- - Synonyms an Their Translation

Synonyms an Their Translation



The English and Literature department

Shergoziev Abror's qualification work on speciality 5220100, English philology on theme:

Synonyms and their translation

Supervisor: Tojiev Kh.



I. Introduction

1.1. Aims and purposes of the work

2.1 General definition of the phenomenon of synonymy in Modern English.

II. The Main Part

2.1 Kinds of synonyms and their specific features

2.2 Distributional features of the English synonyms

2.3 Changeability and substitution of meanings

2.4 Semantic and functional relationship in synonyms

2.5 Interchangeable character of words and their synonymy

2.6 Combinability of synonyms

2.7 Peculiar features of semantics and combinability of the English verbs on the examples of the synonyms to amuse, to entertain, to grip, to interest, to thrill

2.8 Conceptual synonymy

2.9 Synonymy and collocative meaning

2.10 Semantic peculiarities of synonyms

III. Conclusion

1.3. Summary to the whole work

2.3 Ways of applying the work

IV. Bibliography


The theme of my qualification work sounds as following: Synonyms and their translation This qualification work can be characterized by the following:

The actuality of this work caused by several important points. We seem to say that the problem of synonyms is one of the main difficult ones for the English language learners. It can be most clearly seen in the colloquial layer of a language, which, in its turn at high degree is supported by development of modern informational technologies and simplification of alive speech. As a result, a great number of new meanings of one and the same word appear in our vocabulary. So the significance of our work can be proved by the following reasons:

a) The problem of synonymy is one of the developing branches of vocabulary nowadays.

b) Synonymy reflects the general trend of enrichment of a language word-stock.

c) Synonymy is closely connected with the development of modern informational technologies.

d) Being a developing branch of linguistics it requires a special attention of teachers to be adequated to their specialization in English.

Having based upon the actuality of the theme we are able to formulate the general goals of our qualification work.

a) To study, analyze, and sum up all the possible changes happened in the studied branch of linguistics for the past fifty years.

b) To teach the problem of synonymy to young English learners.

c) To demonstrate the significance of the problem for those who want to brush up their English.

d) To mention all the major of linguists' opinions concerning the subject studied.

If we say about the new information used within our work we may note that the work studies the problem from the modern positions and analyzes the modern trends appeared in this subject for the last ten years. In particular, the new computer-based meanings of some habitual words were given.

The practical significance of the work can be concluded in the following items:

a) The work could serve as a good source of learning English by young teachers at schools and colleges.

b) The lexicologists could find a lot of interesting information for themselves.

c) Those who would like to communicate with the English-speaking people through the Internet will be able to use the up-to-date words with the help of our qualification work.

Having said about the linguists studied the material before we can mention that our qualification work was based upon the investigations made by a number of well known English, Russian and Uzbek lexicologists as A.I.Smirnitsky, B.A. Ilyish, N.Buranov, V.V. Vinogradov, O.Jespersen and some others.

If we say about the methods of scientific approaches used in our work we can mention that the method of typological analysis was used.

The newality of the work is concluded in including the modern meanings of habitual words to our qualification work.

The general structure of our qualification work looks as follows:

The work is composed onto three major parts: introduction, main part and conclusion. Each part has its subdivision onto the specific thematically items. There are two points in the introductory part: the first item tells about the general content of the work while the other gives us the general explanation of the lexicological phenomenon of shortening in a language. The main part bears the eight points in itself. The first point explains the shortening of spoken words in particular. The second item analyzes the phenomenon of graphical abbreviations and acronyms. In the third point we study abbreviations as the major way of shortening. In the fourth paragraph of the qualification work we deal with the secondary ways of shortening: sound interchange and sound imitation. The fifth paragraph takes into consideration the question of blendening of words. The sixth item shows us the back formation examples. The last paragraph of the main part analyzes the homonymy influence onto the appearing of shortening. The conclusion of the qualification work sums up the ideas discussed in the main part (the first item) and shows the ways of implying of the qualification work (in the second item).

Word-building processes involve not only qualitative but also quantitative changes. Thus, derivation and compounding represent addition, as affixes and free stems, respectively, are added to the underlying form. Shortening, on the other hand, may be represented as significant subtraction, in which part of the original word is taken away.

The spoken and the written forms of the English language have each their own patterns of shortening, but as there is a constant exchange between both spheres, it is sometimes difficult to tell where a given shortening really originated.


Synonyms (in ancient Greek syn `' plus and onoma `' name) are different words with similar or identical meanings and are interchangable. Antonyms are words with opposite or nearly opposite meanings. (Synonym and antonym are antonyms.)

An example of synonyms is the words cat and feline. Each describes any member of the family Felidae. Similarly, if we talk about a long time or an extended time, long and extended become synonyms. In the figurative sense, two words are often said to be synonymous if they have the same connotation:

a widespread impression that Hollywood was synonymous with immorality (Doris Kearns Goodwin) Ginzburg R.S. et al. A Course in Modern English Lexicology. M., 1979 pp.72-82

Synonyms can be nouns, adverbs or adjectives, as long as both members of the pair are the same part of speech.

More examples of English synonyms:

baby and infant (noun)

student and pupil (noun)

pretty and attractive (adjective)

sick and ill (adjective)

interesting and fascinating (adjective)

quickly and speedily (adverb)

Note that the synonyms are defined with respect to certain senses of words; for instance, pupil as the aperture in the iris of the eye is not synonymous with student. Similarly, expired as having lost validity (as in grocery goods) it doesn't necessarily mean death.

Some lexicographers claim that no synonyms have exactly the same meaning (in all contexts or social levels of language) because etymology, orthography, phonic qualities, ambiguous meanings, usage, etc. make them unique. However, many people feel that the synonyms they use are identical in meaning for all practical purposes. Different words that are similar in meaning usually differ for a reason: feline is more formal than cat; long and extended are only synonyms in one usage and not in others, such as a long arm and an extended arm. Synonyms are also a source of euphemisms.

The purpose of a thesaurus is to offer the user a listing of similar or related words; these are often, but not always, synonyms. In a way, hyponyms are similar to synonyms.

In contrast, antonyms (an opposite pair) would be:

dead and alive (compare to synonyms: dead and deceased)

near and far (compare to synonyms: near and close)

war and peace (compare to synonyms: war and armed conflict)

tremendous and awful (compare to synonyms: tremendous and remarkable)

Main Part


Synonyms are words different in their outer aspects, but identical or similar in their inner aspects. In English there are a lot of synonyms, because there are many borrowings, e.g. hearty / native/ - cordial/ borrowing/. After a word is borrowed it undergoes desynonymization, because absolute synonyms are unnecessary for a language. However, there are some absolute synonyms in the language, which have exactly the same meaning and belong to the same style, e.g. to moan, to groan; homeland, motherland etc. In cases of desynonymization one of the absolute synonyms can specialize in its meaning and we get semantic synonyms, e.g. city /borrowed/, town /native/. The French borrowing city is specialized. In other cases native words can be specialized in their meanings, e.g. stool /native/, chair /French/.

Sometimes one of the absolute synonyms is specialized in its usage and we get stylistic synonyms, e.g. to begin/ native/, to commence /borrowing/. Here the French word is specialized. In some cases the native word is specialized, e.g. welkin /bookish/, sky /neutral/.

Stylistic synonyms can also appear by means of abbreviation. In most cases the abbreviated form belongs to the colloquial style, and the full form to the neutral style, e.g. examination', exam.

Among stylistic synonyms we can point out a special group of words which are called euphemisms. These are words used to substitute some unpleasant or offensive words, e.g. the late instead of dead, to perspire instead of to sweat etc.

There are also phraseological synonyms, these words are identical in their meanings and styles but different in their combining with other words in the sentence, e.g. to be late for a lecture but to miss the train, to visit museums but to attend lectures etc.

In each group of synonyms there is a word with the most general meaning, which can substitute any word in the group, e.g. piece is the synonymic dominant in the group slice, lump, morsel. The verb to look at is the synonymic dominant in the group to stare, to glance, to peep. The adjective red' is the synonymic dominant in the group purple, scarlet, crimson.

When speaking about the sources of synonyms, besides desynonymization and abbreviation, we can also mention the formation of phrasal verbs, e.g. to give up - to abandon, to cut down - to diminish. Grouping of words is based upon similarities and contrasts and is usually called as synonymic row. Taking up similarity of meaning and contrasts of phonetic shape we observe that every language has in its vocabulary a variety of words, kindred in meaning but distinct in morphemic composition, phonemic shape and usage, ensuring the expression of the most delicate shades of thought, feeling and imagination. The more developed the language, the richer the diversity and therefore the greater the possibilities of lexical choice enhancing the effectiveness and precision of speech.

