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First, I would like to express my sincere and special gratitude to Mrs. Nguyen
Thi Yen Thoa, my supervisor, who gave me invaluable assistance and guidance
during the preparation for this graduation paper.
9
My thanks also go to Mrs. Tran Thi Ngoc Lien, the dean of Foreign Language
Department of Hai Phong Private University for her precious advice and
encouragement
I also would like to thank all the teachers of Foreign Language Department
of Hai Phong Private University for their suggestions to my paper.

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1
Haiphong private university
Department of foreign languages
——————————-
Graduation paper
a study on polysemy of antonymous
words in English: some related problems
facing learners of english and suggested
solutions
By:
Nguyen Ngoc Huyen
Class:
NA902
Supervisor:
NguyÔn ThÞ YÕn Thoa, M.A
2
Hai phong – 2009
3
Bé gi¸o dôc vµ ®µo t¹o
tr-êng ®¹i häc d©n lËp h¶i phßng
————————————–
NhiÖm vô ®Ò tµi tèt nghiÖp
Sinh viªn: ……………………………………………………………….M·
sè:……………………………..
Líp: …………………………………..Ngµnh:…………………………………………………………………………
4
Tªn ®Ò tµi: ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
NhiÖm vô ®Ò tµi
1.Néi dung vµ c¸c yªu cÇu cÇn gi¶i quyÕt trong nhiÖm vô ®Ò tµi tèt nghiÖp
(VÒ lý luËn, thùc tiÔn, c¸c sè liÖu cần tính toán và các bản vẽ)
2. C¸c tµi liÖu, sè liÖu cÇn thiÕt để thiết kế, tính toán
3. §Þa ®iÓm thùc tËp tèt nghiÖp
5
C¸n bé h-íng dÉn ®Ò tµi tèt nghiÖp
Ng-êi h-íng dÉn thø nhÊt:
Hä vµ tªn:
Häc hµm, häc vÞ:
C¬ quan c«ng t¸c:
Néi dung h-íng dÉn
Ng-êi h-íng dÉn thø hai:
Hä vµ tªn:
Häc hµm, häc vÞ:
C¬ quan c«ng t¸c:
Néi dung h-íng dÉn:
6
§Ò tµi tèt nghiÖp ®-îc giao ngµy th¸ng n¨m 2009
Yªu cÇu ph¶i hoµn thµnh xong tr-íc ngµy th¸ng n¨m 2009
§· nhËn nhiÖm vô §TTN §· giao nhiÖm vô §TTN
Sinh viªn Cán bộ hướng dẫn ĐTTN
H¶i Phßng, ngµy th¸ng n¨m 2009
HiÖu tr-ëng
GS.TS.NG¦T TrÇn H÷u NghÞ
PhÇn nhËn xÐt tãm t¾t cña c¸n bé h-íng dÉn
1. Tinh thÇn th¸i ®é cña sinh viªn trong qu¸ tr×nh lµm ®Ò tµi tèt nghiÖp:
2. §¸nh gi¸ chÊt l-îng cña Đ.T.T.N (So víi néi dung yªu cÇu ®· ®Ò ra trong
nhiÖm vô §.T. T. N trªn c¸c mÆt lý luËn, thùc tiÔn, tÝnh to¸n giá trị sử
dụng, chất lượng các bản vẽ)
7
3. Cho ®iÓm cña c¸n bé h-íng dÉn (ghi c¶ sè vµ ch÷):
H¶i Phßng, ngµy th¸ng n¨m 2009
C¸n bé h-íng dÉn
(Ký vµ ghi râ hä tªn)
NhËn xÐt ®¸nh gi¸ cña ng-êi chÊm ph¶n biÖn
®Ò tµi tèt nghiÖp
1. §¸nh gi¸ chÊt l-îng ®Ò tµi tèt nghiÖp vÒ c¸c mÆt thu thËp vµ ph©n tÝch tµi
liÖu, sè liÖu ban ®Çu; c¬ së lÝ luËn chän ph-¬ng ¸n tèi -u, c¸ch tÝnh to¸n chÊt
l-îng thuyÕt minh b¶n vÏ, gi¸ trÞ lÝ luËn vµ thùc tiÔn cña ®Ò tµi.
