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   MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND SCIENCE OF UKRAINE

Kyiv National Linguistic University

  
  
  
  
  

Project Work

in Contrastive Lexicology of the English and Ukrainian Languages

  
  
  
  
  
  
   SOCIO-LINGUISTIC CAUSES OF SEMANTIC CHANGE
   IN THE ENGLISH AND UKRAINIAN LANGUAGE
  
  
  
  

Roman Lutsenko

Group Па 02-15

Translators'/Interpreters' Department

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
   Research supervisor:
   V.Н. Nikonova
   Professor, Doctor of Philology
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
   Kyiv - 2017
   THEORETICAL FOUNDATION OF THE PROBLEM
   Since the world is a dynamic system which is closely related with the historical development of society, it is very important to define the main causes of semantic change.
   The term change of meaning or semantic change may be applied to two kinds of change: 1) the semantic change which results in the disappearance of the old meaning which is replaced by the new one; 2) a change in the number and arrangement of word-meanings in the semantic structure of a word without a single meaning disappearing. Here we confine ourselves only to the first kind of semantic change. Among the prominent researchers who investigated the main concept of semantic change were: O.O. Potebnja (Ukraine), G. Ostroff (Germany) and
   R. Simmons (USA).
   There are three closely bound up but essentially different aspects of the problem of semantic change. Here it is necessary to discriminate between the causes of semantic change, the nature of the process of the change of meaning and the results of semantic change.
   Discussing the cause of semantic change we concentrate on the factors bringing about this change and attempt to find out why the word changed its meaning. Analyzing the nature of semantic change we seek to clarify the process of this change and describe how various changes of meaning were brought about. Our aim in investigating the results of semantic change is to find out what was changed; that is we compare the resultant and the original meanings and describe the difference between them mainly in terms of the changes in the denotative and connotative components of lexical meaning. By the analysis of the nature and the results of semantic change we can reveal the types of semantic change.
   The factors accounting for semantic changes may be subdivided into two main groups both in Ukrainian and English languages: 1) extralinguistic causes; 2) linguistic cases.
   The extralinguistic causes are determined by the social nature of the language. They are observed in changes of meaning resulting from the development of the notion expressed and the thing named and by the appearance of new notions and things. The history of the social, economic and political life of the people, the progress of culture and science bring about changes in notions and things influencing the semantic aspect of language. The changes of notions and things named go hand in hand. They are conditioned by the above-mentioned factors of social life, so that the extralinguistic causes of semantic change may be classified in accordance with these factors.
   The word is a linguistic realization of notion. It changes with the progress of human consciousness. This process is reflected in the development of lexical meaning. For instance, the OE word eorЧe `the earth' meant `the soil' and `the world of man'. With the progress of science the word earth came to mean the `planet'; the OU word `печиво' had the meaning `the general term for goods made of pastry'; the word `каша' meant `everything that is edible'.
   The constant development of all spheres of human life brings into being new objects and notions. Words to name them are either borrowed from foreign languages or created from the native language material. And it often happens that new meanings are thus acquired by old words. For example, economic causes are obviously at work in the semantic development of the word fee. The MnE fee means `the price paid for services'. It stems from the OE feoh which meant `cattle' and `money'; likewise Goth faihu; cf. Lat pecus `cattle' and pecunia `money'; in old Ukrainian the word `хліб' meant `anything that makes one rich' but now it means `bread'. Although notions and things change in the course of time, in many cases the sound-form of the words denoting them is retained, but the meaning of these words is changed. For example, the word car borrowed from Latin carrus `a four-wheeled wagon' now means `a motor-car' and `a railway-carriage'.
   The linguistic causes are factors acting within the language system. They deal with changes due to the constant interdependence of vocabulary units in language and speech, such as differentiation between synonyms, changes taking place in connection with ellipsis, and with fixed contexts, changes resulting from the ambiguity in certain contexts and some other cases.
   Ellipsis is a linguistic cause of semantic change. Semantic changes due to ellipsis may be observed when the meaning of one word is transferred to another because they habitually occur together in speech. In a phrase made up of two words one of them is omitted and its meaning is transferred to its partner. For example, the verb to starve (in OE steorfan) had the meaning `to die' and was habitually used in collocation with the word hunger (ME sterven of hunger). In the 16th century the verb itself acquired the meaning `to die of hunger'. In Ukrainian we can observe it in the literature. T.H. Shevchenko in his poem `Perebendya': `Орлом сизокрилим літає, ширяє, / Аж небо блакитне широкими (крилами) б'є'.
   Discrimination of synonyms is also a linguistic cause of semantic change. Let us take, for example, the word land. In OE land meant both `solid part of earth's surface' and `the territory of a nation'. When in the ME period the word country was borrowed from OFr (contree) as its synonym, the meaning of the word land was altered and `the territory of a nation' came to be denoted mainly by borrowed word country.
   Linguistic analogy is another cause of semantic change. If one of the members of a synonymic set acquires a new meaning, other members of this set change their meanings and by analogy acquire the same meaning, too. For example, in the set of synonyms to the notion catch `хапати'- grasp and get, the dominant of this synonymic set catch acquired the new meaning `to understand'; then the other two synonyms grasp and get developed this new meaning, too.
   External (sociolinguistic) causes are often referred to when trying to explain language change. Language change is produced by social, political and technological issues which take an important role when language is used for communication. External changes are those changes caused by contact. They involve the relationship between the speaker and the society to which she/he belongs. Society is normally defined as geographical regions and ethnicity or nationality, but its language also defines it, even society plays an important role in the study of language evolution. J.M. Anderson presents an approach which try to integrate social and structural aspects into language change, focused on the social environment. He affirms that social influence on language is not well determined for historical periods and must be reconstructed by observations from past stages to present-day. Origins of social motivation of change are found within speech communities focusing on internal social situations. Internal lexical changes can have correspondence with changes in the social values within society, for this reason it occurs some loss or addition of vocabulary items. For instance,
   `піїт' - `поет' (OU, means `poet'), `abutan' - `about'(OE).
   Concerning Aitchison's distinction, he deals with three proposed sociolinguistic causes of language change: fashion, foreign influence and social need. First, focusing on fashion and random fluctuation, he affirms that fashion and social influence have to be taken into account because a person's speech can gradually alter over the years in the direction of the fashion around the time. However, he also assumes that fashion is not one of the most important factors when studying language change because language is well-organized and never is disintegrated by random fluctuation theories and if it was basically governed by fashion we do not expect so many different languages. Second, foreign bodies, which are mainly produced by the substratum theory, that is, when immigrants come to an area and learn the language with imperfections, they hand on them and eventually alter the language.
   When we talk about foreign bodies, it is important to emphasize the role played by borrowings in external factors of language change. According to R.L. Trask, speakers of some languages inevitably come into contact with others of other languages. This contact has important consequences because one language may borrow large number of words, even in pronunciation and grammar. Another sociolinguistic cause of change is the social need which is mainly focused on a functional view of language change. It can be produced that new words are coined as they are required, when old words become over-used and lose their impact; new ones are introduced in their place.
   Finally, as Croff supports, a society can alter its language by the use of calques, borrowings, or even the creation of new words and constructions in order to develop the language to new domains or stylistic registers.
   Hence, among the main socio-linguistic causes both in English and Ukrainian are extralinguistic causes which are caused by the historical and social development of the nation according to its traditions, rites, feasts, lifestyle etc. and linguistic which are, due to the systemic nature of language, show the unity of vocabulary and the grammatical structure. Students of the translator's/ interpreter's department should remember that the adequate translation of the text depends on knowledge about features which characterize the nation both in source language and in target language because they may differ in connotative meaning, can be used either literally or figuratively and also can express the diametrically opposed meanings.
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
   Key words and expressions from the text:
      -- semantic change - семантична зміна
      -- socio-linguistic causes - соціолінгвістичні причини
      -- extralinguistic causes - екстралінгвістичні (позамовні) причини
      -- linguistic realization - мовна реалізація
      -- linguistic causes - лінгвістичні (внутрішньомовні) причини
      -- social influence - соціальний вплив
      -- motivation - мотивація
      -- fashion - мода, тренд (у контексті мови)
      -- social need - суспільна потреба
      -- borrowings - запозичення
      -- stylistic register - стилістичний регістр
  
