Lexico-Semantic Features of Antonyms in Modern English

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Chapter I. Lexico-Semantic Features of Antonyms in Modern English

1.1 The Concept of Polarity of Meaning

1.2 Morphological Classification of Antonyms

1.2.1 Derivational Antonyms

1.3 Semantic Classification of Antonyms

1.3.1 Antonyms Proper

1.3.2 Complementaries

1.3.3 Converives

Chapter 2. Textual Presentation of Antonyms in Modern English

2.1 Textual Presentation of Antonyms in Modern English

2.1.1 Root Antonyms in language

2.1.2 Derivational antonyms in language

2.2 Differences of meaning of antonyms

2.3 Using antonyms pair in proverbs and sayings

Chapter 3. Synonym in English language

3.1 Kinds of synonyms and their specific features

3.2 Distributional features of the English synonyms

3.3 Changeability and substitution of meanings

3.4 Semantic and functional relationship in synonyms

3.5 Interchangeable character of words and their synonymy

3.6 Combinability of synonyms

3.7 Peculiar features of semantics and combinability of the English verbs on the examples of the synonyms «to amuse», «to entertain», «to grip», «to interest», «to thrill»

3.8 Conceptual synonymy

3.9 Synonymy and collocative meaning

3. 10 Semantic peculiarities of synonyms



The Synonyms and Antonyms form an integral part of the English Language.

The subject-matter of the Course Paper is to investigate lexico-semantic features of antonyms and synonyms in modern English.

The topicality of the problem under investigation results from the necessity to update basic assumption provided by different linguists in order to be able to establish the classification of antonyms and synonyms depending on their morphological and semantic classifications in Modern English.

The novelty of the problem arises from the necessity of a profound scientific investigation of antonyms and synonyms.

The main aim of the Course Paper is to summarize and systemize different approaches to the study of antonyms and synonyms in Modern English.

The aim of the course Paper presupposes the solutions of the following tasks:

· To expand and update the definition of the terms «antonym and synonym»

· To reveal characteristic features of modern cognitive linguistics

· To establish the difference between different kinds of antonyms

· To have some skills of recognizing all categories of antonyms

According the tasks of the Course Paper its structure is arranged in the following way:

Introduction, the Main Part, Conclusion, Literature.

In the Introduction we provide the explanation of the theme choice, state the topicality of it, establish the main aim, and the practical tasks of the Paper.

In the main part we analyze the character features of modern the classification of antonyms and synonyms depending on their morphological and semantic classifications, differences between absolute (or root) antonyms, synonyms and derivational antonyms and synonyms, main characteristics of antonyms proper, complementaries and converives.

In conclusion we generalize the results achieved.

The practical significance of the work can be concluded in the following items:

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 themselves.

c)Those who would like to communicate with the English-speaking people through the Internet will be able to use the up-to-date words with the help of our qualification work.

Word-building processes involve not only qualitative but also quantitative changes. Thus, derivation and compounding represent addition, as affixes and free stems, respectively, are added to the underlying form. Shortening, on the other hand, may be represented as significant subtraction, in which part of the original word is taken away.

Part 1. Lexico-Semantic Features of Antonyms in Modern English

Thanks to the differences between our two hemispheres of our brains (emotional and rational), we react to different thing in a different way, but we do that more readily to the emotional than the rational. Similarity or polarity of meaning catches our attention and stick it with what we see and feel with our right brain too. That’s why many different systems which describe semantic features of antonyms in modern English have been appeared. But the investigation problems of the concept of polarity of meaning is not the main task of this Course Paper, therefore this problem has been described briefly.

Stylistic features of words and problems of stylistic stratification in general were discussed in connection with different types of meaning. Synonyms and antonyms are usually felt to be correlative notions: firstly because the criterion of synonyms is semantic similarity which is in exact opposition to the criterion of antonyms — semantic polarity; secondly because synonyms and antonyms seem to overlap in a number of cases. When we speak of the words «daddy» and «parent» as synonyms, we do so because of the similarity of their denotation meaning and polarity of their stylistic reference (ex. «daddy» — colloquial, «parent» — bookish).

In most cases the grammatical features of a word reveals itself in a context. There are, however, words which do not acquire grammatical meaning even in the context. We will speak of them when we analyze the relations between lexical and grammatical meanings in words. Our subject-matter is lexico-Semantic meaning of a word. It is possible to distinguish three essential types of lexical meaning of words:

· Nominative meaning determined by reality. The direct nominative meaning stand in one-to-one relationship with a word. For instance: «cat», «table», «sun».

· Phraseologically bound meaning of words depending on the peculiarities of their usage in a given language, e.g. «to take care», «to have a smoke», «to catch cold».

· Syntactically conditioned meanings of words are those which change with the change of the environment. For instance: «to look» — «to look for» — «to look after». [18]

In the structure of lexical meaning of a word we distinguish two main components:

· Denotative;

· Connotative

Denotative meaning is the conceptual nuclear of the word meaning. Denotative meaning is bound up with its referent. Referent is an object or phenomenon in our world which the given word names. Denotative meaning may have one constant referent. («moon»), but also it can have several referents (ex. «a hand» — firstly its referen tis a part of human arm; its second referent is the pointer on a clock; its third referent is a person (workman)).