8
2. Cho ®iÓm cña ng-êi chÊm ph¶n biÖn:
(§iÓm ghi b»ng sè vµ ch÷)
Ngµy th¸ng n¨m 2009
Ng-êi chÊm ph¶n biÖn
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
First, I would like to express my sincere and special gratitude to Mrs. Nguyen
Thi Yen Thoa, my supervisor, who gave me invaluable assistance and guidance
during the preparation for this graduation paper.
9
My thanks also go to Mrs. Tran Thi Ngoc Lien, the dean of Foreign Language
Department of Hai Phong Private University for her precious advice and
encouragement
I also would like to thank all the teachers of Foreign Language Department
of Hai Phong Private University for their suggestions to my paper.
Finally yet importantly, I am indebted to my family and my friends for all
they have done for me. Without their help, this graduation paper would not have
become reality.
Hai Phong, 2009
Nguyen Ngoc Huyen.
10
table of contents
Acknowledgement …………………………………
Part I: Introduction
1. Rationale of the study …………………………………………………………………………… 1
2. Aims of the study ………………………………………………………………………………… 1
3. Scope of the study ……………………………………………………………………………….. 2
4. Methods of the study2
5. Design of the study ………………………………………………………………………………. 2
Part II: Development …………………………………………
Chapter I: Theoretical background
1. Antonym in English ………………………………………………………………………….. 4
1.1. Definitions …………………………………………………………………………………… 4
1.2. Classification of Antonyms ……………………………………………………………. 7
1.2.1 Based on the meaning ……………………………………………………………….. 7
1.2.1.1 Gradable antonyms. …………………………………………………………….. 7
1.2.1.2. Complementary antonyms …………………………………………………… 9
1.2.1.3. Conversive antonyms ………………………………………………………….. 10
1.2.1.4. Directional antonyms ………………………………………………………….. 12
1.2.2. Based on the derivation ……………………………………………………………. 13
1.2.2.1. Root _ word antonyms …………………………………………………………. 13
1.2.2.2. Derivational antonyms …………………………………………………………………. 13
1.2.3. Based on the part of speech ………………………………………………………. 14
1.2.3.1. Antonymous nouns……………………………………………………………… 14
11
1.2.3.2. Antonymous verbs …………………………………………………………….. 15
1.2.3.3. Antonymous adjectives ……………………………………………………….. 16
1.2.3.4 Antonymous adverbs ……………………………………………………………. 17
2. Polysemy in English …………………………………………………………………………. 18
2.1. Definitions …………………………………………………………………………………… 18
2.2. Types of polysemy ……………………………………………………………………….. 19
2.2.1. Radional polysemy …………………………………………………………………… 19
2.2.2. Chain polysemy ……………………………………………………………………….. 20
Chapter II: Antonyms of polysemantic words
1. Antonyms of polysemantic nouns ………………………………………………………. 22
1.1. Antonyms of loss ……………………………………………………………………….. 22
1.2. Antonyms of master ……………………………………………………………………. 23
2. Antonyms of polysemantic verbs ………………………………………………………. 24
2.1. Antonyms of maintain ………………………………………………………………… 24
2.2. Antonyms of melt ……………………………………………………………………….. 25
2.3. Antonyms of take ……………………………………………………………………….. 27
3. Antonyms of polysemantic adjectives ………………………………………………. 28
3.1. Antonyms of dull ……………………………………………………………………….. 28
3.2. Antonyms of dry ………………………………………………………………………… 30
3.3. Antonyms of hard ………………………………………………………………………. 31
3.4. Antonyms of heavy …………………………………………………………………….. 33
3.5. Antonyms of severe …………………………………………………………………… 35
3.6. Antonyms of short ……………………………………………………………………… 36
3.7. Antonyms of strong ……………………………………………………………………. 37
4. Antonyms of polysemantic adverbs …………………………………………………… 39
Antonyms of right …………………………………………………………………… 39
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Chapter III: Implication ……………………………………….
1. Some related problems …………………………………………………………………….. 41
2. Some suggested solutions ………………………………………………………………… 42
3. Exercises ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 44
Part III: Conclusion……………………………………….. 52
References
13
part i
introduction
1. Rationale
With more than 6 million speakers in every part of the world, English now
has taken its place as the most important international language. Therefore, the
goal of learning and using this language is not just the knowledge of
grammatical rules but also the knowledge of lexicology, especially, antonyms of
polysemy words which will pave a way for learners reach to the goal of
successful communication.
