A Case Study of Absolute Synonymy

While it seems safe to say that both believers and non-believers in absolute-synonymy would agree that if it does exist it is indeed rare. Cruse (2000:155) cites two word sets that are sometimes mentioned as strong candidates for absolute synonyms. However he quickly concedes that in any typical class there will be students who will find contextual fallacies between the two.

I consider myself one of those hypothetical students and I will take a closer look at his second example: (2) pullover : sweater (Cruse 2000:1 57)

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It would certainly be hard to launch a debate claiming these two words have much substantial difference. However, according to Girdler, (1998:97) “It would be wasteful for a language to have two terms that occur in exactly the same contexts and with exactly the same sense. ” Therefore, regardless of which word was conceived first, it Mould be senseless to produce a carbon copy of the same word. A new word would only be conceived if there was reason to believe the original could not conjure the same connotation, no matter how trivial it may be.

Given the limitless, pinpoint recession language allows in expression, it would seem unnecessary for a word with absolute pure compatibility to even manifest without the purpose of serving the fulfillment of another contextual situation no matter how minute or scarce that Finally, it is worth noting that pullover is commonly used as an adjective nuance is. To describe a type of sweater and not vice versa.

And interestingly enough, a simple Internet image search reveals two very different sets of photos for each word. This suggests people have a different mental of image each word in mind.

Cruse himself states “only one differentiating context is needed to disqualify a pair of Selected References Clark, David D. , and Enrich, Brigit. (2003).

Polymers:Flexible Patterns of Meaning in Mind and Language Cruse, Alan (2004). Second language instruction does make a difference: Evidence from an empirical study. Meaning in Language: An Introduction to Semantics and Pragmatics: 155-157. Schubert, Julia. (2001)