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Semantic Changes

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Semantic Changes
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Semantic Changes

Plan:

Page:

Foreword………………………………………………………………………………....3

Chapter I. Semantic changes. Types of Semantic changes……………………………... 4

Definition………………………………………………… ……… … ……….4

Metaphor………………………………………………………………………7

Metonymy……………………………………………………………………...9

Other types of Semantic changes…………………………………………….. 10

Chapter II. Causes of semantic change…...……………………………………… … …12

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………15

Literature…………………………………………………………………………...……16

FOREWORD

The meaning of a word can change in the course of time. Changes of lexical meanings can be proved by comparing contexts of different times.

Transfer of the meaning is called lexico-semantic word-building. In such cases the outer aspect of a word does not change.

The causes of semantic changes can be extra-linguistic and linguistic, e.g. the change of the lexical meaning of the noun «pen» was due to extra- linguistic causes. Primarily «pen» comes back to the Latin word «penna»

(a feather of a bird). As people wrote with goose pens the name was transferred to steel pens which were later on used for writing. Still later any instrument for writing was called « a pen».

On the other hand causes can be linguistic, e.g. the conflict of synonyms when a perfect synonym of a native word is borrowed from some other language one of them may specialize in its meaning, e.g. the noun

«tide» in Old English was polisemantic and denoted «time», «season»,

«hour». When the French words «time», «season», «hour» were borrowed into

English they ousted the word «tide» in these meanings. It was specialized and now means «regular rise and fall of the sea caused by attraction of the moon». The meaning of a word can also change due to ellipsis, e.g. the word-group «a train of carriages» had the meaning of «a row of carriages», later on «of carriages» was dropped and the noun «train» changed its meaning, it is used now in the function and with the meaning of the whole word-group.

Semantic changes have been classified by different scientists. The most complete classification was suggested by a German scientist Herman

Paul in his work «Prinzipien des Sprachgeschichte». It is based on the logical principle. He distiguishes two main ways where the semantic change is gradual ( specialization and generalization), two momentary conscious semantic changes (metaphor and metonymy) and also secondary ways: gradual (elevation and degradation), momentary (hyperbole and litote).

CHAPTER I. SEMANTIC CHANGES. TYPES OF SEMANTIC CHANGES.

1. Definition.

The development and change of the semantic structure of a word is always a source of qualitative and quantitative development of the vocabulary.

All the types discussed depend upon some comparison between the earlier

(whether extinct or still in use) and the new meaning of the given word.

This comparison may be based on the difference between notions expressed or referents in the real world that are pointed out, on the type of psychological association at work, on evaluation of the latter by the speaker or, possibly, on some other feature.

The order in which various types are described will follow more or less closely the diachronic classifications of M. Breal and H. Paul. No attempt at a new classification is considered necessary. There seems to be no point in augmenting the number of unsatisfactory schemes already offered in literature. The treatment is therefore traditional.

M. Breal was probably the first to emphasize the fact that in passing from general usage into some special sphere of communication a word as a rule undergoes some sort of specialisation of its meaning. The word case, for instance, alongside its general meaning of 'circumstances in which a person or a thing is' possesses special meanings: in law ('a law suit'), in grammar (e.g. the Possessive case), in medicine ('a patient', 'an illness'). Compare the following:

One of Charles's cases had been a child ill with a form of diphtheria.

(C. P. SNOW) (case = a patient).

The Solicitor whom I met at the Holfords’ sent me a case which any young man at my stage would have thought himself lucky to get. (Idem) (case

= a question decided, in a court of law, a law suit)

The general, not specialized meaning is also very frequent in present- day English. For example: At last we tiptoed up the broad slippery staircase, and went to our rooms. But in my case not to sleep, immediately at least. (Idem) (case = circumstances in which one is)

This difference is revealed in the difference of contexts in which these words occur, in their different valency. Words connected with illnesses and medicine in the first example, and words connected with law and court procedures in the second, form the semantic paradigm of the word case.

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