An Introduction to Linguistics Session 12: Semantics Edi Brata http://e-learning.edibrata.com Mathla’ul Anwar University
What is semantics? Lexical MeaningRelations Overview Dimensions Semantic Roles
Semantics? Semantics comes from the ancient Greek word semantikos, an adjective meaning ‘relating to signs’. The study of the meaning of words, phrases and sentences The systematic study of meaning in language
The Systematic Study of Meaning Psychologist: how the human seeks meaning and works with them. Philosophers: how any particular fact that we know as true is related to other possible facts. Linguists: how language works.
UTTERANCE• An utterance is any stretch of talk, by one person, before and after which there is silence on the part of that person.• It is used by a particular speaker, on a particular occasion, of a piece of language.
SENTENCE• A sentence is a grammatically complete string of words expressing a (partial) complete thought.• A sentence can include words grouped meaningfully to express a statement, question, exclamation, request or command.Example : After cooking, mother speaks to father softly: “I am tired”
SENTENCEStudy these sentences:1. We walk in the park. (Complete sentence)2. Our walk in the park.3. For us walk in the park.• The difference is grammatical.• The first expression asserts something, makes a statement.
PROPOSITIONProposition is the semantic content shared bythe three expressions.We walk in the park. (single proposition)We don’t walk in the park. (negation proposition)Do we walk in the park? (question)
PROPOSITIONProposition Position:a. Helen put on a sweater.b. Helen put a sweater on.These are different English sentences, but they convey the samemessage, they express the same proposition.a. Richard wrote the report.b. Richard is the one who wrote the report.c. The report was written by Richard.d. The report is what Richard wrote.
The Dimension of Meaningo Reference: the relation between a language expression and whatever the expression pertains to in a particular situation of language use.o Denotation: the potential of a word to enter into such language expressions.o Connotation: the affective or emotional associations.o Sense relations: the meaning of any expression varies with context.o Lexical meaning: with associations outside language.o Grammatical meaning: refers to grammatical system.o Lexical ambiguity: many meanings.
Definitions of Semantic Role• Actor is the role of an argument that performs some action without affecting any other entity. e.g. Sylvia left.• Affected is the role of an argument that undergoes a change due to some event or is affected by some other entity. e.g. Music delighted Betty. A window broke.
Definitions of Semantic Role• Affecting is the role of an argument that, without any action affects another entity. e.g. Betty likes opera. Opera delights Betty.• Agent is the role of an argument that, by its action, affects some other entity. e.g. Tom broke the window.
Definitions of Semantic Role• Associate is the role of an argument that tells the status or identity of another argument. e.g. Roger is a student.• Effect is the role of an argument that comes into existence through the action of the predicate. e.g.Tillie baked a pie.
Definitions of Semantic Role• Place is the role of an argument that names the location in which the action of the predicate occurs. e.g. The fireman climbed a ladder.• Theme is the role of an argument that is the topic of a predicate that does not express action – a stative predicate. e.g. Audrey is a computer expert.
Kinds of Semantic Roles:• Valency Zero• Valency One• Valency Two
ValencyValency refers to the capacity of a verb totake a specific number and type ofarguments (noun phrase positions).
Valency Zero• It is snowing.• It was rainy.• It has been thundering. The subject (it) doesn’t name anything. The sentence has a subject because English requires a subject, but this subject doesn’t correspond to anything in the underlying proposition.
Valency One My brother snores.The sentence has a subject my brother, verb snore but no object. This sentence uses intransitive verb or one-argument predicate.
Syntactic RoleThe cat killed a rat. subject predicate object
Semantic Role (Valency Two)The cat killed a rat. argument1 predicate argument2 agent action affected
Semantic Role (Valency Two) argument1 predicate argument2 agent action affected cat kill rat I break window Ade hit SudirmanSome action by one entity which affects another entity.
Semantic Role (Valency Two)Gian dug a hole.argument1 predicate argument2 agent action effect
Semantic Role (Valency Two) argument1 predicate argument2 agent action effect Gian dig hole Yekti make omelet Widodo create masterpieceThe argument2 is the result or effect of the action.
Semantic Role (Valency Two)Yudhie crossed the street. argument1 predicate argument2 actor action place
Semantic Role (Valency Two) argument1 predicate argument2 actor action place Yudhie cross street Indra enter room Gunawan climb treeThe action involves movement to with respect to a place.
