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Semantics & Pragmatics

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Semantics & Pragmatics

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  1. Semantics & Pragmatics What does this mean?

  2. From the lowly phone through the morph, the phrase, and the clause: • NPs & VPs label meaning at a very general level; • grammatical relations (Actor/Undergoer, S/O, Theme) address it more subtly; • morphs are full of it; • & even some phones may correlate with meaning (cf. phonoaesthesia) • SO WHAT IS IT? Meaning

  3. Semantics: meaning as encoded by words and sentences • Pragmatics: speakers’ intended meaning; ‘what they meant’ in particular instances • and what hearers’ infer Approaches to Meaning

  4. Contrast literal & figurative meaning • Contrast sentence & utterance meaning • Lexical Semantics: words’ semrelns Goals

  5. X-cultural diffs in LexSem • Speech acts, Reference, Presuppositions, & Co-operative Principle • NB ‘Context’ in utterance mng Goals

  6. “that which is expressed by Ss, utterances, & their components” • “the content conveyed in communication by language” • Waaay too simplistic but whaddya do? Meaning

  7. The real or imaginary ‘things’ we refer to = reference • Sense = the "cognitive significance" of the referent. Meaning: Reference & Sense

  8. The sense of a linguistic sign derives part of its essence from the greater system of inter-sign relations in which in resides • The sense of ‘hand’ is defined in part by its reln to ‘arm’ • The idea of ‘plural noun’ gets its sense partly due to the notion ‘singular noun’ (vs. Jap & Skt) • This contrast = value Meaning: Sense = value…

  9. ‘defining properties that must be understood in any application of a linguistic item’ … intension • E.g. sheep = ‘animal, mammal, grazes, ruminant, quadruped, even-toed ungulates…’ Meaning: Sense=value+_____

  10. Connotations • Unstable meaning associations e.g. emotional overtones which are not always present (vs. sense, which is essential) • Differ by attitudes (e.g. a mathematical way of thinking about…) • NB language acquisition & change; connotation becomes part of sense Sense &Connotations

  11. Literal = the sense encoded by its component lexical and grammatical signs • ‘kick the bucket’ • Figurative = an extension of literal mng • Rhetoric codifies many types of meaning extension; 3 of which are: • Metaphor • Metonymy • Synedoche Literal vs.FigurativeMeaning

  12. Metaphor • Sense is extended to another concept based on resemblance • ‘Belgian drivers are cowboys’ • …they tend to invoke notion of a cowboy • (the hearer then decides the basis for comparison) Figurative Mng: Metaphor

  13. Metonymy • Sense extended to another concept due to a typical or habitual association • ‘go to the university’ • ‘likes the bottle’ • ‘Washington is in talks with the Kremlin) Figurative Mng: Metonymy

  14. Synedoche • Sense is extended via a part-whole relation • ‘wheels’ • ‘the denver omelet’ • ‘the radiator job’ Figurative Mng: Synedoche

  15. Contrasting the two is literally not so easy • Cognitive Linguistics: metaphor has a central role in language & thought, & is pervasive in ordinary language Lit-fig: distinction

  16. Contrasting the two is literally not so easy • Cognitive Linguistics: metaphor has a central role in language & thought, & is pervasive in ordinary language • Metaphoris seen as a cognitive strategy allowing us to understand one experiential domain in terms of another Lit-fig: distinction

  17. Metaphor is seen as a cognitive strategy allowing us to understand one experiential domain in terms of another Cognitive Linguistics

  18. Metaphor is seen as a cognitive strategy allowing us to understand one experiential domain in terms of another • NB many domains are understood in terms of space, and are expressed linguistically via spatial relations: • ‘cat at me’ • Hence Lit-Fig distinction is iffy Cognitive Linguistics

  19. SentenceMng = combine signs (morphs, phrases, grrelns) and their mngs • The car - broke down - yesterday • Actor-------event----temporal location SentencevsUtteranceMng

  20. SentenceMng = combine signs (morphs, phrases, grrelns) and their mngs • The car - broke down - yesterday • Actor-------event----temporal location • But context alters that ‘same conceptual event’ • Thus its utterance meaning varies SentencevsUtteranceMng

  21. Sentence Semantics • Meaning in isolation; meaning as it is within the ‘system of language’ SentencevsUtteranceMng

  22. Sentence Semantics • Meaning in isolation; meaning as it is within the ‘system of language’ • Utterance  Pragmatics • Meaning in actual language use; meaning as conveyed by an expression in real speech; patterns in speech (outside grammar/lexicon) – re: reln b/w speaker & hearer SentencevsUtteranceMng

  23. Is the sem-prag division real?... • Some linguists reject the division or are dubious about the ‘division of labor’ b/w the two More to come…

  24. P 134 • Students: note fig 6.1 – try to ‘read’ it; it’s worthwhile. However, I think the first sentence below the figure shd be ‘value and INtension…’ – not EX- look above the two people and you’ll see a rectangle w/ value and intension in it. At the top is a tree diagram: the metaphorical EXtension

  25. Re: the semantics of lexical items which must be listed separately in the lexicon. • These are signs and we will focus on their senses Semantics

