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2 Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. London, 1962.

If we compare the meaning of the words kind — ‘gentle, friendly, showing love, sympathy or thought for others’ and cruel — ‘taking pleasure in giving pain to others, without mercy’, we see that they denote concepts that are felt as completely opposed to each other. Comparing the adjective kindand unkindwe do not find any polarity of meaning as here semantic opposition is confined to simple negation. Unkindmay be interpreted as not kindwhich does not necessarily mean cruel,just as not beautifuldoes not necessarily mean ugly.

It is more or less universally recognised that among the cases that are traditionally described as antonyms there are at least the following four groups.1

1. Contradictories which represent the type of semantic relations that exist between pairs like deadand alive, singleand married, perfectand imperfect,etc.

To use one of the terms is to contradict the other and to use notbefore one of them is to make it semantically equivalent to the other, cf. not dead=alive, not single=married.

Among contradictories we find a subgroup of words of the type young — old, big — small,and so on. The difference between these and the antonymic pairs described above lies in the fact that to say not youngis not necessarily to say old.In fact terms like youngand old, bigand smallor fewand manydo not represent absolute values. To use one of the terms is to imply comparison with some norm: youngmeans ‘relatively young’. We can say She is young but she is older than her sister. To be olderdoes not mean ‘to be old’.

It is also usual for one member of each pair to always function as the unmarked or generic term for the common quality involved in both members: age,size, etc.

This generalised denotational meaning comes to the fore in certain contexts. When we ask How old is the baby?we do not imply that the baby is old. The question How big is it?may be answered by It is very bigor It is very small.

It is of interest to note that quality nouns such as length, breadth, width, thickness,etc. also are generic, i.e. they cover the entire measurement range while the corresponding antonymous nouns shortness, narrowness, thinnessapply only to one of the extremes.

2. Contraries differ from contradictories mainly because contradictories admit of no possibility between them. One is either singleor married,either deador alive,etc. whereas contraries admit such possibilities. This may be observed in cold — hot,and cooland warmwhich seem to be intermediate members. Thus we may regard as antonyms not only coldand hotbut also coldand warm.

Contraries may be opposed to each other by the absence or presence of one of the components of meaning like sex or age. This can be illustrated by such pairs as manwoman, man — boy.

1 See, e. g., Webster’s Dictionary of Synonyms. Springfield, USA, 1961, Introductory Matter, Antonyms. Analysis and Definition.

3. Incompatibles. Semantic relations of incompatibility exist among the antonyms with the common component of meaning and may be described as the reverse of hyponymy, i.e. as the relations of exclusion but not of contradiction. To say morningis to say not afternoon, not evening, not night.The negation of one member of this set however does not imply semantic equivalence with the other but excludes the possibility of the other words of this set. A relation of incompatibility may be observed between colour terms since the choice of red,e.g., entails the exclusion of black, blue, yellowand so on. Naturally not all colour terms are incompatible. Semantic relations between scarletand redare those of hyponymy.

We know that polysemy may be analysed through synonymy. For example, different meaning of the polysemantic word handsomecan be singled out by means of synonymic substitution a handsome man—a beautiful man;but a handsome reward—a generous reward. Insome cases polysemy may be also analysed through antonymy (e.g. a handsome manan ugly man, a handsome reward—an insufficient reward,etc.). This is naturally not to say that the number of meanings of a polysemantic word is equal to the number of its antonyms. Not all words or all meanings have antonyms (e.g. table, book,etc. have no antonyms). In some cases, however, antonymy and synonymy serve to differentiate the meanings as in the word handsomediscussed above. Interchangeability in certain contexts analysed in connection with synonyms is typical of antonyms as well. In a context where one member of the antonymous pair can be used, it is, as a rule, interchangeable with the other member. For instance, if we take the words dryand wetto be antonymous, they must be interchangeable in the same context (e.g. a wet shirta dry shirt).This is not to imply that the same antonyms are interchangeable in all contexts. It was pointed out above that antonyms that belong to the group of contraries are found in various antonymic pairs. Thus, for instance there are many antonyms of drydamp, wet, moist,etc.

The interchangeability of each of them with dryis confined to certain contexts. In contrast to dry airwe select damp airand in contrast to dry lips—we would probably use moist lips.

