English Lexicology Changes in word meaning. Week 12 Instructor: Liu Hongyong. Warming-up. Do you think the following two words are related or not? In what way are they related? salt salary holyholiday awe awesomeawful (awesome/awful day?) fondfoolish
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English LexicologyChanges in word meaning
Instructor: Liu Hongyong
Do you think the following two words are related or not? In what way are they related?
awe awesomeawful (awesome/awful day?)
nice know <ne (Latin: not)+scire (Latin: know)
由专指“船舶进入水浅的地方不能前进”扩大到指称 一切“事情遭到阻碍而不能进行”， 如“这次旅游的事无限期地搁浅了。”
A large proportion of polysemous words of modern English have their meanings extended sometime in the course of development. Some words are generalized to such a degree that they can mean almost everything.
“Thing” which used to mean “a public assembly” or “a council” in Anglo-Saxon times, now has become an all-purpose word. Its meaning is so general, and we sometimes call this noun a ‘light noun’.
(original) Spoken words
A light noun, which can refer to anything
Jiang, L.-S. 2004. About the lexicalization of the cross-structural combination “de hua”. Zhongguo Yuwen 5: 387-400.
(downloadable from 中国期刊网)
For economy, some phrases are shortened and only one element of the original, usually an adjective, is left to retain the meaning of the whole. Such adjectives have thus taken on specialized meanings.
Some material nouns are used to refer to objects made of them and thus have a more specific sense.
Churl, hussy, villain which were originally neutral have been down-graded as “ill-manned or bad people”.
Occasionally you can see some good reason for a change of meaning. For example, the word rubber used to be used to mean ‘eraser’ in New Zealand varieties of English (as in British varieties), but was rejected in favor of eraser once rubber came to mean ‘condom’.
This kind of embarrassment has also led people in many parts of the English-speaking world to stop calling the male of the domestic fowl a cock, preferring rooster instead.
This kind of embarrassment has been suggested as the reason that ass was replaced by the word donkey in everyday usage.
gold: gold medal
daily: daily newspaper
The meaning of the word “gold” has changed from material to refer to the whole phrase “gold medal”. This kind of change often occurs in habitual collocations.
The influx of borrowings has caused some words to change in meaning.
(original) a wild animal of any sort from a lion to a mouse.
In Middle Ages, the French word beste (=beast) became the general word.
In 16th century, the Latin word animal was also adopted into the English vocabulary.
Today deercan only refer to a particular kind of animal.
(original) skillful in dealing with international relations
(present) skillful in dealing with any kind of relations
(original) the art of dealing with international relations
Change in word meaning may result from the figurative use of the language. Metaphor and metonymy are two important figures of speech (修辞手法).
This is also a horse, but a metaphorical horse.
This meaning is derived through the metaphor
“The last line on this page is the foot of the page.”
1. The lower extremity of the vertebrate leg that is in direct contact with the ground in standing or walking.
2. The lowest part; the bottom
the foot of a mountain
the foot of a page
如“敌人像狗一样夹着尾巴逃跑了”运用的是明 喻，换成借喻就是“这条狗夹着尾巴逃跑了”。在上面 两句中，本体是“敌人”，喻体是“狗”，喻词是“像”。由明喻到借喻，只是省略了本体和喻词。因此所有借喻 只要增加本体和喻词都可以转换成明喻。
Seat (its sense is extended to the right to sit as a member of a committee, such as the House of Commons)
He lost his seat in House of Commons.
The word “seat” has acquired the meaning of “the right to sit as a member” through the above metonym.
These meanings are derived through the following metonyms.
1. A small low bed for an infant, often furnished with rockers
2. The earliest period of life; infancy
from the cradle to the grave
3. A place of origin; a birthplace
the cradle of civilization.