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On the semantics of Polish do. A minimal-specification approach Daria Bębeniec Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin, Poland

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Presentation on theme: "On the semantics of Polish do. A minimal-specification approach Daria Bębeniec Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin, Poland"— Presentation transcript:

1 On the semantics of Polish do. A minimal-specification approach Daria Bębeniec Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin, Poland

2 Principled Polysemy Tyler and Evans (2001, 2003, 2004), constrained methodology for modelling prepositional meaning LCCM (=lexical concepts, cognitive models) Theory (Evans 2005, 2007, in press) In opposition to so-called full-specification approaches (Brugman 1988, Lakoff 1987), bone of contention: distinctness of sense = nature of meaning → full-specification approach: lexical units possess constant semantic values and therefore all meaning can be given exhaustive representation by the enumeration of senses → minimal-specification approach: lexical units constitute underspecified prompts which activate relevant portions of encyclopedic knowledge, depending on the context they occur in)

3 Nature of spatial meaning Distributed spatial semantics (Sinha and Kuteva, 1995) → spatial meaning is scattered over all elements co-occurring in a given syntagm Meaning as indeterminate, protean and emergent - The cat jumped over the wall example (Tyler and Evans, 2001, 2003) → none of the lexical items provides the specification concerning the shape of the trajectory; it is retrievable from the complex interaction of the knowledge concerning cats, walls, the activity of jumping and some aspects of force dynamics → meaning emerges in the dynamic process of meaning construction, i.e. in a particular usage-event Usage-based perspective (Langacker 1988, 2000) The cat jumped over the wall (Tyler and Evans 2001: 738, 2003: 16, 69-71) A B C

4 Centrality of sense Central sense (proto-scene): configurational element + functional element (Vandeloise 1994, Herskovits 1988), e.g. ?the apple in the bowl / the apple beneath the bowl (after Evans in press: 6) → even though the relation of containment typically associated with the preposition in is evidently present in the figure above, it is the preposition beneath that seems the most natural choice (this is because containment is associated with the functional consequence of location with surety, absent from the foregoing configuration) → functional knowledge is an intrinsic part of every spatial configuration and helps account for usage potential and sense derivation Criteria for abstracting central senses (Tyler and Evans 2003: 47-50) 1) earliest attested meaning 2) predominance in the semantic network 3) frequency of participation in compounds and other composite forms 4) contrast sets 5) grammatical predictions

5 Distinctness of sense Distinct senses vs. instances of use (Tyler and Evans 2004) → the problem is crucial to the full specification – minimal specification distinction and actually touches on the understanding of polysemy (inclusion or exclusion of such factors as the physical properties of TR and LM, contact and motion) → even though the boundary between a sense and a usage is subtle, any analysis which aims at differentiating single senses ought to take into account only conventionalized usages (senses), as opposed to the usages whose meaning arises from the accumulation of a number of spatial elements at the sentence level Criteria for discriminating distinct senses (Tyler and Evans 2001: ) 1) meaning absent from other distinct senses 2) context-independent instantiations Meaning extension (pragmatic strengthening, experiential correlation (e.g. Grady 1999), perceptual resemblance) On-line meaning construction (best fit, knowledge of real-world force dynamics, topological extension)

6 DO – proto-scene 1) Poszła do kina / szkoły / sklepu / kościoła. She went to the cinema / school / the store / church. 2) Poszedł do pracy. He went to work. 3) Wsiadła do samochodu. She got in the car. 4) Podeszła / doszła do samochodu. She approached [to] / arrived at the car. 5) Idź do mamy. Go to your mother. 6) Zajrzał do domu przez okno. He peeped into the house through the window. 7) Stał tyłem do ściany. He stood with his back towards the wall. TR LM The proto-scene for do configurational element: a spatial relation where a TR is oriented towards a salient LM functional element: goal