It is therefore suggested that the term "antonyms" should be used as a general term to describe words different in sound-form and characterised by different types of semantic contrast of denotational meaning and interchangeability at least in some contexts.

§ 51. Semantic Similarity of Morphemes and Word-Families

Lexical groups composed of words with semantically and phonemically identical root-morphemes are usually defined as word-families or word-clusters. The term itself implies close links between the members of the group. Such are word-families of the type: lead, leader, leadership; dark, darken, darkness; form, formal, formalityand others. It should be noted that members of a word-family as a rule belong to different parts of speech and are joined together only by the identity of root-morphemes. In the word-families discussed above the root-morphemes are identical not only in

meaning but also in sound-form. There are cases, however, when the sound-form of root-morphemes may be different, as for example in sun, sunny, solar; mouth, oral, orally; brother, brotherly, fraternal,etc.; their semantic similarity however, makes it possible to include them in a word-family. In such cases it is usual to speak of lexical suppletion, i.e. formation of related words of a word-family from phonemically different roots. As a rule in the word-families of this type we are likely to encounter etymologically different words, e.g. the words brotherand mouthare of Germanic origin, whereas fraternaland oralcan be easily traced back to Latin. We frequently find synonymic pairs of the type fatherly— paternal, brotherly—fraternal.

Semantic and phonemic identity of affixational morphemes can be observed in the lexical groups of the type darkness, cleverness, calmness,etc.; teacher, reader, writer,etc. In such word-groups as, e.g. teacher, musician,etc., only semantic similarity of derivational affixes is observed. As derivational affixes impart to the words a certain generalised meaning, we may single out lexical groups denoting the agent, the doer of the action (Nomina Agenti)—teacher, reader,etc. or lexical groups denoting actions (Nomina Acti)—movement, transformation,etc. and others.

§ 52. Summary and Conclusions

1. Paradigmatic (or selectional) and syntagmatic (or combinatory) axes of linguistic structure represent the way vocabulary is organised.

Syntagmatic relations define the word-meaning in the flow of speech in various contexts.

Paradigmatic relations define the word-meaning through its interrelation with other members within one of the subgroups of vocabulary units.

2. On the syntagmatic axis the word-meaning is dependent on different types of contexts. Linguistic context is the minimal stretch of speech necessary to determine individual meanings.

3. Linguistic (verbal) contexts comprise lexical and grammatical contexts and are opposed to extra-linguistic (non-verbal) contexts. In extra-linguistic contexts the meaning of the word is determined not only by linguistic factors but also by the actual speech situation in which the word is used.

4. The semantic structure of polysemantic words is not homogeneous as far as the status of individual meanings is concerned. A certain meaning (or meanings) is representative of the word taken in isolation, others are perceived only in various contexts.

5. Classification of vocabulary into thematic groups is based on common contextual associations. Contextual associations are formed as a result of regular co-occurrence of words in similar, repeatedly used contexts within the framework of sentences.

6. The main criterion underlying semantic classification of vocabulary items on the paradigmatic axis is the type of meaning relationship between words.

The criterion of common concept serves to classify words into semantic fields and lexico-semantic groups.

Semantic relationship of inclusion is the main feature of hyponymic hierarchical structure Semantic similarity and semantic contrast is the type of relationship which underlies the classification of lexical items into synonymic and antonymic series.

7. Synonymy and antonymy are correlative and sometimes overlapping notions. Synonymous relationship of the denotational meaning is in many cases combined with the difference in the connotational (mainly stylistic) component.

8. It is suggested that the term synonyms should be used to describe words different in sound-form but similar in their denotational meaning (or meanings) and interchangeable at least in some contexts.

The term antоnуms is to be applied to words different in sound-form characterised by different types of semantic contrast of the denotational meaning and interchangeable at least in some contexts.

111. Word-Groups and Phraseological Units

Words put together to form lexical units make phrases or word-groups. It will be recalled that lexicology deals with words, word-forming morphemes and word-groups. We assume that the word is the basic lexical unit.1 The smallest two-facet unit to be found within the word is the morpheme which is studied on the morphological level of analysis. The largest two-facet lexical unit comprising more than one word is the word-group observed on the syntagmatic level of analysis of the various ways words are joined together to make up single self-contained lexical units.

