Anda di halaman 1dari 37

OUTLINES OF ENGLISH - linguistic structure that may consist of one or

more morphemes. When a word consists of one

LEXICOLOGY morpheme only, then it cannot be broken down into


smaller meaningful units, e.g. dog, hand, man, out,
work, Such words are called 'simple' words,
Introduction (minimum free forms) in the sense that they may
Lexicology is a branch of linguistics, the science stand by themselves and yet act as minimally
of language. The literal meaning of the term complete utterances, e.g. in answer to a question.
Lехiсоlоgу is 'the science of the word'. Lexicology If they consist of more than one morpheme they
is concerned with words, variable word-groups, are called complex words and may be broken down
phraseological units, and with morphemes which into one free form and one or more bound forms:
make up words. e.g. happi-ly, quick-er, work-ing,
- linguistic structures that may occurs typically in
Two Approaches to Language Study the structure of phrases (morphemes are used to
There are two principal approaches in linguistic build words, words to build phrases, phrases to
science to the study of language material: the build clauses, and clauses to build sentences)
synchronic and the diachronic approach. - written as a sequence of letters bounded by
- The synchronic approach is concerned with spaces on a page
the vocabulary of a language as it exists at a given Unlike words, morphemes cannot be divided
time, for instance, at the present time. into smaller meaningful units: they function in
- The diachronic approach deals with the speech only as constituent parts of words. The
changes and the development of vocabulary in the meaning of morphemes is more abstract and more
course of time. general than that of words and at the same time
A good example illustrating both the distinction they are less autonomous.
between the two approaches and their Idioms or Set expressions are word groups
interconnection is furnished by the words to beg consisting of two or more words whose combination
and beggar. is integrated so that they are introduced in speech
SYNCHRONICALLY, the words to beg and beggar ready-made as units with a specialised meaning of
are related as a simple and a derived word, the the whole that is not understood as a mere sum
noun beggar being the derived member of the pair total of the meanings of the elements.
(the derivative correlation between the two is the
same as in the case of to sing—singer, to teach— WORD MEANING
teacher, etc.). When we approach the words
DIACHRONICALLY, however, we learn that the noun There are mainly two schools of thought in
beggar was borrowed from Old French (1225, from present-day linguistics representing the main lines
O.Fr. begart, originally a member of the Beghards, lay of contemporary thinking on the problem of
brothers of mendicants in the Low Countries, from M.Du.
meaning - the one is the referential approach,
beggaert "mendicant," with pejorative suffix) and only
which seeks to formulate the essence of meaning by
presumed to have been derived from a shorter establishing the interdependence between words
word, the verb to beg, as in the English language and the things or concepts they denote, and the
agent nouns are commonly derived from verbs with functional approach, which studies the functions
the help of the agent suffix -er. of a word in speech and is less concerned with what
Lexical Units meaning is than with how it works.
Lexicology studies various lexical units but the
basic unit it investigates is the word. Other units Concept
are morphemes - parts of words into which words
may be analysed, and set expressions (idioms) or
groups of words into which words may be
combined.
Words are the central elements of a language Sound Referent
system. They are: form
[hE@]
- the biggest units of morphology and the
smallest of syntax.
- units that can be separated in an utterance by
other such units and can be used in isolation. Referential Approach to meaning
- linguistic structures possessing a regular stress All major works on semantic theory have so far
pattern. been based on referential concepts of meaning. The
- uninterruptible units – the elements that are essential feature of this approach is that it
added to a word to modify its meaning are never distinguishes between the three components closely
included within that word: they are added either at connected with meaning:
the beginning as prefixes of the word or at the end 1. the sound-form of the linguistic sign,
as suffixes. 2. the concept underlying this sound-form,
and
1
3. the actual referent, i.e. that part or that The meaning of a word is closely connected but
aspect of reality to which the linguistic sign refers. not identical with sound-form, concept or referent.
The best known referential model of meaning is The meaning is understood to be represented by all
the so-called "basic triangle" which, with some three points of the triangle within the framework of
variations, underlies the semantic systems of all the the given language, i.e. as the interrelation of the
adherents of this school of thought. In a simplified sound-form, concept and referent.
form the triangle may be represented as shown
above. Functional Approach to Meaning
As can be seen from the diagram the sound- The functional approach to the meaning of a
form of the linguistic sign, e.g. [hE@], is word is a recent new-comer in this field of science.
connected with the concept we have formed about It maintains that the meaning of a linguistic
the animal we denote and through it with the unit (a word) may be studied only through its
referent, i.e. the actual animals. The common relation to other linguistic units and not
feature of any referential approach is the through its relation to either concept or
implication that meaning is in some form or other referent.
connected with the referent. The sound form is In a very simplified form this view may be
completely arbitrary (we would choose any illustrated by the following: the combination of
combinations of sounds to represent the referent) sounds cat has no meaning unless it is included in a
and has no inherent connection with the actual sentence like this one: Cats catch mice. Then it is
referent. This can be easily proved by comparing said to have meaning that emerges as a product of
the sound-forms of different languages conveying the association of the sound combination with the
one and the same meaning, e.g. English [hE@], other words in the sentence. So meaning is
Russian [zay@tc], Bulgarian [zaek] and so on. It understood essentially as the function of the use of
can also be proved by comparing almost identical linguistic units.
sound-forms that possess different meaning in
different languages. The sound-cluster [pOt], e.g. in TYPES OF MEANING
the English language means 'a container of Word-meaning is not a homogeneous entity, it is
earthenware, metal, etc., used for cooking, serving, made up of various components. The combination
and other purposes', but in the Bulgarian language and interrelation of these components determine to
essentially the same sound-cluster possesses the a great extent the inner facet of the word. The
meaning 'the secretion of the sweat glands; components are usually described as types of
perspiration'. meaning. The two main types of meaning are the
The concept that we form in our brains in grammatical and the lexical meanings.
perceiving the referent is the thought of the object
that singles out its essential features. Our concepts GRAMMATICAL MEANING = that component of
are abstract and reflect the most common and meaning that is manifested in identical
typical features of the different objects and sets of individual forms of different words
phenomena of the world. Concepts of referents are The words girls, winters, joys, etc., though
almost the same for the whole of humanity in one denoting widely different objects of reality, have
and the same period of its historical development. something in common: the common element is the
The meanings of words, however, are different in grammatical meaning of plurality which can be
different languages. That is to say, words found in all of them.
expressing identical concepts may have different Thus the grammatical meaning of asked,
meanings and different semantic structures in thought, walked is that of tense, and girl's,
different languages. The concept of 'a building for boy's, night's have a grammatical meaning of
human habitation' is expressed in English by the case.
word house, in Bulgarian by the word дом, but the Actually it may be said that making a distinction
meaning of the English word is not identical with between lexical and grammatical meanings is in
that of the Bulgarian as house does not possess fact making a distinction between the functional
the meaning of 'fixed residence of family or (linguistic) meaning which operates at various
household' which is one of the meanings of the levels as the interrelation of various linguistic units
Bulgarian word дом; it is expressed by another and referential (conceptual) meaning as the
English polysemantic word, namely home which interrelation of linguistic units and referents (or
possesses a number of other meanings not to be concepts).
found in the Bulgarian word дом. Some elements of grammatical meaning can be
The concept is easily seen to be different from identified by the position of the linguistic unit in
the meaning of the word. For instance, the content relation to other linguistic units, i.e. by its
of the concept six can be expressed by 'three plus distribution. Word-forms sings, plays, acts have
three', 'five plus one', or 'ten minus four', etc. one and the same grammatical meaning as they can
Obviously, the meaning of the word six cannot be all be found in identical distribution, e.g. only after
identified with the meaning of these word-groups. the pronouns he, she, it and before adverbs like
well, badly, to-day, etc.
Meaning in the Referential Approach
2
LEXICAL MEANING = that component of form closed sets of units are usually not so many.
meaning that is recurrent in the forms of New items are practically never added.
one word Lexical items that belong to open sets are
The lexical meaning is identical in all the forms of many and new lexical items can be easily added to
one word. Thus, the word-forms go, goes, went, the sets, which actually fulfil the needs of the
going, gone possess different grammatical speech community to name new things and notions.
meanings of tense, person and so on, but in each of The interrelation of the lexical and the
these forms we find one and the same semantic grammatical meaning and the role played by each
component denoting the process of movement. varies in different word-classes and even in
This is the lexical meaning of the word which may different groups of words within one and the same
be described as the component of meaning class. In some parts of speech the prevailing
proper to the word as a linguistic unit, i.e. component is the grammatical type of meaning. The
recurrent in all the forms of this word. lexical meaning of prepositions for example is, as a
It follows that by lexical meaning we designate rule, relatively vague (independent of smb, one
the meaning proper to the given linguistic unit in all of the students). The lexical meaning of some
its forms and distributions, while by grammatical prepositions, however, may be comparatively
meaning we designate the meaning proper to sets distinct (cf. in/on, under the table). In verbs the
of word-forms common to all words of a certain lexical meaning usually comes to the fore although
class. Both the lexical and the grammatical in some of them, the verb to be, e.g., the
meaning make up the word-meaning as neither can grammatical meaning of a linking element prevails
exist without the other. (cf. he works as a teacher and he is a teacher).

Part-of-Speech Meaning Denotational and Connotational Meaning


It is usual to classify lexical items into major We can further subdivide the lexical meaning into
word classes (nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs) denotational and connotational meanings.
and minor word-classes (articles, prepositions, As the word’s main function is to denote things,
conjunctions, etc.). All members of a major word- concepts and so on, users of a language cannot
class share a distinguishing semantic component have any knowledge or thought of the objects or
which though very abstract may be viewed as the phenomena of the real world around them unless
lexical component of part-of-speech meaning. this knowledge is ultimately embodied in words
For example, the meaning of 'thingness' or which have essentially the same meaning for all
substantiality may be found in all the nouns e.g. speakers of that language. This is the denotational
table, love, sugar, though they possess different meaning, i.e. that component of the lexical
grammatical meanings of number, case, etc. It meaning which makes communication
should be noted, however, that the grammatical possible. A physicist knows much more about the
aspect of the part-of-speech meanings is atom than a singer does but this does not preclude
conveyed as a rule by a set of forms. If we describe the singer from understanding the scientist when
the word as a noun we mean to say that it is bound the latter uses the word.
to possess a set of forms expressing the The second component of the lexical meaning is
grammatical meaning of number (cf. table - the connotational component which consists of
tables), case (cf. boy, boy's) and so on. A verb is the emotive charge and the stylistic value of the
understood to possess sets of forms expressing, word.
e.g., tense meaning (worked—works), mood
meaning (Work!—(I) work), etc. Emotive charge
The part-of-speech meaning of the words that Words contain an element of emotive evaluation
possess only one form, e.g. prepositions, some as part of the connotational meaning; e.g. a hovel
adverbs, etc:, is observed only in their distribution (бордей, коптор, хижа, колиба) denotes 'a small
(cf. to come in (here, there) and in (on, under) house or cottage' and besides implies that it is a
the table). miserable dwelling place, dirty, in bad repair and in
general unpleasant to live in. The emotive charge of
Open and close sets of words the words tremendous, worship and girlie is
heavier than that of the words large, like and girl.
One of the levels at which grammatical meaning This does not depend on the "feeling" of the
operates is that of minor word classes like articles, individual speaker but is true for all speakers of
pronouns, etc. Members of these word classes are English. The emotive charge varies in different
generally listed in dictionaries just as other word-classes. In some of them (interjections) the
vocabulary items, that belong to major word- emotive element prevails, whereas in conjunctions
classes of lexical items proper (e.g. nouns, verbs, the emotive charge is as a rule practically non-
etc.). existent.
One criterion for distinguishing these The emotive charge is one of the objective
grammatical items from lexical items is in terms of semantic features proper to words as linguistic units
closed and open sets. Grammatical items that and forms part of the connotational component of
meaning. It should not be confused with emotive
3
implications that words may acquire in speech. 7. Colloquial coinages - newspaperdom,
The emotive implication of the word is to a great allrightnik, etc.
extent subjective as it greatly depends of the
personal experience of the speaker and the mental CHANGE OF MEANING
imagery the word evokes in him. Words seemingly Word-meaning is not a constant entity, it
devoid of any emotional element may possess in changes in the course of the historical development
the case of individual speakers strong emotive of language. Changes of lexical meaning may be
implications as may be illustrated by the word illustrated by a diachronic semantic analysis of
hospital. What is thought and felt when the word many commonly used English words. The word
hospital is used will be different in the case of an fond (OE, fond) used to mean 'foolish', 'foolishly
architect who built it, the invalid staying there after credulous'; glad had the meaning of 'bright',
an operation, or the man living across the road. 'shining'.
Discussing the CAUSES OF SEMANTIC CHANGE we
Stylistic Reference concentrate on the factors bringing about this
Words differ not only in their emotive charge but change and attempt to find out why the word
also in their stylistic reference. Stylistically words changed its meaning. Analysing the NATURE of
can be roughly subdivided into literary, neutral semantic change we seek to clarify the process of
and colloquial layers. this change and describe how various changes of
The greater part of the literary layer of Modern meaning were brought about. The aim in
English vocabulary are words of general use: they investigating the RESULTS of semantic change is to
have no specific stylistic reference and are known find out what was changed, i.e. we compare the
as neutral words. Against the background of resultant and the original meanings and describe
neutral words we can distinguish two major the difference between them mainly in terms of the
subgroups — standard colloquial words and changes of the denotational components.
literary or bookish words. This may be best
illustrated by comparing words almost identical in Causes of semantic changes
their denotational meaning: 'parent — father — Here we include all factors that may bring about
dad'. In comparison with the word father which is a semantic change. They can be roughly subdivided
stylistically neutral, dad stands out as colloquial into two groups:
and parent is felt as bookish. The stylistic reference a) extra-linguistic and
of standard colloquial words is clearly observed b) linguistic causes.
when we compare them with their neutral By extra-linguistic causes we mean various
synonyms, e.g. chum — friend, rot—nonsense, changes in the life of the speech community,
etc. This is also true of literary or bookish words, changes in economic and social structure, changes
such as presume (cf. to suppose), anticipate (cf. in ideas, scientific concepts, way of life and other
to expect). spheres of human activities as reflected in word
Literary (bookish) words are not stylistically meanings. Although objects, institutions, concepts
homogeneous. Besides general-literary (bookish) change in the course of time, in many cases the
words, e.g. harmony, calamity, alacrity, we may sound form of the words which denote them is
single out various specific subgroups: retained but the meaning of the words is changed.
1) terms or scientific words such as The word car ultimately goes back to Latin carrus
renaissance, genocide; which meant 'a four-wheeled wagon' (ME, carre)
2) poetic words and archaisms such as but now that other means of transport are used it
whilome (formerly), ere (before), albeit denotes 'a motor-car', 'a railway carriage' (in the
(although); USA).
3) barbarisms and foreign words, such as, Linguistic causes
bon mot—'a clever or witty saying', apropos. Some changes of meaning are due to what may
The colloquial words may be subdivided into: be described as purely linguistic causes, i.e.
1. Common colloquial words; factors acting within the language system. The
2. Slang - words which are often regarded as a commonest form which this influence takes is the
violation of the norms of Standard English: so-called ELLIPSIS. In a phrase made up of two
governor for 'father', missus for 'wife'. words one of these is omitted and its meaning is
3. Professionalisms - words used in narrow transferred to its partner. The verb to starve in Old
groups bound by the same occupation such as lab English (OE. steerfan) had the meaning 'to die' and
for 'laboratory', hypo for 'hypodermic syringe'. was habitually used in collocation with the word
4. Jargonisms - words marked by their use hunger (ME. sterven of hunger). Already in the
within a particular social group and bearing a secret 16th century the verb itself acquired the meaning
and cryptic character: a sucker — 'a person who is 'to die of hunger'. Similar semantic changes may be
easily deceived'. observed in Modern English when the meaning of
5. Vulgarisms - coarse words that are not one word is transferred to another because they
generally used in public: bloody, hell, damn, etc. habitually occur together in speech.
6. Dialectical words - lass, kirk, etc. Another linguistic cause is DISCRIMINATION OF
SYNONYMS which can be illustrated by the semantic
4
development of a number of words. The word land
in Old English meant both 'solid part of earth's Results of Semantic Change
surface' and 'the territory of a nation'. When in the Results of semantic change can be generally
Middle English period the word country was observed in:
borrowed as its synonym, the meaning of the word - the changes of the denotational meaning of
land was somewhat altered and 'the territory of a the word (restriction and extension of meaning)
nation' came to be denoted mainly by the borrowed or in
word country. - the alteration of its connotational component
Some semantic changes may be accounted for by (amelioration and deterioration of meaning).
the influence of a peculiar factor usually referred to
as LINGUISTIC ANALOGY. It was found out that if one Changes in the denotational meaning
of the members of a synonymic set acquires a new The meaning of a word in such cases changes its
meaning, other members of this set change their semantic scope – the number and volume of things
meanings too. It was observed that all English that the word refers to. The scope of reference
adverbs which acquired the meaning 'rapidly' becomes either smaller (restriction or narrowing)
(before 1300) always developed the meaning or bigger (extension or widening).
'immediately', similarly, verbs synonymous with The process of restriction of word’s semantic
catch, e.g. grasp, get, etc., by semantic extension scope may be illustrated by the semantic
acquired another meaning—'to understand' . development of the word hound (OE. hund) which
used to denote 'a dog of any breed' but now
Nature of Semantic Change denotes only 'a dog used in the chase'. This is also
Generally speaking, a necessary condition of any the case with the word fowl (OE. fužol, fužel) which
semantic change, no matter what its cause, is some in old English denoted 'any bird', but in Modern
connection or association between the old meaning English denotes 'a domestic hen or cock'. This is
and the new. There are two kinds of association generally described as "restriction of meaning"
involved as a rule in various semantic changes: a) and if the word with the new meaning comes to be
similarity of meanings, and b) contiguity of used in the specialized vocabulary of some limited
meanings. group within the speech community it is usual to
speak of specialization of meaning. For example,
Similarity of meanings (metaphor) may be we can observe restriction and specialization of
described as a semantic process of associating two meaning in the case of the verb to glide (OE.
referents, one of which in some way resembles the glidan) which had the meaning 'to move gently and
other. The word hand acquired in the 16th century smoothly' and has now acquired a restricted and
the meaning of 'a pointer of a clock or a watch' specialized meaning 'to fly with no engine' (cf. a
because of the similarity of one of the functions glider).
performed by the hand (to point at something) and The reverse process actually results in the
the function of the clockpointer. Since metaphor is application of the word to a wider variety of
based on the perception of similarities it is only referents. This is commonly described as extension
natural that when an analogy is obvious, it should of meaning and may be illustrated by the word
give rise to a metaphoric meaning. This can be target which originally meant 'a small round shield'
observed in the wide currency of metaphoric (a diminutive of targe, cf. ON. targa) but now
meanings of words denoting parts of the human means 'anything that is fired at' and also
body in various languages (cf. 'the leg of the table', figuratively 'any result aimed at'. If the word with
'the foot of the hill', etc.). Sometimes it is similarity the extended meaning passes from the specialized
of form, outline, etc. that underlies the metaphor. vocabulary into common use, we describe the result
The words warm and cold began to denote certain of the semantic change as generalization of
qualities of human voices because of some kind of meaning. The word camp which originally was used
similarity between these qualities and warm and only as a military term and meant 'the place where
cold temperature. troops are lodged in tents' (cf. L, campus —
'exercising ground for the army') extended and
Contiguity of meanings (metonymy) may be generalized its meaning and now denotes
described as the semantic process of associating 'temporary quarters' (of travellers, nomads, etc.).
two referents one of which makes part of the other
or is closely connected with it. Changes in the connotational meaning
This can be perhaps best illustrated by the use of As can be seen from the examples discussed
the word tongue — 'the organ of speech' in the above it is mainly the denotational component of
meaning of 'language' (as in mother tongue; cf. the lexical meaning that is affected while the
also L. lingua, Bulgarian език). The word bench connotational component remains unaltered. There
acquired the meaning 'judges, magistrates' are other cases, however, when the changes in the
because it was on the bench that the judges used to connotational meaning come to the fore. These
sit in law courts. changes, as a rule accompanied by a change in the
Metaphor plays a more important role in the denotational component, may be subdivided into
change of meaning than metonymy. two main groups:
5
a) pejorative development or the acquisition also follows that a change of meaning should be
by the word of some derogatory emotive described so as to satisfy all the three criteria.
