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UNIT 16: ABOUT DICTIONARIES A good ordinary dictionary gives three kinds of information about words: phonological, grammatical and semantic. The semanticist.

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Presentation on theme: "UNIT 16: ABOUT DICTIONARIES A good ordinary dictionary gives three kinds of information about words: phonological, grammatical and semantic. The semanticist."— Presentation transcript:

1 UNIT 16: ABOUT DICTIONARIES A good ordinary dictionary gives three kinds of information about words: phonological, grammatical and semantic. The semanticist dictionary-writer and the ordinary dictionary-writer differ markedly in their style of approach and the emphasis on their various goals. One important point to note about all dictionaries is that their definitions are necessarily interconnected. e.g. male sex female woman

2 The semanticist dictionary-writer’s main interest is the sense relations between predicates. Another point about ordinary dictionaries is precession. However, ordinary dictionaries cannot account for sense relations such as incompatibility of male and female, the symmetry of join and marry and the hyponymy of man to animal. Such relations are either not stated or left unclear in ordinary dictionaries. But the semanticist’s goal is to be able to account for every sense relation, whether obvious or not.

3 Semanticists are interested in the meanings of the words and not in non-linguistic facts about the world. Therefore, they differentiate between a dictionary and an encyclopedia. A DICTIONARY describes the senses of predicates. An ENCYCLOPEDIA contains factual information of a variety of types, but generally no information specifically on meanings of words. Semanticists are interested in that information about words that can give rise to sentences containinthem being either analytic (e.g. The walrus is an animal) or contradictions (e.g. The walrus is not an animal). Any other information is not strictly semantic but encyclopedic.


5 ● This unit outlines the shape of a linguistic semanticist’s dictionary. Such a dictionary is a list of predicates and their senses. For each sense of a predicate there is a dictionary entry which lists the sense properties of that predicate and the sense relations between it and other predicate. Example:

6 HUMAN BEING: One-place synonym of MAN1 MAN1: One-place synonym of HUMAN BEING MAN2:One-place hyponym of MALE hyponym of ADULT hyponym of HUMAN BEING MARRY1:Two-place symmetric WOMAN:One-place hyponym of FEMALE hyponym of ADULT hyponym of HUMAN BEING

7 A MEANING POSTULATE is a formula expressing some aspect of the sense of a predicate. It can be read as a proposition necessarily true by the virtue of the meaning of the particular predicates involved. EXAMPLE : x MAN ₁ ˭ x HUMAN BEING ◌○● This example expresses the fact that man (In sense1) is a synonym of human being. It is a generalization covering any thing to which the predicate MAN ₁ is applied..

8 ◌ ● Not every thing we know about these predicate is represented directly in this meaning postulates, but much can be arrived simply by deduction from the information actually given. Because the semanticist wants the presentation of information in his dictionary to be economical, and so only includes the minimum number of meaning postulates from which it is possible to deduce all the (direct or indirect) sense relations between predicate.

9 Practice: Write down in the notation for meaning postulates of a hyponymy relation not directly represented: METAL:x METAL  x MINERAL MINERAL:x MINERAL  X substance X METAL  X SUBSTANCE --------------------------------------------------------

10 ◌ ○● In short, if it is stated that metal is a hyponym of mineral, and that mineral is a hyponym of substance, there is no need to state explicitly that metal is a hyponym of substance. ◌◌ The negative connective ~ can be used to account for relations of binary antonym.. ◌ ○● EXAMPLE : ↕ ◌◌ ASLEEP : ᵡ ASLEEP → ~ ᵡ AWAke

11 ᵡ MALE → ~ ᵡ FEMALE ① ᵡ OPEN → ~ ᵡ CLOSED ② ↕ We draw attention now to a formal similarity between the hyponymy relation and another kind of semantic information about predicates, known as selection restrictions. We bring out the intuitive notion of a selectional restriction in the following example..

12 ① Can pain be red ? Yes ∕ No Yes ∕ No ② can a lump of metal be red ? 3- Is it true to say that the predicate red can only be applied to concrete (i.e. non-abstract) things? 4- Is it true to say that if something is red, then it must be concrete (in the sense of non-abstract)? The restriction of the predicate red to things satisfied by the predicate concrete is selectional restriction. Please answer the practice on p. 190.

13 ◌◌ Definition : CONTRADICITION is most centrally a logical term. The basic form of a logical contradiction is p & ~ p.. Any thing that is clearly an instance of this basic logical contradiction is called contradiction. ◌◌ EXAMPLE : John is here and John is not here.. Can be called a contradiction..

14 ◌◌ Definition : ANOMALY is semantic oddness (as opposed to grammatical oddness) that can be traced to the meanings of the predicates in the sentence concerned. Thus Christopher is killing phoneme s is anamalous because the meanings of predicates kill and phoneme cannot be combined in this way. Anomaly involves the violation of a selectional restriction.

15 ◌ ● So far, all our examples of meaning postulates have involved one-place predicates.. Hyponymy relations between two-place predicates can also be expressed by meaning postulates.. EXAMPLE : ᵡ FATHER ᵞ → ᵡ PARENT ᵞ This is paraphraseable as : If X is y’s father, then X is y’s parent..

16 * Write meaning postulate, using the negative connective ~ to account for the antonymy between same, different and inside, outside: ① ᵡ SAME ᵞ → ~ ᵡ DIFFRENT ᵞ ② ᵡ INSIDE ᵞ → ~ ᵡ OUTSIDE ᵞ

17 ◌ ●○ Selectional restriction apply to two-place predicates.Restrictions may affect the expression in the “subject position” (the x slot) or the expression in the “object position” (the y slot).. ◌ EXAMPLE : Strike is restricted to concrete objects. John struck the table is fine, but John struck motherhood is not.. A meaning postulate to express this fact can be formulated as follows : ᵡ STRIKE ᵞ → ᵞ CONCRETE


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