The way synonyms function may be seen from the following example: Already in this half-hour of bombardment hundreds upon hundreds of men would have been violently slain, smashed, torn, gouged, crusted, and mutilated. (ALDINGTON)

The synonymous words smash and crush are semantic-ally very close; they combine to give a forceful representation of the atrocities of war. Richness and clearness of language are of paramount importance in so far as they promote precision of thought. Even this preliminary example makes it obvious that the still very common definitions of synonyms as words of the same language having the same meaning or as different words that stand for the same notion are by no means accurate and even in a way misleading. By the very nature of language every word has its own history, its own peculiar motivation, and its own typical contexts. And besides there is always some hidden possibility of different connotation arid which is feeling in each of them. Moreover, words of the same meaning would be useless for communication: they would encumber the language, not enrich it.

If two words exactly coincide in meaning and use, the natural tendency is for one of them to change its meaning or drop out of the language. Thus synonyms are words only similar but not identical in meaning-. This definition is correct but vague. A more precise linguistic definition should be based on a workable notion of tie semantic structure of the word and of the complex nature of every separate meaning in a polysemantic word. Each separate lexical meaning of a word has been described in Chapter VII as consisting of a denotational component identifying the notion or the object and reflecting the essential features of the notion named, shades of meaning reflecting its secondary features, additional connotations resulting from typical contexts in which the word is used, its emotional component arid stylistic coloring; connotations are not necessarily present in every word. The basis of a synonymic opposition is formed by the first of the above named components, i.e. the denotational component. It will be remembered that the term opposition means the relationship of partial difference between two partially similar elements of a language. A common denotational component brings the words together into a synonymic group. All the other components can vary and thus form the distinctive features of the synonymic oppositions.

Synonyms can therefore be defined in terms of linguistics as two or more words of the same language, belonging to the same part of speech and possessing one or more identical or nearly identical denotational meanings, interchangeable, at least in some contexts, without any considerable alteration in denotational meaning, hut differing in morphemic composition, phonemic shape, shades of meaning, connotations, affective value, style, valence and idiomatic use. Additional characteristics of style, emotional coloring and valence peculiar to one of the elements in a synonymic group may be absent in one or all of the others.

The definition is of necessity very bulky and needs some commenting upon. By pointing out the fact that synonyms belong to the same part of speech the definition makes it clear that synonymic grouping is really a special case of lexico-grammatical grouping based on semantic proximity of words.

To have something tangible to work upon it is convenient to compare some synonyms within their group, so as to make obvious the reasons of the definition. The verbs experience, undergo, sustain and suffer, for example, come together because all four render the notion of experiencing something. The verb and the noun experience indicate actual living through something and coming to know it first hand rather than from hearsay. Undergo applies chiefly to what someone or something bears or is subjected to, as in to undergo an operation, to undergo changes. Compare also the following example from L. P. Smith: The French language has undergone considerable and more recent changes since the date when the Normans brought it into England. In the above example the verb undergo can be replaced by its synonyms without any change of the sentence meaning. This may be easily proved if a similar context is found for some other synonym in the same group. For instance: These Latin words suffered many transformations in becoming French.

The denotational meaning is obviously the same. Synonyms, then, are interchangeable under certain conditions specific to each group. This seems to call forth an analogy with phonological neutralization. Now, it will be remembered that neutralization is the absence in some contexts of a phonetic contrast found elsewhere or formerly in the language, as the absence of contrast between final [s] and [z] after [t]. It appears we are justified in calling s e-m antic neutralization the suspension of an otherwise functioning semantic opposition that occurs in some lexical contexts.

And yet suffer in this meaning (`to undergo'), but not in the example above, is characterized by connotations implying wrong or injury. No semantic neutralization occurs in phrases like to suffer atrocities, to suffer heavy losses. The implication is of course caused by the existence of the main intransitive meaning of the same word, not synonymous with the group, i. e. `feel pain'. Sustain as an element of this group differs from both in shade of meaning and style. It is an official word and it suggests undergoing affliction without giving way.

A further illustration will be supplied by a group of synonymous nouns: hope, expectation, and anticipation. They are considered to be synonymous because they all three mean `having something in mind which is likely to happen'. They are, however, much less interchangeable than the previous group because of more strongly pronounced difference in shades of meaning. Expectation may be either of good or of evil. Anticipation, as a rule, is a pleasurable expectation of something good. Hope is not only a belief but a desire that some event would happen. The stylistic difference is also quite marked. The Romance words anticipation and expectation are formal literary words used only by educated speakers, whereas the native monosyllabic hope is stylistically neutral. Moreover, they differ in idiomatic usage. Only hope is possible in such set expressions as: to hope against, hope, to lose hope, to pin one's hopes on smth. Neither expectation nor anticipation could be substituted into the following quotation from T. S. Eliot: You do not know what hope is until you have lost it.

Taking into consideration the corresponding series of synonymous verbs and verbal set expressions: to hope, for anticipate, to expect, to look forward to, we shall see that separate words may be compared to whole set expressions. To look forward also worthy of note because it forms a definitely colloquial counterpart to the rest. It can easily be shown, on the evidence of examples, that each synonymic group comprises a dominant element. This synonymic dominant is the most general term of its kind potentially containing the specific features rendered by all the other members' of the group, as, for instance, undergo and hope in the above.

In the series leave, depart, quit, retire, clear out the verb leave, being general and both stylistically and emotionally neutral, can stand for each of the other four terms. The other four can replace leave only when some specific semantic component must prevail over the general notion. When we want to stress the idea of giving up employment and stopping work quit is preferable because in this word this particular notion dominates over the more general idea common to the whole group. Some of these verbs may be used transitively, e. g. He has left me... Abandoned me! Quitted me! (BENNETT). Arnold I.V. The English Word M. High School 1986 pp. 143-149 In this synonymic series therefore the dominant term is leave. Other dominants are, for instance, get, a verb that can stand for the verbs obtain, acquire, gain, win, earn; also ask, the most general term of its group, viz. inquire, question or interrogate. The synonymic dominant should not be confused with a generic term. A generic term is relative. It serves as the name for the notion of the genus as distinguished from the names of the species. For instance, animal is a generic term as compared to the specific names wolf, dog or mouse (which are not synonymous). Dog, in its turn, may serve as a generic term for different breeds such as bull-dog, collie, poodle, etc.

The definition on p. 224 states that synonyms possess one or more identical or nearly identical meanings. To realize the significance of this, one must bear in mind that the majority of frequent words are polysemantic, and that it is precisely the frequent words that have many synonyms. The result is that one and the same word may belong in its various meanings to several different synonymic groups. The verb appear in ...an old brown cat without a tail appeared from nowhere (MANSFIELD) Jespersen ,Otto. Growth and Structure of the English Language. Oxford, 1982 pp.246-249 is synonymous with come into sight, emerge. On the other hand, when Gr. Greene depicts the far-off figures of the parachutists who ...appeared stationary, appeared is synonymous with look or seem, their common component being `give the impression of. Appear, then, often applies to erroneous impressions.

Compare the following .groups synonymous to five different meanings of the adjective fresh, as revealed by characteristic contexts: To begin a fresh paragraph--fresh:: another :: different :: new.

Fresh air -- fresh:: pure :: invigorating.

A freshman --fresh:: inexperienced :: green :: raw.

To be fresh with smb --fresh:: impertinent :: rude.

The semantic structures of two polysemantic words sometimes coincide in more than one meaning, but never completely.

Synonyms may also differ in emotional coloring which may be present in one element of the group and absent in all or some of the others. Lonely as compared with alone is emotional as is easily seen from the following examples: ...a very lonely boy lost between them and aware at ten that his mother had no interest in him, and that his father was a stranger. (ALDEIDGE) Shall be alone as my secretary doesn't come to-day (M. DICKENS). Both words denote being apart from others, but lonely besides the general meaning implies longing for company, feeling sad because of the lack of sympathy and companionship. Alone does not necessarily suggest any sadness at being by oneself.

If the difference in the meaning of synonyms concerns the notion or the emotion expressed, as was the case in the groups discussed above, the synonyms are classed as ideographic synonyms, and the opposition created in contrasting them may be called an ideographic opposition. The opposition is formulated with the help of a clear definitive statement of the semantic component present in all the members of the group. The analysis proceeds as a definition by comparison with the standard that is thus settled. It is not enough to tell something about each word. The thing to tell is how each word is related to others in this particular group. 3 The establishment of differential features proves very helpful, whereas sliding from one synonym to another with no definite point of departure creates a haphazard approach with no chance of tracing the system. In analyzing the group consisting of the words glance n, look n and glimpse n we state that all three denote a conscious and direct endeavor to see, the distinctive feature is based on the time and quickness of the action. A glance is `a look which is quick and sudden' and a glimpse is quicker still, implying only momentary sight.

In a stylistic opposition of synonyms the basis of comparison is again the denotational meaning and the distinctive feature is the presence or absence of a stylistic coloring which may also be accompanied a difference in emotional coloring.

It has become quite a tradition with linguists : when discussing synonyms to quote a passage from As You Like It (Act V, Scene I) to illustrate the social differentiation of vocabulary and the stylistic relationship existing1 in the English language between simple, mostly native, words and their dignified and elaborate synonyms borrowed from the French. We shall keep to this time-honored convention, Speaking to a country fellow William, the jester Touchstone says: Therefore, you clown, abandon, -- which is in the vulgar leave, -- the society, -- which in the boorish is company, -- of this female, -- which in the common is woman; which together is abandon the society of this female, or, clown, thou perishes t; or to thy better understanding diets; or, to wit, I kill thee, make thee away, translate thy life into death.

