Semantics

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Semantics

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Semantics

  1. 1. University of the PunjabDepartment of English Language & LiteratureLahore, Pakistan
  2. 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. 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. 4. Types of MeaningReferential:thing, event, state of the worldSocial:word choice tells us aboutsomeones social classAffective:word choice conveys feelings andattitudes
  5. 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. 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. 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. 8. Lexical Relations• Homonymy• Polysemy• Synonymy• Hyponymy• Homophone• Homograph• Antonym
  9. 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. 10. Homophone• Different words pronounced the same but spelled differently,e.g. two and too.(tuː)twotooLexemeLexeme
  11. 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. 12. PolysemyThe phenomenon where a single lexeme has multiple related meaningsA dirty floor, a dirty trick/A dark room, a dark secretbankBiologicalrepositoryFinancialinstitutionLexemeslopingmound
  13. 13. SynonymyA relation that holds between two lexemes with thesame sensebiglargePositivesizeolderlexemelexeme
  14. 14. AntonymA relation that holds between two lexemes with the differentsenseAlive-dead, male-female, present-absent, awake-asleepsmallbigPositivesizeolderlexemelexeme
  15. 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. 16. Semantic Ambiguity• An utterancewhich has morethan one meaning
  17. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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

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