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Kenny同志

Is the word bisemous acceptable?

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Kenny同志

Since the word polysemous is common, I presume bisemous would be acceptable, but is it really so?

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gato

Do a search on Google News or Yahoo News, and you will see that "polysemous" is not common.

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Kenny同志

But at least the word is not rare - it has 63,500 hits in Google Books.

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gato

How does this compare with other words? What are the titles of the books?

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li3wei1

What do you mean by 'acceptable'? You won't be arrested for using it, or accused of not knowing English, but you'll be marked as someone who reads dull books and uses 'dictionary words'.

Advice: Don't accuse anyone bigger than you, and with a smaller vocabulary, of being bisemous.

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realmayo

I googled bisemous and this page is the #1 result.

Polysemous is not a common word unless perhaps you read a lot about linguistics. Personally, I had to look the word up to remind myself of the meaning!

It doesn't follow that you can replace "poly-" with "bi-" to create an acceptable word.

I'd like to be marked as someone who reads dull books!

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WestTexas

Polysemous is not common. I only know it because I'm a writer and an English teacher who sometimes reads about grammar, linguistics, etc. I think 95% of Americans would not know it. Maybe more. Bisemous isn't in Webster's, so I would say no, it's not OK.

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tooironic

"Bisemous" is hardly attestable in available literature; given there are less than 40 hits on Google Books, it seems to be a very rare linguistic term. It is also not defined in any modern English dictionary.

"Polysemous" is a word, albeit an uncommon word one to come up in conversation. I mean, I know it... but I'm a language nerd.

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Kenny同志

Thanks for all the feedback, everybody. I think I will need to think of a new way to say 双义(词) – yeah, this word is rare too. I started this thread because I thought bisemous would be a nice option if it could work but I wasn’t sure.

As an aside, the word polysemous is indeed uncommon in literature and everyday conversations yet in the typical register where it is used, I wouldn’t say it’s rare.

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gato

"Typical register" is not a common phrase, either, and I am not sure what you mean by it. :-)

Do you mean that "polysemous" is commonly used in the study of linguistics?

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li3wei1

I think it should be considered 'jargon', i.e. something that one uses with a small set of people, that on the one hand means something to them, and on the other hand serves to mark you as one of them and exclude people who don't understand the word from your group. There are plenty of technical terms like this that you won't find in a dictionary, but will be 'acceptable' amongst small groups of specialists.

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Kenny同志

I mean it's not rare in a certain register, for example in academic language dealing with linguistics.

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Kenny同志

Yes, it's jargon, which I think is acceptable in what I am writing. :mrgreen:

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tooironic

Err, Kenny I think you may just told taught a native speaker of English a new word.^^

Gato, "register" refers to how the language you speak changes according to how formal or informal you need to be. The word in Chinese is 語域 (not a common word either, and rarely known by native speakers of Chinese too).

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Kenny同志

Ah, I though register was a word which most of us were familiar with.

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gato

I know what "register" means, but I am not sure it was used correctly here.

How common "polysemous" is depends on what topic you are discussing, not on the register of discussion.

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WestTexas

register refers to formality/informality. For example, for the same meaning, from most casual to most formal, you could have 'banging', 'sex', 'intercourse' and 'coitus'. In English this is mostly reflected by word choice, but other languages have more formal systems for register.

Kenny, maybe you could consider "not rare in a certain field" rather than register.

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Kenny同志

Gato, I think you're right about it. Thanks for correcting me.

WestTexas, thanks for helping me better understand the word. I appreciate it.

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Kenny同志
Do a search on Google News or Yahoo News, and you will see that "polysemous" is not common.
"Bisemous" is hardly attestable in available literature; given there are less than 40 hits on Google Books,

Hey, I have another question: is in interchangeable with on here? If not, could somebody tell me why?

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