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THE MEANING AND THE ORIGIN OF ENGLISH WORDS
(1 голос, среднее 5.00 из 5)

Проектная работа "THE MEANING AND THE ORIGIN OF ENGLISH WORDS". Разработала Аниканова Ангелина, 11 класс. МОУ «Лицей №26», г. Подольск

 


 

Предпросмотр презентации к проектной работе

 

 

Introduction

 

This paper is devoted to the meaning of English words and their origin. We tried to look into the process of words coming into the language and to gain an understanding of what is meaning itself, though the question “What is meaning?” is one of those questions which are easier to ask than answer. The linguistic science at present is not able to put forward a definition of meaning which is conclusive.

However, there are certain facts of which we can be reasonably sure, and one of them is that the very function of the word as a unit of communication is made possible by its possessing a meaning. Therefore, among the word’s various characteristics, meaning is certainly the most important.

Generally speaking, meaning can be more or less described as a component of the word through which the concept is communicated, in this way endowing the word  with the ability to denote real objects, qualities, actions and abstract notions.

The meaning of a word is made up of its lexical meaning and grammatical meaning. Besides, the meaning has two aspects: denotation, the meaning itself, and connotation, i.e. the associations that words can have in our minds.

The lexical meaning of a word is the realization of a notion by means of a definite language system. A word is a language unit while a notion is a unit of thinking. A notion cannot exist without a word expressing it in the language, but there are words which do not express any notion but have a lexical meaning. Interjections express emotions but not notions, but they have lexical meanings, e.g. Alas! (disappointment), Oh, my buttons! (surprise) etc. There are also words which express both notions and emotions, e.g. girlie, a pig (when used metaphorically).

A notion denotes the reflection in the mind of real objects and phe­nomena in their relations. Notions, as a rule, are international (especially with the nations of the same cultural level), while meanings can be nationally limited. The grouping of mean­ings in the semantic structure of a word is determined by the whole system of every lan­guage.

In the paper we dwelt on such notions as polysemy, semantic structure of the word, causes of development of new meanings, linguistic metaphor, linguistic metonymy, generalization and specialization om meaning. Moreover, we were keen on following the origin of some English words, sayings and customs and historic events that caused these words and expressions to appear in the language.

Thus, the aim of the paper is to show how the words originated and got their meaning. To achieve this aim we put forward the following tasks:

-        to acquaint English learners with polysemy;

-        to explain the causes of development of new meanings;

-        to follow the process of narrowing or broadening meanings;

-        to trace the origins of some English words, sayings and customs;

-        to help English learners to avoid misusing some words which sound alike but mean different things;

-        to provide teachers of English with supplementary material to be used in their teaching practice.

Field of research: the vocabulary of the English language.

Object of research: the meaning and the origin of some English words and expressions and historical events that favoured their development in the language.

The development of lexical meanings in any language is influenced by the whole network of ties and relations between words and other aspects of the language.

Words and Meaning

 

Isn’t it fantastic that the mere vibration of a speaker’s vocal chords should be taken up by a listener’s brain and converted into vivid pictures? If magic does exist in the world, then it is truly the magic of human speech; only we are so used to this miracle that we do not realize its almost supernatural qualities.

The meanings of all the utterances of a speech community are said by a famous linguist to include the total experience of that community: arts, science, practical occupations, amusements, personal and family life.

A very simple approach to words is to see them as labeling things in the world. This works well for some words. Concrete nouns like cat, sheep, frog, etc. are used to refer to certain animals that can be described or pointed to. However, there are many nouns for which this approach will not work. We cannot point to abstractions like feelings, employment or pleasure, even though we understand the meaning of these concepts.

It is useful to make a distinction between this kind of “naming” meaning, which is called denotation, and another kind of meaning, which is called connotation. Connotation refers to the associations that words can have in our minds. For example, the denotation of the word pig is a farm animal that is usually pink or black and has short legs, a fat body and a curved tail. For some people the word pig might have connotations of dirty and untidy; others will think of unpleasant or offensive.

Some words bring very different connotations to mind among different groups of people. Those whose profession is to persuade us, such as advertisers, politicians, preachers, and orators, need to be sensitive to the connotations of the words they use.

