²ʲв
:
³
ʳ
'
˳
˳
ϳ
'
㳿
Գ
Գ
Գ
Գ


THEMATIC AND IDEOGRAPHIC GROUPS. THE THEORIES OF SEMANTIC FIELDS. HYPONYMY

A further subdivision within the lexico-grammatical groups is achieved in the well-known thematic subgroups, such as terms of kinship, names for parts of the human body, colour terms, military terms and so on. The basis of grouping this time is not only linguistic but also extra-linguistic: the words are associated, because the things they name occur together and are closely connected in reality. It has been found that these words constitute quite definitely articulated spheres held together by differences, oppositions and distinctive values. For an example it is convenient to turn to the adjectives. These are known to be subdivided into qualitative and relative lexico-grammatical groups. Among the first, adjectives that characterise a substance for shape, colour, physical or mental qualities, speed, size, etc. are distinguished.

The group of colour terms has always attracted the attention of linguists, because it permits research of lexical problems of primary importance. The most prominent among them is the problem of the systematic or non-systematic character of vocabulary, of the difference in naming the same extra-linguistic referents by different languages, and of the relationship between thought and language. There are hundreds of articles written about colour terms.

The basic colour name system comprises four words: blue, green, yellow, red; they cover the whole spectrum. All the other words denoting colours bring details into this scheme and form subsystems of the first and second order, which may be considered as synonymic series with corresponding basic terms as their dominants. Thus, red is taken as a dominant for the subsystem of the first degree: scarlet, orange, crimson, rose, and the subsystem of the second degree is: vermilion, wine red, cherry, coral, copper-red, etc. Words belonging to the basic system differ from words belonging to subsystems not only semantically but in some other features as well. These features are: (1) frequency of use; (2) motivation; (3) simple or compound character; (4) stylistic colouring; (5) combining power. The basic


terms, for instance, are frequent words belonging to the first thousand of words in H.S. Eatons semantic frequency list", their motivation is lost in present-day English. They are all native words of long standing. The motivation of colour terms in the subsystem is very clear: they are derived from the names of fruit (orange), flowers (pink), colouring stuffs (indigo). Basic system words and most of the first degree terms are root words, the second degree terms are derivatives or compounds: copper-red, jade-green, sky-coloured. Stylistically the basic terms are definitely neutral, the second degree terms are either special or poetic. The meaning is widest in the four basic terms, it gradually narrows down from subsystem to subsystem.

The relationship existing between elements of various levels is logically that of inclusion. Semanticists call it hyponymy. The term is of comparatively recent creation. J. Lyons stresses its importance as a constitutive principle in the organisation of the vocabulary of all languages. For example, the meaning of scarlet is included in the meaning of red. So scarlet is the hyponym of red, and its co-hyponym is crimson, as to red it is the superordinate of both crimson and scarlet. Could every word have a superordinate in the vocabulary, the hierarchical organisation of the lexical system would have been ideal. As it is there is not always a superordinate term. There is, for instance, no superordinate term for all colours as the term coloured usually excludes white and black. F.R. Palmer gives several examples from the animal world. The word sheep is the superordinate for ram, ewe and lamb. The word dog is in a sense its own superordinate, because there is no special word for a male dog, although there is a special term for the female and for the little dog, i.e. bitch and pup. Superordinates are also called hyperonyms, this latter term is even more frequent. Some scholars treat this phenomenon as presupposition, because if we say that some stuff is scarlet it implies that it is red. One may also treat synonymy as a special case of hyponymy (see Ch. 10).

Thematic groups as well as ideographic groups, i.e. groups uniting words of different parts of speech but thematically related, have been mostly studied diachronically. Thus A.A. Ufimtseva wrote a monograph on the historical development of the words: eorþe, land, grund;, mideanzeard, molde, folde and hruse.

The evolution of these words from the Old-English period up to the present is described in great detail. The set in this case is defined by enumerating all its elements as well as by naming the notion lying at the basis of their meaning. Many other authors have also described the evolution of lexico-semantic groups. The possibility of transferring the results obtained with limited subsets on the vocabulary as a whole adaptive system remains undefined. Subsequent works by A.A. Ufimtseva are devoted to various aspects of the problem of the lexical and lexico-semantic system.

All the elements of lexico-semantic groups remain within limits of the same part of speech and the same lexico-grammatical group. When; grammatical meaning is not taken into consideration, we obtain the so-called ideographic groups.

15* 227


The ideographic subgroups are independent of classification into parts of speech. Words and expressions are here classed not according to their lexico-grammatical meaning but strictly according to their signification, i.e. to the system of logical notions. These subgroups may comprise nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs together, provided they refer to the same notion. Thus, V.I. Agamdzhanova unites into one group such words as light n, bright a, shine v and other words connected with the notion of light as something permitting living beings to see the surrounding objects.