  
  

INTERPRETATION OF THE TEXT

   Exercise 1. Match the definitions with the terms:
      -- ellipsis
   a) is a result in the disappearance of the old meaning which is replaced by the new one
      -- the linguistic causes
   b) is a phrase made up of two words one of them is omitted and its meaning is transferred to its partner
   3) external (sociolinguistic) causes
   c) can be produced that new words are coined as they are required, when old words become over-used and lose their impact; new ones are introduced in their place
   4) semantic change
   d) are those changes caused by contact and involve the relationship between the speaker and the society to which she/he belongs
   5) the social need
   e) deal with changes due to the constant interdependence of vocabulary units in language and speech
   6) the word
   f) changes with the progress of human consciousness
      -- - b) 3) - d) 5 - c)
      -- - e) 4) - a) 6) - f)
  
   Exercise 2. Insert the word missing in the text:
  

Three sociolinguistic fashion foreign influence social need

random fluctuation well-organized theories foreign bodies

  
   Concerning Aitchison's distinction, he deals with 1)....... proposed 2).............causes of language change: 3).........., 4)..........and 5)............ First, focusing on fashion and 6).........., he affirms that fashion and social influence have to be taken into account because a person's speech can gradually alter over the years in the direction of the fashion around the time. However, he also assumes that fashion is not one of the most important factors when studying language change because language is 7)...........and never is disintegrated by random fluctuation 8)..........and if it was basically governed by fashion we do not expect so many different languages. Second, 9)..........., which are mainly produced by the substratum theory, that is, when immigrants come to an area and learn the language with imperfections, they hand on them and eventually alter the language.
  
