Aleksandr Sergeevich Trifonov

Postgraduate Student, Department of Linguistics and Intercultural Communication, Far Eastern Federal University ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Abstract. The article deals with the phenomena of polysemous and synonymous terminological units from the viewpoints of two fundamentally different approaches in terminology studies – traditional and sociocognitive. The author analyzes the current views on these phenomena shared by both Russian and foreign terminologists. The terminological polysemy and synonymy are traditionally considered to be the phenomena that hinder effective scientific and professional communication. Concerning the polysemy, the adherents of traditional terminological studies assert that the disadvantage of this phenomenon consists in the deviance of the relationship between the signifier and the signified. As a result, a polysemous term becomes dependent on the context. The terminological synonymy is thought of as an undesirable one as the specialists tend to look for difference between synonymous terms, which is sometimes insignificant. This may result in distortion of professional communication. From the viewpoint of traditional approach in terminological studies, the author provides the examples of terms from different scientific fields, illustrating the occurrence of these phenomena and briefly explains how they affect the perception of meaning of a specific term. Studying the opinion of the terminologists who support the sociocognitive approach, the author refers to the views of R. Temmerman who proposes certain provisions relating to the test question. Thus, in the framework of this approach she argues that the phenomena of polysemy and synonymy in terminology represent a certain stage of development of terminological vocabulary meanings that should not be considered as negative, but should be described for achieving more accurate professional communication. The analysis of these points of view on polysemy and synonymy allowed the author to draw a conclusion about advisability of describing certain terminological categories from the position of sociocognitive approach. At the same time, the author considers it necessary to clarify that the description of these phenomena in terminology is not considered as the only possible solution when working with polysemous and synonymous terms. So, the most significant efficiency can be achieved by combining the principles of both traditional and sociocognitive terminology.

Key words: polysemy, synonymy, term, traditional approach, sociocognitive approach, concept, meaning description


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POLYSEMY AND SYNONYMY AS THE FUNCTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF TERMS by Trifonov A.S. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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