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The adjectives fatal, mortal and deadly - a corpus-based analysis of their meanings
2002 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor)Student thesis
Abstract [en]

Dictionaries often give us a misleading indication that words are synonymous. As an example the three words fatal, mortal and deadly are defined as follows: fatal: ‘deadly’, mortal: ‘fatal’, deadly: ‘cause fatal injury’ (Oxford Concise Dictionary). From these circular definitions we can get the impression that these words are synonyms. Since synonymy presupposes identical meaning relations between two words and needs to be defined in terms of context it can be interesting to investigate to what extent this really is the case with fatal, mortal and deadly. Furthermore we can ask ourselves why we would have three words for the same meaning if there really is no difference in meaning. The aim of this paper is to investigate the meanings of the adjectives fatal, mortal and deadly. By using a corpus of British newspapers, I have examined the collocations, the words that keep them company, of each adjective to try to see to what degree the investigated words can be used interchangeably. Comparative analyses have been made in cases where the adjectives have overlapping meanings. The results of this investigation indicate that fatal, mortal and deadly are mostly used in different collocational patterns and with different meanings which show that they cannot be classified as synonyms with a widely interchangeable use.

Abstract [en]

Dictionaries often give us a misleading indication that words are synonymous. As an example the three words fatal, mortal and deadly are defined as follows: fatal: ‘deadly’, mortal: ‘fatal’, deadly: ‘cause fatal injury’ (Oxford Concise Dictionary). From these circular definitions we can get the impression that these words are synonyms. Since synonymy presupposes identical meaning relations between two words and needs to be defined in terms of context it can be interesting to investigate to what extent this really is the case with fatal, mortal and deadly. Furthermore we can ask ourselves why we would have three words for the same meaning if there really is no difference in meaning. The aim of this paper is to investigate the meanings of the adjectives fatal, mortal and deadly. By using a corpus of British newspapers, I have examined the collocations, the words that keep them company, of each adjective to try to see to what degree the investigated words can be used interchangeably. Comparative analyses have been made in cases where the adjectives have overlapping meanings. The results of this investigation indicate that fatal, mortal and deadly are mostly used in different collocational patterns and with different meanings which show that they cannot be classified as synonyms with a widely interchangeable use.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2002. , 28 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53705Local ID: ENG C-14OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53705DiVA: diva2:1102265
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf