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SEMANTICS

The discipline of

MEANING

What is meaning?
a) I did not mean to hurt you.
b) He means well, but he is rather clumsy.
c) Life without love has no meaning.
d) Fame and richness mean nothing to the true scholar.
e) Dark clouds mean rain.
f) A red light means stop.
g) It was John I meant, not Harry.
h) He never says what he means.
i) She rarely means what she says.
j) Calligraphy means beautiful writing.
The meaning of words
A word = linguistic sign
Ferdinand de Saussure pointed out that every
linguistic sign has two components:
the signifier (French signifiant):
the "sound image" or form, i.e. pronunciation
and
the signified (French signifi):
the concept represented, i.e. meaning

An arbitrary relation holds between them.
Semantics
PHILOSOPHICAL SEMANTICS (how do
words mean, where is meaning?) .
LEXICAL SEMANTICS (goals: a) representing
the meaning of each word in a language
(representing word meaning); b) showing in
which ways the meanings of words in a language
are interrelated (representing interrelationships
between meanings).
COGNITIVE SEMANTICS (how are
meanings learned, accessed, processed in the
human brain / mind).


Lexical semantics
2 aims:
representing the meaning of each word in (a)
language;
showing in which ways the meanings of words in (a)
language are interrelated.

LEXICOGRAPHY vs. SENSE RELATIONS
Are these words?
Knsidngksksjaai
Looftonothism
Discuss
Lexicography
How many words is a lexicon?
Websters Third International
Dictionary of the English Language - over 450,000 entries.
Language acquisition researchers have estimated that a 6yr old
child commands around 13.000 words. An average high school
graduate knows the meaning of about 60.000 words.
Problems:
How are words to be counted?
What represents a word?
Are 'play', play, played, playing and player 1 or 4 words?
And walk, walking, walked and walker? Is walking the
same word in walking stick and John is walking too fast.
Words (and word-nots)
Lexical vs. functional words
Stored separately in the mind!
LEMMA dictionary entry (e.g. infinitive of verb
without to).
Lemmas are represented in dictionaries in terms of
definitions. A definition is an attempt to show the
meaning of one word (or other linguistic expression)
by means of some other words which say the same
thing. Defining is basically paraphrasing.
The pitfalls of defining!
The pitfalls of defining:
Obscurity
Circularity
Superfluous components and disjunctions
Too/In-accurate
False components
Open-ended (non predictive) definitions
Sense relations
Semantic feature analysis;
Lexical relations:
Synonymy
Antonymy
Hyponymy
Homophony, homonymy, and polysemy
Semantic fields
Relation of words from the syntactic point of
view: Verb subcategorisation and thematic or
theta roles