The connotations of words are culturally determined. In English, the word “red” can have negative connotations of “blood”. In Russian, the word for “red” has very good connotations. The Russian word for “beautiful” is prekrasnyi, which contains within it the word for “red”.

The inner form of the word (i.e. its meaning) presents a structure which is called the semantic structure of the word.

 

1.1 Polysemy. Semantic Structure of the Word

 

It is generally known that most words convey several concepts and thus possess the corresponding number of meanings. A word having several meanings is called polysemantic, and the ability of words to have more than one meaning is described by the term polysemy.

Most English words are polysemantic. It should be noted that the wealth of expressive resources of a language largely depends on the degree to which polysemy has developed in the language. Sometimes people who are not very well informed in linguistic matters claim that a language is lacking in words if the need arises for the same word to be applied to several different phenomena. In fact, it is exactly the opposite: if each word is found to be capable of conveying, at least two notions instead of one, the expressive potential of the whole vocabulary increases twofold. Hence, a well-developed polysemy is not a drawback but a great advantage in a language.

On the other hand, it should be pointed out that the number of sound combinations that human speech organs can produce is limited. Therefore, at a certain stage of language development the production of new words by morphological means becomes limited, and polysemy becomes increasingly important  in providing the means for enriching the vocabulary. From this it should be clear that the process of enriching the vocabulary does not consist merely in adding new words to it, but, also, in the constant development of polysemy.

The system of meanings of any polysemantic word develops gradually, mostly over the centuries, as more and more new meanings are either added to old ones, or oust some of them. So the complicated processes of polysemy development involve both the appearance of new meanings and the loss of old ones.

Let’s see the meanings of the word dull.

Dull, adj.

  1. Uninteresting, monotonous, boring; e.g. a dull book, a dull film.
  2. Slow in understanding, stupid; e.g. a dull student.
  3. Not clear or bright; e.g. dull weather, a dull day, a dull colour.
  4. Not loud or distinct; e.g. a dull sound.
  5. Not sharp; e.g. a dull knife.
  6. Not active; e.g. trade is dull.
  7. Seeing badly; e.g. dull eyes.
  8. Hearing badly; e.g. dull ears.

One can distinctly feel that there is something that all these seemingly miscellaneous meanings have in common, and that is the implication of deficiency, be it of colour (III), wits (II), interest (I), sharpness (V), etc. The implication of insufficient quality, of something lacking, can be clearly distinguished in each separate meaning.

Dull, adj..

  1. Uninteresting – deficient in interest or excitement.
  2. Stupid – deficient in intellect.
  3. Not bright – deficient in light or colour.
  4. Not loud – deficient in sound.
  5. Not sharp – deficient in sharpness.
  6. Not active – deficient in activity.
  7. Seeing badly – deficient in eyesight.
  8. Hearing badly – deficient in hearing.

One of the most important “drawbacks” of polysemantic words is that there is sometimes a chance of misunderstanding when a word is used in a certain meaning but accepted by a listener or reader in another. It is only natural that such cases provide staff of which jokes are made, such as the ones that follow.

Customer: I would like a book, please.

Bookseller: Something light?

Customer: That doesn’t matter. I have my car with me.

In this conversation the customer is honestly misled by the polysemy of the adjective light taking it in the literal sense whereas the bookseller uses the word in its figurative meaning “not serious, entertaining”.

In the following joke one of the speakers pretends to misunderstand his interlocutor basing his angry retort on the polysemy of the noun kick: 1) - thrill, pleasurable excitement (inform.), 2) – a blow with the foot.

The critic started to leave in the middle of the second act of the play.

“Don’t go,” said the manager. “I promise there’s a terrific kick in the next act.”

“Fine,” was the retort, “give it to the author.”

It is common knowledge that context is a powerful preventive against any misunderstanding of meanings. For instance, the adjective dull, if used out of context, would mean different things to different people or nothing at all. It is only in combination with other words that it reveals its actual meaning: a dull pupil, a dull play, a dull razor-blade, dull weather, etc. Sometimes, however, such a minimum context fails to reveal the meaning of the word, and it may be correctly interpreted only through what Professor Amosova termed a second-degree context, as in the following example: The man was large, but his wife was even fatter. The word fatter here serves as a kind of indicator pointing that large describes a stout man and not a big one.

