MINISTRY OF HIGHER AND SECONDARY SPECIAL EDUCATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF
GULISTAN STATE UNIVERSITY
The English and Literature department
Abdukarimov Doniyor’s qualification work on speciality 5220100, English
philology on theme:
“Homonyms in English and their specific features”
Supervisor: Ibragimov. O.O.
1.1. The tasks and purposes of the work
2.1. The main items of the work
II. Main Part
1.2. Chapter1 Common analysis of homonyms in Modern English
1.1.2. Phonetic coincidence and semantic differentiation of homonyms
2.1.2. Classification of homonyms
3.1.2. Diachronically approach of homonyms
4.1.2. Synchronically approach in studying homonymy
5.1.2. Lexical, grammatical and lexico-grammatical distinctions of
2.2. Chapter2. The interrelations between homonymy and polysemantic
1.2.2. Etymological and semantic criteria in polysemy and homonymy
2.2.2. Comparative typological analysis of two linguistic phenomena in
English, Uzbek and Russian
3.2.2. Modern methods of investigating homonyms
4.2.2. Practical approach in studying homonyms
5.2.2.Polysemy and Homonymy: Etymological and Semantic Criteria
6.2.2. Typological analysis of homonymy and polysemy in three languages.
1.3. Common review of the essence of the work
2.3. Perspectives of the qualification work
1.1 The tasks and purposes of the work
The theme of my qualification work sounds as following: “Homonyms in
English and their Specific Features”. This qualification 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
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
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.
Having based upon the actuality of the theme we are able to formulate
the general goals of our qualification work.
a) To study, analyze, and sum up all the possible changes happened in
the studied branch of linguistics for the past fifty years.
b) To teach the problem of homonyms to young English learners.
c) To demonstrate the significance of the problem for those who want to
brush up their English.
d) To mention all the major linguists’ opinions concerning the subject
If we say about the new information used within our work we may note
that the work studies the problem from the modern positions and analyzes
the modern trends appeared in this subject for the last ten years. In
particular, the new meanings of the old habitual words were mentioned in
our qualification work.
The practical significance of the work can be concluded in the following
a) The work could serve as a good source of learning English by young
teachers at schools and colleges.
b) The lexicologists could find a lot of interesting information for
c) Those who would like to communicate with the English-speaking people
through the Internet will find new causing homonymic terms in our
Having said about the linguists studied the material before we can
mention that our qualification work was based upon the investigations
made by a number of well known English, Russian and Uzbek lexicologists
as A.I.Smirnitsky, B.A. Ilyish, N.Buranov, V.V. Vinogradov, O.Jespersen
and some others.
If we say about the methods of scientific approaches used in our work we
can mention that the method of typological analyses was used.
The newality of the work is concluded in including the new homonymic
meanings of words appeared during for the last ten years by means of
development and applying of the internet technologies.
The general structure of our qualification work looks as follows:
The work is composed onto three major parts: introduction, main part and
conclusion. Each part has its subdivision onto the specific thematically
items. There are two points in the introductory part: the first item
tells about the general content of the work while the other gives us the
general explanation of the lexicological phenomenon of homonymy in a
language. The main part bears two chapters itself which, in their turn,
are subdivided onto several specific items. The first chapter it
explains the common analysis of homonyms in Modern English. Here we
analyzed phonetic coincidence and semantic differentiation of homonyms
in Modern English (the first item), accepted classification of the
homonymic units of a language (the second item), diachronic and
synchronic research to the problem studied (third and fourth items
subsequently). The second chapter shows the interrelations between
homonyms and polysemantic words. In the first item we made the
etymological and semantic criteria of distinguishing of homonyms and
polysemantic words in the English language. The second item of the work
shows the typological analysis of the two linguistic phenomena in the
three languages compared: English, Russian and Uzbek. The third and the
fourth items summarize the ideas concerning the modern methods and
practical approaches in investigating the linguistic phenomenon of
homonyms and polysemantic words.
The conclusion of the qualification work sums up the ideas discussed in
the main part (the first item) and shows the ways of implying of the
qualification work (in the second item).
2.1. The main items of the work.
Words identical in sound-form but different in meaning are traditionally
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
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 arehomonymous 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 seal2—’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:
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.
1) Professor 0. Jespersen calculated that there are roughly four times
as many monosyllabic as polysyllabic homonyms. 0. Jespersen.
Linguistics. Copenhagen-London, J933, p. 398.
1.1.2 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
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:
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.
2.1.2 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. 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.
3.1.2 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 Ginzburg R.S.
et al. A Course in Modern English Lexicology. M., 1979 pp.72-82. 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
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
4.1.2 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.
5.1.2. Lexical, grammatical and lexico-grammatical
In the discussion of polysemy and context we have seen that one of the
ways of discriminating between different meanings of a word is the
interpretation of these meanings in terms of their synonyms, e.g. the
two meanings of the adjective handsome are synonymously interpreted as
handsome—’beautiful’ (usually about men) and handsome—’considerable,
ample’ (about sums, sizes, etc.).
Secondly it seems impossible to” speak of identity or similarity of
lexical meaning as a whole as it is only the denotation component that
may be described as identical or similar. If we analyses words that are
usually considered synonymous, e.g. to die, to pass away; to begin, to
commence, etc., we find that the connotation component or, to be more
exact, the stylistic reference of these words is entirely different and
it is only the similarity of the denotation meaning that makes them
synonymous. The words, e.g. to die, to walk, to smile, etc., may be
considered identical as to their stylistic reference or emotive charge,
but as there is no similarity of denotation meaning they are never felt
as synonymous words.
