2010-11 LINGUA INGLESE 1 modulo A/B Introduction to English Linguistics prof. Hugo Bowles Lesson 14 Lexical semantics 2 Semantic change Lexical relations - polysemy Eye Eye is classified as one word with two different meanings. This happens when the difference in meaning is predictable or regular. There is a core meaning from which the other meanings (eye of a needle, eye of a
tornado) can be predicted. Metaphors are often polysemous 2 Lexical relations -homonymy Bank The word bank in river bank and Lloyds bank are classified as two different words with separate meanings even though they have the same form. This is because the meaning
of one form is not predictable from the meaning of another. 3 Polysemy or homonymy? mail pupil ear face
tongue key charge run 4 Original languages alcohol Arabic boss Dutch croissant French lilac Persian
piano Italian pretzel German robot Czech tycoon Japanese yoghurt Turkish zebra Bantu
What has happened to the meaning in these cases ? (1) thing BEFORE NOW public assembly any entity companion someone who eats with you any friend
broadcast to transmit by media to sow seeds in a field 9 Broadening These words have broadened their meaning. In Olde English the word dogge use to refer to one breed of dog. It now refers to all breeds
10 What has happened to the meaning in these cases ? (2) BEFORE NOW mete any kind of food a specific kind of food (meat) wife
any woman a married woman 11 Narrowing In these cases the words have narrowed their meaning from a general meaning to a more particular one 12 What has happened to the meaning in these cases ? (3) BEFORE
NOW villein servant criminal notorious famous unfavourably wellknown vulgar ordinary
crude, badmannered 13 Deterioriation/Pejoration The word has developed a negative connotation over time 14 What has happened to the meaning in these cases ? (4) mischievous BEFORE
NOW disastrous naughty 15 Amelioration The word has developed a more positive connotation over time 16 Processes of change
1. 2. 3. 4. Broadening - when a word widens its meaning (thing) Narrowing - when a word becomes more specialised (meat) Pejoration - when a word develops a negative connotation (vulgar) Amelioration - when a word loses a negative connotation (mischievous) 17
Why does change happen? Because the relation between form and meaning is arbitrary in language Because words are polysemous (they can have different meanings connected to a central meaning) Because children use words with broader meanings and these sometimes come into the language (broadening) 18 Other types of semantic
change Euphemism Politically correct language 19 Euphemism a long illness
economical with the truth adult video industrial action cancer liar pornography strike 20 Politically correct language
Political correctness (often abbreviated to PC) is a term used to describe language or behaviour that is intended to provide a minimum of offence, particularly to racial, cultural, or other identity groups. A text that conforms to the ideals of political correctness is said to be politically correct. 21
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