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Lexicology. Linguistics. Phonetics Phonology Morphology Lexicology Semantics Syntax. Topics for lexicology. Historical change Change of form Change of pronunciation Change of meaning Change of word formation Word origins The word-formation Idioms Dictionaries

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  • Phonetics
  • Phonology
  • Morphology
  • Lexicology
  • Semantics
  • Syntax
topics for lexicology
Topics for lexicology
  • Historical change
    • Change of form
    • Change of pronunciation
    • Change of meaning
    • Change of word formation
  • Word origins
  • The word-formation
  • Idioms
  • Dictionaries
  • Differences between American and British languages
notions and expressions
Notions and Expressions
  • Notions and Expressions
    • Cognate
    • Etymology
    • Jargon
    • The core vocabulary
    • The learned vocabulary
story of words
Story of words
  • Applaud & explode
    • Applaudere
    • Expaudere
      • bomb
  • The historical background of English
    • Stone age
    • Roman Conquest
    • Invasion by Germanic tribes
history of english
History of English
  • 450-1066, Old English

Period of full inflections

  • 1066-1476, Middle EnglishPeriod of leveled inflections
  • 1476--1776,Early Modern English Period of lost inflections
the language change
The language change
  • Vocabulary
  • Word order
  • Pronunciation and phonological system
  • Case system
  • Orthographical features
change in word order
Change in Word Order
  • ‘and it put to flight’and put it to flight
  • ‘it after rode’rode after it
  • ‘then give the army him hostages’then the army gave him hostages
  • ‘promised that their king baptism receive would’promised that their king would receive baptism
  • niht (night) : hit (old English)
  • Fyue(five):sleeve

feeldes(fields): failed us (Middle English)

old english
Old English
  • Fæder ure þuþe eart on heofonumsi þin nama gehalgod tobecume þin rice gewurþe þin willa on eorðan swa swa on heofonumurne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us to dægand forgyf us ure gyltas swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendumand ne gelæd þu us on costnunge ac alys us of yfele soþlice.
middle english
Middle English
  • Oure fadir þat art in heuenes halwid be þi name;þi reume or kyngdom come to be. Be þi wille don in herþe as it is dounin heuene.yeue to us today oure eche dayes bred.And foryeue to us oure dettis þat is oure synnys as we foryeuen to oure dettouris þat is to men þat han synned in us.And lede us not into temptacion but delyuere us from euyl.
early modern english
Early Modern English
  • Our father which art in heauen, hallowed be thy name.Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heauen.Giue us this day our daily bread.And forgiue us our debts as we forgiue our debters.And lead us not into temptation, but deliuer us from euill. Amen. -----(King James Version, 1611)
why does language change
Whydoes language change?
  • Borrowing(examples from English)
    • Latin: animal, deficit, exit, extra, item, logic, pope
    • French: art, beauty, dinner, dress, jail, napkin, passion
    • Greek: comedy, climax, dialogue, drama, episode
    • Spanish: adobe, canyon, cigar, guerilla, plaza, vanilla
    • German: angst, kindergarten, pretzel, sauerkraut, spiel
    • Italian: attitude, balcony, opera, piano, tempo,umbrella
    • Persian: paradise, khaki, van, pyjamas,
    • Arabic: algorithem, algebra, minaret, sultan
example of english
Example of English
  • Borrowings from French (after Norman Invasion).
  • Sometimes both versions survived:

French English

    • pork swine
    • beef cow
why does language change1
Why does language change?
  • Simplification
    • phonological system:
      • Persian: long features not productive
          • Front Back
          • i u
          • e e: o: o
          • Q a
      • o:, e: ---> u, i she:r ---> shir
    • Result: homophones: shir: lion/milk
why does language change2
Why does language change?
  • Simplification
    • morphological system
      • Simplification of the Case system from the ancient IE languages to their daughter languages.
    • syntactic system
      • Loss of ergative construction in Persian: the verb agreed with the object if in past tense.
attitudes to language change
Attitudes to language change
  • Fortunately, I have a spare fan belt.
  • Frankly, you ought to stop seeing Bill.
  • Mercifully, the ceasefire appears to be holding.
  • Undoubtedly, she has something up her sleeve.
  • Hopefully, we’ll be there in time for lunch.
function of language change
Function of language change
  • I hope we’ll be there in time for lunch, but I suspect we won’t make it.
  • Hopefully, we’ll be there in time for lunch, but I suspect we won’t make it.
My car is being repaired
  • My house is being painted
  • This problem is being discussed at today’s meeting.
  • My car is repairing
  • My house is painting
  • This problem is discussing at today’s meeting.
language classification
Language Classification
  • Isolating

each idea expressed in a separate word or morpheme; words tend to be monosyllabic

e.g, Chinese;

  • Agglutinative

words made of multiple syllables; each syllable has meaning e.g., Turkish. For example, ev (house), evler (houses), evlerde (in the houses), evlerden (from the houses)

language classification1
Language Classification
  • Incorporative

major sentence elements incorporated into single word e.g., Inuktitut (Eskimo): Qasuiirsarvigssarsingitluinarnarpuq means "Someone did not find a completely suitable resting place"

language classification2
Language Classification
  • Inflective

an alteration in or addition to a form of a word to indicate such things as case, gender, number, mood, and tense; one fusional affix may mark several grammatical categories at the same time, e.g., Latin & Old English