Denotative meaning may have diffusive character, as in the case with the words: «good», «bad», «clever», «progressive». The denotative meaning is sometimes called: logical meaning; referential meaning, cognitive meaning; conceptual meaning or simply speaking, the literal meaning of a word.

If the denotative meaning is the nuclear part of the lexical meaning of a word, then the connotative meaning is its shell. Simply speaking, the connotative meaning is what we call additional, non-literal meaning of a word. It contains various shades. For example, the denotative component of the lexical meaning of the word «awful», is «very bad».

According to the subject-matter of the Course Paper, let us examine a question «the Concept of Polarity of Meaning».

1.1 The Concept of Polarity of Meaning

The investigation problems of the concept of polarity of meaning is not the main task, therefore this problem has been described briefly. The term «polarity» exists in such fields of human knowledge as physics, mathematics, chemistry, psychology and etc. In linguistic this term can be found in semantic classification of the words.

The problem of the polarity of semantic meaning may be viewed in the Course Paper as a theoretical base to describe some classifications in various ways. The matter is that semantic classifications are generally based on the semantic similarity (or polarity) of words (or their component — morphemes).

Semantic similarity or polarity of words may be observed in the similarity of their denotational or connotational 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 connotational components serves as the basis for stylistic stratification of vocabulary units.

Antonymic pairs are usually listed in a special dictionary called thesaurus. Yet there are other criteria according to which it is possible to reveal antonyms. The most important of them are: contextual criterion, the possibility of substitution, and identical lexical valency.

According to the contextual criterion two words are considered antonyms if they are regularly contrasted in actual speech. The use of antonyms in the same contexts has produced fixed antonymic constructions, such as: a higher degree of abstraction or more generalized character.

Unlike synonyms antonyms do not differ in style, or emotional coloring (they express, as a rule, emotional characteristics of the same intensity.

So, we can base on the definition antonyms as two or more words belonging to the same pat of speech, contradictory or contrary in meaning, and interchangeable at least at some contexts.

Group of antonyms is the type of semantic relation between lexical units having opposite meanings. Antonyms do not simply involve complete difference in meanings. It involves a sense opposition which can be applied to the same object or phenomenon.

Antonyms (Greek «anti» — opposite, «onyma» — name) are words belonging to the same part of speech, identical in style and having opposite denotative meanings. For example: «light» — «dark»; «happiness» — «sorrow»; «up» — «down». Antonyms are usually believed to appear in pairs. Yet, this is not true in reality. For instance, the adjective «cold» may be said to have «warm» for its second antonym, and the noun «sorrow» may be very well contrasted with «gaiety». [18, p. 28]

However, polysemantic word may have an antonym or several antonyms for each of its meanings. So, the adjective «dull» has the antonym «interesting», «amusing», «entertaining» and «active» for its meaning of «deficient in interest», and «clever», «bright», «capable» for its meaning of «deficient in intellect» and «active» for its meaning of «deficient in activity». Antonyms are not evenly distributed among the categories of parts of speech. Most antonyms are adjectives, which seems to be natural, because qualitative characteristics are easily compared and contrasted. For example: «high" — «low», «strong» — «weak», «wide» — «narrow», «friendly» — «hostile». Verbs take the second place, so far as antonym is concerned. For example: «to lose» — «to find», «to live» — «to die», «to open» — «to close». Nouns are not rich in antonyms. For example: «good» — «evil», «love» — «hatred».

Antonymic adverbs can be subdivided into two groups:

a) adverbs derived from adjectives: «warmly» — «coldly», «loudly» — «softly»;

b) adverbs proper: «now» — «then», «ever» — «never», «in» — «out».

This gives up rights to speak about morphological classification of antonyms.

1.2 Morphological Classification of Antonyms

Antonyms have traditionally been defined as words of opposite meaning. This definition, however, is not sufficiently accurate as it only shifts the problem to the question of what words may be regarded as words of opposite meaning. Therefore the latest linguistic investigations emphasize, that antonyms are similar as words belonging to the same part of speech and the same semantic field, having the same grammatical meaning and functions, as well as similar collocations. [14]

According to their morphological structure antonyms may be classified into:

· root antonyms (having different roots): «to love» — «to hate», «long» — «short», «day» — «night»;

· derivational antonyms (having the same roots but different derivational affixes): «regular» — «irregular», «fruitful» — «fruitless». [18, 14, 26 ]

Absolute or Root Antonyms So, V.N. Comissarov in his dictionary of antonyms classified them into two groups: absolute or root antonyms and derivational antonyms.

Absolute antonyms have different roots and derivational antonyms have the same roots but different affixes. [60]

We can find in Collins Cobuild dictionary such definition: «The antonym of word is another word which means the opposite». [78]

There is another term, which is quit interesting to our opinion: «Words that are antonymous are opposite in meaning. «

Such, the pair of words should be called antonymous, but one of them, which is not always just one, has a name antonym. Kinds and examples of root antonyms are observed in the second part of the Course Paper. But in the theoretical part we want to refer to a very interesting source.