  26. 3 interrelated key issues in LexSem: • Pinning down & identifying the meanings of lexical items • Relns amongst lexical items’ meanings • The specification of the meaning of items The value of a sign depends on its contrasts with the rest of the language system Semantics – issues

  27. Homophony • 2 different lexemes share the same phonological form (port, bank, bouy/boy) Semantics: concerns

  28. Homophony • 2 different lexemes share the same phonological form (port, bank, bouy/boy) • Partial homophones: ‘bear’ (N & V) – shares same phonological form in some inflected forms but not all: • Bear, bears • Bear, bears; bore; born Semantics: concerns

  29. Polysemy • Identical forms have related meanings • ‘ear’ = hearing organ; attention; ability; favorable disposition; etc Semantics: concerns

  30. Polysemy • Identical forms have related meanings • ‘ear’ = hearing organ; attention; ability; favorable disposition; etc • Dictionaries tend to separate homophones but not polysemous terms; however distinction is not always easy Semantics: concerns

  31. Polysemy • Cf. ear: • Above e.g.s are easy to relate • But ‘ear of corn’ (though usually listed separately in dictionaries) is often imagined to resemble the above ‘ear’ • Lexicographers go beyond folk etymology (usually) and look into OE & ME Semantics: concerns

  32. Polysemy • bank • Few of us see semantic reln b/w ‘ridge’ & ‘$’ • Dictionaries tend to treat them separately Semantics: polysemy that you can bank on

  33. Polysemy • bank • Few of us see semantic reln b/w ‘ridge’ & ‘$’ • Dictionaries tend to treat them separately • Both originate from *bangk in Proto-Germanic (offshoot of Proto I-E <4m BC> & parent of English, German, Dutch, Nor, Swed, Dk, Ic) Semantics: polysemy that you can bank on

  34. Polysemy • *bangk in Proto-Germanic = ‘ridge, mound, bordering slope’ Semantics: concerns

  35. Polysemy • *bangk in Proto-Germanic = ‘ridge, mound, bordering slope’ • Ridge>bench>moneylender’s counter>money lender’s shop>financial institution Semantics: concerns

  36. Polysemy • *bangk in Proto-Germanic = ‘ridge, mound, bordering slope’ • Ridge>bench>moneylender’s counter>money lender’s shop>financial institution • Ridge>slope>side of watercourse Semantics: concerns

  37. Polysemy • *bangk in Proto-Germanic = ‘ridge, mound, bordering slope’ • Ridge>bench>moneylender’s counter>money lender’s shop>financial institution • Ridge>slope>side of watercourse • …typical semantic extension Semantics: concerns

  38. Vagueness • A lack of specificity of meaning • Recall ‘ear’ = ‘hearing organ’ • ‘in your ear’ Semantics

  39. Vagueness • A lack of specificity of meaning • Recall ‘ear’ = ‘hearing organ’ • ‘in your ear’ • But also: ‘pull your ear’ & ‘scratch its ear’ Semantics

  40. Vagueness • A lack of specificity of meaning • Recall ‘ear’ = ‘hearing organ’ • ‘in your ear’ • But also: ‘pull your ear’ & ‘scratch its ear’ • The mental concepts invoked in each differ Semantics

  41. Vagueness • ‘in your ear’ • Ear as an orifice Semantics: concerns

  42. Vagueness • ‘in your ear’ • Ear as an orifice • ‘pull your ear’ • Ear as an appendage of human head Semantics: concerns

  43. Vagueness • ‘in your ear’ • Ear as an orifice • ‘pull your ear’ • Ear as an appendage of human head • ‘scratch its ear’ • Ear as appendage of dog’s head Semantics: concerns

  44. Vagueness • We don’t usually think of these as polysemiesof ear – because they’re so closely related Semantics: concerns

  45. Vagueness • We don’t usually think of these as polysemiesof ear – because they’re so closely related • See also ‘wrong’ • Depending on its sentence, the meaning gets narrowed Semantics: concerns

  46. Vagueness • ‘wrong… • to speak w/ your mouth full’ (improper) • to take Indian kids from their moms’ (immmoral) • to attribute that quote to Saussure’ (incorrect) Semantics: concerns

  47. Vagueness • ‘wrong… • to speak w/ your mouth full’ (improper) • to take Indian kids from their moms’ (immmoral) • to attribute that quote to Saussure’ (incorrect) • A general sense covers these but the sentential context narrows the meaning down Semantics: concerns

  48. These are: contextual meanings • They aren’t fixed (vs. sense of a lexeme) Semantics: concerns

  49. These are: contextual meanings • They aren’t fixed (vs. sense of a lexeme) • Cf. ‘it was wrong for the govt to have taken the Indian children’ • This doesn’t necessarily invoke a moral comment Semantics: concerns

  50. These are: contextual meanings • They aren’t fixed (vs. sense of a lexeme) • Cf. ‘it was wrong for the govt to have taken the Indian children’ • This doesn’t necessarily invoke a moral comment • Vagueness-polysemy = Semantics: concerns