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Synonymy. Classification of synonyms

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Synonymy are words belonging to the same part of speech, different in their sound form and spelling but similar in their denotational meaning (expresses the notional content of a word, makes communication possible. The same for all speakers of a language) or meanings and interchangeable at least in some contexts (to buy – to purchase, answer – reply). Synonymy usually differs in shades of denotational meaning, emotive charge, stylistic reference (connotation meaning) and valency.

Words “hope”, “expectation”, “anticipation” considered to be synonymous because they share the denotational meaning “having smth in mind which is likely to happen”. They differ in the following shades of the denotational meaning. Expectation may be either of good or evil. Anticipation is a pleasurable expectation of smth good. Hope is not only a belief but a desire that some event would happen the stylistic reference of the words is different too. The Romance words anticipation and expectation are formal literary words used only by educated speakers, but the native word hope is stylistically neutral. Moreover, they differ in idiomatic usage (in valency). Only “hope” is possible in the following expressions: to hope – against hope, to lose hope.

Each synonymic group comprises a dominant element. This synonymic dominant is the most general term potentially containing the specific features rendered by all other members of the synonymic group. Synonyms are often used in phraseological units (to give a look, glance, glimpse).

The English word shock is extremely rich in synonyms. There are a lot of synonymic groups . lots of them include the native and the borrowed words: native versus Latin (bodily – corporal). Native versus French (answer – reply). The native word is neutral and the borrowed is bookish. Subjects that are prominent in the interests of a community trend to attract a large number of synonyms.

e.g. there are 37 synonyms for “hero” in the poem “Beowulf”. This linguistic phenomenon is called the law of synonymic attraction.

Classification:

· Total synonyms: can replace each other in any given context

e.g. бегемот – гиппопотам – a very rare occurrence

· Ideographic synonyms: bear the same idea but differ in shades of meaning



e.g. to ascent – to mount – to climb

· Contextual synonyms: similar in meaning under some specific condition. Words can become synonyms in a certain context

e.g. tasteless – dull, active – curious

· Dialectical synonyms: found in different variants of language

e.g. autumn (Br) = fall (Am)

· Stylistic synonyms: belong to different styles

e.g. child (neutral), infant 9bookish), kid (oral)

· Terminological synonyms: 2 existing forms for one notion

e.g. borrowing – loan-word

 

 


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