language change
Language Change
  • Accents
  • Dialects
  • Languages
language family
Language Family
  • In time, with enough migrations, a single language can evolve into an entire family of languages.
  • Languages in the same family, share many common grammatical features and many of the key words
indo european languages
Indo-European Languages
  • The single largest language family, Indo-European has about 150 languages and about three billion speakers.  Languages include Hindi and Urdu (400 million), Bengali (200 million), Spanish (300 million), Portuguese (200 million), French (100 million), German (100 million), Russian (300 million), and English (400 million) in Europe and the Americas.  With English, one can reach approximately one billion people in the world.
  • Specialized words having the same origin or related and in some way similar
  • Related words
  • Sky
  • Counting
  • Animal
origin of ie
Origin of IE
  • Europe
  • West Asia
the importance of sanskrit
The importance of Sanskrit
  • In 1786, Sir William Jones, a supreme court judge in India, proposed that Sanskrit, the language of ancient India, was similar to Greek and Latin,
  • Inflectional system
origin of i e
Origin of I-E
  • Many I-E languages have cognates for the honey bee and for a fermented honey drink (e.g. Greek méli (honey) and mélissa (bee); Latin mel (honey); Old English milisc (honey sweet), medu (mead) and mildeaw (honey dew); Sanskrit madhu (honey); Dutch mede)
  • Bees are not found in any of the Asiatic sites proposed as the IE homeland.
origin of i e1
Origin of I-E
  • Common words for snow, winter, spring; for dog, horse, cow, sheep bear but not camel, lion, elephant, or tiger; for beech, oak, pine, willow, but not palm or banyan
  • I-E Cultural: complex sense of family relationship and organization; used gold and silver but not copper and iron; words for "wheel," "axle," and "yoke" show they used animals to pull wheeled vehicles; they farmed (not nomadic) with plows and kept domestic animals; they believed in multiple gods.
history of english1
History of English
  • 4000 BC to 1500 BC Stone Age man and the first farmers
  • 1500 BC to the Roman Invasion in 43 AD
  • 410 to 1066
    • Anglo Saxon Britain
    • Viking raids
    • The Norman invasion
history of english2
History of English
  • Old English(449-1066):
    • Mid fifth century A.D: Germanic tribes invaded England.
      • Several dialects emerged.
      • West Saxon became the most important one. This language is now called Old English or Anglo Saxon
features of old english
Features of Old English
  • Vocabulary
    • Purely Germanic
    • Rarity of Latin and absence of French
  • Grammar
    • Synthetic language: Old English
    • Analytic language: Modern English
stories behind words
Stories behind words
  • Gossip
    • Godsib (related to God in old English)
    • Sibling
      • a brother or sister
stories behind words1
Stories behind words
  • Kidnap
    • Kid+Nap (compound of two slangs in Middle English)
      • A baby to be baptized
      • The Godparents
    • Kid: a child Nap: Steal
notions and expressions1
Notions and Expressions
  • Dialect
  • Inflection
  • Inflective languages
  • Language family
  • Indo-European languages
  • Sanskrit
  • Draw inference about what they mean
  • Commit the words to memory
  • Keep your working pile current
  • Attributethe success to his hard work
  • Venerable or vulnerable?
foreign influence on the old english
Foreign Influence on the old English
  • The Celtic
  • The Latin
  • The Scandinavian Influence
    • 790 A.D the invision of the Vikings
germanic influence
Germanic Influence
  • For-, in-, -ful, -dom, -hood, -ship, -ness, -the, -ful, -ish
influence of latin
Influence of Latin
  • altar, candle, disciple, hymn, martyr, nun, priest, pope, shrine, temple
  • -able, -ible, -ent, -al, -ous, -ive
scandinavian influence
Scandinavian Influence
  • are, they, their, them, till, call die, give, take, skin, sky, window, ill , weak
  • -sk
middle english1
Middle English
  • Norman Conquest in 1066
  • William the Conqueror
  • The course of English language was changed
the use of french
The use of French
  • The upper class
  • The bilingual character of the England
  • The relation between the England and the continent
the thirteenth century
The Thirteenth Century
  • Upper class: French
  • Upper class: English for a general use in the middle of the century
  • Adoption of French words into English
  • Imperfect French
french influence on the vocabulary
French Influence on the Vocabulary
  • More direct on vocabulary
  • Before 1250, 900 words through contact of nobility
  • After 1250, common words
governmental and administrative words
Governmental and Administrative words
  • state, royal, authority, court, council, parliament, treaty, tax, public, exile, liberty, prince, princess, sir, madam
words about religion
Words about Religion
  • religion, prayer, lesson, passion, chapter, faith, virgin, miracle, mystery, salvation, immortality, preach,pray
  • justice, judgment, advocate, attorney, bell, complaint, fine, punishment, accuse, sue, imprison, property, innocent
army and navy
Army and Navy
  • army, navy, peace, enemy, arms, battle, defense, soldier, guard, spy, banner
fashion meals and social life
Fashion, Meals and Social Life
  • habit,train, garment, lace, button, blue, brown, scarlet, pearl, diamond, crystal, dinner, supper, feast, taste, appetite, cream, sugar, salad, date, grape, orange, cherry, roast, boil, fry
art learning medicine
Art, Learning, Medicine
  • art, painting, sculpture, music, beauty, color, figure, image, palace, tower, prose, romance, story, tragedy, copy, compile, medicine, pain, physician, surgeon, poison
topics for today
Topics for today
  • Vocabulary of Early Modern English
  • Borrowing from other European languages
  • Latest development of English vocabulary
  • Morphological structure of English
early modern english1
Early Modern English
  • 1476, the introduction of printing press, by Sir William Caxton.
  • 1492, the discovery of the New World
  • 1755, the Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson
  • 1776, American revolution
the background of early modern english
The Background of Early Modern English
  • The rise of literacy: access to books
  • Expansion of the lexicon
  • Renaissance
vocabulary enrichment during the renaissance
Vocabulary Enrichment During the Renaissance
  • Renaissance: began in Italy, spread in Europe and reached English in 15th c.
  • The importance of French loans decreased.
  • New learned words from Latin and Greek.
borrowed from latin
Borrowed from Latin
  • Being educated equals to the proficiency in Latin and Greek
  • Translation of classics: new words introduced rather translated
  • Alumnus, arena curriculum, elect exclusive, imitate investigate, relate
  • Invitation, frequency, virus, offensive
latin affixes
Latin affixes
  • -ence, -ancy, -ius, -ia, -ous,

-os, -ate, -us

  • ante-, post-, sub-, super-
borrowed from classical greek
Borrowed from Classical Greek
  • Entered into English through French and Latin
  • Indirect: atmosphere, chaos, economy, drama, syllable, scheme
  • Direct: catastrophe, criterion, lexicon, rhythm, syllabus
borrowed from other european languages
Borrowed from Other European Languages
  • Italian: stanza, balcony, opera; musical words
  • Dutch: trigger, drill, smuggle
  • Spanish and Portuguese: potato, cargo
new loanwords 1500 1700 625 loan words 1848 words
New loanwords 1500-1700 (625 loan words/ 1848 words)
  • Latin 393
  • French 121
  • French or Latin 20
  • Greek 35
  • Italian 16
  • Spanish/Portuguese 16
  • German and Dutch 9
  • Other languages 15
assassin assassination
Assassin/ Assassination
  • Arabic
  • Sheik-al-jebal: the old man of the mountain
  • Scimitars: razor sharp, curved swords
Hashish/ Hashishin
  • Slobbering ,vicious animal
  • Crusades(1095-1291)
morphological structure
Morphological Structure
  • Linguistic notions
    • Word
    • Morpheme
      • Root
      • Affix
    • Allomorph
the definition of words
The definition of words
  • Smallest free-standing forms that represent meaning.
  • 词,今指语言组织中的基础单位, 能独立运用,具有声音、意义和语法功能。”


  • The smallest meaningful linguistic unit of language, not divisible or analyzable into smaller forms.
a phoneme
  • A phoneme only conveys sound distinction, but amorpheme has both sound and meaning.
an allomorph
An allomorph
  • Any of the variant forms of a morpheme as conditioned by position or adjoining sounds.Different forms of the same morpheme
word and morpheme
Word and morpheme
  • word, worker
  • work-, -er
  • morph- : shape

-eme : meaningful

morpheme and phoneme
Morpheme and phoneme
  • “Origin” “tribe, nation”


[j] [ε] [n]

<g> <e> <n>

  • caps, classes: √-s (plural)
  • -ion, -tion, -ation, -sion

positional allomorphs of the same suffix

morpheme meaning take
Morpheme meaning “take”
  • √cap-: capable, captive
  • √cep: accept, deception
  • √cip: anticipate, participate, principal
the properties of morphemes
The Properties of Morphemes
  • Smallest unit associated with a meaning
    • car, care, carpet, cargo
    • √car, √care, √carpet, √cargo
properties of morphemes
Properties of morphemes
  • Morphemes are recyclable units
    • √care : careless, careful, uncaring, caregiver
    • A test
  • √happy or √happ- , √-y ?
  • Happ-: “luck, chance” in Old Norse, borrowed into English in the twelfth century
  • Mishap, happen, hapless
types of morphemes
Types of morphemes
  • Free morpheme and bound morpheme
    • man, faith
    • un-, -s
  • Roots and affixes
    • Bound root morphemes
    • Free root morphemes
  • Affixes
  • Free roots: free morphemes
  • Bound roots: derived from foreign source
    • Vit (Latin: “life”): viv (to live): revive vitamin vitalvivid
learn some roots from latin
Learn some roots from Latin
  • acu- (acr-) ----sharp
    • Acute
  • ag- (act-) ---to do, to drive
    • Agent
more roots from latin
More roots from Latin
  • anim----life or mind
    • animal
  • annu- (ennu-) ---year
    • annual
  • Aud- (audit) --to hear
    • audience
words about hairstyle
Words about hairstyle
  • Hairstyle1, 2, 3
  • Poodle cut
  • Bangs
  • Bunches
  • Ducktail cut Dreadlock
  • Affixes
  • Word-formation
affixes distinction from roots
Affixes: distinction from roots
  • They do not form words by themselves
  • Their meaning is not as clear and specific as it the meaning of roots
  • The number of affixes is much restricted than that of roots
types of affixes
Types of affixes
  • Suffixes
  • prefixes
free bound
free bound
  • Affixes are bound morphemes
  • It is quite normal for free morphemes to become bound
  • e.g. less (adj.): devoid of, lacking
  • dom : doom, judgement

hood: condition or state

functions of affixes
Functions of affixes
  • Derivational affixes
    • Affixes which participate in the formation of new words
  • Inflectional affixes
    • Do not form a new word
    • Play a grammatical function
derivation of unhabitableness
Derivation of unhabitableness
  • The stem is habit