We’d like to give some more examples of polysemy in the following jokes:

“Where have you been for the last four years?”

“At college taking medicine.”

“And did you finally get well?”

 

Caller: I wonder if I can see your mother, little boy. Is she engaged?

Willie: Engaged! She’s married.

 

Booking Clerk: (at a small village station): You’ll have to change twice before you get to York.

Villager (unused to travelling): Goodness me! And I’ve only brought the clothes I’m wearing.

 

Professor: You missed my class yesterday, didn’t you?

Student: Not in the least, sir, not in the least.

 

1.2 How Words Develop New Meanings

 

Words develop new meanings due to certain reasons. The first group of these  is traditionally termed historical or extra-linguistic. Different kinds of changes in a nation’s social life, in its culture, knowledge, technology, arts lead to gaps appearing in the vocabulary which have to be filled. Newly created objects, new notions and phenomena must be named. There are some ways for providing new names for newly created notions: making new words (word-building) and borrowing foreign ones. One more way of filling such vocabulary gaps is by applying some old word to a new object or notion.

When the first textile factories appeared in England, the old word mill was applied to these early industrial enterprises. In this way, mill added a new meaning to its former meaning “a building in which corn is ground into flour”. The new meaning was “textile factory”.

A similar case is the word carriage” which had (and still has) the meaning “a vehicle drawn by horses”, but, with the first appearance of railways in England, it received a new meaning, that of “a railway car”.

The history of English nouns describing different parts of a theatre may also serve as a good illustration of how well-established words can be used to denote newly-created objects and phenomena. The words stalls, box, pit, circle had existed for a long time before the first theatres appeared in England. With their appearance, the gaps in the vocabulary were easily filled by these widely used words which, as a result, developed new meanings.

It is of some interest to note  that the Russian language found a different way of filling the same gap: in Russian, all the parts of the theatre are named by borrowed words: партер, ложа, амфитеатр, бельэтаж.

Stalls and box formed their meanings in which they denoted parts of the theatre on the basis of association. The meaning of the word box “a small separate enclosure forming a part of the theatre” developed on the basis of its former meaning “a rectangular container used for packing or storing things”. The two objects became associated in the speakers’ minds because boxes in the earliest English theatres really resembled packing cases. They were enclosed on all sides and heavily curtained even on the side facing the audience so as to conceal the privileged spectators occupying them from curious or insolent looks.

The association on which the theatrical meaning of stalls was based is even more curious. The original meaning was “compartments in stables or sheds for the accommodation of animals (e.g. cows, horses, etc.)”. There does not seem to be much in common between the privileged and expensive part of a theatre and stables intended for cows and horses, unless we take into consideration the fact that theatres in older times greatly differed from what they are now. What is now known as the stalls was, at that time, standing space divided by barriers into sections so as to prevent the enthusiastic crowd from knocking one another down and hurting themselves. So, there must have been a certain outward resemblance between theatre stalls and cattle stalls. It is also possible that the word was first used humorously or satirically in this new sense.

The process of development of a new meaning (or a change of meaning) is traditionally termed transference.

 

1.3 Transference of Meaning Based on Resemblance (linguistic metaphor)

 

This type of transference is also referred to as linguistic metaphor. Metaphor is a complex cognitive phenomenon. It is traditionally thought of as a kind of comparison. A new meaning appears as a result of associating two objects (phenomena, qualities, etc.) due to their outward similarity. Box and stalls, as is clear from the explanations above, are examples of this type of transference.

The noun eye, for instance, has for one of its meanings "hole in the end of a needle" (cf. with the R. ушко иголки), which also developed through transference based on resemblance. A similar case is represented by the neck of a bottle.