Thirdly it does not seem possible to speak of identity of meaning as a
criterion of synonymy as identity of meaning is very rare even among
monosynaptic words. In fact, cases of complete synonymy are very few and
are, as a rule, confined to technical nomenclatures where we can find
monosynaptic terms completely identical in meanings as, for example,
spirant and fricative in phonetics. Words in synonymic sets are in
general differentiated because of some element of opposition in each
member of the set. The word handsome, e.g., is distinguished from its
synonym beautiful mainly because the former implies the beauty of a male
person or broadly speaking only of human beings, whereas beautiful is
opposed to it as having no such restrictions in its semantic structure
O. Jespersen. Linguistics. London, 1983, pp. 395-412.Thus it seems
necessary to modify the traditional definition and to word it as
follows: synonyms are words different in sound-form but similar in their
denotational meaning or meanings. Synonymous relationship is observed
only between similar denotational meanings of phonemically different
words.Differentiation of synonyms may be observed in different semantic
components—denotational or connotation.
It should be noted, however, that the difference in denotation meaning
cannot exceed certain limits and is found only as a variation of some
common denotational component. The verbs look, seem, appear, e.g., are
viewed as members of one synonymic set as all three of them possess a
common denotational semantic component “to be in one’s view”. Semantic
similarity of affixation morphemes is treated in more detail in the
chapter about Word-Formation in Prof. Ginsburg’s textbook on lexicology,
judgment, but not necessarily in fact” and come into comparison in this
meaning (cf. he seems (looks) (appears) tired). A more detailed analysis
shows that there is a certain difference in the meaning of each verb:
seem suggests a personal opinion based on evidence (e.g. nothing seems
right when one is out of sorts); look implies that opinion is based on a
visual impression (e.g. the city looks its worst in March), appear
sometimes suggests a distorted impression (e.g. the setting sun made the
spires appear ablaze). Thus similarity of denotational meaning of all
members of the synonymic series is combined with a certain difference in
the meaning of each member..Smirnitsky A.I. Homonyms in English M.1977
It follows that relationship of synonymy implies certain differences in
the denotational meaning of synonyms. In this connection a few words
should be said about the traditional classification of vocabulary units
into ideographic and stylistic synonyms. This classification proceeds
from the assumption that synonyms may differ either in the denotational
meaning (ideographic synonyms) or the connotation meaning, i.e.
stylistic reference (stylistic synonyms). This assumption cannot be
accepted as synonymous words always differ in the denotational component
irrespective of the identity or difference of stylistic reference. The
stylistic reference in the synonymous verbs seem, appear, look may be
regarded as identical though we observe some difference in their
denotational component. Difference in the denotational semantic
component is also found in synonymous words possessing different
connotational components. The verbs see and behold, e.g., are usually
treated as stylistic synonyms; see is stylistically neutral and behold
is described as bookish or poetic. It can be readily observed, however,
that the difference between the two verbs is not confined solely to
stylistic reference. Though they have a common denotational component
‘to take cognizance of something by physical (or mental) vision’, there
is a marked difference in their comparable meanings. The verb behold
suggests only ‘looking at that which is seen’, e.g. “behold them sitting
in their glory” (Shelley), The verb see denotes ‘have or use power of
sight’ (e.g. the blind cannot see), ‘understand’ (e.g. don’t you see my
meaning?), have knowledge or experience of (e.g. he has seen a good deal
in his long life) and others.
Consequently, the interrelation of the denotational and the
connotational meaning of synonyms is rather complex. Difference or
rather variation of the denotational component does not imply difference
in either the stylistic reference or the emotive charge of members of
synonymic series. Difference of the connotational semantic component is
invariably accompanied by some variation of the denotational meaning of
synonyms. Therefore it would be more consistent to subdivide synonymous
words into purely ideographic (denotational) and ideographic-stylistic
synonyms. It should be pointed out that neither criterion the
traditional definition of synonyms modified version suggested here
provide for any objective criterion of similarity of meaning. Judgment
as to semantic similarity is based solely on the linguistic intuition of
the analyst. Dubenets E.M. Modern English Lexicology (Course of
Lectures) M., Moscow State Teacher Training University Publishers 2004
It is sometimes argued that the meaning of two words is identical if
they can denote the same referent, in other words, if an object or a
certain class of objects can always be denoted by either of the two
words. For example in the sentence “Washington is the capital of the
United States”—”Washington” and “the capital of the United States” have
obviously the same referent, but there is no linguistic relationship of
synonymy between the two lexical units.
Recently attempts have been made to introduce into the definition of
synonymy the criterion of interchangeability in linguistic contexts. It
is argued that for the linguistic similarity of meaning implies that the
words are synonymous if either of them can occur in the same context. In
this case the relationship of synonymy is defined as follows: “If A and
B have almost identical environment except chiefly for sentences which
contain both, we say they are synonyms” (cf. eye-doctor, oculist).
Another well-known definition also proceeding from the contextual
approach is the definition of synonyms as words which can replace each
other in any given context without the slightest alteration either in
the denotational or connotational meaning.
The contextual approach also invites criticism as words interchangeable
in any given context are rarely found. This fact may be explained as
follows: firstly, words synonymous in some lexical contexts may display
no synonymity in others. As one of the English scholars aptly remarks,
the comparison of the sentences “the rainfall in April was abnormal” and
“the rainfall in April was exceptional” may give us grounds for assuming
that exceptional and abnormal are synonymous. The same adjectives in a
different context are by no means synonymous, as we may see by comparing
“my son is exceptional” and “my son is abnormal”. Canon G. Historical
Changes and English Wordformation: New Vocabulary items. N.Y., 1986.
Secondly, it is evident that interchangeability alone cannot serve as a
criterion of synonymity. Werner safely assumes that synonyms are words
interchangeable in some contexts. But the reverse is certainly not true
as semantically different words of the same part of speech are, as a
rule, interchangeable in quite a number of contexts. For example, in the
sentence “I saw a little girl playing in the garden” the adjective
little may be formally replaced by a number of semantically different
adjectives, e.g. pretty, tall, English, etc.