ADJ ness

un ADJ

V able

in habit

main process of english word formation
Main process of English Word-formation
  • Prefixation
  • Suffixation
  • Conversion
  • Compounding
8 categories of prefixes
8 categories of prefixes
  • Negative-prefixes
    • a-, an- (used before vowels)
    • dis-
    • in-, il-, im-, ir-
    • non-
    • un-
    • ob-
    • se-, sed-
negative prefixes
Negative prefixes
  • a-, an- : lacking of, lacking in; combined with n. or adj. used chiefly learned and scientific words

eg. amoral, asexual, asymmetry, anarchy, aseptic, anhydrous

negative prefixes1
Negative Prefixes
  • dis-, combining with Adj. Adv. N. and V.

eg. dishonest, disjoint, disloyal, disunity, disuse (n.) disbenefit, disambiguate

in-, im- (before labials), il-, ir-

incomplete, inconsistent, incorrect, insane, inattention, illiterate, illogical, imbalanced, immortal, irrational, irrelavant

Note: less common than un-

  • non-black, nonscience, nonbusiness, nonfree (without freedom), nongreen

nonperishable, nontrivial,

non-U(adj): (BrE.)not of the upper class

new meaning of non
New meaning of non-
  • nonbook: a book which has little literacy or factual information
  • noncandidate: a person who has not announced or is unwilling to announce his candidacy of an office
  • nonhero: antihero: a hero whose character is opposite to traditional one
  • nonperson: a person regarded as non-existent; unperson
difference non un
Difference : non-, un-
  • non-: binary (non-gradable) contrast
  • un-: the opposite end of a scale
  • Example:

non-scientific: fields other than science

unscientific: not scientific

productive prefix as non
Productive prefix as non-
  • 600 words with the prefix non- in Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1977
un adj participles n
un- (adj, participles, n.)
  • Unfriendly, uninformative, unwise, unremarked (unnoticed), unassuming (modest), unease, unrest
  • Other meanings of un-

unbook: a book bought not to be used but to be given as a present

unpeople: people in lack of humanity and individuality

unperson: a political or public figure who has lost the influence or importance

ob se
ob-, se-
  • ob: in the opposite direction

object, obverse,

  • se-: apart

separate, select

judgment prefixes
Judgment prefixes
  • dis- (intensifier) disturb, disgruntle
  • dys- (badly) dyslogistic, dyspeptic
  • eu- (good,well) eugenics, euphoria
  • Extra- extraordinary, extramarital
  • Mal- (ill,evil) malpractice, maltreat, maldevelopment, malfunction, malnutrition
  • Mis-
  • Pro-
  • Proto-
  • Pseudo-
Meta- (changed) metaphysics
  • Mis (badly, wrongly): misdial, mishear, misunderstand, misconception (understanding wrongly)
  • Pseudo- (false):

pseudonym: an invented name

pseudoscience: pretended science

pseudoclassic: pretending to be classic

Pro: (on behalf of) pro-British, pro-education
  • Proto- (first, chief) prototype,
locative prefixes
Locative prefixes
  • Ab-, a-, or abs- (from, away) abnormal,
  • Ad- (toward) : admit, advance
  • Ana- (back): analogy
  • Apo(away): apology
  • Cata (down, away): catastrophe
  • Circum- (around): circumnaviate (sail around)
Counter- against, opposite
  • De-
  • Dia-
  • Ecto-
  • En-
  • Endo-
  • Epi-
Ex-, ec-
  • Iinfra- below
  • Inter—
  • Intra– inside
  • Para-
  • Peri
  • Pro
  • super
  • Trans--
counting prefixes
Counting prefixes
  • Ambi: both ambiguous
  • Bi-
  • Di- ditransitive
  • Mono
  • Multi
  • Omni: all
  • Poly
  • Tri
  • Uni
  • Temporal prefixes

ante-, fore-, neo-, post-, pre-, pro-,re-

  • Involvement prefixes

anti-, auto--, co-, con-, vice-

other methods of word formation
Other methods of word formation
  • Conversion: from one word class to another word class without changing the form: release(v)—release(n)
  • Compounding: two words into one

Lord: loaf (bread) warden (guardian)

  • Syntactic compounds

shoemaker, washing machine, bookkeeper, candlelight

  • Lexical compounds

ice cream, sweetheart

  • Invention words: Blurb, Kodak, Nylon, lubriderm
  • Two familiar words yoked together

smog: smoke+ frog

more ways of word formation
More ways of word formation
  • Acronyms
  • Initialisms
  • Reverse acronyms
  • Shortening
  • Eponyms
topic word meaning
Topic: Word meaning
  • What is “meaning”?
  • Semantic features
  • Senses relations between words
  • Change of word meaning
what is meaning
What is “meaning”?
  • What is the meaning of “retrospection” ? (signify)
  •  I did not mean to hurt you. (intend)
  • He never says what he means.
  • She rarely means what she says.
  • Life without faith has no meaning. (significance/ value)
what is meaning1
What is “meaning”?
  • What do you mean by the word “love” (intend to say)
  • He means well but he’s rather clumsy.
  • Fame and richness mean nothing to the true lovers.
  • Dark clouds mean rain. ( a sign of )
  • It was John, I meant, not Harry.(speak of/ have in mind)
form and meaning
Form and Meaning
  • Language is a system of symbols
  • The relation between form and sense is arbitrary and conventional
  • “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet” ---Shakespere: Romeo and Juliet

  • Most words are nonmotivated
  • Phonetic motivation: onomatopoeic words or echoic words
    • woof-woof (dog), miaow (cat), moo (cow), baa-baa (sheep), roar (lion), coo (pigeon), hum (bee), quack (duck) bang (door)
  • The ice was here, the ice was there,

The ice was all around:

It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,

Like noises in a swound

  • Morphological motivation

-able, read: readable


  • Semantic motivation

a stony heart

the leg of a table

(figurative usage, mental association)

types of word meaning
Types of Word Meaning
  • grammatical meaning
    • Consists of word-class and inflectional paradigm
    • Word class:the part of speech of the word
    • Inflectional paradigm: plurality, tense markers, case markers…
lexical meaning
Lexical meaning
  • Lexical meaning is the meaning of an isolated word in a dictionary
  • Lexical meaning is dominant in function words, grammatical meaning is dominant in function words
  • The two kinds of meaning can be demonstrated by nonsense verse
nonsense verse
Nonsense Verse
  • T was brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe

---”Jabberwock” of Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass (1871)

lexical meaning1
Lexical Meaning
  • Denotative meaning
  • Connotative meaning
  • Contextual meaning
  • Stylistic meaning
  • Affective meaning
denotative meaning
Denotative Meaning
  • chair: it is a piece of furniture for one person to sit on, having a back and, usually, four legs.
denotative meaning1
Denotative Meaning
  • Conceptual meaning: shared by all speakers of a given community
  • “…involves the relationship between a linguistic unit ( especially a lexical item) and the non-linguistic entities to which it refers…”

---Crystal (1980)

connotative meaning
Connotative meaning
  • mother: love, care, and tenderness
  • A feeling or idea that is suggested by a particular word although not necessarily a part of the word’s meaning
  • Connotation pertaining to individuals and connotation pertaining to a group
    • father
    • white
    • communist
contextual meaning
Contextual Meaning
  • (1)   Some of this country are much warmer than others.
  • (2)   After many years abroad he wanted to return to his country.
  • (3)   The country is opposed to war.
contextual meaning1
Contextual Meaning
  • (4)   What does a farming country mean ? (land with a special nature)
  • (5)   We’re hoping to go for a day in the country if the weather’s fine tomorrow.

(6) This is unknown country (a branch of learning) to me.

stylistic meaning
Stylistic Meaning
  • (1)   oratorical or frozen style for written report or in dignified public speech prepared beforehand on a solemn occasion.
  • (2)   formal style
  • (3) consultative style for polite and fairly neutral way of communication
  • (4)  casual style for conversation among friends or in personal letters when the language is informal, familiar, relaxed, warm and friendly.
  • (5)   intimate style
affective meaning
Affective Meaning
  • Purr words, marked as apprec (appreciatory)
  • Snarlwords, marked as derog (derogatory)
    • slender skinny
    • Statesman politician
    • confidence complacency
samuel taylor coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • There are three classes into all the women past seventy that ever I knew were to be divided:
    • That dear old soul
    • That old woman
    • That old witch
meaning and grammar
Meaning and Grammar
  • *He harvested a magnetic puff of amnesia
  • *Them yesterday goed to home
meaning and grammar1
Meaning and Grammar
  • *It is too light for me to lift
  • -How are you getting on with those jobs I asked you to do?

