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Topics for discussion
This seminar will enable students:
Task 1. Give the definition of the linguistic terms below. Transcribe the terms:
semiotics, semiosis, semantics, semasiology, onomasiology, a sign, a semiotic triangle, meaning, componential analysis, a seme, a semantic marker, a semantic distinguisher, semantic change, semantic derivation, metaphor, metonymy, generalisation of meaning, specialisation of meaning, amelioration of meaning, pejoration of meaning, a euphemism, political correctness, polysemy, a lexico-semantic variant, homonymy, a homonym, a homograph, a homophone, context.
Task 2. Using an explanatory dictionary, carry out componential analysis of these groups of words. Determine their semantic markers and semantic distinguishers. Define types of connotation.
Task 3. Using an etymological dictionary, comment on the semantic development of the words below:
holiday, notorious, ready, voyage, queen, picture, saloon, gossip, ketchup, censure.
Task 4. What linguistic phenomenon does this excerpt from the poem ‘Burnt Norton’ by T. S. Eliot illustrate? Give linguistic evidence to your answer.
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still.
Task 5. Explain the logic of the transference of meaning in the words and word-groups given below. Group them in accordance with the type.
a shark (‘a person who has an unusual ability in a particular field’), to count heads, sandwich, the heart of a city, an Adonis, to have an eye for fashion, brave hearts, to fish for a compliment, a gateway to success, an Othello, flourishing black market, naked facts, Fleet Street, to burn with desire, a Don Quixote, factory hands, a fox (‘clever and good at deceiving people’), Wellingtons, to digest the information, to have a word with sb.
Task 6. Give direct words to the euphemisms below. What can be the logical reasons for using them?
Task 7. What linguistic phenomenon are the following jokes based upon: polysemy or homonymy? Give reasons for the choice made.
Willie: Engaged! She’s married!
Mr Brown: Yes, Your Honour!
Judge: In what suit?
Mr Brown: In my blue serge.
Shop-assistant: Something light?
Customer: That doesn’t matter. I have my car with me.
Tom: No, and I don’t think he intends to, because he's studying for a bachelor's degree.
Sam: Yes, dear, certainly. What’s your telephone number?
John: Many thanks, but I have one.
Task 8. Identify the linguistic phenomenon the groups of words below illustrate. Establish their types and define the difference in their meanings.
August – august; a well – well; a sight – a site – to cite; He – he; to bow – a bow; friends – friend’s – friends’; lean – to lean; air – an heir; Italic – italic; to desert – a desert; Lent – lent; a night – a knight; a minute – minute; a suite – sweet; to lead – lead; a jam – jam; Polish – polish, a pine – to pine.
Task 9. Read the extract from the article Forget Fame: Eurovision Crown No-Names from Azerbaijan taken from the weekly magazine The Time and do the tasks that follow.
In the run-up to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, celebrity contestants dominated the headlines and the bookies’ odds tables. But during the grand finale European voters bypassed all the celebrity hype in favour of Ell & Nikki – two unknowns from Azerbaijan singing a ballad about the madness of love.
Although critics dismiss Eurovision as a cultural eyesore for its garish outfits and lyrics seemingly written with Google Translate, it remains the world’s most watched non-sporting event, drawing more than 120 million viewers annually. For the devoted fans who make pilgrimages to these finals, and for the contestants dreaming of pan-European stardom, Eurovision is practically their religion, its songs their holy scripture.
But look past the glitter and sequins, and the contest transforms into a barometer of contemporary Europe. This year’ Belarusian contestant delivered a patriotic ode to her motherland called “I Love Belarus,” an effort to give the nation something to sing about following months of mass demonstrations against the embattled President <...>.
At Eurovision, though, European voters sent the popular, outspoken group packing in the semifinals. Perhaps they should have taken a cue from the Azeris, who ignored politics in favour of good old-fashioned schmaltz – the cornerstone of any strong Eurovision ballad. Their song “Running Scared” tells the story of a man and woman frightened by their mutual obsession. “I’m running, I’m scared tonight / I’m running, I’m scared of life / I’m running, I’m scared of breathing / ‘Cause I adore you”. After the victory, it looks like Europe adores them too.