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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Actual solutions differ. It is a widely spread practice in English lexicography to combine in one entry words of identical phonetic form showing similarity of lexical meaning or, in other words, revealing a lexical invariant, even if they belong to different parts of speech. In post-war lexicography in our country a different trend has settled. The Anglo-Russian dictionary edited by V. D. Arakin makes nine separate entries with the word right against four items given in the dictionary edited by Hornby.

The truth is that there exists no universal criterion for the distinction between polysemy and homonymy, unless one accepts the solution offered by V. I. Abayev and follows the data of etymology, separating as homonyms only those words that have different sources and only accidentally coincided phonetically. The necessary restriction is that different sources must be traced within the history of the language. Words that coincided phonetically before they penetrated into the English vocabulary are not taken into account. The etymological criterion, however, may very often lead to distortion of the present-day situation. The English vocabulary of to-day is not a replica of the Old English vocabulary with some additions from borrowing. It is in many respects a different system, and this system will not be revealed if the lexicographer is guided by etymological criteria only. A more or less simple, if not very rigorous, procedure based on purely synchronic data may be prompted by transformational analysis. It may be called explanatory transformation. It is based on the assumption that if different senses rendered by the same phonetic complex can be defined with the help of an identical kernel word-group, they may be considered sufficiently near to be regarded as variants of the same word; if not, they are homonyms.

Consider the following set of examples:

1. A child's voice is heard. 2. His voice ... was ... annoyingly well-bred.

3. The voice-voicelessness distinction ... sets up some English consonants in opposed pairs...

4. In the voice contrast of active and passive ... the active is the unmarked form.

The first variant (voice1 may be defined as 'sounds uttered in speaking or singing as characteristic of a particular person', voice2 as 'mode of uttering sounds in speaking or singing', voice3 as 'the vibration of the vocal chords in sounds uttered'. So far all the definitions contain one and the same kernel element rendering the invariant common basis of their meaning. It is, however, impossible to use the same kernel element for the meaning present in the fourth example. The corresponding definition is: "Voice -- that forms of the verb that expresses the relation of the subject to the action". This failure to satisfy the same explanation formula sets the fourth meaning apart. It may then be considered a homonym to the polysemantic word embracing the first three variants.

The procedure described may remain helpful when the items considered belong to different parts of speech; the verb voice may mean, for example, 'to utter a sound by the aid of the vocal chords'.

This brings us to the problem of patterned homonymy, i. e. of the invariant lexical meaning present in homonyms that have developed from one common source and belong to various parts of speech.

Is a lexicographer justified in placing the verb to voice with the above meaning into the same entry with the first three variants of the noun? The same question arises with respect to after or before -- preposition, conjunction and adverb.

The elder generation of English linguists thought it quite possible for one and the same word to function as different parts of speech.1 Such pairs as act n -- act v, back n -- back v, drive n -- drive v, the above mentioned after and before and the like, were all treated as one word functioning as different parts of speech. Later on this point of view was severely criticized. It was argued that one and the same word could not belong to different parts of speech simultaneously because this would contradict the definition of the word as a system of forms. This viewpoint is not faultless either: if one follows it consistently one should regard as separate words all cases when words are countable nouns in one meaning and uncountable in another, when verbs can be used transitively and intransitively, etc.

In this case hair 'all the hair that grows on a person's head7 will be one word, an uncountable noun; whereas a single thread of hair will be denoted by another word (hair2) which, being countable, and thus different in paradigm, cannot be considered the same word. It would be tedious to enumerate all the absurdities that will result from choosing this path. A dictionary arranged on these lines would require very much space in printing and could occasion much wasted time in use. The conclusion therefore is that efficiency in lexicographic work is secured by a rigorous application of etymological criteria combined with formalized procedures of establishing a lexical invariant suggested by synchronic linguistic methods.

As to those concerned with teaching of English as a foreign language, they are also keenly interested in patterned homonymy. The most frequently used words constitute the greatest amount of difficulty, as may be summed up by the following example: I think that this "that" is a conjunction but that that" man that used was a pronoun.

A correct understanding of this peculiarity of contemporary English should be instilled in the pupils from the very beginning, and they should be taught to find their way in sentences where several words have their homonyms in other parts of speech, as in Jespersen's1) example: Will change of air cure-love? l To show the scope of the problem for the elementary stage a list of homonyms that should be classified as patterned is given below:

Above - prep., adv., adj.; act- n., v.; after - prep., adv., conj.; age - n., v.; back - n., adv., v.; ball - n., v.; bank

We may give the other examples: by, can, case, close, country, course, cross, direct, draw, drive, even, faint, flat, fly, for, game, general, hard, hide, hold, home, just, kind, last, leave, left, lie, light, like, little, lot, major, march, match, may, mean, might, mind, miss, part, plain, plane, plate, right, round, sharp, sound, spare, spell, spring, square, stage, stamp, try, type, volume, watch, well, will, etc.

