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Divergences in the semantic structure of words

The semantic structure of words presents a complicated problem as the so-called correlated words of the T languages are far from being identical in this respect. The only exception is some groups of monosemantic words which will be dealt with later.

Divergences in the semantic structure of words of the S and T languages are one of the primary cases of lexical transformations. These divergences or dissimilitudes are connected with certain peculiar features of a word or a group of words. Even words which seem to have the same meaning in the two languages are not semantically identical. The primary meanings of correlated words often coincide while their derivative meanings do not. Thus there is only partial correspondence in the structures of polysemantic words as their lexical semantic variants do not cover one another. Semantic correlation is not to be interpreted as semantic identity and one-to-one correspondence between the semantic structures of correlated polysemantic words in the two languages is hardly ever possible.

Such partial correspondence may be illustrated by the following analysis of the correlated words стіл and table. Their primary meanings denoting the same article of furniture are identical. But their secondary meanings diverge. Other lexical semantic variants of the word table are: part of the machine-tool; slab of wood (stone); matter written on this; level area, plateau; palm of hand, indicating character of fortune, etc. Lexical semantic variants of the word стіл are: їжа, харчі, (стіл і квартира, дієтичний стіл); заклад, відділ у канцелярії (паспортний стіл, стіл знаходок) etc.

Not infrequently the primary meaning (and sometimes the derivative meanings as well) of an English word consist of more than one semantic component or some, forming the so-called “bundles” of semantic elements. This is usually reflected in dictionaries which give more than one Ukrainian equivalent of each LS of the English word.

The analysis of the polysemantic word “mellow” shows that it can modify a wide variety of objects and notions: fruit, wine, soil, voice, man, etc. Each sphere of its application corresponds to a different derivative meaning and each meaning (consisting of several semes) accordingly has two or more Ukrainian equivalents.

1. стиглий, м’який, соковитий (про фрукти); 2. витриманий, старий (про вино); 3. приємний на смак; 4. подобрішавший з віком (про людину); 5. м’який, густий (про голос и колір, фарбу); 6. пухкий, родючий (про грунт); 7. розм. веселий, на підпитку.

It also follows from the above example that there is no single Ukrainian word with a similar semantic structure corresponding to the word “mellow” and comprising all its meanings.


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Lexical differences between languages | Translation of monosemantic words

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