Theoretical aspects of the problem of homonymy in English

Morphological and grammatical homonymy as a system of modern language. The study of the main problems of homonymy in modern grammar. Analysis of paradigmatic relationships and coverage of homonymous structures, as well as theoretical difficulties.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид статья
Язык английский
Дата добавления 15.11.2018
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Theoretical aspects of the problem of homonymy in English

M. Pukaliak

Lecturer at the department of foreign languages Lviv Polytechnic National University

I. Zinchuk

Lecturer at the department of foreign languages Lviv Polytechnic National University

The article explores the problem of homonymy in grammar. It also provides the analysis of paradigmatic connections and establishes the differentiation of homonymous structure as well as theoretical difficulties. Morphological and gram-matical homonymy as a system of modem language is also discussed.

Key words: homonymy, grammar, polysemy, morphology, paradigm, system.

У даній статті досліджується проблема омоніміїу граматиці. Такожу даній статті надано аналіз парадигматичних зв'язків та висвітлюється проблема омонімічної структури, а також теоретичні труднощі. Досліджується морфологічна та граматична омонімія як система сучасної мови.

Ключові слова: омонімія, граматика, полісемія, морфологія, парадигма, система.

В данной статье исследуется проблема омонимии в грамматике. Также в данной статье дан анализ парадигматических связей и освещается проблема омонимических структур, а также теоретические трудности. Исследуется морфологическая и грамматическая омонимия как система современного языка. homonymy grammatical morphological

Ключевые слова: омонимия, грамматика, полисемия, морфология, парадигма, система.

Formulation of the scientific problem. Modem lexicology has in many cases to solve the problem whether we have to deal with two or more meanings of one word or with two or more different words sounding the same. Such questions arise concerning, for example, the nouns hand, head, board, the verbs draw, bear, plant, and a number of other words.

There exists an opinion that homonyms may be created through the break-up of a former case of polysemy. Form- words, prepositions and conjunctions give sufficient evidence to this: provided, past participle of provide, and a conjunction provided meaning on the condition that [4, p. 118].

Each of these problems was dealt with separately as they arose in the course of linguistic studies of the verb system [3; 6; 8; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 17]. It may prove expedient to cast a look at the problem in its entirety.

Analysis of the latest investigations of the question. Whether we think it necessary to find an invariable structural meaning which manifests itself in different ways in different applications of a grammatical category, or whether we deny the necessity of such an invariable meaning, is a matter which largely depends on a scholar's theoretical views on the meaning of grammatical categories and grammatical forms in general [9, p. 23]. We can hardly expect either of these views (for or against an invariable structural meaning for every category and every form) to be definitely proved as the only right one. We will proceed from the assumption that an invariable meaning does exist.

Let us look for an invariable meaning of the ing-form or ing-forms in their different applications. The traditional view is, that we have two homonymous forms: the participle (present or perfect) and the gerund (present or perfect) [1, p. 141]. A more recent view, put forward by E. Kruisinga, is that there are not two different forms sounding the same but one form, which he shortly terms ''the -ing”, being used in different ways in the sentence [11, p. 57].

The novelty (newness) of this article consists in identifying homonymous models and systemizing the procedures for their differentiation, and in including the new homonymic meanings of words appeared during for the last ten years by means of development and applying of the internet technologies.

The aim of the article is to investigate systemic and pragmatic character of the homonymy in grammar, analyze paradigmatic connections and establish the procedures for their differentiating homonymous structure.

Presentation of the basic material and interpretation of the results of the investigation. Proceeding from the general concept oflanguage as the system of material signs, we accept the following fundamental thesis:

a) all the lingual formations have sign status;

b) informative aspect is ontologically inseparably connected with material aspect and they are integrated.

A linguistic sign is a bilateral linguistic unit having its content and expression sides. Correlation between content and its lingual expression is rather complicated. The limits of conceptual content and expression do not coincide in all the points: one and the same form has several functions, one and the same meaning is expressed by several forms [17, p. 1115]. Any sign is potentially «homonym» and «synonym» at one and the same time that is, it is formed by the intersection of those two rows of phenomena. The nature of the lingual sign is both constant and variable.

Correlations between two sides of a sign are very complicated and controversial. Controversy between them is caused by its dual nature and the absence of the isomorphism between the two sides of the sign. Absence of the isomorphism of the sides of a sign is known as asymmetric dualism of the linguistic sign [7, p. 130].

There are two types of asymmetry: qualitative and quantitative.

a) Qualitative asymmetry is the discrepancies, which are observed between the sides of a language sign without taking into consideration their indissoluble integrity.

b) Quantitative asymmetry reveals itself in the fact that two or more units from one set may correspond to one unit from another set. These relations are of reverse character in respect to each other. As a rule they are called ambiguity and synonymy.

Ambiguity is not only objectively possible but also objectively necessary as a result of the law of the economy of speech and psychological characteristics of the human's thinking.

The question to what extent phenomena, which represent ambiguity are homogenious and whether there are qualita-tive differences between separate expressions of ambiguity is very important.

There are two points of view on this problem:

- linguists, clearly seeing difficulties, which are connected with additional division of polysemy, declare their unwill-ingness to define differentiation of the peculiar cases of ambiguity: polysemy and homonymy;

- other linguists insist on the necessity of differentiation of homonymy and polysemy.

