January 9th to 14th, 2014
Semantics: studies correspondences between form and meaning (interpretation of words and
sentences), study of meaning
● Lexical semantic relations: relationships between words
● Sentential semantic relations:
● Further semantic notions:
● Semantic features (componential analysis):
● Meaning and concepts
Some problems faced when trying to interpret meaning:
1. Ambiguity: some sentences or words have more than one possible meaning.
○ Ex. Bank
○ Ex. Visiting relatives can be boring
2. Synonymy and paraphase (same meaning expressed by different words or sentences)
○ Ex. Throw also, hurl, toss
○ Ex. Jack built this house This house was built by Jack
Lexical Semantic Relations
● Synonymy: words with (roughly) the same meanings.
○ synonyms may differ in terms of appropriateness (informal/formal, etc.)
● Antonymy: words with opposite meanings.
○ gradable antonyms: may be placed on a relative scale (Ex. Hot and cold are two
extremes of a scale
○ absolute (nongraded) antonyms: difference is absolute (either one or the other),
ex. alive and dead
● Homophony: words sound alike but have different meanings
○ do not have to be spelled the same, do have to have different meanings (Bank;
Bear and Bare; wear and where; mole; cite, site, and sight)
● Polysemy: one form with multiple related meanings
○ Ex. Head: of a person, bed, department (all top of something); Loaded
○ Must be spelled the same.
● Hyponymy (hypernymy) : relationship between a word and a general class/category
(hypernym is the class/category)
● Partonymy: partwhole relationships ( ____ is a part of ___. )
○ Meronyms = parts; holonym = the whole
1 Distinguishing between homophony and polysemy: if the spelling is different it can’t be polysemy, if the
meanings are related it’s polysemy. Dictionaries list homophones in separate entries, polysemantic words
tend to have a single entry with multiple definitions. The etymology of a word may help, if the two words have
2ifferent origins the relationship is likely homophony.
Hyponymy refers to the class “cat is hyponym of animal”, hypernymy refers to the specific word “animal is
a hypernym of a cat” January 9th to 14th, 2014
Sentential Semantic Relations
● Paraphrase: two or more ways of saying something
● Entailment: _____ implies ____.
○ asymmetric (ex. “The fly is dead” does not imply that John killed the fly.)
● Contradiction: two sentences which can not be true at the same time
Further Semantic Notions
● Connotations: additional meaning a word has beyond its central, emotional
associations, attitudes about the word, or social and cultural aspects of the word.
● Denotation or Referential meaning: central meaning, the relationship between a word
and a real world object (Italy: a term used to refer to a particular country in southern