7 DO – proto-scene (cont.) Unsurprisingly, the proto-scene for do is compatible with that for the English cognate to (see Tyler and Evans 2004) Sentences 1-7 are all instances of the proto-scene Do does not encode motion by itself (the implicature of movement is evident only in the presence of verbs of motion, examples 1-5) Still, do is particularly apt for participating in dynamic readings (due to the information encoded by the proto-scene: there is a strong correlation between being oriented towards something and an intention to reach it - hence the functional consequence of goal) Do is also neutral with respect to containment (final-inclusion readings are influenced by canonical functions associated with particular bounded LMs, by the presence of a motile TR and finally, by the semantics of the verb – e.g., examples 3 and 4: wsiąść vs. podejść vs. dojść) In sum, the nature of a given LM plus other sentential clues influence the reading of an utterance in terms of the presence or absence of potential containment and motion The examples quoted also illustrate the indeterminacy of lexical meanings (esp. example 1) and the importance of functional information (esp. example 2, where the goal reading overrides the spatial configuration)

8 DO – other distinct senses 1) The Temporal Sense: Zamierzam pracować do wieczora. I’m going to work till the evening. → the Temporal Sense may have been motivated by the correlation of distance, which is a situated implicature arising from the frequent co-occurrence of do(-) with motion verbs, and duration. Besides, attaining a goal is usually limited to a certain period of time, so that the sense of success often depends on completing a given action within that period of time. 2) The Comparison Sense: Legia wygrała 2 do 1. Legia won 2 to 1. → The Comparison Sense rests on the fact that physical proximity, that is, bringing two things together, is a necessary condition for comparing them. That sense is an interesting example of how implicatures, or meaning components arising incidentally in a given linguistic and extralinguistic context, get entrenched and turn into separate senses. 3) The State Sense: Do zakochania jeden krok. It takes one step to fall in love. / Kołysała dziecko do snu. She rocked the baby to sleep. → The State Sense may be accounted for in terms of the correlation between states and locations: “through recurring instances of a particular emotional state being experienced in a particular locale, the correlation between location and emotional and/or physical state becomes established” (Tyler and Evans 2003: 187). 4) The Attachment Sense: Do pudełka przywiązana była karteczka. There was a little card tied on to the box. / Była do niego bardzo przywiązana. She was strongly attached to him. / Zapisał się do partii. He joined the party. → The Attachment Sense constitutes an example where physical proximity, a consequence of the trajector reaching its goal, is correlated with transfer in a particular direction. On being sanctioned, the sense may be used in other than purely spatial relationships

9 DO – other distinct senses (cont.) 5) The Limit Sense: Badał do 20 pacjentów dziennie. He examined up to twenty patients a day. → The Limit Sense may have been established on the grounds that reaching a goal is frequently thought of as an end or limit of some activity. Besides, distances covered when reaching a goal can be measured, and the landmark in the sentence at issue constitutes a point on a certain scale, which also corroborates the motivation proposed. 6) The Function Sense: filiżanka do kawy coffee cup / pasta do butów shoe polish →The Function Sense is a result of the correlation of the canonical destination of the trajector with the inherent function of the landmark. 7) The Emotion Sense: miłość do matki love for one’s mother / niechęć do kogoś aversion to somebody → The Emotion Sense can be explained by the fact that interpersonal relationships require physical presence and contact, which naturally entails orientation, as we normally face other people when talking to them. Contacts, in turn, result in having some kind of emotional attitude to people who we know. Interestingly, although motion and containment are not encoded by do, their consequences (implicatures deriving from experiential correlations), via the process of pragmatic strengthening, give rise to and sanction many of the distinct senses presented above.