The general effect of poetic or learned .synonyms when used in prose or in everyday speech is that of creating alit elevated tone. The point may be proved by the very first example in this chapter (see p. 223) Smirnitsky A.I. Synonyms in English M.1977 pp.57-59,89-90 where the poetic and archaic verb slays is-substituted for the neutral kill. We must be on our guard too against the idea that the stylistic effect may exist without influencing the meaning: in fact it never does. The verb slay not only lends to the whole a poetical and solemn ring, it also shows the writer's and his hero's attitude to the fact, their horror and repugnance of war and their feeling for its victims.

The phrases they are killed, they are slain, they are made away with may refer to the same event hut they are different ill meaning, in so far as they reveal a different attitude to the subject in question on the part of the speaker.

The study of synonyms is a borderline province between semantics and stylistics on the one hand and semantics arid phraseology on the other because of the synonymic collocations serving as_ a means of emphasis. The following example from A Taste of Honey, j remarkable for the truthfulness of its dialogue, shows how they are used in modern speech;

Helen: ...The devil looks after his own, - they say.


Synonymic pairs like wear and tear are very numerous in modern English and often used both in everyday speech and in literature. They show all the typical features of idiomatic phrases that ensure their memorable ness such as rhythm, alliteration, rhyme and the use of archaic words seldom occurring elsewhere.

The examples are numerous: hale and hearty, with might and main, nevertheless and notwithstanding, modes and manners, stress and strain, rack and ruin, really and truly, hue and cry, wane and pale, without let or hindrance, act and deed. There are many others which show neither rhyme nor alliteration, and consist of two words equally modern. They are pleonastic, i. e. they emphasize the idea by just stating it twice, and possess a certain rhythmical quality which probably enhances their unity and makes them easily remembered. These are: by leaps and bounds, to pick and choose, pure and simple, stuff and nonsense, bright and shining, far and away, proud and haughty and many more.

In a great number of cases the semantic difference between two OP more synonyms is supported by the difference in valence. Distributional oppositions between synonyms have never been studied systematically, although the amount of data collected is very impressive. The difference in distribution maybe syntactical, morphological, lexical, and surely deserves more attention than has been so far given to it. It is, for instance, known that bare in reference to persons is used only predicatively while naked occurs both predicatively and attributively. The same is true about alone, which, irrespectively of referent, is used only predicatively, whereas its synonyms solitary and lonely occur in both functions. The function is predicative in the following sentence: you are idle, be not solitary, if you are solitary be not idle. (s. JOHNSON) Akhmanova O.S. Lexicology: Theory and Method. M. 1972 pp. 59-66 It has been repeatedly mentioned that begin and commence differ stylistically, ft must be noted, however, that their distributional difference is not less important. Begin is generalized in its lexical meaning and becomes a semi-auxiliary when used with an infinitive. It follows naturally that begin and not commence is the right word before an infinitive even in formal style. Seem and appear may be followed by an infinitive or a that-claw. see whereas look which is stylistically equivalent to them is never used in these constructions. Aware and conscious are followed either by an o/-phrase or by a subordinate clause, e. g. to be aware of one's failure, to be aware that one's failure is inevitable. Their synonym sensible is preferably used with an o/-phrase.

Very often the distributional difference between synonyms concerns the use of prepositions: e. g. to answer a question, but to reply to a question. The adjectives anxious and uneasy are followed by the preposition about, their synonym concerned permits a choice and is variously combined with about, at, for, with. The misuse of prepositions is one of the most common mistakes not only with foreigners but with native speakers as well.

Lexical difference in distribution is based on the difference in valence. An example of this is offered by the verbs win and gain. Both may be used in combination with the noun victory: to win a victory, to gain a victory. But with the word war only win is possible: to win a war. We are here trespassing on the domain of set expressions, a problem that has already been treated in an earlier chapter. Here it will suffice to point out that the phraseological combining possibilities of words are extremely varied.

It has been repeatedly stated that synonyms cannot be substituted into set expressions; as a general rule each synonym has its own peculiarities of phraseological connections. The statement is only approximately correct. A. V. Koenig has shown that set expressions have special properties as regards synonymy, different from those observed in free phrases. l Some set expressions may vary in their lexical components without changing their meaning, e. g. cast (fling or throw] smth in smb's. teeth. Moreover, the meaning may remain unchanged even if the interchangeable components are not synonymous: to hang on by one's eyelashes (eyelids, eyebrows),-to bear or show a resemblance. The nouns glance, look and glimpse are indiscriminately used with the verbs give and have: to give a look (a glance, a glimpse), to have a look (a glance, a glimpse). With (he verbs cast arid take the word glimpse is not used, so that only the expressions to cast a glance (a look) or to take a glance (a look) are possible. With the verbs steal, shoot, throw the combining possibilities are further restricted, so that only the noun glance will occur in combination with these. It goes without saying that phraseological interchangeability is not frequent.


Since the exact meaning of each synonym is delimited by its interrelatedness with the other elements of the same group, comparison plays an important part in synonymic research. It has already been tentatively examined in the opening paragraph of this chapter; now we offer a slightly different angle of the same problem. The interchangeability and possible neutralization are tested by means of substitution, a procedure also profitably borrowed by semasiology from phonology. 1 The values of words 2 can best be defined by substituting them for one another and observing the resulting changes. When the landlady in John Waif's Hurry on down says to the main personage: And where do you work? I've asked you that two or three times, Mr. Lumley, but you've never given me any answer, the verb ask has a very general meaning of seeking information. Substituting its synonyms, question or interrogate, will require a change in the structure of the sentence (the omission of that), which shows the distributional opposition between these words, and also ushers in a change in meaning. These words will heighten the implication that the landlady has her doubts about Lumley and confesses that she finds his character suspicious. The verb question would mean that she is constantly asking her lodger searching questions. The substitution of interrogate would suggest systematic and thorough questioning by a person authorized to do so; the landlady could have used it only ironically and irony would have been completely out of keeping with her mentality and habits. Observations of this sort can be supported by statistical data. Most frequent combinations such as teachers question their pupils, fudges interrogate witnesses and the like also throw light on the semantic difference between synonyms.

Synonyms have certain common ground within which they are interchangeable without alteration of meaning or with a very slight loss in effectiveness. Ask and inquire, for instance, may be used indiscriminately when not followed by any object 3 as in the following: And where do you live now, Mr. Gillespie? Mrs. Pearson inquired rather archly and with her head on one side. (PRIESTLEY)

To this connection some more examples may be cited. The words strange, odd, queer, though different in connotations, are often interchangeable because they can be applied to define the same words or words naming similar notions: strange feeling (glance, business)', queer feeling (glance, business), odd feeling (glance, business). E. g.: It seems the queerest set-up I ever heard of. (WYNDHAM) Canon G. Historical Changes and English Wordformation: New Vocabulary items. N.Y., 1986. p.284 Compare also: she agreed to stay :: she consented to stay; she seems annoyed :: she appears annoyed :: she looks annoyed; to discharge an employee :: to sack an employee :: to fire an employee (a servant, etc.).

It should be borne in mind that substitution in different contexts has for its object not only probing interchangeability but bringing into relief the difference in intellectual, emotional and stylistic value of each word. An additional procedure suggested by Ch. Bally consists in assigning to the words suitable antonyms. The difference between firm and hard, for example, is explained if we point out that firm contrasts with hose and flabby (firm ground:: loose ground, firm chin :: flabby chin), whereas the opposite of hard is soft (hard ground :: soft ground).

The meaning of each word is conditioned the meaning of other words forming part of the same vocabulary system, and especially of those in semantic proximity. High and tall, for instance, could be defined not only from the point of view of their valence (tall is used about people) but also in relation to each other by stating how far they are interchangeable and what their respective antonyms are. A building may be high and it may be (all. High is a relative term signifying `greatly raised above the surface or the base', in comparison with what is usual for objects of the same kind. A table is high if it exceeds 75 cm; a hill of a hundred meters is not high. The same relativity is characteristic of its antonym low. As to the word tall, it is used about objects whose height is greatly in excess of their breadth or diameter and whose actual height is great for an object of its kind: a tall man, a tall tree. The antonym is short.

The area where substitution is possible is very limited and outside it all replacement either destroys the beauty and precision, or, more often, makes the utterance vague, ungrammatical and even unintelligible. This makes the knowledge of where each synonym differs from another of paramount importance for correctness of speech.

The distinctions between words similar in meaning are often very fine and elusive, so that some special instruction on the use of synonyms is necessary even for native speakers. This accounts for the great number of books of synonyms that serve as guides for those who aim at good style and precision and wish to choose the most appropriate terms from the varied stock of the English vocabulary. The study of synonyms is especially indispensable for those who learn English as a foreign language because what is the right word in one situation will be wrong in many other, apparently similar, contexts.

