Words in English public website
Ling/Engl 215 course information
Rice University
Prof. S. Kemmer

Study Guide: Midterm #2 Review

Fall 2011

Midterm #2 will cover chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7, class discussions, and web pages linked to course schedule. It focuses on these topics: allomorphy and types of allomorphy, phonetics, semantic change and its various types, etymology, dictionaries/lexicography, the OED, and in addition the topics that are continuing topics through the course, namely parsing, a small amount on loanword sources (particularly based on the information in Chapter 6), and neologism types.

By now you should have mastered the morphological concepts introduced in the first part of the course. The midterm will build on concepts introduced in the previous chapters, particularly concepts relating to morphology and allomorphy, and identification and parsing of words introduced or discussed in class and quizzes. The material on phonetics relates to and builds on the concepts involving allomorphy.

Here are some skills the second midterm will test:

  • understanding of the nature of allomorphy and reasons it comes about
  • A deeper understanding of the relation of spelling and pronunciation and how spelling can diverge from pronunciation
  • recognition of types of allomorphy

  • ability to recognize and produce examples of various types of semantic change
  • understanding of the cognitive processes underlying semantic change, particularly metaphor and metonymy
  • knowledge of some specific word histories discussed in class and on web links

  • understanding of the nature of dictionaries
  • ability to read complex dictionary entries such as those in the OED, and extract information about etymology, polysemy, and semantic change.


