english c: lecture 4

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Semantics

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English-CAdvanced Linguistics : 

English-CAdvanced Linguistics Lecture 4.Semantics

Semantics-definition : 

Semantics-definition Relating to signification or meaning. Also, the study or analysis of the relationships between linguistic symbols and their meanings. The interpretation of signs in general.

The Semiotic Triangle : 

The Semiotic Triangle ”reality” referent tree, träd, arbre, baum ”symbol” language code Thought, reference conceptualisation

The Semiotic Triangle : 

The Semiotic Triangle ”reality” referent Love, kärlek, amour, liebe ”symbol” language code Thought, reference conceptualisation

A simple model of communication(Lyons 1977) : 

A simple model of communication(Lyons 1977) Sender Transmitted signal (Message) Received signal (encoding) channel noise (decoding) (Message) Receiver You wait You wait! You white!

Iconic and arbitrary signs : 

Iconic and arbitrary signs

Different types of meaning : 

Different types of meaning Referential meaning: The real-world object or concept described by language. John and Jill are sleeping

Different types of meaning : 

Different types of meaning Affective meaning: the signals about what the language user feels about the content or about the ongoing context John and Jill were SLEEPING together!

Ways of organising meaning: semantic fields : 

Ways of organising meaning: semantic fields Words can be organised in a number of ways based on their meaning. Here are some: Fields Hierarchies Linear chains

Lexical Field : 

Lexical Field Words which constitute set with an identifiable semantic affinity are often referred to as a lexical field red blue green yellow pink Colours

Taxonomies: hierarchies : 

Taxonomies: hierarchies Common-sense taxonomies rarely have more than 3-4 levels. In specialised registers, particularly technical registers, the number of levels can be much greater than this. ‘Lexical gaps’ are common in taxonomies, particularly in the levels above the ‘basic level’:

Relations of inclusion- Hyponomy : 

Relations of inclusion- Hyponomy Hyponomy (A is a different kind of X than B, natural system) Prototypically A is a kind of B-relationship vehicles Superordinate or hyperonym hyponym

Part/whole relationships: Meronymy : 

Part/whole relationships: Meronymy Meronymy Prototypically A is part of B-relationship Body Holonym Meronym (partonym)

Linear structures- Bipolar chains : 

Linear structures- Bipolar chains Implicit superlatives tend to be resistant to verbal grading (grading by affixes such as –er, est, ish) They can be prosodically graded. Can be modified by a low stressed ‘absolutely’. huge huge

Monopolar chains : 

Monopolar chains Cannot be modified by degree, there is no obvious pole. Some different types of monopolar chains include: Degree (mound, hillock, hill, mountain) Stages (see above) Measures (second, minute hour, day) Rank (variety, species, genus, family, kingdom) Sequence (Monday, Tuesday etc)

Synonymy : 

Synonymy Synonyms are words whose semantic similarities are more salient than their differences Absolute synonomy: Complete identity of meaning. Requires that item A can be replaced by item B in any conceivable context without the least change of meaning (style, register, attitude etc) – functionally unmotivated. Discuss: She vomited. She puked up.

Antonymy - Opposites : 

Antonymy - Opposites Three main types: Non-gradable: Truly binary (dead/alive) Gradable: extremes along some scale (long/short) Converse pairs: Complementary pairs that typically exhibit a difference in point of view (mother/daughter) Opposites are protoypically, inherently and obviously binary. (long/short, man/woman, etc. Not tea/coffee)

Homonymy : 

Homonymy Homonymy: Two totally distinct meaning between two readings of a word and no connection between the two. Such examples would have separete entries in a dictionary. Note, however, that there may be some connection if one looks at the word form from a diachronic perspective. 1. Mole (OE mál): Small digging mammal. 2. Mole (ME mol, related to mould): Area of skin pigmentation. 3. Mole (OFr môle): A breakwater. 4. Mole (from molecule): Chemical unit of quantity.

Homonymy in action : 

Homonymy in action

Polysemy : 

Polysemy The senses of two readings are connected somehow 1a) Mole: Small digging animal 1b) Mole: Spy who has infiltrated an organisation.

Polysemy in action : 

Polysemy in action

Componential analysis : 

Componential analysis Can the meaning of a word be split up into “semantic atoms”? For some words this endeavour seems to be more successful than for other words.

Analysing meaning : 

Analysing meaning Spinster Bachelor + human +adult +female -married + human +adult +male -married Is this enough information to describe these words? Ellegible bachelor Ellegible spinster

Family Resemblances (Wittgenstein 1945) : 

Family Resemblances (Wittgenstein 1945) How do you define game? Different games have shared features and similarities, but no single feature(s) make them games. You do not win or lose in all games, but in some of them. Not all are amusing, but some are. There is not always competition between players The features of skill and luck are not always features of all games.

Family Resemblances cont. : 

Family Resemblances cont. The boundary of the category is ‘fuzzy’ Take the examples board games, card games, ball games and Olympic games. “we see a complicated network of similarities overlapping and criss-crossing: sometimes overall similarities, sometimes similarities of detail.” (Wittgenstein)

Prototype (Rosch 1975) : 

Prototype (Rosch 1975) Within any lexical field some members are more typical than others. Such members are referred to as prototypes. scissors poison knife gun nerve gas More prototypical members Less prototypical members Weapons

Thank you! : 

Thank you! I have not really covered metaphors here but would like you to read the Lakoff & Johnsson handouts. Also have a look at the old student presentation on Metaphors

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