It is often convenient to explain the meaning of a new word with the help of its previously learned synonym. This forms additional associations in the student's mind, and the new word is better remembered. Moreover, it eliminates the necessity of bringing in a native word. And yet the discrimination of synonyms and words which may be confused is more important. -The teacher must show that synonyms are not identical in meaning or use and explain the difference between them by comparing and contrasting them, as well as by showing in what contexts one or the other may be most fitly used.

Translation cannot serve as a criterion of synonymy; there are cases when several English words of different distribution and valence are translated into Russian by one and the same word. Such words as also, too and as well, all translated by the Russian word mooted, are never interchangeable. A teacher of English should always stress the necessity of being on one's guard against mistakes of this kind.

Contextual synonyms are similar in meaning only under some specific distributional conditions. The verbs bear, suffer and stand are semantically different and not interchangeable except when used in the negative form; can't stand is equal to can't bear in the following words of an officer: Gas. I've swallowed too much of the beastly stuff: I can't stand it any longer. I'm going to the dressing-station. (ALDINGTON)

There are some other distinctions to be made with respect to different kinds of semantic similarity. Some authors, for instance, class groups like ask :: beg :: implore or like :: love :: adore, gift :: talent :: genius as synonymous, calling them relative synonyms. This attitude is open to discussion. In fact the difference in denotative meaning is unmistakable: the words name different notions, not various degrees of the same notion, and cannot substitute one another. An entirely different type of opposition is involved. Formerly we had oppositions based on the relationships between the members of the opposition, here we deal with proportional oppositions characterized by their relationship with the whole vocabulary system and based on a different degree of intensity of the relevant distinctive features. We shall not call such words synonymous as they do not fit the definition of synonyms given in the beginning of the chapter.

Total synonymy, i.e. synonymy where the members of a synonymic group can replace each other in any given context, without the slightest alteration in denotative or emotional meaning and connotations, is an extremely rare occurrence. Examples of this type can be found in special literature among technical terms peculiar to this or that branch of knowledge. Thus, in linguistics the terms noun and substantive, functional affix, flections and inflection are identical in meaning. What is not generally realized, however, is that terms are a peculiar type of words, totally devoid of connotations or emotional coloring, and that their stylistic characterization does not vary? That is why this is a very special kind of synonymy: neither ideographic nor stylistic oppositions are possible here. As to the distributional opposition, it is less marked because the great majority of terms are nouns. Their irater change ability is also in a way deceptive. Every writer has to make up his mind right from the start as to which of the possible synonyms he prefers and stick to it throughout his text to avoid ambiguity. Thus, the interchangeability is, as it were, theoretical and cannot be materialized in an actual text.

The same misunderstood conception of interchangeability lies at the bottom of considering different dialect names for the same plant, animal or agricultural implement and the like as total (absolute) synonyms. Thus a perennial plant with long clusters of dotted whitish or purple tubular flowers that the botanists refer to as genus Digitalis has several dialectal names such as foxglove, fairy bell, finger/lower, finger root, dead men's bells, ladies' fingers. But the names are not interchangeable in any particular speaker's idiolect. 1 The same is true about the cornflower (Centauries yeans), so called because it grows in cornfields; some people call it bluebottle according to the shape and color of its petals. Compare also gorse, furze and whim, different names used in different places for the same prickly yellow-flowered shrub.

The distinction between synchronistic and dichromatic treatment is so fundamental that it cannot be overemphasized, but the two aspects are interdependent and cannot be understood without one another. It is therefore essential after the descriptive analysis synonymy in present-day English to take up the historical line of approach and discuss the origin of synonyms and the causes of either abundance in English.

The majority of those who studied synonymy in the past have been cultivating both lines of approach without keeping them scrupulously apart, and focused their attention on the prominent part of foreign loan words in English synonymy, e. g. freedom :: liberty or heaven :: sky, where the first elements arc native and the second, French and Scandinavian respectively. O. Jazzperson and many others used to stress that the English language is peculiarly rich in synonyms because Britons, Romans, Saxons, Danes and Normans fighting and settling upon the soil of the British Isles could not but influence each other's speech. British scholars studied Greek and Latin and for centuries used Latin as a medium for communication on-scholarly topics.

Words borrowed from Latin to interrogate abdomen to collect vacuous to complete to ascend instruction Native English words to ask belly to gather empty to end to raise teaching Synonymy has its characteristic patterns in each language. Its peculiar feature in English is the contrast between simple native words stylistically neutral, literary words borrowed from French and learned words of Greco-Latin origin. This results in a sort of stylistically conditioned triple keyboard that can be illustrated by the following: Words borrowed from French to question stomach to assemble devoid to finish to mount guidance English also uses many pairs of synonymous derivatives, the one Hellenic and the other Romance, e. g.: periphery :: circumference', hypothesis :: supposition; sympathy :: compassion; synthesis :; composition.

The pattern of stylistic relationship represented in the above table, although typical, is by no means universal. For example, the native words dale, deed, fair are the poetic equivalents of their much more frequent borrowed synonyms valley, act or the hybrid beautiful.

This subject of stylistic differentiation has been one of much controversy in recent years. It is universally accepted, however, that semantic and stylistic properties may change and synonyms which at one time formed a stylistic opposition only, may in the course of time become ideographically contrasted as well, and vice versa.

It would be linguistically naive to maintain that borrowing re-silts only in quantitative changes or those qualitative changes are purely stylistically. The introduction of a borrowed word almost invariably starts some alteration both in the newcomer and in the seminary tic structure of existing words that are close to it in meaning. When in the 13th century the word soil (For soil, soil) was hour-rowed into English its meaning was `a strip of land'. The upper layer of earth in which plants grow had been denoted since Old English by one of the synonyms: elope, land, folder. All these words had other central meanings so (hat the meaning in question was with (hem secondary. Avow, if two words coincide in meaning and use, the tendency is for one of them to drop out of the language. Folder had the same function and meaning as elope and in the fight for survival the latter won. The polysemantic word land underwent an intense semantic development in a different direction and so dropped out of this synonymic series. In this way it became quite natural for soil to fill the obvious lexical gap, receive its present meaning and become the main name for the corresponding notion, i.e. `the mould in which plants grow'. The noun earth retained (his meaning throughout its history, whereas the word ground in which this meaning was formerly absent, developed it. As a result this synonymic group comprises at present soil, earth and ground.

The fate of the word folder is not at all infrequent. Many other words now marked in the dictionaries as archaic or obsolete have dropped out in the same competition of synonyms: others survived with a meaning more or less removed from the original one. The process is called synonymic differentiation and is so current that M. Boreal regarded it as an inherent law of language development. It must be noted that -synonyms may influence each other semantically in two diametrically opposite ways: one of them is dissimilation, the other the reverse process, i. e. assimi1ation. The assimilation of synonyms consists in parallel development. An example of this is furnished by the sense development of Middle English adverbs meaning `swiftly', and subsequently `immediately'. This law was discovered and described by G. Stern. H. A. Treble and G. H. Villains give as examples the pejorative meanings acquired by the nouns wench, knave and churl which originally meant `girl', `boy' and `laborer' respectively, and point out that this loss of old dignity became linguistically possible because there were so many synonymous terms to hand. The important thing to remember is that it is not only borrowings from foreign languages hut, other sources as well that; have made increasing contributions to the stock of English synonyms. There are for instance words that come from dialects, and, in the last hundred years, from American English in particular. As a result speakers of British English may make use of both elements of the following pairs, the first element in each pair coming from the USA: gimmick :: trick, dues :: subscription, long distance (telephone) call :: trunk call, radio :: wireless. There are also synonyms that originate in numerous other dialects as, for instance, clover:: shamrock, liquor ;: whiskey (from Irish), girl :; lass, lassie or charm :: glamour (from Scottish).

The role of borrowings should not be overestimated. Synonyms are also created by means of all word-forming processes productive in the language at a given time of its history. The words already existing in the language develop new meanings. New words may be formed by affixation, or loss of affixes, conversion, compounding, shortening and so on, and being coined, form synonyms to those already in use.

Of special importance for those who are interested in the present-day trends and characteristic peculiarities of the English vocabulary are the synonymic oppositions due to shift of meaning, new combinations of verbs with postpositive and compound nouns formed from them, shortenings, set expressions and conversion.

Set expressions consisting of a verb with a postpositive are widely used in present-day English and may be called one of its characteristic features. l Many verbal synonymic groups contain such combinations as one of their elements. A few examples will illustrate this statement: to choose :: to pick out; to abandon :: to give up; to continue :: to go on; to enter :: to come in; to lift :: to pick up; to postpone :: to put off; to quarrel :: to fall out; to return :: to bring back. E.g. By the way, Toby has quite given up the idea of doing those animal cartoons. (PLOMER)

The vitality of these expressions is proved by the fact that they really supply material for further word-formation. Very many compound nouns denoting abstract notions, persons and events are correlated with them, also giving ways of expressing notions hitherto named by somewhat lengthy borrowed terms. There are, for instance, such synonymic pairs as arrangement :: layout; conscription :: call-up; precipitation :: fall-out; regeneration :: feedback; reproduction :: playback; resistance :: fight-back; treachery :: sell-out.

