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Homonyms in English and Their Specific Features

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The tasks and purposes of the work
The theme of my course work sounds as following: “Homonyms in English and their Specific Features”. This course work can be characterized by the following: The actuality of this work caused by several important points. We seem to say that the appearance of new, homonymic meanings is one of the main trends in development of Modern English, especially in its colloquial layer, which, in its turn at high degree is supported by development of modern informational technologies and simplification of alive speech. So the significance of our work can be proved by the following reasons:

a) Studying of homonyms of words is one of the developing branches of lexicology nowadays. b) Homonyms reflect the general trend of simplification of a language. c) Homonymic meanings of words are closely connected with the development of modern informational technologies. d) Being a developing branch of linguistics it requires a special attention of teachers to be adequated to their specialization in English. e) The investigation of homonyms and their differentiation with polysemantic words is not being still investigated in the sufficient degree and this problem is still waiting for its investigator. Our qualification work is one another attempt to investigate this problem.

The main items of the work.
Words identical in sound-form but different in meaning are traditionally termed homonymous. Modern English is exceptionally rich in homonymous words and word-forms. It is held that languages where short words abound have more homonyms than those where longer words are prevalent. Therefore it is sometimes suggested that abundance of homonyms in Modern English is to be accounted for by the monosyllabic structure of the commonly used English words. [10,72] Not only words but other linguistic units may be homonymous. Here, however, we are concerned with the homonymy of words and word-forms only, so we shall not touch upon the problem of homonymous affixes or homonymous phrases. When analyzing different cases of homonymy we find that some words are homonymous in all their forms, i.e. homonymy of the paradigms of two or more different words as, e.g., in seal!—’a sea animal’ and seal [6,34]—’a design printed on paper by means of a stamp’. The paradigm “seal, seal’s, seals, seals'” is identical for both of them and gives no indication of whether it is sea or seal that we are analyzing. In other cases, e.g. seal—’a sea animal’ and (to) seal—’to close tightly’, we see that although some individual word-forms are homonymous, the whole of the paradigm is not identical. Compare, for instance, the paradigms:

|seal |(to)seal3 | |seal |seal | |seal’s |seals | |seals |sealed | |seals’ |sealing, etc |

It is easily observed that only some of the word-forms (e.g. seal, seals, etc.) are homonymous, whereas others (e.g. sealed, sealing) are not. In such cases we cannot speak of homonymous words but only of homonymy of individual word-forms or of partial homonymy. This is true of a number of other cases, e.g. compare find [famdj, found [faund], found [faund] and found [faundj, founded [‘faundidj, founded [faundid]; know [nou], knows Jnouz], knew [nju:], and no [nou]; nose [nouz], noses [nouzizj; new [nju:J in which partial homonymy is observed. Consequently all cases of homonymy may be classified into full and partial homonymy, homonymy of words and homonymy of individual word-forms. Professor 0. Jespersen calculated that there are roughly four times as many monosyllabic as polysyllabic homonyms. 0. Jespersen. Linguistics. Copenhagen-London, 1933, [14:398]

1.1 WORDS IDENTICAL IN SOUND-FORM BUT DIFFERENT IN MEANING ARE TRADITIONALLY TERMED HOMONYMOUS Modern English is exceptionally rich in homonymous words and word-forms. It is held that languages where short words abound have more homonyms than those where longer words are prevalent. Therefore it is sometimes suggested that abundance of homonyms in Modern English is to be accounted for by the monosyllabic structure of the commonly used English words. Not only words but other linguistic units may be homonymous. Here, however, we are concerned with the homonymy of words and word-forms only, so we shall not touch upon the problem of homonymous affixes or homonymous phrases

When analyzing different cases of homonymy we find that some words are homonymous in all their forms, i.e. we observe full homonymy of the paradigms of two or more different words as, e.g., in seal a sea animal and seal—a design printed on paper by means of a stamp’. The paradigm “seal, seal’s, seals, seals'” is identical for both of them and gives no indication of whether it is seal (1) or seal (2) that we are analyzing. In other cases, e.g. seal—a sea animal’ and (to) seal (3)—’to close tightly, we see that although some individual word-forms are homonymous, the whole of the paradigm is not identical. Compare, for instance, the-paradigms: 1. (to)seal-seal-seal’s-seals-seals’

2. seal-seals-sealed-sealing, etc.
1 Professor O. Jespersen1) calculated that there are roughly four times as many monosyllabic as polysyllabic homonyms. It is easily observed that only some of the word-forms (e.g. seal, seals, etc.) are homonymous, whereas others (e.g. sealed, sealing) are not. In such cases we cannot speak of homonymous words but only of homonymy of individual word-forms or of partial homonymy. This is true of a number of other cases, e.g. compare find [faind], found [faund], found [faund] and found [faund], founded [‘faundidj, founded [faundid]; know [nou], knows [nouz], knew [nju:], and no [nou]; nose [nouz], noses [nouziz]; new [nju:] in which partial homonymy is observed. From the examples of homonymy discussed above it follows that the bulk of full homonyms are to be found within the same parts of speech (e.g. seal(1) n—seal(2) n), partial homonymy as a rule is observed in word-forms belonging to different parts of speech (e.g. seal n—seal v). This is not to say that partial homonymy is impossible within one part of speech.