In dealing with antonymic oppositions it may be helpful to treat antonyms in terms of «marked» and «unmarked» members. The unmarked member can be more widely used and very often can include the referents of the marked member but not vice versa. This proves that their meanings have some components in common. In the antonymic pair `old" - «young» the unmarked member is old. We’ve found an interesting example on one of studied sources:

«It is possible to ask: «How old is the girl?», without implying that she is no longer young. [76] «Some authors, J. Lyons among them, suggest a different terminology. They distinguish antonyms proper and complementary antonyms. The chief characteristic feature of antonyms proper is that they are regularly gradable. Antonyms proper, therefore, represent contrary notions. Grading is based on the operation of comparison. One can compare the intensity of feeling as in love -- attachment -- liking -- indifference -- antipathy -- hate. Whenever a sentence contains an antonym or an antonymic pair, it implicitly or explicitly contains comparison. «

Thus, discussing the group of root antonyms, we should to speak about complementary antonyms and contrary notions, a semantic classification of antonyms.

1.2.1 Derivational Antonyms

Derivetional antonyms are more difficult to study. As we mentioned above, derivational antonyms have the same roots but different affixes.

Negative prefixes for antonyms are «un-», «dis-», «non-», but sometimes they are formed by means of suffixes «-ful» and «-less». The number of antonyms with the suffixes -ful and -less is not very large, e.g. «successful» -«unsuccessful», «selfless» — «selfish». The same is true about antonyms with negative prefixes, e.g. «to man» is not an antonym of the word «to unman», «to disappoint» is not an antonym of the word «to appoint».

The difference between derivational and root antonyms is not only in their structure, but in semantics as well. Group of derivational antonyms express contradictory notions, one of them excludes the other, e.g. «active" — «inactive». Absolute antonyms express contrary notions. If some notions can be arranged in a group of more than two members, the most distant members of the group will be absolute antonyms, e.g. «ugly», «plain», «good-looking», «pretty», «beautiful», the antonyms are «ugly» and «beautiful».

Leonard Lipka in the book «Outline of English Lexicology» defines types of oppositeness, which we study in the next chapter of this Course Paper. Thus, we should to study now some characteristics of Semantic Classification of Antonyms.

1.3 Semantic Classification of Antonyms

Leonard Lipka is one of the linguists, who describes different types of oppositeness, and subdivides them into three types:

a) complementary, e.g. male -female, married -single,

b) antonyms, e.g. good -bad,

c) converseness, e.g. to buy — to sell.

He does that in the following way. The denial of the one implies, the assertion of the other, and vice versa. «John is not married» implies that «John is single». The type of oppositeness is based on yes/no decision. This concerns pairs of lexical units.

Antonyms are the second class of oppositeness. It is distinguished from complimentarity by being based on different logical relationships. For pairs of antonyms like «good» — «bad», «big» — «small» only the second one of the above mentioned relations of implication holds. The assertion containing one member implies the negation of the other, but not vice versa. «John is good» implies that «John is not bad», but «John is not good» does not imply that «John is bad». The negation of one term does not necessarily implies the assertion of the other.

Converseness is mirror-image relations or functions, e.g. «husband» — «wife», «pupil» — «teacher», «precede» — «follow», «above» — «below», «before» — «after» etc. [80]

L. Lipka also describes the type which is called as:

· directional opposition, ex. «up» — «down»;

· consiquence opposition, ex. «learn» — «know»;

· antipodal opposition, ex. «North» — «South», «East» — «West», (it is based on contrary motion, in opposite directions.)

· oppositions, which involve motion in different directions, ex. «come» — «go», «arrive» -«depart». 80]

L. Lipka also points out non-binary contrast or many-member lexical sets. Here he points out serially ordered sets, such as:

· scales, ex. «hot" — «warm», «cool» — «cold»;

· colour words, ex. «black», «grey», «white»;

· ranks, ex. «marshal», «general», «colonel», «major», «captain» etc. ;

· gradable examination marks, ex. «excellent», «good», «average», «fair», «poor»;

· units of time, ex. «spring», «summer», «autumn», «winter». [80]

Thus, let’s investigate the complementary, proper antonyms, and converseness differences in details.

1.3.1 Antonyms Proper

Some authors, J. Lyons among them, suggest a different terminology. They distinguish antonyms proper and complementary antonyms. The chief characteristic feature of antonyms proper is that they are regularly gradable. This kind of antonyms proper represents contrary notions. They say, that grading is based on the operation of comparison. The group of words, which name intensity of feeling, ex. «love -- attachment -- liking -- indifference -- antipathy -- hate», can be compared. [27]

Whenever a sentence contains an antonym or an antonymic pair, it contains comparison. J. Lyons discusses an interesting example of antonyms also dealing with elephants: A small elephant is a large animal. The size-norm for elephants is not the same as that for all animals in general: the elephant which is small in comparison with other elephants may be big in comparison with animals as a class.