An even more frequent type of new formations is that in which a noun with a verbal stem is combined with a verb of generic meaning (have, give, take, get, make] into a set expression which differs from the simple verb in aspect or emphasis: to laugh:: to give a laugh; to sigh:: lo give a sigh; to walk:: to take a walk; to smoke:: to have a smoke; to love:: to fall in love. E.g. now we can all have a good read with our coffee. (SIMPSON) Bloomsbury Dictionary of New Words. M. 1996 .276-278

N. N. Amosova stresses the patterned character of the phrases in question, the regularity of connection between the structure of the phrase and the resulting semantic effect. She also points out that there may be cases when phrases of this pattern have undergone a shift of meaning and turned into phraseological units quite different in meaning from, and not synonymical with, the verbs of the same root. This is the case with to give a lift, to give somebody quite a turn, etc.

Quite frequently synonyms, mostly stylistically, hut sometimes ideographic as well, are due to shortening, e. g. memorandum :: memo; vegetables :: vegs; margarine :: merge; microphone :: mike; popular (song] :: pop (song).

One should not overlook the fact that conversion may also be a source of synonymy; it accounts for such pairs as commandment:: ceriman, laughter :: laugh. The problem in this connection is whether such cases should be regarded as synonyms or as lexical variants of one arid the same word. It seems more logical to consider them, as lexical variants. Cf. also cases of different affixation: anxiety :: anxiousness, effectively ;: effectiveness, and loss of affixes: amongst :; among or await :: wait.

Essence of synonymy, synonymous relations between words yore attracted and still attracts the attention of linguists, who develop the problems of semasiology, since decision of the problems of synonymy is closely connected with antonym and polysemy and the studying of synonyms is important not only for semasiology, but as well as for lexicography, literature studying, methodic of teaching the English language, etc.

In spite of the existence of relatively large numbers of the studies, denoted to the opening of the different sides to synonymy, hitherto there is no a unity glance in respect to determinations of the synonyms, methods of their study, principles of the separation and categorizations of the synonyms, and borders of the synonymous row.

The majority of scholars share the opinion that synonymy presents by itself the microcircuit of the language, which is characterized by their own relations and that it falls into quality of the component part in lexical system of the language as a whole.

As it concerns the determinations of synonymy, there is no existence of the unity among the scholars' opinions: one researchers come from the generality of the meaning of synonyms, while the others - from the correlation of semantic and subject - logical begin in a word, while the thirds try to prove that synonyms are defined on the base of generality of the structured model of the use and alike combinability of the words.

Such kind of analysis of these determinations happens to in the works of Russian philologists V.A. Pautynskaya, Review of the literature on question of the synonymy, V.A. Zvegintsev Semasiology, Questions to theories and histories of the language, Theoretical and applied linguistics and V.T. Valium About determinations of the synonymy and their synonymy in modern English.


This chapter is denoted to the analysis of semantic and functional relationships and words and their synonymy in modern English. V.G. Vilyuman, in detail analyzing all signs of synonymy, comes to conclusion that necessary and sufficient for confession of the words as the synonymical ones features are general for the analyzed words semantic and functional signs, but, however, the problem of synonymy according to Volume's opinion is being lead to the discovering of resemblances and differences of the meanings and functions of the words on the base of their combinability. This idea might be truly supported by the investigations of other linguists such as A.V.Smirnitsky and G.Khidekel.

We must also notion here that the understanding of the essence of the synonymous relations is closely connected with the understanding of the essence and structures of the semantic structure of a word. We know different ways of interpretations of the semantic structure of the word in theories of lexicology. Let us give some of these suggestions below.

V.G. Viluman defines the semantic structure of the word as a set of semantic signs, which are revealed at the determination of semantic adjacency of the synonymical words. According to his opinion, one of the possible ways of the determination of semantic adequacy of the words is offered by the analysis of the description of meanings for these words in explanatory dictionaries. Two words are considered as semantically correspondent to each other if their vocabulary meaning is explained one through another. The relationship between two words can also be direct and mediated. For example, having studied the semantic relationship between verbs which are united by the semantic meaning of to look, V.G. Vilyuman builds the matrix of the semantic structures of the synonymical verbs analyzed. The matrix presentation of the semantic structures serves not only as a demonstrative depiction of the material, but it also creates the picture a unit systems in a language - we mean synonymy, since the semantic structure of each word in the matrix is represented by itself as a ranked ensemble of importance's interconnected and opposed to each other.

The deep penetration to the essence of language phenomena, their nature and laws of the development is promoted by the collation of these phenomena in two and more languages.

The problems of the comparative study of lexicon in different languages have found their reflected images in the works of such kind famous lexicologists as A.V. Scherba, R.A. Budagov, V.G. Gak, B.A. Uspensky, V.N. Yartseva, Sh. Balley, S. Uliman, U. Veinrich, A.V.Smirnitsky and the others. . . . . . 1977 119-122

Many linguists consider as expedient to match the small systems between themselves, the members of which are semantically bound between itself. This enables us to define the lexical elements of each system by means of investigation, and to note the moments of the coincidences between them, as well as to explain why the semantic sidebars of each word or words, which have the alike subject reference in compared languages, are turned out to be different.

The comparative studies also serve as the base for typological investigations, the production of typological universals, since, as a result of such correspondences, are identically and non-identically fixed with the determined standpoint elements.

For example, the Russian linguist M.M. Makovskiy in his article Typology of Lexical-Semantic Systems emphasizes that the typological analysis of lexicon must not only be reduced to the external, mostly available establishments , which are often available for observation, but often casual in coincidences in their lexical and semantically meanings. In the course of studies we must necessary realize, if there general structured lexical-semantic models, common for many languages (Russian and Uzbek are included) exist, and if yes, what kind of peculiarities and laws are observed for this.

Thereby, we see that the problem of synonymy was studied and is being studied, but, regrettably, the majority of the studies in this area belong to the foreign lexicologists, especially by the Russian ones. In Uzbekistan the studding of the problem of synonymy is investigated by a relatively small quantity of lexicologists, except for Prof. Buranov and Prof. Muminov.

The following chapter of my qualification work studies the verbal synonymy, which is one of the most fewly studied problems concerned with linguistics at all and the problems of synonymy in particular.


Considering the semantic generality of the lexical units and their partial interchangeability as the features of synonyms, that is to say, the compatibility of words in one contextual meaning and the inconsistency in others, we hereunder may confirm that two words interchangeable in all contexts are not synonyms, because when two words are used with no difference, there is no a problem of the choice between them

Now let us analyze this problem from the viewpoint of the Russian scholar S. Ulman. Citing on Aristotel, S. Uliman emphasizes that synonymy of the words - a stylistic category and the style always expects the choice between two words, at least, which are compatible or incompatible. Hence it follows that where there are no grounds for choice between two or more words, there are no grounds for speaking about synonymy of these words.

Amongst the judgments about correlation of meanings in synonymy and their interchangeable character, there are such, which reduce the synonymy to unlimited interchange. For instance, A. Cherch writes that if two names (the question is about the names presented as combinations of the words) are synonyms (that is they have one and the same content), it is always possible for a linguist to change one of them into another. However, example, which A. Cherch gives on this cause, shows that the interchangeable character of synonyms is limited. This example looks as follows:

e.g. Sir Valiter Scott is the author of Veverley

In this example we can see that though Sir Walter Scott is not a Veverley by its semantic content but Sir Walter Scott is Sir Walter Scott, though when we say a word Veverley we may mention Walter Scott as the author of the former.

In the linguistic literature on synonymy we can read that the interchangeable character of lexical units is considered as the effect to generalities of their lexical and grammatical importance. For support of this idea we can take the works of A.L. Demidova, who, concerning with synonymical pretext, comes to conclusion that some synonyms differ in their semantically meaning and cannot be interchanged to each other, while the others are of stylistic shade and can be interchanged into each other. I agree with A.L. Demidova's idea is that there also exists the third group of synonyms, which combines in itself the features of the first two previous groups. And, consequently, such synonyms are interchangeable in one case and not interchangeable in another.

According to concepts accepted by me , the synonymy exists only under the two above mentioned conditions of semantic generality, while the words which correspond only to one of these conditions, are not of synonymic character.


The verbs which fall into one synonymous row, can possess the miscellaneous character of composing restrictions. The composing restrictions can be of lexical, semantic or referring character.

The lexical restriction reveals in the following fact: a synonym can be used only with determined circle of words. However, the verbal synonyms practically do not possess such type of restrictions, though there are some examples which might be suitable, to some degree, to the given type of restrictions:

For example, if we analyze the two synonyms - to creep and to crawl, the latter, is more preferable in usage with the names of animals who are deprived with limbs (e.g. Snakes, gophers, etc.)

Cf: The snakes crawled around the tree.

Contrary to the above mentioned character, the semantic restriction is assigned by denotation of determined semantic feature, which a synonym must possess when correlating in syntactical relationship with the given word.