charge. The semantic change in the word boor In the discussion of semantic changes we
may serve to illustrate this group. This word was confined ourselves only to the type of change which
originally used to denote 'a villager, a peasant' (cf. results in the disappearance of the old meaning
OE. sebur, 'dweller') and then acquired a which is replaced by the new one. The term change
derogatory, contemptuous connotational meaning of meaning, however, is also used to describe a
and came to denote 'a clumsy or ill-bred fellow'. change in the number (as a rule, an increase) and
b) ameliorative development or the arrangement of word-meanings without a single
improvement of the connotational component meaning disappearing from its semantic structure.
of meaning. The ameliorative development of the
connotational meaning may be observed in the MEANING AND POLYSEMY
change of the semantic structure of the word So far we have been discussing the concept of
minister which in one of its meanings originally meaning, different types of word-meanings and the
denoted 'a servant, an attendant', but now — 'a changes they undergo in the course of the historical
civil servant of higher rank, a person administering development of the English language. When
a department of state or accredited by one state to analysing the word-meaning we observe, however,
another'. that words as a rule are not units of a single
meaning. Monosemantic words are comparatively
Interrelation of Causes, Nature and Results of few in number, these are mainly scientific terms,
Semantic Change such as hydrogen, molecule and the like. The
As can be inferred from the analysis of various bulk of English words are polysemantic, that is to
changes of word-meanings, they can be classified say they possess more than one meaning. The
according to the social causes that bring about actual number of meanings of the commonly used
change of meaning (socio-linguistic classification), words ranges from five to about a hundred. In fact,
the nature of these changes (psychological the commoner the word the more meanings it has.
classification) and the results of semantic changes
(logical classification). Here it is suggested that THE SEMANTIC STRUCTURE OF
causes, nature and results of semantic changes POLYSEMANTIC WORDS
should be viewed as three essentially different but Polysemy is characteristic of most words in
inseparable aspects of one and the same linguistic many languages, however different they may be.
phenomenon as any change of meaning may be But it is exceptionally characteristic of the English
investigated from the point of view of its cause, vocabulary as compared with other languages due
nature and its consequences. to the monosyllabic character of English and the
Essentially the same causes may bring about predominance of root words. The greater the
different results: the semantic development in the relative frequency of the word, the greater the
word knight (OE. cniht) from 'a boy servant' to 'a number of variants that constitute its semantic
young warrior' and eventually to the meaning it structure, i.e. the more polysemantic it is. This
possesses in Modern English is due to extralin- regularity is of course a statistical, not a rigid one.
guistic causes just as the semantic change in the Word counts show that the total number of
word boor, but the results are different. In the case meanings separately registered in the New English
of boor we observe pejorative development Dictionary for the first thousand of the most
whereas in the case of knight we observe frequent English words is almost 25000, i.e. the
amelioration of the connotational component. And average number of meanings for each of these most
conversely, different causes may lead to the same frequent words is 25.
result. Restriction of meaning, for example, may be Every meaning in language and every
the result of the influence of extra-linguistic factors difference in meaning is signalled either by the form
as in the case of glide (progress of science and of the word itself or by context, i.e. its syntagmatic
technique) and also of purely linguistic causes relations depending on the position in the spoken
(discrimination of synonyms) as is the case with the chain. The unity of the two facets of a linguistic sign
word fowl. Changes of essentially identical nature, — its form and its content in the case of a
e.g. similarity of referents as the basis of polysemantic word — is kept in its lexico-
association, may bring about different results, e.g. grammatical variant.
extension of meaning as in target and also No universally accepted criteria for
restriction of meaning as in the word fowl. differentiating these variants within one
To avoid terminological confusion it is suggested polysemantic word can so far be offered, although
that the terms restriction and extension or the problem has lately attracted a great deal of
amelioration and deterioration of meaning attention. The main points can be summed up as
should be used to describe only the results of follows: lexico-grammatical variants of a word are
semantic change irrespective of its nature or its variants characterized by paradigmatic or
causes. When we discuss metaphoric or metonymic morphological peculiarities, different valency,
transfer of meaning we imply the nature of the different syntactic functions; very often they belong
semantic change whatever its results may be. It to different lexico-grammatical groups of the same
6
part of speech. Thus run is intransitive in ran home, pictures are shown’, this meaning in comparison
but transitive in run this office. Some of the variants with the main/primary will be secondary. When
demand an object naming some vehicle, or some the same word is used attributively in such
adverbials of direction, and so on. combinations as screen actor, screen star, screen
All the lexical and lexico-grammatical version, etc., it comes to mean ‘pertaining to the
variants of a word taken together form its cinema’ and is abstract in comparison with the first
semantic structure or semantic paradigm. meaning which is concrete. The main meaning is
Thus, in the semantic structure of the word youth that which possesses the highest frequency at the
three lexico-grammatical variants may be present stage of vocabulary development. All these
distinguished: the first is an abstract uncountable terms reflect relationships existing between
noun, as in the friends of one’s youth, the second is different meanings of a word at the same period, so
a countable personal noun ‘a young man’ (plural the classification may be called synchronic and
youths) that can be substituted by the pronoun he paradigmatic, although the terms used are
in the singular and they in the plural; the third is a borrowed from historical lexicology and stylistics.
collective noun ‘young men and women’ having only If the variants are classified not only by
one form, that of the singular, substituted by the comparing them inside the semantic structure of
pronoun they. Within the first lexico-grammatical the word but according to the style and sphere of
variant two shades of meaning can be distinguished language in which they may occur, if they have
with two different referents, one denoting the state stylistic connotations, the classification is stylistic.
of being young, and the other the time of being All the words are classified into stylistically
young. These shades of meaning are recognized neutral and stylistically coloured. The latter may
due to the lexical peculiarities of distribution and be classified into bookish and colloquial, bookish
sometimes are blended together as in to feel that styles in their turn may be (a) general, (b)
one’s youth has gone, where both the time and the poetical, (c) scientific or learned, while colloquial
state can be meant. These variants form a styles are subdivided into (a) literary colloquial,
structured set because they are expressed by the (b) familiar colloquial, (c) slang.
same sound complex and are interrelated in If we are primarily interested in the historical
meaning as they all contain the semantic perspective, the meanings will be classified
component ‘young’ and can be explained by means according to their genetic characteristic and their
of one another. growing or diminishing role in the language. In this
No general or complete scheme of types of way the following terms are used: etymological,
lexical meaning as elements of a word’s semantic i.e. the earliest known meaning; archaic, i.e. the
structure has so far been accepted by linguists. meaning superseded at present by a newer one but
Linguistic literature abounds in various terms still remaining in certain collocations; obsolete,
reflecting various points of view. The following gone out of use; present-day meaning, which is
terms may be found with different authors: the the one most frequent in the present-day language
meaning is direct when it nominates the referent and the original meaning serving as basis for the
without the help of a context, in isolation, i.e. in one derived ones. It is very important to pay attention
word sentences. The meaning is figurative when to the fact that one and the same meaning can at
the object is named and at the same time once belong, in accordance with different points, to
characterized through its similarity with another different groups. These features of meaning may
object. Note the word characterized: it is meant to therefore serve as distinctive features describing
point out that when used figuratively a word, while each meaning in its relationship to the others.
naming an object simultaneously describes it. Diachronic and synchronic ties are thus closely
Other oppositions are concrete::abstract; interconnected as the new meanings are understood
main/primary::secondary; central::peripheric; thanks to their motivation by the older meanings.
narrow::extended; general::special/particular, Polysemy is a phenomenon of language not
and so on. One readily sees that in each of these of speech. The sum total of many contexts in
the basis of classification is different, although there which the word is observed to occur permits the
is one point they have in common. In each case the lexicographers to record cases of identical meaning
comparison takes place within the semantic and cases that differ in meaning. They are
structure of one word. They are characterized one registered by lexicographers and found in
against the other. dictionaries.
Take, for example, the noun screen. We find it A distinction has to be drawn between the lexical
in its direct meaning when it names a movable meaning of a word in speech, we shall call it
piece of furniture used to hide something or protect contextual meaning, and the semantic structure of
somebody, as in the case of fire-screen placed in a word in language. Thus the semantic structure of
front of a fireplace. The meaning is figurative the verb act comprises several variants: ‘do
when the word is applied to anything which protects something’, ‘behave’, ‘take a part in a play’,
by hiding, as in smoke screen. We define this ‘pretend’. If one examines this word in the following
meaning as figurative comparing it to the first that aphorism: Some men have acted courage who had
we called direct. Again, when by a screen the it not; but no man can act wit, one sees it in a
speaker means ‘a silver-coloured sheet on which definite context that particularises it and makes
7
possible only one meaning ‘pretend’. This contextual they occupy in the semantic structure of the word
meaning has a connotation of irony. The unusual table? Lets take for example the word table.
grammatical meaning of transitivity (act is as a rule Intuitively we feel that the meaning that first occurs
intransitive) and the lexical meaning of objects to to us whenever we hear or see the word table, is
this verb make a slight difference in the lexical 'an article of furniture'. This emerges as the basic
meaning. or the central meaning of the word and all other
As a rule the contextual meaning represents meanings are minor in comparison.
only one of the possible variants of the word but It should be noted that whereas the basic
this one variant may render a complicated notion or meaning occurs in various and widely different
emotion analyzable into several semes. In this case contexts, minor meanings are observed only in
we deal not with the semantic structure of the word certain contexts (e.g. 'to keep the table amused',
but with the semantic structure of one of its 'table of contents'). Thus we can assume that the
meanings. Polysemy does not interfere with the meaning 'a piece of furniture' occupies the central
communicative function of the language place in the semantic structure of the word table. As
because the situation and context cancel all to other meanings of this word we find it hard to
the unwanted meanings. grade them in order of their comparative value. As
synchronically there is no objective criterion to go
Diachronic Approach by, we may find it difficult in some cases to single
If polysemy is viewed diachronically, it is out even the basic meanings since two or more
understood as the growth and development of or, in meanings of the word may be felt as equally
general, as a change in the semantic structure of "central" in its semantic structure. If we analyse the
the word. verb to get, which of the two meanings 'to obtain'
Polysemy in diachronic terms implies that a (get a letter, knowledge, some sleep) or 'to arrive'
word may retain its previous meaning or (get to London, to get into bed) shall we regard as
meanings and at the same time acquire one or the basic meaning of this word?
several new ones. Hence we can conclude that A more objective criterion of the comparative
the main source of polysemy is a change in the value of individual meanings seems to be the
semantic structure of the word. frequency of their occurrence in speech. There is a
Polysemy may also arise from homonymy. tendency in modern linguistics to interpret the
When two words become identical in sound-form, concept of the central meaning in terms of the
the meanings of the two words are felt as making frequency of occurrence of this meaning. So the
up one semantic structure. Thus, the human ear first cited meaning in a dictionary is usually the one
and the ear of corn are from the diachronic point with the greatest frequency of usage for this
of view two homonyms. One is etymologically particular word. Also the meaning with highest
related to the Latin word auris, the other to acus, frequency is the one representative of the
aceris. Synchronically, however, they are perceived whole semantic structure of the word. For
as two meanings of one and the same word. The example the meaning representative of the word
ear of corn is felt to be a metaphor of the usual hand which first occurs to us is 'the end of the arm
type and consequently as one of the derived or, beyond the wrist'. This meaning accounts for at
synchronically, minor meanings of the least 77% of all occurrences of this word.
polysemantic word ear. [In dictionaries ear (L.
auris) and ear (L. acus, aceris) are usually treated
as two homonymous words as dictionary compilers POLYSEMY AND HOMONYMY
as a rule go by etymological criterion.] Words identical in sound-form but different
Semantic changes result as a rule in new in meaning are traditionally termed
meanings being added to the ones already homonyms.
existing in the semantic structure of the word. Modern English is exceptionally rich in
Some of the old meanings may become obsolete homonymous words and word-forms. This fact is
or even disappear, but the bulk of English words accounted for by the monosyllabic structure of the
tend to an increase in number of meanings. commonly used English words – in other words the
reason English has so many homonymous words is
Synchronic Approach that the language has a great many words that
Synchronically, we understand polysemy as consists of only one syllable.
the coexistence of various meanings of the
same word at a certain historical period of the Homonymy of Words and Homonymy of Word-
development of the English language. Forms
So if we take a polysemantic word with 10 We can observe full homonymy of two or more
different meanings given in its dictionary article, are different words when they coincide in their entire
they all equally representative of the semantic paradigms. E.g., seal ('a sea animal') and seal ('a
structure of this word? Is the order in which the design printed on paper by means of a stamp'). The
meanings are enumerated (or recorded) in paradigm "seal, seal's, seals, seals'" is identical
dictionaries purely arbitrary or does it reflect the for both of them and gives no indication of whether
comparative value of individual meanings, the place it is seal ('a sea animal') or seal ('a design printed
8
on paper by means of a stamp') that we are forms, i.e. seals [si:lz] (Common Case Plural of the
analysing. noun) and (he) seals [si:lz] (third person sg. of the
In other cases we see that although some verb) possess each of them different grammatical
individual word-forms are homonymous, the whole meanings. As both grammatical and lexical
of the paradigm is not identical: e.g. seal ('a sea meanings differ we describe these homonymous
animal') and to seal ('to close tightly'), Compare, word-forms as lexico-grammatical.
for instance, the paradigms of seal ('a sea animal'): Lexico-grammatical homonymy generally
seal, seal's, seals, seals' and seal ('to close implies that the homonyms in question belong to
tightly'): seal, seals, sealed, sealing. It is easily different parts of speech as the part-of-speech
observed that only some of the word-forms (e.g. meaning is a blend of the lexical and grammatical
seal, seals, etc.) are homonymous, whereas others semantic components. There may be cases,
(e.g. sealed, sealing) are not. In such cases we however, when lexico-grammatical homonymy is
cannot speak of homonymous words but only of observed within the same part of speech, e.g., in
homonymy of individual word-forms or of partial the verbs (to) find [faind] and (to) found [faund],
homonymy. This is true of a number of other where the homonymic word-forms: found [faund]
cases, e.g. compare find [faind], found [faund], — Past Tense of (to) find and found [faund] —
found [faund], and found [faund], founded Present Tense of (to) found differ both
[faundid], founded [faundid]; know [nou], grammatically and lexically.
knows [nouz], knew [nju:], and no [nou]; nose Modern English abounds in homonymic word-
[nouz], noses [nouzis]; new [nju:] in which partial forms differing in grammatical meaning only. In the
homonymy is observed. paradigms of the majority of verbs the form of the
Past Tense is homonymous with the form of
Classification of homonyms Participle II, e.g. asked [A:skt] — asked [A:skt]. It
All cases of homonymy may be classified into full may be easily observed that grammatical
and partial homonymy – i.e. homonymy of words homonymy is the homonymy of different word-
and homonymy of individual word-forms. forms of one and the same word.
The bulk of full homonyms are to be found
within the same parts of speech [e.g. seal ('a sea Graphic and Sound-Form of Homonyms
animal', n.) – seal ('a design printed on paper by Discussing homonymy we have taken into
means of a stamp', n.], partial homonymy as a account their sound form and meaning but not their
rule is observed in word-forms belonging to graphic form. This form is, according to some
different parts of speech (e.g. seal ('a sea animal', linguists, just as important as their sound-form and
n.) – seal ('to close tightly, v.). This is not to say should be taken into consideration in the analysis
that partial homonymy is impossible within one and classification of homonyms. Consequently, they
part of speech. For instance, in the case of the two proceed from definition of homonyms as words
verbs — lie [lai] ('to be in a horizontal or resting identical in sound-form or spelling but different in
position') and lie [lai] ('to make an untrue meaning. It follows that in their classification of
statement') we also find partial homonymy as only homonyms all the three aspects: sound-form,
two word-forms [lai], [laiz] are homonymous, all graphic form and meaning are taken into account.
other forms of the two verbs are different. Cases of Accordingly they classify homonyms into
full homonymy may be found in different parts of homographs, homophones and perfect
speech too; e.g. for [fO:] — preposition, for [fO:] homonyms.
— conjunction and four [fO:] — numeral, as these Homographs are words identical in spelling, but
parts of speech have no other word-forms. different both in their sound-form and meaning,
Homonyms may be also classified by the type of e.g. bow n [bou]—'a piece of wood curved by a
meaning they differ into lexical, lexico- string and used for shooting arrows' and bow n
grammatical and grammatical homonyms. In [bau] — 'the bending of the head or body'; tear
seal ('a sea animal, n.) and seal ('a design printed [ti@] —'a drop of water that comes from the eye'
on paper by means of a stamp', n.) the part-of- and tear v [tE@] — 'to pull apart by force'.
speech meaning of the word and the grammatical Homophones are words identical in sound-form
meanings of all its forms are identical. The but different both in spelling and in meaning, e.g.
difference is confined to the lexical meaning only: sea n and see v; son n and sun n.
the one seal denotes 'a sea animal', 'the fur of this Perfect homonyms are words identical both in
animal', etc., the other seal denotes 'a design spelling and in sound-form but different in meaning,
printed on paper, the stamp by which the design is e.g. case1 n—'something that has happened' and
made', etc. So we can say that the first seal and case2 n — 'a box, a container'.
the second seal are lexical homonyms because,
they differ in lexical meaning, Sources of Homonymy
If we compare seal ('a sea animal'), and to seal Diachronically, it would be essential to discuss
('to close tightly'), we shall observe not only a the historical processes that give rise to homonyms.
difference in the lexical meaning of their The two main sources of homonymy are:
homonymous word-forms but a difference in their 1) diverging meaning development of a
grammatical meanings as well. Identical sound- polysemantic word, and
9
2) converging sound development of two or received a letter, he obtained a letter, etc.
more different words. Comparing the sentences discussed above we may
The process of diverging meaning conclude that an item in a sentence can be usually
development can be observed when different substituted by one or more than one other items
meanings of the same word move so far away from that have identical part-of-speech meaning and
each other that they come to be regarded as two similar though not identical lexical meaning.
separate units. This happened, for example, in the The difference in the type of subgroups the
case of Modern English flower and flour which members of which are substitutable in the flow of
originally were one word (ME. flour, cf. OFr. flour, speech is usually described as the difference
flor, L. flos —florem) meaning 'the flower' and between closed and open sets of lexical items. For
'the finest part of wheat'. The difference in spelling example, any one of a number of personal pronouns
underlines the fact that from the synchronic point of may occur as the subject of a sentence and the
view they are two distinct words even though overall sentence structure remains the same. These
historically they have a common origin. pronouns are strictly limited in number and
Convergent sound development is the most therefore form a closed system in which to say he
potent factor in the creation of homonyms. The is to say not I, not you, etc. To some extent the
great majority of homonyms arise as a result of meaning of he is defined by the other items in the
converging sound development which leads to the system (cf., the English I, you, and the Bulgarian
coincidence of two or more words which were аз, ти, вие). The sets of items in which the choice
phonetically distinct at an earlier date. For example, is limited to a finite number of alternatives as here
OE. ic and OE. eaže have become identical in are described as close systems.
pronunciation (MnE. I [ai] and eye [ai]). A number The members of closed systems are strictly
of lexicogrammatical homonyms appeared as a limited in number and no addition of new items is
result of convergent sound development of the verb possible.
and the noun (cf. MnE. love — (to) love and OE. The sets in which the number of alternatives is
lufu — lufian). practically infinite as they are continually being
Words borrowed from other languages may adapted to the new requirements by the addition of
through phonetic convergence become new lexical items are described as open systems.
homonymous. ON. ras and Fr. race are Closed systems are traditionally considered to be
homonymous in Modern English (cf. race1 [reis] — the subject matter of grammar, open systems such
'running' and race2 [reis] — 'a distinct ethnical as lexico-semantic fields, hyponymic, synonymic
stock'). sets, etc. are studied by lexicology.

