2. Variation and change: profile and parameters

Verze z 14. 10. 2016, 21:44, kterou vytvořil MarcelaJ (diskuse | příspěvky) (poznámky k sémantické změně)

1. What are the usual directions of semantic change and why do you think that is the case?

semantic change = alteration in the lexical meaning of words and morphemes; it is the most susceptible to change because of the arbitrary connection between the signifier and the signified

  • directions of the semantic change usually come in pairs, one of them is usually more frequent

1. Generalization

  • widening in scope of a word's meaning - word denotes a greater variety of referrents
  • more frequent than specialization
  • examples: holiday - originally only religious significance, now a general break from work; business - originally the state of being busy

2. Specialization

  • narrowing of the meaning - lower number of referrents
  • sometimes occurs together with borrowing: a native word is specialized, the borrowing has a general meaning (lust vs. desire)
  • examples: meat - originally "food"

3. Pejoration

  • acquisition of a less favourable meaning
  • more frequent than amelioration
  • examples: "hussy" originally refered to a housewife; names of animals used as derogatory terms

4. Amelioration

  • acquisition of a more favourable meaning
  • examples: "nice" originally meant "silly, simple", "success" orginally "result"

5. Weakening

  • for topics that we find difificult to talk about (bodily functions, sex, death) - linguistic taboo - we use euphemisms
  • euphemisms are in continual need of renewal - it may come to be considered too strong after some time
  • examples: condition instead of disease (generalization), pass away (figure of speech), STD (acronyms), darn (phonetic distortion),...

6. Strengthening

  • hyperbole, common with intensifiers ("terribly sorry", "awfully good")
  • they undergo a continual process of weakening - must be replaced by stronger words

7. Figurative Shifts

  • transfer of meaning from one referrent to another
  • Metaphor: semantic change takes place when a metaphor dies (it is no longer perceived as a metaphor) - eye of a storm, mouth of a river, the days to come
  • Synecdoche: part for a whole - pretty faces (beautiful people), a rhyme (a poem)
  • Metonymy: contiguity of meaning - the White House (the president etc.)
  • Synesthesia: a word referring to one sense is transferred to another/to a non-sensual domain - a quiet colour