For the most part all these words are cases of patterned lexico-grammatical homonymy taken from the minimum vocabulary of the elementary stage: the above homonyms mostly differ within each group grammatically but possess some lexical invariant. That is to say, act v follows the standard four-part system of forms with a base form act, an s-form (act-s), a Past Tense form (acted) and an -ing- form (acting) and takes up all syntactic functions of verbs, whereas act n can have two forms, act (singular.) and acts (plural). Semantically both contain the most generalized component rendering the notion of doing something.

Recent investigations have shown that it is quite possible to establish and to formalize the differences in environment, syntactical or lexical, serving to signal which of the several inherent values is to be ascribed to the variable in a given context.

An example of distributional analysis will help to make this point clear. The distribution of a lexico-semantic variant of a word may be represented as a list of structural patterns in which it occurs and the data on its combining power. Some of the most typical structural patterns for a verb are: N + V -f- N, N + V -f- Prep.; V- N, N-f-V-f-Adj., N + V + Adv., N + V + t o -f- V and some others. Patterns for nouns are far less studied, but for the present case one very typical example will suffice. This is the structure article for A + N. In the following extract from "A Taste of Honey" by Sheath

Delaney the morpheme laugh occurs three times:

1.I can't stand people who laugh at other people.

2. They'd get a bigger laugh, if they laughed at themselves.

We recognize laugh used first and last here as a verb because the formula is N + laugh + prep + N and so the pattern is in both cases \ -[-V H-prep -- N. In the beginning of the second sentence laugh is a noun and the pattern is article -f- A -J- N.

This elementary example can give a very general idea of the procedure which can be used for solving more complicated

99Distributional analysis of this type is of great practical importance both in foreign language teaching and in machine translation. In order to translate a sentence the machine must analyze it, i.e. determine the types of elementary configurations that constitute it. Practically speaking, the pupil even if taught by patterns, must do the same. Elementary configurations are not mere word-groups but combinations of word classes. Therefore in the process of identification of the symbols given, it is necessary to establish to what classes they belong. As homonymy prevents this, the first step to be taken in machine translation aims at getting rid of homonymy. The system of formal rules aimed at revealing and eliminating lexico-grammatical homonymy in machine translation has been described by T. Moloshnaya. l These rules begin with morphological criteria: if the word form considered has an ending typical of one class and impossible in all others, its class is thus determined. Laughed is obviously a verb, as the noun does not take the ending -ed. Of the two homonyms complete v and complete adj. only the verb can have such endings as -ed, -ing. When the morphological data are exhausted, syntactical combinations are analyzed.

Without attempting to give a more detailed analysis of these operations since they belong rather to grammar than to lexicology, we may sum up our discussion by pointing out that whereas distinction between polysemy and homonymy is relevant and important for lexicography it is not relevant for the practice of either human or machine translation. The reason for this is that different variants of a polysemantic word are not less conditioned by context than lexical homonyms. In both cases the identification of the necessary meaning is based on the corresponding .distribution that can signal it and must be present in the memory either of the pupil or the machine. The distinction between patterned and non-patterned homonymy, greatly underrated until now, is of far greater importance. In non-patterned homonymy every unit is to be learned separately both from the lexical and grammatical points of view. In patterned homonymy when one knows the lexical meaning of a given word in one part of speech, one can accurately predict the meaning when the same sound complex occurs in some other part of speech, provided, of course, that there is sufficient context to guide one.

5.2.2 Homonyms may be also classified by the type of meaning into lexical, lexico-grammatical and grammatical homonyms

In seal n and seal n, e.g., the part-of-speech meaning of the word and the grammatical meanings of all its forms are identical. (cf. seal [si:l] Common Case Singular, seal's [si:lz] Possessive Case Singular for both seal* and sea!2). The difference is confined to lexical meaning only or, to be more exact, to the denotational component: seal denotes 'a sea animal', 'the fur of this animal', etc., seaI2--'a design printed on paper, the stamp by which the design is made', etc. So we can say that seal 2 and seal are lexical homonyms as they differ in lexical meaning.

If we compare seal --'a sea animal' and (to) seal 3--'to close tightly', we shall observe not only a difference in the lexical meaning of their homonymous word-forms, but a difference in their grammatical meanings as well. Identical sound-forms, i.e. seals [si:lz] (Common Case Plural of the noun) and (he) seals [si:lz] (third person Singular of the (verb) possess each of them different grammatical meanings. As both grammatical and lexical meanings differ we describe these homonymous word-forms as lexico-grammatical homonymy.

