Chapter 2.docx

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Karen Lyda Mc Crindle

Chapter 2 Meaning and the dictionary  concept of words meaning linked to concept of definition - Aristotle  linguistic ideology - complex of pretheoretical ideas about the nature and role of language  Semantics and lexicography  lexicography - dictionary writing, practical work to put together a book people can understand, not theoretical  linguistic semantic - is theoretical, language is diff from a dictionary because it is a sum of impressions deposited in the brain of each member, dictionary has identical copies  mental lexicon - stock of words and associated meaning in the brain  semantics goal then is to specify the stored meaning representation associated with each lexeme in the mental lexicon History of the dictionary o monolingual dictionaries didn’t exist until 16 century in the West o glossaries or word lists used before o modern monolingual dictionary for people who wanted guidance in language they already spoke o definitions found in dictionaries are result of word based or semasiological approach to meaning  starts with languages lexemes and specifies meaning of each one, specifies differences between words  onomasiological approach – opposite of semasiological, starts with meaning and lists all possible forms available in the language for expression, emphasizes similarities  difference between the two approaches corresponds to difference between a dictionary and thesaurus, semasiological = dictionary Units of Meaning  Defining what a word is is hard to do by looking at writing is because of two reasons o Speakers of the same language from different regions of a country could classify what a word is differently (writing the sentence differently) o Orthographic practices are unstable  ‘potential pause’ – words are units before and/or after which pauses can be found in spoken language (cant be used for morphologically complex languages like English)  word as minimum free form (bloomfield) – minimal unit which may appear on its own without any additional grammatical material ---INSUFFICIENT for words like the, of, is  2 levels words can be defined  phonological (calculating stress syllables), grammatical (cohesiveness, fixed order and conventionalized coherence and meaning) Mismatches between grammatical and phonological words  Morpheme – minimal meaning bearing unit, below lexeme  Above the word level, there are phrasal verbs (touch down, get on with, play around) and noun compounds (tree house, space age, tennis match) where a single meaning comes from both words Sound Symbolism (ideophony/onomatopoeia)  Semi-systematic correspondences between certain sounds and meanings (clash, clang, clatter)  Possible connection might be the acoustic quality of fricative and irregular sound of referent Meanings above word level – Idioms  non compositional phrases (throw in the towel, break a leg) – whose overall meaning isn’t the same as the combined meaning of its individual parts  we can solve the problem of non compositionality by interpreting it partly compositional  idiom can also be non compositional morphemes (sublexical) – ‘able’  considerable, fashionable o noun incorporation – independent noun stems compounded with a verb stem to produce a larger, derived verbs Contextual modulation of meaning  Collocation – immediate linguistic context in which words/morphemes occur  Variation occurs in all of language  I cut my foot…vs I cut the grass/I cut the diamond….nature of the event varies, by means by which it is accomplished, its extent of deliberateness o Contextual modulation of meaning – degree of semantic difference gets even greater if we consider more extended meanings (cut corners, cut a deal)  Compositionality o General Meaning hypothesis – cut may have same vague meaning in all its different collocations (cut my foot, cut a diamond), it refers to the same act (material breach)  PROBLEM =definition is not adequate for all situations, too general and fail to distinguish differences between verbs in same semantic field o Multiple meaning hypothesis – cut may have a separate meaning in each collocation – cut ones foot = accidental, cut a diamond= deliberate  PROBLEM= sheer number of different senses attributing to a verb, how do we ascribe the correct specific meaning in each given case with all the different senses the verb has?...  Non-compositionality o Collocation seen as a whole o don’t need to have general definition of a verb that works in every context o no problem of word sense disambiguation o collocation also determines what reading is operative for verbs object (in cutting the grass we know we are referring to cutting long blades of grass) o PROBLEM – same as compositional, ignores intuition of compositionality of the meanings of the collocations  Mental lexicon does not contain a huge number of independently listed entries for one word, but extracts max. number of generalizations about the meaning of a verb across all collocational contexts to produce the most economic least redundant entry  Compositional meaning/general meaning hypothesis therefore considered preferable  Cognitive linguistics – rejects above a
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