The approach resembles the much discussed theory of semantic fields but is more precise than some of them, because this author gives purely linguistic criteria according to which words belonging to the group may be determined. The equivalence of words in this case is reflected in their valency.

The theory of semantic fields continues to engage the attention of linguists. A great number of articles and full-length monographs have been written on this topic, and the discussion is far from being closed.

Jost Triers1 conception of linguistic fields is based on F. de Saussures theory of language as a synchronous system of networks held together by differences, oppositions and distinctive values. The starting point of the whole field theory was J. Triers work on intellectual terms in Old and Middle High German. J. Trier shows that they form an interdependent lexical sphere where the significance of each unit is determined by its neighbours. The semantic areas of the units limit one another and cover up the whole sphere. This sphere he called a linguistic, conceptual or lexical field. His definition (here given in St. Ullmanns translation)2 is: Fields are linguistic realities existing between single words and the total vocabulary; they are parts of a whole and resemble words in that they combine into some higher unit, and the vocabulary in that they resolve themselves into smaller units. Since the publication of J. Triers book, the field theory has proceeded along different lines, and several definitions of the basic notion have been put forward. A search for objective criteria made W. Porzig, G. Ipsen and other authors narrow the conception down. G. Ipsen studies Indo-European names of metals and notices their connection with colour adjectives. W. Porzig pays attention to regular contextual ties: dog bark, blind see, see eye. A. Jolles takes up correlative pairs like right left.

The greatest merit of the field theories lies in their attempt to find linguistic criteria disclosing the systematic character of language. Their structuralist orientation is consistent. J. Triers most important shortcoming is his idealistic methodology. He regards language as a super-individual cultural product shaping our concepts and our whole knowledge of the world. His ideas about the influence of language upon thought, and the existence of an intermediate universe of concepts interposed between man and the universe are wholly untenable. An

1 See: Trier, Jost. Der deutsche Wortschatz im Sinnbezirk des Verstandes. Die Geschichte eines sprachlichen Feldes. Heidelberg, 1931.

2 See: Ullmann St. The Principles of Semantics. P. 157.


exhaustive criticism of this theory may be found in M.D. Stepanovas work.

Freed from its idealistic fetters, J. Triers theory may, if properly developed, have far-reaching consequences in modern semantics. At this point mention should be made of influential and promising statistical work by A. Shaikevitch.1 This investigation is based on the hypothesis that semantically related words must occur near one another in the text, and vice versa; if the words often occur in the text together, they must be semantically related. Words (adjectives) were chosen from concordance dictionaries for G. Chaucer, E. Spenser, W. Shakespeare and several other English poets. The material was studied statistically, and the results proved the hypothesis to be correct. Groups were obtained without making use of their meaning on a strictly formal basis, and their elements proved to be semantically related. For example: faint, feeble, weary, sick, tedious and whole healthy formed one group. Thin, thick, subtle also came together. The experiment shows that a purely formal criterion of co-occurrence can serve as a basis of semantic equivalence.

A syntactic approach to the problem of semantic fields has been initiated by the Moscow structuralist group. From their point of view, the detailed syntactic properties of the word are its meaning. Y. Apresyan proposes an analysis, the material of which includes a list of configuration patterns (phrase types) of the language as revealed by syntactic analysis, an indication of the frequency of each configuration pattern and an enumeration of meanings (already known, no matter how discovered) that occur in each pattern. Preliminary study of English verbs as constituents of each pattern has yielded corresponding sets of verbs with some semantic features in common. A semantic field can therefore be described on the basis of the valency potential of its members. Since a correlation has been found between the frequency of a configuration pattern and the number of word meanings which may appear in it, Y. Apresyan proposes that a hierarchy of increasingly comprehensive word fields should be built by considering configuration patterns of increasing frequency. Of the vast literature on semantic fields special attention should be paid to the works by G. Šcur.2

TERMINOLOGICAL SYSTEMS

Sharply defined extensive semantic fields are found in terminological systems.

Terminology constitutes the greatest part of every language vocabulary. It is also its most intensely developing part, i.e. the class giving the largest number of new formations. Terminology of a. language consists of many systems of terms. We shall call a term any word or word-group used to name a notion characteristic of some special field of knowledge, industry or culture. The scope and content of the notion that a term serves to express are specified by definitions in

1 .. - : . . ...- . . ., 1982.

