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Chapter 5 Meaning 5.1 What is semanticsWhat is semantics 5.2 Some views concerning the study of meaningSome views concerning the study of meaning 5.3.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 5 Meaning 5.1 What is semanticsWhat is semantics 5.2 Some views concerning the study of meaningSome views concerning the study of meaning 5.3."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Chapter 5 Meaning 5.1 What is semanticsWhat is semantics 5.2 Some views concerning the study of meaningSome views concerning the study of meaning 5.3 Lexical meaningLexical meaning 5.4 Sense relations between sentencesSense relations between sentences 5.5 Analysis of meaningAnalysis of meaning

3 5.1 What is semantics?  Semantics — the study of language meaning.  Meaning is central to the study of communication.  What is meaning? — Scholars under different scientific backgrounds have different understandings of language meaning.

4 5.2 Some views concerning the study of meaning  Naming theory (Plato)Naming theory  The conceptualist viewThe conceptualist view  Contextualism (Bloomfield)Contextualism  BehaviorismBehaviorism

5 5.2.1 Naming theory (Plato)  Words are names or labels for things.  Limitations: 1) Applicable to nouns only. 2) There are nouns which denote things that do not exist in the real world, e.g. ghost, dragon, unicorn, phenix… 3) There are nouns that do not refer to physical objects but abstract notions, e.g. joy, impulse, hatred…

6 5.2.2 The conceptualist view  The conceptualist view holds that there is no direct link between a linguistic form and what it refers to (i.e. between language and the real world); rather, in the interpretation of meaning they are linked through the mediation of concepts in the mind.

7 Ogden and Richards: semantic triangle Symbol/form word/phrase/sentence Referent/object in the world of experience Thought/reference/concept

8 Ogden and Richards: semantic triangle  The symbol or form refers to the linguistic elements (words and phrases);  The referent refers to the object in the world of experience;  Thought or reference refers to concept.  The symbol or a word signifies things by virtue of the concept associated with the form of the word in the minds of the speaker; and the concept looked at from this point of view is the meaning of the word.

9 5.2.3 Contextualism (Bloomfield)  Meaning should be studied in terms of situation, use, context—elements closely linked with language behavior. Two types of contexts are recognized:  Situational context: spatiotemporal situation  Linguistic context: the probability of a word’s co- occurrence or collocation.  For example, “black” in black hair & black coffee, or black sheep differs in meaning; “The president of the United States” can mean either the president or presidency in different situation.

10 5.2.4 Behaviorism  Behaviorists attempted to define meaning as “the situation in which the speaker utters it and the response it calls forth in the hearer”.  The story of Jack and Jill: Jill Jack S_________r s_________R

11 5.3 Lexical meaning  Sense and referenceSense and reference  Major sense relationsMajor sense relations

12 5.3.1 Sense and reference  Sense and reference are both concerned with the study of word meaning. They are two related but different aspects of meaning.  Sense — is concerned with the inherent meaning of the linguistic form. It is the collection of all the features of the linguistic form; it is abstract and de-contextualized. It is the aspect of meaning dictionary compilers are interested in.  Reference — what a linguistic form refers to in the real, physical world; it deals with the relationship between the linguistic element and the non-linguistic world of experience.

13 Note:  Linguistic forms having the same sense may have different references in different situations; on the other hand, there are also occasions, when linguistic forms with the same reference might differ in sense, e.g. the morning star and the evening star, rising sun in the morning and the sunset at dusk.

14 5.3.2 Major sense relations  Synonymy Synonymy  AntonymyAntonymy  PolysemyPolysemy  HomonymyHomonymy  HyponymyHyponymy

15 Synonymy  Synonymy refers to the sameness or close similarity of meaning. Words that are close in meaning are called synonyms. 1) Dialectal synonyms — synonyms used in different regional dialects, e.g. autumn - fall, biscuit - cracker, petrol – gasoline… 2) Stylistic synonyms — synonyms differing in style, e.g. kid, child, offspring; start, begin, commence;…

16 3) Synonyms that differ in their emotive or evaluative meaning, e.g.collaborator- accomplice,… 4) Collocational synonyms, e.g. accuse…of, charge…with, rebuke…for; … 5) Semantically different synonyms, e.g. amaze, astound,…

17 Antonymy  Gradable antonyms — there are often intermediate forms between the two members of a pair, e.g. old-young, hot-cold, tall-short, …  Complementary antonyms — the denial of one member of the pair implies the assertion of the other, e.g. alive-dead, male-female, …  Relational opposites — exhibits the reversal of the relationship between the two items, e.g. husband-wife, father-son, doctor-patient, buy-sell, let-rent, employer- employee, give-receive, above-below, …

18 Gradable antonyms  Gradable antonyms — there are often intermediate forms between the two members of a pair, e.g. old-young, hot-cold, tall- short, … A B

19 Complementary antonyms  Complementary antonyms — the denial of one member of the pair implies the assertion of the other, e.g. alive-dead, male- female, … A B

20 Polysemy  Polysemy — the same one word may have more than one meaning, e.g. “table” may mean: A piece of furniture All the people seated at a table The food that is put on a table A thin flat piece of stone, metal wood, etc. Orderly arrangement of facts, figures, etc. ……

21 Homonymy  Homonymy — the phenomenon that words having different meanings have the same form, e.g. different words are identical in sound or spelling, or in both.  Homophone — when two words are identical in sound, e.g. rain-reign, night/knight, …  Homogragh — when two words are identical in spelling, e.g. tear(n.)-tear(v.), lead(n.)-lead(v.), …  Complete homonym — when two words are identical in both sound and spelling, e.g. ball, bank, watch, scale, fast, …

22 Note:  A polysemic word is the result of the evolution of the primary meaning of the word (the etymology of the word); while complete homonyms are often brought into being by coincidence.

