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13. semantics (synonym, antonym, homonym, hyponym, polyseme, idioms)

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13. semantics (synonym, antonym, homonym, hyponym, polyseme, idioms)

  1. 1. SEMANTICS“Language without Meanings is Meaningless” (Roman Jakobson)
  2. 2. What is “Semantics”? Semantics is the study of meaning that is used tounderstand human expression through language.
  3. 3.  Semantics is perhaps the most difficult part of the grammar of a language to learn. The reason is because, basically, meanings in a language are indefinite/undetermined. Remember that language is arbitrary (one of the characteristics of languages). It is arbitrary because the relationship between forms and their meanings are sometimes cannot logically proved.
  4. 4.  Although a form can have more than one meaning, there is always a primary or original meaning that is expresses. The original meaning of a form in a language is normally called “denotation”. With respect to words (lexical terms), the primary (original) meaning is the meaning that we can find in a dictionary. Example: “Rose” “A garden plant with thorns on its stem and pleasant-smelling flowers, or a flower from this plant”.
  5. 5.  Besides, there are additional meaning, which is known as “connotation”. With respect to words, connotation or additional meanings of a word are not listed in a dictionary; and therefore we cannot find them in a dictionary. Normally, a person expresses a connotative meaning through a word, phrase, clause or sentence based on certain characteristics of the entity or event that he/she is referring to. Example: one may call a beautiful girl a “rose” or a “lily”.
  6. 6.  Under the subject of semantics, we shall deal with the concepts of: Polysemy Synonymy Antonymy Hyponymy Idiom which are the lexical components that can be compared based on the semantic relation.
  7. 7. (1) POLYSEMY Polysemy is the state or phenomenon in which the words that have more than one meaning. In other words, it can be described as multiple meanings of words. The words are considered to be related etymologically. The concrete form of polysemy is called “polyseme”. Examples: Simple (e.g. English is extremely plain subject).  Plain With nothing added/not decorated in any way (e.g. This blouse is too plain).
  8. 8. (2) SYNONYMY Synonymy is the state or phenomenon in which the words that sound different (different in pronunciation) but have the same or identical meaning as another word or phrase. The concrete form of synonymy is called “synonym”. Examples:  small = little  big = large  mother and father = parents  politician = statesman
  9. 9. (3) ANTONYMY Antonymy is the state or phenomenon in which the words have the sense relation which involve the opposite of meaning. The concrete form of antonymy is called “antonym” (opposite). The word pairs of antonym can be divided into several types: a. Implicitly Gradable Pairs (Graded Antonym); b. Complementary Pairs (Complementarity); and c. Relational Pairs (Converseness).
  10. 10. (a) Implicitly Gradable Pairs (Graded Antonym) refers to the words related to the object they modify. The words themselves do not provide an absolute scale. Examples: big >< small good >< bad Relatively fast >< slow comparable young >< old Thus, when we say that “a fly is bigger than another”, we imply that „big‟ is to be understood in the context of „flies‟. Another fact dealing with this type is that “a small elephant”, for example, is much bigger that “a big mouse”. A big mouse A small elephant
  11. 11.  Another characteristic of certain pairs of gradable antonyms is that one is marked and the other is unmarked. The unmarked member is the one used in questions of degree.  We ask, ordinarily, “how high is the mountain?” (not “how low is it?”).  We answer, “ten thousand feet high”, but never “ten thousand feet low”, except humorously or ironically or the topic of the conversation is in the particular context.
  12. 12.  Thus, „high‟ is the unmarked member of „high/low‟, similarly „tall‟ is the unmarked member of „tall/short‟, or „fast‟ is the unmarked member of „fast/slow‟. High Tall Fast unmarked unmarked unmarked High / Low Tall / Short Fast / Slow marked marked marked