For instance, in the synonymic row to escape, to flee, to fly, to abscond, to decamp in the meaning of the first three synonyms possess a broad combinability, than the last twos. That is, in the case of semantic combinability the subject of the corresponding actions are both people and animals.

Cf. :His best tow dogs escaped from the camp, the dog fled into the forest.

Meanwhile, the subject action of the verbs to abscond and to decamp are only people.

More complicated than the previously mentioned groups are the synonyms with the referring combinability restrictions. The example of such restrictions can be shown on the following synonymic row: to reach - to achieve - to gain - to attain in the meaning of The following noun expressions which denote the purpose or the result of the action are of typical character for these three synonyms:

To reach / to achieve, to gain, to attain /one's aim ( e,g. the abject of one's desires, success, fame, glory), to reach (an understanding, agreement), to achieve the reputation for being rude, to achieve the realization of a dream, to gain / to attain / the attention of the clerk [ the confidence of the mountain people]. It should be borne in the mind that the last examples the verbs to gain and to attain mustn't be substituted onto the verbs to reach, or to achieve, because the noun expression to reach / to achieve / the attention of the clerk [the confidence of the mountain people] are wrong (and not only somewhat different in the meaning).

Supervising more attentively to the nouns attention and confidence, which are capable to enter in the place of the direct object in the sentences with the verbs to gain and to attain, but not as the direct object to the verbs to reach and to achieve, we may notice the following interesting peculiar feature of the studied synonymical phrases: the subject for the state, marked by the words attention or confidence, do not correspond to the subject of the action, marked by the verbs to gain and to attain, i.e. the attention of the clerk is attracted not by the clerk himself , but by the other person, and the confidence of highlanders is achieved by someone different from highlanders.

However, the verbs to gain and to attain are capable to match with the nouns, marking such conditions (the characteristics, situations), the subjects of which coincide with the subjects of actions corresponding to these subjects: that is in the case of the verbs to gain / to attain / one's aim [success, glory] the subject of the action of to gain / attain is one and the same person.

So now we can formulate the referring restriction for the verbs to reach and to achieve: they cannot be combined with the names of conditions, the subjects of which do not coincide with the subject of the action marked by these conditions.

The similar difference is presented in the pair of the synonyms to condescend - to deign ( in the meaning of ): the first of them is combined both with the name of the action or property, the subject of which coincides with the subject for the verb to condescend (e.g. he condescend smile); and with the name or state the subject of which does not coincide with the subject for the verb to condescend (cf.: to condescend to smb's folly). Meantime, the verb to deign can be combined in its meaning only with the names of the proper actions or the characteristics of the subject:

Cf.: He didn't deign to smile, he didn't deign to their folly.

The differences in combinability between the synonyms can, like constructive differences, be motivated or non-motivated.

Let us take into consideration, for instance, the synonyms to surprise - and to amaze, to astound - ,. They differ, in particular, on the feature of degree of a feeling. All the three synonyms can be combined with the adverbial modifiers of measure, but the verb to surprise can be combined with any circumstance of this class (cf.: he was a little [not a little, very much] sup), while to amaze and to astound can be combined only with those adverbial modifiers of measure, which mark the super high or the maximal degree of property, condition or feeling.

At least once unusual unless absolutely anomalous, word-combinations.

In the above mentioned case the differences in combinability are naturally removed from the differences in the meanings of synonyms. However, even the differences in combinability can be semantically non-motivated.

Below we shall take into consideration some more several examples of differences in combinability between the synonyms.

The verb gather differs from their synonyms to assemble and to congregate by the following: the subject for the verbs to assemble and to congregate can only be (in stylistically neutral text) only the living beings, but the subject for the verb to gather - can be expressed by any moving things:

e.g. The clouds are gathering, it will rain.

The verbs to ponder, to meditate and to ruminate in the meaning of are combinable with the names of situation, characteristic, products of thoughts as object (the theme) of reflections:

cf.: to ponder / to meditate/ upon the course of actions; to ruminate over the past; to ponder / to meditate, to ruminate/ the point.

The verbs to ponder and to meditate are combinable with the names of the person as object for reflections; the latter is characterized for the verb to ruminate:

cf.: to ponder on modern young men, he meditated on all those people and the things they represented in his life.

The verbs to depress, to oppress and to weigh down (upon) in the meaning of can be combined with the names of feelings, actions, characteristics, etc. as the reasons for the oppressed condition:

cf.: a feeling of isolation depressed / oppressed / her, she was oppressed by fear, oppressed / weighed down / by the heat. Besides, the verbs to depress and to oppress can be combined with the names of the concrete things and living beings in same meaning, which is not characteristic for the phrasal verb to weigh down (upon):

Cf.: the dim room depressed / oppressed / her, she depressed me. Abayev V.I. Synonyms and their Semantical Features T. O'qituvchi 1981 pp. 4-5, 8, 26-29


The problems of semantics on - former call the rapt attention to themselves by the leading scientists of the whole world. At the modern stage of development of linguistically science the important meaningfulness is gained both in the questions of the determination and revision of the background notions of semasiology, and the narrower problems of the concrete studies which are finally also directed on solving of the global philosophical problems of the correlation between the language, thinking and reality.

We analyze this chapter from the viewpoint of the Russian philologist E.V.Drozd. According to this work E.V. Drozd has denoted the study of the semantics and the peculiarities of the combinability of the English verbs to amuse, to entertain, to grip, to interest, to thrill

The given group of verbs was chosen not accidentally. The verbs to amuse, to entertain, to grip, to interest, to thrill reflects the important social and psychological notions, connected with intellectual - cognitive and emotional sphere of human activity and this group differs in a rather big frequency of its usage. The interest to this group is also undutiful from the purely a linguistically standpoint because of its extent semantic structure, and the various possibilities for combinability.

Proceeding with the concrete procedure of analysis of semantic composition of the given verb, we put the following problems before ourselves:

1) clearly delimit and describe the verbal word as a nominative and structured unit of the language, to analyze the peculiarities of the semantic structure of each verb and match them;

2) to install on the base of semantic composition what the subject of the name comprises in itself: only the main verbal component of action, condition, motion or it comprises the accompanying features: the manner, the source, the purpose - and to compare the verbs on this parameters.

In our study we used the method of vocabulary definition, by means of which the set of seams of the given lexical importance was analyzed, and any vocabulary mark was taken for instruction on semantic component. The observations show that the vocabulary definition comprises in itself, on the one hand, the instruction on attribute to the more general semantic area, but, on the other hand, - the enumeration of individual semantic features of a word. Uniting the synonymous, (excluding the rare cases of usage) we have got the set of components for the meaning of each investigated verb (See: Table 1).

The Analysis shows that the general component for all the investigating verbs is a seam to affect the emotions, which gives us, as we seem, the right to refer the considered verbs to the category of the emotional ones. It is Interesting to note that no even one of the dictionaries, describing the meaning of the verbs to amuse and to entertain, gives the word emotion as such, but the presence of the component joy, happiness, revelry (purely emotional features) allows us to fix the presence of the component to affect the emotions in these verbs as well.

The general component for four from five considered verbs a was the following: to engage and keep the attention. According to the investigations, this element in miscellaneous degrees is expressed in the meanings of the analyzed words in the following number: for to amuse it is fixed in 14, for to entertain - 11, for to grip - 19, for to interest - in 25 dictionaries. The component of meaning of the verb to excite is met in four from five verbs, that puts the verb to trill in somewhat specific position. The other components are of purely specific character.

As conclusion, we may say that the verb, as no other part of speech, has a broad set of differential features, vastly complicating the semantics of it.

In the meaning of a verb there might be a denotation to the specifying of the denoted actions, to the conditions of persons, subjects, ways, types of the action, correlations to its communicators, modality of the content assignment of the utterance, time of the speech act, etc.

So, we say that two words are synonymous if substituting one for the other in all contexts does not change the truth value of the sentence where the substitution is made. Synonymy dictionaries include something that native speakers have very clear intuitions about. They have the intuition that a number of words may express the same idea.

Ex: You can find `kill' as a synonym of `murder', and `strong' as a synonym of `powerful', but not the other way round:

When you say they A and B are synonymous because they express the same object, you expect also that if A is synonymous of B, B is also synonymous of A. but this isn't reflected in dictionaries. If A is a synonym of B and B is a synonym of A, these are true or absolute synonyms. They are interchangeable. But there are no absolute synonyms, it's an intellectual creation. Native speakers feel that some pairs of synonyms are more synonymous than others. This gives us the idea of a scale of synonymy. Obviously, the idea behind synonymy is that of sharing meaning that is that two words share (part of) their meaning. It has become a problem to establish how much overlapping do we need for two words for being considered synonyms.

Ex: truthful: honest they are synonyms although they share only part of their meaning; truthful: purple they are not at all synonyms.

E. Cruse says that an important thing here is contrast. When a speaker uses them indistinctively, he emphasizes their similarities not their differences.

Ex: kill: murder they share part of their meaning

The greater the number of features two words share, the more synonyms they are.

