Lexical Semantics. Cruse , David Alan Cruse , D. Cruse , D Lexical Semantics is about the meaning of words. Although obviously a central concern of linguistics, the semantic behaviour of words has been unduly neglected in the current literature, which has tended to emphasize sentential semantics and its relation to formal systems of logic. In this textbook D.
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Aspect M. Child Language P H. The right of the Unrversrty of Cambridge ro print ond sell all manner of books wos granted by Henry V l l l in The Universrfy has prrnted and published conrinuourly rinte Llbt a -? A contextual approach to lexical semantics Introductory Meaning and grammar The data of semantics Disciplining intuitions The meaning of a word Notes The syntagmatic delimitation of lexical units Introductory Semantic constituents Semantic constituents which fail the test Indicators, tallies and categor'isers Phonetic elicitors of semantic traits Words Idioms Degrees of opacity Idioms and collocations Idiom and 'dead' metaphor Notes.
Contents Direct criteria for ambiguity 3 ,, 5 Some difficult cases 3. Introducing lexical relations Preliminaries Congruence Cognitive synonymy Hyponymy Compatibility Incompatibility Congruence variants Partial relations Quasi-r elations Pseudo-relations Para-relations Syntagmatic relations of meaning between lexical units Notes.
Characteristics of natural taxonomies Over-specification, under-specification and the generic level Notes. Contents Defining rneronym i Aspects of transitivity: integral parts and attachments Characteristics of meronomies Close relatives of the part-whole relation -6 Meronomies and taxonomies.
I Introductory 8. Opposites directional oppositions Directional opposites Directions Antipodals Counterparts Reversives Relational opposites : converses Indirect converses Congruence variants and pseudo-opposites Notes.
Opposites general questions Impartiality Polarity Linguistic polarity and natural polarity. Contents Logical polarity II. Notes I I ,,4. Synonymy Absolute synonyms and the scale of synonymity Cognitive synonyms Plesionyms Congruence relations and synonymy 'Absolute', 'cognitive' and 'plesio-' relations outside synonymy. Notes ,. Small capitals For names of scales associated with antonyms e.
Double guotatzon marks For meanings e. The cat barked. They will, I am afraid, be disappointed: the book is, in fact, the meanings of words.
It is not therefore about semantics; it is ercise iil semantics. My approach is descriptive, rather than for,maliswill no doubt be seen as a fault by some that I have not tried rk within an explicit formal-theoretical framework. However, I do elieve that any currently available formal theormy is capable of encomng all the facts concerning word-meanings that have a prima facie on the attention of linguists. We have to choose, therefore, between etical rigour combined with descriptive poverty, and descriptive richcombined with a lower degree of theoretical control.
T h e ultimate a1 may well be an explicit theory with comprehensive explanatory power, t in the meantime it seems to me that research endeavour should continue two parallel but inter-connecting fronts: theory constructions and eoretically uncommitted exploration of the field.
This book exemplifies latter approach. The absence of a formal-theoretical framework does not mean, however, that I have attempted nothing more than semantic botanising: linguistics has certainly developed beyond the stage where a collection of pretty and curious semantic specimens, however attractively arrmanged and aptly and minutely described, would be an acceptable offering. My aim has been an exploration of the semantic behaviour of words which, methodologically, is located in the middle reaches of the continuum stretching from mere anecdotalism to fully integrated formma1 theory - an exploration disciplined by a consistent method of approach, and by a predilection for systematic, recurrent and generalisable facts rather than for particularity and idiosyncrasy.
Although this is the spirit in which the vast majority of natural scientists - biologists, chemists, physicists, etc. Prejac e I n writing this book I have assumed very little in the way of a techni linguistics backgi-ound on the part of the reader, Linguistically sophist cated readers may be irritated by the low level of discussion of technics linguistic - especially grammatical - matters I hope such readers wi be forbearing: I certainly hope they will find what I have to say on wor meaning interesting and worth while; but I would like the book to accessible also to those with no formal training in linguistics althou I assume familiarity with traditional grammar.
I have not attempted give full bibliographical coverage of theoretical topics; for the sake of no linguists I have tried to indicate a good general treatment of the top in question; 1 assume that linguists wilf look elsewhere for full references 1 would like to thank all those who have helped, directly or indirect1 in bringing this book into being. Probably the person to whom I o the greatest debt of gratitude is William Haas, under whom I first studie linguistics, and who inspired in me a particular interest in semantics.
