The meaning of words and sentences
'Mine is a long and sad tale!' said the Mouse, turning to Alice and sighing. 'It is a long tail, certainly,' said Alice, looking with wonder at the Mouse's tail, 'but why do you call it sad?'
- Lewis Carroll (1865), Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
The kind of semantic analysis that defines and analyses meaning from a predominantly language-internal perspective is called structural semantics, as its descriptive methods are based on the basic principles of structuralism. According to this perspective, the meaning of a word cannot be described in isolation, but it is a function of its relations to other words in the vocabulary. Additionally, the whole meaning of a word is constituted by smaller semantic elements (semantic features). With the objective of examining problems concerning sentence semantics, lexically oriented structuralist semantics was expanded with the development of generative grammar. This includes certain aspects of context-sensitivity that lexical items may exhibit.
Exercises on structure-oriented semantics
- Identify homonyms and polysemes
- Identify sense relations
- Find examples of sense relations
- Research Exercise: Establish a lexical field
- Give a componential analysis
- Classify classes of events
- Identify thematic roles
- Mark predicates and argumentsSource of the picture: wikipedia.org
- List propositional cores
- Identify meaning relations among sentences
- Explain structural ambiguity
- Identify presuppositions
- Identify presupposition-triggers
- Presupposition or entailment?
- Identify the type of modality
- Identify quantifiers
Source of the picture: wikipedia.org
Polysemy: mouse vs. mouse