Semantic Theories

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Publicat de: Severin Alecu
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Profesor îndrumător / Prezentat Profesorului: Ana Maria Trantescu
Fac. de Litere,anul 5 ID


  1. Capitolul I. Language as a Conceptual System.
  2. Linguistic Relativism and Semantic Universals
  3. Capitolul II. Semantic Relations and Lexical Categories
  4. A. Paradigmatic Relations
  5. 1. Incompatibility/ Opositeness of Meaning
  6. a. Complementarity
  7. b. Antonymy
  8. c. Reversibility
  9. d. Hierarchic oppositions.
  10. e. Inverse oppositions.
  11. 2. Synonymy
  12. 3. Hyponymy or inclusion
  13. B. Syntagmatic Relations.
  14. Capitolul III. Semantic Theory within the Framework of
  15. Generative Transformational
  16. Grammar
  17. 1. Semantics in the Standard Generative Theory of language. The
  18. Semantic Component of Generative -Transformational Grammar
  19. 2. Generative Semantics Versus Interpretive Semantics
  20. Capitolul IV. New Semantic Theories
  21. 1. Categorization. Necessary and Sufficient Conditions Model. The Theory of Prototype
  22. 2. Cognitive Semantics
  24. Forma de evaluare: examen scris
  26. 1. Chiţoran, Dumitru.1973. Elements of English Structural Semantics, Bucureşti: Editura Didactică şi Pedagogică
  27. 2. Ionescu, Emil. 1992. Manual de lingvistică generală ,Bucureşti: Editura All
  28. 3. Leech, G. 1990 Semantics .The Study Of Meaning. London: Penguin Books
  29. 4. Lyons, J. 1977.Semantics vol. I, II, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  30. 5. Saeed, J.I. 1997. Semantics, Dublin: Blackwell Publishers.
  32. Capitolul I. Language as a Conceptual System.
  33. Linguistic Relativism and Semantic Universals
  34. Capitolul II. Semantic Relations and Lexical Categories
  35. B. Paradigmatic Relations
  36. 4. Incompatibility/ Opositeness of Meaning
  37. f. Complementarity
  38. g. Antonymy
  39. h. Reversibility
  40. i. Hierarchic oppositions.
  41. j. Inverse oppositions.
  42. 5. Synonymy
  43. 6. Hyponymy or inclusion
  44. B. Syntagmatic Relations.
  45. Capitolul III. Semantic Theory within the Framework of Generative Transformational
  46. Grammar
  47. 3. Semantics in the Standard Generative Theory of language. The
  48. Semantic Component of Generative -Transformational Grammar
  49. 4. Generative Semantics Versus Interpretive Semantics
  50. Capitolul IV. New Semantic Theories
  51. 3. Categorization. Necessary and Sufficient Conditions Model. The Theory of Prototype
  52. 4. Cognitive Semantics

Extras din curs

Chapter I


Language is not only an instrument of communication. It is far more than this - it is the means by which we interpret our environment, by which we classify or "conceptualize" our experiences, by which we are able to impose structure on reality, so as to use what we have observed for present and future learning and understanding. Leech considers language, in its semantic aspect, as a conceptual system. Not as a closed, rigid, conceptual system which tyrannizes over the thought processes of its users, but as an open-ended conceptual system, one which "leaks", in the sense that it allows us to transcend its limitations by various types of semantic creativity.

The first question which arises in whether language is a single conceptual system, or whether there are as many conceptual systems as there are languages. Although much of present-day thinking has tended to hypothesize a universal conceptual framework which is common to all human language, common observation shows that languages differ in the way they classify experience. A classic instance of this is the semantics of colour words. English (according to Berlin and Kay, Basic Color Terms, 1969) has a range of eleven primary colour terms (black, white, red, green, yellow, blue, brown, purple, pink, orange and grey), whereas the Philipine language of Hanunóo (according to Conklein, Hanunóo Colour Categories, 1955) makes do with four.

Conceptual boundaries often vary from language to language. Languages have a tendency to impose structure upon the real world by treating some distinctions as crucial, and ignoring others. The way a language classifies things is sometimes blatantly man-centred.

Linguistic Relativism and Semantic Universals

Semantic relativism and semantic universals are two conflicting points of view in relation to meaning. Both theses concern the relation between the structure of language and the structure of the universe. They represent in fact two different ways of interpreting the relation between the universe, as experienced by man, and language as a tool of expressing that experience. Ever since ancient times it has been maintained that the structure of language reflects more or less directly the structure of the Universe as well as the universal structure of the human mind (Mounin, 1963: 41). This was taken to be a precondition of interlingual communication as well as of the act of translation.

In terms of Hjelmslevian distinction between substance and form of the content, it was agreed that there may be different ways of segmenting substance, and an even richer variety in its form but the content itself, the world of experience remains basically the same.

Linguistic relativism. The axiomatic character of the statement which relates the structure of language to the structure of the universe as reflected in man's mind, ceases to be commonly agreed upon when one begins to consider the nature of this relationship.

Wilhelm von Humboldt in the first half of the 19th century, and many philosophers and linguists after him, assigned language a much more active role, regarding it not as a passive carrier of thought, but, in a very direct way as a moulder of it. In their opinion, language imposes upon thought its own system of distinctions, its own analysis of objective reality. These ideas remained unheeded by linguists until the advent of European structuralism. The key idea in Saussurean linguistics namely that language signs have no meaning or "value" outside the system to which they belonged, fits perfectly the principle of linguistic relativism. Trier and particularly Hjelmslev consider that each language structures reality in its own way and by doing so, creates an image of reality which is not a direct copy of it. Language is the result of the imposition of same form upon an underlying substance.

Quite independently, and emerging mainly from current observation in linguistic anthropological research on Amerindian languages, conducted by Fr. Boas, similar ideas were expressed by E. Sapir and B. L. Worf in America. Linguistic determinism has come to be often referred to as the Sapir-Worf hypothesis. For Sapir (1921) and Worf (1956) objective reality is an undifferentiated continuum which is segmented by each language in a different way. We obtain a vision of nature, of reality which is by and large pre-determined by our mother tongue. Each language is a vast system of structures, different from that of others in which are ordered culturally all forms and categories by means of which the individual not only communicates but also analyzes nature, grasps or neglects a given phenomenon or relation, in means of which he molds his manner of thinking and by means of which he builds up the entire edifice of his knowledge of the world. Worf provided ample evidence from Amerindian languages of how languages segment reality differently by neglecting aspects which are emphasized in other languages. In Europe linguists as Benveniste (1958) and Martinet, in analyzing the relationship between categories of thought and categories of language, are unanimous not only in pointing out a basic parallelism between the two, but also in assigning to linguistic categories a primary role. The linguistic structure conditions, albeit in an unconscious way, man's knowledge of the world, his spiritual and philosophical experience.

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