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The Scope of Semantics

Naming: Language is a communication system which with on the one hand the signifier, on the other the signified. One of the
oldest views found in Plato is that the signifier is a word in the language and signified is the object in the real world.
There are many difficulties with this naming view because:
1. It is difficult to extend the theory of naming to include other parts of speech. It includes only nouns.
2. Some nouns do not exist in the world like, unicorn, fairy, and goblin; these are some names of creatures which do not
exist in the real world.
3. Abstract nouns dont have any objects in the real world, like love, nice, hateetc.
4. There are lots of visible objects in the world while they have one single word. Like Chair.
Concepts: It is one of the sophisticated views of relating objects through the mediation of concepts of mind. According to de
Saussure, we realized that linguistic signs consist of signifier and signified, more strictly, a sound image and a concept, both
linked by psychological "associative" bond. Both of them are mirrored in some way by conceptual entities. Ogden suggests the
semantic triangle which exists between linguistic items, referent and the object. According this theory there is no direct link
between symbols and referent (language and the world).
Sense and Reference: Reference deals with the relationship between the linguistic elements, words, sentences, etc and the non -
linguistic world of experience. Sense relates to the complex system of relationship that hold between linguistic elements
themselves (mostly words). It is concerned only intra linguistic relations.
In the old English, this problem was solved because everything has its own gender whether male, female, or neutral. Also there
is other relationship between word like father/son, uncle/nephew etc.
Here we have 2 types of semantics, one that deals with semantic structure and the other deals with meaning in terms of our
experience outside language.
The word: Dictionaries appear to concern with stating the meaning of words and it is reasonable to assume that the word is one
of the basic units of semantics. But
- no all the words have meaning; English grammarian Henry Sweet drew a distinction between "Full" words and
"Form" words. Full word like tree, blue, gently and form word like it, the, of, and. The form words have only
grammatical functions because these words cannot be stated in isolation but only in relation to other words.
- The best definition for word is "minimum free form" which is done by Bloomfield.
- Ullmann made a distinction between Transparent words, whose meaning can be determined from the meaning of their
parts, and Opaque words, opposite of Transparent. Doorman is transparent, but axe is opaque.
- Idioms are another case to be studied in semantics because group of words are combined to give one meaning and the
meaning cannot predicted from the meaning of the words.
Sentence: The traditional definition of sentence is "The expression of a complete thought" The sentence is essentially a
grammatical unit; indeed it is the function of syntax to describe the structure of the sentence and thereby to define it. In English a
sentence should minimally consist of Subject and Verb. But sometimes this will not be applied, we can use coming? Instead of
are you coming?
Another problem arouses when we are talking about the meaning of sentences because sentences can be translated according to
deep or surface meaning. EG I went to bank is ambiguous. We can say that to understand the meaning of sentences we have to
know the intonation, stress rhythm loudness etc of sentences.







3.4. Lexical Rules and Semantic Processes
In our discussion of the semantic structure of words, we have so far restricted ourselves mainly to an analytic
perspective and to a discussion of existing lexemes, while in 3.2.4. morphological structure was also considered from
the point of view of productivity. We will now adopt a more dynamic outlook, which at the same time breaks up or
transcends to some extent the dichotomy of morphology and semantics. In order to do this, we must first discuss the
comprehensive notion of rule, as advocated here, and will then look in some detail at a borderline case between
derivation and purely semantic changes, namely metaphor and metonymy (cf. Iipka 1990). In my view both
semantic transfer and word-formation provide productive patterns for creating new lexical units. There are a
number of similarities and these justify capturing both in a single very general lexical rule.

3.4.1. Rules and Tendencies
In the following, the concept of rule will not be used in the strict sense of generative grammar, where rules were
formulated and formalized as processes to be either applied or not, if certain conditions hold. My use of the term here
is nearer to the concept of "variable rule", as introduced into sociolinguistics by Labov. It is rather more like a
tendency, which exists in a very wide sense, without precisely formulable conditions, and no absolute predictive
power. A certain amount of individual variation is also possible for the application of a certain rule and there is
furthermore a correlation with more or less permissive text types.
Let us take a concrete example: Berlin is a splendid host to the Congress of Linguists. Clearly, here Berlin does not
refer to a place, but to the people who live in it and is thus an instance of a highly productive metonymic rule. From
the noun host, a verb to host 'be, act as a host' can also be derived, just as the noun patron leads to a verb patronize
'be, act as a patron', with the addition of the derivative suffix -ize
1
.
(33) host n. to host v. 'be, act as a host'
patron n. patron/ize v. 'be, act as a patron'

In fact, both denominal verbs are institutionalized in the 'norm' of present-day English (in Coseriu's sense).
I would now like to apply an approach developed by Leech (21981:216), who postulates a very general lexical rule
for both semantic transfer and word-formation (including 'conversion' or zero-derivation), which he represents as
follows:


This formula is to be interpreted as follows: From the lexical entry A with the morphological, syntactic, and semantic
specifications p, q, r we can derive an entry B with the specifications p, q, r. In generative terminology such a very
general formulation would be called a "rule schema". In fact, Leech derives several specific rules "of morphological
derivation" and "of semantic transfer" from this, with further specific subclasses of rules. Leech (21981:220) states
that all these lexical rules "are surprisingly powerful in their ability to generate new lexical entries" and that they are
all "instances of the same general phenomenon" with a number of common characteristics. The first common
property is "partial productivity", which will be illustrated presently in connection with metaphor. Lexical rules
thus capture certain general, creative tendencies and represent productive morphological and semantic processes.


1
The metonymic noun host is an instance of semantic transfer, while the zero-derived verb to host is the result of word-
formation. Both are productive processes, but the former creates new lexical units and the latter new lexemes.


THE LANGUAGE OF INTERSTATE RELATIONS, McMillan
Conversion, zero-derivation, or else semantic extension will be held responsible for the effects involving state
names, without making any significant distinctions between the 3 terms. Semantic extensions, applied in Section 7.3,
cover the totality of the phenomenon in a straightforward and non-exclusionary manner.
Bolinger notes that there is a sort of zero-derivation every time the meaning of a word is extended. Without
distinction, conversion/zero-derivation takes place not only when nouns are turned into verbs, or vice versa, but
whenever something else than zero is added to the base. Unfortunately, Bolinger does not elaborate further as to
what this something may be. Nor is this claim self-evident in view of the extreme position taken by him, according
to which [t]he natural condition of languae is to preserve one form for one meaning, and one meaning for one form.
Another broad view of conversion, involving so-called semantic transfer, has been placed within the general
context of metonymy (see Leech, 1974: 216-217). Cases such as The neighbourhood objected to his plan, The whole
town turned out to welcome us, and I enjoy Shakespeare immensely illustrate the authors point. Both the rules of
semantic transfer and conversion are defined by Leech as lexical rules, whereby
- conversion is understood as an alteration of syntactic function without a change of morphological
specification
- semantic transfer is characterized as a major change in the semantic specification only (p. 216).
The only perceivable differentiation between the two is that the change of syntactic specification is accompanied by
a change of semantic specification, while conversion does not have to involve a change of the major part of speech.

A similar view is expressed in Stein (1977), who acknowledges that, just as black (adjective) black (verb) is
treated as a case of conversion, any type of semantic conversion should receive similar treatment.
An example of semantic conversion is, for instance, London as in London was alarmed, where the place name is
used in the sense of the people who lived there. The overlap between semantic conversion and the traditional view
of morphology is clear.