Thus a more acceptable definition of synonyms seems to be the following:
synonyms are words different in their sound-form, but similar in their
denotational meaning or meanings and interchangeable at least in some
Theoretically, the degree of synonymity of words may be calculated by
the number of contexts in which these words are interchangeable. The
simplest technique of such semantic analysis is substitution in various
contexts. It is argued that two synonymous adjectives, e.g. deep and
profound, could be analyzed in relation to each other by ascertaining
how far they are interchangeable in different contexts, say, in
combination with water, voice, remark, relief; what changes of
denotational meaning and emotive charge occur when they are interchanged
(cf. deep relief—profound relief); what is their proper antonym in each
of these combinations (shallow, high, superficial); in how many of the
possible contexts they are interchangeable without any considerable
alteration of the denotational meaning, etc.
The English word-stock is extremely rich. Synonymic accounted for by
abundant borrowing. ‘” English Quite a number of words in a synonymic
set are usually of Latin or French origin. For instance, out of thirteen
words making up the set see, behold, descry, espy, view, survey,
contemplate, observe, notice, remark, note, discern, perceive only see
and behold can be traced back to Old English (OE. seen and beheading),
all others are either French or Latin borrowings Howard Ph. New words
for Old. Lnd., 1980. p.311.
Thus, a characteristic pattern of English synonymic sets is the pattern
including the native and the borrowed words. Among the best investigated
are the so called double-scale patterns: native versus Latin (e.g.
bodily—corporal, brotherly— fraternal); native versus Greek or French
(e.g. answer— reply, fiddle—violin). In most cases the synonyms differ
in their stylistic reference, too. The native word is usually colloquial
(e.g. bodily, brotherly), whereas the borrowed word may as a rule be
described as bookish or highly literary (e.g. corporal, fraternal).
Side by side with this pattern there exists in English a subsidiary one
based on a triple-scale of synonyms: native— French and Latin or Greek
[e.g. begin (start)—commence (Fr.)—initiate (/.); rise—mount
(Fr.)—ascend (/,)]. In most of these sets the native synonym is felt as
more colloquial, the Latin or Greek one is characterized by bookish
stylistic reference, whereas the French stands between the two extremes.
There are some minor points of interest that should be discussed in
connection with the problem of synonymy. It has often been found that
subjects prominent in the interests of a community tend to attract a
large number of synonyms. It is common knowledge that in Beowulf there
are 37 synonyms for hero or prince and at least a dozen for battle and
fight. The same epic contains 17 expressions for sea to which 13 more
may be added from other English poems of that period. In Modern American
English there are at least twenty words used to denote money: beans,
bucks, the chips, do-re-mi, the needful, wherewithal, etc. This
linguistic phenomenon is usually described as the law of synonymic
It has also been observed that when a particular word is given a
transferred meaning its synonyms tend to develop along parallel lines.
We know that in early New English the verb overlook was employed in the
meaning of ‘look with an evil eye upon, cast a spell over’ from which
there developed the meaning ‘deceive’ first recorded in 1596. Exactly
half a century later we find oversee a synonym of overlook employed in
the meaning of ‘deceive’.1 This form of analogy active in the semantic
development of synonyms is referred to as “radiation of synonyms”.
1.2.2 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
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
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.
2.2.2 Comparative typological analysis of two linguistic phenomena in
English, Russian and Uzbek
The most widely accepted classification is that recognizing homonyms
proper, homophones and homographs. Homonyms proper are words identical
in pronunciation and spelling, like/as if and liver above or like scale
‘one of the thin plates that form the outer covering of most fishes and
reptiles’ and scale, ‘a basis for a system of measuring’. Homophones are
words of the same sound but of different spelling and meaning: air ::
heir; arms :: alms; buy :: bye : by; him :: hymn; knight :: night; not
:: knot; or :: ore :: oar; piece ; peace; rain :: reign; scent :: cent
:: sent; steel :: steal; storey ;: story write :: right :: rite and many
For example, in the sentence “The millwright on my right thinks it right
that some conventional rite should symbolize the right of every man to
write as he pleases.” the sound complex [rait] is noun, adjective,
adverb and verb, has four different spellings and six different meanings
Halliday M.A.K. Language as Social Semiotics. Social Interpretation of
Language and Meaning. Lnd., 1979.p.53,112.
The difference may be confined to the use of a capital letter as in bill
and Bill, in the following example: “How much is my milk bill?” “Excuse
me, Madam, but my name is John.” Homographs are words different in sound
and in meaning but accidentally identical in spelling: bow [bou] :: bow
IbauJ; lead [li:d] :: lead [led]; row [rouj :: row [rau]; sewer I’soua]
:: sewer [sjual; tear [tea] :: tear [tia]; wind [wind] :: wind [wand]
and many more.
It has been often argued that homographs constitute a phenomenon that
be kept apart from homonymy as the object of linguistics is sound
language. This viewpoint cans hardly be accepted. Because of the effects
of education and culture written English is a generalized national form
of expression. An average speaker does not separate the written and oral
form. On the contrary he is more likely to analyze the words in Terries
of letters than in terms of phonemes with which he is less familiar.
That is why a linguist must take into consideration both the spelling
and the pronunciation of words when analyzing cases of identity of form
and diversity of content. Maurer D.W. , High F.C. New Words – Where do
they come from and where do they go. American Speech., 1982.p.171
Various types of classification for homonyms proper have been suggested.
The one most often used in present-day Annalistic in Russia it is that
suggested by Prof. A. I. Smirnitsky1). It has been criticized for
failing to bring out the main characteristic features of homonyms.
A more comprehensive system may be worked out on the same basis if we
are guided by the theory of oppositions and in classifying the homonyms
take into consideration the difference or sameness in their lexical and
grammatical meaning, paradigm and basic form. The distinctive features
shown in the table on lexical meaning (different denoted by A, or nearly
same denoted by A l) grammatical meaning (different denoted by B, or
same denoted by B), paradigm (different denoted by C or same denoted by
C), and basic form (different D and same D).
The term “nearly same lexical meaning” must not he taken too literally.
It means only that the corresponding members of the opposition have some
important invariant components in common. “Same grammatical meaning”
implies that both members belong to the same part of speech.