The   noun  drop (mostly   in   the  plural   form)   has,   in addition  to its main meaning  "a  small  particle  of water or other liquid", the meanings: "ear-rings shaped as drops of water"   (e. g.   diamond  drops) and   "candy   of  the   same shape"  (e. g.  mint drops). It   is  quite  obvious  that   both these   meanings   are   also   based   on   resemblance.   In   the compound   word   snowdrop the   meaning   of   the   second constituent   underwent   the   same   shift   of  meaning   (also, in  bluebell). In  general,   metaphorical  change  of meaning is often observed in idiomatic compounds. You are the sunshine of my life compares someone beloved with sunshine. The expression candle in the wind likens life to a candle flame that may easily be blown out by any passing draft or gust. The fragility of life is thus emphasized. But metaphor is not just associated with poetic language or especially high-flown literary language. Metaphor is an extremely common process in language usage. For example, a cape-like garment that protected against the weather was given the name cloak, a word borrowed from French, in which it meant “bell”. The garment was given the name for a bell because of its cut: It created a somewhat bell-like shape when draped over the shoulders and allowed to fall vertically to the knees or below, where it “belled” out from the body.

The main meaning of the noun branch is "limb or subdivision of a tree or bush". On the basis of this meaning it developed several more. One of them is "a special field of science or art" (as in a branch of linguistics). This meaning brings us into the sphere of the abstract, and shows that in transference based on re­semblance an association may be built not only between two physical objects, but also between a concrete object and an abstract concept.

The noun star on the basis of the meaning "heavenly body" developed the meaning "famous actor or actress". Nowadays the meaning has considerably widened its range, and the word is applied not only to screen idols (as it was at first), but, also, to popular sportsmen (e. g. football stars), pop-singers, etc. Of course, the first use of the word star to denote a popular actor must have been humorous or ironical: the mental picture created by the use of the word in this new meaning was a kind of semi-god surrounded by the bright rays of his glory. Yet, very soon the ironical colouring was lost, and, furthermore, the association with the original meaning con­siderably weakened.

The meanings formed through this type of transference are frequently found in the informal layer of the vocabu­lary, especially in slang. A red-headed boy is almost certain to be nicknamed carrot or ginger by his schoolmates, and the one who is given to spying and sneaking gets the derogatory nickname of rat. Both these meanings are metaphorical.

Also, the slang meanings of words such as nut, onion (head), saucers (eyes), hoofs (feet) and very many others were all formed by transference based on resemblance.

Sometimes what was originally a metaphor can completely lose its metaphorical force, when most or all speakers can no longer see the metaphor. Such cases are called dead metaphors. The word understand, for example, is a dead metaphor, having its origins in the idea that “standing under” meant knowing something thoroughly. Another example is the word consider which was originally a metaphor meaning “consult the stars (using astrological principles) when making a decision”; gorge which now means “a deep narrow valley with steep sides” meant “throat”, and so forth for thousands more.

 

1.4 Transference of Meaning Based on Contiguity (linguistic metonymy)

 

Linguistic metonymy is the use of one word with the meaning of another with which it is typically associated. The association is based on subtle psychological links between different objects and phenomena. The two objects may be associated together because they often appear in common situations, and so the image of one is easily accompa­nied by the image of the other; or they may be associated on the principle of cause and effect, of common function, of some material and an object which is made of it, etc. When someone uses metonymy, they don’t wish to transfer qualities, but to indirectly refer to one thing with another word for a related thing. The common expression the White House said today … is a good example of metonymy. The term White House actually refers to the authorities who work in the building called the White House. The latter is of course an inanimate object that says nothing. Similarly, in a monarchy the expression the Crown is used to mean the monarch and the departments of the government headed by the monarch. Crown literary refers only to a physical object sometimes worn by the actual monarch.

Metonymy can be seen as a kind of shorthand indirect reference, and people use it all the time. For example, a doctor or nurse might refer in shorthand to a patient by means of the body part treated (The broken ankle is in room 2); a waiter might use a similar metonymy for a customer, this time using the order as an identifying feature, saying The ham sandwich left without paying.

There are different kinds of transference based on contiguity. For example, the Old English adjective glad meant "bright, shin­ing" (it was applied to the sun, to gold and precious stones, to shining armour, etc.). The later (and more modern) meaning "joyful" developed on the basis of the usual association (which is reflected in most languages) of light with joy (cf. with the R. светлое настроение; светло на душе).