Lexico-grammatical homonymy generally implies that the homonyms in question belong to different parts of speech as the part-of-speech meaning is a blend of the lexical and grammatical semantic components. There may be cases however when lexico-grammatical homonymy is observed within the same part of speech as, e.g., in the verbs (to) find [faind] and (to) found [faund], where homonymic word-forms: found [faund]--Past Tense of (to) find and found [faund]--Present Tense of (to) found differ both grammatically and lexically. Modern English abounds in homonymic word-forms differing in grammatical meaning only. In the paradigms of the majority of verbs the form of the Past Tense is homonymous with the form of Participle II, e.g. asked [a:sktl--asked [a:skt]; in the paradigm of nouns we usually find homonymous forms of the Possessive Case Singular and the Common Case Plural, e.g. : brother's . It may be easily observed that grammatical homonymy is the homonymy of different word-forms of one and the same word. The two classifications: full and partial homonymy and lexical, lexico-grammatical and grammatical homonymy are not mutually exclusive. All homonyms may be described on the basis of the two criteria--homonymy of all forms of the word or only some of the word-forms and the type of meaning in which homonymous words or word-forms differ. So we speak of full lexical homonymy of seen and seal 2 n, of partial lexical homonymy of live and leave, and of partial lexico-grammatical homonymy of seen and seal 3 It should be pointed out that in the some classification discussed above one of Peculiarities the groups, namely lexico-grammatical of Lexico-Grammatical homonymy, is not homogeneous. This can be seen by analyzing the relationship between two pairs of lexico-grammatical homonyms, e.g.

1. seal a sea animal'--seal 3 v--'to close tightly as with a seal;

2. seal 2 n--'a piece of wax, lead'--seal 3 f--'to close tightly as with a seal'.

We can see that seal n and seal 3 v actually differ in both grammatical and lexical meanings. We cannot establish any semantic connection between the meaning a sea animal" and "to close tightly". The lexical meanings of seal 2 n and seal3u are apprehended by speakers as closely related for both the noun and the verb denote something connected with "a piece of wax, lead, etc., a stamp by means of which a design is printed on paper and paper envelopes are tightly closed". Consequently the pair seal 3 n--seal 3 v does not answer the description of homonyms as words or word-forms that sound alike but differ in lexical meaning. This is true of a number of other cases of lexico-grammatical homonymy, e.g. work n--(to) work o; paper /i--(to) paper v; love n--(to) love v and so on. As a matter of fact all homonyms arising from conversion have related meanings.

It is sometimes argued that as a rule the whole of the semantic structure of such words is not identical. The noun paper, e.g., has at least five meanings (1. material in the form of sheets, 2. a newspaper, 3. a document, 4. an essay, 5. a set of printed examination questions) whereas the verb paper possesses but one meaning "to cover with wall-paper". It follows that the whole of the semantic structure of the two words is essentially different, though individual meanings are related.

Considering this peculiarity of lexico-grammatical homonyms we may subdivide them into two groups: A. identical in sound-form but different in their grammatical and lexical meanings (sea n--seal3 v), and B. identical in sound-form but different in their grammatical meanings and partly different in their lexical meaning, i.e. partly different in their semantic structure (seal2 v; paper n--(to) paper v). Thus the definition of homonyms as words possessing identical sound-form but different semantic structure seems to be more exact as it allows of a better understanding of complex cases of homonymy, e.g. seah n--seah n--sealx v --seal3 u which can be analyzed into homonymic pairs, e.g. seal n--seal n--lexical homonyms; seal n--seal 3 v--lexico-grammatical homonyms, subgroup A; seals n--seal3y-- lexico-grammatical homonyms, subgroup B; etc.

In the discussion of the problem of graphic homonymy we proceeded from the as possessing both sound-form and meaning, and we deliberately disregarded their graphic form. Some linguists, however, argue that the graphic form of words in Modern English is just as important as their sound-form and should be taken into consideration in the analysis and classification of homonyms. Consequently they proceed from the definition of homonyms as words identical in sound-form or spelling but different in meaning. It follows that in their classification of homonyms all the three aspects: sound-form, graphic-form and meaning are taken into account. Accordingly they classify homonyms into homographs, homophones and perfect homonyms.

Homographs are words identical in spelling, but different both in their sound-form and meaning, e.g. bow n [bouj-- 'a piece of wood curved by a string and used for shooting arrows' and bow n (bail--'the bending of the head or body'; tear n [tiaj--'a drop of water that comes from the eye' and tear v [tesj--'to pull apart by force'.

Homophones are words identical in sound-form but different both in spelling and in meaning, e.g. sea n and see v; son n and sun n.

Perfect homonyms are words identical both in spelling and in sound-form but different in meaning, e.g. case in something that has happened' and case n--'a box, a container'. It may be readily observed that in this approach no distinction is made between homonymous words and homonymous word-forms or between full and partial homonymy. The description of various types of Sources homonyms in Modern English would of Homonymy incomplete if we did flat give flat brief outline of the diachronic processes that account for their appearance.

6.2.2 The two main sources of homonymy are:

1) diverging meaning development of one polysemantic word, and 2) converging sound development of two or more different words. The process of diverging meaning development can be observed when different meanings of the same word move so far away from each other that they come to be regarded as two separate units. This happened, for example, in the case of Modern English flower and flour which originally were one word meaning 'the flower' and 'the finest part of wheat'. The difference in spelling underlines the fact that from the synchronic point of view they are two distinct words even though historically they have a common origin.