For instance in the case of the two verbs Me [lai]—’to be in a horizontal or resting position’—lies [laiz]—lay [lei]—lain [lein] and lie [lai]—’to make an untrue statement’—lies [laiz]—lied [laid]—lied [laid] we also find partial homonymy as only two word-forms [lai], [laiz] are homonymous, all other forms of the two verbs are different. Cases of full homonymy may be found in different parts of speech as, e.g., for [for]—preposition, for [fo:]—conjunction and four [fo:] —numeral, as these parts of speech have no other word-forms. 1.2 CLASSIFICATION OF HOMONYMS

Modern English has a very extensive vocabulary; the number of words according to the dictionary data is no less than 400, 000.A question naturally arises whether this enormous word-stock is composed of separate independent lexical units, or may it perhaps be regarded as a certain structured system made up of numerous interdependent and interrelated sub-systems or groups of words. This problem may be viewed in terms of the possible ways of classifying vocabulary items. Words can be classified in various ways. Here, however, we are concerned only with the semantic classification of words which gives us a better insight into some aspects of the Modern English word-stock.

Attempts to study the inner structure of the vocabulary revealed that in spite of its heterogeneity the English word-stock may be analyzed into numerous sub-systems the members of which have some features in common, thus distinguishing them from the members of other lexical sub-systems. Classification into monosynaptic and polysemantic words is based on the number of meanings the word possesses [24,45]. More detailed semantic classifications are generally based on the semantic similarity (or polarity) of words or their component morphemes. Below we give a brief survey of some of these lexical groups of current use both in theoretical investigation and practical class-room teaching. 1.3 DIACHRONICALLY APPROACH OF HOMONYMS

Now let us analyze the semantic similarity of morphemes. Lexical groups composed of words with semantically and phonemically identical root-morphemes are usually described as word-families or word-clusters. The term itself implies close links between the members of the group. Such are word-families of the type: lead, leader, leadership; dark, darken, darkness; form, formal, formality, and others. It should be noted that members of a word-family as a rule belong to different parts of speech and are joined together only by the identity of root-morphemes. In the word-families discussed above the root-morphemes are identical not only in meaning but also in sound-form [10,72]. There are cases, however, when the sound-form of root-morphemes may be different, as for example in sun, sunny, solar; mouth, oral, orally; brother, brotherly, fraternal, etc.; their semantic similarity however, makes it possible to include them in a word-family. In such cases it is usual to speak of lexical supplementation, i.e. formation of related words of a word-family from phonemically different roots.

As a rule in the word-families of this type we are likely to encounter etymologically different words, e.g. the words brother and mouth are of Germanic origin, whereas fraternal and oral can be easily traced back to Latin. We frequently find synonymic pairs of the type fatherly — paternal, brotherly—fraternal. Semantic and phonemic identity of affixation morphemes can be observed in the lexical groups of the type darkness, cleverness, calmness, etc.; teacher, reader, writer, etc. In such word-groups as, e.g. teacher, doctor, musician, etc., only semantic similarity of derivational affixes is observed. As derivational affixes impart to the words a certain generalized meaning, we may single out lexical groups denoting the agent, the doer of the action (Nomina Agenti)—teacher, reader, doctor, etc. or lexical groups denoting actions [Nomina Acti] — movement, transformation, and others.

Now we shall study the semantic similarities and polarities of words. Semantic similarity or polarity of words may be observed in the similarity of their denotational or connotation meaning. Similarity or polarity of the denotational component of lexical meaning is to be found in lexical groups of synonyms and antonyms. Similarity or polarity of the connotation components serves as the basis for stylistic stratification of vocabulary units. Stylistic features of words and problems of stylistic stratification in general were discussed in connection with different types of meaning. So here let us confine ourselves mainly to the discussion of the problems of the main word phenomena containing the English word stock: i.e. we mean synonyms and antonyms. 1.4 SYNCHRONICALLY APPROACH IN STUDYING HOMONYMS

Synonymy, polysemy and homonymy in the language hierarchy are usually felt to be correlative notions: firstly because the criterion of synonymy is semantic similarity which is in exact opposition to the criterion of antonym—semantic polarity. Secondly, because synonyms and polysemantic words seem to overlap in a number of cases. For instance, when we speak of the words “daddy” and “parent” as synonyms, we do so because of the similarity of their denotational meaning and polarity of their stylistic reference (cf. daddy—colloquial, parent—bookish). The problem of synonymy is treated similarity differently by different linguists. The most debatable problem is the definition of synonyms.