WORD-MEANING IN SYNTAGMATlCS AND The distinction between syntagmatic and


PARADIGMATICS paradigmatic relations is conventionally indicated by
It is more or less universally recognized that horizontal and vertical presentation as is shown
word-meaning can be perceived through below.
intralinguistic relations that exist between words. Syntagmatic relations
This approach does not in any way deny that lexical
Paradigmatic relations

items relate to concrete features of the real world He got a letter


but it is suggested that word-meaning is not I received a note
comprehensible solely in terms of the referential She obtained an epistle
approach. etc.
Intralinguistic relations of words are basically of
two main types, syntagmatic and paradigmatic.
Syntagmatic relations define the meaning the
word possesses when it is used in combination with
other words in the flow of speech. For example,
compare the meaning of the verb to get in
He got a letter, Polysemy and Context
He got tired, From the discussion of the paradigmatic and
He got to London and syntagmatic relations it follows that a full
He could not get the piano through door. understanding of the semantic structure of any
Paradigmatic relations are those that exist lexical item can be gained only from the study of a
between individual lexical items which make up one variety of contexts in which the word is used, i.e.
of the subgroups of vocabulary items, e.g. sets of from the study of the intralinguistic relations of
synonyms, lexico-semantic groups, etc. words in the flow of speech. This is of greatest
Paradigmatic relations define the word-meaning importance in connection with the problem of the
through its interrelation with other members of the synchronic approach to polysemy.
subgroup in question. For example, the meaning of It will be recalled that in analysing the semantic
the verb to get can be fully understood only in structure of the polysemantic word table we
comparison with other items of the synonymic set: observed that some meanings are representative of
get, obtain, receive, etc. Cf. He got a letter, he the word in isolation, i.e. they invariably occur to us
10
when we hear the word or see it written on paper. 'considerable, ample' are adequately illustrated by
Other meanings come to the fore only when the the context.
word is used in certain contexts. This is true of all The meanings determined by lexical contexts are
polysemantic words. The adjective yellow, e.g., sometimes referred to as lexically (or
when used in isolation, is understood to denote a phraseologically) bound meaning which implies
certain colour, whereas other meanings of this that such meanings are to be found only in certain
word, e.g. 'envious', 'suspicious' or 'sensational', lexical contexts.
'corrupt', are perceived only in certain contexts, e.g. Some linguists go so far as to assert that word-
'a yellow look', 'the yellow press', etc. meaning in general can be analysed through its
As can be seen from the examples discussed collocability with other words. They hold the view
above we understand by the term context the that if we know all the possible collocations (or
minimal stretch of speech determining each word-groups) into which a polysemantic word can
individual meaning of the word. enter, we know all its meanings. Thus, the
The meaning or meanings representative of the meanings of the adjective heavy, for instance, may
semantic structure of the word and least dependent be analysed through its collocability with the words
on context are usually described as free or weight, safe, table; snow, wind, rain; industry,
denominative meanings. Thus we assume that the artillery, etc.
meaning 'a piece of furniture' is the denominative The meaning at the level of lexical contexts is
meaning of the word table, the meaning 'construct, sometimes described as meaning by collocation.
produce' is the free or denominative meaning of the
verb make. Grammatical Context
The meaning or meanings of polysemantic words In grammatical contexts it is the grammatical
observed only in certain contexts may be viewed as (mainly the syntactic) structure of the context that
determined either by linguistic (or verbal) contexts serves to determine various individual meanings of
or extra-linguistic (non-verbal) contexts. a polysemantic word. One of the meanings of the
The two more or less universally recognized main verb make, e.g. 'to force, to induce' is found only in
types of linguistic contexts which serve to the grammatical context possessing the structure to
determine individual meanings of words are the make somebody do something or in other terms
lexical context and the grammatical context. this particular meaning occurs only if the verb
These types are differentiated depending on make is followed by a noun, and the infinitive of
whether the lexical or the grammatical aspect is some other verb (to make smb. laugh, go, work,
predominant in determining the meaning. etc.), Another meaning of this verb 'to become', 'to
turn out to be' is observed in the contexts of a
Lexical context different structure, i.e. make followed by an
In lexical contexts of primary importance are the adjective and a noun (to make a good wife, a
groups of lexical items combined with the good teacher, etc.).
polysemantic word under consideration. This can be Such meanings are sometimes described as
illustrated by analysing different lexical contexts in grammatically (or structurally) bound
which polysemantic words are used. The adjective meanings. Cases of the type she will make a
heavy, e.g., in isolation is understood as meaning good teacher may be referred to as syntactically
'of great weight, weighty' (heavy load, heavy bound meanings, because the syntactic function
table, etc.). When combined with the lexical group of the verb make in this particular context (a link
of words denoting natural phenomena such as wind, verb, part of the predicate) is indicative of its
storm, snow, etc., it means 'striking, falling with meaning 'to become, to turn out to be'. A different
force', 'abundant' as can be seen from the contexts, syntactic function of the verb, e.g. that of the
e.g. heavy rain, wind, snow, storm, etc. In predicate (to make machines, tables, etc.)
combination with the words industry, arms, excludes the possibility of the meaning 'to become,
artillery and the like, heavy has the meaning 'the turn out to be'.
larger kind of something' as in heavy industry,
heavy artillery, etc. Extra-Linguistic Context (Context of situation)
It can be easily observed that the main factor in Dealing with verbal contexts we consider only
bringing out this or that individual meaning of the linguistic factors: lexical groups of words syntactic
words is the lexical meaning of the words with structure of the context and so on. There are cases,
which heavy is combined. This can be also proved however, when the meaning of the word is
by the fact that when we want to describe the ultimately determined not by these linguistic
individual meaning of a polysemantic word, we find factors, but by the actual speech situation in which
it sufficient to use this word in combination with this word is used. The meanings of the noun ring,
some members of a certain lexical group. To e.g. in to give somebody a ring, or of the verb
describe the meanings of the word handsome, for get in I've got it are determined not only by the
example, it is sufficient to combine it with the grammatical or lexical context, but much more so
following words - a) man, person, b) size, by the actual speech situation.
reward, sum. The meanings 'good-looking' and The noun ring in such context may possess the
meaning 'a circlet of precious metal' or 'a call on
11
the telephone'; the meaning of the verb to get in The members of the semantic fields are not
this linguistic context may be interpreted as synonyms but all of them are joined together by
'possess' or 'understand' depending on the actual some common semantic component — the concept
situation in which these words are used. It should of colours or the concept of kinship, etc. This
be pointed out however that such cases, though semantic component common to all the members of
possible, are not actually very numerous. The the field is sometimes described as the common
linguistic context is by far a more potent factor in denominator of meaning. All members of the
determining word-meaning. field are semantically interdependent as each
member helps to delimit and determine the
Common Contextual Associations. Thematic meaning of its neighbours and is semantically
Groups delimited and determined by them. It follows that
Another type of classification almost universally the word-meaning is to a great extent determined
used in practical classroom teaching is known as plant
thematic grouping. Classification of vocabulary
items into thematic groups is based on the co-
occurrence of words in certain repeatedly used grass bush tree shrub flower
contexts.
In linguistic contexts co-occurrence may be pine oak ash maple
observed on different levels. On the level of word-
groups the word question, for instance, is often
found in collocation with the verbs raise, put white pine Yellow pine
forward, discuss, etc., with the adjectives
by the place it occupies in its semantic field.
urgent, vital, disputable and so on.
As a rule, thematic groups deal with contexts on
Hyponymic (Hierarchical) Structures and
the level of the sentence. Words in thematic groups
Lexico-semantic groups
are joined together by common contextual
Another approach to the classification of
associations within the framework of the sentence
vocabulary items into lexico-semantic groups is the
and reflect the interlinking of things or events.
study of hyponymic relations. By hyponymy is
Common contextual association of the words, e.g.
meant a semantic relationship of inclusion. Thus,
tree — grow — green; journey — train — taxi —
e.g., vehicle includes car, bus, taxi and so on;
bags — ticket or sunshine — brightly — blue —
oak implies tree. Thus the HYPONYMIC
sky, is due to the regular co-occurrence of these
RELATIONSHIP MAY BE VIEWED AS THE HIERARCHICAL
words in a number of sentences. Words making up
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE MEANING OF THE
a thematic group belong to different parts of speech
GENERAL AND THE INDIVIDUAL TERMS.
and do not possess any common denominator of
The general term (vehicle, tree, animal, etc.)
meaning.
is sometimes referred to as the classifier and
serves to describe the lexico-semantic groups, e.g.
MEANING RELATIONS IN PARADIGMATICS
Lexico-semantic groups (LSG) of vehicles,
AND SEMANTIC CLASSIFICATION OF WORDS
movement, emotions, etc. The individual terms can
be said to contain (or entail) the meaning of the
Modern English has a very extensive vocabulary.
general term in addition to their individual
A question naturally arises whether this enormous
meanings which distinguish them from each other
word-stock is composed of separate independent
(cf. the classifier move and the members of the
lexical units, or it should perhaps be regarded as a
group walk, run, saunter, etc.). It is of
certain structured system made up of numerous
importance to note that in such hierarchical
interdependent and interrelated sub-systems or
structures certain words may be both classifiers and
groups of words. This problem may be viewed in
members of the groups. This may be illustrated by
terms of the possible ways of classifying vocabulary
the hyponymic structure represented below.
items.
The more specific term is called the hyponym of
the more general, and the more general is called
Conceptual (or Semantic) Fields
the hyperonym or the classifier.
Words may be classified according to the
It is noteworthy that the principle of such
concepts underlying their meaning. This
hierarchical classification is widely used by scientists
classification is closely connected with the theory of
in various fields of research: botany, geology, etc.
conceptual or semantic fields. By the term
Hyponymic classification may be viewed as
"semantic fields" we understand closely knit
objectively reflecting the structure of vocabulary
sectors of vocabulary each characterized by a
and is considered by many linguists as one of the
common concept. For example, the words blue,
most important principles for the description of
red, yellow, black, etc. may be described as
meaning.
making up the semantic field of colours, the words
mother, father, brother, cousin, etc. — as
Semantic Equivalence and Synonymy
members of the semantic field of kinship terms, and
so on.
12
Lexical units may also be classified by the For instance, out of thirteen words making up the
criterion of semantic similarity and semantic set see, behold, descry, espy, view, survey,
contrasts. The terms generally used to denote these contemplate, observe, notice, remark, note,
two types of semantic relatedness are synonymy discern, perceive only see and behold can be
and antonymy. traced back to Old English (OE. sēon and
Synonymy is often understood as semantic behealdan), all others are either French of Latin
equivalence. Semantic equivalence, however, can borrowings.
exist between words and word-groups, word-groups Thus a characteristic pattern of English
and sentences, sentences and sentences. For synonymic sets is the pattern including the native
example, John is taller than Bill is semantically and borrowed words. Among the best investigated
equivalent to Bill is shorter than John. John sold are the so-called double-scale patterns: native
the book to Bill and Bill bought the book from versus Latin (e.g. bodily – corporal, brotherly –
John may be considered semantically equivalent. fraternal); native versus Greek or French (e.g.
As can be seen from the above these sentences answer – reply, fiddle – violin). In most cases
are paraphrases and denote the same event. the synonyms differ in their stylistic reference, too.
Semantic equivalence may be observed on the level The native word is usually colloquial (e.g. bodily,
of word-groups. Thus we may say that to win a brotherly), whereas the borrowed word may as a
victory is synonymous with to gain a victory, etc. rule be described as bookish or highly literary (e.g.
Here we proceed from the assumption that the corporal, fraternal).
terms synonymy and synonyms should be Side by side with this pattern there exists in
confined to semantic relation between words only. English a subsidiary one based on a triple-scale of
Similar relations between word-groups and synonyms; native – French and Latin or Greek (e.g.
sentences are described as semantic equivalence. begin (start) — commence (Fr.) — initiate (L.);
Synonyms may be found in different parts of speech rise — mount (Fr.)— ascend (L.). In most of
and both among notional and function words. For these sets the native synonym is felt as more
example, though and albeit, on and upon, since colloquial, the Latin or Greek one is characterized
and as are synonymous because these by bookish stylistic reference, whereas the French
phonemically different words are similar in their stands between the two extremes.
denotational meaning.
Synonyms are traditionally described as Connotations of synonyms
words different in sound-form but identical or Synonymy is one of the modern linguistics’ most
similar in meaning. controversial problems. The duality of synonyms is
In the discussion of polysemy and context we their most confusing feature. They are somewhat
have seen that one of the ways of discriminating the same and yet they are obviously different. Their
between different meanings of a word is the function in speech is revealing different aspects,
interpretation of these meanings in terms of their shades and variations of the same phenomenon.
synonyms, e.g. the two meanings of the adjective Synonyms are words of the same category
handsome are synonymously interpreted as of part of speech conveying the same concept,
handsome — 'beautiful' (usually about men) and but different either in shades of meaning or in
handsome — 'considerable, ample' (about sums, stylistic characteristics.
sizes, etc.). A more modern approach to the classification of
There is a modern modification of this definition synonyms may be based on the definition of
which runs as follows: synonyms are words synonyms as words differing in connotations:
different in sound-form but similar in their 1. the connotation of degree or intensity: this
denotational meaning or meanings. can traced in such groups of synonyms as: To
Synonymous relationship is observed only between surprise – to astonish – to amaze – to astound; To
similar denotational meanings of phonemically like – to admire – to love – to adore – to worship
different words. 2. the connotation of duration can be traced in
If you take into account the context synonyms such groups of synonyms as: To stare – to glare –
appear in, then a third definition can apply: to gaze – to glance – to peep – to peer
synonyms are words different in their sound- 3. the emotive connotation: e.g. alone – single
form, but similar in their denotational meaning – lonely – solitary
or meanings, and interchangeable at least in 4. the evaluative connotation conveys the
some contexts speaker’s attitude labeling it as good or bad: e.g.
Differentiation of synonyms may be observed in well-known – famous – notorious – celebrated
different semantic components — denotational or 5. the causative connotation: e.g. to sparkle
connotational. (очите искрят - положителна емоция) – to glitter
(очите блестят, но емоцията е отрицателна); to
Patterns of Synonymic Sets in Modern English shiver (with cold, from a chill, because of a frost) –
The English word-stock is extremely rich in to shudder (with fear).
synonyms which can be largely accounted for by 6. the connotation of manner: e.g. to stroll –
abundant borrowing. Quite a number of words in to stride – to trot – to pace – to swagger – to
synonymic sets are usually of Latin or French origin. stagger. All these synonyms denote different ways
13
and types of walking encoded in their semantic Antonymy in general shares many features
structure: the length of space, tempo, gait, typical of synonymy. Like synonyms, perfect or
carriage, purposefulness or lack of purpose. complete antonyms are fairly rare.
7. the connotation of attendant It is usual to find the relations of antonymy
circumstances: To peep smb. – through a hole, restricted to certain contexts. Thus thick is only
from behind a screen, a half-closed door, a one of the antonyms of thin (a thin slice — a thick
newspaper, a fan, a curtain. slice), another is fat (a thin man — a fat man).
8. the connotation of attendant features: The definition of antonyms as words
e.g. handsome (man) – beautiful (woman). characterized by semantic polarity or opposite
9. stylistic connotation: e.g. to leave – to be meaning is open to criticism on the points discussed
off – to clear out (col.) – to beat it – to hoof it – to already in connection with synonymy. It is also
take the air (col.) – to depart – to retire – to evident that the term opposite meaning is rather
withdraw (formal). vague and allows of essentially different
interpretation.
Dominant synonym If we compare the meaning of the words kind —
All or at least most synonymic groups have a 'gentle, friendly, showing love, sympathy or thought
central word whose meaning is equal denotation for others' and cruel — 'taking pleasure in giving
common to all the synonymic groups. This word is pain to others, without mercy', we see that they
called the dominant synonym e.g. in the denote concepts that are felt as completely opposed
synonymic set to produce – to create – to fabricate to each other. Comparing the adjective kind and
– to make – to manufacture – to make is the unkind we do not find any polarity of meaning as
dominant synonym because it expresses the here semantic opposition is confined to simple
common notion implied by all other synonyms in negation. Unkind may be interpreted as not kind
the most general way. which does not necessarily mean cruel, just as not
The dominant synonym of a synonymic set beautiful does not necessarily mean ugly.
possesses the following characteristics: 1. high- It is more or less universally recognized that
frequency of usage; 2. broad combinability (ability among the cases that are traditionally described as
to be used in combination with various classes of antonyms there are at least the following three
words); 3. broad general meaning; 4. lack of groups: contradictories, contraries, and
connotation. incompatibles.
1. Contradictories which represent the type of
Euphemisms semantic relations that exist between pairs like
There are words in every language which people dead and alive, single and married, perfect and
instinctively avoid because they are considered imperfect, etc. To use one of the terms is to
indecent, indelicate, rude, direct or impolite. They contradict the other and to use not before one of
are often described in a roundabout way by using them is to make it semantically equivalent to the
substitutes, called euphemisms. other, cf. not dead=alive, not single=married.
E.g. lavatory – powder-room, washroom, Among contradictories we find a subgroup of
restroom, retiring-room, (public) comfort station, words of the type young — old, big — small, and
lady’s (room), gentlemen’s (room), water-closed, so on. The difference between these and the
W.C., public conveniences, toilet, wind-sort castle. antonymic pairs described above lies in the fact that
These words are regarded as complete to say not young is not necessarily to say old. In
synonyms as their connotational meanings fact terms like young and old, big and small or
coincide. few and many do not represent absolute values.
Euphemism may be used due to genuine concern To use one of the terms is to imply comparison with
not to hurt someone’s feelings (a stupid person can some norm: young means 'relatively young'. We
be said to be not exactly brilliant). can say She is young but she is older than her
Euphemisms are used to avoid the so-called sister. To be older does not mean 'to be old'.
social taboos. Superstitious taboos have their It is also usual for one member of each pair to
roots in the distant past of mankind, when people always function as the unmarked or generic term
believed there was a supernatural link between a for the common quality involved in both members:
name and the object or creature it represented age, size, etc. This generalized denotational
(devil – the Prince of Darkness, the Black One, the meaning comes to the fore in certain contexts.
evil one, dickens (col.). People are not superstitious When we ask How old is the baby? we do not
nowadays and yet they are reluctant to use the imply that the baby is old. The question How big is
verb “to die” which has a long chain of both solemn it? may be answered by It is very big or It is
and humorous substitutes: to pass a way, to be very small.
taken, to breathe one’s last, to depart this life, to It is of interest to note that quality nouns such as
close one’s eyes, to yield (give) up the ghost, to go length, breadth, width, thickness, etc. also are
the way off all flash, to kick off (slang), to check out generic, i.e. they cover the entire measurement
(slang), to keep the basket (slang). range while the corresponding antonymous nouns
shortness, narrowness, thinness apply only to
Semantic contrast and Antonymy one of the extremes.
14
2. Contraries differ from contradictories air we select damp air and in contrast to dry lips
mainly because contradictories admit of no — we would probably use moist lips.
possibility between them. One is either single or It is therefore suggested that the term
married, either dead or alive, etc. whereas “antonyms” should be used as a general term to
contraries admit such possibilities. This may be describe words different in sound-form and
observed in cold — hot, and cool and warm which characterised by different types of semantic
seem to be intermediate members. Thus we may contrast of denotational meaning and
regard as antonyms not only cold and hot but also interchangeability at least in some contexts.
cold and warm.
