semantics and lexicology svem21 3. structuralist semantics

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Jordan Zlatev. Semantics and Lexicology SVEM21 3. Structuralist Semantics. General characteristics. Semantic approaches can be: Onomasilogical (from concept/domain to lexeme) vs. semasiological (from lexeme to concept/meaning) Have diachronic vs. synchronic focus - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Semantics and LexicologySVEM21 3. Structuralist SemanticsJordan Zlatev

1General characteristicsSemantic approaches can be:

Onomasilogical (from concept/domain to lexeme) vs. semasiological (from lexeme to concept/meaning)Have diachronic vs. synchronic focusMaximalist vs. minimalist Mentalist vs. non-mentalistStructure vs. usage -oriented 2Historical-philological, mostly:Semasiological (from lexeme to concept/meaning) - though Stern (analogy)Diachronic focus though change between A and B requires analysis of A and BMaximalist the emotional value of words (Erdmann on Nebensinn) Mentalist though different notions of psychological?Structure-oriented (little use of texts) 3Saussures chess analogyStructuralism: language as a system

We can describe the rules of chess, without (a) particular games, (b) individual mentalities (c) material properties of the chess figures

the fact that we describe the linguistic sign as being part of the system implies that we characterize the sign within the system, in its relations to other signs in the system (: 49)

4Weisgerbers critique of historical-phylological semantcisAsking for an approach that is:Non-mentalist: Linguistic meaning is part of the system, not in the head of the userHas synchronic focus: Languages form self-contained systems in particular timesPrivileges onomasiology: from a semsiological interest in polysemy, to a onomasiological interest in naming (: 50)Example: kinship terms 5Types of structuralist semanticsLexical fields: Weisgerber, Trier, Ullmann

Componential analysis: Goodenough, Hjelmslev, Coseriu, Pottier

Semantic relations: Lyons, Cruse

6Lexical fieldsThe moasic metaphor

Trier (1931: 3) The fact that a word within a field is surrounded by neighbours with a specific position gives it its conceptual specificity (: 54)

7Lexical fields: ExampleGerman 1200Wsheit (General)Kunst (for Nobles)List (for others)German 1300Wsheit (Religious)Kunst (Science and Art)Wizzen (Skills)8Semantic change as restructuring of the lexical field of Knowledge, according to Trier (1934)Lexical fields: ExtensionsSyntagmatic relations: g vs. kaessential meaning relations (Porsig 1934)collocations Firth (1957) selection restrictions Katz and Fodor (1963)lexical solidarities Coseriu (1967)Distributionalist method (Bloomfield, Harris, Apresjan): Formal relations (in historical change)Similarity of forms (folk etymology: hangmat)Contiguity of forms (ellipsis: the rich)

9Lexical fields: ExtensionsLexical gaps (see Figure 2.5)the conception of a closed system has been generally abandoned (: 65)Discrete core + vague periphery (cf. Figure 2.6): a precursor of prototype semantics

Overlapping fields: the deficiency of the moasic metaphor10Componential analysisIf the semantic value of a word is determined by the mutual relationships between all the lexical items in a lexical field, how do we get started? (: 70)Analysis in terms of semantic components or features:On the model of structuralist phonologyEurope: A natural development from lexical field analysisUSA: Anthropological ethnosemantics11Componential analysis: European traditionHjelmslev: content figuraeCoseriu (1964): Lexical field theory has to be supplemented with the functional doctrine of distinctive oppositions (: 75)The structural method [of oppositions] cannot be applied to the whole lexicon (: 78): Not to:Idioms (repeated discourse)Specialized vocabulariesPurely associative fields (e.g. beauty)Referential (real-world) distinctions

12Coseriu: a pure structuralist?a deliberate and methodical attempt to draw the consequences of a structuralist theory of meaning (: 77)A strict implementation of the Saussurean view that languages have their own, non-encyclopedic conceptual structure seems to come with a price: a severe reduction of the descriptive scope of the theory (: 79)

But: Coseriu (1985) make an explicit, three-level distinction of the concept of language - and meaning: (1) denotation, (2) meaning and (3) sense emphasizing the need for integrating the three (cf. Zlatev in press) 13Semantics vs. pragmatics? depends on the definitionsEncyclopedicLexicalLyons (1977)meaning, content sense14Context-independentContext-dependentCoseriu (1985)meaningsensePaul (1920)Usuelle BedeutungOkkasionelle BedeutungWorld-knowledge(Pragmatics 1)Context-independentContext-dependent (Pragmatics 2)Lyons (1977)meaningsenseCoseriu (1985)denotationmeaningsensePaul (1920)Usuelle BedeutungOkkasionelle BedeutungRATHER:Relational semantics: sensesLyons (1963): not just relations of opposition (like Coseriu), and not deriving word meaning from a separate and independent set of components, but:

the meaning of a given linguistic unit is defined to bet the set of (paradigmatic) relations that the unit in question contracts with other units of the language (: 81)15Sense relationsHyponymy hyperonymy (a transitive relation)Taxonomical (X is a kind of Y): dog-puddleNon-taxonomical (X is a Y): Fido-puddle

the definition of the more general term is included in the definition of more specific term (: 83)bird > penguin (a problem for componential analysis, but not necessarily for sense-relations)

16Sense relationsSynomymyIn context (pragmatics)Total: picture-filmPartial: movie-film, prostitute-wholeIn general (semantics)Total: in all relevant contexts do such words exist?Partial near synonyms (as above)17Sense relations: AntonymyGradable antonyms Polar antonyms (entailment of neg, markedness): tall-shortCommitted antonyms (entailment of neg, no markedness): ferocious-meek Asymmetrical: good-bad, clever-stupid (evaluative meaning)Non-gradable antonymsComplementaries (strong entailment): dead-alive Converses: parent-child (of)Reverses (directional opposition): up-down, give-takeMultiple oppositionsScale: hot-warm-tepid-cool-coldRanks: general-colonel-major-captain-lieutenantCycles: morning-lunch-afternoon-evening-night Multidimensional: left-right-above-below-infront-behind

18Sense relationsMeronymy (non-transitive)Part-whole: head-bodyMembership: soldier-armyIngredient: wood-tableAction-Activity: pay-dineDerivational relations (cf. Saeed 2003)State-Inchoative: open opens / ppen - ppnasState-Causative: open (A) open (V) / ppen - ppnaState-Resulative: open opened / ppen ppnad

19Sense relations: ProblemsOn the level of structure (sense sensu Lyons), rather then usage?A natural set, excluding typically referential, encyclopedic relations? (meronymy, causonymy)Presuppose analysis of polysemy (different senses), and more generally: content analysisMurphy (2003): sense relations are meta-linguistic20Structuralist semantics: ContributionsGeeraerts:Giving synchronic description its proper duesBy focusing on languages as systems, focusing on onomasiological analysisFurthermore:Giving credit to the social/communal level of language and meaningThe idea that languages may differ considerably (though not arbitrarily)21Structuralist semantics: ProblemsUnderestimating the need for semasiology: In the extreme semasiological analysis would be superflous: the need for content analysis (problems with components, see also next lecture)dealing with polysemy in a systematic wayMaking a sharp distinction between lexicon/encyclopedia, semantic knowledge/world knowledge; even if possible, how relevant would the results be? (: 95) Open question! 22Structuralist semantics: ProblemsAlso: Languages may still have their structuring of encyclopedic knowledge (: 96)

Two different types of onomasiology: yes!(a) structuralist: what are the relations among the alternative expressions?(b) pragmatic: what are the actual choices made among a set of expression by a specific speaker in a specific situation?

But (b) was not an explicit concern of structuralism23