The meaning of the adjective sad in Old English was "satisfied with food"  (cf.  with  the  R.  сыт(ый) which  is a word of the same Indo-European root). Later this mean­ing   developed   a   connotation   of  a   greater   intensity   of quality and came to mean "oversatisfied with food; having eaten   too   much".   Thus,   the   meaning   of   the   adjective sad developed a negative evaluative connotation  and now described not a  happy state  of satisfaction   but,   on   the contrary, the physical unease and discomfort of a person who has had too much to eat. The next shift of meaning was to transform the description of physical discomfort into one of spiritual discontent because these two states often go to­gether. It was from this prosaic source that the modern meaning of "sad" "melancholy", "sorrowful" developed, and the adjective describes now a purely emotional state. The two previous   meanings   ("satisfied   with   food"   and   "having eaten too much") were ousted from the semantic structure of the word long ago.

The foot of a bed is the place where the feet rest when one lies in bed, but the foot of a mountain got its name by another association: the foot of a moun­tain is its lowest part, so that the association here is based on common position.

By the arms of an arm-chair we mean the place where the arms lie when one is sitting in the chair, so that the type of association here is the same as in the foot of a bed. The leg of a bed (table, chair, etc.), though, is the part which serves as a support, the original meaning being "the leg of a man or animal". The association that lies behind this development of meaning is the common function: a piece of furniture is supported by its legs just as living beings are supported by theirs.

The meaning of the noun hand realized in the context hand of a clock (watch) originates from the main meaning of this noun "part of human body". It also developed due to the association of the common function: the hand of a clock points to the figures on the face of the clock, and one of the functions of human hand is also that of pointing to things.

Another meaning of hand realized  in such contexts as factory hands,  farm  hands is   based   on   another  kind of association: strong, skillful hands are the most important feature that is required of a person engaged in physical labour (cf. with the R. рабочие руки).

The main (and oldest registered) meaning of the noun board was “a flat and thin piece of wood, a wooden plank". On the basis of this meaning developed the meaning "table" which is now archaic. The association which underlay this semantic shift was that of the material and the object made from it: a wooden plank (or several planks) is an essential part of any table. This type of association is often found with nouns denoting clothes: e. g. a taffeta ("dress made of taffeta"); a mink ("mink coat"), a jersy ("knitted shirt or sweater").

Meanings produced through transference based on conti­guity sometimes originate from geographical or proper names. China in the sense of "dishes made of porcelain" orig­inated from the name of the country which was believed to be the birthplace of porcelain. Tweed ("a coarse wool cloth") got its name from the river Tweed and cheviot (another kind of wool cloth) from the Cheviot hills in England.

The name of a  painter  is  frequently  transferred  onto  one   of his  pictures:   a   Matisse = a painting  by  Matisse.


1.5 Broadening and Narrowing of  Meaning

 

Sometimes, the process of transference may result in a considerable change in range of meanings. An example of the broadening of meaning is pipe. Its earliest recorded meaning was "a musical wind instrument". Nowadays it can denote any hollow oblong cylindrical body (e. g. water pipes). This meaning developed through transference based on the similarity of shape (pipe as a musical instrument is also a hollow oblong cylindrical object) which finally led to a considerable broadening of the range of meaning.

It is interesting to trace the history of the word girl as an example of the changes in the range of meaning in the course of the semantic development of a word. In Middle English it had the meaning of "a small child of either sex".  Then  the word  underwent  the process  of transference  based  on  contiguity  and  developed   into   the meaning of "a  small  child  of the  female  sex",   so   that the   range   of meaning   was   somewhat   narrowed.   In   its further semantic development the word gradually broadened its   range   of  meaning.   At   first   it   came   to   mean   not only a female child but, also, a young unmarried woman, later, any young woman, and in modern colloquial English it   is   practically   synonymous   to   the   noun   woman (e. g. The old girl must be at least seventy), so  that  its  range of meaning is quite broad.

The history of the noun lady somewhat resembles that of   girl. In    Old    English    this    word denoted the mistress of the house, i. e. any married woman. Later, a new meaning developed which was much narrower in range: "the wife or daughter of a baronet" (aristocratic title).  In  Modern   English  the  word  lady can  be  applied to   any   woman,   so   that   its   range   of meaning   is   even broader   than   that   of  the   О.   Е.  In   Modern English the difference between girl and lady in the meaning of  woman is   that   the   first   is   used   in   colloquial   style and   sounds  familiar  whereas  the  second  is more  formal and polite.