-*I’ve nearly completed

  • *The green idea sleep.
grammatical or semantic deviance
Grammatical or semantic deviance?
  • He exhaled a carcinogenic puff of smoke.
  • They went home yesterday
  • It is too heavy for me to lift.
  • I’ve nearly completed them.
  • I’ve nearly finished.
closed set item or open set item
Closed Set Item or Open Set Item
  • Closed: grammatical markers
  • Open: lexical roots
    • *The green idea is sleeping
    • The green lizard is sleeping
*The table saw Arthur
  • X-see-Y (semantic interaction)
  • Arthur is paranoiac. He believes all his accidents are due to a cosmic conspiracy. No doubt the table saw him, computed his path across the room, and placed itself just where he would trip over it.
  • 15th and 16th centuries
  • Plays about the Moslem or Moorish invasion of Europe
  • A horse make of wicker or straw with a hole in its back
  • Dobbin, Robin, or Hobbin—hobbin—hobby
  • Hobby horse (wooden rocking horse)
sec sequ follow
sec, sequ=follow
  • Second, secondary
  • Persecute, persecution, persecutor
  • Consecution, consecutive
  • Sequence, sequential
  • Consequence, consequential
  • Subsequence, subsequent
  • Sequacious, sequacity盲从
sect cut
  • Insect, insectology
  • Section, sectional
  • Sectile
  • Bisect, bisection, trisect, trisection
  • Dissect, dissection
  • Transect, transection
  • Vivisect, vivisection
  • Resect, resectable
  • Intersect, intersection
  • Secant
  • consecant
semantic feature
Semantic Feature
  • “The analysis of word meanings is often seen as a process of breaking down the sense of a word into its minimal components,” (Leech, 1981:84)
  • [+Male], [-Female]
  • Man: [+Human]+[+Adult]+[+Male]
  • Cow:[+Animate]+[-Human]+[-Male]
advantages of the componential analysis
Advantages of the componential analysis
  • Useful in characterizing meaning relations such as synonymy, polysemy, antonymy, and hyponymy
  • Helpful in choosing the right word or collocation

e.g. forgive (a verb of cognition taking a human subject)

John forgave your rudeness.
  • *A tree forgave your rudeness.

e.g. elapse (a verb taking a class of nouns referring to time as its subject)

A month elapsed.
  • * A bicycle/a person elapsed.
  • Hard for words that don’t have semantic opposition where the componential analysis is based.

e.g. window, cloud, kindness

  • Insufficient for the analysis of the sense in a word

e.g. man [+Human+Adult+Male], only from the biological point of view

Be a man!
  • Not working for the figurative usage.

e.g. threaten (taking animate object)

to threaten one’s enemy

to threaten one’s security

polysemy and homonymy
Polysemy and Homonymy
  • Polysemy: a word having more than one meaning
  • Homonymy: words having the same form by different meanings
  • Greek origin:
    • Polys:much; sema: meaning
  • Most English words are polysemic
  • A sign of the superiority of that language.
    • “The more meanings a word has accumulated, the more diverse aspects of intellectual and social activity it is likely to represent.”
two approaches of polysemy
Two approaches of polysemy
  • Diachronic:
    • The growth or change in the semantic structure of a word; the primary meaning and the derived meanings
  • Synchronic
    • the comparative value of individual meanings and the interrelation between the central meaning and second meanings
two process of polysemy
Two process of polysemy
  • Radiation
    • the process in which the primary or central meaning stands at the center while secondary meanings radiate from it in every direction like rays



a.       part of the human body beyond the wrist

b.      keeping, possession

The property is no longer in my hands.

c.       influence or agency

The hand of our opponent has been at work here.

d.   person or source from which something comes

I got the news at first hand.


e.       Skill

She has a light hand at pastry.

f.        person who does

He is a new hand.

g.       Employee

The factory has taken on 200 extra hands.

h.       turn, share in an activity

Let me have a hand now.


i.         a thing like a hand

The hour hand of the clock is broken.

j.        side or direction

This is an disadvantage on every hand/ on all hands.

k.      Handwriting

He writes a good hand.

l.         Signature

He set his hand to a document.


m.     cards dealt to a player

You have a good hand.

n.       member of a group of card-players

We have only three players, and we need a fourth hand.

o.      one game in a rubber at cards

Shall we play one more hand?

p.      Applause

He is a wonderful performer. Let’s give him a big hand

  • catena (Latin: chain) : linking together
  • a semantic process in which the meaning of a word moves gradually away from its first sense by successive shifts, like the links of a chain, until there is no connection between the sense that is finally developed and the primary meaning.
  • candidatus (Latin): pertaining to a person dressed in a white robe
    • A: the original meaning
    • A+B:a white-robed applicant for office
    • B: an applicant for office

A piece of timber


dining table

council table

  • a piece of timber------table-----dining table-------food served at table at a lodging house-----board (and lodging)
  • a piece of timber---table-------council table----councilors, committee, director of a company
  • “ Oliver had not been within the walls of the workhouse a quarter of an hour, …when Mr. Bumble, ….returned; and telling him it was a board night, informed him that the board had said he was to appear before it forthwith. …
  • Not having a very clearly defined notion of what a live board was, Oliver was rather astonished by this intelligence, “Bow to the board” said Bumble. Oliver brushed away two or three tears that were lingering in his eyes, and seeing no board but the table, fortunately bowed to that.”

----Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

  • “foolish” in old English
  • foolish or doting affection
  • “loving in a kind, gentle, or tender way”
  • other meanings of the word fond involve the value of ‘foolish’ n Modern English.
  • (1)   A fond mother may spoil her child. (foolishly loving)
  • (2)   In spite of his bad results in the examination, he has a fond belief in his own cleverness. (foolishly trusting or hopeful)
  • (3)   You are too fond of leaving the door open when you go out. (having the bad/foolish habit of)
bedlam great noise and confusion
Bedlam: great noise and confusion
  • 1200, harsh and dangerous in Europe
  • Convents and monasteries of Roman Catholic Church became the asylums of the strangers, the crippled and sick, and the insane.
  • The Hospital (hotel) of St. Mary of Bethlehem-Bethlem-Bedlam
  • King Henry VIII
  • Bedlam to house the lunatics
pen pencil penicillin
  • Penna(Latin): Feather
  • Pencil: Peniculli: Penicullus(Latin): little tail
  • Mold under the microscope: thousands of tiny tails
root studying sent sens
Root studying: sent-, sens-
  • Consent, consenter,consentient,consentaneous
  • Consensus, consensual
  • Dissent, dissension, dissenter, dissentient
  • Resent, resentful, resentment
  • presentiment
root studying sent sens1
Root studying: sent-, sens-
  • Sensory, extrasensory
  • Hypersensitive
  • oversensitive
  • Sensitize
  • Desensitize, desensitization, desensitizer
  • Assent, assentation, assentor, assentient
sent sens feel
sent, sens=feel
  • Sentiment
  • Sense, senseless
  • Sensible, insensible
  • Sensitive, insensitive
  • Sensation
  • Sentence
  • Sensual, sensuous
  • Greek homonumos (homo: the same, onoma:name)
  • refer to two or more words, which have the same form, but differ in meaning. They are pronounced alike, or spelled alike, or both.
types of homonymy
Types of Homonymy
  • A.     Perfect homonyms: words are identical both in sound and in spelling but different in meaning, such lie, page, base, meet.
  • B.     Homophones: words are identical in sound but different in spelling and meaning, such as air/heir, deer/dear, compliment/complement, pair/pear, son/sun, bear/bare, principal/principle, stationary/stationery.
types of homonymy1
Types of Homonymy