A and B share almost all of their meaning components.

Ex: - creature animal dog + Alsatian philosophy tree cat Spaniel.

Alsatian' and `Spaniel' share more atoms of meaning than creature' and `philosophy' but they are not synonyms. So this claim is wrong, because we need two things for synonymy: we need overlapping of meaning and, at the same time, the two words do not have to be contrastive.

Cruse says that synonyms must not only share high degree of semantic overlapping but also a low degree of implicit contractiveness. So, a high degree of semantic overlap results in a low degree of implicit contrast.

Ex: - John is honest

John is truthful

He was cashiered, that is to say, dismissed.

He was murdered, or rather executed

Cashiered' and `dismissed' are synonyms, while `murdered' and executed' are contrastive synonyms

Arthur's got himself a dog -or more exactly, a cat.

The inherent relationship between `cat' and `dog' is that of contrast, for that reason this sentence is odd.

It is impossible to put an end in the scale of synonyms.

Ex: + rap: tap rap: knock rap: thwack - rap: bang

They are not prototypical synonyms. They are peripheral synonyms

Behind any study of synonymy is the idea of the quest for the establishment of true synonyms. Cruse reviews some apparently true synonyms.

Ex: begin: commence munch: chew hate: loathe

Cruse takes into account the question of the contextual relations. For two words to be true synonymous we need two conditions: equivalence of meaning and equivalence of contextual relations. This is highly problematic because words don't behave like that. They tend to specialize in their contextual relations.

Ex: Begin and `commence' mean exactly the same but in terms of contextual relations they are not.

Johnny, tell Mummy when Playschool begins and she'll watch it with you.

Johnny, tell Mummy when Playschool commences and she'll watch it with you.

Arthur is always chewing gum (+)

Arthur is always munching gum (-)

I don't just hate him, I loathe him (+)

I don't just loathe him, I hate him (-)

Apart from this there are minus aspects we have to take into account

Syntax: two syntactic terms have to behave syntactically the same

Ex: Where is he hiding?

Where is he concealing?

Conceal' needs an argument (DO)

Johnny, where have you hidden Daddy's slippers? (+)

Johnny, where have you concealed Daddy's slippers? (-)

Sense: you have to choose the correct sense of the word if you want to prove that two words are synonymous.

Ex: Arthur's more recent car is an old one (+)

Arthur's most recent car is a former one (-)

He had more responsibility in his old job

He had more responsibility in his former job


Words are felt to be synonymous independently of their contextual relations. Leech makes the distinction between synonymy and conceptual synonymy. The equivalence of meaning of synonymy has to adhere to the equivalence of concepts, independently from the stylistic overtones.

Ex: Steed (poetic) Horse (general) Nag (slang) Gee-gee (baby language) World Book Encyclopedia S part Macmillan Publisher 1996 p 134

The concept `horse' is evoked by these words. So these words are synonymous although they are different in their stylistic overtones. This has been strongly criticized because to prove that we all have the same concept is very doubted. Our system of conceptualization may be different from one speaker to other. The most evident example of this is baby language. When a baby says gee-gee he may be saying it to any animal that moves.

So conceptual synonymy is alright but it has faults and objections.

Warwick says that it isn't possible to distinguish semantic meaning and factual meaning. Her lexicographic descriptions are very lengthy because she has into account all knowledge of the world that is, the habitat, size, appearance, behavior, and relation to people

Componential analysis of conceptual synonymy.

It is an analysis very popular in the 1970's and turned itself to be very useful in the identification of atoms of meaning of words. One of the applications of componential analysis is in the identification of synonyms, because if two words share atoms of meaning, they are synonymous.

Ex: John is a bachelor

John is an unmarried man

Componential analysis serves quite well for the analysis of fairly uncompleted words (nouns, adjectives, some verbs), but there are whole areas of the vocabulary of the language that don't lend themselves for componential analysis.

Barbara Warren makes a distinction between synonyms and variants. She says that we have synonyms if the words have similar meaning and if they are interchangeable without affecting meaning in some context or contexts. Variants are words which have similar meaning but without the interchangeability in some contexts.

Ex: extending Deep far below; profound the surface.

`Deep' and `profound' has always been considered synonyms and it's true they are interchangeable but it's also true that in some contexts one cannot replace the other.

He had a deep / profound understanding of the matter

This river is deep / profound. They are not interchangeable in this context.

Ex: Sweet: candy dialectal variants

Decease: pop off stylistic variants

Lady: woman connotative variants

In one context you use one word and in the other you use the other one.

Human 1) lady adult woman 2) female'

The point here is to try and prove that synonyms exist. The result of this research is quiet distressing. There are no synonyms following Warren's definition. What Person did was to scrutinize the use of `deep' and `profound'. His research is especially valid because he bases his research on lexicographic words, corpus data and importance. The wide range of sources and the number of them is what makes this valid.

The conclusions: `Deep' and `profound' show a difference in collocability, that is, they tend to collocate with different words. Deep tends to collocate with words of affection, conviction, feeling, regret, satisfaction, sorrow Whereas `profound' tends to collocate with words of difference, distaste, effect, failure, influence They enter different collocations because they mean slightly different things. They specialize in certain areas of meaning and that makes them slightly different. He also talks about metaphorical status. Metaphorically speaking, they can mean position on the one hand or quality of depth on the other. Only `deep' enters for the position metaphor, but the quality of depth can be expressed by both of them.

Ex: deep structure (profound structure)

He was deep (profound) in thought

It was deep (profound) in the Middle Ages

Deep / profound learning

Deep / profound sleep

Intellectual - emotive dichotomy: `deep' and `profound' tend to relate respectively to intellectual and emotive words. The idea is that `deep' tends to collocate with emotive nouns, whereas `profound' tends to collocate with intellectual words.

There is a difference in the degree of depth and intensity of these words. `Profound' is deeper that `deep'. When both are possible, then there is a distinction.

Ex: He has a deep understanding of the matter (`pretty good')

He has a profound understanding of the matter (`very good') Maurer D.W. , High F.C. New Words - Where do they come from and where do they go. American Speech., 1982.p.171

English words associations give us a very useful way to prove this. There are nouns whose inherent meaning is superlative. With such a noun you can only have `profound' because it means deeper.

Ex: profound distaste *deep distaste

Profound repugnance *deep repugnance

Of course in terms of truth-conditions one entails the other one but not vice versa, that is `profound' includes `deep' but not vice versa.

Ex: His profound insight into human nature has stood the test of centuries

His deep insight into human nature has stood the test of centuries.

His deep insight into human nature has stood the test of centuries. *

His profound insight into human nature has stood the test of centuries

Synonymy is understood within mutual entailment (A-B) but `deep' and `profound' doesn't correspond to this. Native speakers feel that `profound' is stylistically more elevated or more formal that deep? So with all this evidence it is impossible to say that they are synonymous. This is why Person gives the following figure as the analysis for them.

Concrete `situated, coming abstract; abstract from, or extending intellectual; emotive far below the strongly; surface emotive.

Stylistic Attributes (SA): informal SA; formal.

In Person's model we have three categories: CC, TA, SA. The thing is that not all words include SA box, so it's left open. Person also reviewed other examples analyzed by Warren.

Ex: child / brat child CC brat TA

Child' and `brat' are an example of connotative variant in Warren. They are given as variants but if we apply the test of hyponymy we see that it works. `Brat' is a kind of `child' but not vice versa. `Brat' includes `child' plus the feature `bad-mannered. Person finds the collocation in which `brat' appears; it tends to appear with adjectives that reinforces this feature of bad-mannered what proves that that atom of meaning ()

The same happens with `woman' and `lady'.

Ex: She is a woman, but she is not a lady.

She is a lady, but she is not a woman

Person questions the fact that two words can be synonymous out of the blue. He defends contextual information as the key to determine if two words are synonymous or not.

Ex: readable: legible

At to what extent can we say that they are synonyms?

* readable:

(of handwriting or point) able to be read easily'

pleasurable or interesting to read'

* legible:

(of handwriting or print) `able to be read easily'

They are only synonymous when they mean `able to be read easily'

The child, quite obviously, would not be expected to produce a composition, but would be expected to know the alphabet, where the full stops and commas are used, and be able to write in a readable / legible manner, something like, `The cat sat on the mat'.

It is not easy to see why her memory should have faded, especially as she wrote a most readable / *legible autobiography which went quickly through several editions.

Legible; readable; able to with pleasure; be read' and /or; interest.

They share senses number 1 but to `readable' it's also added sense number 2. This claims that in some contexts they are fully interchangeable, but we have also to take into account their stylistic feature and the register.

In principle, scientific words have discrete meanings.

Ex: mercury: quicksilver

They appear as full synonyms because they say that their relationship is that of mutual inclusion (A-B)

Conceptually, the concept `mercury' can be expressed with both words. However, style draws the line between both words. Native speakers and corpora of data give us what we have in the following figure:

Mercury: formal, quicksilver; scientific whitish; fluid informal; metal.