Synonyms are traditionally described as words different in sound-form but identical or similar in meaning. This definition has been severely criticized on many points. Firstly it seems impossible to speak of identical or similar meaning of words as such, as this part of the definition cannot be applied to polysemantic words. It is inconceivable that polysemantic words could be synonymous in all their meanings. The verb “look”, for instance, is usually treated as a synonym of the following words:”see”, “watch”, “observe”, etc., but in another of its meanings it is not synonymous with this group of words but rather with the verbs seems, appear (cf. to look at smb. and to look pale). The number of synonymic sets of a polysemantism word tends as a rule to be equal to the number of individual meanings the word possesses [17,78]. CHAPTER II.

2.1 ETYMOLOGICAL AND SEMANTIC CRITERIA IN POLYSEMY AND HOMONYMY As it was mentioned before, two or more words identical in sound and spelling but different in meaning, distribution and (in many cases) origin are called homonyms. The term is derived from Greek (homos ‘similar’ and onoma ‘name’) and thus expresses very well the sameness of name combined with the difference in meaning. There is an obvious difference between the meanings of the symbol fast in such combinations as run fast ‘quickly’ and stand fast ‘firmly’. The difference is even more pronounced if we observe cases where fast is a noun or a verb as in the following proverbs: A clean fast is better than a dirty breakfast; who feasts till he is sick, must fast till he is well. Fast as an isolated word, therefore, may be regarded as a variable that can assume several different values depending on the conditions of usage, or, in other words, distribution. All the possible values of each linguistic sign are listed in dictionaries.

It is the duty of lexicographers to define the boundaries of each word, i.e. to differentiate homonyms and to unite variants deciding in each case whether the different meanings belong to the same polysemantic word or whether there are grounds to treat them as two or more separate words identical in form. In speech, however, only one °f all the possible values is determined by the context, so that no ambiguity may normally arise. There is no danger, for instance that the listener would wish to substitute the meaning ‘quick’ into the sentence: It is absurd to have hard and fast rules about anything or think that fast rules here are ‘rules of diet’. Combinations when two or more meanings are possible are either deliberate puns, or result from carelessness. Both meanings of liver, i.e. ‘a living person’ and ‘the organ that secretes bile’ are, for instance, intentionally present in the following play upon words: “7s life worth living?” “It depends upon the liver.” Very seldom can ambiguity of this kind interfere with understanding.

The following example quoted from lies, 1 sound somewhat artificial, but may him also a deliberate joke and not carelessness: The girls will be playing cricket in white stockings. We hope they won’t get too many runs. Runs in this context may mean either ‘ladders in stockings’ or ‘the units of scoring, made by running once over a certain course’ (a cricket term). Homonymy exists in many languages, but in English it is particularly frequent, especially among monosyllabic words. In the list of 2540 homonyms given in the Oxford English Dictionary 89% are monosyllabic words and only 9,1% are words of two syllables. From the viewpoint of their morphological structure, they are mostly one-morpheme words. Many words, especially those characterized by a high frequency rating, are not connected with meaning by a one-to-one relationship. On the contrary, one symbol as a rule serves to render several different meanings. The phenomenon may be said to be the reverse of synonymy where several symbols correspond to one meaning.[12,157] 2.2 Modern methods of investigating homonyms

The intense development of homonymy in the English language is obviously due not to one single factor but to several interrelated causes, such as the monosyllabic character of English and its analytic structure. Inflections have almost disappeared in present-day English and have been superseded by separate words of abstract character (prepositions, auxiliaries, etc.) stating the relations that once expressed by terminations [8:284]. The abundance of homonyms is also closely connected with a characteristic feature of the English language as the phonetic unity of word and stem or, in other words, the predominance of forms among the most frequent roots. It is very obvious that the frequency of words stands in some inverse relationship to length, the monosyllabic words will be the most frequent moreover, as the most frequent words are also highly polysemantic.