Same paradigm comprises also cases when there is only one word form,
i.e. when the words are unchangeable. Inconsistent combinations of
features are crossed out in the table. It is, for instance, impossible
for two words to be identical in all word forms and different in basic
forms, or for two homonyms to show no difference either in lexical or
grammatical meaning, because in this case they are
not homonyms. That leaves seven possible classes.
ABCD, Members of the opposition “light” (noun) – “light” (adjective) are
different in lexical and grammatical meaning, have different paradigms
but the same basic form. The class is very numerous. A further
subdivision might take into consideration the parts of speech to which
the members belong, namely the oppositions of noun vs. verb, adjective
vs. verb, noun vs. adjective, etc.
ABCD. Same as above, only not both members are in their basic form. The
noun (here might) is in its basic form, the singular, but the verb will
coincide with it only in the Past Tense. This lack of coincidence
between basic forms is not frequent, so only few examples are possible.
Cf. also “bit” (noun) – ‘a small piece’ and “bit” – Past Tense and
Participle II of “bite”.
ABCD, Represents pairs different in lexical and grammatical meaning but
not in paradigm, as these are not changeable words. For example, “for”
(preposition) contrasted to “for” – conjunction.
ABCD. Patterned homonymy.1 Differs from the previous (i.e. ABGD) in the
presence of some common component in the lexical meaning of the members,
some lexical invariant:
For example, the word “before” has the following lexical invalidations:
“before” (prep.), “before” (adv), “before” (conj.), though they all
express some priority in succession. This type of opposition is regular
among form words.
ABCD. Contains all the cases due to conversion:
For example, “eye” (noun) vs. “eye” (verb). These members differ in
grammatical meaning and paradigm. It should be borne in mind that they
also belong to patterned homonymy. Examples of such noun-to-verb or
verb-to-noun homonymy can be augmented almost indefinitely The meaning
of the second can always be guessed if the first is known.
ABCD. Different lexical meaning, same grammatical meaning; and different
e.g. lie ~ lay ~ lain and lie – lied – lied in many cases belong to this
group. We should also underline the configuration of cases of double
cf.: “genius” – “geniuses” and “genius” – “genii”.
ABCD. The most typical case of homonymy accepted by everybody and
exemplified in every textbook. Different lexical meanings but the
homonyms belong to the same part of speech: For example, the word
“spring” can be understood as a leap, “spring” as a source and “spring”
as the season in which vegetation begins.
It goes without saying that this is a model that gives a general scheme.
Actually, a group of homonyms may contain members belonging to different
groups in this classification.
3.2.2 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. Canon G. Historical Changes and English Word formation:
New Vocabulary items. N.Y., 1986. p.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
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 Dictionary1) 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’.
Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English. Longman. 1981pp.23
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
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’.
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
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
In the course of time the number of homonyms on the whole increases,
although occasionally the conflict of homonyms ends in word loss.
4.2. 2 Practical approach in studying homonyms
The synchronic treatment of English homonyms brings to the forefront a
set of problems of paramount importance for different branches of
applied linguistics: lexicography, foreign language teaching and machine
translation. These problems are: the criteria distinguishing homonymy
from polysemy, the formulation of rules for recognizing different
meanings of the same homonym in terms of distribution, and the
description of difference between patterned and irregular homonymy. It
is necessary to emphasize that all these problems are connected with
difficulties created by homonymy in understanding the message by the
reader or listener, not with formulating one’s thoughts; they exist for
the speaker only in so far as he must construct his speech in a way that
would prevent all possible misunderstanding.
All three problems are so closely interwoven that it is difficult to
separate them. So we shall discuss them as they appear for various
practical purposes. For a lexicographer it is a problem of establishing
word boundaries. It is easy enough to see that match, as in safety
matches, is a separate word from the verb match ‘to suit’. But he must
know whether he is justified in taking into one entry match, as in
football match, and match in meet one’s match ‘one’s equal’. Can the
English verb bear in bear a burden, bear troubles, bear fruit, bear
offspring be viewed as a single word or as a set of two or perhaps even
more homonyms? Similarly, charge, in charge the gun, charge the man with
theft, charge somebody a stiff price can be viewed in several ways.
On the synchronic level, when the difference in etymology is irrelevant,
the problem of establishing the criterion for the distinction between
different words identical in sound form, and different meanings of the
same word becomes hard to solve. The semantic criterion which ultimately
is reduced to distinguishing between words that “have nothing in common
semantically” and those that “have something in common” and therefore
must be taken as one lexical unit, is very vague and hopelessly
subjective. Nevertheless the problem cannot be dropped altogether as
upon an efficient arrangement of dictionary entries depends the amount
of time spent by the readers in looking up a word: a lexicographer will
either save or waste his readers’ time and effort.
Actual solutions differ. It is a widely spread practice in English
lexicography to combine in one entry words of identical phonetic form
showing similarity of lexical meaning or, in other words, revealing a
lexical invariant, even if they belong to different parts of speech. In
post-war lexicography in our country a different trend has settled. The
Anglo-Russian dictionary edited by V. D. Arakin makes nine separate
entries with the word “right” against four items given in the dictionary
edited by Hornby.
The truth is that there exists no universal criterion for the
distinction between polysemy and homonymy, unless one accepts the
solution offered by V. I. Abayev and follows the data of etymology,
separating as homonyms only those words that have different sources and
only accidentally coincided phonetically. The necessary restriction is
that different sources must be traced within the history of the
language. Words that coincided phonetically before they penetrated into
the English vocabulary are not taken into account. The etymological
criterion, however, may very often lead to distortion of the present-day
situation. The English vocabulary of to-day is not a replica of the Old
English vocabulary with some additions from borrowing. It is in many
respects a different system, and this system will not be revealed if the
lexicographer is guided by etymological criteria only. A more or less
simple, if not very rigorous, procedure based on purely synchronic data
may be prompted by transformational analysis. It may be called
explanatory transformation. It is based on the assumption that if
different senses rendered by the same phonetic complex can be defined
with the help of an identical kernel word-group, they may be considered
sufficiently near to be regarded as variants of the same word; if not,
they are homonyms.