Contraries may be opposed to each other by the WORD GROUPS
absence or presence of one of the components of
meaning like sex or age. This can be illustrated by Words put together to form lexical units make
such pairs as man — woman, man — boy. phrases or word-groups. It will be recalled that
3. Incompatibles. Semantic relations of lexicology deals with words, word-forming
incompatibility exist among the antonyms with the morphemes and word-groups. We assume that the
common component of meaning and may be word is the basic lexical unit. The smallest two-facet
described as the reverse of hyponymy, i.e. as the unit to be found within the word is the morpheme
relations of exclusion but not of contradiction. To which is studied on the morphological level of
say morning is to say not afternoon, not analysis. The largest two-facet lexical unit
evening, not night. The negation of one member comprising more than one word is the word-group
of this set however does not imply semantic observed on the syntagmatic level of analysis of the
equivalence with the other but excludes the various ways words are joined together to make up
possibility of the other words of this set. A relation single self-contained lexical units.
of incompatibility may be observed between colour The degree of structural and semantic cohesion
terms since the choice of red, e.g., entails the of word-groups may vary. Some word-groups, e.g.
exclusion of black, blue, yellow and so on. at least, point of view, by means of, take
Naturally not all colour terms are incompatible. place, seem to be functionally and semantically
Semantic relations between scarlet and red are inseparable. Such word-groups are usually
those of hyponymy. described as set-phrases, word-equivalents or
We know that polysemy may be analysed phraseological units and are traditionally
through synonymy. For example, different meaning regarded as the subject matter of the branch of
of the polysemantic word handsome can be singled lexicological science that studies phraseology.
out by means of synonymic substitution a The component members in other word-groups,
handsome man — a beautiful man; but a e.g. a week ago, man of wisdom, take lessons,
handsome reward — a generous reward. In kind to people, seem to possess greater semantic
some cases polysemy may be also analysed through and structural independence. Word-groups of this
antonymy (e.g. handsome man — an ugly man, type are defined as free or variable word-groups
a handsome reward — an insufficient reward, or phrases and are habitually studied in syntax.
etc.). This is naturally not to say that the number of Here, however, we proceed from the assumption
meanings of a polysemantic word is equal to the that before touching on the problem of phraseology
number of its antonyms. Not all words or all it is essential to briefly outline the features common
meanings have antonyms (e.g. table, book, etc. to various types of word-groups viewed as self-
have no antonyms). In some cases, however, contained lexical units irrespective of the degree of
antonymy and synonymy serve to differentiate the structural and semantic cohesion of the component
meanings as in the word handsome discussed words.
above.
Interchangeability in certain contexts analysed in SOME BASIC FEATURES OF WORD-GROUPS
connection with synonyms is typical of antonyms as To get a better insight into the essentials of
well. In a context where one member of the structure and meaning of word-groups we must
antonymous pair can be used, it is, as a rule, begin with a brief survey of the main factors active
interchangeable with the other member. For in uniting words into word-groups. The two main
instance, if we take the words dry and wet to be linguistic factors to be considered in this connection
antonymous, they must be interchangeable in the are the lexical and grammatical valency of words.
same context (e.g. a wet shirt — a dry shirt). It is an indisputable fact that words are used in
This is not to imply that the same antonyms are certain lexical contexts, i.e. in combination with
interchangeable in all contexts. It was pointed out other words. The noun question, e.g., is often
above that antonyms that belong to the group of combined with such adjectives as vital, pressing,
contraries are found in various antonymic pairs. urgent, disputable, delicate, etc. This noun is a
Thus, for instance there are many antonyms of dry component of a number of other word-groups, e.g.
— damp, wet, moist, etc. to raise a question, a question of great
The interchangeability of each of them with dry importance, a question of the agenda, of the
is confined to certain contexts. In contrast to dry day, and many others.

15
The range of the lexical valency of words is valency of the word, for example, the different
linguistically restricted by the inner structure of the meanings of the adjective heavy may be described
English word-stock. This can be easily observed in through the word-groups heavy weight (book,
the selection of synonyms found in different word- table, etc.), heavy snow (storm; rain, etc.), heavy
groups. Though the verbs lift and raise, e.g., are drinker (eater, etc.), heavy sleep
usually treated as synonyms, it is only the latter (disappointment, sorrow, etc.), heavy industry
that is collocated with the noun question. The verb (tanks, etc.), and so on.
take may be synonymically interpreted as 'grasp', From this point of view word-groups may be
'seize', 'catch', 'lay hold of', etc. but it is only take regarded as the characteristic minimal lexical
that is found in collocation with the nouns sets that operate as distinguishing clues for
examination, measures, precautions, etc., only each of the multiple meanings of the word.
catch in catch smb napping and grasp in grasp
the truth. Grammatical Valency
There is a certain norm of lexical valency for Words are used also in grammatical contexts.
each word and any departure from this norm is felt The minimal grammatical context in which words
as a literary or rather a stylistic device. Such word- are used when brought together to form word-
groups as for example a cigarette ago, shove a groups is usually described as the pattern of the
question and the like are illustrative of the point word-group. For instance, the adjective heavy
under discussion. It is because we recognize that discussed above can be followed by a noun (e.g.
shove and question are not normally collocable heavy storm) or by the infinitive of a verb (e.g.
that the junction of them can be effective. heavy to lift), etc. The aptness of a word to
Words habitually collocated in speech tend to appear in specific grammatical (or rather
constitute a cliché. We observe, for example, that syntactic) structures is termed grammatical
the verb put forward and the noun question are valency.
habitually collocated and whenever we hear the The grammatical valency of words may be
verb put forward or see it written on paper it is different. To begin with, the range of grammatical
natural that we should anticipate the word valency is delimited by the part of speech the word
question. So we may conclude that put forward a belongs to. It follows that the grammatical valency
question constitutes a habitual word-group, a kind of each individual word is dependent on the
of cliché. This is also true of a number of other grammatical structure of the language.
word-groups, e.g. to win (or gain) a victory, This is not to imply that grammatical valency of
keen sight (or hearing). Some linguists hold that words belonging to the same part of speech is
most of the English in ordinary use is thoroughly necessarily identical. This can be best illustrated by
saturated with clichés. comparing the grammatical valency of any two
The lexical valency of correlated words in words belonging to the same part of speech, e.g. of
different languages is not identical. Both the English the two synonymous verbs suggest and propose.
word flower and its Bulgaria counterpart — цвете, Both verbs can be followed by a noun (to propose
for example, may be combined with a number of or suggest a plan, a resolution). It is only
other words all of which denote the place where the propose, however, that can be followed by the
flowers are grown, e.g. garden flowers, hot- infinitive of a verb (to propose to do smth). The
house flowers, etc. (cf. the Bulgarian градински adjectives clever and intelligent are seen to
цветя, оранжерийни цветя, etc.). The English possess different grammatical valency as clever
word, however, cannot enter into combination with can be used in word-groups having the pattern:
the word room to denote flowers growing in the Adjective+Preposition at+Noun (clever at
rooms (cf. pot flowers — стайни цветя). mathematics), whereas intelligent can never be
One more point of importance should be found in exactly the same word-group pattern.
discussed in connection with the problem of lexical Specific linguistic restrictions in the range of
valency — the interrelation of lexical valency and grammatical valency of individual words imposed on
polysemy as found in word-groups. the lexical units by the inner structure of the
Firstly, the restrictions of lexical valency of language are also observed by comparing the
words may manifest themselves in the lexical grammatical valency of correlated words in different
meanings of the polysemantic members of word- languages. The English verb influence, for
groups. The adjective heavy, e.g., is combined with example, can be followed only by a noun (to
the words food, meals, supper, etc. in the influence a person, a decision, choice, etc.).
meaning 'rich and difficult to digest'. But not all the The grammatical valency of its Bulgarian
words with more or less the same component of counterpart влияя is different. The Bulgarian verb
meaning can be combined with this adjective. One can be combined only with a prepositional group
cannot say, for instance, heavy cheese or heavy (cf. влияя на настроението, на човека, etc.).
sausage implying that the cheese or the sausage is No departure from the norm of grammatical
difficult to digest. valency is possible as this can make the word-group
Secondly, it is observed that different meanings unintelligible to English speakers. Thus e.g. the
of a word may be described through the possible word-group mathematics at clever is likely to be
types of lexical contexts, i.e. through the lexical felt as a meaningless string of words because the
16
grammatical valency of English nouns does not John works, he went that have a syntactic
allow of the structure Noun+at+Adjective. structure similar to that of a sentence, are classified
It should also be pointed out that the individual as predicative, and all others as non-predicative.
meanings of a polysemantic word may be described Non-predicative word-groups may be subdivided
through its grammatical valency. Thus, different according to the type of syntactic relations between
meanings of the adjective keen may be described the components into subordinative and
in a general way through different structures of the coordinative. Such word-groups as red flower, a
word-groups keen+N, — keen sight (hearing, man of wisdom and the like are termed
etc.), keen + on + N — keen on sports (on subordinative because the words red and of
tennis, etc.), keen + V (inf.) — keen to know (to wisdom are subordinated to flower and man
find out, etc.). respectively and function as their attributes. Such
From this point of view word-groups may be phrases as women and children, day and night,
regarded as minimal syntactic (or syntagmatic) do or die are classified as coordinative.
structures that operate as distinguishing clues for
different meanings of a polysemantic word. MEANING OF WORD-GROUPS
As with word-meaning, the meaning of word-
STRUCTURE OF WORD-GROUPS groups may be analysed into lexical and
grammatical components.
Distribution as the Criterion of Classification
Structurally word-groups may be approached in Lexical Meaning
various ways. We know that word groups may be The lexical meaning of the word-group may
described through the order and arrangement of the be defined as the combined lexical meaning of
component members. The word-group to see the component words. Thus the lexical meaning
something can be classified as a verbal—nominal of the word-group red flower may be described
group, to see to smth as verbal—prepositional— denotationally as the combined meaning of the
nominal, etc. words fed and flower. It should be pointed out,
All word-groups may be also analysed by the however, that the term combined lexical
criterion of distribution into two big classes. If the meaning is not to imply that the meaning of the
word-group has the same linguistic distribution as word-group is a mere additive result of all the
one of its members, it is described as lexical meanings of the component members. As a
ENDOCENTRIC, i.e. having one central member rule, the meanings of the component words are
functionally equivalent to the whole word-group. mutually dependent and the meaning of the word-
The word-groups, e.g., red flower, bravery of all group naturally predominates over the lexical
kinds, are distributionally identical with their meaning of its constituents. Even in word-groups
central components flower and bravery (cf., e.g., made up of technical terms which are traditionally
I saw a red flower — I saw a flower). held to be monosemantic the meaning of the word-
If the distribution of the word-group is different group cannot be described as the sum total of the
from either of its members, it is regarded as meanings of its components. For example, though
EXOCENTRIC, i.e. as having no such central the same adjective atomic is a component of a
member, for instance side by side or grow number of terminological word-groups, e.g. atomic
smaller and others where the component words weight, atomic warfare, etc.. the lexical meaning
are not syntactically substitutable for the whole of the adjective, is different and to a certain degree
word-group. subordinated to the meaning of the noun in each
In endocentric word-groups the central individual word-group and consequently the
component that has the same distribution as the meaning of the whole group is modified.
whole group is clearly the dominant member or the Interdependence of the lexical meanings of the
head to which all other members of the group are constituent members of word-groups can be readily
subordinated. In the word-group red flower, e.g., observed in word-groups made up of polysemantic
the head is the noun flower and in the word-group words. For example, in the nominal group blind
kind to people the head is the adjective kind, etc. man (cat, horse) only one meaning of the
It follows that word-groups may be classified adjective blind, i.e. 'unable to see', is combined
according to their headwords into nominal groups with the lexical meaning of the noun man (cat,
or phrases (e.g. red flower), adjectival groups horse) and it is only one of the meanings of the
(e.g. kind to people), verbal groups (e.g. to noun man — 'human being' that is perceived in
speak well), etc. The head is not necessarily the combination with the lexical meaning of this
component that occurs first in the word-group. In adjective. The meaning of the same adjective in
such nominal word-groups as, e.g., very great blind type (print, handwriting) is different.
bravery, bravery in the struggle the noun As can be seen from the above examples,
bravery is the head whether followed or preceded polysemantic words are used in word-groups only in
by other words. one of their meanings. These meanings of the
Word-groups are also classified according to component words in such word-groups are mutually
their syntactic pattern into predicative and non- interdependent and inseparable. Semantic
predicative groups. Such word-groups as, e.g., inseparability of word-groups that allows us to treat
17
them as self-contained lexical units is also clearly noun the sun we do not find any change in the
perceived in the analysis of the connotational structural meaning of the pattern. The group all
component of their lexical meaning. Stylistic the sun long functions semantically as a unit of
reference of word groups, for example, may be time. The noun sun, however, included in the group
essentially different from that of the words making continues to carry the semantic value or, to be
up these groups. There is nothing colloquial or more exact, the lexical meaning that it has in word-
slangy about such words as old, boy, lag, fun, etc. groups of other structural patterns (cf. the sun
when taken in isolation. The word-groups made up rays, African sun, etc.). This is also true of the
of these words, e.g. old boy, bags of fun, are word-group a grief ago made up by analogy with
recognizably colloquial. the patterns a week ago, a year ago, etc. It
follows that the meaning of the word-group is
Structural Meaning derived from the combined lexical meanings of its
constituents and is inseparable from the meaning of
As with polymorphemic words word-groups the pattern of their arrangement. Comparing two
possess not only the lexical meaning, but also the nominal phrases a factory hand — 'a factory
meaning conveyed mainly by the pattern of worker' and a hand bag — 'a bag carried in the
arrangement of their constituents. A certain parallel hand' we see that though the word hand makes
can be drawn between the meaning conveyed by part of both its lexical meaning and the role it plays
the arrangement of morphemes in words and the in the structure of word-groups is different which
structural meaning of word-groups. It will be accounts for the difference in the lexical and
recalled that two compound words made up of structural meaning of the word-groups under
lexically identical stems may be different in discussion.
meaning because of the difference in the pattern of It is often argued that the meaning of word-
arrangement of the stems. For example, the groups is also dependent on some extra-linguistic
meaning of such words as dog-house and house- factors, i.e. on the situation in which word-groups
dog is different though the lexical meaning of the are habitually used by native speakers. For
components is identical. This is also true of word- example, the meaning of the nominal group wrong
groups. Such word-groups as school grammar and number is linguistically defined by the combined
grammar school are semantically different lexical meaning of the component words and the
because of the difference in the pattern of structural meaning of the pattern. Proceeding from
arrangement of the component words. It is the linguistic meaning this group can denote any
assumed that the structural pattern of word-groups number that is wrong. Actually, however, it is
is the carrier of a certain semantic component not habitually used by English speakers in answering
necessarily dependent on the actual lexical meaning telephone calls and, as a rule, denotes the wrong
of its members. In the example discussed above telephone number.
(school grammar) the structural meaning of the
word-group may be abstracted from the group and Motivation in Word Groups
described as 'quality-substance' meaning. This is Word-groups like words may also be analysed
the meaning expressed by the pattern of the word- from the point of view of their motivation. Word-
group but not by either the word school or the groups may be described as lexically motivated if
word grammar. It follows that we have to the combined lexical meaning of the groups is
distinguish between the structural meaning of a deducible from the meaning of their components.
given type of word-group as such and the lexical The nominal groups, e.g. red flower, heavy
meaning of its constituents. weight and the verbal group, e.g. take lessons,
are from this point of view motivated, whereas
Interrelation of Lexical and Structural Meaning structurally identical word-groups red tape —
in Word Groups 'official bureaucratic methods', heavy father —
The lexical and structural components of 'serious or solemn part in a theatrical play', and
meaning in word-groups are interdependent. The take place —'occur' are lexically non-motivated.
inseparability of these two semantic components in In these groups the constituents do not possess, at
word-groups can, perhaps, be best illustrated by least synchronically, the denotational meaning
the semantic analysis of individual word-groups in found in the same words outside these groups or, to
which the norms of conventional collocability of be more exact, do not possess any individual lexical
words seem to be deliberately overstepped. For meaning of their own, as the word-groups under
instance, in the word-group all the sun long we discussion seem to represent single indivisible
observe a departure from the norm of lexical semantic entities. Word-groups are said to be
valency represented by such word-groups as all the structurally motivated if the meaning of the
day long, all the night long, all the week long, pattern is deducible from the order and
and a few others. The structural pattern of these arrangement of the member-words of the group.
word-groups in ordinary usage and the word-group Red flower, e.g., is motivated as the meaning of
all the sun long is identical. The generalized the pattern quality—substance can be deduced from
meaning of the pattern may be described as 'a unit the order and arrangement of the words red and
of time'. Replacing day, night, week by another flower, whereas the seemingly identical pattern
18
red tape cannot be interpreted as quality— the nature of phrases that can be properly termed
substance. phraseological units.
The degree of motivation may be different. The complexity of the problem may be largely
Between the extremes of complete motivation-and accounted for by the fact that the border-line
lack of motivation there are innumerable between free or variable word-groups and
intermediate cases. For example, the degree of phraseological units is not clearly defined. The so-
lexical motivation in the nominal group black called free word-groups are only relatively free as
market is higher than in black death, but lower the collocability of their member-words is
than in black dress, though none of the groups can fundamentally delimited by their lexical and
be considered as completely non-motivated. This is grammatical valency which makes at least some of
also true of other word-groups, e.g. old man and them very close to set-phrases. Phraseological units
old boy both of which may be regarded as lexically are comparatively stable and semantically
and structurally motivated though the degree of inseparable. Between the extremes of complete
motivation in old man is noticeably higher. It is of motivation and variability of member-words on the
interest to note that completely motivated word- one hand, and lack of motivation combined with
groups are, as a rule, correlated with certain complete stability of the lexical components and
structural types of compound words. Verbal groups grammatical structure on the other hand there are
having the structure V+N, e.g. to read books, to innumerable border-line cases.
love music, etc., are habitually correlated with the However, the existing terms, e.g. set-phrases,
compounds of the pattern N+(V+er) (book- idioms, word-equivalents reflect to a certain
reader, music-lover); adjectival groups such as extent the main issues of phraseology which centre
A+prp+N (e.g. rich in oil, shy before girls) are on the divergent views concerning the nature and
correlated with the compounds of the pattern N+A, essential features of phraseological units as
e.g. oil-rich, girl-shy. distinguished from the so-called free word-groups.
It should also be noted that seemingly identical The term set-phrase implies that the basic
word-groups are sometimes found to be motivated criterion of differentiation is stability of the lexical
or non-motivated depending on their semantic components and grammatical structure of word-
interpretation. Thus apple sauce, e.g., is lexically groups. The term idioms generally implies that the
and structurally motivated when it means 'a sauce essential feature of the linguistic units under
made of apples' but when used to denote 'nonsense' consideration is idiomaticity or lack of motivation.
it is clearly non-motivated. In such cases we may This term habitually used by English and American
even speak of homonymy of word-groups and not of linguists is very often treated as synonymous with
polysemy. the term phraseological unit universally accepted
It follows from the above discussion that word- in Bulgaria. The term word-equivalent stresses
groups may be also classified into motivated and not only the semantic but also the functional
non-motivated units. Non-motivated word-groups inseparability of certain word-groups and their
are habitually described as phraseological units or aptness to function in speech as single words.
idioms. Thus differences in terminology reflect certain
differences in the main criteria used to distinguish
PHRASEOLOGICAL UNITS between free word-groups and a specific type of
Word-groups viewed as functionally and linguistic units generally known as phraseology.
semantically inseparable units are traditionally These criteria and the ensuing classification are
regarded as idioms and are usually studied in briefly discussed below.
phraseology. It should be noted, however, that no
proper scientific investigation of English phraseology 1. Criteria of Stability and Lack of
has been attempted until quite recently. English and Motivation (Idiomaticity)
American linguists as a rule confine themselves to Phraseological units are habitually defined as
collecting various words, word-groups and non-motivated word-groups that cannot be
sentences presenting some interest either from the freely made up in speech but are reproduced as
point of view of origin, style, usage, or some other ready-made units. This definition proceeds from
feature peculiar to them. These units are habitually the assumption that the essential features of
described as idioms but no attempt has been made phraseological units are stability of the lexical
to investigate these idioms as a separate class of components and lack of motivation. It is
linguistic units or a specific class of word-groups. consequently assumed that unlike components of
free word-groups, which may vary according to the
Free Word-Groups Versus Set-Phrases. needs of communication, member-words of
Phraseological Units, Idioms, Word- phraseological units are always reproduced as
Equivalents single unchangeable collocations.
Attempts have been made to approach the Thus, for example, the constituent red in the
problem of phraseology in different ways. Up till free word-group red flower may, if necessary, be
now, however, there is a certain divergence of substituted for by any other adjective denoting
opinion as to the essential feature of phraseological colour (blue, white, etc.), without essentially
units as distinguished from other word-groups and changing the denotational meaning of the word-
19
group under discussion (a flower of a certain A certain humorous effect is attained because
colour). In the phraseological unit red tape one of the member words (commence, valiant) is
(bureaucratic methods) no such substitution is felt as belonging to the bookish stylistic layer,
possible, as a change of the adjective would involve whereas the other (scrub, chap) is felt as
a complete change in the meaning of the whole stylistically neutral or colloquial. When we say,
group. A blue (black, white, etc.) tape would however, that kick the bucket is highly colloquial
mean 'a tape of a certain colour'. It follows that the or heavy father is a professional term, we do not
phraseological unit red tape is semantically non- refer to the stylistic value of the component words
motivated, i.e. its meaning cannot be deduced from of these phraseological units kick, bucket, heavy
the meaning of its components and that it exists as or father, but the stylistic value of the word-group
a ready-made linguistic unit which does not allow of as a single whole. Taken in isolation the words are
any variability of its lexical components. stylistically neutral. It follows that phraseological
It is also argued that non-variability of the units are characterized by a single stylistic
phraseological unit is not confined to its lexical reference irrespective of the number and nature of
components. Grammatical structure of their component words. Semantic inseparability of
phraseological units is to a certain extent also phraseological units is viewed as one of the aspects
stable. Thus, though the structural formula of the of idiomaticity which enables us to regard them as
word-groups red flower and red tape is identical semantically equivalent to single words.
(Adj + Noun), the noun flower may be used in the The term grammatical inseparability implies that
plural (red flowers), whereas no such change is the grammatical meaning or, to be more exact, the
possible in the phraseological unit red tape; red part-of-speech meaning of phraseological units is
tapes would then denote 'tapes of red colour' but felt as belonging to the word-group as a whole
not 'bureaucratic methods'. This is also true of other irrespective of the part-of-speech meaning of the
types of phraseological units, e.g. All my eye and component words. Comparing the free word-group,
Betty Martin (complete nonsense, бабини e.g. a long day, and the phraseological unit, e.g.
деветини), where the components are invariably in the long run, we observe that in the free word-
reproduced in the same grammatical form. group the noun day and the adjective long
preserve the part-of-speech meaning proper to
2. Criterion of Function these words taken in isolation. The whole group is
Another angle from which the problem of viewed as composed of two independent units
phraseology is viewed is the so-called functional (adjective and noun). In the phraseological unit in
approach. This approach assumes that the long run the part-of-speech meaning belongs
phraseological units may be defined as specific to the group as a single whole. In the long run is
word-groups functioning as word-equivalents. grammatically equivalent to single adverbs, e.g.
The fundamental features of phraseological units finally, ultimately, firstly, etc. In the case of the
thus understood are their semantic and phraseological unit under discussion there is no
grammatical inseparability which were regarded as connection between the part-of-speech meaning of
distinguishing features of isolated words. the member-words (in - preposition, long -
If we compare a free word-group, e.g. heavy adjective, run - noun) and the part-of-speech
weight, and a phraseological unit, e.g. heavy meaning of the whole word-group. Grammatical
father, we observe that in the case of the free inseparability of phraseological units viewed as one
word-group each of the member-words has its own of the aspects of idiomaticity enables us to regard
denotational meaning. So the lexical meaning of the them as grammatically equivalent to single words.
word-group can be adequately described as the Proceeding from the assumption that
combined lexical meaning of its constituents. In the phraseological units are non-motivated word-groups
case of the phraseological unit, however, the functioning as word-equivalents by virtue of their
denotational meaning belongs to the word-group as semantic and grammatical inseparability, we may
a single semantically inseparable unit. The classify them into noun equivalents (e.g. heavy
individual member-words do not seem to possess father), verb equivalents (e.g. take place, break
any lexical meaning outside the meaning of the the news), adverb equivalents (e.g. in the long
group. The meanings of the member-words heavy run), etc.
and father taken in isolation are in no way
connected with the meaning of the phrase heavy 3. Criterion of Context
father (serious or solemn part in a theatrical play). Phraseological units in Modern English are also
The same is true of the stylistic reference and approached from the contextual point of view.
emotive charge of phraseological units. In free Proceeding from the assumption that individual
word-groups each of the components preserves as a meanings of polysemantic words can be observed in
rule its own stylistic reference. This can be readily certain contexts and may be viewed as dependent
observed in the stylistic effect produced by free on those contexts it is argued that phraseological
word-groups made up of words of widely different units are to be defined through specific types of
stylistic value, e.g. to commence to scrub, context. Free word-groups make up variable
valiant chap and the like. contexts whereas the essential feature of

20
phraseological units is a non-variable or fixed meaning dependent on the second component as,
context. e.g., in small hours; the second component
Non-variability is understood as the stability of (hours) serves as the only clue to this particular
the word-group. In variable contexts which include meaning of the first component as it is found only in
polysemantic words, substitution of one of the the given context (small hours). The word that
components is possible within the limits of the serves as the clue to the specialized meaning of one
lexical valency of the word under consideration. It is of the components is habitually used in its central
observed, e.g., that in such word-groups as a small meaning (cf., for example, small hours, and three
town the word town may be substituted for by a hours, pleasant hours, etc.).
number of other nouns, e.g. room, audience, etc., Idioms are distinguished from phrasemes by
the adjective small by a number of other the idiomaticity of the whole word-group (e.g. red
adjectives, e.g.: large, big, etc. The substitution of tape = 'bureaucratic methods') and the
nouns does not change the meaning of small which impossibility of attaching meaning to the members
denotes in all word-groups 'not large'. The of the group taken in isolation. Idioms are
substitution of adjectives does not likewise affect semantically and grammatically inseparable units.
the meaning of town. Thus variability of the lexical They may comprise unusual combinations of words
components is the distinguishing feature of the so- which when understood in their literal meaning are
called free word-groups. In other word-groups such normally uncollocable as, e.g. mare's nest (a
as small business, a small farmer the variable mare - 'a female horse', a mare's nest - 'a hoax,
members serve as a clue to the meaning of the a discovery which proves false or worthless')
adjective small. It may be observed that when Unusualness of collocability, or logical
combined with the words town, room, etc. a small incompatibility of member-words is indicative of the
denotes 'not large', whereas it is only in idiomaticity of the phrase.
combination with the nouns business, farmer, etc. Idioms made up of words normally brought
that small denotes 'of limited size' or 'having together are homonymous with corresponding
limited capital'. Word-groups of this type are variable word-groups, e.g. to let the cat out of
sometimes described as traditional collocations. the bag = 'to divulge a secret', and the clue to the
Unlike word-groups with variable members idiomatic meaning is to be found in a wider context
phraseological units allow of no substitution. outside the phrase itself.
For example, in the phraseological unit small
hours (the early hours of the morning from about 1 Phraseological Units and Idioms
a.m. to 4 a.m.) there is no variable member as Proper
small denotes 'early' only in collocation with hours. The functional approach described above does
In the phraseological unit small beer small has the not discard idiomaticity as the main feature
meaning 'weak' only in this fixed non-variable distinguishing phraseological units from free word-
context. As can be seen from the above, a non- groups, but seeks to establish formal criteria of
variable context is indicative of a specialized idiomaticity by analysing the syntactic function of
meaning of one of the member-words. The phraseological units in speech.
specialized meaning of one of the lexical An attempt is also made to distinguish
components is understood as the meaning of the phraseological units as word equivalents from
word only in the given phrase (e.g. small hours), idioms proper, i.e. idiomatic units such as that's
i.e. this particular meaning cannot be found in the where the shoe pinches, the cat is out of the
word taken in isolation or in any of the variable bag, what will Mrs Grundy say?, etc. Unlike
word-groups in which the word is used. It follows phraseological units, proverbs, sayings and
that specialized meaning and stability of lexical quotations do not always function as word-
components are regarded as interdependent equivalents. They exist as ready-made expressions
features of phraseological units whose semantic with a specialized meaning of their own which
structure is unique, i.e. no other word-groups can cannot be inferred from the meaning of their
be created on this semantic pattern. components taken singly. Due to this the linguists
The two criteria of phraseological units - who rely mainly on the criterion of idiomaticity
specialized meaning of the components and classify proverbs and sayings as phraseological
non-variability of context - display unilateral units.
dependence. Specialized meaning presupposes The proponents of the functional criterion argue
complete stability of the lexical components, as that proverbs and sayings lie outside the province
specialized meaning of the member-words or of phraseology. It is pointed out, firstly, that the
idiomatic meaning of the whole word-group is never lack of motivation in such linguistic units is of an
observed outside fixed contexts. essentially different nature. Idioms are mostly
Phraseological units may be subdivided into based on metaphors which makes the transferred
phrasemes and idioms according to whether or meaning of the whole expression more or less
not one of the components of the whole word-group transparent. If we analyse such idioms, as, e.g., to
possesses specialized meaning. carry coals to Newcastle, to fall between two
Phrasemes are, as a rule, two-member word- stools, or fine feathers make fine birds, we
groups in which one of the members has specialized
21
observe that though their meaning cannot be group. Due to this phraseological collocations are
inferred from the literal meaning of the member- felt as possessing a certain degree of semantic
words making up these expressions, they are still inseparability.
metaphorically motivated as the literal meaning of
the whole expression readily suggests its meaning WORD-STRUCTURE
as an idiom, i.e. 'to do something that is absurdly Segmentation of Words into Morphemes
superfluous', 'fail through taking an intermediate Close observation and comparison of words
course' and 'to be well dressed to give one an clearly shows that a great many words have a
impressive appearance', respectively. The meaning composite nature and are made up of smaller units,
of the phraseological units, e.g. red tape, heavy each possessing sound-form and meaning. These
father, in the long run, etc., cannot be deduced are generally referred to as morphemes defined as
either from the meaning of the component words or the smallest indivisible two-facet language units.
from the metaphorical meaning of the word-group For instance, words like boiler, driller fall into the
as a whole. morphemes boil-, drill- and -er by virtue of the
Secondly, the bulk of idioms never function in recurrence of the morpheme -er in these and other
speech as word-equivalents which is a proof of their similar words and of the morphemes boil- and
semantic and grammatical separability. drill- in to boil, a boil, boiling and to drill, a
drill, drilling, a drill-press, etc. Likewise, words
Classification like flower-pot and shoe-lace are segmented into
Taking into account mainly the degree of the morphemes flower-, pot-, shoe- and lace-
idiomaticity phraseological units may be classified (cf. flower-show, flowerful, etc., shoe-brush,
into three big groups: shoeless, etc., on the one hand; and pot-lid,
1. Phraseological fusions pottery, etc., lace-boots, lacing, etc., on the
2. Phraseological unities other).
3. Phraseological collocations. Like a word a morpheme is a two-facet language
Phraseological fusions are completely non- unit, an association of a certain meaning with a
motivated word-groups, such as red tape certain sound-pattern. Unlike a word a morpheme is
(bureaucratic methods); heavy father (serious or not an autonomous unit and can occur in speech
solemn part in a theatrical play); kick the bucket only as a constituent part of the word.
(die), and the like. The meaning of the components Morphemes cannot be segmented into smaller
has no connections whatsoever, at least units without losing their constitutive essence, i.e.
synchronically, with the meaning of the whole two-facetedness, association of a certain meaning
group. Idiomaticity is, as a rule, combined with with a given sound-pattern, cf. the morpheme lace-
complete stability of the lexical components and the denoting 'a string or cord put through small holes in
grammatical structure of the fusion. shoes', etc.; 'to draw edges together' and the
Phraseological unities are partially non- constituent phonemes [l], [ei], [s] entirely without
motivated as their meaning can usually be meaning.
perceived through the metaphoric meaning of the Identification of morphemes in various texts
whole phraseological unit. For example, to show shows that morphemes may have different
one's teeth, to wash one's dirty linen in public, phonemic shapes.
if interpreted as semantically motivated through the In the word-cluster please, pleasing, pleasure,
combined lexical meaning of the component words pleasant the root-morpheme is represented by
would naturally lead one to understand these in phonemic shapes: [pli:z] in please, pleasing,
their literal meaning. The metaphoric meaning of [pleZ] in pleasure and [plez] in pleasant. In such
the whole unit, however, readily suggests 'take a cases we say that the phonemic shapes of the word
threatening tone' or 'show an intention to injure' for stand in complementary distribution or in
show one's teeth and 'discuss or make public alternation with each other. All the representations
one's quarrels' for wash one's dirty linen in of the given morpheme that manifest alteration are
public. Phraseological unities are as a rule marked called allomorphs of that morpheme or morpheme
by a comparatively high degree of stability of the variants. Thus [pli:z, pleZ] and [plez] are
lexical components. allomorphs of one and the same morpheme. The
Phraseological collocations are motivated but root-morphemes in the word-cluster duke, ducal,
they are made up of words possessing specific duchess, duchy or poor, poverty may also serve
lexical valency which accounts for a certain degree as examples of the allomorphs of one morpheme.
of stability in such word-groups. In phraseological
collocations variability of member-words is strictly Principles of Morphemic Analysis. Types of
limited. For instance, bear a grudge may be Word Segmentability
changed into bear malice, but not into *bear a As far as the complexity of the morphemic
fancy or *liking. We can say take a liking structure of the word is concerned all English words
(fancy) but not take hatred (disgust). These fall into two large classes. To Сlass I belong
habitual collocations tend to become kind of clichés segmentable words, i.e. those allowing of
where the meaning of member-words is to some segmentation into morphemes, e.g. agreement,
extent dominated by the meaning of the whole information, fearless, quickly, door-handle,
22
etc. To Сlass II belong non-segmentable words, i.e. morpheme to have only a differential and
those not allowing of such segmentation, e.g. distributional meaning to be isolated from a word
house, girl, woman, husband, etc. regard words like retain, deceive, etc. as
The operation of breaking a segmentable word segmentable; those who deem it necessary for a
into the constituent morphemes is referred to in morpheme to have some denotational meaning
present-day linguistic literature as the analysis of qualify them as non-segmentable words.
word-structure on the morphemic level. The Defective morphemic segmentability is the
morphemic analysis aims at splitting a segmentable property of words whose component morphemes
word into its constituent morphemes — the basic seldom or never recur in other words. One of the
units at this level of word-structure analysis — and component morphemes is a unique morpheme in
at determining their number and types. The degree the sense that it does not, as a rule, recur in a
of morphemic segment-ability is not the same for different linguistic environment.
different words. A unique morpheme is isolated and understood
Three types of morphemic segmentability of as meaningful because the constituent morphemes
words are distinguished: complete, conditional display a more or less clear denotational meaning.
and defective. There is no doubt that in the nouns streamlet,
Complete segmentability is characteristic of a ringlet, leaflet, etc. the morpheme -let has the
great many words the morphemic structure of denotational meaning of diminutiveness and is
which is transparent enough, as their individual combined with the morphemes stream-, ring-,
morphemes clearly stand out within the word leaf-, etc. each having a clear denotational
lending themselves easily to isolation. meaning. Things are entirely different with the word
As can be easily seen from the examples hamlet. The morpheme -let retains the same
analysed above, the transparent morphemic meaning of diminutiveness, but the sound-cluster
structure of a segmentable word is conditioned by [h&m] that is left after the isolation of the
the fact that its constituent morphemes recur with morpheme -let does not recur in any other English
the same meaning in a number of other words. word with anything like the meaning it has in the
There are, however, numerous words in the English word hamlet. (Needless to say that the noun ham
vocabulary the morphemic structure of which is not denoting ‘a smoked and salted upper part of a pig’s
so transparent and easy to establish as in the cases leg’ is irrelevant to the ham- in hamlet.) It is
mentioned above. likewise evident that the denotational and the
Conditional morphemic segmentability differential meaning of [h&m] which distinguishes
characterises words whose segmentation into the hamlet from streamlet, ringlet, etc. is upheld by
constituent morphemes is doubtful for semantic the denotational meaning of -let. The same is
reasons. In words like retain, contain, detain or exemplified by the word pocket which may seem at
receive, deceive, conceive, perceive the sound- first sight non-segmentable. However, comparison
clusters [ri-], [di-], [k@n-] seem, on the one hand, with such words as locket, hogget, lionet,
to be singled out quite easily due to their recurrence cellaret, etc. leads one to the isolation of the
in a number of words, on the other hand, they morpheme -et having a diminutive meaning, the
undoubtedly have nothing in common with the more so that the morphemes lock-, hog-, lion-,
phonetically identical morphemes re-, de- as found cellar-, etc. recur in other words (cf. lock, locky;
in words like rewrite, re-organise, deorganise, hog, hoggery; lion, lioness; cellar, cellarage).
decode; neither the sound-clusters [ri-] or [di-] nor At the same time the isolation of the morpheme -et
the [-tern] or [-si:v] possess any lexical or leaves in the word pocket the sound-cluster [pOk]
functional meaning of their own. The type of that does not occur in any other word of Modern
meaning that can be ascribed to them is only a English but obviously has a status of a morpheme
differential and a certain distributional meaning: the with a denotational meaning as it is the lexical
[ri-] distinguishes retain from detain and the [- nucleus of the word. The morpheme [pOk] clearly
tern] distinguishes retain from receive, whereas carries a differential and distributional meaning as it
their order and arrangement point to the status of distinguishes pocket from the words mentioned
the re-, de-, con-, per- as different from that of above and thus must be qualified as a unique
the -tain and -ceive within the structure of the morpheme.
words. The morphemes making up words of The morphemic analysis of words like
conditional segmentability thus differ from cranberry, gooseberry, strawberry shows that
morphemes making up words of complete they also possess defective morphemic
segmentability in that the former do not rise to the segmentability: the morphemes cran-, goose-,
full status of morphemes for semantic reasons and straw- are unique morphemes.
that is why a special term is applied to them in The oppositions that the different types of
linguistic literature: such morphemes are called morphemic segmentability are involved in hardly
pseudo-morphemes or quasi-morphemes. It should require any comments with the exception of
be mentioned that there is no unanimity on the complete and conditional segmentability versus
question and there are two different approaches to defective segmentability. This opposition is based
the problem. Those linguists who recognise pseudo- on the ability of the constituent morphemes to
morphemes, i.e. consider it sufficient for a occur in a unique or a non-unique environment. In
23
the former case the linguist deals with defective, in Structurally morphemes fall into three types:
the latter with complete and conditional free morphemes, bound morphemes, semi-
segmentability. The distinction between complete free (semi- bound) morphemes.
and conditional segmentability is based on semantic A free morpheme is defined as one that
features of morphemes proper and pseudo- coincides with the stem or a word-form. A great
morphemes. many root-morphemes are free morphemes, for
Thus on the level of morphemic analysis the example, the root-morpheme friend — of the noun
linguist has to operate with two types of elementary friendship is naturally qualified as a free
units, namely full morphemes and pseudo- morpheme because it coincides with one of the
(quasi-)morphemes. It is only full morphemes forms of the noun friend.
that are genuine structural elements of the A bound morpheme occurs only as a
language system so that the linguist must primarily constituent part of a word. Affixes are, naturally,
focus his attention on words of complete morphemic bound morphemes, for they always make part of a
segmentability. On the other hand, a considerable word, e.g. the suffixes -ness, -ship, -ise (-ize),
percentage of words of conditional and defective etc., the prefixes un-, dis-, de-, etc. (e.g.
segmentability signals a relatively complex readiness, comradeship, to activise; unnatural,
character of the morphological system of the to displease, to decipher).
language in question, reveals the existence of Many root-morphemes also belong to the class of
various heterogeneous layers in its vocabulary. bound morphemes which always occur in
morphemic sequences, i.e. in combinations with ‘
CLASSIFICATION OF MORPHEMES roots or affixes. All unique roots and pseudo-roots
Morphemes may be classified: are-bound morphemes. Such are the root-
a) from the semantic point of view, and morphemes theor- in theory, theoretical, etc.,
b) from the structural point of view. barbar -in barbarism, barbarian, etc., -ceive in
Semantically morphemes fall into two classes: conceive, perceive, etc.
root-morphemes and non-root or affixational Semi-bound (semi-free) morphemes are
morphemes. Roots and affixes make two distinct morphemes that can function in a morphemic
classes of morphemes due to the different roles sequence both as an affix and as a free morpheme.
they play in word-structure. For example, the morpheme well and half on the
Roots and affixational morphemes are generally one hand occur as free morphemes that coincide
easily distinguished and the difference between with the stem and the word-form in utterances like
them is clearly felt as, e.g., in the words helpless, sleep well, half an hour,” on the other hand they
handy, blackness, Londoner, refill, etc.: the occur as bound morphemes in words like well-
root-morphemes help-, hand-, black-, London-, known, half-eaten, half-done.