It is only natural that they develop meanings which in the course of time may deviate very far from the central one. When the inter-mediate links fall out, some of these new meanings lose all with the rest of the structure and start a separate existence. Phenomenon is known as disintegration or split of polysemy, Different causes by which homonymy may be brought about subdivided into two main groups: 1) Homonymy through convergent sound development, when or three words of different origin accidentally coincide in sound; 2) Homonymy developed from polysemy through divergent development. Both may be combined with loss of endings and 0tJier morphological processes. In Old English the words “gesund”- ‘healthy’ and “sund”- ‘swimming’ were separate words both in form and in meaning. In the course of time they have changed their meaning and phonetic form, and for latter accidentally coincided: OE “sund” in ME “sound” ‘strait’.

The group was joined also accidentally by the noun sound ‘what is or may be heard’ with the corresponding verb that developed from French and ultimately the Latin word “sonus”, and the verb sound ‘to measure the depth’ of dubious etymology. The coincidence is purely accidental. Two different Latin verbs: “cadere”-‘to fair and “capere”- ‘to hold’ are the respective sources of the homonyms In case1 ‘instance of thing’s occurring’ and case a box. Homonymy of this type is universally recognized. The other type is open to discussion. Unlike the homonyms case and sound all the homonyms of the box group due to disintegration or split of polysemy are etymologically connected. The sameness of form is not accidental but based on genetic relationship. They are all derived from one another and are all ultimately traced to the Latin “buxus”. The Concise Oxford Dictionary [16:23] has five separate entries for box: 1.box n. – ‘a kind of small evergreen shrub’; 2. box n. ‘receptacle made of wood, cardboard, metal, etc. and usually provided with a lid’; 3. box v. ‘to put into a box’;

4. box n. ‘slap with the hand on the ear’;
5. boxt v. ‘a sport term meaning ‘to fight with fists in padded gloves’. Such homonyms may be partly derived from one another but their common point of origin lies beyond the limits of the English language. In these with the appearance of a new meaning, very different from the previous one, the semantic structure of the parent word splits. The new meaning receives a separate existence and starts a new semantic structure of its own. Hence the term disintegration or split of polysemy. It must be noted, however, that though the number of examples in which a process of this sort could be observed is considerable, it is difficult to establish exact criteria by which disintegration of polysemy could be detected. The whole concept is based on stating whether there is any connection between the meanings or not, and is very subjective. Whereas in the examples dealing with phonetic convergence, i.e. when we said that “case1” and “case2” are different words because they differ in origin, we had definite linguistic criteria to go by, in the case of disintegration of polysemy there are none to guide us; we can only rely on intuition and individual linguistic experience.

For a trained linguist the number of unrelated homonyms will be much smaller than for an uneducated person. The knowledge of etymology and cognate languages will always help to supply the missing links. It is easier, for instance, to see the connection between beam ‘a ray of light’ and beam ‘the metallic structural part of a building’ if one knows the original meaning of the word, i.e. ‘tree’ (OE beam, Germ Baum), and is used to observe similar metaphoric transfers in other words. The connection is also more obvious if one is able to notice the same element in such compound names of trees as hornbeam, white beam, etc. The conclusion, therefore, is that in diachronistic treatment the only rigorous criterion is that of etymology observed in explanatory dictionaries of the English language where words are separated according to their origin, For example, in the words match1 ‘a piece of inflammable material you strike fire with’ (from OFr “mesche”, Fr “meche”) and match2 (from OE “gemcecca” ‘fellow’).

It is interesting to note that out of 2540 homonyms listed in a dictionary1) only 7% are due to disintegration of polysemy, all the others are etymologically different. One must, however, keep in mind that patterned homonymy is here practically disregarded. This underestimation of regular patterned homonymy tends to produce a false impression. Actually the homonymy of nouns and verbs due to the processes of loss of endings on the one hand and conversion on the other is one of the most prominent features of present-day English. . It may be combined with semantic changes as in the pair “long” (adj.) – “long” (verb). The explanation is that when it seems long before something comes to you, you long for it (long (adj.) comes from OE “lang”, whereas “long” (v.) comes from OE “langian”, so that the expression “Me longs” means ‘it seems long to me [20,267].