This example may also serve to show the difference and parallelism between antonyms proper and complementarity (expressing contradictory notions). The semantic polarity in antonyms proper is relative, the opposition is gradual, it may embrace several elements characterized by different degrees of the same property. The comparison they imply is clear from the context. «Large» and «little» denote polar degrees of the same notion. The same referent which may be «small» as an elephant is a comparatively «big» animal, but it cannot be «male» as an elephant and «female» as an animal: a male elephant is a male animal.

Having noted the difference between complementary antonyms and antonyms proper, we must also take into consideration that they have much in common so that in a wider sense both groups are taken as antonyms.

1.3.2 Complementaries

J. Lyons among also describes complementaries. Like other antonyms they are regularly contrasted in speech (ex. «male" — «female»), and the elements of a complementary pair have similar distribution. According to him, the assertion of a sentence containing an antonymous or complementary term implies the denial of a corresponding sentence containing the other antonym or complementary:

«The poem is good > The poem is not bad (good:: bad -- antonyms proper)» This is prose > This is not poetry (prose:: poetry -- complementaries)

As to the difference in negation it is optional with antonyms proper: by saying that the poem is not good the speaker does not always mean that it is positively bad. Though more often we are inclined to take into consideration only the opposite ends of the scale and by saying that something is not bad we even, using litotes, say it is good. So complementaries are a subset of antonyms taken in a wider sense.

The complementary opposite, sometimes is known as the contradictory. Like the gradable adjectives, the complementary adjectives share a semantic dimension, but it is a dimension which has no middle values. As Cruse describes it:

«The essence of a pair of complementaries is that between them they exhaustively divide some conceptual domain into two mutually exclusive compartments, so that what does not fall into one of the compartments must necessarily fall into the other».

It is sometimes hard to decide whether a pair of opposites belongs in the set of gradable adjectives or in the set of complementaries. But, as Cruse says, in addition to adjectives, verbs such as «pass» — «fail» and «obey» — «disobey», nouns such as «day» — «night», prepositions such as «in» — «out», and adverbs such as «backwards» — «forwards» are also sometimes considered examples of complementaries.

Although by definition, complementaries are pairs which allow no logical middle term, in actual use, complementaries are sometimes used like gradable adjectives; for example, we can say that something is almost true, or that someone is barely alive.

However, as Lyons (1977) points out, in these cases it may be the «secondary implications» of the words that are being graded rather than the main sense. That is, someone who is barely alive is actually entirely alive, but «s/he» is not as lively or energetic as most people are. Directional opposites are another type of opposite, described in Lyons (1977) and in greater detail in Cruse (1986). These are generally adverbs or prepositions and include pairs such as «up — down», «in — out», and «clockwise» — «anticlockwise».

Reersive opposites, described in Lehrer and Lehrer (1982) and Egan (1968), are yet another type of opposite, Egan describes reversive opposites in this way:

" These comprise adjectives or adverbs which signify a quality or verbs or nouns which signify an act or state that reverse or undo the quality, act, or state of the other. Although they are neither contradictory nor contrary terms, they present a clear opposition. «

This class contains many verbs, for example, «tie» — «untie», «marry» — «divorce», «enter» — «leave», «appear» — «disappear». Cruse and Lyons consider the reversive verbs to be a subtype of directional opposites, because they all describe activities which result in an object undergoing a change from one state to another. Thus Cruse says the opposition seen in pairs of reversive verbs is similar to the kind of opposition in pairs of directional prepositions such as «to» — «from».

1.3.3 Converives

«Relational opposites» is the term given by Cruse [26] also called «relative terms» according to Egan [27] and «conversive terms» difined by Lyons [27], include pairs such as «above» — «below», «predecessor» — «successor», «parent» — «child» and «teacher» — «student».

Egan describes these as pairs of words which indicate such a relationship that one of them cannot be used without suggesting the other.

Cruse considers this class to also be a subclass of the directional opposites. He says that these pairs «express a relationship between two entities by specifying the direction of one relative to the other along some axis.» In examples such as «above» — «below», this axis is spatial, but other examples (e.g. «ancestor» — «descendant») involve «an analogical or metaphorical extension of spatial dimensions».

Lyons points out that many opposites of this type involve social roles («teacher» — «student», «doctor» — «patient») or kinship relations («father» — «mother»), and these types of reciprocal relations have been wll documented in many languages in the anthropological literature.

Conversives (or relational opposites) as F.R. Palmer calls them denote one and the same referent or situation as viewed from different points of view, with a reversal of the order of participants and their roles. The interchangeability and contextual behaviour are specific. The relation is closely connected with grammar, namely with grammatical contrast of active and passive. The substitution of a conversive does not change the meaning of a sentence if it is combined with appropriate regular morphological and syntactical changes and selection of appropriate prepositions, ex. «He gave her flowers. She received flowers from him. = She was given flowers by him».

An important point setting them apart is that conversive relations are possible within the semantic structure of one and the same word. M.V. Nikitin mentions such verbs as «wear», «sell», «tire», «smell», etc. and such adjectives as «glad», «sad», «dubious», «lucky» and others. It should be noted that «sell» in this case is not only the conversive of «buy», it means «be sold», «find buyers». The same contrast of active and passive sense is observed in adjectives: «sad» «saddening» and «saddened», «dubious» and «doubtful» mean «feeling doubt and inspiring doubt».