Consider the following set of examples:
1. A child’s voice is heard. 2. His voice … was … annoyingly
3. The voice-voicelessness distinction … sets up some English
consonants in opposed pairs…
4. In the voice contrast of active and passive … the active is the
The first variant (voice1 may be defined as ‘sounds uttered in speaking
or singing as characteristic of a particular person’, voice2 as ‘mode of
uttering sounds in speaking or singing’, voice3 as ‘the vibration of the
vocal chords in sounds uttered’. So far all the definitions contain one
and the same kernel element rendering the invariant common basis of
their meaning. It is, however, impossible to use the same kernel element
for the meaning present in the fourth example. The corresponding
definition is: “Voice — that forms of the verb that expresses the
relation of the subject to the action”. This failure to satisfy the same
explanation formula sets the fourth meaning apart. It may then be
considered a homonym to the polysemantic word embracing the first three
The procedure described may remain helpful when the items considered
belong to different parts of speech; the verb voice may mean, for
example, ‘to utter a sound by the aid of the vocal chords’.
This brings us to the problem of patterned homonymy, i. e. of the
invariant lexical meaning present in homonyms that have developed from
one common source and belong to various parts of speech.
Is a lexicographer justified in placing the verb to voice with the above
meaning into the same entry with the first three variants of the noun?
The same question arises with respect to after or before — preposition,
conjunction and adverb.
The elder generation of English linguists thought it quite possible for
one and the same word to function as different parts of speech.1 Such
pairs as act n — act v, back n — back v, drive n — drive v, the above
mentioned after and before and the like, were all treated as one word
functioning as different parts of speech. Later on this point of view
was severely criticized. It was argued that one and the same word could
not belong to different parts of speech simultaneously because this
would contradict the definition of the word as a system of forms. This
viewpoint is not faultless either: if one follows it consistently one
should regard as separate words all cases when words are countable nouns
in one meaning and uncountable in another, when verbs can be used
transitively and intransitively, etc.
In this case hair ‘all the hair that grows on a person’s head7 will be
one word, an uncountable noun; whereas a single thread of hair will be
denoted by another word (hair2) which, being countable, and thus
different in paradigm, cannot be considered the same word. It would be
tedious to enumerate all the absurdities that will result from choosing
this path. A dictionary arranged on these lines would require very much
space in printing and could occasion much wasted time in use. The
conclusion therefore is that efficiency in lexicographic work is secured
by a rigorous application of etymological criteria combined with
formalized procedures of establishing a lexical invariant suggested by
synchronic linguistic methods.
As to those concerned with teaching of English as a foreign language,
they are also keenly interested in patterned homonymy. The most
frequently used words constitute the greatest amount of difficulty, as
may be summed up by the following example: I think that this “that” is a
conjunction but that «that” man that used was a pronoun.
A correct understanding of this peculiarity of contemporary English
should be instilled in the pupils from the very beginning, and they
should be taught to find their way in sentences where several words have
their homonyms in other parts of speech, as in Jespersen’s1) example:
Will change of air cure-love? l To show the scope of the problem for the
elementary stage a list of homonyms that should be classified as
patterned is given below:
“Above” – prep., adv., adj.; “act”- n., v.; “after” – prep., adv.,
conj.; “age” – n., v.; “back” – n., adv., v.; “ball” – n., v.; “bank”
We may give the other examples: by, can, case, close, country, course,
cross, direct, draw, drive, even, faint, flat, fly, for, game, general,
hard, hide, hold, home, just, kind, last, leave, left, lie, light, like,
little, lot, major, march, match, may, mean, might, mind, miss, part,
plain, plane, plate, right, round, sharp, sound, spare, spell, spring,
square, stage, stamp, try, type, volume, watch, well, will, etc.
For the most part all these words are cases of patterned
lexico-grammatical homonymy taken from the minimum vocabulary of the
elementary stage: the above homonyms mostly differ within each group
grammatically but possess some lexical invariant. That is to say, act v
follows the standard four-part system of forms with a base form act, an
s-form (act-s), a Past Tense form (acted) and an -ing- form (acting) and
takes up all syntactic functions of verbs, whereas act n can have two
forms, act (singular.) and acts (plural). Semantically both contain the
most generalized component rendering the notion of doing something.
Recent investigations have shown that it is quite possible to establish
and to formalize the differences in environment, syntactical or lexical,
serving to signal which of the several inherent values is to be ascribed
to the variable in a given context.
An example of distributional analysis will help to make this point
clear. The distribution of a lexico-semantic variant of a word may be
represented as a list of structural patterns in which it occurs and the
data on its combining power. Some of the most typical structural
patterns for a verb are: N + V -f- N, N + V –f- Prep.; V- N,
N-f-V-f-Adj., N + V + Adv., N + V + t o –f- V and some others. Patterns
for nouns are far less studied, but for the present case one very
typical example will suffice. This is the structure article for A + N.
In the following extract from “A Taste of Honey” by Sheath
Delaney the morpheme “laugh” occurs three times:
1.I can’t stand people who laugh at other people.
2. They’d get a bigger laugh, if they laughed at themselves.
We recognize laugh used first and last here as a verb because the
formula is N + laugh + prep + N and so the pattern is in both cases
-[-V H-prep — N. In the beginning of the second sentence laugh is a noun
and the pattern is article -f- A -J- N.
This elementary example can give a very general idea of the procedure
which can be used for solving more complicated
99Distributional analysis of this type is of great practical importance
both in foreign language teaching and in machine translation. In order
to translate a sentence the machine must analyze it, i.e. determine the
types of elementary configurations that constitute it. Practically
speaking, the pupil even if taught by patterns, must do the same.