-fill are understood as the lexical centres of the
words, as the basic constituent part of a word Speaking of word-structure on the morphemic
without which the word is inconceivable. level two groups of morphemes should be specially
The root-morpheme is the lexical nucleus of a mentioned.
word, it has an individual lexical meaning shared by To the first group belong morphemes of Greek
no other morpheme of the language. Besides it may and Latin origin often called combining forms, e.g.
also possess all other types of meaning proper to telephone, telegraph, phonoscope,
morphemes except the part-of-speech meaning microscope, etc. The morphemes tele-, graph-,
which is not found in roots. The root-morpheme is scope-, micro-, phone- are characterised by a
isolated as the morpheme common to a set of definite lexical meaning and peculiar stylistic
words making up a word-cluster, for example the reference: tele- means ‘far’, graph- means
morpheme teach- in to teach, teacher, teaching, ‘writing’, scope — ’seeing’, micro- implies
theor- in theory, theorist, theoretical, etc. smallness, phone- means ’sound.’ Comparing
Non-root morphemes include inflectional words with tele- as their first constituent, such as
morphemes or inflections and affixational telegraph, telephone, telegram one may
morphemes or affixes. Inflections carry only conclude that tele- is a prefix and graph-, phone-,
grammatical meaning and are thus relevant only for gram-are root-morphemes. On the other hand,
the formation of word-forms, whereas affixes are words like phonograph, seismograph,
relevant for building various types of stems — the autograph may create the impression that the
part of a word that remains unchanged throughout second morpheme graph is a suffix and the first —
its paradigm. Lexicology is concerned only with a root-morpheme. This undoubtedly would lead to
affixational morphemes. the absurd conclusion that words of this group
Affixes are classified into prefixes and contain no root-morpheme and are composed of a
suffixes: a prefix precedes the root-morpheme, a suffix and a prefix which runs counter to the
suffix follows it. Affixes besides the meaning fundamental principle of word-structure. Therefore,
proper to root-morphemes possess the part-of- there is only one solution to this problem; these
speech meaning and a generalised lexical meaning. morphemes are all bound root-morphemes of a
special kind and such words belong to words made
up of bound roots. The fact that these morphemes
24
do not possess the part-of-speech meaning typical
of affixational morphemes evidences their status as WORD-FORMATION
roots.
The second group embraces morphemes VARIOUS WAYS OF FORMING WORDS
occupying a kind of intermediate position, The available linguistic literature on the subject
morphemes that are changing their class cites various types and ways of forming words.
membership. Earlier books, articles and monographs on word-
The root-morpheme man- found in numerous formation and vocabulary growth in general both in
words like postman ['poustm@n], fisherman the Bulgarian language and in foreign languages, in
[fiS@m@n], gentleman ['dZentlm@n] in the English language in particular, used to mention
comparison with the same root used in the words morphological, syntactic and lexico-semantic types
man-made ['m&nmeid] and man-servant of word-formation. At present the classifications of
['m&n,s@:v@nt] is, as is well-known, pronounced, the types of word-formation do not, as a rule,
differently, the [æ] of the root-morpheme becomes include lexico-semantic word-building. Of interest is
[@] and sometimes disappears altogether. The the classification of word-formation means based on
phonetic reduction of the root vowel is obviously the number of motivating bases which many
due to the decreasing semantic value of the scholars follow. A distinction is made between two
morpheme and some linguists argue that in words large classes of word-building means:
like cabman, gentleman, chairman it is now felt To Class I belong the means of building words
as denoting an agent rather than a male adult, having one motivating base. To give an English
becoming synonymous with the agent suffix -er. example, the noun catcher is composed of the
However, we still recognise the identity of [man] in base catch- and the suffix -er, through the
postman, cabman and [m&n] in man-made, combination of which it is morphologically and
man-servant. Abrasion has not yet completely semantically motivated.
disassociated the two, and we can hardly regard Class II includes the means of building words
[man] as having completely lost the status of a containing more than one motivating base.
root-morpheme. Besides it is impossible to say she Needless to say, they are all based on compounding
is an Englishman (or a gentleman) and the (cf. the English compounds country-club, door-
lexical opposition of man and woman is still felt in handle, bottle-opener, etc., all having two bases
most of these compounds (cf. though Madam through which they are motivated).
Chairman in cases when a woman chairs a sitting Most linguists in special chapters and manuals
and even all women are tradesmen). It follows devoted to English word-formation consider as the
from all this that the morpheme -man as the last chief processes of English word-formation affixation,
component may be qualified as semi-free. conversion and compounding.
Apart from these a number of minor ways of
Morphemic Types of Words forming words such as back-formation, sound
According to the number of morphemes words interchange, distinctive stress, sound imitation,
are classified into monomorphic and blending, clipping and acronymy are traditionally
polymorphic. Monomorphic or root-words consist referred to Word-Formation.
of only one root-morpheme, e.g. small, dog, Another classification of the types of word-
make, give, etc. All polymorphic words according formation worked out by H. Marchand is also of
to the number of root-morphemes are classified into interest. Proceeding from the distinction between
two subgroups: monoradical (or one-root words) full linguistic signs and pseudo signs he considers
and polyradical words, i.e. words which consist of two major groups: 1) words formed as grammatical
two or more roots. Monoradical words fall into two syntagmas, i.e. combinations of full linguistic signs
subtypes: 1) radical-suffixal words, i.e. words which are characterised by morphological
that consist of one root-morpheme and one or more motivation such as do-er, un-do, rain-bow; and
suffixal morphemes, e.g. acceptable, 2) words which are not grammatical syntagmas, i.e.
acceptability, blackish, etc.; 2) radical-prefixal which are not made up of full linguistic signs. To the
words, i.e. words that consist of one root- first group belong Compounding, Suffixation,
morpheme and a prefixal morpheme, e.g. outdo, Prefixation, Derivation by a Zero Morpheme and
rearrange, unbutton, etc. and 3) prefixo- Back-Derivation, to the second — Expressive
radical-suffixal, i.e. words which consist of one Symbolism, Blending, Clipping, Rime and Ablaut
root, a prefixal and suffixal morphemes, e.g. Gemination, Word-Manufacturing. It is characteristic
disagreeable, misinterpretation, etc. of both groups that a new coining is based on a
Polyradical words fall into two types: 1) synchronic relationship between morphemes.
polyradical words which consist of two or more
roots with no affixational morphemes, e.g. book- WORD-FORMATION: DEFINITION
stand, eye-ball, lamp-shade, etc. and 2) words
which contain at least two roots and one or more Word-Formation is the system of derivative
affixational morphemes, e.g. safety-pin, types of words and the process of creating
wedding-pie, class-consciousness, light- new words from the material available in the
mindedness, pen-holder, etc. language after certain structural and semantic
25
formulas and patterns. For instance, the noun As semantic change does not, as a rule, lead to
driver is formed after the pattern v+-er, i.e. a the introduction of a new word into the vocabulary,
verbal stem + the noun-forming suffix -er. The it can scarcely be regarded as a wordbuilding
meaning of the derived noun driver is related to means. Neither can we consider the process a word-
the meaning of the stem drive- ‘to direct the building means even when an actual enlargement of
course of a vehicle’ and the suffix -er meaning ‘an the vocabulary does come about through the
active agent’: a driver is ‘one who drives’ (a appearance of a pair of homonyms. Actually, the
carriage, motorcar, railway engine, etc.). Likewise, appearance of homonyms is not a means of
compounds resulting from two or more stems joined creating new words, but it is the final result of a
together to form a new word are also built on quite long and laborious process of sense-development.
definite structural and semantic patterns and Furthermore, there are no patterns after which
formulas, for instance adjectives of the snow- homonyms can be made in the language. Finally,
white type are built according to the formula diverging sense-development results in a semantic
noun+аdj, etc. It can easily be observed that the isolation of two or more meanings of a word,
meaning of the whole compound is also related to whereas the process of word-formation proper is
the meanings of the component parts. The characterised by a certain semantic connection
structural patterns with the semantic relations they between the new word and the source lexical unit.
signal give rise to regular new creations of For these reasons diverging sense-development
derivatives, e.g. sleeper, giver, smiler or soat- leading to the appearance of two or more
blасk, tax-free, etc. homonyms should be regarded as a specific channel
In conformity with structural types of words through which the vocabulary of a language is
described above the following two types of word- replenished with new words and should not be
formation may be distinguished, word-derivation treated on a par with the processes of word-
and word-composition (or compounding). formation, such as affixation, conversion and
Words created by word-derivation have in terms of composition.
word-formation analysis only one derivational base The shortening of words also stands apart from
and one derivational affix, e.g. cleanness (from the above two-fold division of word-formation. It
clean), to overestimate (from to estimate), cannot be regarded as part of either word-
chairmanship (from chairman), derivation or word-composition for the simple
openhandedness (from openhanded), etc. Some reason that neither the derivational base nor the
derived words have no derivational affixes, because derivational affix can be singled out from the
derivation is achieved through conversion, e.g. to shortened word (e. g. lab, exam, Euratom, V-
paper (from paper), a fall (from to fall), etc. day, etc.).
Words created by word-composition have at least Nor are there any derivational patterns new
two bases, e.g. lamp-shade, ice-cold, looking- shortened words could be farmed on by the
glass, daydream, hotbed, speedometer, etc. speaker. Consequently, the shortening of words
Within the types, further distinction may be should not be regarded as a way of word-formation
made between the ways of forming words. The on a par with derivation and compounding.
basic ways of forming words in word-derivatiоn, for For the same reasons, such ways of coining
instance, are affixation and conversion. It should be words as acronymy, blending, lexicalisation and
noted that the understanding of word-formation as some others should not be treated as means of
expounded here excludes semantic word-building as word-formation. Strictly speaking they are all,
well as shortening, sound- and stress-interchange together with word-shortening, specific means of
which traditionally are referred to minor ways of replenishing the vocabulary different in principle
word-formation. By semantic word-building some from affixation, conversion and compounding.
linguists understand any change in word-meaning, What is said above is especially true of sound-
e.g. stock — ‘the lower part of the trunk of a tree’; and stress-interchange (also referred to as
’something lifeless or stupid’; ‘the part of an distinctive stress). Both sound- and stress-
instrument that serves as a base’, etc.; bench — ‘a interchange may be regarded as ways of forming
long seat of wood or stone’; ‘a carpenter’s table’, words only diachronically, because in Modern
etc. The majority of linguists, however, understand English not a single word can be coined by changing
this process only as a change in the meaning of a the root-vowel of a word or by shifting the place of
word that may result in the appearance of the stress. Sound-interchange as well as stress-
homonyms, as is the case with flower — ‘a interchange in fact has turned into a means of
blossom’ and flour — ‘the fine meal’, ‘powder made distinguishing primarily between words of different
from wheat and used for making bread’; magazine parts of speech and as such is rather wide-spread in
— ‘a publication’ and magazine — ‘the chamber for Modern English, e.g. to sing — song, to live —
cartridges in a gun or rifle’, etc. The application of life, strong — strength, etc. It also distinguishes
the term word-formation to the process of semantic between different word-forms, e.g. man — men,
change and to the appearance of homonyms due to wife — wives, to know — knew, to leave — left,
the development of polysemy seems to be etc.
debatable for the following reasons: Sound-interchange falls into two groups: vowel-
interchange and consonant-interchange.
26
difference on the morphological level between
By means of vowel-interchange we distinguish various parts of speech, primarily between nouns
different parts of speech, e.g. full — to fill, food — and verbs. For instance, there is a clear-cut
to feed, blood — to bleed, etc. In some cases difference in Modern English between the noun
vowel-interchange is combined with affixation, e.g. doctor and the verb to doctor — each exists in the
long — length, strong — strength, broad — language as a unity of its word-forms and variants,
breadth, etc. Intransitive verbs and the not as one form doctor. It is true that some of the
corresponding transitive ones with a causative forms are identical in sound, i.e. homonymous, but
meaning also display vowel-interchange, e. g. to there is a great distinction between them, as they
rise — to raise, to sit — to set, to lie — to lay, are both grammatically and semantically different.
to fall — to fell. If we regard such word-pairs as doctor — to
The type of consonant-interchange typical of doctor; water — to water; brief — to brief from
Modern English is the interchange of a voiceless the angle of their morphemic structure, we see that
fricative consonant in a noun and the corresponding they are all root-words. On the derivational level,
voiced consonant in the corresponding verb, e.g. however, one of them should be referred to derived
use — to use, mouth — to mouth, house — to words, as it belongs to a different part of speech
house, advice — to advise, etc. and is understood through semantic and structural
There are some particular cases of consonant- relations with the other, i.e. is motivated by it.
interchange: [k] — [tS]: to speak — speech, to Consequently, the question arises: what serves as a
break — breach; [s] — [d]: defence — to word-building means in these cases? It would
defend; offence — to offend; [s] — [t]: appear that the noun is formed from the verb (or
evidence — evident, importance — important, vice versa) without any morphological change, but if
etc. Consonant-interchange may be combined with we probe deeper into the matter, we inevitably
vowel-interchange, e.g. bath — to bathe, breath come to the conclusion that the two words differ in
— to breathe, life — to live, etc. the paradigm. Thus it is the paradigm that is used
Many English verbs of Latin-French origin are as a word-building means. Hence, we may define
distinguished from the corresponding nouns by the conversion as the formation of a new word through
position of stress. Here are some well-known changes in its paradigm.
examples of such pairs of words: 'export n — to
ex'port v; 'import n — to im'port v; 'conduct n — to It is necessary to call attention to the fact that
con'duct v; ‘present n — to pre'sent v; 'contrast n the paradigm plays a significant role in the process
— to con'trast v; 'increase n — to in'crease v, etc. of word-formation in general and not only in the
Stress-interchange is not restricted to pairs of case of conversion. Thus, the noun cooker (in gas-
words consisting of a noun and a verb. It may also cooker) is formed from the word to cook not only
occur between other parts of speech, for instance, by the addition of the suffix -er, but also by the
between adjective and verb, e.g. ´frequent a — to change in its paradigm. However, in this case, the
fre´quent v; ´absent a — to ab´sent v, etc. role played by the paradigm as a word-building
means is less obvious, as the word-building suffix
CONVERSION -er comes to the fore. Therefore, conversion is
characterised not simply by the use of the
Conversion, one of the principal ways of forming paradigm as a word-building means, but by
words in Modern English is highly productive in the formation of a new word solely by means
replenishing the English word-stock with new of changing its paradigm. Hence, the change of
words. The term conversion, which some linguists paradigm is the only word-building means of
find inadequate, refers to the numerous cases of conversion. As a paradigm is a morphological
phonetic identity of word-forms, primarily the so- category conversion can be described as a
called initial forms, of two words belonging to morphological way of forming words. The following
different parts of speech. This may be illustrated by indisputable cases of conversion have been
the following cases: work — to work; love — to discussed in linguistic literature:
love; paper — to paper; brief — to brief, etc. As 1) formation of verbs from nouns and more
a rule we deal with simple words, although there rarely from other parts of speech, and
are a few exceptions, e.g. wireless — to wireless. 2) formation of nouns from verbs and rarely
It is fairly obvious that in the case of a noun and from other parts of speech.
a verb not only are the so-called initial forms (i.e. 3) formation of verbs from adjectives
the infinitive and the common case singular) Opinion differs on the possibility of creating
phonetically identical, but all the other noun forms adjectives from nouns through conversion. In the
have their homonyms within the verb paradigm, cf. so-called “stone wall” complexes the first members
(my) work [w@:k]) — (I) work [w@:k]; (the) are regarded by some linguists as adjectives formed
dog’s [dOgz] (head) — (many) dogs [dOgz] — from the corresponding noun-stems by conversion,
(he) dogs [dOgz], etc. or as nouns in an attributive function by others, or
It will be recalled that, although inflectional as substantival stems by still others so that the
categories have been greatly reduced in English in whole combination is treated as a compound word.
the last eight or nine centuries, there is a certain In our treatment of conversion on the pages that
27
follow we shall be mainly concerned with the Modern English we no longer distinguish between
indisputable cases, i.e. deverbal substantives and parts of speech, i.e. between noun and verb, noun
denominal verbs. and adjective, etc., for one and the same word
Many linguists share the conception of cannot simultaneously belong to different parts of
conversion as a morphological way of forming words speech. It is common knowledge, however, that the
but they disagree, however, as to what serves here English word-stock is subdivided into big word
as a word-building means. Some of them define classes each having its own semantic and formal
conversion as a non-affixal way of forming words features. The distinct difference between nouns and
pointing out that the characteristic feature is that a verbs, for instance, as in the case of doctor — to
certain stem is used for the formation of a different doctor discussed above, consists in the number
word of a different part of speech without a and character of the categories reflected in their
derivational affix being added. Others hold the view paradigms. Thus, the functional approach to
that conversion is the formation of new words with conversion cannot be justified and should be
the help of a zero-morpheme. rejected as inadequate.
The treatment of conversion as a non-affixal
word-formation process calls forth some criticism, it Synchronic Approach
can hardly be accepted as adequate, for it fails to Conversion pairs are distinguished by the
bring out the specific means making it possible to structural identity of the root and phonetic identity
form, for instance, a verb from a noun without of the stem of each of the two words.
adding a derivational affix to the base. Besides, the Synchronically we deal with pairs of words related
term a non-affixal word-formation process does not through conversion that coexist in contemporary
help to distinguish between cases of conversion and English. The two words, e.g. to break and a break,
those of sound-interchange, e.g. to sing — song; being phonetically identical, the question arises
to feed — food; full — to fill, etc. which lie whether they have the same or identical stems, as
outside the scope of word-formation in Modern some linguists are inclined to believe. It will be
English. recalled that the stem carries quite a definite part-
The conception of conversion as derivation with a of-speech meaning; for instance, within the word-
zero-morpheme, however, merits attention. The cluster to dress — dress — dresser — dressing
propounders of this interpretation of conversion — dressy, the stem dresser — carries not only the
rightly refer to some points of analogy between lexical meaning of the root-morpheme dress-, but
affixation and conversion. Among them is similarity also the meaning of substantivity, the stem dressy-
of semantic relations between a derived word and the meaning of quality, etc. These two ingredients
its underlying base, on the one hand, and between — the lexical meaning of the root-morpheme and
words within a conversion pair, the part-of-speech meaning of the stem — form
e.g. 1. action — doer of the action: to walk — a part of the meaning of the whole word. It is the
walker (affixation) to tramp — a tramp stem that requires a definite paradigm; for
(conversion); instance, the word dresser is a noun primarily
2. action — result of the action: to agree — because it has a noun-stem and not only because of
agreement (affixation), to find — a find the noun paradigm; likewise, the word materialise
(conversion), etc. is a verb, because first and foremost it has a verbal
They also argue that as the derivational stem possessing the lexico-grammatical meaning of
complexity of a derived word involves a more process or action and requiring a verb paradigm.
complex semantic structure as compared with that What is true of words whose root and stem do
of the base, it is but logical to assume that the not coincide is also true of words with roots and
semantic complexity of a converted word should stems that coincide: for instance, the word atom is
manifest itself in its derivational structure, even a noun because of the substantival character of the
though in the form of a zero derivational affix. stem requiring the noun paradigm. The word sell is
If one accepts this conception of conversion, then a verb because of the verbal character of its stem
one will have to distinguish between two types of requiring the verb paradigm, etc. It logically follows
derivation in Modern English: one effected by that the stems of two words making up a
employing suffixes and prefixes, the other by using conversion pair cannot be regarded as being the
a zero derivational affix. same or identical: the stem hand- of the noun
There is also a purely syntactic approach hand, for instance, carries a substantival meaning
commonly known as a functional approach to together with the system of its meanings, such as:
conversion. Certain linguists and lexicographers 1) the end of the arm beyond the wrist; 2) pointer
especially those in Great Britain and the USA are on a watch or clock; 3) worker in a factory; 4)
inclined to regard conversion in Modern English as a source of information, etc.; the stem hand- of the
kind of functional change. They define conversion as verb hand has a different part-of-speech meaning,
a shift from one part of speech to another namely that of the verb, and a different system of
contending that in Modern English a word may meanings: 1) give or help with the hand, 2) pass,
function as two different parts of speech at the etc. Thus, the stems of word-pairs related through
same time. If we accept this point of view, we conversion have different part-of-speech and
should logically arrive at the conclusion that in
28
denotational meanings. Being phonetically identical some object of reality (both animate and inanimate)
they can be regarded as homonymous stems. the converted verb may denote:
A careful examination of the relationship between 1) action characteristic of the object, e.g. ape n
the lexical meaning of the root-morpheme and the — ape v — ‘imitate in a foolish way’; butcher n —
part-of-speech meaning of the stem within a butcher v — ‘kill animals for food, cut up a killed
conversion pair reveals that in one of the two words animal’;
the former does not correspond to the latter. For 2) instrumental use of the object, e.g. screw n
instance, the lexical meaning of the root-morpheme — screw v — ‘fasten with a screw’; whip n —
of the noun hand corresponds to the part-of-speech whip v — ’strike with a whip’;
meaning of its stem: they are both of a substantival 3) acquisition or addition of the object, e.g. fish
character; the lexical meaning of the root- n — fish v — ‘catch or try to catch fish’; coat n —
morpheme of the verb hand, however, does not ‘covering of paint' — coat v — ‘put a coat of paint
correspond to the part-of-speech meaning of the on’;
stem: the root-morpheme denotes an object, 4) deprivation of the object, e.g. dust n — dust
whereas the part-of-speech meaning of the stem is v — ‘remove dust from something’; skin n — skin v
that of a process. The same is true of the noun fall — ’strip off the skin from’; etc.
whose stem is of a substantival character (which is II. Nouns converted from verbs (deverbal
proved by the noun paradigm fall — falls — fall’s substantives).