The degree of structural and semantic cohesion of word-groups may vary. Some word-groups, e.g. at least, point of view,by means of, take place,seem to be functionally and semantically inseparable. Such word-groups are usually described as set-phrases, word-equivalents or phraseological units and are traditionally regarded as the subject matter of the branch of lexicological science that studies phraseology.

The component members in other word-groups, e.g. a week ago, man of wisdom, take lessons, kind to people,seem to possess greater semantic and structural independence. Word-groups of this type are defined as free or variable word-groups or phrases and are habitually studied in syntax.

Here, however, we proceed from the assumption that before touching on the problem of phraseology it is essential to briefly outline the features common to various types of word-groups viewed as self-contained lexical units irrespective of the degree of structural and semantic cohesion of the component words.


To get a better insight into the essentials of structure and meaning of word-groups we must begin with a brief survey of the main factors active in uniting words into word-groups. The two main linguistic factors to be considered in this connection are the lexical and the grammatical valency of words.

§ 1. Lexical Valency (Collocability)

It is an indisputable fact that words are used in certain lexical contexts, i.e. in combination with other words.2 The noun question,e.g., is often combined with such adjectives as vital, pressing, urgent, disputable, delicate,etc. This noun is a component of a number of other word-groups, e.g. to raise a question, a question of great importance, a question of the agenda, of the day,and many others. The aptness of a word to appear in various combinations is described as its lexical valency or collocability.

1 See ‘Introduction’, §§ 4, 5.

2 See ‘Semasiology’, §41, p. 48.

The range of the lexical valency of words is linguistically restricted by the inner structure of the English word-stock. This can be easily observed in the selection of synonyms found in different word-groups. Though the verbs liftand raise,e.g., are usually treated as synonyms, it is only the latter that is collocated with the noun question.The verb takemay be synonymically interpreted as ‘grasp’, ’seize’, ‘catch’, ‘lay hold of, etc. but it is only takethat is found in collocation with the nouns examination, measures, precautions,etc., only catchin catch smb. nappingand graspin grasp the truth.

There is a certain norm of lexical valency for each word and any departure from this norm is felt as a literary or rather a stylistic device. Such word-groups as for example a cigarette ago, shove a questionand the like are illustrative of the point under discussion. It is because we recognise that shoveand questionare not normally collocable that the junction of them can be effective.

Words habitually collocated in speech tend to constitute a cliché. We observe, for example, that the verb put forwardand the noun questionare habitually collocated and whenever we hear the verb put forwardor see it written on paper it is natural that we should anticipate the word question.So we may conclude that put forward a questionconstitutes a habitual word-group, a kind of cliché. This is also true of a number of other word-groups, e.g. to win (or gain) a victory, keen sight (or hearing).Some linguists hold that most of the English in ordinary use is thoroughly saturated with cliches.1

The lexical valency of correlated words in different languages is not identical. Both the English word flowerand its Russian counterpart — цветок, for example, may be combined with a number of other words all of which denote the place where the flowers are grown, e.g. garden flowers, hot-house flowers,etc. (cf. the Russian садовые цветы, оранжерейные цветы, etc.). The English word, however, cannot enter into combination with the word roomto denote flowers growing in the rooms (cf. pot flowersкомнатные цветы).

One more point of importance should be discussed in connection with the problem of lexical valency — the interrelation of lexical valency and polysemy as found in word-groups.

Firstly, the restrictions of lexical valency of words may manifest themselves in the lexical meanings of the polysemantic members of word-groups. The adjective heavy,e.g., is combined with the words food, meals, supper,etc. in the meaning ‘rich and difficult to digest’. But not all the words with more or less the same component of meaning can be combined with this adjective. One cannot say, for instance, heavy cheeseor heavy sausageimplying that the cheese or the sausage is difficult to digest."