2 See, for instance: .. . ., 1974.


literature on the subject. The word utterance for instance, may be regarded as a linguistic term, since Z. Harris, Ch. Fries and other representatives of descriptive linguistics attach to it the following definition: An utterance is any stretch of talk by one person before and after which there is a silence.

Many of the influential works on linguistics that appeared in the last five years devote much attention to the problems of sociolinguistics. Sociolinguistics may be roughly defined as the study of the influence produced upon language by various social factors. It is not difficult to understand that this influence is particularly strong in lexis. Now terminology is precisely that part of lexis where this influence is not only of paramount importance, but where it is recognised so that terminological systems are purposefully controlled. Almost every system of special terminology is nowadays fixed and analysed in glossaries approved by authorities, special commissions and eminent scholars.

A term is, in many respects, a very peculiar type of word. An ideal term should be monosemantic and, when used within its own sphere, does not depend upon the micro-context, provided it is not expressed by a figurative variant of a polysemantic word. Its meaning remains constant until some new discovery or invention changes the referent or the notion. Polysemy, when it arises,1 is a drawback, so that all the speakers and writers on special subjects should be very careful to avoid it. Polysemy may be tolerated in one form only, namely if the same term has various meanings in different fields of science. The terms alphabet and word, for example, have in mathematics a meaning very different from those accepted in linguistics.

Being mostly independent of the context a term can have no contextual meaning whatever. The only meaning possible is a denotational free meaning. A term is intended to ensure a one-to-one correspondence between morphological arrangement and content. No emotional colouring or evaluation are possible when the term is used within its proper sphere. As to connotation or stylistic colouring, they are superseded in terms by the connection with the other members of some particular terminological system and by the persistent associations with this system when the term is used out of its usual sphere.

A term can obtain a figurative or emotionally coloured meaning only when taken out of its sphere and used in literary or colloquial speech. But in that case it ceases to be a term and its denotational meaning may also become very vague. It turns into an ordinary word. The adjective atomic used to describe the atomic structure of matter was until 1945 as emotionally neutral as words like quantum or parallelogram. But since Hiroshima and the ensuing nuclear arms race it has assumed a new implication, so that the common phrase this atomic age, which taken literally has no meaning at all, is now used to denote an age of great scientific progress, but also holds connotations of ruthless menace and monstrous destruction.

Every branch and every school of science develop a special

1 There may be various reasons for it.


terminology adapted to their nature and methods. Its development represents an essential part of research work and is of paramount importance, because it can either help or hinder progress. The great physiologist I.P. Pavlov, when studying the higher nervous activity, prohibited his colleagues and pupils to use such phrases as the dog thinks, the dog wants, the dog remembers; he believed that these words interfered with objective observation.

The appearance of structuralist schools of linguistics has completely changed linguistic terminology. A short list of some frequently used terms will serve to illustrate the point: allomorph, allophone; constituent, immediate constituent, distribution, complementary distribution, contrastive distribution, morph, morphophonemics, morphotactics, etc.

Using the new terms in context one can say that phonologists seek to establish the system pattern or structure of archiphonemes, phonemes and phonemic variants based primarily on the principle of twofold choice or binary opposition11. All the italicised words in the above sentence are terms. No wonder therefore that the intense development of linguistics made it imperative to systematise, standardise and check the definitions of linguistic terms now in current use. Such work on terminology standardisation has been going on in almost all branches of science and engineering since the beginning of the 20th century, and linguists have taken an active part in it, while leaving their own terminology in a sad state of confusion. Now this work of systematisation of linguistic terms is well under way. A considerable number of glossaries appeared in different countries. These efforts are of paramount importance, the present state of linguistic terminology being quite inadequate creating a good deal of ambiguity and misunderstanding.

The terminology of a branch of science is not simply a sum total of its terms but a definite system reflecting the system of its notions. Terminological systems may be regarded as intersecting sets, because some terms belong simultaneously to several terminological systems. There is no harm in this if the meaning of the terms and their definitions remain constant, or if the respective branches of knowledge do not meet; where this is not so, much ambiguity can arise. The opposite phenomenon, i.e. the synonymy of terms, is no less dangerous for very obvious reasons. Scholars are apt to suspect that their colleagues who use terms different from those favoured by themselves are either talking nonsense or else are confused in their thinking. An interesting way out is offered by one of the most modern developments in world science, by cybernetics. It offers a single vocabulary and a single set of concepts suitable for representing the most diverse types of systems: in linguistics and biological aspects of communication no less than in various engineering professions. This is of paramount importance, as it has been repeatedly found in science that the discovery of analogy or relation between two fields leads to each field helping the development of the other.