C. Homographs: words identical in spelling but different in sound and meaning, such as lead/lead, sow/sow, tear/tear, prayer/prayer, sewer/sewer

sources of homonyms
Sources of homonyms

A.  phonetic convergence

Old Norse ras


French race

ea /e:/ (in Shakespeare’s time)---

/i:/ (in present-day English)

bean/been, beat/beet, flea/flee, heal/heel, read/reed, sea/see, seam/seem, steal/steel

sources of homonyms1
Sources of homonyms

B.   Semantic divergence

“Homonymy can also be brought about through diverging sense development. When two or more meanings of the same word drift apart to such an extent that there will be no obvious connection between them, polysemy will give place to homonymy” (Ullmann 1977:177) It is quite difficult to say where polysemy ends and homonymy begins.

flour/flower, metal/mettle, mantle/mantel, gate/gait, sole/sole, to long/long

sources of homonyms2
Sources of homonyms

C.     Foreign influence

fair: attractive, beautiful, lovely (OE)

fair: a gathering of people held at regular intervals for barter and sale of goods (L, holiday)

sources of homonyms3
Sources of homonyms

sound: healthy, not diseased or injured or rotten (OE)

sound: sensation caused in ear by vibration of surrounding air (OF, L)

sound: test depth or quality of bottom of (sea, channel, pond, etc.) (ME, OF)

sound: arm of sea; narrow passage of water connecting two seas or sea with lake, etc. (OE sund, ON sund swimming strait)

sources of homonyms4
Sources of homonyms

D. Shortening

Homomyms may also be created by the word-formation process of clipping.

pop (popular)/pop (to thrust, to push)

rock( rock’n’roll)/rock (stone forming part of the earth’s surface)

hood (hoodlum)/hood (a covering for the whole of the head and neck)

punning and word play
Punning and Word play
  • ----I do look nice in the picture, don’t I ?
  • ---Well, mam, the answer lies in the negative.
punning and word play1
Punning and Word play

------Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew, Thou make’st thy knife keen.

The Merchant of Venice (Act IV, Scene 1)

-----“On Sunday they pray for you and on Monday they prey on you.” (王佐良,《英语文体学论文集》)

punning and word play2
Punning and Word play

----“ How is bread made?”

----“You take some flour……”

----“Where do you pick the flower? In a garden or in the hedges?

-----“Well, it isn’t picked at all, it’s ground…..”

-----“How many acres of ground?”

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

sense relations between words
Sense Relations between Words
  • Synonymy
  • Antonymy
  • Hyponymy(inclusion)
  • derived from Greek synomymon, of like meaning or like name
  • Synonyms are traditionally defined as words differing in sound form but identical or similar in meaning
  • The Third Webster defines it as “ a word having the same meaning as another word: as one of two or more words of the same language and grammatical category having the same essential or generic meaning and differing only in connotation, application, or idiomatic use: one of two or more words having essentially identical definitions….”.
two kinds of synonyms
Two Kinds of Synonyms
  • complete synonyms: two words are totally synonymous only if they are fully identical in meaning and interchangeable in any context without the slightest alteration in connotative, affective and stylistic meanings
    • word formation---word building


mother tongue--native language

complete synonyms
complete synonyms
  • For complete synonyms, one of them will die away finally
    • Submarine, U-boat
  • Complete synonyms can be exchanged only in certain contexts
    • To best one’s opponent, to worst one’s opponent
broad wide
Broad, wide
  • The broadest sense of a word

the widest sense of a word

  • A broad accent (a strong accent)

*wide accent

two kinds of synonyms1
Two Kinds of Synonyms
  • relative synonyms: quasi-synonymous words, differing from complete synonyms
    • in shade of meaning cf. finish, complete, close, conclude, end, terminate, finalize

anger, rage, fury, indignation, wrath

    • in stylistic meaning

cf. to die, to pass away, to kick the bucket

to chide, to berate, to scold, to blame, to carpet, to tell off, to bawl out

relative synonyms
relative synonyms
  • in emotive meaning

Negro, nigger, black; thrifty, miserly, niggardly, frugal; bravery, foolhardiness; firm, pigheaded;

  • in range of use: about and on
relative synonyms1
relative synonyms
  • in collocation

pretty (girl, child, flower, garden, color, village, cottage)

handsome (boy, man , car, table, overcoat, airliner, house)

a flock of sheep, a herd of elephants, a shoal of fish, a swarm of bees; to sail a small boat, to navigate a liner; rancid butter (bacon), addled eggs (brains)

    • Girl, child, flower, garden, colour, village, cottage
  • Handsome
    • Boy, man, car, table, overcoat, airliner, house
living alive
Living, alive
  • Pre-modifier

He is the greatest living scientist.

  • Post-modifier

He is the greatest scientist alive.

Q: sleeping, asleep

relative synonyms2
relative synonyms
  • in British and American usage

sick and ill, sidewalk and pavement, gas and petrol, movie and film, elevator and lift, can and tin, mail and post, railroad and railway, call box and telephone booth, taxi stand and cab rank, muffler and silencer, sedan and saloon, ranger and commando

some relevant points about synonyms
Some relevant points about synonyms
  • Synonyms which look like antonyms
    • Loosen, unloosen, unfasten
    • Valuable, invaluable
    • Flammable, inflammable
    • Shameful, shameless
    • Heritable, inheritable
some relevant points about synonyms1
Some relevant points about synonyms
  • A good scare, a bad scare
  • A good licking, a bad licking
  • A slim chance, a fat chance
  • A sharp speech, a blunt speech
subject attracting synonyms
Subject attracting synonyms
  • Beowulf: hero, prince(36)

battle, fight (12)

sea (17+30)

ship, boat (11+16)

  • American English:


  • bean: sl.the smallest possible coin
  • buck:dollar (U.S &
  • wherewithal: colloq. Money for a purpose
    • Has not the wherewithal to do it
  • dough, the needful, bread, brass
  • cash
the double scale pattern
The double scale pattern
  • Native Latin

hearty cordial

Help aid

Inner interior

Motherly maternal

Sharp acute

World universe

Native Latin

dale valley

deed action

foe enemy

meed reward

the triple scale pattern
The triple scale pattern
  • Native French Latin

ask question interrogate

fast firm secure

fire flame conflagration

rise mount ascend

time age epoch

  • We were greatly surprised to see so great a crowd of people assembled, evidently for some great occasion, on inquiry we learned that a great man was to address the people on a subject of great interest. The great size of the field, which sloped like an amphitheater, enabled the great crowd to hear every word with great ease and all listened with great attention to the great thoughts presented….
not only great fernald 1918
Not only Great!(Fernald, 1918)
  • We were much surprised to see so large a number of people assembled, evidently for some important occasion, on inquiry we learned that an eminent man was to address the people on a subject of especial interest. The ample size of the field, which sloped like an amphitheater, enabled the vastcrowd to hear every word with perfect ease and all listened with utmost attention to the noble thoughts presented….
not just pain
Not just pain!
  • To take off her boots or to put them on was an agony to her, but it had been an agony for years. If fact, she was so accustomed to the pain that her face was drawn and screwed up ready for the twinge before she’d so much as untied the laces.
subtle differences
Subtle differences
  • Agony: very great mental or physical pain
  • Pain: suffering or distress of body or mind
  • Twinge: a sudden, brief, darting pain
how about them
How about them?
  • Doubt, suspect
  • Object to, oppose
  • words opposite in meaning.
types of antonymy
Types of antonymy
  • Morphological classification
    • root antonyms
    • derivative antonyms
      • Root antonyms: big-small, up-down, clear-vague
      • Derivative antonyms: polite-impolite, pleasant-unpleasant, legitimate-illegitimate, honest-dishonest, useful-useless, prewar-postwar
types of antonymy1
Types of antonymy
  • Semantic classification
    • Contraries
    • Complementaries
    • Conversives
semantic classification of antonymy
Semantic classification of Antonymy
  • Contraries:   gradual antonyms. words can be put in different degrees between contraries. For example,
    • beautiful-ugly (beautiful-pretty-good-looking-plain-ugly);
    • love-hate (love-attachment-liking-indifference-antipathy-hate)
semantic classification of antonymy1
Semantic classification of Antonymy
  • Complementaries: absolute antonyms, denoting that the denial of one of the items and the assertion of the other or vice versa.
    • single-married, male- female, dead-alive, etc.
semantic classification of antonymy2
Semantic classification of Antonymy
  • Conversives: relative antonyms, always found in words concerning social and spatial relationships
    • lend-borrow, rent-let, give-receive, own-belong to, husband-wife, teacher-student, fiancé-fiancee, above-below, in front of- behind
difference in collocations
Difference in collocations
  • fresh bread, air, newspaper, flower, meat, water, color, hand
  • stale bread, foul air, stale newspaper, faded flower, frozen meat, salt water, faded color, old hand
idioms using antonyms
Idioms using antonyms
  • More haste, less speed.
  • Every tide has its ebb.
  • Adversity leads to prosperity.
  • The world is a ladder for some to go up and for other to go down.
  • Art is long, life is short.
  • Joy and sorrow are next-door neighbors.
stylistic function
Stylistic function
  • “It was the best times, it was the worst times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we hand nothing before us…….”

