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Forum » Test category » English language forum » English Lexicology (Г.Б. Антрушина, О.В, Афанасьева, Н.Н. Морозова)
English Lexicology
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E.g.

to bow [bau], v. bow [bqu], п.

to incline the head or body in salutation a flexible strip of wood for propelling arrows



to lead [li:d],v.— to conduct on the way, go before to show the way - a heavy, rather soft metal
lead [led], n. to tear [teq], v.
tear [tie], n.

to pull apart or in pieces by force
a drop of the fluid secreted by the lacrinial glands of the eye

Sources of Homonyms
One source of homonyms has already been mentioned: phonetic changes which words undergo in the course of their historical devel-opment. As a result of such changes, two or more words which were formerly pronounced differently may develop identical sound forms and thus become homonyms.
Night and knight, for instance, were not homonyms in Old English as the initial k in the second word was pronounced, and not dropped as it is in its modern sound form: О.Е. kniht (cf. О.Е. niht). A more complicated change of form brought together another pair of homonyms: to knead (О.Е. cnēdan) and to need (О.Е. nēodian).
In Old English the verb to write had the form writan, and the ad-jective right had the forms reht, riht. The noun sea descends from the Old English form sæ, and the verb to see from О. Е. sēon. The noun work and the verb to work also had different forms in Old English: wyrkean and weork respectively.
Borrowing is another source of homonyms. A borrowed word may, in the final stage of its phonetic
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adaptation, duplicate in form either a native word or another borrow-ing. So, in the group of homonyms rite, n. — to write, v. — right, adj. the second and third words are of native origin whereas rite is a Latin borrowing (< Lat. ritus). In the pair piece, n. — peace, п., the first originates from O.F. pais, and the second from O.F. (< Gaulish) pet-tia. Bank, n. ("shore") is a native word, and bank, n. ("a financial in-stitution") is an Italian borrowing. Fair, adj. (as in a fair deal, it's not fair) is native, and fair, n. ("a gathering of buyers and sellers") is a French borrowing. Match, n. ("a game; a contest of skill, strength") is native, and match, n. ("a slender short piece of wood used for produc-ing fire") is a French borrowing.
Word-building also contributes significantly to the growth of ho-monymy, and the most important type in this respect is undoubtedly conversion. Such pairs of words as comb, n. — to comb, v., pale, adj. — to pale, v., to make, v. — make, n. are numerous in the vocabulary. Homonyms of this type, which are the same in sound and spelling but refer to different categories of parts of speech, are called lexico-grammatical homonyms. [12]
Shortening is a further type of word-building which increases the number of homonyms. E.g. fan, n. in the sense of "an enthusiastic admirer of some kind of sport or of an actor, singer, etc." is a shorten-ing produced from fanatic. Its homonym is a Latin borrowing fan, n. which denotes an implement for waving lightly to produce a cool current of air. The noun rep, n. denoting a kind of fabric (cf. with the R. репс) has three homonyms made by shortening: rep, n. (< reperto-ry), rep, n. (< representative), rep, n. (< reputation)', all the three are informal words.
During World War II girls serving in the Women's Royal Naval Service (an auxiliary of the British Royal Navy) were jokingly nick-named Wrens (informal). This
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neologistic formation made by shortening has the homonym wren, n. "a small bird with dark brown plumage barred with black" (R. кра-пивник).
Words made by sound-imitation can also form pairs of homonyms with other words: e. g. bang, n. ("a loud, sudden, explosive noise") — bang, n. ("a fringe of hair combed over the forehead"). Also: mew, n. ("the sound a cat makes") — mew, n. ("a sea gull") — mew, n. ("a pen in which poultry is fattened") — mews ("small terraced houses in Central London").
The above-described sources of homonyms have one important feature in common. In all the mentioned cases the homonyms devel-oped from two or more different words, and their similarity is purely accidental. (In this respect, conversion certainly presents an exception for in pairs of homonyms formed by conversion one word of the pair is produced from the other: a find < to find.)
Now we come to a further source of homonyms which differs es-sentially from all the above cases. Two or more homonyms can origi-nate from different meanings of the same word when, for some rea-son, the semantic structure of the word breaks into several parts. This type of formation of homonyms is called split polysemy.
From what has been said in the previous chapters about polyse-mantic words, it should have become clear that the semantic structure of a polysemantic word presents a system within which all its constituent meanings are held together by logical associations. In most cases, the function of the arrangement and the unity is determined by one of the meanings (e. g. the meaning "flame" in the noun fire — see Ch. 7, p. 133). If this meaning happens to disappear from the word's semantic structure, associations between the rest of the meanings may be severed, the semantic structure loses its unity and falls into two or more parts which then become accepted as independent lexical units.
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Let us consider the history of three homonyms:
board, n. — a long and thin piece of timber
board, n. — daily meals, esp. as provided for pay,
e. g. room and board board, n. — an official group of persons who direct
or supervise some activity, e. g. a board
of directors
It is clear that the meanings of these three words are in no way as-sociated with one another. Yet, most larger dictionaries still enter a meaning of board that once held together all these other meanings "table". It developed from the meaning "a piece of timber" by trans-ference based on contiguity (association of an object and the material from which it is made). The meanings "meals" and "an official group of persons" developed from the meaning "table", also by transference based on contiguity: meals are easily associated with a table on which they are served; an official group of people in authority are also likely to discuss their business round a table.
Nowadays, however, the item of furniture, on which meals are served and round which boards of directors meet, is no longer denot-ed by the word board but by the French Norman borrowing table, and board in this meaning, though still registered by some dictionar-ies, can very well be marked as archaic as it is no longer used in common speech. That is why, with the intrusion of the borrowed ta-ble, the word board actually lost its corresponding meaning. But it was just that meaning which served as a link to hold together the rest of the constituent parts of the word's semantic structure. With its di-minished role as an element of communication, its role in the semantic structure was also weakened. The speakers almost forgot that board had ever been associated with any item of furniture, nor could they associate the concepts of meals or of a responsible
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committee with a long thin piece of timber (which is the oldest mean-ing of board). Consequently, the semantic structure of board was split into three units. The following scheme illustrates the process:
Board, n. (development of meanings)