Convergent sound development is the most potent factor in the creation of homonyms. The great majority of homonyms arise as a result of converging sound development which leads to the coincidence of two or more words which were phonetically distinct at an earlier date.

For example: OE. Icand OE cage have become identical in pronunciation (MnE. I [ai] and eye [ai], A number of lexico-grammatical homonyms appeared as a result of convergent sound development of the verb and the noun (cf. MnE. love--(to) love and OE. lufu--lufian).

5.2.2 Polysemy and Homonymy: Etymological and Semantic Criteria

Words borrowed from other languages may through phonetic convergence become homonymous. Old Norse has and French race are homonymous in Modern English (cf. race1 [reis]--'running' and race2 [reis] 'a distinct ethnical stock'). There are four homonymic words in Modern English: sound --'healthy' was already in Old English homonymous with sound--'a narrow passage of water', though etymologically they are unrelated. Then two more homonymous words appeared in the English language, one comes from Old French son (L. sonus) and denotes 'that which is or may be heard' and the other from the French sunder the surgeon's probe. One of the most debatable problems in semasiology is the demarcation line between homonymy and polysemy, i.e. between different meanings of one word and the meanings of two homonymous words.

If homonymy is viewed diachronically then all cases of sound convergence of two or, more words may be safely regarded as cases of homonymy as, e.g., sound i, sound2, sound-e, and sound4 which can be traced back to four etymologically different words. /fie cases of semantic divergence, however, are more doubtful. The transition from polysemy to homonymy is a gradual process, so it is hardly possible to point out the precise stage at which divergent semantic development tears asunder all ties of etymological kinship and results in the appearance of two separate words/ In the case of flower, flour,1 e.g., it is mainly the resultant divergence of graphic forms that gives us grounds to assert that the two meanings which originally made up the semantic structure of one word are now apprehended as belonging to two different words.

Synchronically the differentiation between homonymy and polysemy is wholly based on the semantic criterion. It is usually held that if a connection between the various meanings is apprehended by the speaker, these are to be considered as making up the semantic structure of a polysemantic word, otherwise it is a case of homonymy, not polysemy.

Thus the semantic criterion implies that the difference between polysemy and homonymy is actually reduced to the differentiation between related and unrelated meanings. This traditional semantic criterion does not seem to be reliable, firstly, because various meanings of the same word and the meanings of two or more different words may be equally apprehended by the speaker as synchronically unrelated/ For instance, the meaning 'a change in the form of a noun or pronoun' which is usually listed in dictionaries as one of the meanings of case!--'something that has happened', 'a question decided in a court of law' seems to be just as unrelated to the meanings of this word as to the meaning of case2 --'a box, a container', etc

Secondly in the discussion of lexico-grammatical homonymy it was pointed out that some of the mean of homonyms arising from conversion (e.g. seal in--seal 3 v; paper n--paper v) are related, so this criterion cannot be applied to a large group of homonymous word-forms in Modern English. This criterion proves insufficient in the synchronic analysis of a number of other borderline cases, e.g. brother--brothers-- 'sons of the same parent' and brethren--'fellow members of a religious society'. The meanings may be apprehended as related and then we can speak of polysemy pointing out that the difference in the morphological structure of the plural form reflects the difference of meaning. Otherwise we may regard this as a case of partial lexical homonymy. The same is true of such cases as hang--hung--hung--'to support or be supported from above' and hang--hanged--hanged--'to put a person to death by hanging' all of which are traditionally regarded as different meanings of one polysemantic word.

It is sometimes argued that the difference between related and unrelated meanings may be observed in the manner in which the meanings of polysemantic words are as a rule relatable. It is observed that different meanings of one word have certain stable relationships which are not to be found between the meanings of two homonymous words. A clearly perceptible connection, e.g., can be seen in all metaphoric or metonymic meanings of one word (cf., e.g., foot of the man-- foot of the mountain, loud voice--loud colors, etc.,1 cf. also deep well and deep knowledge, etc.).

Such semantic relationships are commonly found in the meanings of one word and are considered to be indicative' of polysemy. It is also suggested that the semantic connection may be described in terms of such features as, e.g., form and function (cf. horn of an animal and horn as an instrument), process and result (to run--'move with quick steps' and a run--act of running).

Similar relationships, however, are observed between the meanings of two homonymic words, e.g. to run and a run in the stocking.

Moreover in the synchronic analysis of polysemantic words we often find meanings that cannot be related in any way, as, e.g., the meanings of the word case discussed above. Thus the semantic criterion proves not only untenable in theory but also rather vague and because of this impossible in practice as it cannot be used in discriminating between several meanings of one word and the meanings of two different words.

A more objective criterion of distribution suggested by some linguists is criteria: undoubtedly helpful, but mainly increase-distribution of lexico - grammatical and grammatical homonymy. When homonymic words of Context, belong to different parts of speech they differ not only in their semantic structure, but also in their syntactic function and consequently in their distribution. In the homonymic pair paper n--(to) paper v the noun may be preceded by the article and followed by a verb; (to) paper can never be found in identical distribution. This formal criterion can be used to discriminate not only lexico-grammatical but also grammatical homonyms, but it often fails the linguists in cases of lexical homonymy, not differentiated by means of spelling.

