Structure of meaning
Structure of meaning
Structure of meaning
Motivation. Types of motivation
Causes of Semantic Change
Nature of Semantic Change
Nature of Semantic Change
Nature of Semantic Change
Nature of Semantic Change
Nature of Semantic Change
Nature of Semantic Change
Nature of Semantic Change
Results of Semantic Change
Results of Semantic Change
Results of Semantic Change
The semantic centre of the word
The semantic structure of the word
The semantic structure is divisible:
The semantic structure is divisible:
From the synchronic point of view we distinguish:
From the diachronic point of view we distinguish:
Classifications of homonyms
Classifications of homonyms
Sources of Homonymy
Category: lingvisticslingvistics



Structure of meaning
Causes, nature and results of
semantic change
Polysemy and Homonymy

2. Structure of meaning

Word meaning is not homogeneous.
emotive - evaluative

3. Structure of meaning

Stylistic connotation shows stylistic characteristics of
every word: neutral, bookish, poetic, colloquial, slang,
jargon, vulgar. E.g. ‘parent, father, dad, daddy, pop,
old man, oldie, octogenarian, oldster’.
Evaluative connotation - expresses approval or
disapproval, positive and negative attitude towards
what we say. Markers:
dictionary notes – derogatory, contemptuously,
disrespectfully, offensively, appreciative,
semes in definitions – bad, dangerous, defective, evil,
faulty, harmful, ill, wrong, good, agreeable, clever,
proper, right.

4. Structure of meaning

money-grubber – derog. a person who is determined to gain
money, often by dishonest means;
sensible – reasonable, having or showing good sense;
disrepute – loss or lack of people’s good opinion, bad repute.
Emotional evaluation
hound – to chase or worry continually, harass
to make someone worried or unhappy by
causing trouble
not happy, sad
feeling or showing pleasure

5. Motivation. Types of motivation

Main types of motivation:
phonetical motivation; e.g. bang, buzz,
giggle, hiss, purr, whistle.
morphological motivation; e.g. ex-president,
ex-wife, ex-star; rebuild, rethink
semantic motivation; e.g. a chain of events, a
chain of shops, hotels, restaurants; the mouth of a
river .

6. Causes of Semantic Change

Causes of semantic change
(e.g. starve) of synonyms
fixed context
(e.g. token)
linguistic analogy

7. Nature of Semantic Change

There are two kinds of association involved in various
semantic changes:
a) similarity (likelihood, resemblance) of meanings;
b) contiguity (real connection) of meanings.
etymological (dead)
genuine (fresh)

8. Nature of Semantic Change

Metaphors are based on different types of similarity:
similarity of shape: a head of a person — a head of cabbage; a
tongue of a person – a tongue of a bell or a shoe;
similarity of function: key to a door — the key to a mystery; a
head of a person – a head of a household;
similarity of position: a child's foot — foot of page; a head of a
person — a head of a hammer;
similarity of the character of motion or speed: snail (a slow
person); slowcoach (a slow, habitually lazy person);
similarity of dimensions: dumpling (a short, chubby creature);
peanut (a small, insignificant person);
similarity of value: dirt cheap;
similarity of behaviour: a monkey, an ass, a fox — a person.

9. Nature of Semantic Change

A special type of metaphors includes transitions of
proper names into common ones:
a Cicero – an eloquent person;
a Solomon – a wise man;
Don Juan – infml a man who has sex with a lot of women;
a Venus;
a Scrooge- infml, disapproving – a person who is very
unwilling to spend money; from Ebenezer Scrooge, a
character in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol who is
extremely mean.

10. Nature of Semantic Change

Types of metonymy-forming interrelations of two objects are
manifold. They may be:
material → the thing made of the material: glass → articles made
of glass; silver → money (silver coins); iron (железо) — an iron
(утюг), cooper (медь) — а cooper (медная монета);
consequence → cause: grey hair means old age;
name of the thing → quality of the thing: a tongue → ready
tongue; an ear → an ear for music
container → the thing contained: he drank a cup; the school
approves of this action;
name of a place → institution: Tony Blear does not want to move
from Downing street, 10;
name of a place → event connected with the place: American
people don’t want another Vietnam;

11. Nature of Semantic Change

instrument → agent: pen is used to denote a writer or a poet:
‘the best pen of the epoch’; violin may be used in reference to
the musician who plays it: ‘there are eight violins in the
symbol → the thing symbolized: crown → monarchy;
action → the object of the action: love → the object of affection;
reading → matter for reading;
action → the subject of the action: support (act of supporting) →
the one who supports; safeguard (protection) → the one who
quality → the thing or the person possessing the quality: talent
→ he is a real talent; beauty → all those beauties of Hollywood;
quality → the result of the quality: ancient → an aged man, an
elder or senior.

12. Nature of Semantic Change

Synecdoche - using the name of a part to denote the whole or visa
versa. E.g. Hands are wanted – the name of the part is used to
denote the whole; the foot (пехота); the Royal horse
(английская кавалерия).
Metonymy is responsible for a lot of common names derived from
proper names:
ohm, ampere, watt
bobby (Robert Peel) – the founder of the system of the British police
> a British policeman;
Sandwich goes back to John Mantagu, Earl of Sandwich (18th
astrakhan (fur), china (ware), damask (steel), holland (linen),
morocco (leather), champagne, burgundy, Madeira,
Roquefort, cheddar.