A long, thin piece of timber > A piece of furniture —> Meals provided for pay



An official group of persons
Board I, II, III, n. (split

polysemy)
I. A long, thin piece of timber A piece of furniture II. Meals provided for pay


Seldom used; ousted III. by the French borrowing table. An official group of persons
A somewhat different case of split polysemy may be illustrated by the three following homonyms:
spring, n. — the act of springing, a leap spring, n. — a place where a stream of water comes up out of the earth (R. родник, источник) spring, n. — a season of the year.
Historically all three nouns originate from the same verb with the meaning of "to jump, to leap" (О. Е. sprin-gan), so that the meaning of the first homonym is the oldest. The meanings of the second and third homonyms were originally based on metaphor. At the head of a stream the water sometimes leaps up out of the earth, so that meta-phorically such a place could well be described as a leap. On the oth-er hand, the season of the year following winter could be poetically defined as a
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leap from the darkness and cold into sunlight and life. Such meta-phors are typical enough of Old English and Middle English semantic transferences but not so characteristic of modern mental and linguistic processes. The poetic associations that lay in the basis of the semantic shifts described above have long since been forgotten, and an attempt to re-establish the lost links may well seem far-fetched. It is just the near-impossibility of establishing such links that seems to support the claim for homonymy and not for polysemy with these three words.
It should be stressed, however, that split polysemy as a source of homonyms is not accepted by some scholars. It is really difficult sometimes to decide whether a certain word has or has not been sub-jected to the split of the semantic structure and whether we are deal-ing with different meanings of the same word or with homonyms, for the criteria are subjective and imprecise. The imprecision is recorded in the data of different dictionaries which often contradict each other on this very issue, so that board is represented as two homonyms in Professor V. K. Muller's dictionary [41], as three homonyms in Pro-fessor V. D. Arakin's [36] and as one and the same word in Hornby's dictionary [45].
Spring also receives different treatment. V. K. Muller's and Horn-by's dictionaries acknowledge but two homonyms: I. a season of the year, П. a) the act of springing, a leap, b) a place where a stream of water comes up out of the earth; and some other meanings, whereas V. D. Arakin's dictionary presents the three homonyms as given above.
Classification of Homonyms
The subdivision of homonyms into homonyms proper, homo-phones and homographs is certainly not precise enough and does not reflect certain important features of these words, and, most important of all, their status
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as parts of speech. The examples given in the beginning of this chap-ter show that homonyms may belong both to the same and to different categories of parts of speech. Obviously, a classification of homonyms should reflect this distinctive feature. Also, the paradigm of each word should be considered, because it has been observed that the paradigms of some homonyms coincide completely, and of others only partially.
Accordingly, Professor A. I. Smirnitsky classified homonyms into two large classes: I. full homonyms, II. partial homonyms [15].
Full lexical homonyms are words which represent the same cate-gory of parts of speech and have the same paradigm.
E. g. / match, n. — a game, a contest
I match, n. — a short piece of wood used for
I producing fire
wren, n. — a member of the Women's Royal Naval Service wren, n. — a bird
Partial homonyms are subdivided into three subgroups:
A. Simple lexico-grammatical partial homonyms are words which belong to the same category of parts of speech. Their paradigms have one identical form, but it is never the same form, as will be seen from the examples.
E. g. / (to) found, v.
\ found, v. (Past Indef., Past Part. of to ( find)
/ to lay, v.
I lay, v. (Past Indef. of to lie)
[ to bound, v.
I bound, v. (Past Indef., Past Part, of to
( bind)
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B. Complex lexico-grammatical partial homonyms
are words of different categories of parts of speech
which have one identical form in their paradigms.
E. g. f rose, n.
rose, v. (Past Indef. of to rise)
maid, n.
made, v. (Past Indef., Past Part, of to make)
left, adj.
left, v. (Past Indef., Past Part, of to leave)
bean, n.
been, v. (Past Part, of to be)
one, num.
won, v. (Past Indef., Past Part, of to win)
C. Partial lexical homonyms are words of the same
category of parts of speech which are identical only in
their corresponding forms.
E. g. \ to lie (lay, lain), v. to lie (lied, lied), v.
to hang (hung, hung), v.
to hang (hanged, hanged), v.
to can (canned, canned) (I) can (could)
Exercises
I. Consider your answers to the following.
1. Which words do we call homonyms?
2. Why can't homonyms be regarded as expressive
means of the language?
3. What is the traditional classification of homo
nyms? Illustrate your answer with examples.
4. What are the distinctive features of the classifica
tion of homonyms suggested by Professor
A. I. Smirnitsky?
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CHAPTER 10
Synonyms:
Are Their Meanings the Same or Different?
Synonymy is one of modern linguistics' most controversial prob-lems. The very existence of words traditionally called synonyms is disputed by some linguists; the nature and essence of the relationships of these words is hotly debated and treated in quite different ways by the representatives of different linguistic schools.
Even though one may accept that synonyms in the traditional meaning of the term are somewhat elusive and, to some extent, ficti-tious it is certain that there are words in any vocabulary which clearly develop regular and distinct relationships when used in speech.
In the following extract, in which a young woman rejects a pro-posal of marriage, the verbs like, admire and love, all describe feel-ings of attraction, approbation, fondness:
"I have always liked you very much, I admire your talent, but, forgive me, — I could never love you as a wife should love her husband."
(From The Shivering Sands by V. Holt)
Yet, each of the three verbs, though they all describe more or less the same feeling of liking, describes it in its own way: "I like you, i. e. I have certain warm feelings towards you, but they are not strong enough