Elementary configurations are not mere word-groups but combinations of
word classes. Therefore in the process of identification of the symbols
given, it is necessary to establish to what classes they belong. As
homonymy prevents this, the first step to be taken in machine
translation aims at getting rid of homonymy. The system of formal rules
aimed at revealing and eliminating lexico-grammatical homonymy in
machine translation has been described by T. Moloshnaya. l These rules
begin with morphological criteria: if the word form considered has an
ending typical of one class and impossible in all others, its class is
thus determined. Laughed is obviously a verb, as the noun does not take
the ending -ed. Of the two homonyms complete v and complete adj. only
the verb can have such endings as -ed, -ing. When the morphological data
are exhausted, syntactical combinations are analyzed.
Without attempting to give a more detailed analysis of these operations
since they belong rather to grammar than to lexicology, we may sum up
our discussion by pointing out that whereas distinction between polysemy
and homonymy is relevant and important for lexicography it is not
relevant for the practice of either human or machine translation. The
reason for this is that different variants of a polysemantic word are
not less conditioned by context than lexical homonyms. In both cases the
identification of the necessary meaning is based on the corresponding
.distribution that can signal it and must be present in the memory
either of the pupil or the machine. The distinction between patterned
and non-patterned homonymy, greatly underrated until now, is of far
greater importance. In non-patterned homonymy every unit is to be
learned separately both from the lexical and grammatical points of view.
In patterned homonymy when one knows the lexical meaning of a given word
in one part of speech, one can accurately predict the meaning when the
same sound complex occurs in some other part of speech, provided, of
course, that there is sufficient context to guide one.
5.2.2 Homonyms may be also classified by the type of meaning into
lexical, lexico-grammatical and grammatical homonyms
In seal n and seal n, e.g., the part-of-speech meaning of the word and
the grammatical meanings of all its forms are identical. (cf. seal
[si:l] Common Case Singular, seal’s [si:lz] Possessive Case Singular for
both seal* and sea!2). The difference is confined to lexical meaning
only or, to be more exact, to the denotational component: seal denotes
‘a sea animal’, ‘the fur of this animal’, etc., seaI2—’a design printed
on paper, the stamp by which the design is made’, etc. So we can say
that seal 2 and seal are lexical homonyms as they differ in lexical
If we compare seal —’a sea animal’ and (to) seal 3—’to close tightly’,
we shall observe not only a difference in the lexical meaning of their
homonymous word-forms, but a difference in their grammatical meanings as
well. Identical sound-forms, i.e. seals [si:lz] (Common Case Plural of
the noun) and (he) seals [si:lz] (third person Singular of the (verb)
possess each of them different grammatical meanings. As both grammatical
and lexical meanings differ we describe these homonymous word-forms as
Lexico-grammatical homonymy generally implies that the homonyms in
question belong to different parts of speech as the part-of-speech
meaning is a blend of the lexical and grammatical semantic components.
There may be cases however when lexico-grammatical homonymy is observed
within the same part of speech as, e.g., in the verbs (to) find [faind]
and (to) found [faund], where homonymic word-forms: found [faund]—Past
Tense of (to) find and found [faund]—Present Tense of (to) found differ
both grammatically and lexically. Modern English abounds in homonymic
word-forms differing in grammatical meaning only. In the paradigms of
the majority of verbs the form of the Past Tense is homonymous with the
form of Participle II, e.g. asked [a:sktl—asked [a:skt]; in the paradigm
of nouns we usually find homonymous forms of the Possessive Case
Singular and the Common Case Plural, e.g. : brother’s . It may be easily
observed that grammatical homonymy is the homonymy of different
word-forms of one and the same word. The two classifications: full and
partial homonymy and lexical, lexico-grammatical and grammatical
homonymy are not mutually exclusive. All homonyms may be described on
the basis of the two criteria—homonymy of all forms of the word or only
some of the word-forms and the type of meaning in which homonymous words
or word-forms differ. So we speak of full lexical homonymy of seen and
seal 2 n, of partial lexical homonymy of live and leave, and of partial
lexico-grammatical homonymy of seen and seal 3 It should be pointed out
that in the some classification discussed above one of Peculiarities the
groups, namely lexico-grammatical of Lexico-Grammatical homonymy, is not
homogeneous. This can be seen by analyzing the relationship between two
pairs of lexico-grammatical homonyms, e.g.
1. seal a sea animal’—seal 3 v—’to close tightly as with a seal;
2. seal 2 n—’a piece of wax, lead’—seal 3 f—’to close tightly as with a
We can see that seal n and seal 3 v actually differ in both grammatical
and lexical meanings. We cannot establish any semantic connection
between the meaning «a sea animal” and “to close tightly”. The lexical
meanings of seal 2 n and seal3u are apprehended by speakers as closely
related for both the noun and the verb denote something connected with
“a piece of wax, lead, etc., a stamp by means of which a design is
printed on paper and paper envelopes are tightly closed”. Consequently
the pair seal 3 n—seal 3 v does not answer the description of homonyms
as words or word-forms that sound alike but differ in lexical meaning.
This is true of a number of other cases of lexico-grammatical homonymy,
e.g. work n—(to) work o; paper /i—(to) paper v; love n—(to) love v and
so on. As a matter of fact all homonyms arising from conversion have
It is sometimes argued that as a rule the whole of the semantic
structure of such words is not identical. The noun paper, e.g., has at
least five meanings (1. material in the form of sheets, 2. a newspaper,
3. a document, 4. an essay, 5. a set of printed examination questions)
whereas the verb paper possesses but one meaning “to cover with
wall-paper”. It follows that the whole of the semantic structure of the
two words is essentially different, though individual meanings are
Considering this peculiarity of lexico-grammatical homonyms we may
subdivide them into two groups: A. identical in sound-form but different
in their grammatical and lexical meanings (sea n—seal3 v), and B.
identical in sound-form but different in their grammatical meanings and
partly different in their lexical meaning, i.e. partly different in
their semantic structure (seal2 v; paper n—(to) paper v). Thus the
definition of homonyms as words possessing identical sound-form but
different semantic structure seems to be more exact as it allows of a
better understanding of complex cases of homonymy, e.g. seah n—seah
n—sealx v —seal3 u which can be analyzed into homonymic pairs, e.g. seal
n—seal n—lexical homonyms; seal n—seal 3 v—lexico-grammatical homonyms,
subgroup A; seals n—seal3y— lexico-grammatical homonyms, subgroup B;
In the discussion of the problem of graphic homonymy we proceeded from
the as possessing both sound-form and meaning, and we deliberately
disregarded their graphic form. Some linguists, however, argue that the
graphic form of words in Modern English is just as important as their
sound-form and should be taken into consideration in the analysis and
classification of homonyms. Consequently they proceed from the
definition of homonyms as words identical in sound-form or spelling but
different in meaning. It follows that in their classification of
homonyms all the three aspects: sound-form, graphic-form and meaning are
taken into account. Accordingly they classify homonyms into homographs,
homophones and perfect homonyms.