Secondly, it is observed that different meanings of a word may be described through the possible types of lexical contexts, i.e. through the

1 See, e. g., R. Quirk, op. cit., p. 206. ‘It is self-evident that clichés are of great importance in practical language learning as speech is not so much the mastery of vocabulary as such, but acquisition of a set of speech habits in using word-groups in general and clichés in particular.’

lexical valency of the word, for example, the different meanings of the adjective heavymay be described through the word-groups heavy weight (book, table,etc.), heavy snow (storm, rain,etc.), heavy drinker (eater, etc.), heavy sleep (disappointment, sorrow,etc.), heavy industry (tanks,etc.), and so on.

From this point of view word-groups may be regarded as the characteristic minimal lexical sets that operate as distinguishing clues for each of the multiple meanings of the word.

§ 2. Grammatical Valency

Words are used also in grammatical contexts.1 The minimal grammatical context in which words are used when brought together to form word-groups is usually described as the pattern of the word-group. For instance, the adjective heavydiscussed above can be followed by a noun (e.g. heavy stormor by the infinitive of a verb (e.g. heavy to lift),etc. The aptness of a word to appear in specific grammatical (or rather syntactic) structures is termed grammatical valency.

The grammatical valency of words may be different. To begin with, the range of grammatical valency is delimited by the part of speech the word belongs to. It follows that the grammatical valency of each individual word is dependent on the grammatical structure of the language.

This is not to imply that grammatical valency of words belonging to the same part of speech is necessarily identical. This can be best illustrated by comparing the grammatical valency of any two words belonging to the same part of speech, e.g. of the two synonymous verbs suggestand propose.Both verbs can be followed by a noun (to proposeor suggest a plan, a resolution).It is only propose,however, that can be followed by the infinitive of a verb (to propose to do smth.);The adjectives cleverand intelligentare seen to possess different grammatical valency as clevercan be used in word-groups having the pattern: Adjective-Preposition at+Noun (clever at mathematics),whereas intelligentcan never be found in exactly the same word-group pattern.

Specific linguistic restrictions in the range of grammatical valency of individual words imposed on the lexical units by the inner structure of the language are also observed by comparing the grammatical valency of correlated words in different languages. The English verb influence,for example, can be followed only by a noun (to influence a person, a decision, choice,etc.). The grammatical valency of its Russian counterpart влиять is different. The Russian verb can be combined only with a prepositional group (cf. влиять на человека, на выбор, . . ., etc.).

No departure from the norm of grammatical valency is possible as this can make the word-group unintelligible to English speakers. Thus e.g. the word-group mathematics at cleveris likely to be felt as a meaningless string of words because the grammatical valency of English nouns does not allow of the structure Noun+at+Adjective.

It should also be pointed out that the individual meanings of a polysemantic word may be described through its grammatical valency. Thus, different meanings of the adjective keenmay be described in a general

1 See ‘Semasiology’, § 42, p. 49. 66

way through different structures of the word-groups keen+N, — keen sight (hearing,etc.), keen + on + N — keen on sports (on tennis, etc.), keen+V(inf.) — keen to know (to find out,etc.).

From this point of view word-groups may be regarded as minimal syntactic (or syntagmatic) structures that operate as distinguishing clues for different meanings of a polysemantic word.


§ 3. Distribution as the Criterion of Classification

Structurally word-groups may be approached in various ways. We know that word-groups may be described through the order and arrangement of the component members. The word-group to see somethingcan be classified as a verbal — nominal group, to see to smthas verbal — prepositional — nominal, etc.

All word-groups may be also analysed by the criterion of distribution into two big classes. If the word-group has the same linguistic distribution as one of its members, it is described as endocentric, i.e. having one central member functionally equivalent to the whole word-group. The word-groups, e.g., red flower, bravery of all kinds,are distributionally identical with their central components flowerand bravery (cf., e.g.,-I saw a red flower — I saw a flower).

If the distribution of the word-group is different from either of its members, it is regarded as exocentric, i.e. as having no such central member, for instance side by sideor grow smallerand others where the component words are not syntactically substitutable for the whole word-group.

In endocentric word-groups the central component that has the same distribution as the whole group is clearly the dominant member or the head to which all other members of the group are subordinated. In the word-group red flower,e.g., the head is the noun flowerand in the word-group kind to peoplethe head is the adjective kind,etc.