10 Conclusions Zlatev (in press) with regard to the full specification – minimal specification distinction: the reason for the multiplication of prepositional senses is one of the consequences of the widely-accepted cognitivist assumption that there is no division between the semantic and pragmatic portion of meaning. If nothing can be relegated to context, then it may seem natural that all meaning should be given explicit representation. Also, language- based introspective research of both fully-specified and minimally-specified kind is naturally confined to the normative level of description, i.e. devoted to describing a set of shared conventions rather than mental representations. Nevertheless, Principled Polysemy offers at least some advantages in the field of cognitive spatial semantics. First of all, clear methodological principles minimize the much-criticized subjectivity of description. In addition, the model takes a definite stand on the questions of distinctness of sense and prepositional dynamism, one of the results being a considerable reduction in the number of senses in a semantic network. Another benefit of Principled Polysemy is its account of meaning extension, language-based and constructed without resort to subsymbolic conceptual metaphors. Also, it is worth noting that the framework developed by Tyler and Evans attempts to integrate a number of recent findings in psycholinguistics, lexical semantics and language change (such as the question of psychological reality, functional information and the notion of pragmatic strengthening, for example). Therefore, Principled Polysemy constitutes an important step towards formulating a comprehensive encyclopedic approach devoted to spatial meaning, which has already been undertaken by Evans in his LCCM Theory (2005, 2007, in press).

11 References Brugman, Claudia, 1988, The Story of Over: Polysemy, Semantics and the Structure of the Lexicon. New York: Garland Press. Evans, Vyvyan, 2005, “Lexical Concepts, Cognitive Models and Meaning-Construction.” Report no. LxWP 16/05. Sussex Working Papers in Linguistics and English Language. Evans, Vyvyan, 2007, “Towards a Cognitive Compositional Semantics: An Overview of LCCM Theory,” in U. Magnusson, H. Kardela and A. Głaz (eds.) Further Insights into Semantics and Lexicography, Lublin: Maria Curie-Sklodowska University Press. Evans, Vyvyan, “A Lexical Concepts and Cognitive Models Approach to Spatial Semantics: The ‘State’ Senses of English Prepositions.” To appear in V. Evans and P. Chilton (eds.), Language, Cognition and Space. London: Equinox Publishing Co. Grady, Joseph, 1999, “A typology of motivation for conceptual metaphor: correlation versus resemblance,” in R. Gibbs and G. Steen (eds.) Metaphor in Cognitive Linguistics, Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Herskovits, Annette, 1988, “Spatial expressions and the plasticity of meaning,” in B. Rudzka-Ostyn (ed.) Topics in Cognitive Linguistics, Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Lakoff, George, 1987, Woman, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind, Chicago: Chicago University Press. Langacker, Ronald, 1988, “A Usage-Based Model,” in B. Rudzka-Ostyn (ed.) Topics in Cognitive Linguistics, Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Langacker, Ronald, 2000, “A Dynamic Usage-Based Model,” in M. Barlow and S. Kemmer (eds.) Usage Based Models of Language, Stanford: CSLI Publications. Sandra, Dominiek and Sally Rice, 1995, “Network analyses of prepositional meaning: Mirroring whose mind – the linguist’s or the language user’s?,” Cognitive Linguistics 6 (1): Sinha, Chris and Tania Kuteva, 1995, “Distributed Spatial Semantics,” Nordic Journal of Linguistics 18 (2): Tyler, Andrea and Vyvyan Evans, 2001, “Reconsidering Prepositional Polysemy Networks: The Case of Over,” Language 77 (4), Tyler, Andrea and Vyvyan Evans, 2003, The Semantics of English Prepositions: Spatial Scenes, Embodied Meaning and Cognition. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Tyler, Andrea and Vyvyan Evans, 2004, “Rethinking English "Prepositions of Movement": The Case of To and Through,” in H. Cuyckens, W. de Mulder and T. Mortelmans (eds.), Adpositions of Movement, Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Belgian Journal of Linguistics, 18. Vandeloise, Claude, 1994, “Methodology and analyses of the preposition in,” Cognitive Linguistics 5 (2): Taylor, John R., 1989/2003, Linguistic Categorization. Prototypes in Linguistic Theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Zlatev, J. (In press). Spatial Semantics. In H. Cuyckens and D. Geeraerts (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved June 25, 2007, from

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