Such notions and terms as quantity of information, redundancy, enthropy, feedback and many more are used in various disciplines. Today linguists, no less than other scholars, must know what is going on in other fields of learning and keep abreast of general progress.


Up till now we have been dealing with problems of linguistic terminology. These are only a part of the whole complex of the linguistic problems concerning terminology. It goes without saying that there are terms for all the different specialities. Their variety is very great, e. g. amplitude (physics), antibiotic (medicine), arabesque (ballet), feedback (cybernetics), fission (chemistry), frame (cinema). Many of the terms that in the first period of their existence are known to a few specialists, later become used by wide circles of laymen. Some of these are of comparatively recent origin. Here are a few of them, with the year of their first appearance given in brackets: stratosphere (1908), gene (1909), quantum (1910), vitamin (1912), isotope (1913), behaviourism (1914), penicillin (1929), cyclotron (1932), ionosphere (1931), radar (1942), transistor (1952), bionics (1960), white hole (1972), beam weapon (1977).

The origin of terms shows several main channels, three of which are specific for terminology. These specific ways are:

1. Formation of terminological phrases with subsequent clipping, ellipsis, blending, abbreviation: transistor receiver → transistor → trannie; television text → teletext; ecological architecture → ecotecture; extremely low frequency → ELF.

2. The use of combining forms from Latin and Greek like aerodrome, aerodynamics, cyclotron, microfilm, telegenic, telegraph, thermonuclear, telemechanics, supersonic. The process is common to terminology in many languages.

3. Borrowing from another terminological system within the same language whenever there is any affinity between the respective fields. Sea terminology, for instance, lent many words to aviation vocabulary which in its turn made the starting point for the terminology adopted in the conquest of space. If we turn back to linguistics, we shall come across many terms borrowed from rhetoric: metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche and others.

The remaining two methods are common with other layers of the vocabulary. These are word-formation in which composition, semantic shift and derivation take the leading part, and borrowing from other languages. The character of the terms borrowed, the objects and ideas they denote are full of significance for the history of world culture. Since the process of borrowing is very marked in every field, all terminology has a tendency to become international. An important peculiarity of terms as compared to the rest of the vocabulary is that they are much more subject to purposeful control. There are special establishments busy with improving terminology. We must also pay attention to the fact that it is often possible to trace a term to its author. It is, for instance, known that the radio terms anode and cathode were coined by M. Faraday, the term vitamin by Dr. Funk in 1912, the term bionics was born at a symposium in Ohio (USA) in September of 1960. Those who coin a new term are always careful to provide it with a definition and also to give some reasons for their choice by explaining its motivation.

Terms are not separated from the rest of the vocabulary, and it is rather hard to say where the line should be drawn. With the development and growth of civilisation many special notions become known to the


layman and form part and parcel of everyday speech. Are we justified to call such words as vitamin, inoculation and sedative or tranquilliser terms? With radio and television sets in every home many radio terms antenna, teletype, transistor, short waves are well known to everybody and often used in everyday conversation. In this process, however, they may lose their specific terminological character and become similar to all ordinary words in the intentional part of their meaning. The constant interchange of elements goes both ways. The everyday English vocabulary, especially the part of it characterised by a high index of frequency and polysemy, constitutes a constant source for the creation of new terms.

Due to the expansion of popular interest in the achievements of science and technology new terms appear more and more frequently in newspapers and popular magazines and even in fiction. Much valuable material concerning this group of neologisms is given in two Barn-hart Dictionaries of New English from which we borrow the explanation of two astronomical terms black hole (1968) and white hole created on its pattern in 1971. Both terms play an important symbolic role in A. Voznesenskys first major prose work entitled O. A black hole is a hypothetic drain in space which engulfs matter and energy, even massive stars. A white hole is a hypothetical source of matter and energy through which what was sucked in through black holes may reappear in other universes.

Dictionaries for the most part include terminological meanings into the entry for the head-word. The fact that one of the meanings is terminological is signalled by showing in brackets the field where it can be used. For example, the word load as an electrical term means the amount of current supplied by a generating station at any given time; power in mathematics is the product obtained by multiplying the number into itself, and in mechanics capacity of doing work; the optical term power denotes the magnifying capacity of a lens.

The above survey of terms as a specific type of words was descriptive, the approach was strictly synchronic. Investigation need not stop at the descriptive stage. On the contrary, the study of changes occurring in a group of terms or a whole terminological subsystem, such as sea terms, building terms, etc. during a long period of time, can give very valuable data concerning the interdependence of the history of language and the history of society. The development of terminology is the most complete reflection of the history of science, culture and industry.

© 2013 wikipage.com.ua - wikipage.com.ua |