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for me to describe them as "love"," — so that like and love are in a way opposed to each other.
The duality of synonyms is, probably, their most
confusing feature: they are somewhat the same,
and yet they are most obviously different. Both as
pects of their dual characteristics are essential for
them to perform their function in speech: revealing
different aspects, shades and variations of the same
phenomenon.
"— Was she a pretty girl?
— I would certainly have called her attractive."
(Ibid.)
The second speaker in this short dialogue does his best to choose the word which would describe the girl most precisely: she was good-looking, but pretty is probably too good a word for her, so that attractive is again in a way opposed to pretty (not pretty, only attrac-tive), but this opposition is, at the same time, firmly fixed on the sameness of pretty and attractive: essentially they both describe a pleasant appearance.
Here are some more extracts which confirm that synonyms add precision to each detail of description and show how the correct choice of a word from a group of synonyms may colour the whole text.
The first extract depicts a domestic quarrel. The infuriated hus-band shouts and glares at his wife, but "his glare suddenly softened into a gaze as he turned his eyes on the little girl" (i. e. he had been looking furiously at his wife, but when he turned his eyes on the child, he looked at her with tenderness).
The second extract depicts a young father taking his child for a Sunday walk.
"Neighbours were apt to smile at the long-legged bare-headed young man leisurely strolling along the
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street and his small companion demurely trotting by his side."
(From Some Men and Women by B. Lowndes)
The synonyms stroll and trot vividly describe two different styles of walking, the long slow paces of the young man and the gait be-tween a walk and a run of the short-legged child.
In the following extract an irritated producer is talking to an ambitious young actor:
"Think you can play Romeo? Romeo should smile, not grin, walk, not swagger, speak his lines, not mumble them."
(Ibid.)
Here the second synonym in each pair is quite obviously and in-tentionally contrasted and opposed to the first: "... smile, not grin." Yet, to grin means more or less the same as to smile, only, perhaps, denoting a broader and a rather foolish smile. In the same way to swagger means "to walk", but to walk in a defiant or insolent manner. Mumbling is also a way of speaking, but of speaking indistinctly or unintelligibly.
Synonyms are one of the language's most important expressive means. The above examples convincingly demonstrate that the prin-cipal function of synonyms is to represent the same phenomenon in different aspects, shades and variations.
And here is an example of how a great writer may use synonyms for stylistic purposes. In this extract from Death of a Hero R. Alding-ton describes a group of survivors painfully retreating after a defeat in battle:
"... The Frontshires [name of battalion] staggered rather than walked down the bumpy trench ... About fifty men, the flotsam of the wrecked battalion,
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stumbled past them .... They shambled heavily along, not keeping step or attempting to, bent wearily forward under the weight of their equipment, their unseeing eyes turned to the muddy ground."
In this extract the verb to walk is used with its three synonyms, each of which describes the process of walking in its own way. In contrast to walk the other three words do not merely convey the bare idea of going on foot but connote the manner of walking as well. Stagger means "to sway while walking" and, also, implies a consider-able, sometimes painful, effort. Stumble, means "to walk tripping over uneven ground and nearly falling." Shamble implies dragging one's feet while walking; a physical effort is also connoted by the word.
The use of all these synonyms in the extract creates a vivid picture of exhausted, broken men marching from the battle-field and enhances the general atmosphere of defeat and hopelessness.
A carefully chosen word from a group of synonyms is a great as-set not only on the printed page but also in a speaker's utterance. It was Mark Twain who said that the difference between the right word and just the right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning-bug.
The skill to choose the most suitable word in every context and every situation is an essential part of the language learning process. Students should be taught both to discern the various connotations in the meanings of synonyms and to choose the word appropriate to each context.
Criteria of Synonymy
Synonymy is associated with some theoretical problems which at present are still an object of controversy. Probably, the most contro-versial among these is
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the problem of criteria of synonymy. To put it in simpler words, we are still not certain which words should correctly be considered as synonyms, nor are we agreed as to the characteristic features which qualify two or more words as synonyms.
Traditional linguistics solved this problem with the conceptual criterion and defined synonyms as words of the same category of parts of speech conveying the same concept but differing either in shades of meaning or in stylistic characteristics.
Some aspects of this definition have been criticised. It has been pointed out that linguistic phenomena should be defined in linguistic terms and that the use of the term concept makes this an extralinguistic definition. The term "shades of meaning" has been condemned for its vagueness and lack of precision.
In contemporary research on synonymy semantic criterion is fre-quently used. In terms of componential analysis synonyms may be defined as words with the same denotation, or the same denotative component, but differing in connotations, or in connotative compo-nents (see Ch. 7).
Though not beyond criticism, this approach has its advantages and suggests certain new methods of analysing synonyms.
A group of synonyms may be studied with the help of their dic-tionary definitions (definitional analysis). In this work the data from various dictionaries are analysed comparatively. After that the definitions are subjected to transformational operations (transformational analysis). In this way, the semantic components of each analysed word are singled out.
Here are the results of the definitional and transformational analysis of some of the numerous synonyms for the verb to look.
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]
to stare: to glare: to gaze: to glance: to peer:
to peer: Denota-tion Connotations

