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Select analysis of the adjective big and It's synonymic set

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Semantics is the branch of linguistics that deals with the study of meaning, changes in meaning, and the principles that govern the relationship between sentences or words and their meanings. (World English Dictionary)

One part of semantics concerning sense relations includes both synonymy and antonymy. As antonymy “deals with the oppositeness of meaning” (Jackson 1988: 64), synonymy reflects the similarity of meaning. “The term ‘synonymy’ derives from Greek and its two parts (syn- + -nymy) mean ‘same +name’: synonymy deals with sameness of meaning, more than one word having the same meaning, or alternatively the same meaning being expressed by more than one word” (Jackson 1988: 64). Other sources containing information about synonymy give a very similar definition of the term.  As Howard Jackson explains, synonymy “is used in modern semantics to refer to a relationship of sameness of meaning that may hold between two words” (Jackson 2000: 92). John Ibrahim Saeed explains that “synonyms are different phonological words which have the same or very similar meaning” (Saeed 1997). Another important thing is the purpose or need of synonymy. Synonyms are frequently used to strengthen lexical cohesion within a text, expand vocabulary, and make the text less monotonous, more interesting and descriptive.

The aim of this course paper is to describe synonyms in terms of origin, geographical location (dialect), style (formal/informal), domain or register (technical or common), attitude (connotation) and sensitivity (euphemism).  Then, using the information presented in the theoretical part this paper will analyse the adjective big and its synonymic set. The adjective big has several meanings but the most important and most frequenly used are: “large in size” and “important, serious”. As the chosen meaning of the adjective big in this paper is “large in size, degree or amount”, the synonymic set includes the selection of these 15 synonymous words: astronomical,  Brobdingnagian, colossal, elephantine, enormous, Gargantuan, giant, gigantic, hulking, humongous, mammoth, prodigious, stupendous, titanic and whacking. These words were selected from A Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms by Alan Spooner. The main aim of this selection was to find the most interesting and the most rarely used synonyms which may contain interesting facts about their origin and the cases of unusual use.

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  • SUMMARY…………………………………………………………………….1
  • INTRODUCTION1
  • THEORETICAL PART2
  • ANALYTICAL PART…………………………………………………… …6
  • CONCLUSIONS…………………………………………………………11
  • REFERENCES……………………………………………………………………12
  • APPENDIX A……………………………………………………………………13