The opposite process of morphemic addition can also result in homonymy. This process is chiefly due to independent word-formation with the same affix or to the homonymy of derivational and functional affixes. The suffix -er forms several words with the same stem: trail — trailer ‘a creeping plant’ vs. trailer ‘a caravan’, i.e. ‘a vehicle drawn along by another vehicle’. The suffix -s added to the homonymous stems -arm- gives “arms” (n.) ‘Weapon’ and “arms” (v.) ‘Supplies with weapons’. In summing up this dichromatic analysis of homonymy it should be emphasized that there are two ways by which homonyms come into being, namely convergent development of sound form and divergent development of meaning (see table below). The first may consist in (a) phonetic change only,

(b) phonetic change combined with loss of affixes,
(e) independent formation
from homonymous bases by means of homonymous morphemes. The second, that is divergent development of meaning may be (a) limited within one lexico-grammatical class of words, (b) combined with difference in lexico-grammatical class and therefore difference in grammatical functions and distribution, (c) based on independent formation from the same base by homonymous morphemes. The process can sometimes be more complicated. At present there are at least two homonyms: “stick” (noun1) – ‘insert pointed things into’, a highly polysemantic word, and the no less polysemantic “stick” (noun) ‘a rod’. In the course of time the number of homonyms on the whole increases, although occasionally the conflict of homonyms ends in word loss. 2.3 THE TWO MAIN SOURCES OF HOMONUMY ARE:

1) diverging meaning development of one polysemantic word, and 2) converging sound development of two or more different words. The process of diverging meaning development can be observed when different meanings of the same word move so far away from each other that they come to be regarded as two separate units. This happened, for example, in the case of Modern English flower and flour which originally were one word meaning ‘the flower’ and ‘the finest part of wheat’. The difference in spelling underlines the fact that from the synchronic point of view they are two distinct words even though historically they have a common origin. Convergent sound development is the most potent factor in the creation of homonyms.

The great majority of homonyms arise as a result of converging sound development which leads to the coincidence of two or more words which were phonetically distinct at an earlier date. For example: OE. Icand OE cage have become identical in pronunciation (MnE. I [ai] and eye [ai], A number of lexico-grammatical homonyms appeared as a result of convergent sound development of the verb and the noun (cf. MnE. love—(to) love and OE. lufu—lufian). 2.4 POLYSEMY AND HOMONYMY: ETYMOLOGICAL AND SEMANTIC CRITERIA Words borrowed from other languages may through phonetic convergence become homonymous. Old Norse has and French race are homonymous in Modern English (cf. race1 [reis]—’running’ and race [reis] ‘a distinct ethnical stock’). There are four homonymic words in Modern English: sound —’healthy’ was already in Old English homonymous with sound—’a narrow passage of water’, though etymologically they are unrelated. Then two more homonymous words appeared in the English language, one comes from Old French son (L. sonus) and denotes ‘that which is or may be heard’ and the other from the French sunder the surgeon’s probe.

One of the most debatable problems in semasiology is the demarcation line between homonymy and polysemy, i.e. between different meanings of one word and the meanings of two homonymous words [31]. If homonymy is viewed diachronically then all cases of sound convergence of two or, more words may be safely regarded as cases of homonymy as, e.g., sound i, sound2, sound-e, and sound4 which can be traced back to four etymologically different words. /fie cases of semantic divergence, however, are more doubtful. The transition from polysemy to homonymy is a gradual process, so it is hardly possible to point out the precise stage at which divergent semantic development tears asunder all ties of etymological kinship and results in the appearance of two separate words/ In the case of flower, flour,1 e.g., it is mainly the resultant divergence of graphic forms that gives us grounds to assert that the two meanings which originally made up the semantic structure of one word are now apprehended as belonging to two different words. Synchronically the differentiation between homonymy and polysemy is wholly based on the semantic criterion.

It is usually held that if a connection between the various meanings is apprehended by the speaker, these are to be considered as making up the semantic structure of a polysemantic word, otherwise it is a case of homonymy, not polysemy. Thus the semantic criterion implies that the difference between polysemy and homonymy is actually reduced to the differentiation between related and unrelated meanings. This traditional semantic criterion does not seem to be reliable, firstly, because various meanings of the same word and the meanings of two or more different words may be equally apprehended by the speaker as synchronically unrelated/ For instance, the meaning ‘a change in the form of a noun or pronoun’ which is usually listed in dictionaries as one of the meanings of case!—’something that has happened’, ‘a question decided in a court of law’ seems to be just as unrelated to the meanings of this word as to the meaning of case —’a box, a container’, etc Secondly in the discussion of lexico-grammatical homonymy it was pointed out that some of the mean of homonyms arising from conversion (e.g. seal in—seal 3 v; paper n—paper v) are related, so this criterion cannot be applied to a large group of homonymous word-forms in Modern English.