 

Origins of English Words, Sayings and Customs

 

It is always curious to know how this or that saying appeared in the language. We’ve found out some information about most popular sayings and customs. However, most of these definitions have been  disputed by various sources, so, they should be treated as source of entertainment, not reference.

In the 1400s a law was set forth that a man was not allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence, we have “the rule of thumb”, which now means a rough method of calculation, based on practical experience.

Many years ago in Scotland a new game was invented. It was ruled “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden”…and thus the word GOLF entered the language.

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odour. Hence the custom of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children, last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty that you could actually lose someone in it. Hence, the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”.

Houses in England had thatched roofs with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip off the roof. Hence, the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs”.

In the Royal Navy the punishment prescribed for most serious crimes was flogging. This was administered by the Boatswain’s Mate using a whip called a “cat of nine tails”. The ‘cat’ was kept in a leather bag. It was considered bad news indeed when the “cat was let out of the bag”. Other sources attribute the expression to the old English scam of selling someone a pig in a poke (bag) when the pig turned out to be a cat instead.

Teddy bear is clearly one of the most popular doll brands in the world. But why is the bear’s name Teddy? Why not Johnny or Willie or even Barry? Teddy bear was named after one of the most respectful presidents of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. American people during his time called him Teddy as a nickname for Theodore and he actually liked to be called like that. Then, one smart couple produced bear dolls and named them after Theodore’s nickname which drove their products to be dramatically popular overnight. So now, when you see Teddy bear, you will understand that it is more than just a doll bear, it is also a memory of the most beloved president of the United States.

 

2.1 An Apple a Day Nursery Rhyme / Poem

 

The simple meaning behind the sentiment expressed in 'An apple a day' poem is one to encourage a child to eat healthily and wisely that is an apple a day! Although, in a modern day version of this poem 'Doctor' could be replaced with 'Dentist'.

Pic1-1.jpg

The picture depicts a Physician in the 16th Century - the thought of seeing someone like this would guarantee that a child would eat an apple a day!

The author of the poem "An apple a day" is unknown and the first publication date has been untraceable.

Poem - An apple a day keeps the Doctor away.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away
Apple in the morning - Doctor's warning
Roast apple at night - starves the doctor outright
Eat an apple going to bed - knock the doctor on the head
Three each day, seven days a week - ruddy apple, ruddy cheek

 

2.2 Humpty Dumpty Nursery Rhyme (History and Origins)

 

Humpty  Dumpty was in fact believed to be a large cannon!  It was used during the English Civil War ( 1642 - 1649) in the Siege of Colchester (13 Jun 1648 - 27 Aug 1648). Colchester was strongly fortified by the Royalists and was laid to siege by the Parliamentarians (Roundheads). In 1648 the town of Colchester  was a walled town with a castle and several churches and was protected by the city wall. Standing immediately adjacent the city wall, was St Mary's Church. A huge cannon, colloquially called Humpty Dumpty, was strategically placed on the wall next to St Mary's Church. A shot from a Parliamentary cannon succeeded in damaging the wall beneath Humpty Dumpty which caused the cannon to tumble to the ground. The Royalists, or Cavaliers, 'all the King's men' attempted to raise Humpty Dumpty onto another part of the wall. However, because the cannon, or Humpty Dumpty, was so heavy 'All the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty together again!' This had a drastic consequence for the Royalists as the strategically important town of Colchester fell to the Parliamentarians after a siege lasting eleven weeks.

Pic1-2.jpg

A Picture of  typical Cavalier who would have fought for the Royalists during the English Civil War. The word Cavalier is derived from the French word Chevalier meaning a military man serving on horseback - a knight. A Roundhead ( Parliamentarian) was so called from the close-cropped hair of the Puritans

Humpty Dumpty poem

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses, and all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again!

 

2.3 This is the House that Jack built

 

The origin of the lyrics to 'This is the house that Jack built' cannot be traced to specific people or historical events but merely reflects the everyday characters and lifestyle which could have been found in rural England and dates back to the sixteenth century. The phrase 'This is the house that Jack built' is often used as a derisory term in describing a badly constructed building!

