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Semantics:

The Analysis of Meaning


PUCESI 2014
Monik Vinueza

OBJECTIVES
O GENERAL OBJECTIVE:

Introduce to the field of semantics


O SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES:
O Define Semantics
O Review some views concerning the study of

meaning
O Lexical meaning
O Sense relations between sentences
O Analysis of meaning

General guidelines
O Class participation (20%)
O Group work (20%)
O 3 Reaction papers (30%)
O Final project:

O Semantics and language teaching (30%)


O 10% theory
O 10% your own analysis and contribution
O 10% exercises for the class
O Or Final paper (1200 words)

Texts.
O Semantics a coursebook, James R.

Hurford
CUP
Semantics: A Coursebook
, SECOND EDITION
196.29.172.66:8080/jspui/bitstream/123456
789/2595/1/Semantics.pdf
c._kreidler_introducing_english_semanticsbookfi.org_2.p

O SEMANTICS & PRAGMATICS GRIFFITHS.pdf


O Chapter_1_What_is_meaning.pdf
O UNIT1.pdf

bok:978-1-4020-4485-4.pdf
bok:978-1-4020-5857-8.pdf

What is semantics?
O Get in groups
O Read the document given
O Write down your own definiton
O Define Semantics
O What does Semanticsx imply?
O What do we have to know?
O What are the most important elements?

What is Semantics?
O Semantics is the study of meaning in language, which

derives from the relation between words, phrases,sentences,


signs, symnbols and their denotation.
O Meaning is central to the study of communication
O Linguistic-philosophy, the study of relations between

linguistic expressions and what they refer to in the real world


and the truth value of linguistic expressions.
O Linguistic-psychology, the study of the workings of the mind

through language.

O Semantics, the study of meaning from linguistic point

of view
O It deals with the meaning of words (lexical semantics).
O And how meaning of sentences (compositional
semantics) is derived from words.

What is meaning?
O get in groups
O Find out about the theories of meaning
O How many theories?
O Define each theory

Meaning
O To understand language
O the meaning of words and of the

morphemes that compose them


O Words into phrases and sentences
O Context which determines the meaning
(Pragmatics)

O Aboutness of the languague.- what refers

to something
O the meaning cannot be obserbed
O It does not have any location
O No mind, objects
O no physical features
O No resemble between sound and meaning
O Arbitrariness
O Indirect realtion of words
O Ideas vs words

Meaning
O Conceptual vs. associative meaning
O Denotative vs. connotative meaning
O conceptual/denotative= literal use of the

word.
O Associative/ connotative= different
associations with the conceptual meaning
O E.g. needle= thin, sharp, steel, instrument is
associated with pain, blood or illness
O Other examples: night- rose?

What is Semantics?
O The study of meaning of words, phrases,

and sentences.
O Lexical semantics (words and meaning

relationship among words)


O Phrasal/ sentential semantics (syntactic units
larger than a word)
O What a speaker conventionally means

(objective or general meaning)- not what he


is trying to say (subjective or local meaning)

How can we describe the


meaning of different words?

O Three types of semantic analysis:


O Words as containers

Semantic features
O roles they fulfill
Semantic roles
O relationship with other words
lexical relation

Semantic features
O Syntactically correct sentences but semantically odd.
O The hamburger ate the man.
O My cat studies linguistics.
O The table listens to the radio

O This relates to the conceptual components of the words

hamburger, cat & table

not human.

Semantic Features
O Semantic properties: The components of meaning of

a word.
O Meaning as collection of properties/features typically
with two possible values (+ / -)
O Example of componential analysis:
baby is [+ young], [+ human], [+animate]

Semantic Features

Identify the features (1)


1.

(a) widow, mother, sister, aunt, maid

(b) widower, father, brother, uncle


The (a) and (b) words are
[+ female]
The (a) words are
The (b) words are
[+ male]

[+ human]

2. (a) bachelor, paperboy, pope, chief


(b) bull, rooster, drake, ram

The (a) and (b) words are


The (a) words are
The (b) words are

[+ male]
[+ human]
[+ animal]

Semantic roles
O Words are described according to the roles

they fulfill with the situation described in a


sentence.
O The boy kicked the ball
O verb
indicates action
O Boy
performs the action= agent
O Ball
undergoes the action= theme

O The NPs describe the role of entities (people

or things) involved in the action, i.e. they have


certain semantic (or thematic) roles.

