jazz is from is a kind of is from is a kind of music The blues U.S. is from is a kind of is a kind of pop is from creates originated from The Beatles is a city of Liverpool Britain Rock Unit 7 The Semantic Relations among English Words Check Your Understanding

State whether each of the following statements is TRUE or FALSE. a. The word classes of gradable antonyms are adjective, noun and verb. b. Chat and gossip form a pair of synonyms in terms of connotation.

c. Homonymous words always come from different etymological roots.

d. Pairs of words that exhibit the reversal of a relationship between two items are said to be relational opposites.

e. The cohesive effect of a text is always achieved by the co-occurrence of words with meaning relations of synonymy and antonymy. Key: T T F T F

In-Class Activities

1. Antonyms are commonly found to co-occur in natural languages, among which are (both) X and Y, X as well as Y, X and Y alike, (either) X or Y, neither X nor Y, from X to Y, and now X, now Y. Read the following sentences.

a. They were free with the fellows, young and old, about the place, and exchanged banter in rude phrases, which at first shocked her. (Theodore Dreiser: Sister Carrie) b. That was one reason she did not look forward to Cathy's visit, short or long.



c. The Danderlea‘s energies were claimed by buying and selling liquor, while Mrs Fortescue went out a lot. (Doris Lessing: Mrs Fortescue) ASK:

(1) What does each italicized part in the above sentences mean respectively? (2) Can you find some idioms formed by the co-occurrence of antonyms?

Key: (1) In the first sentence, young and old is used actually to mean, and semantically could well

be replaced by, ―(fellows) regardless of age‖ or ―(fellows) of all ages‖, rather than just ―those who are young and those who are old‖; short or long in the second sentence has the emphasis of ―any visit‖ or ―visit of any length in time‖; buying and selling in the third simply means the action of ―trading‖.

(2) Omit

2. Antonymy is widely used in wise sayings, as in ―A good beginning makes a good ending‖ and ―All things are difficult before they are easy‖. Now look at the following incomplete sayings. a. Adversity leads to __________.

b. A good husband makes a good __________. c. A young idler, an __________beggar. d. Be swift to hear, __________ to speak. e. Easy come, easy __________.

f. Every advantage has its __________.

g. Knowledge makes humble, ignorance makes ___________.

h. Pride goes before, and shame comes __________.

i. The wise man knows he knows nothing, the fool thinks he knows __________. j. The world is a ladder for some to go up and others to go__________. ASK:

(1) Can you complete each of the above sayings with a word which has an antonymous

relationship with the bold-faced word? (2) Do you know the meaning of each saying? Try to translate them into Chinese. key:

a. Adversity leads to prosperity. 穷则思变。

b.A good husband makes a good wife. 夫善则妻贤。

c.A young idler, an old beggar. 少壮不努力,老大徒伤悲。 d.Be swift to hear, slow to speak. 听宜敏捷,言宜缓行。 e.Easy come, easy go. 来也匆匆,去也匆匆。

f.Every advantage has its disadvantage. 有利必有弊。

g.Knowledge makes humble, ignorance makes proud. 博学使人谦逊,无知使人骄傲。 h.Pride goes before, and shame comes after.




i.The wise man knows he knows nothing, the fool thinks he knows all. 清者自清,浊者自浊。

j.The world is a ladder for some to go up and others to go down. 世界如阶梯,有人上有人下。

3. Lexical cohesion is achieved by the selection of appropriate words. The co-occurrence of the lexical items with certain meaning relations serves as an effective device to achieve cohesion in the text. Read the following pictures.


(1) What meaning relation is employed in the pictures?

(2) In what way is the employment of the semantic relation effective? Key:

(1) Antonymy (shut down & restart, low&high)

(2) Contrast arouses attention.

4. Polysemy and homonymy are commonly applied by wise people as a pun to achieve rhetorical effect in daily communication as well as in literature. For example, in the sentence we must all hang together or we shall all hang separately, hang1 (to unite) and hang2 (to execute by suspending by the neck) are homonyms. The co-existence of the two words produces an amazing effect and makes the argument extremely impressive and persuasive. Read the following sentences and answer the questions that follow.

a. To English will I steal and there I‘ll steal. (Shakespeare: Henry V)

b. If the man be a bachelor, sir, I can; but if he be a married man, he‘s wife‘s head, and I can never cut off a woman‘s head.

c. He went there by train to take a training class.

d. I can‘t bear that man who is like a bear with a sore head. ASK:

(1) Which semantic relation does the pair of bold words in each sentence belong to, polysemy or homonymy? Why?

