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a concept that plays an important role in logic, logical semantics, and semiotics and represents a natural generalization of the corresponding linguistic concept (homonyms).

Homonymy is the graphic and/or phonetic correspondence of words (and, in general, signs, combinations of signs, and combinations of words) that differ in sense and/or meaning. For example, the Russian words luk (onion) and luk (bow) are not, despite widespread treatment as such, “one word with two different meanings” but two words (homonyms) with the same spelling and pronunciation. Homonymy does not necessarily presuppose, as in the above example, that homonyms have the same grammatical characteristics. Differences in grammatical function are encountered in homographs, which are, in fact, sometimes distinguished from homonyms proper. For example, Russian est’, “to eat,” and est’, “[there] is/are,” are two homonymic verbs in different moods. A sharper example is found in the Russian words tri, “three,” and tri, “rub!”

The more the grammatical categories of homonyms differ, the more likely it is that their meanings have nothing in common— all the more so if, generally speaking, there are reasons to suppose that homonymy was the chance result of word formation in natural languages. However, the semantic relatedness of homonyms with similar grammatical functions, although perhaps not obvious, becomes increasingly probable. For example, if one considers the words “field” (of wheat), “field” (of activity), and “field” (of vision), the first may (with a few reservations) be considered a homonym of the second and third, in the sense defined above. But the relatedness of the last two is obvious: each, with great justification, may be considered a synonym of such words as “area” and “sphere,” and therefore they may be regarded as synonyms of each other.

The term “polysemy” is used to describe situations in which different meanings (or shades of meaning) are present in one and the same word or identically understood words. The imprecision of such a definition of polysemy results from the fact that it is often difficult to distinguish clearly between cases of homonymy and polysemy: the former is an extreme case of the latter. For example, the Russian words, kosa, “braid,” kosa, “spit of land,” and kosa, “scythe,” are typical homonyms and at the same time are clearly related: each of them denotes something long, relatively thin, and, perhaps, slightly curved—in a word, kosoi, “oblique,” “slanting,” “sloping,” “squinting.” In fact, the different meanings of the verb kosit’, “to slant,” “to mow,” “to squint,” are obviously related. The obvious common etymology of these homonyms suggests that the situation be qualified as one of polysemy. Roughly speaking, homonymy is, in fact, “veiled” polysemy (except in cases where homonymy results from purely accidental coincidences of word forms).

Thus, homonymy and polysemy are an inalienable attribute of ordinary, natural languages and contribute to the expressiveness of the colloquial and literary language. But in scientific contexts, such as mathematics and logic, homonymy is unacceptable, and in juridical contexts it may even be dangerous. Therefore, for scientific and legal needs, professional jargons are preferred. These jargons represent a part of the common spoken or literary language selected in a special way, less flexible and rich than the language as a whole but better adapted to the needs of the field they serve. In such jargons, homonymy is eliminated by the use of an adequately developed system of definitions. It is true that even in the language of the exact sciences, intensional homonymy is not eliminated. For example, in the phrases “a square is an equilateral rectangle” and “a square is an equiangular rhombus,” the term “square” has different meanings. But the clearly formulated (or at least tacitly understood) principle of extensionality, according to which concepts with coinciding meanings coincide with one another, in any case results in the elimination of extensional homonymy: in both phrases, the word “square” designates the same object. Even more radical measures are being taken to eliminate ambiguities in terminology in the languages of formal systems (calculi).


References in periodicals archive ?
Nine-to twelve-year olds' metalinguistic awareness of homonymy.
S] and {, [MATHEMATICAL EXPRESSION NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], [MATHEMATICAL EXPRESSION NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] of such that, for 1 [less than or equal to] i < [less than or equal to] n, [MATHEMATICAL EXPRESSION NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is synonymous with [MATHEMATICAL EXPRESSION NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (iv) Homonymies: an homonymy states that two x-components have the same name and the same typology, but different meanings.
A pun exploits homonymy to bring distinct connotations into ironic proximity, as when the military connotation of "surface-to-ground" brushes up against the suggestion of a burrowing root.
These homonymy problems are aggravated by the fact that the key words are often mixed up, as on Technorati.
By introducing a character surnamed HADD, Borgmann devises a sentence using 16 consecutive HAD sounds; this is repeated in Problem 84: Repetitive Homonymy.
the stars themselves are neither the cause nor the signs of any event, while the planets about which we are speaking have nothing in common with them, save their name; nonetheless, it is precisely this common element, this homonymy which has been the cause for science having been subverted and there has been a resorting to all of those doctrines full of fictions [.
Homonymy is when the several meanings attaching to a character string are unrelated.
It may seem odd that the codes speak of establishing a stable nomenclature (or at least having a stable method of applying names), whereas much of what is in them has to do with the management of a system in which synonymy, homonymy, and recombination--all mediated under the concept of priority--are paramount concerns.
The homonymy of the lead males -- director Val, producer Hal, agent Al -- suggests a narrow range of film industry personality, but it also implies their root in Allen.
Mary was the only one who employed a form of homonymy, that is, knowledge of sound relationships to guess the meaning of an unknown word.
The principles of synonymy and homonymy are at the heart of the most influential treatise on language use in the sixteenth century, Erasmus's De Utraque Verborem ac Return Copia (1512).
The grammatical homonymy, which arises from the orthographic treatment of taparsi (normally functioning as an adverb or an adjective but here treated as a proper noun), creates different rhythmic patterns.