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Chapter 5 Semantics

I. Decide whether each of the following statements is True or False:

l.F     2.F     3.T     4.F     5.T     6.T     7.F     8.T    9.T     10.T

 

II. Fill in each of the following blanks with one word which begins with the letter given:

11. Semantics 12. direct 13.Reference 14. synonyms 15.homophones 16.Relational 17. Componential 18. selectional 19. argument 20. naming

III. There are four choices following each statement. Mark the choice that can best complete the statement:

2l.A     22.B     23.D    24.D     25.B    26.C     27.A     28.C    29.D     30.A

IV. Define the following terms:

31. Semantics: Semantics can be simply defined as the study of meaning in language.

32. Sense: 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 -contextualised.

33. Reference: Reference means 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

34. Synonymy :Synonymy refers to the sameness or close similarity of meaning.

35. Polysemy :Polysemy refers to the fact that the same one word may have more than one meaning.

36. Homonymy :Homonymy refers to the phenomenon that words having different mean-ings have the same form, i.e. , different words are identical in sound or spelling, or in both.

37. homophones :When two words are identical in sound, they are called homophones

38. homographs :When two words are identical in spelling, they are homographs.

39. complete homonyms.:When two words are identical in both sound and spelling, they are called complete homonyms.

40.Hyponymy :Hyponymy refers to the sense relation between a more general, more inclusive word and a more specific word.

41. Antonymy :Antonymy refers to the relation of oppositeness of meaning.

42. Componential analysis : Componential analysis is a way to analyze word meaning. It was pro-posed by structural semanticists. The approach is based on the belief that the meaning of a -word can be divided into meaning components, which are called semantic features.

43.The grammatical meaning : The grammatical meaning of a sentence refers to its grammaticality, i.e. , its grammatical well-formedness . The grammaticality of a sentence is governed by the grammatical rules of the language.

44. predica-tion :The predica-tion is the abstraction of the meaning of a sentence.

45. ar-gument : An ar-gument is a logical participant in a predication. It is generally identical with the nominal element (s) in a sentence.

46. predicate : A predicate is something that is said about an argument or it states the logical relation linking the arguments in a sentence.

47. two-place predication : A two-place predication is one which con-tains two arguments.

 

V. Answer the following questions:

 

48. Why do we say that a meaning of a sentence is not the sum total of the meanings of all its components ?

The meaning of a sentence is not the sum total of the meanings of all its components because it cannot be worked out by adding up all the meanings of its constituent words. For example;

(A) The dog bit the man.

(B) The man bit the dog.

If the meaning of a sentence were the sum total of the meanings of all its components, then the above two sentences would have the same meaning. In fact they are different in meanings.

As we know, there are two aspects to sentence meaning: grammatical mean-ing and semantic meaning. The grammatical meanings of “the dog” and “the man” in (A) are different from the grammatical meanings of “the dog” and “the man” in (B). The meaning of a sentence is the product of both lexical and grammatical meaning. It is the product of the meaning of the constituent words and of the grammatical constructions that relate one word syntagmatically to another.

 

49. What is componential analysis Illustrate it with examples.

Componential analysis, pro-posed by structural semanticists, is a way to analyze word meaning. The approach is based on the belief that the meaning of a word can be divided into meaning components, which are called semantic features. Plus and minus signs are used to indicate whether a certain semantic feature is present or absent in the meaning of a word, and these feature symbols are usually written in capitalized letters. For example, the word “man” is ana-lyzed as consisting of the semantic features of [+ HUMAN, + ADULT, + ANIMATE, +MALE]

 

50. How do you distinguish between entailment and presupposition in terms of truth values ?

 

Entailment is a relation of inclusion. Suppose there are two sentences X and Y:

X: He has been to France.

Y: He has been to Europe.

In terms of truth values, if X is true, Y is necessarily true, e.g. If he has been to France, he must have been to Europe.

If X is false, Y may be true or false, e. g. If he has not been to France, he may still have been to Europe or he has not been to Europe. If Y is true, X may be true or false, e.g. If he has been to Europe, he may or may not have been to France.

