Polysemy of words

Polysemy is a polysemy. Some words have only one lexical meaning. They are called single-valued. But most words in Russian have several meanings. Therefore, they are called multivalued.


Polysemy is a lexical phenomenon that is realized in written or oral speech. But it is possible to understand the meaning of the meaning of a certain lexeme only in context. The ambiguity of the word “house” is a striking example of a phenomenon that in linguistics is called “polysemy”. Examples:

The house is on the river bank (building, building).

The house was run by the housekeeper (housekeeping).

Since then, they are friends of homes (families).

In some cases, in order to clarify the connotation of the meaning, a narrow context is sufficient. It is only necessary to recall any common adjective to understand what is polysemy. Examples are found in both written and oral speech.

Adjective “quiet” has many

meanings. Examples:

The singer sang in a low voice.

The child was very quiet.

The driver did not like quiet driving.

That day was a sunny, quiet weather.

Through the thin wall you could hear her quiet breathing.

Even a small context makes it possible to clarify the meaning of the word. In each of the examples above, the adjective “quiet” can be replaced by another. Examples:

A low (low) voice;

Quiet (calm) temper;

Quiet (windless) weather.

Polysemy is a set of meanings that are inherent in the same lexeme. One of the values ​​(the one that is always indicated in the explanatory dictionary) is considered to be the main one. Others are derivatives.

The meanings of a word are related to each other. They form a hierarchical semantic system. Depending on the relationship between the derived values ​​and the main one, one can distinguish the types of polysemy. There are three in total.

Radial polysemy is a phenomenon in which each of the derived values ​​has a connection with the main one. For example: cherry orchard, cherry

jam, cherry blossom.

With chain polysemy, each of the values ​​is related to the previous one. Examples:

The right bank.

The right party.

Right movement.

A feature of mixed polysemy is the combination of symptoms.

Polysemy in Russian is a phenomenon not only lexical, but also stylistic. Different figurative expressions are also derived values ​​of a particular lexeme. Therefore, we can distinguish three types of polysemy: metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche.

In the first case, we are talking about transferring the name from one subject or phenomenon to another. The motive for this transfer is the similarity of completely different characteristics.

Poetry is rich in metaphors. Yesenin has the phrase “Spit, wind, armfuls of leaves”. The verb “spit” as part of the expression “spit in the soul” is found extremely often in the poetry of other authors. And in the first, and in the second case, there is metaphorization. In the journalistic or scientific text, the verb “spit” can be used only in the sense that is spoken of in the explanatory dictionary, that is, in the main meaning. A Dal explains this concept as “throwing the force of the air with saliva from the mouth.”

There are other ways to create a new value. Metonymy is the transfer of the name of one object to another on the basis of some similarity. Examples:

She was stingy and suspicious, so she did not keep the silverware in the room, but in the bedroom, under the mattress.

Last year, at an international competition, silver went to a performer from Sweden.

Silver is a metal known to people back in ancient times.

In metonymy, objects or phenomena that are united by one name have a common connection. In the texts there are quite a variety of associations. Sometimes, to refer to a large number of people, they name the city in which they are located. For example: “Moscow said goodbye to the great artist.”

This way of transferring the value is based on replacing the plural with the only one. Nikolai Gogol, for example, in the poem “Dead Souls” discusses the national characteristics of the population of Russia. But at the same time he says “Such is the Russian person…”. In doing so, he expresses the opinion that has developed in the process of monitoring various people who show servility before the high ranks and ranks.

Incorrect use of multivalued words leads to a distortion of the meaning of the whole sentence. And sometimes even to an inappropriate comedy. One of the commentators, noting the outstanding results of the athlete, who took first place in the shooting, said: “She shot all the men.” Another television journalist, explaining the course of the chess game, reduced the expression “the development of figures”, resulting in a rather ambiguous phrase: “Gaprindashvili lagged behind her rival in development.”

The author, using polysemy, should take care of the accuracy of his formulations. Otherwise, readers will interpret the text as they please. For example: “High school students visited the Art Museum and brought out the most valuable and interesting from there.”

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Polysemy of words