Semantic Role (Valency Two) The decision surprised us all. argument1 predicate argument2 affecting affect affected• The sentence does not express any action.• It tells how one entity affects another entity.
Semantic Role (Valency Two) argument1 predicate argument2 affecting affect affected decision surprise us you disturb everybody comedian impress audienceThe predicates expresses an affect, the argument1 namesentity that affects – that has affecting role – andargument2 names the entity that is affected.
Semantic Role (Valency Two)Oliver was envious of his brother.argument1 predicate argument2 affected affect affecting• The sentence does not express any action.• It tells how one entity affects another entity.
Semantic Role (Valency Two) argument1 predicate argument2 affected affect affecting Oliver envy brotherIf the Oliver envies, or loves, or hates, it is Oliver who isaffected by these emotions.
Semantic Role (Valency Two) Sheila is like her mother. argument1 predicate argument2 theme link associateThe sentence are about neither action nor affecting.
Semantic Role (Valency Two)argument1 predicate argument2 theme link associate Sheila like mother Tom with Ann book about semantics
Semantic Role (Valency Two)argument1 predicate argument2 theme link associate Sheila is like her mother Banten is west of Java island The books are on the table The bank is near our campusThe next game will be at three o’clock
Some Changes in ValencyAgnes wrote her mother a letter. (full sentence) • Agnes wrote a letter. • Agnes wrote her mother. • Agnes wrote.The sentence is less more informative when it has fewerarguments, but it’s still a legitimate sentence and themeaning of write does not change.
Four Different Groups of Two- Argument Verbsa) The car needs a new battery.b) We ate lunch (in the kitchen).c) We ate (in the kitchen).d) Sisca bathed the baby (in the tub).e) Sisca bathed (in the tub).f) I rolled the ball (down the street).g) The ball rolled (down the street).
Explanationa) The car needs a new battery. Predicates like need always have two arguments. (need, use, want, etc)b) We ate lunch ( in the kitchen)c) We ate (in the kitchen) b) contains more specific information than c), but the meaning of eat is the same.the predicate eat inherently two arguments.
Explanationd) Sisca bathed the baby (in the tub)e) Sisca bathed (in the tub) • e) does not simply have less information than d), it conveys the information that Sisca bathed herself. Certain predicates, like ‘bathe’ are reflexive, self directed, if they occur without an object. • d) has two obvious arguments: Sisca, the actor, and the baby, the affected. • e), the argument Sisca could be said to have two roles, actor and affected. Since, it is sisca who bathes and Sisca who gets bathed.
Explanationf) I rolled the ball (down the street)g) The ball rolled (down the street) • The predicate ‘roll’ has two different, thought related, meanings in the two sentences: • G: Agent-Action-Affected; • H: Affected-Action
Lexical Relationso Synonym: two or more words with very closely related meanings big/large, buy/purchase, car/automobile.o Antonym: two forms with opposite meanings alive/dead, big/small, fast/slow, happy/sad.o Hyponym: the meaning of one form is included in the meaning of another animal/dog, dog/poodle, vegetable/carrot, ﬂower/rose, tree/banyan.o Prototypes: the idea of ‘the characteristic instance’ of a category canary, cormorant, dove, duck, ﬂamingo, parrot, pelican and robin are all equally co-hyponyms of the superordinate bird.
Lexical Relationso Homophones: two or more different (written) forms have the same pronunciation bare/bear, meat/meet, ﬂour/ﬂower, pail/pale, right/write, sew/so and to/too/two.o Homonym: one form (written or spoken) has two or more unrelated meanings pupil (at school)/pupil (in the eye).o Polysemy: two or more words with the same form and related meanings foot (of person, of bed, of mountain) or run (person does, water does, colors do).
Lexical Relationso Metonymy: using one word to refer to the other He drank the whole bottle, although it sounds absurd literally (i.e. he drank the liquid, not the glass object).o Collocation: frequently occurring together If you say table, they’ll mostly say chair, and butter elicits bread, needle elicits thread and salt elicits pepper.
References • Hurford, James R, et. al. 2007. Semantics: A Course Book. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.• Kreidler. 1998. Introducing English Semantics. New York: Routledge.• O’ Grady et al. 2005. Contemporary Linguistics Fifth Edition. New York: Bedford St. Martin’s.• Riemer, Nick. 2010. Introducing Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.• Todd, Loreto. 1987. An Introduction to Linguistics. Singapore. Longman: York Press.• Yule, George. 2006. The Study of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.