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  • 1. University of the PunjabDepartment of English Language & LiteratureLahore, Pakistan
  • 2. Semantics• Learning a language includes:– learning the meaning of individual elements– how to combine these to make further meaningfulphrases and sentences• The study of meaning that can be determined from:–A sentence– Phrase–Word
  • 3. Principle of Compositionality• The meaning of a sentence is determined:– by the meaning of its component parts– the manner in which they are arranged in syntacticstructure• So, the meaning of a sentence is:– just the word meanings– Interface of syntax and semantics - syntaxinfluences meaning“Keelin killed John”vs“John killed Keelin”: huge difference
  • 4. Types of MeaningReferential:thing, event, state of the worldSocial:word choice tells us aboutsomeones social classAffective:word choice conveys feelings andattitudes
  • 5. Scales of Meaning(word order, syntactic constructions)Word:content and function wordsSentence:The meaning of a sentence is more thanthe sum of the meanings of its words
  • 6. Lexical Semantics• Semantic Properties:– The components of meaning of a word– and the meaningful relationship between words• Semantic feature:– A device for expressing the presence or absence ofsemantic properties by pluses and minuses.baby is [+ young], [+ human], [– abstract]
  • 7. Words have Structured Meanings• Lexeme – a pairing of a form with a sense• Orthographic form – the way the lexeme looks on the page• Phonological form – the way the lexeme sounds• Lexicon – finite list of lexemeseaten eateatsateLexeme eat
  • 8. Lexical Relations• Homonymy• Polysemy• Synonymy• Hyponymy• Homophone• Homograph• Antonym
  • 9. HomonymyA relation that holds between two lexemes that have the sameform with unrelated meaningsCross (cross the street, she is cross, Jesus on the cross)bankslopingmoundFinancialinstitutionLexemeLexeme
  • 10. Homophone• Different words pronounced the same but spelled differently,e.g. two and too.(tuː)twotooLexemeLexeme
  • 11. Homograph• Different words spelled the same but pronounced differently, e.g.• “advocate” can be pronounced:– /ædvəkeɪt/ (v)– /ædvəkət/ (N)advocateadvocatelexemelexeme/ædvəkeɪt/ (v)/ædvəkət/ (N)
  • 12. PolysemyThe phenomenon where a single lexeme has multiple related meaningsA dirty floor, a dirty trick/A dark room, a dark secretbankBiologicalrepositoryFinancialinstitutionLexemeslopingmound
  • 13. SynonymyA relation that holds between two lexemes with thesame sensebiglargePositivesizeolderlexemelexeme
  • 14. AntonymA relation that holds between two lexemes with the differentsenseAlive-dead, male-female, present-absent, awake-asleepsmallbigPositivesizeolderlexemelexeme
  • 15. HyponymyA relation that hold between two lexemes where one denotes asubclass of the other: Lion, tiger, leopard are all hyponyms of“cat”vehiclecarhypernymhyponymvehiclecar
  • 16. Semantic Ambiguity• An utterancewhich has morethan one meaning
  • 17. Ambiguity is Pervasive• I cooked waterfowl belonging to her.– Lexical Category: “her” can be a possessive (“ofher”) or dative (“for her”) pronoun• I made the (plaster) duck statue she owns– Lexical Semantics: “make” can mean “create” or“cook”
  • 18. Ambiguity is Pervasive• Phonetics!– I mate or duck– I’m eight or duck– Eye maid; her duck– Aye mate, her duck– I maid her duck– I’m aid her duck– I mate her duck– I’m ate her duck– I’m ate or duck– I mate or duck
  • 19. Semantic change/shift• One of the most interesting aspects of semantics is:– tracking the changing meaning of words throughtime– Even when a word is retained in a language, itsmeaning will often change over time– Often social change - people change how it’s used
  • 20. Semantic Broadening• Here, words get a more general meaning thanthey once hadWords Old meaning New meaningaunt father’s sister parent’s sister, wifeof parent’s brothermanage handle a horse handle anythingHoliday holy day any day off
  • 21. Semantic Narrowing• The opposite - where words now have a morenarrow meaning than beforeWords Old meaning New meaningMeat any type of food flesh of an animalliquor liquids alcoholic drinksAccident any unforeseenEventunforeseen ,withnegativeconsequence
  • 22. Amelioration• A word gets a more positive connotation thanit had beforeWords Old meaning New meaningPretty tricky, sly, cunning attractiveknight boy man of honourablemilitary rankdogged doglike tenacious/determined
  • 23. Pejoration• A word gets a more negative connotation thanit had beforeWords Old meaning New meaningSilly happy, blessed foolishwench girl wanton womanstench Smell unpleasant smell
  • 24. Summary• Semantics aims:– to look at meaning in language• This involves looking at:– word meanings– sentence meanings– how meanings can and do change over time