Homonyms differing in graphic form, e.g. such lexical homonyms as knight--night or flower--flour, are easily perceived to be two different lexical units as any formal difference of words is felt as indicative of the existence of two separate lexical units. Conversely lexical homonyms identical both in pronunciation and spelling are often apprehended as different meanings of one word. It is often argued that the context in which the words are used suffices to perceive the borderline between homonymous words, e.g. the meaning of case in several cases of robbery can be easily differentiated from the meaning of case2 in a jewel case, a glass case. This however is true of different meanings of the same word as recorded in dictionaries, e.g. of case as can be seen by comparing the case will be tried in the law-court and the possessive case of the noun. Thus, the context serves to differentiate meanings but is of little help in distinguishing between homonymy and polysemy. Consequently we have to admit that no formal means have as yet been found to differentiate between several meanings of one word and the meanings of its homonyms. We must take into consideration the note that in the discussion of the problems of polysemy and homonymy we proceeded from the assumption that the word is the basic unit of language.1 It should be pointed out that there is another approach to the concept of the basic language unit which makes the problem of differentiation between polysemy and homonymy irrelevant.

Some linguists hold that the basic and elementary units at the semantic level of language are the lexico-semantic variants of the word, i.e. individual word-meanings. In that case, naturally, we can speak only of homonymy of individual lexico-semantic variants, as polysemy is by definition, at least on the synchronic plane, the co-existence of several meanings in the semantic structure of the word. The criticism of this viewpoint cannot be discussed within the framework different semantic structure. The problem of homonymy is mainly the problem of differentiation between two different semantic structures of identically sounding words.

2. Homonymy of words and homonymy of individual word-forms may be regarded as full and partial homonymy. Cases of full homonymy are generally observed in words belonging to the same part of speech. Partial homonymy is usually to be found in word-forms of different parts of speech.

3. Homonymous words and word-forms may be classified by the type of meaning that serves to differentiate between identical sound-forms. Lexical homonyms differ in lexical meaning, lexico-grammatical in both lexical and grammatical meaning, whereas grammatical homonyms are those that differ in grammatical meaning only.

4. Lexico-grammatical homonyms are not homogeneous. Homonyms arising from conversion have some related lexical meanings in their semantic structure. Though some individual meanings may be related the whole of the semantic structure of homonyms is essentially different.

5. If the graphic form of homonyms is taken into account, they are classified on the basis of the three aspects -- sound-form, graphic form and meaning -- into three big groups: homographs (identical graphic form), homophones (identical sound-form) and perfect homonyms (identical sound- and graphic form).

6. The two main sources of homonymy are:

1) diverging meaning development of one polysemantic word, and

2) convergent sound development of two or more different words. The latter is the most potent factor in the creation of homonyms.

7. The most debatable problem of homonymy is the demarcation line between homonymy and polysemy, i.e. between different meanings of one word and the meanings of two or more phonemically different words.

8. The criteria used in the synchronic analysis of homonymy are:

1) the semantic criterion of related or unrelated meanings;

2) the criterion of spelling;

3) the criterion of distribution, and

4) the criterion of context.

In grammatical and lexico-grammatical homonymy the reliable criterion is the criterion of distribution. In lexical homonymy there are cases when none of the criteria enumerated above is of any avail. In such cases the demarcation line between polysemy and homonymy is rather fluid.'

9. The problem of discriminating between polysemy and homonymy in theoretical linguistics is closely connected with the problem of the basic unit at the semantic level of analysis.

In applied linguistics this problem is of the greatest importance in lexicography and also in machine translation.

During several scores of years the problem of distinction of polysemy and homonymy in a language was constantly arising the interest of lexicologists is in many countries. The English language as well as Russian and Uzbek ones could not escape this arguable question too. In my work I should like to sum up the experience concerning this field of study and make a comparative analysis of it on the basis of three languages.

2.3.2 As it was mentioned above the lexical categories of homonyms and polysemantic words exist in all three languages, so we must, firstly, know what it meant by homonymy and polysemy

Homonyms are words different in meaning but identical in sound or spelling, or both in sound and spelling. Homonyms can appear in the language not only as the result of the split of polysemy, but also as the result of leveling of grammar inflexions, when different parts of speech become identical in their outer aspect, e.g. care from care and care from careen. They can be also formed by means of conversion, e.g. to slim from slim, to water from water. They can be formed with the help of the same suffix from the same stem, e.g. reader - a person who reads and a book for reading.

Homonyms can also appear in the language accidentally, when two words coincide in their development, e.g. two native words can coincide in their outer aspects: to bear from beran /to carry/ and bear from bera /an animal/. A native word and a borrowing can coincide in their outer aspects, e.g. fair from Latin feria and fair from native fagen /blond/. Two borrowings can coincide e.g. base from the French base /Latin basis/ and base /low/ from the Latin bas /Italian basso/.