Mercury formal, scientific (Romance origin): Quicksilver informal (Saxon origin)

However something peculiar has happened with this words. The popular word `quicksilver' is starting to disappear and what usually happens is that the formal words are the one that disappears. But in this case, it is the contrary.

Cigarette: fag

Cigarette fag

Tube with

General tobacco in slang'

It for smoking' `narrow, made of finely cut tobacco rolled in thin paper'

This figure contains not only CC but typical attributes too.


They have been considered similar in meaning but never fully synonyms. They belong to the same categorical concept

Collocations by Leech: girl, boy, woman, flower, pretty garden, color, village, etc.

Boy, man, car, vessel, handsome overcoat, airliner, typewriter, etc.

Collocations found in the Lob and the British Corpora:

Pretty, Batman, Case, Co-ed, Dress, Headdresses, Girl, Piece of seamanship, Quilt, Range of pram sets, Shoe, Shop, Sophie

Street: Teacher (female ref.), Trick, Woman, Handsome, Cocktail cabinet, Connor Winslow, Face (male ref.), Man, Mayor, Offer, Pair of salad servers, Person (male ref.),(Red brocade) curtains, Son, Staircase, Sub-Alpine gloom, Trees, Vessel, Volume (book), Woman, `pretty' female nouns, `handsome' male nouns.

This is the first division we could make but there are more differences. It cannot be based on terms of male / female words.

The idea, then, is that if an adjective tends to collocate to certain nouns means that its partner is slightly different to it. So when they are applied to the same noun, the same rule is applied.

Ex: pretty: handsome

Mary is a pretty woman

Mary is a handsome woman

A handsome woman is more elegant that a pretty woman. She also has stronger facial features. A handsome woman isn't a pretty woman at the same time and vice versa. So they are exclusive terms.

Pretty Street' but `handsome avenue'

If they are exclusive terms, they are nor synonyms but co-hyponyms

If two items are closely synonymous, a coordination test will lead to a tautology.

Ex: Scientists have so far failed to find for this deadly and fatal disease.

However if we coordinate `pretty' and `handsome' what we have is a contradiction:

That woman is pretty and handsome

(Photocopy of definitions of `deep', `profound', `handsome', `lovely' and `beautiful')

Some of the dictionaries specialize it more deeply than others.

Profound' in the Longman is defined as deep but not vice versa. This also happens in `lovely' and `beautiful'.

Uninformative; it doesn't give really the sense of the words.

This isn't correct because `profound' emphasizes stronger that `deep' and this isn't true. There is a contradiction there.

Introduction of the notion of `delicacy' for defining a pretty woman.

This is the only dictionary which says that something pretty isn't something beautiful. They exclude each other. `Grand' is a feature of `handsome'.

handsome -`making a pleasant

lovely - impression on the pretty

senses' -beautiful

Here, `beautiful' and `pretty' appear as co-hyponyms so they have to exclude each other. The CC is actually the definition given for `beautiful', so it's the generic word for the four words. `Lovely' is slightly more intense than `beautiful'. (It's the same relationship `deep' and `profound' have)

This shows how language establishes degrees of intensity.


Semantic fields are the answer to the problem / question of structuring the lexicon of a language. Those who defend the existence of semantic fields believe that the language is structured. They say that the words can be classified in sets, which are related to conceptual fields and these words divide the semantic space / domain in different ways. It's to be preferred that the label to use here is field rather than theory because theories are supposed to be complete and have explicit definitions of the matter in question, and this isn't what happens in the semantic field approach. We just have ideas of how things seem to be. Moreover, the semantic field approach isn't formalized and it was born on the basis of just a handful of ideas of how words work.

The basic notion behind any semantic field approach is the notion of association: words are associated in different words. We also have the idea of a mosaic. The words form it in such a way that for it to be complete you need all the words in their correct place. We also have to distinguish between lexical and semantic fields. Semantic fields have something to do with prototypically. One of the main difficulties in the semantic field approach is to establish the exact number of words that are part of a set. Here is where Prototype Theory enters because it defines the basic features of a category.

Model of focal points.

Martin and Key concluded that the basic words of a category are very easy to identify by a native speaker but they say that the interesting point is the area a native speaker doubts whether to call something A or B. There are concepts which cannot be expressed in words. From the psychological point of view there are concepts which cannot be verbalized but that really exist in the mind. The aim of this model is to identify the relationship between the lexical fields and the semantic fields. And there are fields where the relationship doesn't exist.

The idea behind semantic fields is the arrangement of words in sets depending on the organizing concepts. Many semantic linguists say that it's difficult to think of a word outside a semantic field because if you say that a word is outside a semantic field, you say it's outside the lexicon. The problem with this is what happens with words which don't evoke a concept. Many words in English are meaningful but don't have a concept

Ex: Even / only

These words clearly make a semantic contribution to the sentence. It's not the same to say: Only John drinks milk. Then: Even John drinks milk.



So, the conclusion is that some words of a language don't lend themselves well to the analysis in terms of semantic fields. Other important idea is the difficulty of finding finite sets of words. In any case, there's an internal contradiction between the ideas of a set with the structuring of words of a language. A set is a close set. A word can belong to several fields depending on the organizing concept. Speakers of the language clearly identify the central example but not the peripheral ones. This doesn't mean that it would never happen that. The degree of flexibility in the discrepancy of the categorization of words is smaller.

Ex: Please give me some more tables (`Table' is here a mass noun meaning `space in a table').

E.G. Two races are grown in India. Here two races' refers to `two types of rice'

The idea behind this is that the dynamic character of a vocabulary cannot be reflected in the static character of the semantic fields, which are a static way of organizing the vocabulary of a language.


Having analyzed the problem of synonymy in Modern English we could do the following conclusions:

a) The problem of synonymy in Modern English is very actual nowadays.

b) There are several kinds of analysis of synonyms: semantical, stylistic and componentional.

c) A number of famous linguists dealt with the problem of synonymy in Modern English. In particular, Profs. Ullmann and Broal emphasized the social reasons for synonymy, L. Lipka pointed out non-binary contrast or many-member lexical sets and gave the type which he called directional opposition, V.N. Comissarov and Walter Skeat proved the link of synonymy with other kinds of lexical devices.

d) The problem of synonymy is still waits for its detail investigation.

Having said about the perspectives of the work we hope that this work will find its worthy way of applying at schools, lyceums and colleges of high education by both teachers and students of English. We also express our hopes to take this work its worthy place among the lexicological works dedicated to synonymy.


1. Ginzburg R.S. et al. A Course in Modern English Lexicology. M., 1979 pp.72-82

2.Buranov A. Muminov J. Readings on Modern English Lexicology T. O'qituvchi 1985 pp. 34-47

3. Arnold I.V. The English Word M. High School 1986 pp. 143-149

4. O. Jespersen. Linguistics. London, 1983, pp. 395-412

5. Jespersen ,Otto. Growth and Structure of the English Language. Oxford, 1982 pp.246-249

5. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English. Oxford 1964., pp.147, 167, 171-172

6.V.D. Arakin English Russian Dictionary M., Russky Yazyk

1978 pp. 23-24, 117-119, 133-134

7.Abayev V.I. Synonyms and their Semantical Features T. O'qituvchi 1981 pp. 4-5, 8, 26-29

8.Smirnitsky A.I. Synonyms in English M.1977 pp.57-59,89-90

9. Dubenets E.M. Modern English Lexicology (Course of Lectures)

M., Moscow State Teacher Training University Publishers 2004 pp.17-31

10. Akhmanova O.S. Lexicology: Theory and Method. M. 1972 pp. 59-66

12. Burchfield R.W. The English Language. Lnd. ,1985 pp45-47

13. Canon G. Historical Changes and English Wordformation: New Vocabulary items. N.Y., 1986. p.284

14. Howard Ph. New words for Old. Lnd., 1980. p.311

15. Halliday M.A.K. Language as Social Semiotics. Social Interpretation of Language and Meaning. Lnd., 1979.p.53,112

16. Potter S. Modern Linguistics. Lnd., 1957 pp.37-54

17. Schlauch, Margaret. The English Language in Modern Times. Warszava, 1965. p.342

18. Sheard, John. The Words we Use. N.Y..,1954.p.3

19. Maurer D.W. , High F.C. New Words - Where do they come from and where do they go. American Speech., 1982.p.171

20. A .. . . .1974. .46

21. .., .. . . - 1971. 150-151

22. .. .. 1959. .212-224

23. . . . . . . 1977 119-122

24. Bloomsbury Dictionary of New Words. M. 1996 .276-278

25. Hornby The Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English. Lnd. 1974 .92-93, 111

26 . Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English. Longman. 1981pp.23-25

27. .C. Dictionary of New Words and New Meanings. . `' ,1993. .48

28. World Book Encyclopedia NY Vol. 8 1993 p.321

29 Internet: http://www.wikipedia.com/English/articles/synonyms.htm

30. Internet: http://www mpsttu.ru/works/english philology/ . . . .htm

31. Internet:http://www.freeessays.com/english/E.Cruse Quantiitive and Qualitive synonymy.htm

© , 2012