Lexicology of the English Language

: 24/38


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 levelling of grammar inflexions, when different parts of speech become identical in their outer aspect, e.g. care from caru and care from carian. 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 fager /blond/. Two borrowings can coincide e.g. base from the French base /Latin basis/ and base /low/ from the Latin bas /Italian basso/.

Homonyms can develop through shortening of different words, e.g. cab from cabriolet, cabbage, cabin.

Classifications of homonyms.

Walter Skeat 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 - and ; homographs, that is words with the same spelling but pronounced differently, e.g. bow -/bau/ - and /bou/ - ; homophones that is words pronounced identically but spelled differently, e.g. night - and knight - .

Another classification was suggested by A.I Smirnitsky. He added to Skeats classification one more criterion: grammatical meaning. He subdivided the group of perfect homonyms in Skeats 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 homoforms 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. Arnold. She classified only perfect homonyms and suggested four criteria of their classification: lexical meaning, grammatical meaning, basic forms and paradigms.

According 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. Arnolds 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 levelling 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 foms, e.g. for - and for - .

: 21/06/2009