So, semantically antonyms can be classified as gradable antonyms (describing something, which can be measured and compared with something else), complementary antonyms (which are matter of being either one thing or another), and converse antonyms (these antonyms always depend on each other). Morphological classification of antonyms includes two types of antonyms:

· Absolute or Root Antonyms (with root polarity), and

· Derivational antonyms (which has morphems with polar meanings).

Taking into account the main aims of these investigation, all these points of scientific view should be worked out and analyzed in the next part of the Course Paper.

Lexico-Semantic meaning of words distinguishes three essential types of lexical meaning of words: nominative meaning determined by reality, phraseologically bound meaning of words depending on the peculiarities of their usage in a given language, and syntactically conditioned meanings of words are those which change with the change of the environment.

In the structure of lexical meaning of a word we distinguish two main components: denotative and connotative.

Polysemantic word may have an antonym or several antonyms for each of its meanings. Antonyms are not evenly distributed among the categories of parts of speech.

Antonyms are similar as words belonging to the same part of speech and the same semantic field, having the same grammatical meaning and functions, as well as similar collocations. According to their morphological structure antonyms may be classified into: root antonyms and derivational antonyms (having the same roots but different derivational affixes).

Some linguists tell us about three types of pairs with opposite meaning. So, semantically antonyms can be classified as gradable antonyms (describing something, which can be measured and compared with something else), complementary antonyms (which are matter of being either one thing or another), and converse antonyms (these antonyms always depend on each other).

Part 2. Textual Presentation of Antonyms in Modern English

2.1 Textual Presentation of Antonyms in Modern English

It’s time to study examples of antonyms in detail.

Arnold handles a problem of using of antonyms in a literary as means of giving emphasise to some contrast. Antonyms create emotional tension as in the following lines from «Romeo and Juliet» (Act I, Scene V):

My only love sprang from my only hate

Too early seen unknown, and known too late!

The opposition is obvious: each component of these pairs means the opposite of the other. Some other examples:

1. If you’ve obeyed all the rules good and bad, and you still come out at the dirty end … then I say the rules are no good (M. Wilson).

2. He was alive, not dead (Shaw).

3. You will see if you were right or wrong (Cronin)

4. The whole was big, oneself was little (Galsworthy)…

Another important example is the possibility of substitution and identical lexical valency [60]. This possibility of identical contexts is very clearly seen in the following lines:

1. There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, That it hardly becomes any of us To talk about the rest of us (Hock).

As for the same antonymic pair, they reveal nearly identical spheres of collocation. Examples: the adjective «hot» in its figurative meaning of «angry» and «excited» is chiefly combined with names of unpleasant emotions: anger, resentment, scorn, etc. Its antonym «cold» occurs with the same words.

The example with «Elephant» mentioned in the theoretical part, gives us an interesting notice such words as «young» — «old»; «big» — «small»; «good» — «bad» do not refer to independent absolute qualities but to some-implicit norm, they are relative.

The Elephant

When people call this beast to mind,

They marvel more and more

At such a little tail behind,

So large a trunk before.

The tail of an elephant is little only in comparison with his trunk and the rest of his body. For a mouse it would have been quite big. J. Lyons discusses an interesting example of antonyms also dealing with elephants: A small elephant is a large animal. The implicit size-norm for elephants is not the same as that for all animals in general: the elephant which is small in comparison with other elephants may be big in comparison with animals as a class.

Almost every word can have one or more synonyms. Comparatively few have antonyms. This type of opposition is especially characteristic of qualitative adjectives. E. g. in W. Shakespeare’s «Sonnet LXXVI»:

For as the sun is daily new and old, So is my love still telling what is told.

It is also manifest in words derived from qualitative adjectives, e. g. «gladly» — «sadly»; «gladness» — «sadness». Irrespective of the part of speech, they are mostly words connected with feelings or state: «triumph» — «disaster»; «hope» — «despair». Antonymic pairs, also irrespective of part of speech, concern direction (hither and thither) (L.A. Novikov calls these «vectorial antonyms»), and position in space and time (far and near).

Nothing so difficult as a beginning,

In poetry, unless perhaps the end (Byron).

There are also «day» — «night», «late» — «early», «over» — «under».

2.1.1 Root Antonyms in language

As we said in the first part, antonyms and conversives reflect polarity. We’ll try to show that using antonyms. We’ve used

So, all antonyms can be divided into two big groups: root antonyms and derivational. First let us found a group of root antonyms. These are words, roots of which have opposite meanings.

· «New» — «old»

The new town of Whitney Clay had swallowed up the old village.

New — not existing before; introduced, made, invented, etc. recently or for the first time. Old — having been in existence or use for a long time.

· We can see that these pairs of words are pairs of antonyms, whereas the particle «not» is an element of formation of antonyms. We can find it using chain of meanings if the words. «Distant» — «near»

It may be near, it may be distant; while the road lasts nothing turns me.

