THE STUDY OF LANGUAGE
MOHD NURHAFIQ BIN ZULKEPLI
AHMAD SUHAIMI BIN ABDUL SHUKOR
What Is Semantics?
• Semantics is study of the
meaning of words,
phrases and sentences.
• In semantic analysis,
there is always an
attempt to focus on what
the words conventionally
mean, rather than on
what an individual
speaker might want them
to mean on particular
• Covers those basic,
essential components of
meaning that are conveyed
by the literal use of a word
• For example, some of basic
components of a word like
needle in English might
include "thin, sharp, steel
• Different people might have different associations or
connotations attached to a word.
• Example, like needle which lead us to think of painful
whenever you encounter the word said.
• This association is not treated as a conceptual meaning
Conceptual vs Associative Meaning
• When linguists investigate the meaning of words in
language they are normally characterizing the
conceptual meaning rather than associative meaning.
• Meanwhile, the poets, song writers,novelists, literacy
critics, advertisers and lovers may all be interested in
how words can evoke certain aspect of associative
• How does semantic approach help us to understand the
nature of language?
• It might be helpful as a mean of accounting for the
"oddness" which we experience when we read English
sentences such as follows:
The hamburger ate the man.
My cat studied arabic.
A pillow was listening to music.
• Above sentences are syntactically right but semantically
odd. Do you know why?
• According to some basic syntactic rules for
forming English sentences we have well
The hamburger ate the man
NP V NP
• This sentence is syntactically good but
semantically odd. Since the sentence "The man
ate the hamburger" is perfectly acceptable.
• The kind of noun which can be subjects of the
verb 'ate' must denote entities which are capable
• The noun 'hamburger' does not have this
property and man has it.
• This is because we use the semantic feature to
analyze the meaning. Features such as "+animate,-
• E.g : The horse is reading the magazine.
• Do you know how to analyze the semantic feature in
• Words are not just "containers" of meanings. They fulfill
different "roles" within the situation described by a
• For example:
The boy kicked the ball
The verb 'kicked' describes an action.
• The noun phrases 'The boy' and 'the ball' describe the
roles of entities such as people and things involved in
• They are the most common semantic roles.
• The entity that performs the action is technically
known as "agent".
• As in the sentence one role is taken by the boy
and the boy performs the action, so it is agent.
• Although agents are typically human (the boy),
agents also can be non human entities that
• Example: The wind blew the ball away.
The dog caught the ball.
• The entity that is involved in or affected is technically
known as "theme"
• Example: The girl(agent) grabbed the ball(theme).
• In this sentence "ball" is the theme because it is
affected by the action performed by the "agent".
• The theme can be an entity that is simply being
described such as 'the ball was red'.
• In fact, the same physical entity can appear in two
different semantic roles in a sentence.
The boy punchs himself.
• The boy is agent and himself is theme.
• If an agent uses another
entity in performing an
action, the other entity
fills the role of instrument.
• For example: She hit the
bug with magazine.
• In 'writing with a pen' or '
eating with a spoon' the
phrases "pen" and
"spoon" have the
semantic role of
• When a noun phrase designates an entity as a person
who has a feeling, a perception or a state, it fills the
role of experiencer.
• If we see, know or enjoy something, we are not
performing an action (hence we are not agents).
• For example: Did you hear that?
The experiencer is you and the theme is that
• When an entity is in the description of the event
then it fills the role location(on the table, in the
room and etc).
• For example:
Mary saw a mosquito on the wall.
In the sentence, the wall is the location.
Source and Goal
• Where an entity moves from is the source and
where it moves to is the goal.
• For example:
When we talk about transferring money from
'savings' to 'checking', the source is 'savings' and
goal is 'checking'.
- Hassan handed the magazine back to Squidward.
Agent Theme Goal
- Orochi borrowed those shoes from Patrick.
Agent Theme Source
• Words are not only the "containers" or a fulfilling "roles". They can
also have relationships. We describe the meanings of words and
terms of their relationships.
• For instances, if we are asked the meanings of word 'conceal' we
might reply it is same as 'hide'.
• Often explain meaning of words in terms of their relationships to
• It is treated as the analysis of lexical relations.