Pic1-3.jpg

 

2.4 Remember, Remember the Fifth of November

 

The words of "Remember, Remember" refer to Guy Fawkes and Gunpowder plot with origins in the 17th century English history. On the 5th November, 1605 Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with several dozen barrels of gunpowder. Guy Fawkes was subsequently tried as a traitor with his co-conspirators for plotting against the government. He was tried by Judge Popham who came to London specifically for the trial from his country manor Littlecote House in Hungerford, Gloucestershire. Fawkes was sentenced to death and the  form of the execution was one of the most horrendous ever practised (hung, drawn and quartered) which reflected the serious nature of the crime of treason.

The poem  “Remember, remember the 5th of November” is sometimes referred to as 'Please to remember the fifth of November'. It serves as a warning to each new generation that treason will never be forgotten. In England the 5th of November is still commemorated each year with fireworks and bonfires culminating with the burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes (the guy). The 'guys' are made by children by filling old clothes with crumpled newspapers to look like a man. Tradition allows British children to display their 'guys' to passers-by and asking for "a penny for the guy".

Pic1-4.jpg

The picture is of the 'Gunpowder Plot' conspirators with Thomas Bates, Robert Wintour, Christopher Wright, John Wright, Thomas Percy, Guy Fawkes, Robert Catesby and Thomas Wintour.

Remember, Remember poem:

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

Confusing Words

 

There are words in the English language that present some difficulties for English learners. Such words sound alike but mean different things when put into writing, so, English learners often misuse them. This list will help them distinguish between some of the more common words that sound alike.

Accept, Except

  • accept = verb meaning to receive or to agree: He accepted their praise graciously.
    • except = preposition meaning all but, other than: Everyone went to the game except Alyson.

Affect, Effect

  • affect = verb meaning to influence: Will lack of sleep affect your game?
    • effect = noun meaning result or consequence: Will lack of sleep have an effect on your game?
    • effect = verb meaning to bring about, to accomplish: Our efforts have effected a major change in university policy.

A memory-help for affect and effect is RAVEN: Remember, Affect is a Verb and Effect is a Noun.

Advise, Advice

  • advise = verb that means to recommend, suggest, or counsel: I advise you to be cautious.
  • advice = noun that means an opinion or recommendation about what could or should be done: I'd like to ask for your advice on this matter.

Conscious, Conscience

  • conscious = adjective meaning awake, perceiving: Despite a head injury, the patient remained conscious.
  • conscience = noun meaning the sense of obligation to be good: Chris wouldn't cheat because

his conscience wouldn’t let him.

 

Idea, Ideal

  • idea = noun meaning a thought, belief, or conception held in the mind, or a general notion or conception formed by generalization: Jennifer had a brilliant idea — she'd go to the Writing Lab for help with her papers!
  • ideal = noun meaning something or someone that embodies perfection, or an ultimate object or endeavor: Mickey was the ideal for tutors everywhere.
  • ideal = adjective meaning embodying an ultimate standard of excellence or perfection, or the best; Jennifer was an ideal student.

Its, It's

  • its = possessive adjective (possessive form of the pronoun it): The crab had an unusual growth on its shell.
  • it's = contraction for it is or it has (in a verb phrase): It's still raining; it's been raining for three days. (Pronouns have apostrophes only when two words are being shortened into one.)

Lead, Led

  • lead = noun referring to a dense metallic element: The X-ray technician wore a vest lined with lead.
  • led = past-tense and past-participle form of the verb to lead, meaning to guide or direct: The evidence led the jury to reach a unanimous decision.

Than, Then

  • Than     - used in comparison statements: He is richer than I am.

- used in statements of preference: I would rather dance than eat.

- used to suggest quantities beyond a specified amount: Read more than the first paragraph.

  • Then     - a time other than now: He was younger then. She will start her new job then.

next in time, space, or order: First we must study; then we can play, suggesting a logical conclusion: If you've studied hard, then the exam should be no problem

Their, There, They're

  • Their = possessive pronoun: They got their books.
    • There = that place: My house is over there. (This is a place word, and so it contains the word here.)
    • They're = contraction for they are: They're making dinner. (Pronouns have apostrophes only when two words are being shortened into one.)

To, Too, Two

  • To = preposition, or first part of the infinitive form of a verb: They went to the lake to swim.
  • Too = very, also: I was too tired to continue. I was hungry, too.
  • Two = the number 2: Two students scored below passing on the exam.