13. Nature of Semantic Change

Hyperbole is an exaggerated statement which must not be
understood directly: She is a monster; a nightmare; death itself.
Other examples: I have heaps of time; I beg a thousand
pardons; he was thunderstruck.
The opposite of hyperbole is meiosis (or understatement) – a pool
(about the ocean);
Litotes –is expressing the affirmative by the negation of its
contrary: not half as bad; not small; no scoundrel (about an
honest man).
Euphemisms are words which replace unpleasant, offensive, harsh
and disagreeable lexical units: deceased (dead); deranged
(mad); disease of the age (cancer); garbage collector (dustman);
the unprivileged (the poor). The earliest euphemisms were
connected with social and superstitious taboos

14. Results of Semantic Change

Modifications of the scope of meaning are termed
specialization (restriction, narrowing);
generalization (extension, widening) of meaning.
E.g. deer (deor or dior) meant any beast
mete (Mod. E meat) meant food
OE fugol (bird) gave Mod E fowl (domestic bird)
to arrive - to come to a shore;
rival – meant ‘a person living on the other side of
the river’;
thing – ‘what was said or decided upon’.

15. Results of Semantic Change

The terms “degradation” and “elevation” of
meaning are customarily referred to cases of semantic
change in the connotational structure of the word.
Degradation (deterioration or pejoration) of meaning:
e.g. OE cnafa meant a boy, then a boy-servant and finally
acquired a derogatory sense – a swindler, a scoundrel.; silly
– OE ‘happy’ – in MnE ‘stupid’; villain – OE ‘a peasant’ – MnE
‘a swindler, a scoundrel’; boor - OE ‘a peasant’ – MnE ‘an illbred, clumsy person.’

16. Results of Semantic Change

Amelioration of meaning
fond – ‘foolish’ > ‘loving, affectionate’;
nice – ‘foolish’ > ‘fine, good’;
minister - ‘a servant’ > ‘a civil servant of
higher rank’;
Tory – Celt. ‘a high-way man’ – MnE ‘a
member of a Conservative party’;
queen, lord, lady, knight, marshal,

17. Polysemy

Words may be
V.V. Vinogradov
A.I. Smirnitsky
all the meanings form
LSV (lexico-semantic

18. Polysemy

A lexico-semantic variant is a twofacet unit (двусторонняя единица),
the formal facet of which is the soundform of a word, while the content facet
is one of the meanings of the given
word, i. e. the designation
(обозначение) of a certain class of

19. The semantic centre of the word

E.g. voice (the Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of
Current English by A.S. Hornby):
1. sounds uttered in speaking or singing;
2. sounds uttered in speaking or singing as
characteristic of a particular person;
3. the vibrations of the vocal cords in sounds
uttered in speaking or singing;
4. the ability to utter sounds in speaking or
singing. The semantic centre of the word is sounds uttered in speaking or singing.

20. The semantic structure of the word

The semantic structure of the word –
a structured set of interrelated lexical
variants with different denotational and
sometimes also connotational meanings
that are united by the existence of a
common semantic component.
Hierarchy of LSV

21. The semantic structure is divisible:

at the level of each meaning (componential analysis)
Meaning - a set of elements of meaning which are not part
of the vocabulary itself but rather theoretical
elements, postulated in order to describe the semantic
relations between the lexical elements of a given
It is an attempt to describe the meaning of words in terms
of a universal inventory of semantic components
(semes) and their possible combinations.
E.g. In the correlation ‘man, boy :: woman, girl’ the
semantic distinctive feature is sex – male or female; ‘man
:: boy’, ‘woman :: girl’ – the distinctive feature is that of
age – adult or non-adult.

22. The semantic structure is divisible:

at the level of different meanings.
Polysemy may be viewed synchronically
and diachronically.

23. From the synchronic point of view we distinguish:

the main/primary/central/basic meaning
marginal/ minor meanings

24. From the diachronic point of view we distinguish:

primary (nominative)
secondary (nominative-derivative)

25. Polysemy

Two basic types of organization of the
semantic structure of the polysemantic

26. Polysemy

Context - a combination of an indicator or
indicating minimum + the word the
meaning of which we state in a given
Contexts may be of two types:
linguistic (verbal)
extra-linguistic (non-verbal).

27. Homonymy

Homonyms (Greek homonymous – homos –
‘the same’ and onoma – ‘name’)
are two or more words identical in sound and
spelling but different in meaning,
distribution and (in many cases) origin.
E.g. bank (Germanic) – shore; bank (Italian)
– institution; bank (French) – a ship.

28. Classifications of homonyms

Full homonymy
Partial homonymy
2. By the type of meaning:

29. Classifications of homonyms

3. On the basis of the three aspects – soundform, graphical form and meaning:
Homonyms proper

30. Sources of Homonymy

There are distinguished two sources of
homonymy (diachronic analysis of
convergent sound development;
divergent sense development.
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