(2) What does each bold word mean respectively? Key:

(1) a.polysemy b. polysemy c. homonymy d. homonymy (2) a. steal1: to move quietly without been noticed steal2: to take sth that belongs to someone else b. head1: the leader or a person in charge of head2: the top part of the body c. train 1: vehicle that moves on tracks train 2: to teach a particular skill

d. bear 1: to dislike something or someone so much that they make you very annoyed bear 2: a large strong animal with thick fur

5. Study the museum policies in the following picture.


(1) The word ―permitted‖ occurs five times. Do you think this should be discouraged?



(2) Can the first policy ―Please do not touch the artwork‖ be rewritten using the word ―permit‖? Key: (1) No. Permit, a directive word, is generally used in public policies or regulations. The

frequent use of this word stresses the enforcement of the museum policies.

(2) Please do not is softer than permit. The first policy serves as a kind warning which will

be easily accepted by the visitors and is not likely to ruin the visitors‘ mood. 6. Ads are pervasive in our lives. Have you ever analyzed ads from the perspective of semantic relations? Let‘s enjoy the following ads.

a. No business too small, no problem too big.(IBM) b. Tide's in, dirt's out. (Tide Soup Powder) c. Woman: I like the exceptions to the royalty.

Man: I like crossroads, the choices, changing the plan. I like Hugo. Woman: And Hugo Woman, the fragrances from Hugo Boss. Man: Don't like it? Don't get it.

Woman: Hugo. Don't imitate. Innovate. (Hugo Woman Perfume)

d. It took a lot of intelligence for Richon to come up with a digital copier that could copy, fax and print. If Leonardo da Vinci were around today, would he not be working for us? That's why Richon is number one in digital copiers in Europe and in the U.S. When choosing a network print-copier, choose Richon Aficio. We lead. Others copy.(Richon Aficio Copier) e. Start ahead. (Rejoice) ASK:

(1) What semantic relations are applied in the above ads? Which one is the most commonly used? (2) What rhetorical effects may result from the application of the semantic relations?

Key (1) antonymy(small-big, in-out,imitate-innovate), polysemy(copy), homophone (ahead-a head)

(2) easy to remember, rich in meaning, interesting, attractive, persuasive

Post-Class Tasks

1. Find at least one synonym for each of the following bold-faced words in accordance with the specified semantic relations between them.

a. Tom‘s father is a lorry-driver. (British English vs. American English)

b. We have abandoned our efforts in searching for the lost dog. (individual verb vs. phrasal verb) c. The book is about the flora and fauna of Australia. (technical term vs. colloquial term) d. You cannot walk down the street, ride on a bus, watch television or read emails without seeing

advertisements. (original word vs. shortened word) Key: a.truck-driver, b.give up, c.plants, d.animals, e.ads

2. Decide whether the antonymous relationship within each of the following pairs is gradable, complementary or relational.

a. toward/away b. empty/full c. off/on d. abundant/scarce e. instructor/pupil f. accidental/intentional.

Key: a.toward/away(R), b.empty/full(C), c.off/on(C), d.abundant/scarce(G), e.instructor/pupil(R),


3. Auto-antonyms are a group of interesting words which can mean the opposite of themselves.



For example, enjoin can mean to prohibit and to order, which are opposite in meaning. Look up a dictionary for the opposite meanings of the following auto-antonyms. a. Rumors travel faster than facts. My leg was stuck fast in the mud.

b. The wooden door had been cleft in two.

John still cleaves to his romantic ideals.

c. Economic sanctions are domestic penalties applied by one country (or group of countries) on another for a variety of reasons.

Copying is not allowed without the sanction of the author. Key:

a. fast (moving quickly; fixed firmly in place) b. cleave (to split; to adhere) c. sanction (punishment, prohibition ; permission)

4. Read the following excerpt from Barack Obama‘s victory speech delivered at Chicago. Does he use any synonyms in it? If so, what are they? Are they totally substitutable for each other?

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. Key:Yes. doubt, wonder, question. No. They are not totally substitutable for each other in terms of sentence structure.

5. Find homophones for the bold words in the following sentences. a. There has been much talk about the ―new information age‖.

b. The internet provides an amazing forum for the free exchange of ideas. c. Which color do you prefer, red or green?

d. David came across his former boss on the way home. e. I’ll come to see you when I‘m free.

Key: a. there– their; been – bean, b. for-four, c. or – oar – ore – awe , d..way – weigh,

e. I‘ll – isle – aisle

6. Homographs are different words which happen to share the same form. Guess which homograph is being described in the following sentences.

Example: something used with a hammer OR part of your finger or toe. Answer: nail. a. Something you light to start a fire OR two things that go together b. One who throws a baseball OR a container for pouring beverages c. A loud noise OR another name for soda

d. Part of a branch that has fallen OR to cling to something e. A place for stray animals OR 16 ounces Key: a.match, b.pitch, c.pop, d.stick, e.pound