  13. 13. (b) Complementary Pairs (Complemetarity) refers to the existence of pairs that the denial of one, implies the assertion of the other. Examples: male >< female alive >< dead Incomparable present >< absent objects awake >< asleep Thus, if one is not male, then one is certainly female; if one is not present, then he/she must be absent, and so on.
  14. 14.  Related to complementary pairs, sets of terms like colors or numbers where the assertion of one member implies the negation of all the others. Thus, if we have a set of such as: green, yellow, brown, red, blue      when we say: “This is green”, for instance, it means that it is not yellow, brown, red, or blue.
  15. 15. (c) Relational Pairs (converseness) refers to the pair of words that display symmetry in their meaning. If X gives Y to Z, then Z receives Y from X Relationships between certain semantic features can reveal knowledge about antonyms. Consider: A word that is [+married] is [-single] A word that is [+single] is [-married]These show that any word that bears the semantic property “married”,such as „wife‟, is understood to lack the semantic property “single”; andconversely, any word that bears the semantic property “single”, such as„bachelor‟, will not have the property “married”.
  16. 16.  Other commonly relational pairs are:  buy >< sell  push >< pull  command >< serve  give >< take  teach >< learn  master >< servant  teacher >< pupil  doctor >< patient, etc. In the context of sentence, occasionally the same verb can be supposed as a relational pair. Example: John married Mary >< Mary married John.
  17. 17.  In English, there are a number of ways to form antonyms. You can add the prefix {un-}: Examples: likely >< unlikely able >< unable or you can add {non-}: Examples: entity >< nonentity descript >< nondescript or you can add {in-}: Examples: tolerant >< intolerant visible >< invisible Other prefixes may also be used to form negative words morphologically, such as {mis-} or {dis-}.
  18. 18. (4) HYPONYMY Hyponymy is the state or phenomenon that shows the relationship between more general term (lexical representation) and the more specific instances of it. The concrete forms of sets of word (the specific instances) are called “hyponyms”. Example: The lexical representation of: red, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, is [+color]. Thus, we can say that: “red” is a hyponym of “color”, and so on.
  19. 19.  Sometimes there is no single word in the language that encompasses as set of hyponyms. Example: clarinet, guitar, piano, trumpet, violin are hyponyms because they are “musical instruments”, but there is not a single word meaning “musical instrument” that has these words as its hyponyms.• The relationship between the general term and the specific instances is often be described using a hierarchical diagram, called “taxonomy”.
  20. 20. Example of Taxonomy: vegetable greens pulses roots tuberscabbage spinach peas beans carrots turnips potatoes yams
  21. 21. Look at the following list:  Tea  Black coffee  coffee  Milk  White coffee  Beverage From the list, we can make the taxonomy as follow: Beverage tea coffee milk Black coffee White coffee
  22. 22. (5) IDIOM An idiom is a group of words in which the meaning cannot be explained in terms of the habitual meanings of the words that make up the piece of language. Idioms are similar in structure to ordinary phrases except that they tend to be frozen in form and do not readily enter into other combinations or allow the word order to change. Idioms involve the non-literal use of language and they can be categorized as follows:
  23. 23. (1) Alliterative Comparisons: dead as a dodo (dead as in extinct). fit as a fiddle (in good health). as good as gold (well behaved).(2) Noun Phrases: a blind alley (route that leads nowhere, a false trail). a close shave (a narrow escape). a red letter day (a day that will never be forgotten).
  24. 24. (3) Prepositional Phrase: at sixes and sevens (unable/unwilling to agree). by hook or by crook (by whatever methods prove necessary). in for a penny, in for a pound (involved irrespective of cost).(4) Verb + Noun Phrase: kick the bucket (die). pop your clogs (die). spill the beans (reveal a secret).
  25. 25. (5) Verb + Preposition Phrase: be in clover (be exceptionally comfortable). be in the doghouse (be in disgrace). be between rock and a hard place (have no room for manoeuvre).(6) Verb + Adverb: give in (yield). put down (kill). take to (like).

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