Topics: Linguistics, Polysemy, Meaning of life Pages: 4 (884 words) Published: November 27, 2012
Polysemy comes from Neo-Latin polysemia, which comes from Greek polusemous [poly- (many) + sema (sign)] giving us a linguistic term, "having many meanings" or multiple meanings. Most of lex. items in English are polysemantic.

- family - She lost both of her parents.
- parent - Envy is the parent of all evils.
My family comes from Scotland.
The cat family includes lions & tigers. (семейство кошачьих) A family of languages, etc.
There are monosemantic words:
Ex.: a lorry, a loudspeaker
Different meanings of one & the same word are closely interrelated. Polysemy is a result of:
1. Shifts in application (сдвиг в употреблении) Ex.: adj. red: red ink (is really red), red hair, red deer, red cabbage, red Indian 2. Specialization: Ex.: partner
Basic meaning; a type of relationship between 2 or more people. - business partner
- marriage partner
- partner in crime
3. Metaphorical extension (a fundamental feature of any language) Ex.: leaf of a tree – leaf of a book, hands of a person – hands of a clock
Polysemy has been complicated by the tendency of words to pick up the meanings from other dialects, languages & slang. Ex.: executive
BrE – one who acts under the direction of somebody – исполнитель AmE – a manager
now: AmE meaning is more widely used.

New & old meanings become interrelated, form a hierarchy. They have some common semantic features, which preserve the integrity of the word. First, we have count/mass alternations for nouns, which can serve several functions:

(13) Animal/meat:
a. The lamb is running in the field.
b. John ate lamb for breakfast.
(14) Object/Stuff an object is made up:
a. There is an apple on the table.
b. There is apple in the salad.
(15) Stuff/Kind:
a. There was cheese on the table.
b. Three cheeses were served.
(16) Stuff/Portions:
a. The restaurant served beer, and so
b. we ordered three beers.
Plant/food alternation:
(17) a. Mary watered the fig in the...
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