   Keys:
      -- three 6) random fluctation
      -- sociolinguistic 7) well-organized
      -- fashion 8) theories
      -- foreign influence 9) foreign bodies
      -- social need
  
  
  
  
   Exercise 3. Answer the questions:
  
      -- How many types of semantic change do you know?
      -- Name the prominent researchers who investigated the main concept of semantic change.
      -- What do you know about extralinguistic and linguistic causes?
      -- What is ellipsis? Exemplify your answer.
      -- What do you know about linguistic analogy?
      -- Can we say that foreign bodies do not play an important role in external factors of language change? Why?
      -- What is the main rule for the students of translator's/ interpreter's department?
  
  
  
  

PRACTICAL ASSIGNMENTS

   Exercise 1. Explain the set expressions. Name the spheres of life where they can be used:
      -- helping hand
      -- little women
      -- food for thought
      -- hairaizers
      -- a price to suit everyone's pocket
      -- free trail without obligation
  
   Keys:
  
      -- charity gift shop (patronage)
      -- women's clothes shop (small sizes) (retail)
      -- vegetarian restaurant (gastronomy)
      -- hairdresser's shop (barber's business)
      -- anyone can afford it (general use, business, retail)
      -- `we'll show how it works - there's no charge' (business)
  
  
  
  
   Exercise 2. Match the word with its archaic meaning in OE:
  
      -- bird
   a) `causing pain'
      -- pipe
   b) `horse-servant'
      -- villain
   c) `a farmer'
      -- poison
   d) `a small musical instrument'
      -- marshal
   e) `a drink'
      -- bread
   f) `farm-servant'
      -- smart
   g) `a small piece of anything'
      -- clown
   h) `nestling, fledging'
  
   Keys:
      -- - h) 3) - f) 5) - b) 7) - a)
      -- - d) 4) - e) 6) - g) 8) - c)
   Exercise 3. What spheres of life lie behind these neologisms in English and Ukrainian?
      -- гаджет
      -- караоке
      -- soundbite
      -- dweeb
      -- geeky
      -- motormouth
      -- гуглити
  
   Keys:
      -- hi-tech 3) music 5) night life 7) the Internet
      -- music 4) social relationships 6) social relationships
  
  
   Exercise 4. Determine what kind of change has taken place in following words:
  
      -- corpse: a) a person; b) the dead body
      -- crafty: a) strong; b) skilful
      -- journey: a) a day; b) a day's travel
      -- sophisticated: a) mixed; b) experienced
      -- arrive: a) to land; b) to come to a destination
      -- starve: a) to die; b) to die of hunger
      -- thing: a) a meeting; b) a legal process
  
   Keys:
      -- narrowing
      -- pejoration
      -- synechdoche
      -- amelioration
      -- widening
      -- narrowing
      -- synechdoche
  
   Exercise 5. Write an essay under the following themes:
      -- `Semantic changes in Ukrainian literary works'
      -- `Neologisms in modern English discourse'
      -- `Social influence on the historical development of Ukrainian language'
      -- `Famous English semasiologists'
  
  
   Exercise 6. Find an appropriate word for the following Ukrainian archaisms:
      -- роля
      -- ріжний
      -- піїт
      -- перст
      -- рать
      -- живот
      -- мир
      -- чадо
   Keys:
      -- роль 3) поет 5) військо 7) громада, світське життя
      -- різний 4) палець 6) життя 8) дитина
   THE LITERATURE USED
  
      -- Korunets I.V. Contrastive Typology of the English and Ukrainian Languages: Навчальний посібник / Ілько Вакулович Корунець. - Вінниця: Нова книга, 2003. - 464 с.
      -- Aitchinson J. Language Change : progress or decay? / John Aitchinson. - [0x01 graphic
    ed.]. - Cambridge : Cambridge Univ. Press, 2001. - 485 p.
      -- Арнольд И. В. Стилистика. Современный английский язык / Ирина Владимировна Арнольд. - [6-е изд.]. - М. : Флинта; Наука, 2004. - 384 с.
      -- Croft W. Explaining Language Change. / William Croft L. : Longman Group Limited, 2000. - 356 p.
      -- Trask R. L. Language Change. / Robert Lloyd Trask. - L. : T.J. International Ltd., 1994. - 154 p.
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

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