· The meanings of these words enclose opposite semes, such as «distant» — «near"= «far away» — «short», therefore they are antonyms. Our next examples illustrate pair of words, which are antonymous pairs: «Guilty» — «innocent»

So the law assumed there must be one guilty party, and one innocent party who has been wronged by desertion of the matrimonial bed.

· «Loathe» — «love»

· If a man and woman sinned, let them go for into the desert to love or loathe each other there. «Giant» — «pigmy»

«So you think your friend in the city will be hard upon me, if i fail a payment?» — says the trooper, looking down upon him like a giant. «My dear friend, I am afraid he will,» — returns the old man looking up at him like a pigmy.

2.1.2 Derivational antonyms in language

The second group of antonyms (derivations) can be made with: un -, in -; (il -; im -; ir -;); dis -, and -less. Some examples of derivationals:

· Approve — disapprove

Who am I to approve or disapprove?

· Tied — untied

People get tied up, and sometimes they stay tied — because they want to stay or because they haven’t the will power to break or others become untied and make a new start.

· Engage — disengage

«How soon will you be disengaged?» «I didn’t say you i was engaged. «

· Just — unjust

The A.F. of L. port leaders, as loyal servitors of capitalism, unquestionable support all wars, just or unjust, declared by the capitalist class and its government.

· Audible — inaudible

Little audible links, they are chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.

· Concerned — unconcerned

It concerned her in some way, but she herself was unconcerned, and she slid without effort into the position of mistress of the farm. So, it’s easy to find these examples in Modern English. Their meanings are quite clever and understandable.

2.2 Differences of meaning of antonyms

However, the meanings can sometimes be different. Let us to analyze the verb «agree». This verb has five meanings, but only three of them have antonyms.

Agree — v. 1. to say «yes», ex: I asked for a pay rise and she agreed. — refuse; 2. to have a similar opinion to somebody, ex: I agree with his analysis of the situation. — disagree; 3. to be consisted with something; to match, ex: You account of the affair doesn’t agree with hers. — disagree.

Order — n. The word has fourteen meanings, but only two of them have antonyms:

1. the state that exists when people obey the laws, rules or authority, ex: The police are trying to restore public order. — disorder;

2. the state of being carefully and neatly arranged, ex: Get your ideas into some kind of order before beginning to write. — disorder.

Black — adj. The word has nine meanings, but only three of them have antonyms:

1. of the very darkest colour, ex: A big black cloud appeared. — white.

2. without milk, ex: Two black coffees, please. — white. 3. of a race that has dark skin, ex: Many black people emigrated to Britain it the 1950s. — white.

Active — adj. The word has six meanings, but only two of them have antonyms: 1. doing things; lively, ex: She takes an active part in local politics.; -inactive. ;

2. of the form of a verb whose subject is the person or thing that performs the action (grammar), as in He was driving the car and the children have eaten the cake. — passive.

Down — adv. The word has nine meanings, but only four of them have antonyms:

1. from the upright position to a lower level, ex: He bent down to pick up his gloves.- up. ;

2. indicating a lower place or state, ex: The bread is on the third shelf down. — up. ;

3. to be read from top to bottom, not from side to side, ex: I can’t do 3 down. — across. ;

4. away from a university (Brit), ex: going down at the end of the year. — up.

For — prep. The word has seventeen meanings, but only one of them have antonyms:

1. in defence or support of somebody/something, ex: I’m all for pubs staying open all day. — against.

2.3 Using antonyms pair in proverbs and sayings

The main field of use pairs of antonyms is proverbs and sayings. Proverbs are phenomenon of thout, language, art. The main sense of proverbs and sayings is not the information given but artistic pattern, meaning content. Some examples:

The time passes away but sayings remain.

After a storm comes fair weather, after sorrow comes joy.

An hour in the morning is worth two in the evening.

There’d be no good fortune if misfortune hadn’t helped.

Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

Breaking is not making.

Knowledge is light, ignorance is darkness.

You started speaking with delight and finished with a sorry sight!

Native dogs are fighting here, foreign ones should not interfere.

Greet him according to the clothes, take leave according to what he knows. 59]

Thus, based on the examples given above, we can say that antonyms are resource of a category «opposition».

We have found a confirmation that antonyms can be expressed:

· as words with different roots;

· as words, which are formed with negative prefixes.

Almost every word can have one or more synonyms. Comparatively few have antonyms. The main field of use pairs of antonyms is proverbs and sayings. The main sense of proverbs and sayings is not the information given but artistic pattern, meaning content. We have found a confirmation that antonyms can be expressed: as words with different roots and as words, which are formed with negative prefixes.

The main criterion of antonyms is steady using their pairs in contexts. Antonym pairs thread Modern English. However, antonyms imply polarity of one of the semantic components of the words showing us the same main point. But understanding antonyms as polarity of the several semantic components of the words showing two polarity main points is possible.