Homographs are words identical in spelling, but different both in their
sound-form and meaning, e.g. bow n [bouj— ‘a piece of wood curved by a
string and used for shooting arrows’ and bow n (bail—’the bending of the
head or body’; tear n [tiaj—’a drop of water that comes from the eye’
and tear v [tesj—’to pull apart by force’.
Homophones are words identical in sound-form but different both in
spelling and in meaning, e.g. sea n and see v; son n and sun n.
Perfect homonyms are words identical both in spelling and in sound-form
but different in meaning, e.g. case in something that has happened’ and
case n—’a box, a container’. It may be readily observed that in this
approach no distinction is made between homonymous words and homonymous
word-forms or between full and partial homonymy. The description of
various types of Sources homonyms in Modern English would of Homonymy
incomplete if we did flat give flat brief outline of the diachronic
processes that account for their appearance.
6.2.2 The two main sources of homonymy 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
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).
5.2.2 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 race2 [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.
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 case2 —’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
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
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. 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
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
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
2.3.2 As it was mentioned above the lexical categories of homonyms and
polysemantic words exist in all three languages, so we must, firstly,
know what it meant by homonymy and polysemy
Homonyms are words different in meaning but identical in sound or
spelling, or both in sound and spelling. Homonyms can appear in the
language not only as the result of the split of polysemy, but also as
the result of leveling of grammar inflexions, when different parts of
speech become identical in their outer aspect, e.g. «care» from «care»
and «care» from «careen». They can be also formed by means of
conversion, e.g. «to slim» from «slim», «to water» from «water». They
can be formed with the help of the same suffix from the same stem, e.g.
«reader» – a person who reads and a book for reading.
Homonyms can also appear in the language accidentally, when two words
coincide in their development, e.g. two native words can coincide in
their outer aspects: «to bear» from «beran» /to carry/ and «bear» from
«bera» /an animal/. A native word and a borrowing can coincide in their
outer aspects, e.g. «fair» from Latin «feria» and «fair « from native
“fagen” /blond/. Two borrowings can coincide e.g. «base» from the French
«base» /Latin basis/ and «base» /low/ from the Latin «bas» /Italian
Homonyms can develop through shortening of different words, e.g. «cab»
from «cabriolet», «cabbage», «cabin».
Classifications of homonyms:
Let us give us the classification of homonyms according to the point of
view of famous British lexicologist Walter Skeat1).
So Walter Skeet classified homonyms according to their spelling and
sound forms and he pointed out three groups: perfect homonyms that is
words identical in sound and spelling, such as : «school» – «косяк рыбы»
and «школа» ; homographs, that is words with the same spelling but
pronounced differently, e.g. «bow» -/bau/ -«noклон» and /bou/ – «лук»;
homophones that is words pronounced identically but spelled differently,
e.g. «night» – «ночь» and «knight» -«pыцарь».
Another classification was suggested by A.I Smirnitsky 2). He added to
Skeat’s classification one more criterion: grammatical meaning. He
subdivided the group of perfect homonyms in Skeat’s classification into
two types of homonyms: perfect which are identical in their spelling,
pronunciation and their grammar form, such as «spring» in the meanings:
the season of the year, a leap, a source, and homo-forms which coincide
in their spelling and pronunciation but have different grammatical
meaning, e.g. «reading» – Present Participle, Gerund, Verbal noun., to
lobby – lobby.
A more detailed classification was given by I.V. Arnold1). He classified
only perfect homonyms and suggested four criteria of their
classification: lexical meaning, grammatical meaning, basic forms and
ccording to these criteria I.V. Arnold pointed out the following groups:
a) homonyms identical in their grammatical meanings, basic forms and
paradigms and different in their lexical meanings, e.g. «board» in the
meanings «a council» and «a piece of wood sawn thin»;
b) homonyms identical in their grammatical meanings and basic forms,
different in their lexical meanings and paradigms, e.g. to lie – lied –
lied, and to lie – lay – lain;
c) homonyms different in their lexical meanings, grammatical meanings,
paradigms, but coinciding in their basic forms,
e.g. «light» / «lights»/, «light» / «lighter», «lightest»/;
d) homonyms different in their lexical meanings, grammatical meanings,
in their basic forms and paradigms, but coinciding in one of the forms
of their paradigms, e.g. «a bit» and «bit» (from «to bite»).
In I. V. Arnold’s classification there are also patterned homonyms,
which, differing from other homonyms, have a common component in their
lexical meanings. These are homonyms formed either by means of
conversion, or by leveling of grammar inflexions. These homonyms are
different in their grammar meanings, in their paradigms, identical in
their basic forms, e.g. «warm» – «to warm». Here we can also have
unchangeable patterned homonyms which have identical basic forms,
different grammatical meanings, a common component in their lexical
meanings, e.g. «before» an adverb, a conjunction, a preposition. There
are also homonyms among unchangeable words which are different in their
lexical and grammatical meanings, identical in their basic forms, e.g.
«for» – «для» and «for» – «и6o».
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
Different meanings of a polysemantic word may come together due to the
proximity of notions which they express.
