somebody a stiff price can be viewed in several ways.
On the synchronic level, when the difference in etymology is irrelevant, the problem of establishing the criterion for the distinction between different words identical in sound form, and different meanings of the same word becomes hard to solve. The semantic criterion which ultimately is reduced to distinguishing between words that "have nothing in common semantically" and those that "have something in common" and therefore must be taken as one lexical unit, is very vague and hopelessly subjective. Nevertheless the problem cannot be dropped altogether as upon an efficient arrangement of dictionary entries depends the amount of time spent by the readers in looking up a word: a lexicographer will either save or waste his readers' time and effort.
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