Homonyms can develop through shortening of different words, e.g. cab from cabriolet, cabbage, cabin.

Classifications of homonyms:

Let us give us the classification of homonyms according to the point of view of famous British lexicologist Walter Skeat1).

So Walter Skeet classified homonyms according to their spelling and sound forms and he pointed out three groups: perfect homonyms that is words identical in sound and spelling, such as : school - and ; homographs, that is words with the same spelling but pronounced differently, e.g. bow -/bau/ -no and /bou/ - ; homophones that is words pronounced identically but spelled differently, e.g. night - and knight -p.

Another classification was suggested by A.I Smirnitsky 2). He added to Skeat's classification one more criterion: grammatical meaning. He subdivided the group of perfect homonyms in Skeat's classification into two types of homonyms: perfect which are identical in their spelling, pronunciation and their grammar form, such as spring in the meanings: the season of the year, a leap, a source, and homo-forms which coincide in their spelling and pronunciation but have different grammatical meaning, e.g. reading - Present Participle, Gerund, Verbal noun., to lobby - lobby.

A more detailed classification was given by I.V. Arnold1). He classified only perfect homonyms and suggested four criteria of their classification: lexical meaning, grammatical meaning, basic forms and paradigms.

ccording to these criteria I.V. Arnold pointed out the following groups:

a) homonyms identical in their grammatical meanings, basic forms and paradigms and different in their lexical meanings, e.g. board in the meanings a council and a piece of wood sawn thin;

b) homonyms identical in their grammatical meanings and basic forms, different in their lexical meanings and paradigms, e.g. to lie - lied - lied, and to lie - lay - lain;

c) homonyms different in their lexical meanings, grammatical meanings, paradigms, but coinciding in their basic forms,

e.g. light / lights/, light / lighter, lightest/;

d) homonyms different in their lexical meanings, grammatical meanings, in their basic forms and paradigms, but coinciding in one of the forms of their paradigms, e.g. a bit and bit (from to bite).

In I. V. Arnold's classification there are also patterned homonyms, which, differing from other homonyms, have a common component in their lexical meanings. These are homonyms formed either by means of conversion, or by leveling of grammar inflexions. These homonyms are different in their grammar meanings, in their paradigms, identical in their basic forms, e.g. warm - to warm. Here we can also have unchangeable patterned homonyms which have identical basic forms, different grammatical meanings, a common component in their lexical meanings, e.g. before an adverb, a conjunction, a preposition. There are also homonyms among unchangeable words which are different in their lexical and grammatical meanings, identical in their basic forms, e.g. for - and for - 6o.

The word polysemy means plurality of meanings it exists only in the language, not in speech. A word which has more than one meaning is called polysemy.

Different meanings of a polysemantic word may come together due to the proximity of notions which they express.

E.g. The word blanket has the following meanings: a woolen covering used on beds, a covering for keeping a horse warm, a covering of any kind /a blanket of snow/, covering all or most cases /used attributively/, e.g. we can say a blanket insurance policy.There are some words in the language which are monosynaptic, such as most terms, /synonym, molecule, bronchitis, some pronouns /this, my, both/, numerals, and so like.

There are two processes of the semantic development of a word: radiation and concatenation. In cases of radiation the primary meaning stands in the centre and the secondary meanings proceed out of it like rays. Each secondary meaning can be traced to the primary meaning. E.g. in the word face the primary meaning denotes the front part of the human head Connected with the front position the meanings: the front part of a watch, the front part of a building, the front part of a playing card was formed. Connected with the word face itself the meanings: expression of the face, outward appearance is formed.

In cases of concatenation secondary meanings of a word develop like a chain. In such cases it is difficult to trace some meanings to the primary one. E.g. in the word crust the primary meaning hard outer part of bread developed a secondary meaning hard part of anything /a pie, a cake/, then the meaning harder layer over soft snow was developed, then a sullen gloomy person, then impudence were developed. Here the last meanings have nothing to do with the primary ones. In such cases homonyms appear in the language. It is called the split of polysemy.

In most cases in the semantic development of a word both ways of semantic development are combined.

Nowadays methods of distinction of homonymy and polysemy were worked out. This helps us to differ the meaning of the same word and homonymy which formed in a result of the complete gap of polysemy. Below let us study the methods of studying of synonymy and homonymy.

1. The lexical method of distinction of homonymy and polysemy. This method is concluded in revealing the synonymic connection of polysemy and homonymy. If consonant units are get in one synonymic row when different meanings of words remain still the semantic intimacy and, there fore, it is early to say that polysemy is transferred in to homonymy. If the consonant words are not get in one synonymic row that words are homonymy.

Homonymy and polysemy are different categories in polysemy we deal with the different meanings of the same word. In homonymy we have different words which have their own meanings. For example, the word "man" has ten meanings in Modern English:

1 - ; 2 - ; 3 - ; 4 - ;5-; 6 - ; 7 - ; 8 - ; 9 - ; 10 - .

