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Polysemy. The semantic structure of a polysemantic word

Polysemy (poly –many, seme - sigh) is characteristic of most words in many languages, however different they may be. But it is more characteristic of the English vocabulary as compared with Ukrainian and Russian, due to the monosyllabic character of English and the predominance of root words. The greater the relative frequency of the word, the greater the number of variants that constitute its semantic structure, i.e. the more polysemantic it is. This regularity is of course a statistical, not a rigid one.

Polysemy means “plurality of meanings”. A word which has more than one meaning is called polysemantic.

To be: to exist

To occur

To go to see (to visit)

To be situated

Are these meanings are related?

Can we single out common semantic component? – existence.

So one meaning is the main, basic or central, the rest are associated or secondary. These meanings become evident in certain lexical and grammatical context.

Separate meaning of a polysemantic words are usually called lexico-semantic variants.Every meaning in language and every difference in meaning is sig­nalled either by the form of the word itself or by context, i.e. its syntagmatic relations depending on the position in the spoken chain. The unity of the two facets of a linguistic sign — its form and its content in the case of a polysemantic word — is kept in its lexico-grammatical variant.

All the lexical and lexico-grammatical variants of a word taken together form its semantic structure or semantic para­digm.

For example, TABLE

1) a flat horizontal slab or board, usually supported by one or more legs, on which objects may be placed Related

2) food as served in a particular household or restaurant a good table

3) such a piece of furniture specially designed for any of various purposes a backgammon table bird table

4 a company of persons assembled for a meal, game, etc

5) any flat or level area, such as a plateau

6) architecture another name for cordon

7) music the sounding board of a violin, guitar, or similar stringed instrument

8) an arrangement of words, numbers, or signs, usually in parallel columns, to display data or relations a table of contents




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