It follows that word-groups may be classified according to their headwords into nominal groups or phrases (e.g. red flower),adjectival, groups (e.g. kind to people),verbal groups (e.g. to speak well),etc. The head is not necessarily the component that occurs first in the word-group. In such nominal word-groups as, e.g., very great bravery, bravery in the strugglethe noun braveryis the head whether followed or preceded by other words.

Word-groups are also classified according to their syntactic pattern into predicative and non-predicative groups. Such word-groups as, e.g., John works, he wentthat have a syntactic structure similar to that of a sentence, are classified as predicative, and all others as non-predicative.1 Non-predicative word-groups may be subdivided according to the type

1 This classification was the issue of heated discussion in Soviet linguistics. It was argued that the so-called predicative word-groups actually comprise the subject and the predicate, i.e’, the main components of the sentence and should be regarded as syntactical rather than lexical units. Here we are concerned only with non-predicative word-groups.

of syntactic relations between the components into subordinative and coordinative. Such word-groups as red flower, a man of wisdomand the like are termed subordinative because the words redand of wisdomare subordinated to flowerand manrespectively and function as their attributes. Such phrases as women and children, day and night, do or dieare classified as coordinative.


As with word-meaning, the meaning of word-groups may be analysed into lexical and grammatical components.

§ 4. Lexical Meaning

The lexical meaning of the word-group may be defined as the combined lexical meaning of the component words. Thus the lexical meaning of the word-group redflower may be described denotationally as the combined meaning of the words redand flower.It should be pointed out, however, that the term combined lexical meaning is not to imply that the meaning of the word-group is a mere additive result of all the lexical meanings of the component members. As a rule, the meanings of the component words are mutually dependent and the meaning of the word-group naturally predominates over the lexical meaning of its constituents.

Even in word-groups made up of technical terms which are traditionally held to be monosemantic the meaning of the word-group cannot be described as the sum total of the meanings of its components. For example, though the same adjective atomicis a component of a number of terminological word-groups, e.g. atomic weight, atomic warfare,etc., the lexical meaning of the adjective is different and to a certain degree subordinated to the meaning of the noun in each individual word-group and consequently the meaning of the whole group is modified.

Interdependence of the lexical meanings of the constituent members of word-groups can be readily observed in word-groups made up of polysemantic words. For example, in the nominal group blind man (cat, horse)only one meaning of the adjective blind,i.e. ‘unable to see’, is combined with the lexical meaning of the noun man (cat, horse)and it is only one of the meanings of the noun man — ‘human being’ that is perceived in combination with the lexical meaning of this adjective. The meaning of the same adjective in blind type (print, handwriting)is different.

As can be seen from the above examples, polysemantic words are used in word-groups only in one of their meanings. These meanings of the component words in such word-groups are mutually interdependent and inseparable. Semantic inseparability of word-groups that allows us to treat them as self-contained lexical units is also clearly perceived in the analysis of the connotational component of their lexical meaning. Stylistic reference of word-groups, for example, may be essentially different from that of the words making up these groups. There is nothing colloquial or slangy about such words as old, boy, bag, fun,etc. when taken in isolation. The word-groups made up of these words, e.g. old boy, bags of fun, arerecognisably colloquial.

§ 5. Structural Meaning

As with polymorphemic words word-groups possess not only the lexical meaning, but also the meaning conveyed mainly by the pattern of arrangement of their constituents. A certain parallel can be drawn between the meaning conveyed by the arrangement of morphemes in words and the structural meaning of word-groups.1 It will be recalled that two compound words made up of lexically identical stems may be different in meaning because of the difference in the pattern of arrangement of the stems. For example, the meaning of such words as dog-houseand house-dogis different though the lexical meaning of the components is identical. This is also true of word-groups. Such word-groups as school grammarand grammar schoolare semantically different because of the difference in the pattern of arrangement of the component words. It is assumed that the structural pattern of word-groups is the carrier of a certain semantic component not necessarily dependent on the actual lexical meaning of its members. In the example discussed above (school grammar)the structural meaning of the word-group may be abstracted from the group and described as ‘quality-substance’ meaning. This is the meaning expressed by the pattern of the word-group but not by either the word schoolor the word grammar. Itfollows that we have to distinguish between the structural meaning of a given type of word-group as such and the lexical meaning of its constituents.

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