If Y is false, X is false, e.g. If he has not been to Europe, he cannot have been to France.

Therefore we conclude that X entails Y or Y is an entailment of X.

 

The truth conditions that we use to judge presupposition is as follows:

Suppose there are two sentences X and Y

X: John' s bike needs repairing.

Y: John has a bike.

If X is true, Y must be true, e.g. If John' s bike needs repairing, John must have a bike.

If X is false, Y is still true, e. g. If John' s bike does not need repairing, John still has a bike. If Y is true, X is either true or false, e.g. If John has a bike, it may or may not need repairing. If Y is false, no truth value can be said about X, e.g. If John does not have a bike, nothing can be said about whether his bike needs repairing or not. Therefore, X presupposes Y, or Y is a presupposition of X.

 

51. How do you account for such sense relations between sentences as synonymous relation, inconsistent relation in terms of truth values ?

In terms of truth condition, of the two sentences X and Y, if X is true, Y is true; if X is false, Y is false, therefore X is synonymous with Y

e.g. X; He was a bachelor all his life.

Y: He never married all his life.

 

Of the two sentences X and Y, if X is true, Y is false; if X is false, Y is true, then we can say A is inconsistent with Y

e.g. X: John is married.

Y: John is a bachelor.

 

52. According to the ways synonyms differ, how many groups can we classify synonyms into Illustrate them with examples.

According to the ways synonyms differ, synonyms can be divided into the following groups.

 

i. Dialectal synonyms

They are synonyms which are used in different regional dialects. British English and American English are the two major geographical varieties of the English language. For examples:

British English American English

autumn fall

lift elevator

Then dialectal synonyms can also be found within British, or American English itself. For example, "girl" is called "lass" or "lassie" in Scottish dialect, and "liquor" is called "whisky" in Irish dialect.

ii. Stylistic synonyms

They are synonyms which differ in style or degree of formality. Some of the stylistic synonyms tend to be more formal, others tend to be casual, and still oth-ers are neutral in style. For example:

old man, daddy, dad, father, male parent

chap, pal, friend, companion

iii. Synonyms that differ in their emotive or evaluative meaning

They are the words that have the same meaning but express different emotions of the user. The emotions of the user indicate the attitude or bias of the user toward what he is talking about . For exam-ple, “collaborator” and “accomplice” are synonymous, sharing the meaning of "a person who helps another", but they are different in their evaluative meaning. The former means that a person who helps another in do-ing something good, while the latter refers to a person who helps another in a criminal act.

iv. Collocational synonyms

 

They are synonyms which differ in their collocation. For example, we can use accuse, charge, rebuke to say that someone has done something wrong or even criminal, but they are used with different preposi-tions accuse. . . of, charge. . . with, rebuke. . .for. v. V. Semantically different synonyms

Semantically different synonyms refer to the synonyms that differ slight-ly in what they mean. For example, "amaze" and "astound" are very close in meaning to the word "surprise," but they have very subtle differences in meaning. While amaze suggests confusion and bewilderment, " astound" implies difficulty in believing. "

 

53. What are the major views concerning the study of meaning How do they differ ?

One of the oldest was the naming theory, proposed by the ancient Greek scholar Plato, who believed that the words used in a language are taken to be la-bels of the objects they stand for. The conceptualist view holds that there is no direct link between a lin-guistic form and what it refers to. The form and the meaning are linked through the mediation of concepts in the mind. Contextualism is based on the presumption that one can derive meaning from or reduce meaning to observable contexts. Two kinds of context are recognized; the situational context and the linguistic context.

For example, the meaning of the word "seal" in the sentence "The seal could not be found" can only be determined ac-cording to the context in which the sentence occurs:

The seal could not be found. The zoo keeper became worried.

(seal meaning an aquatic mammal)

The seal could not be found. The king became worried.

(seal meaning the king's stamp)

Behaviorism drew on behaviorist psychology when he tried to define the meaning of linguistic forms. Behaviorists attempted to de-fine the meaning of a language form as " the situation in which the speaker utters it and the response it calls forth in the hearer".