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The Dominant Synonym

The attentive reader will have noticed that in the previous chapter much use was made of the numerous synonyms of the verb to look, and yet, the verb to look itself was never mentioned. That doesn't seem fair because it is, certainly, a verb which possesses the highest frequency of use compared with its synonyms, and so plays an important role in communication. Its role and position in relation to its synonyms is also of some importance as it presents a kind of centre of the group of synonyms, as it were, holding it together.

Its semantic structure is quite simple: it consists only of denotative component and it has no connotations.

All (or, at least, most) synonymic groups have a "central" word of this kind whose meaning is equal to the denotation common to all the synonymic group. This word is called the dominant synonym.

Here are examples of other dominant synonyms with their groups:

To surpriseto astonish — to amaze — to astound.

To shout — to yell — to bellow — to roar. To shine — to flash — to blaze — to gleam — to glisten — to sparkle — to glitter — to shimmer — to glimmer.

To trembleto shiver — to shudder — to shake.

To maketo produce — to create — to fabricate — to manufacture.

Angryfurious — enraged.

Fearterror — horror.

The dominant synonym expresses the notion common to all synonyms of the group in the most general way, without contributing any additional information as to the manner, intensity, duration or any attending feature of the referent. So, any dominant synonym is a typical basic-vocabulary word (see Ch. 2). Its meaning, which is broad and generalized, more or less "covers" the meanings of the rest of the synonyms, so that it may be substituted for any of them. It seems that here, at last, the idea of interchangeability of synonyms comes into its own. And yet, each such substitution would mean an irreparable loss of the additional information supplied by connotative components of each synonym. So, using to look instead of to glare, to stare, to peep, to peer we preserve the general sense of the utterance but lose a great deal in precision, expressiveness and colour.

Summing up what has been said, the following characteristic features of the dominant synonym can be underlined:

I. High frequency of usage.

II. Broad combinability, i. e. ability to be used in combinations with various classes of words.

III. Broad general meaning.

IV. Lack of connotations. (This goes for stylistic connotations as well, so that neutrality as to style is also a typical feature of the dominant synonym.)

Дата публикования: 2014-11-28; Прочитано: 2550 | Нарушение авторского права страницы | Мы поможем в написании вашей работы!

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