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Semantics of body parts names (contrastive approach)

Elena Materinskaja (Faculty of foreign languages, Donetsk National University)

1. The research deals with the description of the semantics concerning the human body parts names (BPN) in the English language in comparison with the German, Ukrainian and Russian languages. The main purposes of the work are as follows: to study the origin of BPN, to describe their semantic development, to reveal the differences and the similarities in the semantics of the equivalent units in the above mentioned languages. The analysis is conducted at the diachronic and synchronistic levels and covers two functional styles of the language: slang and the neutral style. The selected corpus makes up 251 BPN.

2. The names of the body parts belong to the most ancient lexical layer, many of them have the common Indo-European, Germanic or Slavonic origin. The analyzed lexemes are characterized by the high level of polysemy, high frequency of occurrence, by their great importance for the human being in terms of the world perception and categorization. The selected nouns are considered under the framework of partonomy relations, they reveal some universal and some specific features of the meaning development in the considered languages and thus they present a model for the complex study of the semantic potential of the basic lexical units.

2.1.The research demonstrates how the primary and the secondary meanings of BPN develop, explains the universal and specific features of such semantic derivation by the genetic, anthropological, mental factors. The introduced index of polysemy helps to compare the ability of developing polysemy in different functional styles of the language as well as in each particular language. The research is accomplished by the statistic data, which makes the conclusions more precise.

2.1.1.The achieved results allow to:
1) differentiate between two stages in the meaning development of BPN. At the first stage the primary meaning of BPN appeared, at the second stage – their secondary meanings. At the first stage semantic transfers found place mainly according to a model: objects → BPN, while at the second stage vice versa from BPN onto the objects.
2) distinguish several metaphorical and metonymical types of BPN meaning development. The metaphorical type of BPN meaning development is prevailing in the neutral style while the metonymical type is dominant in slang. In the neutral style the most widespread metaphorical models of BPN secondary meaning development are those in the accordance with their form and function; the most frequent metonymical model is the model: BPN → human being. In slang the most frequent model of BPN meaning development is metonymical transfer from BPN onto a human being under social criteria, appearance, age, temper characteristics, family relations.
3) The secondary meanings of BPN acquire in slang some shade of negative attitude towards the initial image, the most negative features of a human being in his appearance or character are noticed – finger ‘eccentric, funny man’, russ. pupok ‘a young man (contemptuously)’.

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