Chapter 7 Changes in Word Meaning
7.1 types of changes
---Class 0610杜萱
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
rub means obstacle, respect means consideration
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
office means high officials, bare means mere, bourn means
boundary, and ill means evil.
娃 美女
二毛 老人
• Quirks:
• ‘almost every word we use today has a
slightly different meaning from the on it
had a century ago; and a century ago it
had a slightly different meaning from the
one it had a century before that.’
7.1.Types of Change
1. Extension of Meaning (Generalization)
• a word with an original specialized meaning
a broader and often less definite concept
eg. the word “picture”
painting (original meaning)
(extended meaning)
Old Meaning
a place for storing
only barley
father’s sister
a quality that could it can equally be
only be applied to applied to
women as well
one who is not
of clergy
father or
mother’s sister
non-member of
any profession
Generalization of meaning in technical terms
Computer science: feedback
Medical term: allergic (too sensitive to medicine)
averse or disinclined to
Chemistry: catalyst (催化剂) (a substance which, without
itself changing, causes chemical activity to
Something that facilitates a change
Words generalized from proper names
eg1: valentine
eg2: Solomon
profoundly wise
eg3: CNN
[adj] irresponsible
Saint Valentine
the patron saint of lovers
King Solomon
King of Israel in the 10th century B.C.,
famed for his wise
Cable News Network (CNN)
[n] news media
Polysemic words are also generalized in the course of
Thing. (originally meant ‘deliberative assembly’)
eg: 1. What’s the next thing we have to do?
(an act, deed)
2. The murder was a terrible thing, wasn’t it?
(an event)
3. The next thing is for you to get well again.
(an aim or effort)
4. He says the first thing that comes into his head.
(an idea)
5. She was wearing the latest thing in shoes.
(the fashion or custom)
2. Narrowing of Meaning. (Specialization)
• a word with a more general meaning
a narrower or specialized meaning
eg: starve
to die
(original meaning)
to die of cold
(in middle English)
to die of hunger
( the 16th century---now)
Old Meaning
any dog
a hunting dog
any bird
a domesticated
a horizon
any horizon
decorated by
young person of female young
either sex
• From common nouns to proper nouns.
eg: 1. city--- large town
City---part of London governed by Lord Mayor
and Corporation, the business part of this,
commercial circles.
2. mediterranean---(of land) remote from coast
or (of water area) landlocked.
Mediterranean---the Mediterranean Sea
• For economy, some phrases are shorten to
retain the whole meaning.
eg: a general = a general officer
a private = a private solider
Material nouns refer to objects made of them
and thus have a morespecific sense.
eg:silver---silver dollar
iron---device for smoothing clothes
• Sometimes extension and narrowing may
take place in the same word.
eg: slay--- to strike
to give a blow
generalized meaning---to kill by any method.
specialized meaning---to kill by a blow
• Generalization and specialization are
closely related.
• The former is less common than the latter,
because language in every life is directed
towards the concrete and specific rather
than towards the abstract and gerenal.
• Thanks for listening~