This criterion proves insufficient in the synchronic analysis of a number of other borderline cases, e.g. brother—brothers— ‘sons of the same parent’ and brethren—’fellow members of a religious society’. The meanings may be apprehended as related and then we can speak of polysemy pointing out that the difference in the morphological structure of the plural form reflects the difference of meaning. Otherwise we may regard this as a case of partial lexical homonymy. The same is true of such cases as hang—hung—hung—’to support or be supported from above’ and hang—hanged—hanged—’to put a person to death by hanging’ all of which are traditionally regarded as different meanings of one polysemantic word [29]. It is sometimes argued that the difference between related and unrelated meanings may be observed in the manner in which the meanings of polysemantic words are as a rule relatable. It is observed that different meanings of one word have certain stable relationships which are not to be found between the meanings of two homonymous words. A clearly perceptible connection, e.g., can be seen in all metaphoric or metonymic meanings of one word (cf., e.g., foot of the man— foot of the mountain, loud voice—loud colors, etc.,1 cf. also deep well and deep knowledge, etc.).

Such semantic relationships are commonly found in the meanings of one word and are considered to be indicative’ of polysemy. It is also suggested that the semantic connection may be described in terms of such features as, e.g., form and function (cf. horn of an animal and horn as an instrument), process and result (to run—’move with quick steps’ and a run—act of running). Similar relationships, however, are observed between the meanings of two homonymic words, e.g. to run and a run in the stocking. Moreover in the synchronic analysis of polysemantic words we often find meanings that cannot be related in any way, as, e.g., the meanings of the word case discussed above. Thus the semantic criterion proves not only untenable in theory but also rather vague and because of this impossible in practice as it cannot be used in discriminating between several meanings of one word and the meanings of two different words.

A more objective criterion of distribution suggested by some linguists is criteria: undoubtedly helpful, but mainly increase-distribution of lexico – grammatical and grammatical homonymy. When homonymic words of Context, belong to different parts of speech they differ not only in their semantic structure, but also in their syntactic function and consequently in their distribution. In the homonymic pair paper n—(to) paper v the noun may be preceded by the article and followed by a verb; (to) paper can never be found in identical distribution. This formal criterion can be used to discriminate not only lexico-grammatical but also grammatical homonyms, but it often fails the linguists in cases of lexical homonymy, not differentiated by means of spelling. Homonyms differing in graphic form, e.g. such lexical homonyms as knight—night or flower—flour, are easily perceived to be two different lexical units as any formal difference of words is felt as indicative of the existence of two separate lexical units. Conversely lexical homonyms identical both in pronunciation and spelling are often apprehended as different meanings of one word. It is often argued that the context in which the words are used suffices to perceive the borderline between homonymous words, e.g. the meaning of case in several cases of robbery can be easily differentiated from the meaning of case2 in a jewel case, a glass case.

This however is true of different meanings of the same word as recorded in dictionaries, e.g. of case as can be seen by comparing the case will be tried in the law-court and the possessive case of the noun [30]. Thus, the context serves to differentiate meanings but is of little help in distinguishing between homonymy and polysemy. Consequently we have to admit that no formal means have as yet been found to differentiate between several meanings of one word and the meanings of its homonyms. We must take into consideration the note that in the discussion of the problems of polysemy and homonymy we proceeded from the assumption that the word is the basic unit of language. 1 It should be pointed out that there is another approach to the concept of the basic language unit which makes the problem of differentiation between polysemy and homonymy irrelevant. Some linguists hold that the basic and elementary units at the semantic level of language are the lexico-semantic variants of the word, i.e. individual word-meanings.

In that case, naturally, we can speak only of homonymy of individual lexico-semantic variants, as polysemy is by definition, at least on the synchronic plane, the co-existence of several meanings in the semantic structure of the word. The criticism of this viewpoint cannot be discussed within the framework different semantic structure. The problem of homonymy is mainly the problem of differentiation between two different semantic structures of identically sounding words. 2. Homonymy of words and homonymy of individual word-forms may be regarded as full and partial homonymy. Cases of full homonymy are generally observed in words belonging to the same part of speech. Partial homonymy is usually to be found in word-forms of different parts of speech.

3. Homonymous words and word-forms may be classified by the type of meaning that serves to differentiate between identical sound-forms. Lexical homonyms differ in lexical meaning, lexico-grammatical in both lexical and grammatical meaning, whereas grammatical homonyms are those that differ in grammatical meaning only. 4. Lexico-grammatical homonyms are not homogeneous. Homonyms arising from conversion have some related lexical meanings in their semantic structure. Though some individual meanings may be related the whole of the semantic structure of homonyms is essentially different. 5. If the graphic form of homonyms is taken into account, they are classified on the basis of the three aspects — sound-form, graphic form and meaning — into three big groups: homographs (identical graphic form), homophones (identical sound-form) and perfect homonyms (identical sound- and graphic form). 6. The two main sources of homonymy are:

1) diverging meaning development of one polysemantic word, and 2) convergent sound development of two or more different words. The latter is the most potent factor in the creation of homonyms. 7. The most debatable problem of homonymy is the demarcation line between homonymy and polysemy, i.e. between different meanings of one word and the meanings of two or more phonemically different words. 8. The criteria used in the synchronic analysis of homonymy are: 1) the semantic criterion of related or unrelated meanings; 2) the criterion of spelling;

3) the criterion of distribution, and
4) the criterion of context.
In grammatical and lexico-grammatical homonymy the reliable criterion is the criterion of distribution. In lexical homonymy there are cases when none of the criteria enumerated above is of any avail. In such cases the demarcation line between polysemy and homonymy is rather fluid.’ 9. The problem of discriminating between polysemy and homonymy in theoretical linguistics is closely connected with the problem of the basic unit at the semantic level of analysis. In applied linguistics this problem is of the greatest importance in lexicography and also in machine translation. During several scores of years the problem of distinction of polysemy and homonymy in a language was constantly arising the interest of lexicologists is in many countries. The English language as well as Russian and Uzbek ones could not escape this arguable question too. In my work I should like to sum up the experience concerning this field of study and make a comparative analysis of it on the basis of three languages.

2.5 TYPOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF HOMONYMY AND POLYSEMY IN THREE LANGUAGES Below we would like to compare the English differences between homonymy and polysemy with Russian and Uzbek equivalents. As it was noticed above we have polysemy and homonymy in both Russian and Uzbek. As in English, in Russian and Uzbek homonyms are words identical in sound and spelling but different in meaning. For example, “завод1” – “an industrial undertaking” and “завод2” – “a device which brings an action of a mechanism”. “o’t” – “firewood”, “o’t” – “grass” and “o’t” – “the verb which means movement”. 1) In this chapter we partially used the materials of the investigations of Prof. Buranov. As in English, in Russian and Uzbek we correspond to polysemantic words the words which have several connected meanings. For example, “кольцо” – “one of the jewelry things” and “кольцо” – “a shape of something, e.g. smoke”. Another example is “ko’z” – “a part of human’s body” and “ko’z” – “a sing on wood”.

As in, English there is the lexical method of distinction of polysemy and homonymy is used in Russian and Uzbek in the same degree. For example, in Russian the word “коренной1” – used in the meaning of “коренной житель” is referred to its synonym “исконный, основной” and the word “коренной” in еру meaning of “коренной вопрос” corresponds to the synonym “главный”. The words “основной” “главный” used in this sense are synonymic in their character, so we may conclude, therefore, that in this example we have two meanings of one word.

The word “худой1” –used in the meaning of “не упитанный” is formed in the synonymic row with the adjectives “тощий, щуплый, сухой” while the word “худой2” forms its meaning with the adjectives “плохой”, “скверный”, “дурной”. So we can draw a conclusion that the words “тощий”, “щуплый” are not synonyms with the words “плохой”, “скверный” So in this case the words “худой” and “худой” are homonyms. In Uzbek we have the same phenomenon: For example, the word “dum” – “a part of animal’s body” and “dum” “a partial comet”. It means that these two meanings we can be substitutive with synonymy “the end of the body”. It means that these words are polysemantic in their lexical meaning. If we take another pair of words, e.g. “yoz” – “summer” and “yoz” – ‘the form of the verb which expresses the order”. 2. Ethimological method can be shown in the following:

For example, the word “голос1” used in the meaning of “sounds which are created when we speak”, and the word “голос2” in the meaning of “sounds which appear in the course of vibration of humans’ vocal cords” and “голос3” in the meaning of “to give your vote on election”. The words “голос1”and “голос2” can be substituted by the synonym common for both these words -“sound”, while the third meaning of this word has nothing in common with the mentioned synonym. So we are able to draw the following conclusion: the first mentioned two meanings of the word “голос” are synonymic to each other, while the third mentioned meaning is homonymic to the previous twos. Such kind of examples we can find in the Uzbek language as well. For instance, the words “ovoz1” we can substitute into the synonym “sound” while the word “ovoz2” in the meaning of “opinion a group of people” is homonymic to the first one, e.g. “yoshlar ovozi”. 3. The semantic criterion can also be compared in all three languages.

For example, in Russian the word “шляпка1” used in the meaning of “one of the things of woman’s clothes and the word “шляпка2”used in the meaning of “the top beginning of a mushroom or a nail” can be compared as following: these two meanings mean “something round and located on the top”. So these two meanings are synonymic between each other. The same example we can find in Uzbek. For instance, the word “bosh1”used in the meaning of “the beginning of human’s body” and the word “bosh2” used in the meaning of “the main person in a work, e.g.”ishning boshi”. These two meanings are alike because they do the same function, so they are not homonymic, they are synonyms.

