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Investigation on Productivity of Synonym Words with Different Semantic Prosody in English

, Masih Rahimi Nezhad

Abstract: “Semantic prosody” has been researched since the first claim of Sinclair in (1987). Since then, semantic prosody became one of the most important issues in language studies as a linguistic phenomenon. In 1993, Louw defined semantic prosody as a special tendency of words, which might be in a pleasant environment that creates a ‘positive semantic prosody’ or in an unpleasant environment that creates a ‘negative semantic prosody’. The current research is based on a corpus analysis design, in “COCA” and “COHA”. Two synonym pair words of “Start/Begin” and “Guide/Lead to” were chosen as a case study. Representative number of each word was estimated by “Cochran’s formula”. This study is concentrated on investigation of the fact that while negative semantic prosodies are much more frequent than words with positive semantic prosody, but based on the linguistic positivity bias and “The Pollyanna hypothesis” which is introduced by Boucher and Osgood (1969), in English, the productivity of words with positive semantic prosody in synonym pairs, is more than productivity of negative semantic productivity. This fact might be due to the social interactions, the emotional content of words and linguistic behavior. It is notable to say that people tend to talk more about the brighter side than the darker side of life. This discrepancy makes words’ choosing somehow problematic for translators and English learners.
Keywords: semantic prosody / words / linguistic / side / behavior / English / synonym pair

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