— falls’, whereas the root-morpheme denotes a The verb generally referring to an action, the
certain process. converted noun may denote:
It will be recalled that the same kind of non- 1) instance of the action, e.g. jump v — jump n
correspondence is typical of the derived word in — ’sudden spring from the ground’; move v —
general. To give but two examples, the part-of- move n — ‘a change of position’;
speech meaning of the stem blackness — is that of 2) agent of the action, e.g. help v — help n —
substantivity, whereas the root-morpheme black- ‘a person who helps’; it is of interest to mention
denotes a quality; the part-of-speech meaning of that the deverbal personal nouns denoting the doer
the stem eatable- (that of qualitativeness) does are mostly derogatory, e.g. bore v — bore n — ‘a
not correspond to the lexical meaning of the root- person that bores’; cheat v — cheat n — ‘a person
morpheme denoting a process. It should also be who cheats’;
pointed out here that in simple words the lexical 3) place of the action, e.g. drive v — drive n —
meaning of the root corresponds to the part-of- ‘a path or road along which one drives’; walk v —
speech meaning of the stem, cf. the two types of walk n — ‘a place for walking’;
meaning of simple words like black a, eat v, chair 4) object or result of the action, e.g. peel v —
n, etc. Thus, by analogy with the derivational peel n — ‘the outer skin of fruit or potatoes taken
character of the stem of a derived word it is natural off; find v — find и — ’something found,” esp.
to regard the stem of one of the two words making something valuable or pleasant’; etc.
up a conversion pair as being of a derivational For convenience the typical semantic relations as
character as well. The essential difference between briefly described above may be graphically
affixation and conversion is that affixation is represented in the form of a diagram (see below,
characterised by both semantic and structural pp. 132-133).
derivation (e.g. friend — friendless, dark — In conclusion it is necessary to point out that in
darkness, etc.), whereas conversion displays only the case of polysemantic words one and the same
semantic derivation, i.e. hand — to hand, fall — member of a conversion pair, a verb or a noun,
to fall, taxi — to taxi, etc.; the difference between belongs to several of the above-mentioned groups
the two classes of words in affixation is marked making different derivational bases. For instance,
both by a special derivational affix and a paradigm, the verb dust belongs to Group 4 of Denominal
whereas in conversion it is marked only by verbs (deprivation of the object) when it means
paradigmatic forms. ‘remove dust from something’, and to Group 3
(acquisition or addition of the object) when it means
Typical Semantic Relations ‘cover with powder’; the noun slide is referred to
As one of the two words within a conversion pair Group 3 of Deverbal substantives (place of the
is semantically derived from the other, it is of great action) when denoting ‘a stretch of smooth ice or
theoretical and practical importance to determine hard snow on which people slide’ and to Group 2
the semantic relations between words related (agent of the action) when it refers to a part of an
through conversion. Summing up the findings of the instrument or machine that slides, etc.
linguists who have done research in this field we Denominal Verbs: noun  verb
can enumerate the following typical semantic object  action characteristic of the object, e.g.
relations. a nurse  to nurse
I. Verbs converted from nouns (denominal object  instrumental use of the object, e.g. a
verbs). saw  to saw
This is the largest group of words related through object  acquisition or addition of the object,
conversion. The semantic relations between the e.g. a nut  to nut
nouns and verbs vary greatly. If the noun refers to
29
object  deprivation of the object, e.g. a bone  means and as a type of word-building relations
to bone between words in Modern English. Synchronically in
Modern English there is no difference at all between
Deverbal Substantives: verb  noun cases like taxi n — taxi v and cases like love n —
action  instance of the action, e.g. to step  a love v from the point of view of their morphological
step structure and the word-building system of the
action  agent of the action, e.g. to tramp  a language. In either case the only difference
tramp between the two words is that of the paradigm: the
action  place of the action, e.g. to leak  a historical background is here irrelevant. It should be
leak emphatically stressed at this point that the present-
action  object or result of the action, e.g. to day derivative correlations within conversion pairs
purchase  a purchase do not necessarily coincide with the etymological
relationship. For instance, in the word-pair awe n —
Deadjectival verbs: adjective  verb awe v the noun is the source, of derivation both
characteristic  to acquire the characteristic, diachronically and synchronically, but it is quite
e.g. blind  to blind different with the pair mould v — mould n:
historically the verb is the derived member,
Diachronic Approach of Conversion. Origin whereas it is the other way round from the angle of
Modern English vocabulary is exceedingly rich in Modern English (cf. the derivatives mouldable,
conversion pairs. As a way of forming words moulding, moulder which have suffixes added to
conversion is extremely productive and new verb-bases).
conversion pairs make their appearance in fiction, Conversion is not an absolutely productive way of
newspaper articles and in the process of oral forming words because it is restricted both
communication in all spheres of human activity semantically and morphologically.
gradually forcing their way into the existing With reference to semantic restrictions it is
vocabulary and into the dictionaries as well. New assumed that all verbs can be divided into two
conversion pairs are created on the analogy of groups: a) verbs denoting processes that can be
those already in the word-stock on the semantic represented as a succession of isolated actions from
patterns described above as types of semantic which nouns are easily formed, e.g. fall v — fall n;
relations. Conversion is highly productive in the run v — run n; jump v — jump n, etc.; b) verbs
formation of verbs, especially from compound like to sit, to lie, to stand denoting processes that
nouns. 20th century new words include a great cannot be represented as a succession of isolated
many verbs formed by conversion, e.g. to motor — actions, thus defying conversion. However, a careful
‘travel by car’; to phone — ‘use the telephone’; to examination of modern English usage reveals that it
wire — ’send a telegram’; to microfilm — is extremely difficult to distinguish between these
‘produce a microfilm of; to tear-gas — ‘to use two groups. This can be exemplified in such pairs as
tear-gas’; to fire-bomb — ‘drop fire-bombs’; to to invite — an invite, to take — a take, to sing
spearhead — ‘act as a spearhead for’; to — a sing, to bleed — a bleed, to win — a win,
blueprint — ‘work out, outline’, etc. A diachronic etc. The possibility for the verbs to be formed from
survey of the present-day stock of conversion pairs nouns through conversion seems to be illimitable.
reveals, however, that not all of them have been The morphological restrictions suggested by
created on the semantic patterns just referred to. certain linguists are found in the fact that the
Some of them arose as a result of the complexity of word-structure does not favour
disappearance of inflections in the course of the conversion. It is significant that in MnE. there are
historical development of the English language due no verbs converted from nouns with the suffixes
to which two words of different parts of speech, e.g. -ing and -ation. This restriction is counterbalanced,
a verb and a noun, coincided in pronunciation. This however, by innumerable occasional conversion
is the case with such word-pairs, for instance, as pairs of rather complex structure, e.g. to package,
love n (OE. lufu) — love v (OE. lufian); work n to holiday, to wireless, to petition, to
(OE. wēōrc) — work v (OE. wyrcan); answer n reverence, etc. Thus, it seems possible to regard
(OE. andswaru) — answer v (OE. andswarian) and conversion as a highly productive way of forming
many others. For this reason certain linguists words in Modern English.
consider it necessary to distinguish between
homonymous word-pairs which appeared as a result WORD-COMPOSITION
of the loss of inflections and those formed by
conversion. The term conversion is applied then Compounding or word-composition is one of the
only to cases like doctor n — doctor v; brief a — productive types of word-formation in Modern
brief v that came into being after the English. Composition like all other ways of deriving
disappearance of inflections, word-pairs like work n words has its own peculiarities as to the means
— work v being regarded exclusively as cases of used, the nature of bases and their distribution, as
homonymy. to the range of application, the scope of semantic
Other linguists share the views concerning classes and the factors conducive to productivity.
discrimination between conversion as a derivational
30
Compounds, as has been mentioned elsewhere, between words and stems is not so noticeable in
are made up of two intermediate constituents (ICs) compound nouns with the noun-stem for the second
which are both derivational bases. Compound words component.
are inseparable vocabulary units. They are formally Phоnetiсallу, compounds are also marked by a
and semantically dependent on the constituent specific structure of their own. No phonemic
bases and the semantic relations between them changes of bases occur in composition but the
which mirror the relations between the motivating compound word acquires a new stress pattern,
units. The ICs of compound words represent bases different from the stress in the motivating words,
of all three structural types. The bases built on for example words key and hole or hot and house
stems may be of different degree of complexity as, each possess their own stress but when the stems
e.g., week-end, office-management, postage- of these words are brought together to make up a
stamp, aircraft-carrier, fancy-dress-maker, etc. new compound word, ‘keyhole — ‘a hole in a lock
However, this complexity of structure of bases is into which a key fits’, or ‘hot-house — ‘a heated
not typical of the bulk of Modern English building for growing delicate plants’, the latter is
compounds. given a different stress pattern — a unity stress on
In this connection care should be taken not to the first component in our case. Compound words
confuse compound words with polymorphic words of have three stress patterns:
secondary derivation, i.e. derivatives built according b) a double stress, with a primary stress on the
to an affixal pattern but on a compound stem for its first component and a weaker, secondary stress on
base such as, e.g., school-mastership ([n+n] the second component, e.g. ´blood-`vessel,
+suf), ex-housewife (prf+[n+n]), to weekend, ´mad-`doctor — ‘a psychiatrist’, ´washing-
to spotlight ([n+n]+conversion). ma`chine, etc. These two stress patterns are the
commonest among compound words and in many
Structure cases they acquire a contrasting force distinguishing
Compound words like all other inseparable compound words from word-groups, especially
vocabulary units take shape in a definite system of when the arrangement and order of ICs parallel the
grammatical forms, syntactic and semantic word-order and the distributional pattern of a
features. Compounds, on the one hand, are phrase, thus a ‘greenhouse — ‘a glass house for
generally clearly distinguished from and often cultivating delicate plants’ is contrasted to a ‘green
opposed to free word-groups, on the other hand ‘house — ‘a house that is painted green’;
they lie astride the border-line between words and ‘dancing-girl — ‘a dancer’ to a ‘dancing ‘girl — ‘a
word-groups and display close ties and correlation girl who is dancing’; a ´mad-`doctor — ‘a
with the system of free word-groups. The structural psychiatrist’ to ‘mad ‘doctor — ‘a doctor who is
inseparability of compound words finds expression mad’. The significance of these stress patterns is
in the unity of their specific distributional pattern nowhere so evident as in nominal compounds built
and specific stress and spelling pattern. on the n+n derivational pattern in which the
Structurally, compound words are characterised arrangement and order of the stems fail to
by the specific order and arrangement in which distinguish a compound word from a phrase.
bases follow one another. The order in which the c) It is not infrequent, however, for both ICs to
two bases are placed within a compound is rigidly have level stress as in, e.g., ‘arm-'chair,
fixed in Modern English and it is the second IC that ‘icy-'cold, ‘grass-'green, etc.
makes the head-member of the word, i.e. its The significance of the stress pattern by itself
structural and semantic centre. The head-member should not be overestimated though, as it cannot be
is of basic importance as it ‘preconditions both the an overall criterion and cannot always serve as a
lexico-grammatical and semantic features of the sufficient clue to draw a line of distinction between
first component. It is of interest to note that the compound words and phrases. This mostly refers to
difference between stems (that serve as bases in level stress pattern. In most cases the level stress
compound words) and word-forms they coincide pattern is accompanied by other structural and
with is most obvious in some compounds, especially graphic indications of inseparability.
in compound adjectives. Adjectives like long, wide, Graphically, most compounds have two types of
rich are characterised by grammatical forms of spelling — they are spelt either solidly or with a
degrees of comparison longer, wider, richer. The hyphen. Both types of spelling when accompanied
corresponding stems functioning as bases in by structural and phonetic peculiarities serve as a
compound words lack grammatical independence sufficient indication of inseparability of compound
and forms proper to the words and retain only the words in contradistinction to phrases. It is true that
part-of-speech meaning; thus compound adjectives hyphenated spelling by itself may be sometimes
with adjectival stems for their second components, misleading, as it may be used in word-groups to
e.g. age-long, oil-rich, inch-wide, do not form emphasise their phraseological character as in e.g.
degrees of comparison as the compound adjective daughter-in-law, man-of-war, brother-in-arms
oil-rich does not form them the way the word rich or in longer combinations of words to indicate the
does, but conforms to the general rule of semantic unity of a string of words used
polysyllabic adjectives and has analytical forms of attributively as, e.g., I-know-what-you're-going-
degrees of comparison. The same difference to-say expression, we-are-in-the-know jargon,
31
the young-must-be-right attitude. The two board-room. The same can be observed in words
types of spelling typical of compounds, however, built on the polysemantic stem of the word foot.
are not rigidly observed and there are numerous For example, the base foot- in foot-print, foot-
fluctuations between solid or hyphenated spelling pump, foothold, foot-bath, foot-wear has the
on the one hand and spelling with a break between meaning of ‘the terminal part of the leg’, in foot-
the components on the other, especially in nominal note, foot-lights, foot-stone the base foot- has
compounds of the n+n type. The spelling of these the meaning of ‘the lower part’, and in foot-high,
compounds varies from author to author and from foot-wide, footrule — ‘measure of length’. It is
dictionary to dictionary. For example, the words obvious from the above-given examples that the
war-path, war-time, money-lender are spelt meanings of the bases of compound words are
both with a hyphen and solidly; blood-poisoning, interdependent and that the - choice of each is
money-order, wave-length, war-ship — with a delimited as in variable word-groups by the nature
hyphen and with a break; underfoot, insofar, of the other IC of the word. It thus may well be said
underhand — solidly and with a break. It is that the combination of bases serves as a kind of
noteworthy that new compounds of this type tend minimal inner context distinguishing the particular
to solid or hyphenated spelling. This inconsistency individual lexical meaning of each component. In
of spelling in compounds, often accompanied by a this connection we should also remember the
level stress pattern (equally typical of word-groups) significance of the differential meaning found in
makes the problem of distinguishing between both components which becomes especially obvious
compound words (of the n+n type in particular) and in a set of compounds containing identical bases.
word-groups especially difficult.
In this connection it should be stressed that
Modern English nouns (in the Common Case, Sg.) Structural Meaning of the Pattern
as has been universally recognised possess an The lexical meanings of the bases alone,
attributive function in which they are regularly used important as they are, do not make the meaning of
to form numerous nominal phrases as, e.g. peace the compound word. The meaning of the compound
years, stone steps, government office, etc. is derived not only from the combined lexical
Such variable nominal -phrases are semantically meanings of its components, but also from the
fully derivable from the meanings of the two nouns meaning signalled by the patterns of the order and
and are based on the homogeneous attributive arrangement of its ICs.
semantic relations unlike compound words. This A mere change in the order of bases with the
system of nominal phrases exists side by side with same lexical meanings brings about a drastic
the specific and numerous class of nominal change in the lexical meaning of the compound or
compounds which as a rule carry an additional destroys it altogether. As an illustration let us
semantic component not found in phrases. compare life-boat — ‘a boat of special construction
It is also important to stress that these two for saving lives from wrecks or along the coast’ with
classes of vocabulary units — compound words and boat-life — ‘life on board the ship’; a fruit-market
free phrases — are not only opposed but also stand — ‘market where fruit is sold’ with market-fruit —
in close correlative relations to each other. ‘fruit designed for selling’; board-school with
school-board, etc. Thus the structural or
Meaning distributional pattern in compound words carries a
Semantically compound words are generally certain meaning of its own which is largely
motivated units. The meaning of the compound is independent of the actual lexical meaning of their
first of all derived from the’ combined lexical ICs. It follows that the lexical meaning of a
meanings of its components. The semantic compound is derived from the combined lexical
peculiarity of the derivational bases and the meanings of its components and the structural
semantic difference between the base and the stem meaning of its distributional pattern.
on which the latter is built is most obvious in The structural meaning of the derivational
compound words. Compound words with a common pattern of compounds may be abstracted and
second or first component can serve as illustrations. described through the interrelation of its ICs. In
The stem of the word board is polysemantic and its analysing compound adjectives, e.g. duty-bound,
multiple meanings serve as different derivational wind-driven, mud-stained, we observe that their
bases, each with its own selective range for the underlying pattern n+Ven conveys the generalised
semantic features of the other component, each meaning of instrumental or agentive relations which
forming a separate set of compound words, based can be interpreted as ‘done by’ or ‘with the help of
on ’specific derivative relations. Thus the base something’; the lexical meanings of the bases
board meaning ‘a flat piece of wood square or supply the individual action performed and the
oblong’ makes a set of compounds chess-board, actual doer of the action or objects with the help of
notice-board, key-board, diving-board, foot- which the action is done — duty-bound may be
board, sign-board; compounds paste-board, interpreted as 'bound by duty’, wind-driven as
carboard are built on the base meaning ‘thick, stiff ‘driven by wind’, mud-stained as ’stained with
paper’; the base board-meaning ‘an authorised mud’.
body of men’, forms compounds school-board,
32
The derivational patterns in compounds may be or placed in position’. The bulk of compound words
monosemantic as in the above-given examples, and are monosemantic and motivated but motivation in
polysemantic. If we take the pattern n+a --> A compounds like in all derivatives varies in degree.
which underlies such compound adjectives as There are compounds that are completely motivated
snow-white, world-wide, air-sick, we shall see like sky-blue, foot-pump, tea-taster. Motivation
that the pattern has two different meanings which in compound words may be partial, but again the
may be interpreted: a) through semantic relations degree will vary. Compound words a hand-bag, a
of comparison between the components as in flower-bed, handcuffs, a castle-builder are all
world-wide — ‘wide as the world’, snow-white — only partially motivated, but still the degree of
‘as white as snow’, etc. and b) through various transparency of their meanings is different: in a
relations of adverbial type (circumstantial) as in hand-bag it is the highest as it is essentially ‘a bag’,
road-weary — ‘weary of the road’, colour-blind whereas handcuffs retain only a resemblance to
— ‘blind to colours’, etc. The structural pattern n+n cuffs and in fact are ‘metal rings placed round the
-> N that underlies compound nouns is also wrists of a prisoner’; a flower-bed is neither ‘a
polysemantic and conveys different semantic piece of furniture’ nor ‘a base on which smth rests’
relations such as relations of purpose, e.g. but a ‘garden plot where flowers grow’; a castle-
bookshelf, bed-room, relations of resemblance, builder is not a ‘builder’ as the second component
e.g. needle-fish, bowler-hat, instrumental or suggests but ‘a day-dreamer, one who builds
agentive relations, e.g. steamboat, windmill, castles in the air’.
sunrise, dogbite. There are compounds that lack motivation
The polysemy of the structure often leads to a altogether, i.e. the native speaker doesn't see any
certain freedom of interpretation of the semantic obvious connection between the word-meaning, the
relations between the components and lexical meanings of the bases and the meaning of
consequently to the polysemy of the compound. For the pattern, consequently, he cannot deduce the
example, it is equally correct to interpret the lexical meaning, of the word, for example, words
compound noun toy-man as ‘a toy having the like eye-wash — ’something said or done to
shape of a man’ or ‘a man who makes toys, a toy- deceive a person’, fiddlesticks — ‘nonsense,
maker’, the compound clock-tower may likewise be rubbish’, an eye-servant — ‘a servant who attends
understood as a ‘tower with a clock fitted in’ or ‘a to his duty only when watched’, a night-cap — ‘a
tower that serves as or is at the same time a clock’. drink taken before going to bed at night’ all lack
motivation. Lack of motivation in compound words
The Meaning of Compounds. Motivation may be often due to the transferred meanings of
It follows that the meaning of a compound is bases or of the whole word as in a slow-coach —
made up of the combined lexical meaning of the ‘a person who acts slowly’ (colloq.), a sweet-tooth
bases and the structural meaning of the pattern. — ‘one who likes sweet food and drink’ (colloq.).