23 Hyponymy  Hyponymy — the sense relation between a more general, more inclusive word and a more specific word.  Superordinate: the word which is more general in meaning.  Hyponyms: the word which is more specific in meaning.  Co-hyponyms: hyponyms of the same superordinate.

24  Superordinate: flower  Hyponyms:  rose, tulip, lily, chrysanthemum, peony, jasmine, …  Superordinate: furniture  Hyponyms:  bed, table, desk, dresser, wardrobe, sofa, …  Superordinate: flower  Hyponyms:  rose, tulip, lily, chrysanthemum, peony, jasmine, …  Superordinate: furniture  Hyponyms:  bed, table, desk, dresser, wardrobe, sofa, … Hyponymy Co-hyponyms  Superordinate: flower  Hyponyms:  rose, tulip, lily, chrysanthemum, peony, jasmine, …  Superordinate: furniture  Hyponyms:  bed, table, desk, dresser, wardrobe, sofa, …  Superordinate: flower  Hyponyms:  rose, tulip, lily, chrysanthemum, peony, jasmine, …  Superordinate: furniture  Hyponyms:  bed, table, desk, dresser, wardrobe, sofa, …  Superordinate: flower  Hyponyms:  rose, tulip, lily, chrysanthemum, peony, jasmine, …  Superordinate: furniture  Hyponyms:  bed, table, desk, dresser, wardrobe, sofa, … Co-hyponyms

25 5.4 Sense relations between sentences  (1) X is synonymous with YX is synonymous with Y  (2) X is inconsistent with YX is inconsistent with Y  (3) X entails YX entails Y  (4) X presupposes YX presupposes Y  (5) X is a contradictionX is a contradiction  (6) X is semantically anomalousX is semantically anomalous

26 X is synonymous with Y  X: He was a bachelor all his life. Y: He never got married all his life.  X: The boy killed the cat. Y: The cat was killed by the boy.  If X is true, Y is true; if X is false, Y is false.

27 X is inconsistent with Y  X: He is single.  Y: He has a wife.  X: This is my first visit to Beijing.  Y: I have been to Beijing twice.  If X is true, Y is false; if X is false, Y is true.

28 X entails Y  X: John married a blond heiress.  Y: John married a blond.  X: Marry has been to Beijing.  Y: Marry has been to China.  Entailment is a relation of inclusion. If X entails Y, then the meaning of X is included in Y.  If X is true, Y is necessarily true; if X is false, Y may be true or false.

29 X presupposes Y  X: His bike needs repairing.  Y: He has a bike.  Paul has given up smoking.  Paul once smoked.  If X is true, Y must be true; If X is false, Y is still true.

30 X is a contradiction  * My unmarried sister is married to a bachelor.  *The orphan’s parents are pretty well-off.

31 X is semantically anomalous  *The man is pregnant.  *The table has bad intentions.  *Sincerity shakes hands with the black apple.

32 5.5 Analysis of meaning  Componential analysisComponential analysis  Predication analysisPredication analysis

33 Componential analysis  Componential analysis---- a way to analyze lexical meaning. The approach is based on the belief that the meaning of a word can be dissected into meaning components, called semantic features. For example, Man: [+HUMAN, +ADULT, +ANIMATE, +MALE] Boy: [+HUMAN, -ADULT, +ANIMATE, +MALE] Woman: [+HUMAN, +ADULT, +ANIMATE, -MALE] Girl: [+HUMAN, -ADULT, +ANIMATE, -MALE]

34 Predication analysis  1) The meaning of a sentence is not to be worked out by adding up all the meanings of its component words, e.g “The dog bites the man” is semantically different from “The man bites the dog” though their components are exactly the same.  2) There are two aspects to sentence meaning: grammatical meaning and semantic meaning, e.g. *Green clouds are sleeping furiously. *Sincerity shook hands with the black apple. Whether a sentence is semantically meaningful is governed by rules called selectional restrictions.

35 Predication analysis  Predication analysis---- a way to analyze sentence meaning (British G. Leech).  Predication----the abstraction of the meaning of a sentence. A predication consists of argument(s) and predicate.  An argument is a logical participant in a predication, largely identical with the nominal elements in a sentence.  A predicate is something said about an argument or it states the logical relation linking the arguments in a sentence.

36 Predication analysis  According to the number of arguments contained in a predication, we may classify the predications into the following types: One-place predication: smoke, grow, rise, run, … Two-place predication: like, love, save, bite, beat,… Three-place predication: give, sent, promise, call, … No-place predication: It is hot.

37 Predication analysis  Tom smokes.  TOM (SMOKE)  The tree grows well.  TREE (GROW)  The kids like apples.  KIDS (LIKE) APPLE  I sent him a letter.  I (SEND) HIM LETTER


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