to look + + + +
+ + steadily, lastingly + + +
+
+ in surprise, cu-riosity, etc.





to look
steadily, lastingly
in anger, rage, fury





to look
steadily, lastingly
in tenderness, admi-ration, wonder





to look
briefly, in passing






to look
steadily, lastingly
by stealth; through an opening or from a concealed location





to look
steadily, lastingly
with difficulty or strain
The common denotation convincingly shows that, according to the semantic criterion, the words grouped in the above table are syno-nyms. The connotative components represented on the right side of the table highlight their differentiations.
In modern research on synonyms the criterion of interchangea-bility is sometimes applied. According to this, synonyms are defined as words which are interchangeable at least in some contexts without any considerable alteration in denotational meaning. [4]
This criterion of interchangeability has been much criticised. Eve-ry or almost every attempt to apply it to this or that group of syno-nyms seems to lead one to the inevitable conclusion that either there are very few synonyms or, else, that they are not interchangeable.
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It is sufficient to choose any set of synonyms placing them in a sim-ple context to demonstrate the point. Let us take, for example, the synonyms from the above table.
Cf.: He glared at her (i. e. He looked at her angrily). He gazed at her (i. e. He looked at her steadily and attentively; probably with admiration or interest).
He glanced at her (i. e. He looked at her briefly and turned away).
He peered at her (i. e. He tried to see her better, but some-thing prevented: darkness, fog, weak eyesight).
These few simple examples are sufficient to show that each of the synonyms creates an entirely new situation which so sharply differs from the rest that any attempt at "interchanging" anything can only destroy the utterance devoiding it of any sense at all.
If you turn back to the extracts on p. 184—187, the very idea of interchangeability will appear even more incredible. Used in this way, in a related context, all these words (/ like you, but I cannot love you; the young man was strolling, and his child was trotting by his side; Romeo should smile, not grin, etc.) clearly demonstrate that substitution of one word for another is impossible: it is not simply the context that firmly binds them in their proper places, but the peculiar individual connotative structure of each individual word.
Consequently, it is difficult to accept interchange-ability as a cri-terion of synonymy because the specific characteristic of synonyms, and the one justifying their very existence, is that they are not, cannot and should not be interchangeable, in which case they would simply become useless ballast in the vocabulary.
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Synonyms are frequently said to be the vocabulary's colours, tints and hues (so the term shade is not so inadequate, after all, for those who can understand a metaphor). Attempts at ascribing to synonyms the quality of interchangeability are equal to stating that subtle tints in a painting can be exchanged without destroying the picture's effect.
All this does not mean that no synonyms are interchangeable. One can find whole groups of words with half-erased connotations which can readily be substituted one for another. The same girl can be described as pretty, good-looking, handsome or beautiful. Yet, even these words are far from being totally interchangeable. Each of them creates its own picture of human beauty. Here is an extract in which a young girl addresses an old woman:
"I wouldn't say you'd been exactly pretty as a girl — hand-some is what I'd say. You've got such strong features."
(From The Stone Angel by M. Lawrence)
So, handsome is not pretty and pretty is not necessarily hand-some. Perhaps they are not even synonyms? But they are. Both, the criterion of common denotation ("good-looking, of pleasing appear-ance") and even the dubious criterion of inter-changeability seem to indicate that.
In conclusion, let us stress that even if there are some synonyms which are interchangeable, it is quite certain that there are also others which are not. A criterion, if it is a criterion at all, should be applicable to all synonyms and not just to some of them. Otherwise it is not acceptable as a valid criterion.
Types of Synonyms
The only existing classification system for synonyms was estab-lished by Academician V. V. Vinogradov,
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the famous Russian scholar. In his classification system there are three types of synonyms: ideographic (which he defined as words conveying the same concept but differing in shades of meaning), sty-listic (differing in stylistic characteristics) and absolute (coinciding in all their shades of meaning and in all their stylistic characteristics) [8].
However, the following aspects of his classification system are open to question.
Firstly, absolute synonyms are rare in the vocabulary and, on the diachronic level, the phenomenon of absolute synonymy is anoma-lous and consequently temporary: the vocabulary system invariably tends to abolish it either by rejecting one of the absolute synonyms or by developing differentiation characteristics in one or both (or all) of them. Therefore, it does not seem necessary to include absolute syno-nyms, which are a temporary exception, in the system of classifica-tion.
