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英语语言学纲要笔记(6)Chapter 6 Semantics

2008年12月08日  所属:英语语言学  来源:完美学社  作者:英语语言学纲要

英语语言学纲要重点(6):Chapter 6 Semantics。

Chapter 6 Semantics
 What is semantics?

 Semantics is defined as the study of meaning. However, it is not the only linguistic discipline that studies meaning.
 Semantics answers the question “what does this sentence mean”. In other words, it is the analysis of conventional meanings in words and sentences out of context.

 Reference and sense

 Linguistic expressions stand in a relation to the world. There are two aspects of meaning.
 Reference is the relation by which a word picks out or identifies an entity in the world. But the referential theory fails to account for certain kinds of linguistic expression.
 Some words are meaningful, but they identify no entities in the real world, such as the words dragon, phoenix, unicorn, and mermaid.
 It is not possible for some words to find referent in the world, such as the words but, and, of, however, the, etc.
 Speakers of English understand the meaning of a round triangle although there is no such graph.
 Sense is the relation by which words stand in human mind. It is mental representation, the association with something in the speaker’s or hearer’s mind. The study of meaning from the perspective of sense is called the representational approach.

 Classification of lexical meanings

 Referential meaning (denotative meaning) – central meaning of words, stable, universal
 Associative meaning – meaning that hinges on referential meaning, less stable, more culture-specific
 Connotative meaning – the communicative value an expression has by virtue of what it refers to, embraces the properties of the referent, peripheral
 Social meaning (stylistic meaning) – what is conveyed about the social circumstances of the use of a linguistic expression
 Affective meaning – what is communicated of the feeling or attitude of the speaker/writer towards what is referred to
 Reflected meaning – what is communicated through association with another sense of the same expression
 Taboos
 Collocative meaning – the associated meaning a word acquires in line with the meaning of words which tend to co-occur with it

 Lexical sense relations

 Synonymy
 Synonyms are words which have different forms but similar meanings.
 Dialectal synonyms – lift/elevator, flat/apartment
 Synonyms of different styles – gentleman/guy
 Synonyms of different registers – salt/sodium chloride
 Synonyms differing in affective meaning – attract/seduce
 Synonyms differing in collocation – beautiful/handsome, able/capable
 Synonyms are frequently used in speaking and writing as a cohesive device. In order to avoid repetition the writer/speaker needs to use a synonym to replace a word in the previous co-text when he/she wants to continue to address that idea. The synonyms together function to create cohesion of the text.
 Antonymy
 Antonyms are words which are opposite in meaning.
 Gradable antonyms – pairs of words opposite to each other, but the positive of one word does not necessarily imply the negative of the other. For example, the words hot and cold are a pair of antonyms, but not hot does not necessarily mean cold, maybe warm, mild or cool. Therefore, this pair of antonyms is a pair of gradable antonyms.
 Complementary antonyms – words opposite to each other and the positive of one implies the negative of the other: alive/dead
 Reversal (relational) antonyms – words that denote the same relation or process from one or the other direction: push/pull, up/down, teacher/student
 Antonymy is frequently utilized as a rhetorical resource in language use. Oxymoron and antithesis based on antonymy. Gradable antonyms may give rise to fuzziness.
 Homonymy
 Homonyms are words which have the same form, but different meanings.
 Homographs – words which are identical in spelling, but different in meaning and pronunciation: tear [] (v.)/tear [] (n.)
 Homophones – words which are identical in pronunciation, but different in spelling and meaning: see/sea
 Full homonyms – words which are identical in spelling and pronunciation, but different in meaning: bear (v. to give birth to a baby/to stand)/bear (n. a kind of animal)
 Rhetorically, homonyms are often used as puns.
 Polysemy
 A polyseme is a word which has several related senses.
 Polysemy is based on the intuition of native speakers as well as the etymology or history of words.
 Hyponymy
 Hyponymy is a relation of inclusion.
 Tiger, lion, elephant and dog are hyponyms of the word animal. Words like animal are called superordinates.
 This kind of vertical semantic relation links words in a hierarchical work.

 Componential analysis

 Componential analysis is the approach that analyze word meaning by decomposing it into its atomic features. It shows the semantic features of a word.
 Examples:
 Man: +HUMAN +MALE +ADULT
 Boy: +HUMAN +MALE –ADULT
 Father: +HUMAN +MALE +ADULT →PARENT
 Daughter: +HUMAN –MALE 0ADULT ←PARENT

 Words and concepts

 Categorization
 Categorization refers to the process by which people use language to classify the world around and inside them.
 It is fundamental to human cognition.
 In the past two decades cognitive psychologists and cognitive linguistics have gained new insights into the nature of categories.
 Prototypes
 A prototype is a set that has typical, central features. Others are peripheral features, which are not typical but related.
 Hierarchies
 Conceptual network

 Sentencial sense relations – semantic relations of sentences

 Sentences may be related in sense. I will illustrate sense relations within and between sentences.
 Tautology: The bachelor is unmarried.
 Contradiction: The bachelor is married.
 Inconsistency: John is single./John is married.
 Synonymousness: John broke the glass./The glass was broken by John.
 Entailment: The meeting was chaired by a spinster./The meeting was chaired by a woman.
 Presupposition: Sam has returned the book./Sam borrowed the book.
 These semantic relations are found within or between meaningful sentences. There are sentences which sound grammatical but meaningless. These sentences are said to be semantically anomalous. For example:
 Colourless green ideas sleep furiously.
 The pregnant bachelor killed some phonemes.

 Metaphors

 From rhetorical device to cognitive device
 The classical view sees metaphor as a kind of decorative in addition to ordinary language, a rhetorical device that makes language use colourful.
 Another view of metaphor, which has become more influential in the past two decades, holds that metaphors are a cognitive device. Metaphor is an essential element in our categorization of the world and our thinking process.
 Cognitive linguistics has shown that metaphor is not an unusual or deviant way of using language. The use of metaphor is not confined to literature, rhetoric and art. It is actually ubiquitous in everyday communication.
 The components of metaphors
 Target domain – tenor
 Source domain – vehicle
 Features of metaphors
 Metaphors are systematic.
 Metaphors can create similarities between the two domains involved.
 Metaphors are also characterized by imaginative rationality.


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