As the all meanings are connected with the major meaning "eoe". But homonyms are different words which have nothing in common themselves.

For example "bark1 - " " and "bark2" - " ". In this example we can see that homonymy words coincide only in pronunciation and writing.

2. Some scientists say that the substitution of different meanings of words by the synonyms may help to differ the homonyms from polysemantic words. This way of distinction of polysemy and homonymy gets its name in literature as etiological criterion.For example "voice1 - "sounds uttered in speaking" (sound); "voice2" - "mode of uttering sounds in speaking" (sound); "voice3" - the vibration of the vocal cords in sounds uttered (sound); "voice4" - "the form of the verb that express the relation of the subject to the action". "Voice1" - "voice2" - "voice3" are not homonymic in their character although they have different meanings because of the reason that they can be substituted by the synonymic word "sound". As far as "voice4" is concerned as homonymic to the previous three meanings because the fourth meaning of the word sound can not be substituted by the word common to the previous three meanings of the word voice (i.e. the analyzed meaning of the word "sound").

V. Abaev1) gave etymological criterion of distinguishing homonymic and polysemantic words. He says that homonyms are words which have different sources and only coincided phonetically.

3. We also use the semantic method of distinction of these occurrences. The meaning of homonyms always mutually excepts each other and the meaning of polysemantic words airs formed by one sensible structure keeping the semantic intimacy: one of the meanings assumes, while the other is non-irresistible limit.

The semantic criterion implies that the difference between polysemy and homonymy is actually reduced to the differentiation between related and unrelated meanings. This semantic criterion does not seen to be reliable, firstly, because various meanings of same word and the meanings of two or more different words may be equally apprehended by speaker.

It is some times argued that the difference between related and unrelated polysemantic words is, as a rule, relatable. It is observed that different meanings have certain stable relationships which are not to be found between the meanings of homonymous words. A clearly perceptible connection of such semantic relationships is commonly found in the meanings of one word and is considered to be indicative to polysemy. It is also suggested that the semantic connection may be described in terms of such features.

For example, we may give the following word

"face1" - 'the front part of human's head".

"face2" - playing card, building, watches.

In this example we can find that meanings form one sensible structure. Another example shares the same idea:

E.g. The word "fair1" which means "a person with light hairs" and "fair2" which means "just, honest". In this example the meanings except to each other and do not keep the semantic intimacy.

4. There is a fourth method of distinction of polysemy and homonymy. It is morphological method. It means that polysemy and homonymy are characterized by the various word -building. So some words which have a few meanings the new word is formed with the same suffix.

For example, for the word "park1" - "place of rest" we form a new word by ending -ed-: "parked" while in the word "park2'' - "a place of keeping automobiles" the new word is formed by -ing- ending : "parking".

6.2.2 Typological analysis of homonymy and polysemy in three languages

Below we would like to compare the English differences between homonymy and polysemy with Russian and Uzbek equivalents. Buranov, Muminov Readings on Modern English Lexicology

T. O'qituvchi 1985 pp. 34-47

As it was noticed above we have polysemy and homonymy in both Russian and Uzbek. As in English, in Russian and Uzbek homonyms are words identical in sound and spelling but different in meaning.

For example, "1 - "an industrial undertaking" and "2" - "a device which brings an action of a mechanism".

"o't1" - "firewood", "o't2" - "grass" and "o't" - "the verb which means movement".

1) In this chapter we partially used the materials of the investigations of Prof. Buranov

As in English, in Russian and Uzbek we correspond to polysemantic words the words which have several connected meanings.

For example, "" - "one of the jewelry things" and "" - "a shape

of something, e.g. smoke". Another example is "ko'z1" - "a part of human's body" and "ko'z2" - "a sing on wood".

As in, English there is the lexical method of distinction of polysemy and homonymy is used in Russian and Uzbek in the same degree.

For example, in Russian the word "1 - used in the meaning of " is referred to its synonym , and the word "2" in meaning of corresponds to the synonym . The words used in this sense are synonymic in their character, so we may conclude, therefore, that in this example we have two meanings of one word.

The word "1" -used in the meaning of is formed in the synonymic row with the adjectives , , while the word 2 forms its meaning with the adjectives , , . So we can draw a conclusion that the words , are not synonyms with the words , So in this case the words 1 and 2 are homonyms.

In Uzbek we have the same phenomenon: For example, the word dum1 - "a part of animal's body" and dum2 "a partial comet".

It means that these two meanings we can be substitutive with synonymy "the end of the body". It means that these words are polysemantic in their lexical meaning.

If we take another pair of words, e.g. "yoz1" - "summer" and "yoz2" - 'the form of the verb which expresses the order".

2. Ethimological method can be shown in the following:

For example, the word 1 used in the meaning of "sounds which are created when we speak", and the word 2 in the meaning of "sounds which appear in the course of vibration of humans' vocal cords" and 3 in the meaning of "to give your vote on election". The words 1and 2 can be substituted by the synonym common for both these words -"sound", while the third meaning of this word has nothing in common with the mentioned synonym. So we are able to draw the following conclusion: the first mentioned two meanings of the word are synonymic to each other, while the third mentioned meaning is homonymic to the previous twos.