The vagueness of the term "shades of meaning" has already been mentioned. Furthermore there seems to be no rigid demarcation line between synonyms differing in their shades of meaning and in stylis-tic characteristics, as will be shown later on. There are numerous syn-onyms which are distinguished by both shades of meaning and stylis-tic colouring. Therefore, even the subdivision of synonyms into ideo-graphic and stylistic is open to question.
A more modern and a more effective approach to the classifica-tion of synonyms may be based on the definition describing syno-nyms as words differing in connotations. It seems convenient to clas-sify connotations by which synonyms differ rather than synonyms themselves. It opens up possibilities for tracing much subtler distinc-tive features within their semantic structures.
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Types of Connotations
I. The connotation of degree or intensity can be traced in such groups of synonyms as to surprise — to astonish — to amaze — to astound;1 to satisfy — to please — to content — to gratify — to de-light — to exalt; to shout — to yell — to bellow — to roar; to like — to admire — to love — to adore — to worship.
As the table on p. 189 shows, some words have two and even more connotative components in their semantic structures. In the above list the synonymic groups headed by to satisfy and to like contain words which can be differentiated not only by the connotation of intensity but by other types which will be described later.
П. In the group of synonyms to stare — to glare — to gaze — to glance — to peep — to peer, all the synonyms except to glance de-note a lasting act of looking at somebody or something, whereas to glance describes a brief, passing look. These synonyms may be said to have a connotation of duration in their semantic structure.
Other examples are: to flash (brief) — to blaze (lasting); to shud-der (brief) — to shiver (lasting); to say (brief) — to speak, to talk (lasting).
All these synonyms have other connotations besides that of dura-tion.
III. The synonyms to stare — to glare — to gaze are differentiat-ed from the other words of the group by emotive connotations, and from each other by the nature of the emotion they imply (see the table on p. 189).
In the group alone — single — lonely — solitary, the adjective lonely also has an emotive connotation.
1 Groups of synonyms here and further on in the text are given selectively.
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She was alone implies simply the absence of company, she was lone-ly stresses the feeling of melancholy and desolation resulting from being alone. A single tree on the plain states plainly that there is (was) only one tree, not two or more. A lonely tree on the plain gives essentially the same information, that there was one tree and no more, but also creates an emotionally coloured picture.
In the group to tremble — to shiver — to shudder — to shake, the verb to shudder is frequently associated with the emotion of fear, horror or disgust, etc. (e. g. to shudder with horror) and therefore can be said to have an emotive connotation in addition to the two others (see the scheme in Ch. 7, p. 136).
One should be warned against confusing words with emotive con-notations and words with emotive denotative meanings, e. g. to love — to admire — to adore — to worship; angry — furious — en-raged; fear — terror — horror. In the latter, emotion is expressed by the leading semantic component whereas in the former it is an ac-companying, subsidiary characteristic.
IV. The evaluative connotation conveys the speaker's attitude to-wards the referent, labelling it as good or bad. So in the group well-known — famous — notorious — celebrated, the adjective notorious bears a negative evaluative connotation and celebrated a positive one. Cf.: a notorious murderer, robber, swindler, coward, lady-killer, flirt, but a celebrated scholar, artist, singer, man-of-letters.
In the group to produce — to create — to manufacture — to fab-ricate, the verb to create characterises the process as inspired and noble. To manufacture means "to produce in a mechanical way with-out inspiration or originality". So, to create can be said to have a pos-itive evaluative connotation, and to manufacture a negative one.
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The verbs to sparkle and to glitter are close synonyms and might well be favoured by supporters of the interchangeability criterion. Yet, it would be interesting to compare the following sets of exam-ples:
A. His (her) eyes sparkled with amusement, merriment, good hu-mour, high spirits, happiness, etc. (positive emotions).
B. His (her) eyes glittered with anger, rage, hatred,
malice, etc. (negative emotions).
The combinability of both verbs shows that, at least, when they are used to describe the expression of human eyes, they have both emotive and evaluative connotations, and, also, one further characteristic, which is described in the next paragraph.