4. Morphological method of distinction of polysemy and homonymy can also be demonstrated in all the languages compared. For example, in Russian, the noun “хлеб1” used in the meaning of “хлебный злак” and “хлеб2” used in the meaning of “пищевой продукт, выпекаемый из муки” form the adjective with the help of the suffix “-н“. Cf.: “Хлебные всходы” and “Хлебный запах”. In Uzbek the word “oy1” – e.g. “Yilda un ikkita oylar bor” and “oy2” – e.g. “oy – yerning yo’ldoshi” form the new word with the help of the suffix “lik”: Cf.: “Oylik maoshi” and “Bir oylik 14 kundan iborat”. So having analysed the phenomenona of homonymy and polyseny in the three languages we can draw the following conclusion to this chapter: there are no so big differences in these languages in respect to the linguistic phenomena analysed. However, the following conclusion can also be drawn: the problem of distinction of homonymy and polysemy in all the languages compared has not been investigated thoroughly yet and there is still much opportunities to discover new fields of approaches and this problem is still waiting its salvation.

Having analyzed the problem of homonyms in Modern English we could do the following conclusions: a) The problem of homonyms in Modern English is very actual nowadays. b) There are several problematic questions in the field of homonymy the major of which is the problem of distinguishing of homonyms and polysemantic words. c) A number of famous linguists dealt with the problem of homonyms in Modern English. In particular, Profs. A. Buranov and J.Muminov were the first who dealt with this problem in our Republic, Moloshnaya, V.I. Abaev etc. d) The problem of homonymy is still waiting for its detail investigation.


1. Arnold I.V. The English Word M. High School. 1986. p. 243 2. Abayev V.I. Homonyms T. O’qituvchi. 1981. p. 189.
3. Akhmanova O.S. Lexicology: Theory and Method. M. 1972. p. 234. 4. Arakin V.D. English Russian Dictionary M. Russky Yazyk. 1978. p. 589. 5. Bloomsbury Dictionary of New Words. M. 1996 p. 736.

6. Buranov, Muminov Readings on Modern English Lexicology T. O’qituvchi 1985. p. 187. 7. Burchfield R.W. The English Language. Lnd. 1985. p. 279. 8. Canon G. Historical Changes and English Wordformation: New Vocabulary items. N.Y., 1986. p. 527. 9. Dubenets E.M. Modern English Lexicology (Course of Lectures) M., Moscow State Teacher Training University Publishers. 2004. p. 157. 10. Ginzburg R.S. et al. A Course in Modern English Lexicology. M., 1979. p. 271. 11. Howard Ph. New words for Old. Lnd., 1980. p. 579.

12. Halliday M.A.K. Language as Social Semiotics. Social Interpretation of Language and Meaning. Lnd., 1979.p. 363. 13. Hornby The Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English. Lnd. 1974. p. 584. 14. Jespersen O. Linguistics. London, 1983. p. 498.

15. Jespersen Otto. Growth and Structure of the English Language. Oxford, 1982. p. 437. 16. Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English. Longman. 1981 p.23-25 17. Maurer D.W., High F.C. New Words – Where do they come from and where do they go. American Speech., 1982. p. 267. 18. Potter S. Modern Linguistics. Lnd., 1957. p. 247.

19. Smirnitsky A.I. Homonyms in English M.1977 p. 198.
20. Schlauch, Margaret. The English Language in Modern Times. Warszava, 1965. p.342 21. Sheard, John. The Words we Use. N.Y..,1954.p. 198.
22. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English. Oxford 1964. p. 458. 23. Aпресян Ю.Д.Лексическая семантика. Омонимические средства языка. М.1974. с. 464. 24. Арнольд И.В. Лексикология современного английского языка.М. Высшая школа 1959. с. 256. 25. Беляева Т.М., Потапова И.А. Английский язык за пределами Англии. Л. Изд-во ЛГУ 1971. c. 152. 26. Виноградов В. В. Лексикология и лексикография. Избранные труды. М. 1977 с. 312. 27. Павлин. 1993. с.245.

28. Трофимова З.C. Dictionary of New Words and New Meanings. Изд. М. 2006. 29. Internet: http://www.wikipedia.com/English/articles/homonymy.htm 30. Internet: http://www mpsttu.ru/works/english philology/ Э. М. Дубенец. Курс лекций и планы семинарских занятий по лексикологии английского языка.htm 31. Internet:http://www.freeessays.com/english/M.Bowes Quantiitive and Qualitive homonymy.htm

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