Such kind of examples we can find in the Uzbek language as well. For instance, the words ovoz1 we can substitute into the synonym "sound" while the word ovoz2 in the meaning of opinion a group of people is homonymic to the first one, e.g. yoshlar ovozi.

3. The semantic criterion can also be compared in all three languages.

For example, in Russian the word 1 used in the meaning of "one of the things of woman's clothes and the word 2used in the meaning of "the top beginning of a mushroom or a nail" can be compared as following: these two meanings mean something round and located on the top. So these two meanings are synonymic between each other.

The same example we can find in Uzbek. For instance, the word bosh1used in the meaning of "the beginning of human's body" and the word bosh2 used in the meaning of the main person in a work, e.g.ishning boshi. These two meanings are alike because they do the same function, so they are not homonymic, they are synonyms.

4. Morphological method of distinction of polysemy and homonymy can also be demonstrated in all the languages compared.

For example, in Russian, the noun 1 used in the meaning of and 2 used in the meaning of , form the adjective with the help of the suffix -.

Cf.: and .

In Uzbek the word oy1 - e.g. Yilda un ikkita oylar bor and oy2 - e.g. oy - yerning yo'ldoshi form the new word with the help of the suffix lik:

Cf.: Oylik maoshi and Bir oylik 14 kundan iborat.

So having analysed the phenomenona of homonymy and polyseny in the three languages we can draw the following conclusion to this chapter: there are no so big differences in these languages in respect to the linguistic phenomena analysed.

However, the following conclusion can also be drawn: the problem of distinction of homonymy and polysemy in all the languages compared has not been investigated thoroughly yet and there is still much opportunities to discover new fields of approaches and this problem is still waiting its salvation.


1.3 Common review of the essence of the work

Having analyzed the problem of homonyms in Modern English we could do the following conclusions:

a) The problem of homonyms in Modern English is very actual nowadays.

b) There are several problematic questions in the field of homonymy the major of which is the problem of distinguishing of homonyms and polysemantic words..

c) A number of famous linguists dealt with the problem of homonyms in Modern English. In particular, Profs. A. Buranov and J.Muminov were the first who dealt with this problem in our Republic, .Moloshnaya, V.I. Abaev etc.

d) The problem of homonymy is still waiting for its detail investigation.

2.3 Perspectives of the qualification works

Having said about the perspectives of the work we hope that this work will find its worthy way of applying at schools, lyceums and colleges of high education by both teachers and students of English. We also express our hopes to take this work its worthy place among the lexicological works dedicated to the types of shortening.


1. Ginzburg R.S. et al. A Course in Modern English Lexicology. M., 1979 pp.72-82

2.Buranov, Muminov Readings on Modern English Lexicology T. O'qituvchi 1985 pp. 34-47

3. Arnold I.V. The English Word M. High School 1986 pp. 143-149

4. O. Jespersen. Linguistics. London, 1983, pp. 395-412

5. Jespersen ,Otto. Growth and Structure of the English Language. Oxford, 1982 pp.246-249

5. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English. Oxford 1964., pp.147, 167, 171-172

6.V.D. Arakin English Russian Dictionary M.Russky Yazyk 1978 pp. 23-24, 117-119, 133-134

7.Abayev V.I. Homonyms T. O'qituvchi 1981 pp. 4-5, 8, 26-29

8.Smirnitsky A.I. Homonyms in English M.1977 pp.57-59,89-90

9. Dubenets E.M. Modern English Lexicology (Course of Lectures) M., Moscow State Teacher Training University Publishers 2004 pp.17-31

10. Akhmanova O.S. Lexicology: Theory and Method. M. 1972 pp. 59-66

12. Burchfield R.W. The English Language. Lnd. ,1985 pp45-47

13. Canon G. Historical Changes and English Wordformation: New Vocabulary items. N.Y., 1986. p.284

14. Howard Ph. New words for Old. Lnd., 1980. p.311

15. Halliday M.A.K. Language as Social Semiotics. Social Interpretation of Language and Meaning. Lnd., 1979.p.53,112

16. Potter S. Modern Linguistics. Lnd., 1957 pp.37-54

17. Schlauch, Margaret. The English Language in Modern Times. Warszava, 1965. p.342

18. Sheard, John. The Words we Use. N.Y..,1954.p.3

19. Maurer D.W. , High F.C. New Words - Where do they come from and where do they go. American Speech., 1982.p.171

20. A .. . . .1974. .46

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24. Bloomsbury Dictionary of New Words. M. 1996 .276-278

25. Hornby The Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English. Lnd. 1974 .92-93, 111

26 . Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English. Longman. 1981pp.23-25

27. .C. Dictionary of New Words and New Meanings. . '' ,1993. 48 28. World Book Encyclopedia NY Vol 8 1993 p.321

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