The semantic centre of the compound is the lexical Such words often acquire a new connotational
meaning of the second component modified and meaning (usually non-neutral) not proper to either
restricted by the meaning of the first. The semantic of their components. Lack of motivation may be
centres of compounds and the semantic relations often due to unexpected semantic relations
embedded in the structural patterns refer embedded in the compound.
compound words to certain lexico-semantic groups Sometimes the motivated and the non-motivated
and semantic sets within them as, for example: 1) meanings of the same word are so far apart that
compound words denoting action described as to its they are felt as two homonymous words, e.g. a
agent, e.g. sunrise, earthquake, handshake, 2) night-cap: 1) ‘a cap worn in bed at night’ and 2) ‘a
compounds denoting action described as to its time drink taken before going to bed at night’ (colloq.);
or place, e.g. day-flight, street-fight, 3) eye-wash: 1) ‘a liquid for washing the eyes’ and 2)
compounds denoting individual objects designed for ’something said or done to deceive somebody’
some goal, e.g. bird-cage, table-cloth, diving- (colloq.); an eye-opener: 1) ‘enlightening or
suit, 4) compounds denoting objects that are parts surprising circumstance’ (colloq.) and 2) ‘a drink of
of the whole, e.g. shirt-collar, eye-ball, 5) liquor taken early in the day’ (U.S.)
compounds denoting active doers, e.g. book-
reader, shoe-maker, globe-trotter. Classification
The lexical meanings of both components are Compound words may be described from
closely fused together to create a new semantic unit different points of view and consequently may be
with a new meaning which is not merely additive classified according to different principles. They may
but dominates the individual meanings of the bases be viewed from the point of view: 1) of general
and is characterised by some additional semantic relationship and degree of semantic independence
component not found in any of the bases. For of components; 2) of the parts of speech compound
example, a hand-bag is essentially ‘a bag, words represent; 3) of the means of composition
designed to be carried in the hand’, but it is also ‘a used to link the two ICs together; 4) of the type of
woman’s bag to keep money, papers, face-powder ICs that are brought together to form a compound;
and the like’; a time-bomb is ‘a bomb designed to 5) of the correlative relations with the system of
explode at some time’, but also ‘after being dropped free word-groups.
33
Each type of compound words based on the stenographer and a secretary, a bed-sitting-
above-mentioned principles should also be room (a bed-sitter) is both a bed-room and a
described from the point of view of the degree of its sitting-room at the same time. Among additive
potential power, i.e. its productivity, its relevancy to compounds there is a specific subgroup of
the system of Modern English compounds. This compound adjectives one of ICs of which is a bound
description must aim at finding and setting a root-morpheme. This group is limited to the names
system of ordered structural and semantic rules for of nationalities such as Sino-Japanese, Anglo-
productive types of compound words on analogy Saxon, Afro-Asian, etc.
with which an infinite number of new compounds Additive compounds of this group are mostly fully
constantly appear in the language. motivated but have a very limited degree of
productivity.
Relations between the ICs of Compounds However it must be stressed that though the
From the point of view of degree of semantic distinction between coordinative and subordinative
independence there are two types of relationship compounds is generally made, it is open to doubt
between the ICs of compound words that are and there is no hard and fast border-line between
generally recognised in linguistic literature: the them. On the contrary, the border-line is rather
relations of coordination and subordination, and vague. It often happens that one and the same
accordingly compound words fall into two classes: compound may with equal right be interpreted
coordinative compounds (often termed either way — as a coordinative or a subordinative
copulative or additive) and subordinative (often compound, e.g. a woman-doctor may be
termed determinative). understood as ‘a woman who is at the same time a
In coordinative compounds the two ICs are doctor’ or there can be traced a difference of
semantically equally important as in fighter- importance between the components and it may be
bomber oak-tree, girl-friend, Anglo-American. primarily felt to be ‘a doctor who happens to be a
The constituent bases belong to the same class and woman’, cf. also a mother-goose, a clock-tower.
most often to the same semantic group. In subordinative compounds the components are
Coordinative compounds make up a comparatively neither structurally nor semantically equal in
small group of words. Coordinative compounds fall importance but are based on the domination of the
into three groups: head-member which is, as a rule, the second IC.
a) Reduplicative compounds which are made The second IC thus is the semantically and
up by the repetition of the same base as in goody- grammatically dominant part of the word, which
goody, fifty-fifty, hush-hush, pooh- pooh. They preconditions the part-of-speech meaning of the
are all only partially motivated. whole compound as in stone-deaf, age-long which
b) Compounds formed by joining the are obviously adjectives, a wrist-watch, road-
phonically variated rhythmic twin forms which building, a baby-sitter which are nouns.
either alliterate with the same initial Subordinative compounds make the bulk of
consonant but vary the vowels as in chit-chat, Modern English compound words, as to productivity
zig-zag, sing-song, or rhyme by varying the initial most of the productive types are subordinative
consonants as in clap-trap, a walkie-talkie, compounds.
helter-skelter. This subgroup stands very much
apart. It is very often referred to pseudo- Different Parts of Speech
compounds and considered by some linguists Functionally compounds are viewed as words of
irrelevant to productive word-formation owing to different parts of speech. It is the head-member of
the doubtful morphemic status of their components. the compound, i.e. its second IC that is indicative of
The constituent members of compound words of the grammatical and lexical category the compound
this subgroup are in most cases unique, carry very word belongs to.
vague or no lexical meaning of their own, are not Compound words are found in all parts of
found as stems of independently functioning words. speech, but the bulk of compounds are nouns and
They are motivated mainly through the rhythmic adjectives. Each part of speech is characterised by
doubling of fanciful sound-clusters. its set of derivational patterns and their semantic
Coordinative compounds of both subgroups (a, variants. Compound adverbs, pronouns and
b) are mostly restricted to the colloquial layer, are connectives are represented by an insignificant
marked by a heavy emotive charge and possess a number of words, e.g. somewhere, somebody,
very small degree of productivity. inside, upright, otherwise, moreover,
c) The bases of additive compounds such as” a elsewhere, by means of, etc. No new compounds
queen-bee, an actor-manager, unlike the are coined on this pattern. Compound pronouns and
compound words of the first two subgroups, are adverbs built on the repeating first and second IC
built on stems of the independently functioning like body, ever, thing make closed sets of words
words of the same part of speech. These bases
often semantically stand in the genus-species some + body
relations. They denote a person or an object that is any thing
two things at the same time. A secretary- every one
stenographer is thus a person who is both a no where
34
On the whole composition is not productive spring-lock (n+n) resembles the order of words in
either for adverbs, pronouns or for connectives. nominal phrases with attributive function of the first
Verbs are of special interest. There is a small noun (N+N), e.g. spring time, stone steps,
group of compound verbs made up of the peace movement.
combination of verbal and adverbial stems that 2) Compound words whose ICs are joined
language retains from earlier stages, e.g. to together with a special linking-element — the
bypass, to inlay, to offset. This type according to linking vowels [ou] and occasionally [i] and the
some authors, is no longer productive and is rarely linking consonant [s/z] — which is indicative of
found in new compounds. composition as in, e.g., speedometer, tragicomic,
There are many polymorphic verbs that are statesman. Compounds of this type can be both
represented by morphemic sequences of two root- nouns and adjectives, subordinative and additive
morphemes, like to weekend, to gooseflesh, to but are rather few in number since they are
spring-clean, but derivationally they are all words considerably restricted by the nature of their
of secondary derivation in which the existing components. The additive compound adjectives
compound nouns only serve as bases for derivation. linked with the help of the vowel [ou] are limited to
They are often termed pseudo-compound verbs. the names of nationalities and represent a specific
Such polymorphic verbs are presented by two group with a bound root for the first component,
groups: e.g. Sino-Japanese, Afro-Asian, Anglo-Saxon.
1) verbs formed by means of conversion from In subordinative adjectives and nouns the
the stems of compound nouns as in to spotlight productive linking element is also [ou] and
from a spotlight, to sidetrack from a side-track, compound words of the type are most productive
to handcuff from handcuffs, to blacklist from a for scientific terms. The main peculiarity of
blacklist, to pinpoint from a pin-point; compounds of the type is that their constituents are
2) verbs formed by back-derivation from the nonassimilated bound roots borrowed mainly from
stems of compound nouns, e.g. to babysit from a classical languages, e.g. electro-dynamic,
baby-sitter, to playact from play-acting, to filmography, technophobia, videophone,
housekeep from house-keeping, to spring- sociolinguistics, videodisc.
clean from spring-cleaning. A small group of compound nouns may also be
joined with the help of linking consonant [s/z], as in
Means of Composition sportsman, landsman, saleswoman,
From the point of view of the means by which bridesmaid. This small group of words is restricted
the components are joined together compound by the second component which is, as a rule, one of
words may be classified into: the three bases man-, woman-, people-. The
1) Words formed by merely placing one commonest of them is man-.
constituent after another in a definite order which
thus is indicative of both the semantic value and the Correlation between Compounds and Free
morphological unity of the compound, e.g. rain- Phrases
driven, house-dog, pot-pie (cf. dog-house, pie- The linguistic analysis of extensive language data
pot). This means of linking the components is proves that there exists a regular correlation
typical of the majority of Modern English between the system of free phrases and all types of
compounds in all parts of speech. subordinative (and additive) compounds.
As to the order of components, subordinative Correlation embraces both the structure and the
compounds are often classified as: a) asуntасtiс meaning of compound words, it underlies the entire
compound in which the order of bases runs counter system of productive present-day English
to the order in which the motivating words can be composition conditioning the derivational patterns
brought together under the rules of syntax of the and lexical types of compounds.
language. For example, in variable phrases The structural correlation manifests itself in the
adjectives cannot be modified by preceding morphological character of components, range of
adjectives and noun modifiers are not placed before bases and their order and arrangement. It is
participles or adjectives, yet this kind of asyntactic important to stress that correlative relations
arrangement is typical of compounds, e.g. red-hot, embrace only minimal, non-expanded nuclear types
bluish-black, pale-blue, rain-driven, oil-rich. of phrases.
The asyntactic order is typical of the majority of The bases brought together in compound words
Modern English compound words; b) syntactic are built only on the stems of those parts of speech
compounds whose components are placed in the that may form corresponding word-groups. The
order that resembles the order of words” in free head of the word-group becomes the head-member
phrases arranged according to the rules of syntax of of the compound, i.e. its second component. The
Modern English. The order of the components in typical structural relations expressed in word-
compounds like blue-bell, mad-doctor, blacklist groups syntactically are conveyed in compounds
(a+n) reminds one of the order and arrangement of only by the nature and order of its bases.
the corresponding words in phrases a blue bell, a Compounds of each part of speech correlate only
mad doctor, a black list (A+N), the order of with certain types of minimal variable phrases.
compounds of the type door-handle, day-time,
35
Semantically correlation manifests itself in the pleasure-tired; A+in+N, e.g. oil-rich; as A as N,
fact that the semantic relations between the e.g. grass-green.
components of a compound mirror the semantic Table 1
relations between the member-words in correlated pencil case: a case for (keeping) pencils = N1 for N2
bottle neck: the neck of the bottle = N1 of N2
word-groups. For example, compound adjectives of country-club: a club in the country = N1 in N2 (from, at)
n2 + n1
the n+Ven type, e.g. duty-bound, snow-covered, trapdoor: a door (that) is a trap = N1 is N2
are circumscribed by the instrumental relations sword-fish: a fish like a sword= N1 like N2
steamboat – a boat run by steam = N1 run/worked by N2
typical of the correlated word-groups of Ven+
by/with + N type regardless of the actual lexical Another example of the same type of correlation
meanings of the bases. Compound nouns of the
is the polysemantic n+n pattern of nominal
n+n type, e.g. story-teller, music-lover, watch- compounds which mirror a variety of semantic
maker, all mirror the agentive relations proper to
relations underlying word-groups of the N+prp+N
phrases of the N who V+N, cf. a story-teller and type, such as relations of resemblance (e.g.
one who tells stories, etc.
needle-fish), local and temporal relations (e.g.
■ Correlation should not be understood as country-house, night-flight), relations of purpose
converting an actually functioning phrase into a (e.g. search-warrant), etc. which in word-groups
compound word or the existence of an individual are conveyed by prepositions or other function
word-group in actual use as a binding condition for words. (Table 1) represents the most common and
the possibility of a compound. On the contrary there frequent types of semantic correlation between n+n
is usually only a potential possibility of conveying pattern of compounds and various patterns of
the same semantic content by both a word-group nominal word-groups.
and a compound, actually this semantic content is Compound words, due to the fact that they do
conveyed preferably either by a phrase or by a not require any explicit way to convey the semantic
compound word. relationship between their components except their
Correlation, it follows, is a regular interaction and order, are of much wider semantic range, leave
interdependence of compound words and certain more freedom for semantic interpretation and
types of free phrases which conditions both the convey meaning in a more compressed and concise
potential possibility of appearance of compound way. This makes the meaning of compounds more
words and their structure and semantic type. Thus, flexible and situationally derived.
the fact that there is a potential possibility of It follows that motivation and regularity of
individual phrases with the underlying pattern, for semantic and structural correlation with free word-
example, as A + as N in as white as snow, as groups are the basic factors favouring a high degree
red as blood presupposes a potential possibility of of productivity of composition and may be used to
compound words of the n+ a type snow-white, set rules guiding spontaneous, analogical formation
blood-red, etc. with their structure and meaning of new compound words.
relation of the components preconditioned. It It is natural that those types of compound words
happens that in this particular case compound which do not establish such regular correlations and
adjectives are more typical and preferred as a that are marked by a lack or very low degree of
language means of conveying the quality based on motivation must be regarded as unproductive as,
comparison. for example, compound nouns of the a+n type, e.
Structural and semantic correlation by no means g. bluebell, blackbird, mad-doctor.
implies identity or a one-to-one correspondence of
each individual pattern of compound “words to one Productive Types of Compound Adjectives
phrase pattern. For example the n + nv type of
compound nouns comprises different patterns, such Table 2
as [n+(v+ -er)] — rocket-flyer, shoe-maker,
Compound Adjectives
bottle-opener; [n+(v + -ing)] — rocket-flying, Free Phrases Compounds Derivational Semantic
football-playing; [n+(v+ -ion)] — price- Proper Compounds
Pattern
Relations
reduction. All these patterns differing in the 1) (a) as white snow-white — n+a relations of
as snow resemblance
individual suffix used in the final analysis correlate (b) free from care-free — n+a various
with verbal-nominal word-groups of the V+N type care; adverbial
(e.g. to fly rockets), the meaning of the active relations
2) covered with snow- — n + ven instrumental
doer (rocket-flyer) or the action (rocket-flying) is snow; covered (or agentive
conveyed by the suffixes. However the reverse relations)
3) two days (a) two-day — num + n quantitative
relationship is not uncommon, e.g. one derivational (beard) relations
pattern of compound adjectives (n+a) in words like 4) with (having) — long-legged [a + (n + possessive
oil-rich, sky-high, grass-green corresponds to a long legs -ed)] relations
variety of word-group patterns which differ in the
grammatical and semantic relationship between 3) the monosemantic num+n pattern which
member-words expressed in phrases by different gives rise to a small and peculiar group of
prepositions. Thus compound adjectives of this type adjectives, which are used only attributively, e.g.
may correspond to phrase patterns A +of + N, e.g. (a) two-day (beard), (a) seven-day (week), etc.
The type correlates with attributive phrases with a
36
numeral for their first member. polysemantic and reflects the manifold semantic
4) a highly productive monosemantic pattern of relations typical of conversion pairs.
derivational compound adjectives based on
semantic relations of possession conveyed by the Sources of Compounds
suffix -ed. The basic variant is [(a+n)+ -ed], e.g. The actual process of building compound words
low-ceilinged, long- legged. The pattern has two may take different forms: 1) Compound words as a
more variants: [(num+n) + -ed), [(n+n)+ -ed], rule are built spontaneously according to productive
e.g. one-sided, bell-shaped, doll-faced. The distributional formulas of the given period. Formulas
type correlates accordingly with phrases with productive at one time may lose their productivity
(having) + A+N, with (having) + Num + N, at another period. Thus at one time the process of
with + N + N or with + N + of + N. building verbs by compounding adverbial and verbal
The system of productive types of compound stems was productive, and numerous compound
adjectives is summarised in Table 2. verbs like, e.g. outgrow, offset, inlay (adv + v),
The three other types are classed as compound were formed. The structure ceased to be productive
nouns. Verbal-nominal and nominal represent and today practically no verbs are built in this way.
compound nouns proper and verb-adverb 2) Compounds may be the result of a gradual
derivational compound nouns. All the three types process of semantic isolation and structural fusion
are productive. of free word-groups. Such compounds as forget-
II. Verbal-nominal compounds may be described me-not — ‘a small plant with blue flowers’; bull’s-
through one derivational structure n+nv, i.e. a eye — ‘the centre of a target; a kind of hard,
combination of a noun-base (in most cases simple) globular candy’; mainland — ‘a continent’ all go
with a deverbal, suffixal noun-base. The structure back to free phrases which became semantically
includes four patterns differing in the character of and structurally isolated in the course of time. The
the deverbal noun- stem and accordingly in the words that once made up these phrases have lost,
semantic subgroups of compound nouns. All the within these particular formations, their integrity,
patterns correlate in the final analysis with V+N and the whole phrase has become isolated in form,
V+prp+N type which depends on the lexical nature specialised in meaning and thus turned into an
of the verb: inseparable unit — a word having acquired semantic
1) [n+(v+-er)], e.g. bottle-opener, stage- and morphological unity. Most of the syntactic
manager, peace-fighter. The pattern is compound nouns of the (a+n) structure, e.g.
monosemantic and is based on agentive relations bluebell, blackboard, mad-doctor, are the result
that can be interpreted ‘one/that/who does smth’. of such semantic and structural isolation of free
2) [n+(v+ -ing)], e.g. stage-managing, word-groups; to give but one more example,
rocket-flying. The pattern is monosemantic and highway was once actually a high way for it was
may be interpreted as ‘the act of doing smth’. The raised above the surrounding countryside for better
pattern has some constraints on its productivity drainage and ease of travel. Now we use highway
which largely depends on the lexical and without any idea Of the original sense of the first
etymological character of the verb. element.
3) [n+(v+-tion/ment)], e.g. office-manage-
ment, price-reduction. The pattern is a variant of
the above-mentioned pattern (No 2). It has a heavy
constraint which is embedded in the lexical and
etymological character of the verb that does not
permit collocability with the suffix -ing or deverbal
nouns.
4) [n+(v + conversion)], e.g. wage-cut, dog-
bite, hand-shake, the pattern is based on
semantic relations of result, instance, agent, etc.
III. Nominal compounds are all nouns with the
most polysemantic and highly-productive
derivational pattern n+n; both bases re generally
simple stems, e.g. windmill, horse-race, pencil-
case. The pattern conveys a variety of semantic
relations, the most frequent are the relations of
purpose, partitive, local and temporal relations. The
pattern correlates with nominal word-groups of the
N+prp+N type.
IV. Verb-adverb compounds are all derivational
nouns, highly productive and built with the help of
conversion according to the pattern l(v + adv) +
conversion]. The pattern correlates with free
phrases V + Adv and with all phrasal verbs of
different degree of stability. The pattern is
37