Semantics, Sense and Lexical Relations - Introduction to Linguistics - Lecture Slides, Slides for Linguistics. English and Foreign Languages University

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Description: Semantics, Sense, Lexical Relations, Lexical Relations and the Dictionary, Synonyms and Register, Synonyms in English, Layers of Vocabulary in English, Hyponymy, Puns and Polysemy represents lecture layout.
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LING1001: Semantics 2

Word meaning:

Sense and

lexical relations

Sense revisited

 Sense (see Semantics 1): the concept

associated with a word, which determines

how it is used

 One view of sense: the sense of a word is

made up of the relationships between this

word and other words of the same language

E.g. hot is the antonym (opposite) of cold

A structuralist view

of sense  Structuralism: a view of language as a self-

contained system in which all parts relate

to other parts of the system (Saussure)

 "The sense of an expression may be

defined as the set, or network, of sense-

relations that hold between it and other

expressions of the same language." (Lyons,

1995, p.80)

Sense and lexical relations

Lexical relations: the set of meaning relationships

between words

e.g. warm is an antonym of cool, and a synonym of

hot which is an antonym of cold

-> The lexicon forms a network linked by meaning

relationships

Lexical relations and the dictionary

 A dictionary aims to define the sense(s)of a word

 In doing so it implicitly uses lexical relations:

fate: destiny or fortune apparently determined by fate. (Longman Dictionary of the English Language.)

 fate defined through its synonym destiny

 Circularity may arise: fate… fate

Synonyms and register

 Can two words have the same meaning?

- not if sense consists of contrasting with other words, as in the structuralist definition

 Synonyms in English often result from lexical borrowing

 The borrowed word typically belongs to a higher (more formal) register

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Synonyms in English

 Germanic origin,

colloquial register

buy

get

talk about

mad

freedom

 Latinate origin,

formal register

purchase

acquire

discuss

insane

liberty

Layers of vocabulary in English  Germanic vocabulary:

(a) words inherited from proto-Germanic, the common ancestor of English, German, Swedish etc (more on this in LING1003)

(b) words borrowed from other Germanic languages, especially Old Norse (skirt) and Middle Dutch (dam)

 Latinate vocabulary: borrowed words, originally from Latin, often via French or Italian

Hyponymy

 If true synonyms are rare or non-existent, perhaps

related words may be more accurately described as

hyponyms of each other (Lyons 1977, 2005)

 A is a hyponym of B if the sense of A is a subset of

the sense of B

E.g. weed is a hyponym of plant

scarlet is a hyponym of red

profound is a hyponym of deep

Polysemy

 Greek poly (many) + semy (meaning) =

‘having many meanings’

 Recall that mean and meaning are

themselves polysemous words:

mean (v): 1. refer to; 2. intend; 3. indicate

Puns and polysemy

Q: Which story in the Bible involves tennis?

A: The one in which Moses

served in Pharaoh’s court

serve: 1. Carry out tasks for another person

2. Begin play by introducing the ball

court: 1. Place where a king receives guests

2. One side of the net in tennis

Polysemy versus homonymy

 Polysemy: multiple (related) meanings of the same words

gwai2: ‘ghost’ or ‘foreigner’

 Homonymy: two words sharing the same form – phonological (homophones) or orthographic (homographs)

Q:What do Paddington and Winnie the Pooh pack for their vacations?

A: The bear essentials

[the bare essentials]

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Metonymy

 Relatedness by association

The bassoon is an idiot

(= the person playing the bassoon)

 Part for whole: use of the term for part of something to signify the whole thing

Nice wheels!

(= you have a nice car)

Meronymy

 Relationship between part and whole

body

arm leg

finger toe

fingernail toenail

Summary

 Lexical relations are one way in which the

sense(s) of a word can be described

 The dictionary uses lexical relations to

define the sense(s) of words

 Problem of circularity arises if word

meanings consist only of lexical relations

 Next lecture: meanings as concepts

References

 Cruse, David. (1986) Lexical Semantics. Cambridge University Press.

 Hofmann, Th.R. (1993) Realms of meaning: An Introduction to Semantics. Longman.

 Leech, Geoffrey (1974) Semantics. Penguin

 Lyons, John (1995) An Introduction to Linguistic Semantics. Cambridge University Press.

 Saeed, John (1997). Semantics. Blackwell.

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