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Classifications of homonyms.

Walter Skeat 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» - «косяк рыбы» and «школа» ; homographs, that is words with the same spelling but pronounced differently, e.g. «bow» -/bau/ - «поклон» and /bou/ - «лук»; homophones that is words pronounced identically but spelled differently, e.g. «night» - «ночь» and «knight» - «рыцарь».

Another classification was suggested by A.I Smirnitsky. 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 homoforms 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. Arnold. She classified only perfect homonyms and suggested four criteria of their classification: lexical meaning, grammatical meaning, basic forms and paradigms.

According 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 levelling 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 foms, e.g. « for» - «для» and «for» - «ибо».




Synonyms are words different in their outer aspects, but identical or similar in their inner aspects. In English there are a lot of synonyms, because there are many borrowings, e.g. hearty / native/ - cordial/ borrowing/. After a word is borrowed it undergoes desynonymization, because absolute synonyms are unnecessary for a language. However, there are some absolute synonyms in the language, which have exactly the same meaning and belong to the same style, e.g. to moan, to groan; homeland, motherland etc. In cases of desynonymization one of the absolute synonyms can specialize in its meaning and we get semantic synonyms, e.g. «city» /borrowed/, «town» /native/. The French borrowing «city» is specialized. In other cases native words can be specialized in their meanings, e.g. «stool» /native/, «chair» /French/.

Sometimes one of the absolute synonyms is specialized in its usage and we get stylistic synonyms, e.g. «to begin»/ native/, «to commence» /borrowing/. Here the French word is specialized. In some cases the native word is specialized, e.g. «welkin» /bookish/, «sky» /neutral/.

Stylistic synonyms can also appear by means of abbreviation. In most cases the abbreviated form belongs to the colloquial style, and the full form to the neutral style, e.g. «examination’, «exam».

Among stylistic synonyms we can point out a special group of words which are called euphemisms. These are words used to substitute some unpleasant or offensive words, e.g «the late» instead of «dead», «to perspire» instead of «to sweat» etc.

There are also phraseological synonyms, these words are identical in their meanings and styles but different in their combining with other words in the sentence, e.g. «to be late for a lecture» but «to miss the train», «to visit museums» but «to attend lectures» etc.

In each group of synonyms there is a word with the most general meaning, which can substitute any word in the group, e.g. «piece» is the synonymic dominant in the group «slice», «lump», «morsel». The verb « to look at» is the synonymic dominant in the group «to stare», «to glance», «to peep». The adjective «red’ is the synonymic dominant in the group «purple», «scarlet», «crimson».

When speaking about the sources of synonyms, besides desynonymization and abbreviation, we can also mention the formation of phrasal verbs, e.g. «to give up» - «to abandon», «to cut down» - «to diminish».



Antonyms are words belonging to the same part of speech, identical in style, expressing contrary or contradictory notions.

V.N. Comissarov in his dictionary of antonyms classified them into two groups : absolute or root antonyms /»late» - «early»/ and derivational antonyms / «to please’ - «to displease»/ . Absolute antonyms have different roots and derivational antonyms have the same roots but different affixes. In most cases negative prefixes form antonyms / un-, dis-, non-/. Sometimes they are formed by means of suffixes -ful and -less.

The number of antonyms with the suffixes ful- and -less is not very large, and sometimes even if we have a word with one of these suffixes its antonym is formed not by substituting -ful by less-, e.g. «successful» -»unsuccessful», «selfless» - «selfish». The same is true about antonyms with negative prefixes, e.g. «to man» is not an antonym of the word «to unman», «to disappoint» is not an antonym of the word «to appoint».

The difference between derivational and root antonyms is not only in their structure, but in semantics as well. Derivational antonyms express contradictory notions, one of them excludes the other, e.g. «active»- «inactive». Absolute antonyms express contrary notions. If some notions can be arranged in a group of more than two members, the most distant members of the group will be absolute antonyms, e.g. «ugly» , «plain», «good-looking», «pretty», «beautiful», the antonyms are «ugly» and «beautiful».

Leonard Lipka in the book «Outline of English Lexicology» describes different types of oppositeness, and subdivides them into three types:

a) complementary, e.g. male -female, married -single,

b) antonyms, e.g. good -bad,

c) converseness, e.g. to buy - to sell.

In his classification he describes complimentarity in the following way: the denial of the one implies the assertion of the other, and vice versa. «John is not married» implies that «John is single». The type of oppositeness is based on yes/no decision. Incompatibility only concerns pairs of lexical units.

Antonymy is the second class of oppositeness. It is distinguished from complimentarity by being based on different logical relationships. For pairs of antonyms like good/bad, big/small only the second one of the above mentioned relations of implication holds. The assertion containing one member implies the negation of the other, but not vice versa. «John is good» implies that «John is not bad», but «John is not good» does not imply that «John is bad». The negation of one term does not necessarily implies the assertion of the other.

An important linguistic difference from complementaries is that antonyms are always fully gradable, e.g. hot, warm, tepid, cold.

Converseness is mirror-image relations or functions, e.g. husband/wife, pupil/teacher, preceed/follow, above/below, before/after etc.

«John bought the car from Bill» implies that «Bill sold the car to John». Mirror-image sentences are in many ways similar to the relations between active and passive sentences. Also in the comparative form: »Y is smaller than X, then X is larger than Y».

L. Lipka also gives the type which he calls directional opposition up/down, consiquence opposition learn/know, antipodal opposition North/South, East/West, ( it is based on contrary motion, in opposite directions.) The pairs come/go, arrive/depart involve motion in different directions. In the case up/down we have movement from a point P. In the case come/go we have movement from or to the speaker.

L. Lipka also points out non-binary contrast or many-member lexical sets. Here he points out serially ordered sets, such as scales / hot, warm, tepid, cool, cold/ ; colour words / black, grey, white/ ; ranks /marshal, general, colonel, major, captain etc./ There are gradable examination marks / excellent, good, average, fair, poor/. In such sets of words we can have outer and inner pairs of antonyms. He also points out cycles, such as units of time /spring, summer, autumn, winter/ . In this case there are no «outermost» members.

Not every word in a language can have antonyms. This type of opposition can be met in qualitative adjectives and their derivatives, e.g. beautiful- ugly, to beautify - to uglify, beauty - ugliness. It can be also met in words denoting feelings and states, e.g. respect - scorn, to respect - to scorn, respectful - scornful, to live - to die, alive - dead, life - death. It can be also met among words denoting direction in space and time, e.g. here - there, up - down , now - never, before - after, day - night, early - late etc.

If a word is polysemantic it can have several antonyms, e.g. the word «bright» has the antonyms «dim», «dull», «sad».



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