The word polysemy means plurality of meanings. It exists only in the language, not in speech. A word which has more than one meaning is called polysemantic.
There are two processes of the semantic development of a word: radiation and concatenation. In cases of radiation the primary meaning stands in the centre and the secondary meanings proceed out of it like rays. Each secondary meaning can be traced to the primary meaning, e.g. face (the front part of the human head -
the primary meaning; the front part of a building, the front part of a watch, the front part of a playing card; expression of the face, outward appearance - secondary meanings).
In cases of concatenation secondary meanings of a word develop like a chain, e.g. crust – 1. hard outer part of bread, 2. hard part of anything (a pie, a cake), 3. harder layer over soft snow, 4. sullen gloomy person, 5. impudence. Here the last meanings have nothing to do with primary ones. In such cases homonyms appeare in the language. This phenomenon is called the split of polysemy.

Semantic Structure of Polysemantic Words
Synchronically, the problem of polysemy ie the problem of interrelation and interdependence of different meanings of the same word. The semantic structure of a polysemantic word is the sum total of relations between its lexico-semantic variants.
The analysis of the semantic structure of a polysemantic word is based onthe following set of oppositions:
1. Direct-derived meaning: rat – animal like, but larger than a mouse; rat –cowardly person; strike-breaker.
2. Extended-restricted meaning: to knock – strike, hit; to knock – of a petrol engine – make a tapping or thumping noise.
3. Free-bound meaning: hat – cover for the head; hat – nonsense (to speak through one’s hat).
4. General-specialized meaning: case – instance or example of the occurence of smth; case – (med.) person suffering from a disease.
5. Neutral-emotional meaning: nut – fruit consisting of a hard shell enclosing a kernel that can be eaten; nut – (slang) head of a human being.

No comments:

Post a Comment