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The three stages of gradual phonetic assimilation of French borrowings can be illustrated by different phonetic variants of the word garage:


Grammatical adaptation consists in a complete change of the former paradigm of the borrowed word (i. e. system of the grammatical forms peculiar to it as a part of speech). If it is a noun, it is certain to adopt, sooner or later, a new system of declension; if it is a verb, it will be conjugated according to the rules of the recipient language. Yet, this is also a lasting process. The Russian noun пальто was borrowed from French early in the 19th c. and has not yet acquired the Russian system of declension. The same can be said about such English Renaissance borrowings as datum (pl. data), phenomenon (pl. phenomena), criterion (pl. criteria) whereas earlier Latin borrowings such as cup, plum, street, wall were fully adapted to the grammatical system of the language long ago.

By semantic adaptation is meant adjustment to the system of meanings of the vocabulary. It has been mentioned that borrowing is generally caused either by the necessity to fill a gap in the vocabulary or by a chance to add a synonym conveying an old concept in a new way. Yet, the process of borrowing is not always so purposeful, logical and efficient as it might seem at first sight. Sometimes a word may be borrowed "blindly", so to speak, for no obvious reason, to find that it is not wanted because there is no gap in the vocabulary nor in the group of synonyms which it could conveniently fill. Quite a number of such "accidental" borrowings are very soon rejected by the vocabulary and forgotten. But there are others which manage to take root by the process of semantic adaptation. The adjective large, for instance, was borrowed from French in the meaning of "wide". It was not actually wanted, because it fully coincided with the English adjective wide without adding

3. «Лексикология»


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