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Chapter Two Chapter Two The Scope of Semantics. 2.3 Sense and reference Reference deals with the relationship between the linguistic elements and the.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter Two Chapter Two The Scope of Semantics. 2.3 Sense and reference Reference deals with the relationship between the linguistic elements and the."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter Two Chapter Two The Scope of Semantics

2 2.3 Sense and reference Reference deals with the relationship between the linguistic elements and the non- linguistic world of experience. Sense relates to the complex system of relationships that hold between the linguistic elements themselves; it is concerned only with intralinguistic relations.

3 Semantics is concerned only with the way we relate our language to our experience. Reference is the essential element of semantics. Sense relationships are important in the study of language. Examples of related words: 1- involving sex or gender: ram/ewe, cow/bull, sow/boar 2- involving adult and young: duck/duckling, pig/piglet

4 3- involving family relationship: father/son, uncle/nephew These relations are part of the semantic (not the grammatical) structure of English. The dictionary is concerned with sense relations, with relating words to words. What is the aim of dictionary? P.30 We have two kinds of semantics: 1- One deals with semantic structure 2- The other deals with meanings in terms of our experience outside language

5 Semantics is concerned not only with words but also sentences. It is concerned with sentence meaning and its relation to word meaning. Look at examples on p. 31. 2.3 The Word The word is one of the basic units of semantics. Yet there difficulties.

6 1- Not all words have the same kind of meaning as others; some seem to have little or none. E.g. ‘to’ in Boys like to play. Words may be divided into two types: 1- full words like sing, tree, blue. 2- form words like it, the, and. The full words seem to have the kind of meaning that we would find in a dictionary. The form words belong to grammar and have only grammatical meaning.

7 2- The word is not a clearly defined linguistic unit. It is conventional, defined in terms of the spaces in the written text. Bloomfield offered a solution by suggesting that the word is the minimum free form, the smallest form that may occur in isolation. Bloomfield also suggested that we should look for an element smaller than the word, a unit of meaning – the MORPHEME. However, in cases where morpheme do not work, we use the LEXEME.

8 Many words in English are called PHONAESTHETIC, in which the initial cluster of consonants indicates the meaning of a rather special kind. Examples: 1- /sl-/= ‘slippery’, as slide, slip, slither, slush. 2- /sl-/= ‘pejorative’, as slattern, slut, sloppy. 3- /sk-/= ‘surface’ or ‘superficiality, as skate, skimp, skid, skim, skin. 4- ‘-ump’= roundish mass, as plump, hump, stump, lump.

9 3- There is no consistency about the number of semantic units we may recognize in a word. In this point we have to distinguish between two types of words TRANSPARENT & OPAQUE. We can determine the meaning of transparent words from the meaning of their parts. This is not possible with opaque words. Thus chopper and doorman are transparent.

10 But axe and porter are opaque. 4- Some whole groups of words must be taken together to establish meaning- these are IDIOMS= sequences of words whose meaning cannot be predicted from the meanings of the words themselves. E.g. p.36 Semantically, idioms are single units, but they are not single grammatical units like words. Semantic division may override word division: heavy smoker=heavy smok+er, good singer=good sing+er NOT good+singer

11 2.5 The Sentence Q: Whether the basic unit of meaning is not the word but the sentence ? We communicate with sentences and the sentence is the expression of a complete thought. The sentence is essentially a grammatical unit, and the function of syntax is to describe the structure of the sentence. Thus S=NP + VP which can be a single word E.g. ‘Birds fly’ or one word sentence ‘Horses’

12 Define Ellipsis & pro-formation Surface structure & deep structure The meaning of a sentence can be predicted from the meaning of the words it contains, or more precisely, from these words qua lexemes and the grammatical features with which they are associated. So each sentence will have a meaning (literal) or if it is ambiguous two or more meanings.

13 However, there are other kinds of meaning that are not directly related to grammatical and lexical structure. 1- Meaning carried by prosodic & paralinguistic features of language. 2- Uaing various devices, we can indicate what is important, contrastive or new. 3- There is a variety of speech acts. 4- We can say one thing and mean another. 5- Presupposition.

14 6- A variety of social relations. We should distinguish between sentence meaning & utterance meaning. The distinction is useful but there are two reservations. 1- We cannot always decide what is sentence meaning and what is utterance meaning. 2- the term ‘utterance’ is a little misleading.

15 For some scholars the basic unit of semantics is the proposition, for semantics must be truth-conditional and the propositions can always be characterized as true or false. E.g. ‘I was there yesterday’, as a sentence cannot be true or false but as a proposition it can be. To distinguish between sentences and propositions is to distinguish between direct and indirect speech.

16 Compare: John said ‘I’ll come on Tuesday’ John said he would come on Tuesday. Difficulties in restricting semantics to propositions: 1- All the kinds of utterance meaning will be outside semantics. 2- We shall be restricted to statements, while questions and commands are excluded.

17 3- we should have nothing to say about modality. 4- there will be doubts whether sentences containing deictics can ever be accurately stated in propositional terms. 5- when we wish to refer to propositions we normally do so in terms of sentences.


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