    allomorphs, allomorphy            assimilation
    ablaut                            metathesis
    rhotacism                         deletion 
    weakening                         insertion
    consonants                        fricative
    voicing                           affricate
    larynx (voice box), vocal chords  nasal
    place of articulation             liquid
    lips, bilabial                    approximant
    labiodental                       lateral
    interdental                       voicing assimilation
    alveolar, alveolar ridge          place assimilation
    palatal-alveolar                  manner assimilation
      ( = alveo-palatal)              partial & total assimilation
    hard palate, palatal              vowels
    soft palate (velum), velar        vowel frontness: front/central/back
    glottis, glottal                  vowel height: high/mid/low
    manner of articulation            diphthong
    stop, oral stop (plosive)         sounds vs. letters (pronunciation
                                        vs. spelling) - terms above all
    				    apply to SOUNDS not letters
    Semantic change
    polysemy                          widening (broadening, generalization)
    metaphor                          narrowing (specialization)
    metonymy                          taboo
    eponymy                           euphemism
    synechdoche (= part for whole)    cycle of euphemism
    amelioration (melioration)        technological change as factor in
    pejoration (degeneration)           semantic change
    Some clarifications on types of semantic change (or cognitive
    processes that can lead to change)  that are sometimes
    Metaphor vs. metonymy
    Metaphor is the use of a word for one concept to mean another, similar
    concept. Metaphor involves some perceived similarity between two
    things. ('Thing' is used in a very broad sense here.) Metonymy does
    For example, the word FORK can mean the place where a road or path
    splits into two roads. This meaning of FORK is metaphorical: it is
    based on the shape similarity between instruments with prongs, like
    the forks you eat with or the barbecue tool for spearing meat, and the
    configuration of roads or paths on the ground: Two or more longish things
    emerging from a joined base. Metaphor can be called domain shift
    because we use it to think about concepts in one domain (area of
    experience) in terms of another domain. We use language of the domain
    we better understand, to talk about the concepts we don't understand
    or don't know how to describe so well. 
    Some similarities are not visual, but are actually mental (cognitive)
    similarities. The many metaphors involving spatial terms being used
    for temporal concepts shows that we view time and space as similar in
    their basic configurations.  Also, when we speak of LOUD colors, or a
    SHARP taste, we are taking words from the domain of perception of
    various kinds, and using them to talk about another kind of
    perception. LOUD is usually about sounds in English, but a color that
    is visually striking can be said to be loud.
    Metonymy is a change or process in which there are two things close
    together - they occur in the same situation - and we use the word for
    one to mean the other. If we said "I hear a piano", what we are
    actually hearing is music (or at least noise from the piano), but we
    use the word for the object producing it to refer to that noise.  "The
    same situation" is often described as "the same place and
    time". Perhaps situation is a clearer formulation.  An example for
    semantic change would be the change of the word MONEY, which
    originally meant, in Latin, 'warning, one who warns'. The word was
    first applied to the temple of Juno Moneta, the warning or guardian
    goddess of the Romans, and then came to be applied to her temple, and
    later to something that came out of that temple, namely coins. In Rome
    Juno's temple was the place used for coining money. (Later more
    temples to Juno were built in other places and were also used this
    way).  The person/goddess was associated with her name (person and
    name are in same situation); then the name was associated with a
    temple (goddess was in same situation as temple, since people were
    worshipping her in there), and then with a product made in the temple
    (temple and product were in the same situation). At each stage the
    word's use was extended to a concept in the same situation as the
    earlier concept, resulting in a long chain of metonymies in this
    example. There is nothing metaphorical about the relations between the
    goddess and the temple, or the temple and the money. It wasn't
    similarity that allowed people to extend the word, but rather these
    situational connections.
    Synechdoche and eponymy are specific types of metonymy. All involved
    situational "contiguity" (nearness in time and space).
    Broadening/generalization vs. metaphor and metonymy
    Broadening, like narrowing, is specifically about types and subtypes:
    the word for a specific type of thing or action comes to be used for
    the general type that INCLUDES the original thing or action.  So, the
    English word DOG, originally a word for a particular breed of dog, now
    means 'dog' in general. The new meaning includes the old concept but
    is more general ('general' here MEANS inclusive); it is a more general
    TYPE of thing or action.
    Metaphors don't really involve inclusion. They are about similarity in
    two different domains of experience. So even though a metaphorical
    meaning might SEEM more general than the original meaning, it is not,
    in the sense that semanticists use the word GENERAL.  Example: LONG
    meaning 'extended for a considerable period in time' is a metaphorical
    usage based on simlarity of spatial and temporal longness (based more
    fundamentally on the perception of time as being line-like).  The word
    LONG did acquire a temporal sense, so it might seem that it is more
    general than if it just meant 'extended a considerable distance in
    space'. But that is not what we mean by general in terms of semantic
    change, or else all cases of increasing polysemy would be
    generalization. But they are not. Temporal longness is not a more
    general (inclusive) type of longness than spatial longness. It is just
    a DIFFERENT type of longness.
    The same arguments apply to metonymy. A metonymic extension might, it
    is true, yield greater polysemy, like when the word MONEY first came
    to mean 'coins; currency' in addition to its original meaning.  But
    that does not mean it refers to a more general TYPE of thing. Coins
    are not a more general type of thing that also includes temples or the
    warning goddess.  They are a kind of thing that happened to be in
    situations where those earlier kinds of things were mentioned.
    So watch out for the difference between generalization vs.  types of
    change that involve increasing polysemy or layperson's other potential
    interpretations of generality. Generalization/broadening in semantics
    always mean 'process of coming to refer to a more general TYPE of
    thing/action, which includes the more specific types it used to
    refer to exclusively. 
    Dictionaries and etymology
    relation of etymology and parsing
    folk etymology, false etymologies, hoax etymologies
    Samuel Johnson
    Noah Webster
    authoritative sources
    standard definition; extended definitions 
    citations (quotations)
    the OED (Oxford English Dictionary)
    relation of definitions and semantic change in OED


    Review Parsing page
    Review Sound terminology page

    Word formation

    Review word formation types, for purposes of recognizing examples. Neologisms discussed in class might be asked about.

    zero-derivation = conversion
    compounds, compounding
    folk etymology
    blends, blending
    acronym, initialism

    © 2011 Suzanne Kemmer
    Last modified 26 Oct 11