E.g. The word «blanket» has the following meanings: a woolen covering
used on beds, a covering for keeping a horse warm, a covering of any
kind /a blanket of snow/, covering all or most cases /used
attributively/, e.g. we can say «a blanket insurance policy».There are
some words in the language which are monosynaptic, such as most terms,
/synonym, molecule, bronchitis, some pronouns /this, my, both/,
numerals, and so like.
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. in the word
«face» the primary meaning denotes «the front part of the human head»
Connected with the front position the meanings: the front part of a
watch, the front part of a building, the front part of a playing card
was formed. Connected with the word «face» itself the meanings:
expression of the face, outward appearance is formed.
In cases of concatenation secondary meanings of a word develop like a
chain. In such cases it is difficult to trace some meanings to the
primary one. E.g. in the word «crust» the primary meaning «hard outer
part of bread» developed a secondary meaning «hard part of anything /a
pie, a cake/», then the meaning »harder layer over soft snow» was
developed, then «a sullen gloomy person», then «impudence» were
developed. Here the last meanings have nothing to do with the primary
ones. In such cases homonyms appear in the language. It is called the
split of polysemy.
In most cases in the semantic development of a word both ways of
semantic development are combined.
Nowadays methods of distinction of homonymy and polysemy were worked
out. This helps us to differ the meaning of the same word and homonymy
which formed in a result of the complete gap of polysemy. Below let us
study the methods of studying of synonymy and homonymy.
1. The lexical method of distinction of homonymy and polysemy. This
method is concluded in revealing the synonymic connection of polysemy
and homonymy. If consonant units are get in one synonymic row when
different meanings of words remain still the semantic intimacy and,
there fore, it is early to say that polysemy is transferred in to
homonymy. If the consonant words are not get in one synonymic row that
words are homonymy.
Homonymy and polysemy are different categories in polysemy we deal with
the different meanings of the same word. In homonymy we have different
words which have their own meanings. For example, the word “man” has ten
meanings in Modern English:
1 – человек; 2 – мужчина; 3 – адвокат; 4 – мужественный
человек;5-человечество; 6 – слуга; 7 – рабочий; 8 – муж; 9 – вассал; 10
As the all meanings are connected with the major meaning “чeлoвeк”. But
homonyms are different words which have nothing in common иуецуут
For example “bark1” – “лай собаки” and “bark2” – “плывущий корабль”. In
this example we can see that homonymy words coincide only in
pronunciation and writing.
2. Some scientists say that the substitution of different meanings of
words by the synonyms may help to differ the homonyms from polysemantic
words. This way of distinction of polysemy and homonymy gets its name in
literature as “etiological criterion”.For example “voice1 – “sounds
uttered in speaking” (sound); “voice2” – “mode of uttering sounds in
speaking” (sound); “voice3” – “the vibration of the vocal cords in
sounds uttered” (sound); “voice4” – “the form of the verb that express
the relation of the subject to the action”. “Voice1” – “voice2” –
“voice3” are not homonymic in their character although they have
different meanings because of the reason that they can be substituted by
the synonymic word “sound”. As far as “voice4” is concerned as homonymic
to the previous three meanings because the fourth meaning of the word
“sound” can not be substituted by the word common to the previous three
meanings of the word “voice” (i.e. the analyzed meaning of the word
V. Abaev1) gave etymological criterion of distinguishing homonymic and
polysemantic words. He says that homonyms are words which have different
sources and only coincided phonetically.
3. We also use the semantic method of distinction of these occurrences.
The meaning of homonyms always mutually excepts each other and the
meaning of polysemantic words airs formed by one sensible structure
keeping the semantic intimacy: one of the meanings assumes, while the
other is non-irresistible limit.
The semantic criterion implies that the difference between polysemy and
homonymy is actually reduced to the differentiation between related and
unrelated meanings. This semantic criterion does not seen to be
reliable, firstly, because various meanings of same word and the
meanings of two or more different words may be equally apprehended by
It is some times argued that the difference between related and
unrelated polysemantic words is, as a rule, relatable. It is observed
that different meanings have certain stable relationships which are not
to be found between the meanings of homonymous words. A clearly
perceptible connection of such semantic relationships is commonly found
in the meanings of one word and is considered to be indicative to
polysemy. It is also suggested that the semantic connection may be
described in terms of such features.
For example, we may give the following word
“face1″ – ‘the front part of human’s head”.
“face2” – “playing card, building, watches”.
In this example we can find that meanings form one sensible structure.
Another example shares the same idea:
E.g. The word “fair1” which means “a person with light hairs” and
“fair2” which means “just, honest”. In this example the meanings except
to each other and do not keep the semantic intimacy.
4. There is a fourth method of distinction of polysemy and homonymy. It
is morphological method. It means that polysemy and homonymy are
characterized by the various word -building. So some words which have a
few meanings the new word is formed with the same suffix.
For example, for the word “park1” – “place of rest” we form a new word
by ending “-ed-“: “parked” while in the word “park2” – “a place of
keeping automobiles” the new word is formed by “-ing-“ ending :
6.2.2 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. Buranov, Muminov
Readings on Modern English Lexicology
T. O’qituvchi 1985 pp. 34-47
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’t1” – “firewood”, “o’t2” – “grass” and “o’t” – “the verb which means
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
of something, e.g. smoke”. Another example is “ko’z1” – “a part of
human’s body” and “ko’z2” – “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 “коренной2” 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 “худой1” and “худой2” are homonyms.
In Uzbek we have the same phenomenon: For example, the word “dum1” – “a
part of animal’s body” and “dum2” “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. “yoz1” – “summer” and “yoz2″ –
‘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
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.
1.3 Common review of the essence of the work
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
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.
d) The problem of homonymy is still waiting for its detail
2.3 Perspectives of the qualification works
Having said about the perspectives of the work we hope that this work
will find its worthy way of applying at schools, lyceums and colleges of
high education by both teachers and students of English. We also express
our hopes to take this work its worthy place among the lexicological
works dedicated to the types of shortening.
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