Classification of Homonyms in English

3158 Words Nov 7th, 2011 13 Pages


1. Determination of Homonymy

2. Classification of Homonyms

A. The standard way of classification (given by I.V. Arnold)

a) Homonyms proper

b) Homophones

c) Homographs

B. Classification given by A.I. Smirnitsky

a) Full homonyms

b) Partial homonyms

C. Other aspects of classification

3. Sources of Homonymy

4. Problems of Homonymy

a) Distinguishing homonymy from polysemy

b) Different meanings of the same homonym in terms of distribution

c) Difference between patterned and non-patterned homonymy




Language processing considerations have often been used to explain aspects of language structure and evolution. According to Bates and MacWhinney, this view "is a kind
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The term is derived from Greek “homonymous” (homos – “the same” and onoma – “name”) and thus expresses very well the sameness of name combined with the difference in meaning. There is an obvious difference between the meanings of the symbol fast in such combinations as run fast ‘quickly’ and stand fast ‘firmly’. The difference is even more pronounced if we observe cases where fast is a noun or a verb as in the following proverbs:
“A clean fast is better than a dirty breakfast;

Who feasts till he is sick, must fast till he is well.”

Fast as an isolated word, therefore, may be regarded as a variable that can assume several different values depending on the conditions of usage, or, in other words distribution. All the possible values of each linguistic sign are listed in the dictionaries. It is the duty of lexicographers to define the boundaries of each word, i.e. to differentiate homonyms and to unite variants deciding in each case whether the different meanings belong to the same polysemantic word or whether there are grounds to treat them as two or more separate words identical in form. In speech, however, as a rule only one of all the possible values is determined by the context, so that no ambiguity may normally arise. There is no danger, for instance, that the listener would wish to substitute the meaning ‘quick’ into the sentence: It is absurd to have hard and fast rules about anything, or think that

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