----A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

relevant points about antonyms
Relevant points about antonyms
  • Marked and unmarked members
    • Tiger, tigress

There is a tiger in the cage.

    • Old/young, big/small, wide/narrow, heavy/light

How old are you?

how big/wide/heavy is it?

How tall is he?

word order of antonymous pairs
Word order of antonymous pairs
  • 天地heaven and earth
  • 夫妻 man and wife
  • 因果 cause and effect
  • 来去 come and go
  • 水火 fire and water
  • 寒暑 heat and cold
  • 饮食eat and drink
  • 贫富 rich and poor
  • the relationship which obtains between specific and general lexical items


Meat Vegetable Fruit

Beef mutton pork cabbage celery spinach apple peach orange

  • superordinate: to go

subordinates: to ride, run, walk, fly ,sail;

  • superordiante: to walk
  • Subordinates: to trudge, saunter, totter, stride, stroll, hobble, limp, tiptoe, waddle, pussy-foot, stagger, hop, amble.
where was the money from
Where was the money from?
  • Money
    • Ancient Rome, a temple called Moneta
    • First Roman coins were made of copper
    • In 269 B.C. silver coins were made in Moneta
    • moneta—mint
    • monetarius(Latin)--money
  • cuneus (Latin)—cuigne (OF)—coing---coin(ME)
  • In Czechoslovakia in 1516, a man called the count of Schlick
  • His estate in the valley, or thal, of Joachim
  • He minted his own coins in the valley
  • The face of St.Joachim stamped on the coin: Joachimsthales
  • --thaler—daler (Germany, Holland)-dollar (England)
pieces of eight
Pieces of Eight
  • Dollar: pieces of eight (England for Spanish gold coins, which was worth 8 English shillings.)
  • A dollar: 100 cents, 20 nickels, 10 dimes, 4 quarters, or 2 half dollars.
  • Sl. a quarter: 2 bits, half dollar: 4 bits

75 cents: six bits

  • A bit: a shrilling; eight bits in a dollar
semantic field
Semantic Field
  • Vocabulary of a given language is not simply a listing of independent items, but is organised into areas, or fields, within which words interrelate and define each other in various ways.

----Crystal (1980)

  • Semantic field of colours: red, orange…
  • Semantic field of kinship: son,father…
word frequency
Word Frequency
  • High frequency: white, black, green, blue, red and yellow
  • Low frequency: pink,orange, scarlet, crimson and violet
  • Least frequency: lemon, emerald, sandy and coral
interdependency of words
Interdependency of words
  • Meaning resides not only in a word itself, but spreads over neighbouring words as well.
  • Only the neighbouring words can identify the semantic field.
  • Lemon: orange, apple, banana
  • Lemon: red, orange, blue
  • I like lemon.
common collocations
Common collocations
  • Words in the same semantic field are likely to have a number of collocations in common.
  • pork, beef, mutton
  • stew, fry, roast, tasty, overdone, raw, and underdone
meaning and context
Meaning and Context
  • Two types of contexts
    • Linguistic context
    • Extra-linguistic context/context of situation
linguistic context
Linguistic context
  • Lexical context
    • The lexical items combined with a given polysemous word
    • Made
    • She made coffee for us
    • We made a good breakfast before leaving
    • My father made 10,000 yuan a month
linguistic context1
Linguistic context
  • Grammatical context
    • Individual meanings of a polysemous word is determined by the syntactic structure of the context
    • get+n: to receive(I got a letter today.)
    • get+adj:to become (He is getting better.)
    • get+n+adj: to bring to a certain condition

(She soon got the children ready for school)

get+infinitive: to succeed in doing

(If I get to see him, I’ll ask him about it)

  • Get+ing: to reach the start of an activity

(Get going! Start!)

  • Get+n+infinitive: to cause to do

(I’ll get him to repair my watch.)

Verbal context: an entire passage or even an entire book.
    • “Some chicken, some neck!” (Winston Churchill)
    • “In three weeks, England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.”(Hitler)
  • “-How goes it?” asked Captain Cuttle.

“All well,”said Mr.Gills, pushing the bottle towards him. He took it up, and having surveyed and smelt it, said with extraordinary expression:


“THE.” returned the instrument maker. Upon that he whistled as he filled his glass, and seemed to think that they were making a holiday indeed.

changes in word meaning
Changes in word meaning
  • Neologisms are newly coined words or words that are given new meaning to suit new situation because of social, economic, political, cultural, scientific and technical changes in human society.
  • Archaisms are also called obsolete words, which are not used now except for special purposes.
The reasons for the disappearance of words could be:

*the thing that the word denotes has disappeared

*the existence of synonyms

* the collision of two homonyms

But some obsolete words may be still used at the present time:
  • a obsolete words survived in some fixed phrases or idioms: such as, Many a little makes a michle (large amount)

b. some obsolete words survive but different from it original meaning, such as, trident, armour, albeit (all be it, though).

a.       Some obsolete words remain in Modern English as purely historical terms, or in poetry and fiction, for example:
  • 1.      The boy is fair, of female favour ( looks, countenance,from Shakespeare: As You Like It)
  • 2.      “ I saw the potamus take wing

Ascending from the damp savannas,

And quiring angels round him sing

The praise of God, in loud hosannas.”

(quire: choir, T.S. Eliot: The Hippopotamus)

The sources of new words

The rapid development of modern science and technology

Political, economic and social changes

The formation of neologisms

A.     By word-formation

  • B.     By adding new meanings to existing words, such dove and hawk
  • C.     By borrowing words from other languages

D. By analogy in which a word derives from the form of another existing word, such as apolune and perilune coming from the words aphelion and perihelion (see p110)

four tendencies in semantic changes
Four Tendencies in Semantic Changes

Extension of meaning (Generalization)

  • a.    from specific to general: picture
  • b.  from proper nouns to common nouns: champagne
  • c.    from concrete to abstract: matter, thing

d. from technical terms to general words: catalyst

Narrowing of meaning(Specification)
  • a. from general to specific: meat, wife, starve
  • b. from abstract to concrete: gear( habit, manners)