In the linguistic literature a lot of methods of differentiating of homonymy and polysemy are described; most of them are of the psychological and semantic character and most of them work on the lexical material [1;4],

There are two aspects according to which the problem of homonymy is discussed:

a) nessesity/occasionality

Homonymy (as well as polysemy) is not an occasional phenomenon, it can not be taken away from the natural language.

b) usefulness/harm

First of all we can speak of usefulness and harm of homonymy in diachrony and synchrony. Bloomfield L. showed in his work that in the process of language development homonymization plays a positive role: it is a stimulus to the vo-cabulary renovation and one of the sources of its renovation. In synchrony homonymization can be estimated in different ways [8, p. 450].

If we consider homonymy from the standpoint of language as an implement, then it helps language to be compact in the sense of reduction of definitions and this is a positive feature.

Homonymy is the hindrance in communication. Participants, which are the necessary prerequisites of any communi-cative act, include a sender of the message, its recipient and hindrances that homonymy brings in. Due to hindrances the message is perceived by the recipient with such a meaning, which was not foreseen by a sender.

Theoretical difficulties, which are connected with the studying of grammatical homonymy in many aspects are like those difficulties, which the investigator of lexical homonymy encounters.

Isomorphism, which is usual for units of different levels of language structure, causes the following common features ofboth grammatical and lexical homonymy:

1) material (phonetic) coincidence of units that have different meanings;

2) both kinds of homonymy arise as a result of the divergence and promote more economical usage and distribution of language means;

3) two kinds ofhomonymy are widespread inthe language;

4) homonymous grammatical units also exist along with the polysemantic units, moreover one and the same phonetic system may be a part ofboth homonymous and polysemantic group.

It should be taken into consideration that there exist significant differences between the two types ofhomonymy. Thus, lexical homonymy is always individual, while grammatical homonymy is the type of relations that includes more or less significant spheres of the lexical material. Grammatical homonymy can only occasionally be of the individual character and only in the system, against the background of the absence of homonymy in the frames of the same type. Such grammatical homonymy that is close to lexical homonymy is observed in the classes of words that are closed and given in the list. For instance: homonymy in the personal pronouns your you2, you3 exists on the background of the absence of homonymy in other personal pronouns.

In the frame of homonymy which is characteristic of grammatical units, phenomena of morphological and syntactical homonymy stand apart from each other. Godel R. considers that homonymous are monemes which have phonological coincidence but differ in their associative relations [33,p.32],

Shendels E.I. gives the following definition of the basic unit of the morphological homonymy: “homophorms are dif-ferent grammatical forms of one word with different grammatical meanings” [10, p. 106].

Levin S.R. gives extremely general definition: “two linguistic forms that are identical in their phonetic structural building but different in their meaning are considered to be homonyms” [12, p.4 6].

Homonymous units are identified as those which display a certain distinguishing feature against the background of other units in spite of their material identity.

To the problems of the morphological homonymy belong:

- systematic and pragmatic character of the morphological homonymy; its limits and dependence on redundancy characteristic of morphological system; connection of homonymy with durability of the morphological oppositions;

- correlation between homonymy and polysemy on the morphological level and categories of their differentiation;

- analysis of the units which have homonymous charge;

- correlation between conversion and homonymy;

- connection between morphological homonymy and lexical semantics of a word;

- the question whether it is legitimate only about intraclass morphological homonymy or also about interclass homonymy.

Homonymy includes separate parts of morphological paradigm and in such a way becomes an inalienable feature of all the morphological system of the language.

Any unit of the morphological structure, which is marked by homonymy, besides its basic paradigmatic connections also has an additional one. For instance: phonetic system [kam] is the member of two paradigms, which differ from each other and are built on different basis:

1) come - comes - come;

2) comeI - come2 - come}.

In the first case we have a conventional morphological paradigm. If a unit is also marked by lexical homonymy then it is also a member of a lexical homonymous paradigm.

Limits of expansion of homonymous charge of the morphological paradigm are strictly determined by the morpho-logical system of the language.

Conclusion. Homonymy was analyzed as a phenomenon of synchrony and viewed as a result of opposite processes of semantic divergence of words, etymologically coming from one and the same source.

Isomorphism, which is usual for units of different levels of language structure, causes common features of both gram-matical and lexical homonymy, yet there exist considerable differences between the two types of homonymy. Lexical homonymy is always individual, while grammatical homonymy can only occasionally be of individual character.

We could see that Bloomfield L. stated that in the process of language development homonymization plays a positive role: it is a stimulus to the vocabulary renovation and it is also its source.

Perspectives for further investigations. The problem of homonyms is very actual nowadays. There are several problematic questions in the field of homonymy the major of which is the problem of distinguishing of homonyms and polysemantic words. The problem of homonymy is still waiting for its detail investigation. Also must be said that whereas distinction between polysemy homonymy is relevant and important for lexicography it is not relevant for the practice of either human or machine translation. We hope that this article will be applied at high education by both teachers and students of English, or those who are interested in the field of homonymy. The problem of distinction of homonymy and polysemy in all the languages has not been investigated thoroughly yet and there are still much opportunities to discover new fields of approaches and this problem is still waiting its salvation.


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