Author Topic: Homonymy & Polysemy (Not sure if I'm right, need help!)  (Read 6525 times)

Offline DavidShan

  • Jr. Linguist
  • **
  • Posts: 18
Homonymy & Polysemy (Not sure if I'm right, need help!)
« on: September 15, 2014, 04:16:41 AM »
Hi guys,

Question: In each case, state your reasoning. (Note: in each group there could be more than one kind of meaning relationship, depending on which meaning you are comparing with which.) For any examples of polysemy you find, say whether they involve metaphorical extension, and if so explain the metaphor.

1. to run down (the stairs); to run down (an enemy); to run down (a list of names)
2. to spell (a word); (under) a spell; a (dry) spell
3. the butt (of a rifle); the butt (of a joke); to butt (as a ram)
4. to pitch (a baseball); pitch (black); the pitch (of one’s voice)

I actually have the definition of all the words and they seem to have different meanings. So I'm wondering are they all homonymy?

I really need help on this... please let me know your thoughts!

Thanks,
David

Offline Daniel

  • Administrator
  • Experienced Linguist
  • *****
  • Posts: 2043
  • Country: us
    • English
Re: Homonymy & Polysemy (Not sure if I'm right, need help!)
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2014, 04:00:45 PM »
I can certainly see some of those as (fairly extreme) metaphorical extension. Others do seem to just be homophony.

I don't think any of those are just the same word used differently-- they all seem to be slightly different senses of the word. But some have metaphorical relationships with the other senses, while others don't.

But before saying more than that, please post your work so we can help you with your answers rather than doing your homework for you. Asking specific (rather than general) questions is encouraged.
Welcome to Linguist Forum! If you have any questions, please ask.

Offline DavidShan

  • Jr. Linguist
  • **
  • Posts: 18
Re: Homonymy & Polysemy (Not sure if I'm right, need help!)
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2014, 08:42:00 PM »
Hi djr33,

a)     “to run down (the stairs)” –
          “run down” here means running downward in a staircase.
  “to run down (the enemy)” –
          “run down” here means injuring or killing someone with vehicle.
  “to run down (a list of names)” –
          “run down” here means quickly reading everything on a list.

b)     “to spell (a word)” –
          “spell” here means to name, write, or otherwise give the letters, in order, of a word, syllable, etc.
  “(under) a spell” –
          “spell” here means enchanted; under the control of magic.
  “a (dry) spell” –
          “spell” here means to go for a period of time without something, which could be sex, drugs, etc.

c)     “the butt (of a rifle)” –
          “butt” here means thick end of the handle of a gun.
  “the butt (of a joke)” –
          “butt” here means the person or thing that other people often make jokes about.
  “to butt (as a ram)” –
          “butt” here means an animal hitting someone with its horns.

d)     “to pitch (a baseball)” –
          “pitch” here means to aim and throw a ball in baseball.
  “pitch (black)” –
           “pitch” here means completely black or dark.
  “the pitch (of one’s voice)” –
          “pitch” here means how high or low a note or other sound is, or the ability of a musician to play or sing a note at exactly the correct level.

This is what I have done so far. Apparently all of those words have different meanings. So I don't know how it is related to polysemy and metaphorical extension. Please let me know :)

Offline Daniel

  • Administrator
  • Experienced Linguist
  • *****
  • Posts: 2043
  • Country: us
    • English
Re: Homonymy & Polysemy (Not sure if I'm right, need help!)
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2014, 12:04:00 AM »
Think about, for example, in (a), how the meanings might be related. There is some kind of movement, so you could you see a possible metaphorical extension to explain those meanings?
Welcome to Linguist Forum! If you have any questions, please ask.