Simply, answer to the question of why antonyms of polysemantic word
should be studied is beacause it has received considerably more attention in
recent times than many other linguistics phenomena. Many examples of
antonyms of polysemantic word become deeply ingrained in our mental lexicon
from infancy. Opposites are quickly learnt and rarely forgotten.
Furthermore, antonyms of polysemantic words which are popularly in our
life make confusing with the learners.
2. Aims of the study:
 This study gives the overview of antonym and polysemy in English.
 The meanings of polysemantic words are explained more carefully in this
study.
 The study analyses antonyms in the typical cases.
 A lot of exercises are given in order that the learner practise and enrich their
vocabulary.
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3. Scope of the study
This study looks into the antonym polysemantic word and gives how to
choose an antonym of a polysemantic word. Besides, it provides the reader the
general view on English antonyms such as: definition, characteristic features and
classification with illustrated examples.
In the main part, this study gives antonyms of a polysemantic word in order to
use words exactly and appropriately.
Polysemy is used commonly in English, however, the study pays attention to
analyse the typical cases in order that the theory is made clear.
4. Methods of the study
To carry out this rearch, qualitive methods are mainly implimented I rearch
for relevant knowledge from different books, dictionaries and web pages. Based on
the knowledge, collected, and studied, I systemized into a logical theoretical
background of antonyms and polysemy in English and give typical polysemantic
word groups and explain their antonyms in different situations.
With the difficulties I myself can not solve, I discussed with my teachers and
friends and asked for their advice and instructions.
5. Design of the study
In order to help readers understand easily, this study is devided into three
parts:
part I – introduction : gives the background of the study. It comprises
five conponents:
1. Rationale of the study
2. Aims of the study
3. Scope of the study
4. Methods of the study
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5. Design of the study
part II – development: includes three chapters:
Chapter I: Theoretical background: Provides the background to the study. It
consists of antonyms and polysemy.
Chapter II: The antonyms of polysemantic words in English.
Chapter III: Implication: gives some releated problems, suggested solutions and
provides some exercises for practice.
Part III: Conclusion: summarises the content of the whole study and
suggests and ideas for further study.
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part II: development
chapter I: theoretical background
1. antonyms in english
1.1. Definitions
In the book named ‚Basic English lexicology‛ (2005), Hoang Tat Truong
gave the definition of antonyms: ‚Antonyms are two (or rarely more) words
belonging to the same part of speech, identical in style and nearly identical in
distribution, associated and used together so that their denotative meanings
render contracdictory”.
For example:
Day – night
Hot – cold
Tie – untie
‚My only love sprung from my only hate
too early seen unknow and known too late‛
(Hoang Tat Truong, 2005:84)
In the example, there are three pairs of antonyms: love vs hate early vs late
and known and unknow. Love vs hate and known vs unknown indicate actions, so
they are verbs, and a pair of antonym: early vs late are adjectives because they
indicate the time. Love is opposite of hate, in terms of the contractory affection, so
love = not hate. Similarily, On the basis of contrary time, late is opposite of early
and unknown is antonym of known, according to the different awareness.
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Futhermore, two sentences that differ in polarity like these are mutually
contradictory. If one is true, the other must be false. Two sentences have the same
subject and have predicates, which are antonym also mutually contractory.
For example:
The television in on now
The television is off now.
Jack is a good boy
Jack’s a bad boy.
Bob loves football
Bob hates football
(Hanh, 2006:90)
Lexemes like on and off, good and bad, love and hate are pairs of antonyms.
They indicate the words of the same part of speech, which have contrasting or
opposite meanings.
Besides, there is another simple defininion of antonym claiming that:
“antonyms are word pair that are opposite in meaning such as hot and cold, up
and down, etc. word may have different antonyms, depending on the meaning. Both
long and tall are antonyms of short‛
(www.en.vikipedia.org).
For example:
She took a plate and gave me a clean one.
(Michael, 2000: 551)
In the example, there is a pair of antonym: take and give. In the sentence, take
means receive… In terms of the contrary relation, take and give are antonyms.
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Furthermore, take is the polysemantic word; it has many meanings in which
have many antonyms. For example, take has three antonyms: give, put and bring.
How to find antonyms of polysemantic word is carefully studied in the chapter II.