Semantic Roles
O Agent= the entity that performs the action
O Theme= the entity that undergoes the action
O Experiencer= one who perceives something
O Instrument= an entity used to perform an action
O Location= the place where the action happens
O Source= the place from which an action

originates
O Goal= the place where the action is directed

Semantic roles
O John is writing with a pen

agent

instrument

O Mary saw a mosquito on the wall

experiencer

theme location

O The children ran from the playground to the pool

agent
source
O The boy opened the door with a key
O The dog bit the stick
O With a stick, the man hit the dog.

goal

Lexical relations
O What is the meaning of big?
O Large or the opposite of small
O What is the meaning of daffodil?
O A kind of flower
O Analysis in terms of lexical relations- explain the

meaning in terms of the relationship with other


words
O Synonymy
O Antonymy
O Hyponymy
O Prototype
O Homophones and Homonyms
O Polysemy

Synonymy
O Synonymy: words that have the same meanings or

that are closely related in meaning

O E.g. answer/reply almost/nearly broad/wide

buy/purchase freedom/ liberty

O sameness is not total sameness- only one word

would be appropriate in a sentence.


O E.g. Sandy only had one answer correct on the
test. (but NOT reply)

O Synonyms differ in formality


O E.g buy/purchase automobile/car

Antonymy
O Antonymy: words that are opposites in meaning,

e.g. hot & cold.

O Types
O Gradable= not absolute, question of degree
O Hot & cold small & big
O Non-gradable:
O Dead & alive asleep & awake

E.g.

happy/sad
present/absent

married/single
fast/slow

Synonymy & Antonymy


Synonymy or Antonymy
Flourish thrive
Intelligent stupid
Casual informal
deep-profound
Drunk sober
Sofa couch
Hide conceal
cheap expensive
Rich - wealthy

a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.
i.

synonym
antonym
synonym
synonym
antonym
Synonym
Synonym
Antonym
synonym

Hyponymy
O Hyponymy: Words whose meanings are

specific instances of a more general word, i.e.


one thing is included (kind of) in another thing.
O e.g. cats and dogs are hyponyms of the word

animal.

O In this case cats and dogs are co-hyponyms

share the same superordinate


O Other e.g. daffodil & flower / carrot &
vegetable / ant & insect

Hyponymy

Prototypes
O Canary dove duck flamingo parrot-

robin
bird
O The best example that belongs to a bird
is robin, but what about ostrich and
penguin?
O Prototype: Characteristic instance
O Furniture chair is a better example
than bench or stool.
O Clothing shirts more than shoes

Homophones and Homonyms


O Homonymy: A word which has two or more

entirely distinct (unrelated) meanings,

O e.g. bank: financial institution ; of a river.


O Bat: flying creature or used in sports
O Race: contest of speed or ethnic group

O Homophony: Different words pronounced the

same but spelled differently,


O e.g. two, to and too.
O Flour and flower
O Meat and meet
O Right and write

Polysemy
O Polysemy: A word which has multiple

meanings related by extension,

O e.g. bright: shining ; intelligent


O Head of the body and the person at the

top of a company.
O Foot of a body and of a mountain and of
the bed or chair.
O Run a person runs, the water runs

Metonymy
O What do you think about these sentence?
O He drank the whole bottle.
(container-content)
O The White House announced. (king-crown)
O I gave her a hand. (whole-part)
O A word substituted for another word with which

it is closely associated e.g. bottle is used for


water

O Metonymy is "a figure of speech in which an

attribute or commonly associated feature is


used to name or designate something." A short
definition is "part for whole."

Collocation
O Words tend to occur with other words.
O E.g. table/chair
O Butter/bread
O Salt/pepper
O Hammer/ nail