Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University Bulletin, 2017, vol. 7, no. 6, pp. 263–280
81'23 / 81'373.421

Synonymic relations in language and utterance

Belov V. A. 1 (Cherepovets, Russian Federation)
1 Cherepovets State University

Introduction. The article considers the problem of distinguishing between language and context synonyms. It is widely agreed in structural linguistic tradition that language synonyms are the words with the identical or similar meanings. They are presented in the dictionaries of synonyms. Context synonyms are lexical items which have similar meanings only in an utterance; but they are not presented as synonyms in dictionaries. The purpose of the research is to identify , how synonymic relations are formed in discourse. The hypothesis is that context synonyms occur in utterances in similar situations.
Materials and Methods. The data used for this study come from (1) Russian dictionaries of synonyms; (2) the psycholinguistic experiment; (3) Russian National Corpora. Firstly, using the dictionaries of synonyms the author chose language synonyms. Secondly, the experiment enabled the author to identify context synonyms. In the experiment 116 subjects were recruited for this study; they were supposed to provide synonyms for suggested words. Finally, the author analyzed the meanings of language and context synonyms in corpora utterances. Information concerning frequency was also employed in the study. To illustrate the methodology, the author analyzed the synonymic set with the headword ‘ошибка’ (error).
Results. The research has shown that language and context synonyms have the same features in the context. They may specify and complement the denotative situation expressed by the headword. The headword of the synonymic group usually presents the generalized situation.
Conclusions. The method proposed by the author shows that synonyms are the words which may express the same slots (components) of a denotative situation. Synonym meanings operate only in utterance context. Therefore, the distinction of language and context synonyms was not proved.


Lexical semantics; Synonymy; Synonymic group; Synonymic set; Corpus research; Context-depend synonyms; Situational synonyms; Dictionaries of synonyms; Referential situation

Synonymic relations in language and utterance

For citation:
Belov V. A. Synonymic relations in language and utterance. Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University Bulletin, 2017, vol. 7, no. 6, pp. 263–280. DOI:
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Date of the publication 30.12.2017