Ov the years I have enjoyed innumerable lengthy discussions with him virtually all the toplcs which appear in the book; his influence is so pervasiv that I cannot properly detail his contribution He also read and commented con the whole manuscript T h e book developed from a course of lectures given to postgraduate and advanced undergraduate students in the General Linguistics Department at Manchester University Many of my ideas changed considerably over this period as the scepticism of successive generations of students forced one re-think after another.
I benefited greatly from comments on draft chapters by Tony Cowle chapter z and David Allerton chapters I , 2 and 3 T h e person who has undoubtedly had the greatest direct influence on the final text is John Lyons, whose detailed comments - at the same time provocative and sympathetic - on virtually every page of the manuscript led to countless improvements. I shall probably live to regret the few instances where I decided not to follow his advice Of course, the contents of the book do not necessarily reflect the views of any of those who have helped me, and responsibility for errors, mlsrepresentations and infelicities is entirely my own T h e final manuscript was expertly typed by Irene Pickford, under considerable pressure, and in record time.
Finally 1 would like to thank my wife Paule for her love, patience and encouragement during the long gestation period, and for carrying an extra burden of family responsibility on many occasions so that I could work undisturbed,. I Introductory Before embarking on a study of lexical semantics, even one is avowedly descriptive rather than theoretical in orientation, it essary to make explicit certain basic assumptions concerning meaning, o establish, as far as possible, a consistent method of studying it.
T h e full implications of this will become clearer as the exposition eeds. In theory, the relevant contexts could include extra-linguistic ational contexts.. But there are good reasons for a principled limitation nguistic contexts: first, the relation between a lexical item and extrauistic contexts is often crucially mediated by the purely linguistic cons consider the possible relations between horse and the extra-linguistic ation in That's a horse and There a1-e no horses here ; second, any ect of an extra-linguistic context can in principle be mirrored linguistiy; and, third, linguistic context is more easily controlled and manipued.
We shall therefore seek to derive information about a word's meaning m its relations with actual and potential linguistic contexts. However, the combinator ial character istics of words in utterances are onstrained not only by their meanings, but also by their grammatical roperties.
Grammatical constraints may overlap and reinforce semantic ones, but they may also be semantically armbitrary. In order to be able to use contextual relations for semantic purposes, therefore, we need to be able to recognise and discount combinatorial peculiarities which are purely grammatical in nature ,. However, they can be disentangled suf ciently to allow our study of lexical semantics to proceed. T h e distinction between grammar and meaning has a strong intuiti basis notwithstanding difficulties of character isation, and regions of unce tainty.
Few, I imagine, would dispute that I is odd by virtue of its mea ing, and 2 by virtue of its deviant grammar : I. However, while every effort will be made to found arguments on intuitive clear cases of semantic deviance, it is only prudent to have some notio of what is involved in distinguishing this from syntactic deviance.
L us then take the discussion a stage further. Consider the following sentences: It's too light for me to lift. I've nearly completed. Both ar,e, of course, deviant. But in attempting to decide whether the deviance in either case is grammatical or semantic, we are not wholly dependent on unaided intuition: reasoned arguments can be deployed.
In 3, for instance, the deviance disappears completely if light is substituted bv the semantically distinct, but syntactically identical, heav,y. There would seem, therefore, to be ample justification for describing the deviance of 3 as semantic. This alters the syntactic natur8eof the sentence, but is almost semantically empty.
We can also point to the difference in degree of deviance between 4 and 5 , which is out of all proportion to any difference of meaning between complete andfinish. It would seem perverse, therefore, to see the deviance of 4 as anything other than syntactic. These examples suggest that there is a possible principled basis for the distinction between semantic and syntactic deviance.
A frequently mentioned, and as often criticised, criterion is that of 'corrigibi1ity':l the idea is that syntactic deviances can be readily corrected, whereas semantic deviances cannot.
Consider sentences I and z, for example: it is perfectly obvious what 2 'should be'- They went home yesterduy ; but what is to be done with I? So far, so good. However, it is not difficult to find semantically ill-formed sentences which are easy to str'aighten out.
If a deviant sentence be normmalised by adjusting its gr'ammatical structure - for instance, hanging the order or syntactic category of elements, or by adding, tituting or deleting one or mor8e gr'ammatical elements - then it would m reasonable to suppose that its deviance is grammatical in nature.
