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Evaluating semantic similarity and sameness in studies of polysemy and synonymy. Jarno Raukko (U. Helsinki). For a full version of the PPT, see handout distributed Oct 28, 2010. SKY webpage version. Examples. Are thrifty and stingy synonyms? EXPECTED ANSWER: ”Well, not quite.”
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Evaluating semantic similarity and sameness in studies of polysemy and synonymy
Jarno Raukko (U. Helsinki)
Are thrifty and stingy synonyms?
”Well, not quite.”
2. Are violin and fiddle synonyms?
3. Does back have the same meaning in
My back hurts and
I came back?
”Not at all. Different.”
4. Does back have the same meaning in
I came back and
I got it back?
WORD 1 WORD 2
If their semantic content is similar or the same,
this is a case of synonymy.
If their semantic content is (very) different, a researcher of synonymy ignores this case.
MEANING 1 MEANING 2
OF WORD 1 OF WORD 1
The starting point is that Word 1 has at least 2 (different) meanings.
If meanings 1 and 2 are very similar, this might be a case of vagueness.
If meanings 1 and 2 are totally different (and not related semantically), this might be a case of homonymy.
If meanings 1 and 2 are somewhat different but somehow relatable (or a bit similar), this is probably a case of polysemy.
henceforth W = word M = meaning
The meaning of W1 and W2 is…
THE SAME --------------------------------- DIFFERENT
The meaning of M1 and M2 (of W1) is…
THE SAME --------------------------------- very DIFFERENT
of the same
of the same of different (yet related)
meaning type meaning types
(or semantic distance between two meanings in polysemy)
the nature of / the reason for
(Back to experiments/elicitation.) Expected difference between synonymy and polysemy, 1
buy => purchase 6.86
motive => reason 6.28 reason => motive 5.56
quarter => fourth 6.24 fourth => quarter 5.00
mission => task 5.66 task => mission 4.84
era => age 5.80 age => era 4.60
appetite => hunger 5.18 hunger => appetite 4.24
nectar => honey 4.94 honey => nectar 3.68
aborigine => native 4.52 native => aborigine 3.22
(heuristic post hoc: 4 might mean homonymy; 0 would refer to two instances of the same meaning type; typical polysemy would be 1...3)
use multiple methods.
Maybe the first task is easier?
Arppe, Antti & Juhani Järvikivi 2007. Every method counts – Combining corpus-based and experimental evidence in the study of synonymy. Corpus Lingustics and Linguistic Theory 3: 2: 131-159.
Colombo, Lucia & Giovanni B. Flores d’Arcais 1984. The meaning of Dutch prepositions: a psycholinguistic study of polysemy. Linguistics 22: 51-98.
Divjak, Dagmar & Stefan Gries 2008: Clusters in the mind? Converging evidence from near-synonymy in Russian. The Mental Lexicon 3: 2: 188-213.
Geeraerts, Dirk – in this symposium
Liu, Dilin – in this symposium
Oversteegen, Eleonore – in this symposium
Raukko, Jarno 2003. Polysemy as flexible meaning: experiments with English get and Finnish pitää. In Brigitte Nerlich & al (eds) Polysemy. Flexible patterns of meaning in mind and language. 161-193.
Sandra, Dominiek & Sally Rice 1995. Network analyses of prepositional meaning: mirroring whose mind – the linguist’s or the language user’s? Cognitive Linguistics 6: 89-130.
Vanhatalo, Ulla 2005. Kyselytestit synonymian selvittämisessä (etc.) [The use of questionnaires in exploring synonymy, etc.] PhD thesis, U-Helsinki. http:/ethesis.helsinki.fi/julkaisut/hum/suoma/vk/vanhatalo/kyselyte.pdf
Whitten, William B. II, W: Newton Suter, and Michael L. Frank 1979. Bidirectional Synonym Ratings of 464 Noun Pairs. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 18: 109-127.
See handout and list of participants.
Department of Modern Languages
Metsätalo (Unioninkatu 40 B)
FIN-00014 University of Helsinki