Chapter 3. Synonym in English language


Synonyms are words different in their outer aspects, but identical or similar in their inner aspects. In English there are a lot of synonyms, because there are many borrowings, e.g. hearty / native/ - cordial/ borrowing/. After a word is borrowed it undergoes desynonymization, because absolute synonyms are unnecessary for a language. However, there are some absolute synonyms in the language, which have exactly the same meaning and belong to the same style, e.g. to moan, to groan; homeland, motherland etc. In cases of desynonymization one of the absolute synonyms can specialize in its meaning and we get semantic synonyms, e.g. «city» /borrowed/, «town» /native/. The French borrowing «city» is specialized. In other cases native words can be specialized in their meanings, e.g. «stool» /native/, «chair» /French/.

Sometimes one of the absolute synonyms is specialized in its usage and we get stylistic synonyms, e.g. «to begin"/ native/, «to commence» /borrowing/. Here the French word is specialized. In some cases the native word is specialized, e.g. «welkin» /bookish/, «sky» /neutral/.

Stylistic synonyms can also appear by means of abbreviation. In most cases the abbreviated form belongs to the colloquial style, and the full form to the neutral style, e.g. «examination', «exam».

Among stylistic synonyms we can point out a special group of words which are called euphemisms. These are words used to substitute some unpleasant or offensive words, e.g. «the late» instead of «dead», «to perspire» instead of «to sweat» etc.

There are also phraseological synonyms, these words are identical in their meanings and styles but different in their combining with other words in the sentence, e.g. «to be late for a lecture» but «to miss the train», «to visit museums» but «to attend lectures» etc.

In each group of synonyms there is a word with the most general meaning, which can substitute any word in the group, e.g. «piece» is the synonymic dominant in the group «slice», «lump», «morsel». The verb «to look at» is the synonymic dominant in the group «to stare», «to glance», «to peep». The adjective «red' is the synonymic dominant in the group «purple», «scarlet», «crimson».

When speaking about the sources of synonyms, besides desynonymization and abbreviation, we can also mention the formation of phrasal verbs, e.g. «to give up» — «to abandon», «to cut down» — «to diminish». Grouping of words is based upon similarities and contrasts and is usually called as synonymic row. Taking up similarity of meaning and contrasts of phonetic shape we observe that every language has in its vocabulary a variety of words, kindred in meaning but distinct in morphemic composition, phonemic shape and usage, ensuring the expression of the most delicate shades of thought, feeling and imagination. The more developed the language, the richer the diversity and therefore the greater the possibilities of lexical choice enhancing the effectiveness and precision of speech.

The way synonyms function may be seen from the following example: Already in this half-hour of bombardment hundreds upon hundreds of men would have been violently slain, smashed, torn, gouged, crusted, and mutilated.

The synonymous words smash and crush are semantic-ally very close; they combine to give a forceful representation of the atrocities of war. Richness and clearness of language are of paramount importance in so far as they promote precision of thought. Even this preliminary example makes it obvious that the still very common definitions of synonyms as words of the same language having the same meaning or as different words that stand for the same notion are by no means accurate and even in a way misleading. By the very nature of language every word has its own history, its own peculiar motivation, and its own typical contexts. And besides there is always some hidden possibility of different connotation arid which is feeling in each of them. Moreover, words of the same meaning would be useless for communication: they would encumber the language, not enrich it.

If two words exactly coincide in meaning and use, the natural tendency is for one of them to change its meaning or drop out of the language. Thus synonyms are words only similar but not identical in meaning-. This definition is correct but vague. A more precise linguistic definition should be based on a workable notion of tie semantic structure of the word and of the complex nature of every separate meaning in a polysemantic word. Each separate lexical meaning of a word has been described in Chapter VII as consisting of a denotational component identifying the notion or the object and reflecting the essential features of the notion named, shades of meaning reflecting its secondary features, additional connotations resulting from typical contexts in which the word is used, its emotional component arid stylistic coloring; connotations are not necessarily present in every word. The basis of a synonymic opposition is formed by the first of the above named components, i.e. the denotational component. It will be remembered that the term opposition means the relationship of partial difference between two partially similar elements of a language. A common denotational component brings the words together into a synonymic group. All the other components can vary and thus form the distinctive features of the synonymic oppositions.

Synonyms can therefore be defined in terms of linguistics as two or more words of the same language, belonging to the same part of speech and possessing one or more identical or nearly identical denotational meanings, interchangeable, at least in some contexts, without any considerable alteration in denotational meaning, hut differing in morphemic composition, phonemic shape, shades of meaning, connotations, affective value, style, valence and idiomatic use. Additional characteristics of style, emotional coloring and valence peculiar to one of the elements in a synonymic group may be absent in one or all of the others.

The definition is of necessity very bulky and needs some commenting upon. By pointing out the fact that synonyms belong to the same part of speech the definition makes it clear that synonymic grouping is really a special case of lexico-grammatical grouping based on semantic proximity of words.

To have something tangible to work upon it is convenient to compare some synonyms within their group, so as to make obvious the reasons of the definition. The verbs experience, undergo, sustain and suffer, for example, come together because all four render the notion of experiencing something. The verb and the noun experience indicate actual living through something and coming to know it first hand rather than from hearsay. Undergo applies chiefly to what someone or something bears or is subjected to, as in to undergo an operation, to undergo changes. Compare also the following example from L. P. Smith: The French language has undergone considerable and more recent changes since the date when the Normans brought it into England. In the above example the verb undergo can be replaced by its synonyms without any change of the sentence meaning. This may be easily proved if a similar context is found for some other synonym in the same group. For instance: These Latin words suffered many transformations in becoming French.