This is, in fact, possible erms of what are called closed set items and open set items. Typically ey have few or no possibilities of substitution in an actual sentence:. T h e open et elements, on the other hand, are those which belong to classes which re subject to a relatively rapid turnover in member,ship, as new terms are coined and other's fall into obsolescence. They ar,e the lexical rpoots the principal meaning-bearing elements in a sentence.
They typically have numerous possibilities of substitution in a sentence:. John's BillMarySue etc. Lexical sew2a? All the changes needed to normalise 2, on the other hand, involve closed set items A correct diagnosis IS also obtained for 3 : since it can be normalised by a simple substitution of an open set item, the test diagnoses its deviance as semantic It is, of course, perfectly possible for a sentence to exhibit semantic and grammatical deviance simultaneously :.
Two separate operations are needed to normalise this sentence, one involving closed set items : 8a. T h e green idea is sleeping. T h e green lizard is sleeping.
What is more disturbing if we wish to achieve a simple separation of grammar and semantics is that on occasions one and the same deviance may be cured either by adjustment of closed set items, or by the replacement of open set items.
Sentence ga, for instance, can be normalised either as in b or as in c: ga. T h e table was seen by Arthur c. T h e rhinoceros saw Arthur. Similarly, m a can be normalised as in b or c : roa. It will be that basically these sentences are semantically deviant ; however, t also be recognised that it is not possible to disentangle semantics rpammarcompletely.
Because grammatical nts typically need to have the capacity to combine normally with ically very various roots, their meanings tend to be of a very general the notion of past tense, for instance, can combine without anomaly virtually any conceivable verbal notion. But otherwise the meaning carry is not of a radically different sort from that carried by lexical and grammatical and lexical elements frequently interact semanti.
Since the anomaly arises here from sh between the meaning of a closed set item and the meaning of open set item, it can be cured by changing either. Here we have a semantic clash between two open set items ble and.
X- see- Y A noun phrase in the X-position interacts semantically with see in a differt way from a noun phrase in the Y-position the exact nature of these teractions can be considered part of the meaning of see. This is why changing the voice of the saw verb in 9a from active to passive - which has the effect of interchanging the valency slots that the noun phrases occupy - removes the anomaly as effectively as replacing see or table. Does this mean that, whenever we encounter a deviance that can be cured either by adjustment of grammar or lexical content, we can take it that semantics is involved?
Unfortunately, no: such a deviance may be purely grammatical. Le livre est sur le table. Le livre est sur la table. Le livre est sur le lit. It is also significant that the oddness of ga can be reduced by modifying table semantically: The table with the electronrc eye saw Arthur we know that it is the meaning of the modifying phrase which is important because the reduction in oddness depends-on the open set items the phrase contains - compare The table with the melamzne top saw Arthur ; no similar modification of bake in r Ia, or table in 12a, can reduce the degree of deviance of these sentences.
We are now in a position to re-formulate our criteria for deciding whether' an anomalous sentence is semantically or grammatically deviant :. A contextual amroach concept of normalisability also forms the basis of a rather different determining whether an anomaly has a grammatical or semantic Without tampering with the deviant sentence itself, we can investie of placing it in variously elaborated discourse contexts.
As our Portuguese plumber remarked: '. T h e difference is that whereas a syntacic deviance may be tolerated, only a semantic deviance can be directly terpreted. A syntactically deviant sentence can be interpreted only by eference to a non-deviant sentence: a speaker, in other words, is not ree to create his own grammar.
Another way of formulating this criterion to say that only a semantic deviance can be taken as a 'figure of speech'..
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Cruse, D.a. Lexical Semantics
Aspect M. Child Language P H. The right of the Unrversrty of Cambridge ro print ond sell all manner of books wos granted by Henry V l l l in The Universrfy has prrnted and published conrinuourly rinte Llbt a -? A contextual approach to lexical semantics Introductory Meaning and grammar The data of semantics Disciplining intuitions The meaning of a word Notes The syntagmatic delimitation of lexical units Introductory Semantic constituents Semantic constituents which fail the test Indicators, tallies and categor'isers Phonetic elicitors of semantic traits Words Idioms Degrees of opacity Idioms and collocations Idiom and 'dead' metaphor Notes. Contents Direct criteria for ambiguity 3 ,, 5 Some difficult cases 3. Introducing lexical relations Preliminaries Congruence Cognitive synonymy Hyponymy Compatibility Incompatibility Congruence variants Partial relations Quasi-r elations Pseudo-relations Para-relations Syntagmatic relations of meaning between lexical units Notes.