The definition of Hoang Tat Truong, we can see that the words seem opposite
meaning but they don’t have associations together, so, they are not antonyms. For
example, in the sentence: she is beautiful but lazy; He is rich but he is unhappy…,
beautiful – lazy, rich – unhappy seem opposite words but they are not antonyms
because they have no associations together . Late and early in the example (1) are
antonym because of their association.
Oppositeness is perhaps not such a pervasive meaning in the vocabulary of
English as synonym, but it has an important role in structuring the vocabulary of
English. Many antonyms are explained by the means of the negative particle ‚not‛.
Almost every word can have one or more antonyms. Like synonyms, antonyms
occupy an important place in the use of idioms.
For example:
Backwards and forwards
From first to last
In black and white.
Not only words, but set expresssions as well, can be grouped into antonymic
pairs, for example: by accident >< on purpose.
Conclusion, Antonym is a word to another word which holds a general or
specific oppositing meaning, idea or concept and word may have different
antonyms.
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1.2. Classification of antonyms
We can base on the meaning, the derivation and the part of speech to classify
antonyms.
1.2.1. Based on the meaning
Antonyms cover a number of different types of oppositeness of meaning. Four
types are commonly identified by John Lyons (1992:284) are gradable antonyms,
contradictory or complementary antonyms, relational or conversive antonyms
and directional antonyms.
1.2.1.1. Graded antonyms
Graded antonyms are understood as antonyms which operate on a continuum,
such often occur in binomial phrases with and: (blow) hot and cold, (search) high
and low.
(Tom Mc Arthur, ‚Antonym‛, The Oxford.
Companion to the English language, Oxford University Press, 1992)
For example:
Short – long
Rich – poor
These pairs are called gradable antonyms because they do not represent an
either or relation but rather a more / less relation. The more/less relation is evident
in a number of ways. One way is that those terms allow comparion, so, they can
take both comparative (happier) and superlative (happiest), for example:
My arm is longer than yours
I love a good book more than a good meal.
(Hoa, 2002:31)
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One the other hand, because the adjectives are not mutually exclusive,
they can be qualified by adverbial of degree e.g. quite happy, extremely happy,
fairly happy, ect.
Furthermore, their meanings are relative to each other. One meaning is
determined in reference to the meaning of the other. Since contraries are gradale,
the semantic contrast in a contrary pair is relative. There are often intermediate
terms between the two opposites. Thus, we have not just rich and poor, but there
are such gradations as rich, well-to-do, well-off, moderately, wealthy, comfortably
off, hard up, poor.
Especially, the negation of one does not mean the assertion of the other ‚he is
not rich‛ does not mean ‚he is poor‛.
According to Hoang Tat Truong, ‚in dealing with antonymic oppsitions it may
be helpful to treat antonyms in terms of ‚marked‛ and ‚unmarked‛ menbers. The
unmarked member can be more widely used and very often can include the
referents of the marked member but not vice versa. This proves that their meanings
have some components in common‛. So, this kind of antonyms can be analysed in
terms of markedness.
For example:
How tall is he? (no implication, to ask his height and the asker don’t know that he
is tall or short)
How short is he? (implication that he is short)
Similarily, beautiful is an antonym of ugly in terms of the contrary
appearance. They are gradable antonyms because we might say she is quite
beautiful, she is rather ugly, or she is more beautiful than her younger sister.
Addition to, there are intermediate terms between beautiful and ugly:
Beautiful: pretty: good-looking: plain: ugly .Moreover, we might say that:
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How beautiful is she? (no implication, to ask her appearance and the asker
don’t know that she is beautiful or ugly.
How ugly is she? (implication that she is ugly)…
Likely, these adjectives are gradable antonyms
Beautiful – ugly
Easy – difficult
Wide – narrow
Increase – decrease
Love – hate
Fast – slow
To sum up, gradable antonyms are antonyms which take both comparative
and superlative, can be qualified by adverbial of degree, have intermediate terms
between the two opposites and can be analyzed in terms of markedness.
1.2.1.2. Complementary antonyms
Tom Mc Arthur gave the definition of complementary antonyms:
Complementary antonyms are antonyms which express an either or
relationship, e.g. dead or alive, male or female.
(Tom Mc Arthur, ‚Antonym‛, The Oxford.
Companion to the English language, Oxford University Press, 1992)
For example:
Shut – open
Win – lose
Permit – forbid
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These pairs of antonyms are in relation of oppositeness: if we shut the
window, then it is not open; if we lose a game, then we do not win it, If we permit
someon

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