V. The causative connotation can be illustrated by the examples to sparkle and to glitter given above: one's eyes sparkle with positive emotions and glitter with negative emotions. However, this connota-tion of to sparkle and to glitter seems to appear only in the model "Eyes + Sparkle/Glitter".
The causative connotation is also typical of the verbs we have al-ready mentioned, to shiver and to shudder, in whose semantic struc-tures the cause of the act or process of trembling is encoded: to shiver with cold, from a chill, because of the frost; to shudder with fear, horror, etc.
To blush and to redden represent similar cases: people mostly blush from modesty, shame or embarrassment, but usually redden from anger or indignation. Emotive connotation can easily be traced in both these verbs.
VI. The connotation of manner can be singled out in some groups of verbal synonyms. The verbs to stroll — to stride — to trot — to pace — to swagger — to stagger — to stumble all denote different ways and
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types of walking, encoding in their semantic structures the length of pace, tempo, gait and carriage, purposefulness or lack of purpose (see, for instance, the quotations on p. 184—187).
. The verbs to peep and to peer also have this connotation in their semantic structures: to peep = to look at smb./smth. furtively, by stealth; to peer = to look at smb./smth. with difficulty or strain.
The verbs to like — to admire — to love — to adore — to wor-ship, as has been mentioned, are differentiated not only by the connotation of intensity, but also by the connotation of manner. Each of them describes a feeling of a different type, and not only of different intensity.
VII. The verbs to peep and to peer have already been mentioned. They are differentiated by connotations of duration and manner. But there is some other curious peculiarity in their semantic structures. Let us consider their typical contexts.
One peeps at smb./smth. through a hole, crack or opening, from behind a screen, a half-closed door, a newspaper, a fan, a curtain, etc. It seems as if a whole set of scenery were built within the word's meaning. Of course, it is not quite so, because "the set of scenery" is actually built in the context, but, as with all regular contexts, it is in-timately reflected in the word's semantic structure. We shall call this the connotation of attendant circumstances.
This connotation is also characteristic of to peer which will be clear from the following typical contexts of the verb.
One peers at smb./smth. in darkness, through the fog, through dimmed glasses or windows, from a great distance; a short-sighted person may also peer at things. So, in the semantic structure of to peer are encoded circumstances preventing one from seeing clearly.
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VIII. The synonyms pretty, handsome, beautiful have been mentioned as the ones which are more or less interchangeable. Yet, each of them describes a special type of human beauty: beautiful is mostly associated with classical features and a perfect figure, handsome with a tall stature, a certain robustness and fine pro portions, pretty with small delicate features and a fresh complexion. This connotation may be defined as the connotation of attendant features.
IX. Stylistic connotations stand somewhat apart for two reasons. Firstly, some scholars do not regard the word's stylistic characteristic as a connotative component of its semantic structure. Secondly, stylistic connotations are subject to further classification, namely: colloquial, slang, dialect, learned, poetic, terminological, archaic. Here again we are dealing with stylistically marked words (see Ch. 1, 2), but this time we approach the feature of stylistic characteristics from a different angle: from the point of view of synonyms frequent differentiation characteristics.
Here are some examples of synonyms which are differentiated by stylistic connotations (see also Ch. 2). The word in brackets starting each group shows the denotation of the synonyms.
(Meal). Snack, bite (coll.), snap (dial.), repast, refreshment, feast (formal).
These synonyms, besides stylistic connotations, have connota-tions of attendant features.
Snack, bite, snap all denote a frugal meal taken in a hurry; re-freshment is also a light meal; feast is a rich or abundant meal.
(Girl). Girlie (coll.), lass, lassie (dial.), bird, birdie, jane, fluff, skirt (sl.), maiden (poet.), damsel (arch.).
(To leave). To be off, to clear out (coll.), to beat it, to hoof it, to take the air (sl.), to depart, to retire, to withdraw (formal).
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5. A man entered the bar and called for "a Martinus". The barman observed as he picked up a glass, "You mean Martini, sir!" "No, indeed I don't," the man replied. "I was taught Latin properly and I only want
one."
6. A foreigner was relating his experience in studying the English language. He said: "When I first discovered that if I was quick I was fast; that if I was tied I was
fast; and that not to eat was fast, I was discouraged. But when I came across the sentence, 'The first one wonone-dollar prize' I gave up trying."
7. J a n e: Would you be insulted if that good-looking stranger offered you some champagne?
Joan: Yes, but I'd probably swallow the insult.
 