• Examples of lexical relations are snynonym, antonym and hyponym
• A group of words that have the same meaning.
• Can often be subtituted for each other in a
sentence but not always.
• Examples of synonyms word are:
• A group of word that has opposite meaning.
NEAR =========================== FAR
GOOD ========================== BAD
YES ============================ NO
FAST =========================== SLOW
The relationship between the pairs is absolute.
For example: (True and False Pairs)
True = False
A statement can only be true or false. It cannot
be true and false at the same. This is to stick to
the truth value of the statement.
• A pairs of antonyms that can be scaled or we can do
comparative contrustions to them.
• For instance: ( More or Less)
• We cannot quantified what is more and what is less in
• Reversives are the opposite or negative of the
Example: (Dress and undress).
It does not says that undress is not a dress it
simply said that not wearing a dress.
• Specific term to used to designate a member of superordinate
• Used the concept of inclusion which say that Daisy and Rose will be
a flower or hyponyms of a flower.
• Words those are hyponyms to a higher class is called co-hyponyms.
Example: Ruby and Diamond is the co-hyponym of gemstones.
RUBY DIAMOND EMERALD
Homophones vs Homonyms
WORDS WITH SAME SPELLING BUT
HAVE TWO OR MORE MEANING
WORDS WITH SAME PRONUNCIATION
BUT DIFFERENT MEANING.
1) BOW (LONG WOODEN STICK WITH
HORSE HAIR TO PLAY VIOLIN) VS
BOW( TYPE OF TIED RIBBONS)
2) PEN ( WRITING INSTRUMENT) VS
PEN (ENCLOSED SPACED)
1) SUN (BIGGEST STAR IN
UNIVERSE) ) VS SON (A MALE
2) RIGHT VS WRITE
• People categorize items and concepts based on a
prototype or ideal representation of that category.
• For example, the concept of dog is often characterized
by fur, a tail, and paws. When discussing or thinking
about dogs, people think of classic, stereotypical
examples such as collies or wolf or coyote.
• In Greek Poly = Many Semy = Meaning
• Two or more words with same form and related
• How it is related?
• Functions : What it does
• Structure: The shapes it takes
• Locations: Where can it be found
• It does not need to be related to all aspects. For
instances, the word hand.
• Hand (part of our body to point objects) or hand (the
long thin pieces that point the numbers on clock). So
they have similar functions. So they are polysmers
with related meanings ( structure and function).
• These last three lexical
relations are the basis of
a lot of word play usually
for humorous effect.
• For instance, why is 6
afraid of 7? Because 789.
• Do you get me?
• The answer is funny as
you identify the
• From the Greek name it means " the other name". Figure of
speech that uses the name of name of an object, name or idea
to rperesent something which it is associated.Used in order to
shorten phrases and avoid repetition so the sentence flow
• Example: The effect name the caused
- Cancerstick = Cigarette
• Why is that?
• Consequences of smoking too much leads to cancer. So it it
• Example: The caused name the effect
- Fortune = Wealth
• The caused of having wealth is having luck.
That is why fortune is metonymy of wealth.
• Example: The object name its usage
- Hand = Can you give me a hand?,
A collocation is two or more words that often go together. These
combinations just sound "right" to native English speakers, who use them all
the time. On the other hand, other combinations may be unnatural and just
• TYPES OF COLLOCATION
1)ADVERB + ADJECTIVE
eg: totally different ( Today im going to do something totally different)
2)ADJECTIVE + NOUN
eg : nice wedding (Last weekend I went to a nice weeding)
3) NOUN + VERB
eg : dog bark, bird tweets
4) VERB + NOUN
eg : play game ( I like playing game in the evening)
5) NOUN + NOUN
eg : summer school ( many student hate summer school)
6) VERB + EXPRESSIONS
eg: fill with horror
7) VERB + ADVERB
eg : learn carefully
Combination of types of collocation in a sentence
• This lesson won’t be a waste of time if you listen carefully to what im
going to present today.
• Example of the COLLOCATION with the word ENGLISH:
To speak English
To learn English
To practice English
• What is the semantic feature of the following word:
• Define antonymy and synonymy and give example.
• What is the difference between homophones and
homonyms and give example.