The denotational meaning is obviously the same. Synonyms, then, are interchangeable under certain conditions specific to each group. This seems to call forth an analogy with phonological neutralization. Now, it will be remembered that neutralization is the absence in some contexts of a phonetic contrast found elsewhere or formerly in the language, as the absence of contrast between final [s] and [z] after [t]. It appears we are justified in calling s e-m antic neutralization the suspension of an otherwise functioning semantic opposition that occurs in some lexical contexts.

And yet suffer in this meaning (`to undergo'), but not in the example above, is characterized by connotations implying wrong or injury. No semantic neutralization occurs in phrases like to suffer atrocities, to suffer heavy losses. The implication is of course caused by the existence of the main intransitive meaning of the same word, not synonymous with the group, i. e. `feel pain'. Sustain as an element of this group differs from both in shade of meaning and style. It is an official word and it suggests undergoing affliction without giving way.

A further illustration will be supplied by a group of synonymous nouns: hope, expectation, and anticipation. They are considered to be synonymous because they all three mean `having something in mind which is likely to happen'. They are, however, much less interchangeable than the previous group because of more strongly pronounced difference in shades of meaning. Expectation may be either of good or of evil. Anticipation, as a rule, is a pleasurable expectation of something good. Hope is not only a belief but a desire that some event would happen. The stylistic difference is also quite marked. The Romance words anticipation and expectation are formal literary words used only by educated speakers, whereas the native monosyllabic hope is stylistically neutral. Moreover, they differ in idiomatic usage. Only hope is possible in such set expressions as: to hope against, hope, to lose hope, to pin one’s hopes on smth. Neither expectation nor anticipation could be substituted into the following quotation from T. S. Eliot: You do not know what hope is until you have lost it.

Taking into consideration the corresponding series of synonymous verbs and verbal set expressions: to hope, for anticipate, to expect, to look forward to, we shall see that separate words may be compared to whole set expressions. To look forward also worthy of note because it forms a definitely colloquial counterpart to the rest. It can easily be shown, on the evidence of examples, that each synonymic group comprises a dominant element. This synonymic dominant is the most general term of its kind potentially containing the specific features rendered by all the other members' of the group, as, for instance, undergo and hope in the above.

In the series leave, depart, quit, retire, clear out the verb leave, being general and both stylistically and emotionally neutral, can stand for each of the other four terms. The other four can replace leave only when some specific semantic component must prevail over the general notion. When we want to stress the idea of giving up employment and stopping work quit is preferable because in this word this particular notion dominates over the more general idea common to the whole group. Some of these verbs may be used transitively, e. g. He has left me… Abandoned me! Quitted me! (BENNETT). Arnold I.V. The English Word M. High School 1986 pp. 143−149 In this synonymic series therefore the dominant term is leave. Other dominants are, for instance, get, a verb that can stand for the verbs obtain, acquire, gain, win, earn; also ask, the most general term of its group, viz. inquire, question or interrogate. The synonymic dominant should not be confused with a generic term. A generic term is relative. It serves as the name for the notion of the genus as distinguished from the names of the species. For instance, animal is a generic term as compared to the specific names wolf, dog or mouse (which are not synonymous). Dog, in its turn, may serve as a generic term for different breeds such as bull-dog, collie, poodle, etc.

The definition on p. 224 states that synonyms possess one or more identical or nearly identical meanings. To realize the significance of this, one must bear in mind that the majority of frequent words are polysemantic, and that it is precisely the frequent words that have many synonyms. The result is that one and the same word may belong in its various meanings to several different synonymic groups. The verb appear in … an old brown cat without a tail appeared from nowhere (MANSFIELD) Jespersen, Otto. Growth and Structure of the English Language. Oxford, 1982 pp. 246−249 is synonymous with come into sight, emerge. On the other hand, when Gr. Greene depicts the far-off figures of the parachutists who … appeared stationary, appeared is synonymous with look or seem, their common component being `give the impression of. Appear, then, often applies to erroneous impressions.

Compare the following. groups synonymous to five different meanings of the adjective fresh, as revealed by characteristic contexts: To begin a fresh paragraph--fresh: another: different: new.

Fresh air -- fresh: pure: invigorating.

A freshman --fresh: inexperienced: green: raw.

To be fresh with smb --fresh: impertinent: rude.

The semantic structures of two polysemantic words sometimes coincide in more than one meaning, but never completely.

Synonyms may also differ in emotional coloring which may be present in one element of the group and absent in all or some of the others. Lonely as compared with alone is emotional as is easily seen from the following examples: …a very lonely boy lost between them and aware at ten that his mother had no interest in him, and that his father was a stranger. (ALDEIDGE) Shall be alone as my secretary doesn’t come to-day (M. DICKENS). Both words denote being apart from others, but lonely besides the general meaning implies longing for company, feeling sad because of the lack of sympathy and companionship. Alone does not necessarily suggest any sadness at being by oneself.

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