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CHAPTER 1 1
Synonyms (continued). Euphemisms. Anto-nyms
The Dominant Synonym
The attentive reader will have noticed that in the previous chapter much use was made of the numerous synonyms of the verb to look, and yet, the verb to look itself was never mentioned. That doesn't seem fair because it is, certainly, a verb which possesses the highest frequency of use compared with its synonyms, and so plays an im-portant role in communication. Its role and position in relation to its synonyms is also of some importance as it presents a kind of centre of the group of synonyms, as it were, holding it together.
Its semantic structure is quite simple: it consists only of denota-tive component and it has no connotations.
All (or, at least, most) synonymic groups have a "central" word of this kind whose meaning is equal to the denotation common to all the synonymic group. This word is called the dominant synonym.
Here are examples of other dominant synonyms with their groups:
To surprise — to astonish — to amaze — to astound.
To shout — to yell — to bellow — to roar.
To shine — to flash — to blaze — to gleam — to glisten — to sparkle — to glitter — to shimmer — to glimmer.
To tremble — to shiver — to shudder — to shake.
To make — to produce — to create — to fabricate — to man-ufacture.
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Angry — furious — enraged. Fear — terror — horror.
The dominant synonym expresses the notion common to all synonyms of the group in the most general way, without contributing any additional information as to the manner, intensity, duration or any attending feature of the referent. So, any dominant synonym is a typical basic-vocabulary word (see Ch. 2). Its meaning, which is broad and generalised, more or less "covers" the meanings of the rest of the synonyms, so that it may be substituted for any of them. It seems that here, at last, the idea of interchangeability of synonyms comes into its own. And yet, each such substitution would mean an irreparable loss of the additional information supplied by connotative components of each synonym. So, using to look instead of to glare, to stare, to peep, to peer we preserve the general sense of the utterance but lose a great deal in precision, expressiveness and colour.
Summing up what has been said, the following characteristic fea-tures of the dominant synonym can be underlined:
I. High frequency of usage.
II. Broad combinability, i. e. ability to be used in combinations with various classes of words.
III. Broad general meaning.
IV. Lack of connotations. (This goes for stylistic con
notations as well, so that neutrality as to style is
also a typical feature of the dominant synonym.)
Euphemisms
There are words in every language which people instinctively avoid because they are considered indecent, indelicate, rude, too di-rect or impolite. As the "offensive" referents, for which these words stand, must still be alluded to, they are often described in a round-about
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way, by using substitutes called euphemisms. This device is dictated by social conventions which are sometimes apt to be over-sensitive, see "indecency" where there is none and seek refinement in absurd avoidances and pretentiousness.
The word lavatory has, naturally, produced many euphemisms. Here are some of them: powder room, washroom, restroom, retiring room, (public) comfort station, ladies' (room), gentlemen's (room), water-closet, w.c. ([d0blju:'si:]), public conveniences and even Wind-sor castle (which is a comical phrase for "deciphering" w.c.).
Pregnancy is another topic for "delicate" references. Here are some of the euphemisms used as substitutes for the adjective preg-nant: in an interesting condition, in a delicate condition, in the family way, with a baby coming, (big) with child, expecting.
The apparently innocent word trousers, not so long ago, had a great number of euphemistic equivalents, some of them quite funny: unmentionables, inexpressibles, indescribables, unwhisperables, you-mustn't-men-tion 'ems, sit-upons. Nowadays, however, nobody seems to regard this word as "indecent" any more, and so its euphemistic substitutes are no longer in use.
A landlady who refers to her lodgers as paying guests is also using a euphemism, aiming at half-concealing the embarrassing fact that she lets rooms.
The love of affectation, which displays itself in the excessive use of euphemisms, has never been a sign of good taste or genuine re-finement. Quite the opposite. Fiction writers have often ridiculed pre-tentious people for their weak attempts to express themselves in a delicate and refined way.
"... Mrs. Sunbury never went to bed, she retired, but Mr. Sun-bury who was not quite so refined as his wife always said: "Me for Bedford" ..."
(From The Kite by W. S. Maugham) 211