c. from common nouns to proper nouns: the Mediterranean

Elevation of meaning (Amelioration)
  • That is the acquisition by a word of good implication: success, minister, marshal, politician
Degradation of meaning (Deterioration)
  • Words with a commendatory meaning may become ones with a derogatory sense.
  • A word falls into disrepute because of social prejudice against certain classes and occupations
b.      A word becomes less respectable because of euphemism: undertaker: from ‘an influential person in the 17th century England who undertook to procure particular legislation, especially to obtain supplies from House of Commons if the king would grant some concession” to ‘one whose business is to carry out arrangements for funerals’
  • a.      anthropomorphic metaphors:
  • Many inanimate objects are compared to the parts of the human body, for example, eye
  • the eye of a needle, the eye of a potato, the eye of an axe, the eye of a flower, the eye of a peacock’s tail, the eye of a dome, the eye of the hurricane, the eye of the revolution, the eye of the law, in one’s mind’s eye
other parts of the body, such as tooth, mouth, lip, tongue, nose, head, leg, foot, brow, elbow, arm, heart, lung, hand, rib, sinew, may also be used in a figurative way:
  • the teeth of a comb, the mouth of a river, the lip of a cup, the tongue of a shoe, the nose of a car (or gun), the head of a hammer, the leg of a table, the foot of the wall, the brow of a hill, the elbow of a pipe, the arm of the sea, the heart of darkness, the lungs of London, the hand of a clock, the ribs of a boat, the sinews of war
a.      animal metaphors:
  • an ass: a stupid foolish person
  • a pig: a dirty, greedy person
  • a mouse: especially a woman, who is quiet and easily afraid
  • a goose: a silly person, especially female
  • a cat: a nasty person
a rat: a low worthless disloyal man
  • a lion: a famous and important person
  • a fox: a person who deceives others by means of clever tricks
  • a tiger: a person like such an animal in fierceness, courage, etc.
  • a donkey: a foolish slow-thinking person or one who refuses to do as he is told
a owl: a solemn person, wise-looking dullard
  • a mule: a stupid or obstinate person
  • an ape: a person who copies the behavior of others
  • a monkey: a child who is full of annoying playfulness and tricks
  • a parrot: a person who repeats, often without understanding, the words or action of another
a jackal: a person who does preparatory drudgery , etc. or who assists another’s immoral behavior
  • a black sheep: a person regarded with disfavor or shame compared to others in a group
  • a dark horse: a person whose abilities are hidden or unknown
synesthetic metaphors:
  • Synesthetic metaphors are metaphors used to refer to a direct association between the form and the meaning of language. 
  • warm or cold voice loud colors sweet sound or music piercing (acute) sound grave news stormy quarrel golden opportunity stony heart dirty night
  • Metonymy is another important factor in the shift of meaning that involves substitution of the name of one thing for that of another closely associated with it. According to the different associations between names and senses metonymy can be classified as follows:
a.      names of persons and animals:
  • Uncle Sam Uncle Tom John Bull John Doe the British Lion the Bear ( the Soviet Union)
  • I like reading Lu Xun and Shakespeare
. parts of the body :
  • foot :infantry (horse, foot and artillery)
  • heart: feelings, e.g. Her heart rules her head.
  • head: mind, brain e.g. It never entered his head to help me.
  • brain: mind, intelligence: e.g. He doesn’t got much brain.
  • Phrases and idioms: to see eye to eye with
a.      locations or businesses:
  • White House Whitehall Downing Street Kremlin Hollywood Wall Street the Pentagon Beijing Bolin press bench
containers or materials
  • e.g. The kettle is boiling.
  • He drank a cup.
  • His favorite dish is fried steak.
  • He had only a few coppers in his pocket.
  • He has 20£ in notes and £5 in silver.
A.     Synecdoche
  • Synecdoche is a figure of speech that involves the substitution of the part for the whole or the whole for the part. For example:
  • There are five sails in the harbor.
  • We are short of hands.
  • Two pencils are given per head.
  • He manages to earn his bread.
A.     Euphemism
  • Euphemism is the substitution of a word of more pleasant connotation for one of unpleasant connotation. For example, death is one of these things and the English is full of expressions like: to decease
  • to join the (great) majority
  • to pass away
to breathe one’s last
  • to go west
  • to go to heaven
  • to be in heaven
  • to yield up the ghost
  • to go to one’s last reckoning
  • to go the way of all the earth
to go the way of all flesh
  • to go the way of nature
  • to go hence
  • to go out of this world
  • to go to a better world
  • to go to the better
  • to expire
to depart from life
  • to be taken or called
  • to be gone
  • to succumb to
  • to kick the bucket
  • to come to an untimely end
  • to come to a sticky end
to cross the bar ( or Bar)
  • to lose (somebody)
  • to be food for worms
  • to be food for fishes
  • to feed the fishes
  • to be no more
  • to be close at hand
to make one’s exit
  • Sometimes learned or scientific terms are used as euphemisms, such as: effluvium for stench
  • perspiration for sweat
  • intestines for innards
  • indigestion for surfeit
  • intoxication for drunkenness
  • insane for mad
  • the Black Panther the Gray Panther the Green Panther white-collar blue-collar gray-collar
  • over-kill under-kill over-produce under-produce
  • high-rise low-rise sunrise/ earthrise
  • alcoholic workaholics crediholics
  • the three P’s ( peace, petroleum, Palestine)
  • the three R’s (reading, writing, arithmetic)

the three I’s (inflation, interest rate, impeachment)

causes of changes in word meaning
Causes of Changes in Word Meaning
  • A.     Historical Cause
  • “car” comes from Latin “carrus”, which means “ two-wheeled Celtic war chariot”
  • “paper” comes from the Greek name of a plant, the papyrus, which grows in Egypt and from which the Egyptians made their paper
“parliament” meaning “speaking”, borrowed from Old French
  • “virtue” meant literally “manliness”, including such qualities as “courage, especially, bravery in war”, now it means “general moral excellence; right action and thinking; goodness or morality”.
Social Cause
  • Change in word meaning resulting from a constant verbal traffic between common words and various technical words is referred to as social cause of semantic change.
(1) The teacher likes to have feedback from his students.
  • (2)   The problem has a new dimension.
  • (3) His encouraging words become a catalyst to his change.
  • (4)   I am allergic to hypocrites.

(5) We have changed several parameters of this problem.

The reverse process, in which a popular word is given a special meaning in a specialized vocabulary
  • energy (phys.), product (math.), decline (grammar), complex( psych.), carrier (med.) angel (a radar echo caused by something not visually discernible ), cold (politics)
Foreign Influences
  • “deer” meant an animal of any sort from lion to mouse; But during the Middle Ages, the French word “beast” (beste) became the general word, and in 16th century the Latin derivative “animal” was also adopted into the English vocabulary.
Another example is “stool”, originally meaning any kind of seat for one person until the French word “chair” came into English.
  • In Old English “dream” meant “joy” and it gets its modern sense from the related Scandinavian word “draumr”. OE ‘bread” (fragment)got its current meaning from Old Norse “brau”(bread)
Linguistic Cause
    • Changes of meaning is frequently brought about by two tendencies in a linguistic system: towards ellipsis and towards analogy
    • a private (soldier) / a general (officer) /an editorial (article)/ a uniform (dress)/ daily (newspaper)
Psychological Cause: three forms
    • euphemism :
    • “cemetery” is from Greek word meaning “sleeping place’,
    • casket is a euphemistic expression for “coffin”;
    • “disease” meant “discomfort” when it was first borrowed from OF. It was used as a substitute for “illness”.
“Insane” (unhealthy) was at first a milder form of “mad”, but now was an established word for “mad”.
  • An asylum or madhouse is called “a mental hospital” nowadays.
  • “Misconduct, misguided, and misdemeanor” are euphemistic expressions for moral delinquency.
grandiloquence refers to the use of long, important-sounding words for effect with the purpose to upgrade or raise the social status of a position, occupation, or institution by changing its common name to one felt to confer greater dignity or importance is another psychological factor in the change of word meaning.
“garbage collector” is upgraded to “sanitation man”, later a high-sounding one “sanitation engineer” was invented.
  • A janitor is called “custodian”
  • a gardener becomes a “landscape architect”.
  • In Great Britain a reform school is now called a community home.
cynicism refers to people’s attitude or desire to sneer or to be sarcastic
    • pious : its primary meaning is ‘having or showing deep devotion to religion”, to which “ hypocritically virtuous” is added.
    • Fanatic: a Latin synonym for “enthusiastic” but later means “unreasonably enthusiastic, almost approaching to madness”.
    • Grandiloquence: a Latin word for eloquent, very soon take on the present sense “pompous in language; given to beautiful talk”.
Pompous: was used as a term of praise, meaning “magnificent, splendid”, but now it is marked “foolishly solemn and self-important” and “(of language) pretentious, unduly grand in style”
  • Genteel: meaning “of good birth” from French, and now it takes a downward turn to mean “excessively or affectedly refined, polite and elegant.”
english idioms
English Idioms
  • An idiom is a fixed group of words or a single word, or even a sentence, with special meaning that cannot be guessed from its constituents. That is to say the meaning of it must be learnt as a whole
Idiom is an established, universal and essential element that, used with care, ornaments and enriches the language
  • The knowledge and the correct use of idioms to some extent is one way to distinguish a native speaker from non-native speakers
features of idioms
Features of Idioms
  • English idioms can be very short or rather long in structure
    • to go red
    • to cut one’s coat according to one’s cloth
  • English idioms can be irregular and illogical in structure
(1) I am good friends with him.

