Semantics, Sense and Lexical Relations - Introduction to Linguistics - Lecture Slides, Slides for Linguistics. English and Foreign Languages University
ashakiran21 November 2012

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

PDF (271 KB)
3 pages
3Number of download
1000+Number of visits
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.
Download points needed to download
this document
Download the document
Preview3 pages / 3
Download the document
Microsoft PowerPoint - Semantics2-2012.ppt [Compatibility Mode]


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


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


Synonyms in English

 Germanic origin,

colloquial register



talk about



 Latinate origin,

formal register






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


 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


 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]



 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)


 Relationship between part and whole


arm leg

finger toe

fingernail toenail


 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


 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.

comments (0)
no comments were posted
be the one to write the first!
Download the document