To retire in this ironical passage is a euphemistic substitute for to go to bed.
Another lady, in Rain by the same author, easily surpasses Mrs. Sunbury in the delicacy of her speech. She says that there are so many mosquitoes on the island where the story is set that at the Gov-ernor's parties "all the ladies are given a pillow-slip to put their — their lower extremities in."
The speaker considers the word legs to be "indelicate" and substi-tutes for it its formal synonym lower extremities (cf. with the R. нижние конечности). The substitution makes her speech pretentious and ridiculous.
Eating is also regarded as unrefined by some minds. Hence such substitutes as to partake of food (of refreshment), to refresh oneself, to break bread.
There are words which are easy targets for euphemistic substitu-tion. These include words associated with drunkenness, which are very numerous.
The adjective drunk, for instance, has a great number of such substitutes, some of them "delicate", but most comical. E. g. intoxicated (form.), under the influence (form.), tipsy, mellow, fresh, high, merry, flustered, overcome, full (coll.), drunk as a lord (coll.), drunk as an owl (coll.), boiled (sl.), fried (sl.), tanked (sl.), tight (sl.), stiff (sl.), pickled (sl.), soaked (sl.), three sheets to the wind (sl.), high as a kite (sl.), half-seas-over (sl.), etc.
The following brief quotation from P.G. Wodehouse gives two more examples of words belonging to the same group:
"Motty was under the surface. Completely sozzled."
(From Pight-Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse)
In the following extracts from P. G. Wodehouse we find slang substitutes for two other "unpleasant" words: prison and to imprison.
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"Oh, no, he isn't ill," I said, "and as regards accidents, it de-pends on what you call an accident. He's in chokey."
"In what?"
"In prison."
"... And now Mr. Sipperley is in the jug... He couldn't come himself, because he was jugged for biffing a cop on Boat-Race Night."
(Ibid.)
Euphemisms may, of course, be used due to genuine concern not to hurt someone's feelings. For instance, a liar can be described as a person who does not always strictly tell the truth and a stupid man can be said to be not exactly brilliant.
All the euphemisms that have been described so far are used to avoid the so-called social taboos. Their use, as has already been said, is inspired by social convention.
Superstitious taboos gave rise to the use of other type of euphe-misms. The reluctance to call things by their proper names is also typical of this type of euphemisms, but this time it is based on a deeply-rooted subconscious fear.
Superstitious taboos have their roots in the distant past of man-kind when people believed that there was a supernatural link between a name and the object or creature it represented. Therefore, all the words denoting evil spirits, dangerous animals, or the powers of na-ture were taboo. If uttered, it was believed that unspeakable disasters would result not only for the speaker but also for those near him. That is why all creatures, objects and phenomena threatening danger were referred to in a round-about descriptive way. So, a dangerous animal might be described as the one-lurking-in-the-wood and a mortal disease as the black death. Euphemisms are probably the oldest type of synonyms, for
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it is reasonable to assume that superstitions which caused real fear called for the creation of euphemisms long before the need to de-scribe things in their various aspects or subtle shades caused the ap-pearance of other synonyms.
The Christian religion also made certain words taboo. The proverb Speak of the devil and he will appear must have been used and taken quite literally when it was first used, and the fear of calling the devil by name was certainly inherited from ancient superstitious beliefs. So, the word devil became taboo, and a number of euphemisms were substitutes for it: the Prince of Darkness, the black one, the evil one, dickens (coll.), deuce (coll.), (Old) Nick (coll.).
The word God, due to other considerations, also had a great num-ber of substitutes which can still be traced in such phrases as Good Lord!, By Heavens/, Good Heavens!, (My) goodness!, (My) goodness gracious!, Gracious me!
Even in our modern emancipated times, old superstitious fears still lurk behind words associated with death and fatal diseases. People are not superstitious nowadays and yet they are surprisingly reluctant to use the verb to die which has a long chain of both solemn and humorous substitutes. E. g. to pass away, to be taken, to breathe one's last, to depart this life, to close one's eyes, to yield (give) up the ghost, to go the way of all flesh, to go West (sl.), to kick off (sl.), to check out (sl.), to kick the bucket (sl.), to take a ride (sl.), to hop the twig (sl.), to join the majority (sl.).
The slang substitutes seem to lack any proper respect, but the joke is a sort of cover for the same old fear: speak of death and who knows what may happen.
Mental diseases also cause the frequent use of euphemisms.
A mad person may be described as insane, mentally unstable, un-balanced, unhinged, not (quite) right
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