(2) Diamond cut diamond.

(3) The devil takes the hindmost

(4) through thick and thin

(5) ins and outs

(4) To have a bee in one’s bonnet.

Most English idioms are fixed in structure

(1)   A stitch in times saves nine.

  • Partly fixed idioms
  • (2)   To come to a bad end. (bad can be replaced by nasty, sticky, untimely, no good, etc.)
  • (3)   To take (have, or enjoy) forty winks.
English Idioms are usually opaque in meaning, metaphorical rather than literal.
  • (1)   To rain cats and dogs
  • (2)   Once in a blue moon: rarely
  • (3)   Have an axe to grind: an fixed idea in mind
  • (4) Cry over the spilled milk.

(5)A Procrustean bed

Most English Idioms are colloquial expressions in nature, but some of them can also be used on formal occasions
    • (1)   to give (or lend ) countenance to sb. (to the plan): to support
    • (2)   Let pass over his rude remarks in silence: not to mention
    • (3)   I got enough supplies laid up for the vacation: stored

(4) He made short work of cleaning the room.( to finish quickly and easily)

Some English idioms consist of obsolete words
  • (1)   kith and kin: close relation
  • (2)   to and fro
  • (3) learn by rote: learn for repeating
  • (4) hither and thither (here and there)
English idioms are often created on the basis of alliteration, rhyme, euphony and repetition
  • (1)   first and foremost
  • (2)   with might and main (with all the force )
  • (3)   black and blue

(4) part and parcel (a most important part that cannot be separated from the whole of it )

(1)   time and tide wait for no man
  • (2)   wear and tear: damage after use
  • (3)   dine and wine
  • (4)   rough and tough
  • (5)   by and by
  • (6) again and again
  • Phrase Idioms
    • Verb phrase idioms: combinations of a verb and an adverb or a preposition or both
    • break, blow, bring, call, catch, come, do, fall, get, give, go, hold, keep, day, look, make, put, run, set, stand, take, turn, work,
    • about, across, at, away, back, by, down, for, in, into, off, on, out, over, around, through, to, up, with, etc
(1)   Noun phrase idioms
  • (2)   Adjective phrase idioms
  • (3)   Prepositional phrase idioms

(4) Adverbial phrase idioms

Sentence Idioms (proverbs and habitual conversations)
    • (1)   Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    • (2)   One swallow does not make a summer.
    • (3)   The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
    • (4)   Where there is a will, there is a way.

(5) All that glitters is not gold.

(6)  You may lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.
  • (7)   You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.
  • (8)   Make hay while the sun shines.
  • (9)   Strike, while the iron is hot.
  • (10)   Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
  • (11)   You can say that again.
  • (12)   Let’s call it a day.
(13)   You are telling me.
  • (14) Friday week ( Friday a week after next Friday)
  • (15)   Many happy returns of day.
  • (16)   Never you mind
  • (17)   Never tell me.( an expression of warning)
  • (18)   Don’t tell me.( an expression of incredulity)
  • (19)   Good for you ( an expression of praise)

(20) The devil take it!

idioms containing names of birds or animals
Idioms containing names of birds or animals
  • Birds of a feather
  • To kill to birds with one stone
  • A bird’s eye view
  • To make a bee-line for
  • Like water off a duck’s back
  • Gone goose
  • The cart before the horse
parts of the human body
Parts of the human body
  • To get one’s back up
  • To warm one’s blood
  • Skin and bones
  • To work one’s fingers to the bone
  • To beat one’s brains
  • To make a clean breast of
  • By the sweat of one’s brow
To be all ears
  • Up to the elbows
  • To believe one’s eye
  • To fly in the face(teeth) of
  • To cross one’s fingers
  • Dead on one’s feet
  • To give gray hair
involving colors
Involving colors
  • To do something brown
  • To look green
  • To tickle pink
  • To see red
  • A white elephant
  • Yellow-believed
  • To be born in the purple
related to clothes
Related to clothes
  • Too big fro one’s breeches
  • To put on one’s thinking cap
  • To cut one’s coat according to one’s cloth
  • To dress up
  • To fit like a glove
  • To take up the glove
To pocket money
  • To burn a hole in one’s pocket
  • Another pair of shoes
  • Comfortable like an old shoe
  • To step into one’s shoes
  • To wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve
involving time
Involving time
  • A bad quarter of an hour
  • Against time
  • Never for a moment
  • Year in, year out
  • To get on in years
  • After hours
  • To the minutes
involving flowers and plants
Involving flowers and plants
  • To nip in the bud
  • The best of the bunch
  • To beat about the bush
  • The flower
  • Not to let the grass grow under one’s feet
  • Root and branch
the origins of dictionaries
The Origins of Dictionaries
  • History of human languages: 50,000 years
  • History of writing systems: a few thousand years
  • History of dictionaries: 700 years
  • The origin of an English dictionary: glosses
The history of English dictionaries can be divided into five periods:
  • 1.      the first period: from the Middle Ages to the end of the16th century
  • This is a period of glossary-looking. We had Latin-English glossaries in the Middle English period, such as Thomas Cooper’s Thesaurus Linguae Romanae of Britannicae (1565)
2. the second period: the beginning of the 17th century
  • This is a period of the glossary dealing with hard words, such as Robert Cawdrey’s A Tale of Alphabetical English Words (1604).
3.   the third period: the middle of the 17th century to the end of the century
  • This is a period when etymology of words is added to the meaning. Stephen Skinner’s Etymological Linguae Anglicanae (1667) is a representative work of this period.
4    the fourth period: the whole 18th century
  • In this period, dictionaries had established the standards of spelling, meaning and usage of English words.
Henry Cockeram’s English Dictionary (The English Dictionary, or An Interpreter of Hard English Words, 1623) first used the word “dictionary” in the sense in which we now understand it.
  • An excellent example of this period is Samule Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language of 1755.
5  the fifth period: the 19th century to the 20th century
  • This is a period when English dictionaries saw much improvement and reached maturity. The representative works of this period are:
  • Charles Richardson’s A New Dictionary of the English Language (1836)
The Oxford English Dictionary (1928)
  • The Concise Oxford English Dictionary (1911)
  • Noah Webster’s The American Dictionary of the English Language (1828)
  • Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language (1961)
types of dictionaries
Types of Dictionaries
  • Bilingual dictionaries
  • Monolingual dictionaries
    • Specialized dictionaries
    • General-purpose dictionaries
      • Unabridged dictionaries
      • Desk dictionaries
  • Compiled from scratch, largely from its own files of citations, with all definitions and arrangements of meanings and examples determined by its own editors
  • Not a shortened version of some other dictionary
  • Oxford English Dictionary: include every words in English since the Norman Conquest
  • 291,627 entries
  • Half or more than half are older words
  • Create a record of the history of English vocabulary and the historical development of the meanings of English words
second edition in 1989
Second edition in 1989
  • Three versions:
    • Twenty very large heavy printed volumes
    • Two-volume compact edition(1/4 size)
    • A compact disk, the whole dictionary and search program: $200, $400
  • Third edition: 2005
the editors
The editors
  • Sir James A.H. Murray
webster s third new international dictionary of english language
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of English Language
  • 1961 published by the Merriam-Webster Company
  • Contains a lot of technical terms
  • 450,000 entries
  • Replaced the Webster’s New International dictionary of 1934
  • 600,000 entries: largest
desktop dictionaries
Desktop dictionaries
  • The Chambers Dictionary(90s)
  • All derived forms are listed under within the entry under a single head word.
for american users
For American users
  • The American Heritage Dictionary
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
  • Random house Webster’s College Dictionary
  • Websrter’s New World Dictionary of the American language.