Two, twelve, and between are all words related to the number 2, and all contain the letters tw. Too can mean also or can be an intensifier, and you might say that it contains an extra о ("one too many")

We're, Where, Were

  • We're = contraction for we are: We're glad to help. (Pronouns have apostrophes only when two words are being shortened into one.)
  • Where = location: Where are you going? (This is a place word, and so it contains the word here.)
  • Were = a past tense form of the verb be: They were walking side by side.

Your, You're

  • Your = possessive pronoun: Your shoes are untied.
    • You're = contraction for you are: You're walking around with your shoes untied. (Pronouns have apostrophes only when two words are being shortened into one.)

One Word or Two?

All right/alright

  • all right: used as an adjective or adverb; older and more formal spelling, more common in scientific & academic writing: Will you be all right on your own?
  • alright: Alternate spelling of all right; less frequent but used often in journalistic and business publications, and especially common in

fictional dialogue: He does alright in school.

All together/altogether

  • all together: an adverb meaning considered as a whole, summed up: All together, there were thirty-two students at the museum.
  • altogether: an intensifying adverb meaning wholly, completely, entirely: His comment raises an altogether different problem.

Anyone/any one

  • anyone: a pronoun meaning any person at all: Anyone who can solve this problem
    deserves an award.
    • any one: a paired adjective and noun meaning a specific item in a group; usually used with of: Any one of those papers could serve as an example.

Note: There are similar distinctions in meaning for everyone and every one

Anyway/any way

  • anyway: an adverb meaning in any case or nonetheless: He objected, but she went anyway.
  • any way: a paired adjective and noun meaning any particular course, direction, or manner: Any way we chose would lead to danger.

Awhile/a while

  • awhile: an adverb meaning for a short time; some readers consider it nonstandard; usually needs no preposition: Won't you stay awhile?
  • a while: a paired article and noun meaning a period of time; usually used with for: We talked for a while, and then we said good night

Conclusion


Having learnt the problem of words’ meaning we’ve come to understanding that the lexical meaning of a word is the realization of a notion. The number of meanings does not corre­spond to the number of words, neither does the number of notions. Their distribution in relation to words is peculiar in every lan­guage. In Russian we have two words for the English man: мужчина and человек. In English, however, man cannot be applied to a female person. We say in Russian: Она хороший человек. In English we use the word person in this case: She is a good person. A notion cannot exist without a word, but there are words which do not express any notion but have a lexical meaning. There are two kinds of meaning: denotation (the thing that is actually described by a word)  and connotations (the feelings or ideas the word suggests).

Most English words are polysemantic and one should be careful in order not to misunderstand the interlocutor. Context is a powerful preventive against any misunderstanding of meaning.

In their development words underwent certain semantic changes due to historic or extra-linguistic factors. The process of development of a new meaning is termed transference. There is transference based on resemblance (linguistic metaphor) and transference based on contiguity (linguistic metonymy). Sometimes the process of transference may result  in a considerable change in a range of meanings (broadening or narrowing).

The ways of enriching vocabulary with sayings and customs have always been a source of curiosity. Most of the sayings appeared in the language due to some historic events. We’ve traced the origins of some most popular of them.

We couldn’t cover all aspects of meaning in this paper, we’ve touched upon only some of them. However, the  facts mentioned in it seem to be quite interesting in language learning. That’s why we suppose the work has practical value both for teachers and for students as the information given here will broaden the outlook of English learners and enrich their vocabulary. The material of the paper can be used by teachers in their practice.

 

Bibliography.

    1. Антрушина Г.Б., Афанасьева О.В., Морозова Н.Н. Лексикология английского языка /English Lexicology/  - М.: Высш.шк., 1985. – 223с.
    1. Арнольд И.В. Лексикология современного английского языка / И.В. Арнольд – 3-е изд., перераб. и доп. – М.: Высш. шк., 1986. – 295с.
    2. Балк Е.А., Леменев М.М. Причудливый английский /Queer English/ - М.: Изд-во НЦ Энас, 2002 – 168с.
    3. Интернет сайты: www.rhymes.org.uk, www.expats.org.uk


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