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Jordan Zlatev. Semantics and Lexicology SVEM21 1. Introduction. Teachers. Jordan Zlatev (JZ) Lars-Åke Henningsson ( LÅ) Course hompage + platform.

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  • Jordan Zlatev (JZ)
  • Lars-Åke Henningsson (LÅ)
course hompage platform
Course hompage + platform

learning outcomes
Learning outcomes

On completion of the course the student shall

  • be able to understand and discuss recent research within the field of semantics and lexicology
  • be able to formulate relevant research questions within the discipline based on the course literature
  • be able to carry out a simple, yet autonomously formulated, research assignment within the field of semantics and lexicology, in which a specific method and/or theory is applied
  • be able to compare and assess critically various theories of semantics with regard to predictability and explanatory value
  • be able to discuss the implications of a particular theoretical model (e.g. those concerning learning and language use).
  • The course provides an overview of lexical semantics and theoretical lexicology as practiced from the end of the 19th century, through structuralism in the beginning of the 20th century, generativism in the middle of the 20th century, to the present two dominant traditions: “post-structuralist” (or post-generativist) and cognitive.
  • The students will have the chance to work independently with texts from these traditions, and to apply their ideas to lexical semantic description.
learning activities

Students will

  • Participate in lectures and seminars: obligatoryattendence; if absent, a 1 page summary of the chapter/text is required
  • Carryout small projects, related to the seminars
  • Give 30-minute presentations
  • Provide peer-reviews of eachothers presentations
  • Active participation in lectures and seminars (if absent, submit one page summary of content and some own reflections)
  • Lead the discussion for one of the five seminars; prepare a handout for the occasion
  • Give a 30-minute oral presentation on one of the “projects” (in group if more than 5 students in the course)
  • Submit a one page peer-review a fellow-student’s oral presentation (see platform)
  • Submit course-paper of appr. 6000 words on the topic of the “project” you have worked on OR take-home exam
course literature
Course literature

Main textbook:

  • Dirk Geeraerts. 2010. Theories of Lexical Semantics, Oxford: Oxford University Press
extra texts
Extra texts
  • Coseriu, E. (1985)Linguisticcompetence: What is it really?. The PresidentialAddress of the Modern Humanities Research Association, The Modern Language Review LXXX, p. XXV‑XXXV.
  • Stern, G. (1931) Meaning and change of meaning...Chapter 7. Gothenburg: Erlanders.
  • Kats, J. and A. Fodor (1963) The structure of a semantictheory. Language 39: 170-210.
  • Jackendoff, R. (2006) The peculiarlogic of value. Journal of Cognition and Culture. 6: 375-407. 
  • Lakoff, G. (1987) Women, fire and dangerousthings. Case Study 2: The story of ‘over’. Chicago University Press.
  • Zlatev, J. (in press) From cognitive to integral linguistics: Learning from Coseriu’sMatrix. Intellectica.
  • If you miss a lecture or seminar, submit a one page summary during the same week
  • Have your handout prepared for the seminar that you will lead
  • Peer-reviews, uploaded on 12/1 2011
  • Course paper OR take-home exam: 19/11 2011
geerarts 2010
Geerarts (2010)
  • ”this book is an outline of the major traditions, not an argument in favour of one or anothertheory” (xi)
  • ”a syntheticattempt to present the major traditions of linguisticlexicalsemantic research in an accessible and insightfulway. It takes a historicalperspective…” (xiii)
  • Historical-philological semantics (1850-1930): Bréal, Paul, Wundt, Meillet, Carnoy, Stern…
  • Structuralist semantics (1930 - ): Saussure, Weisgerber, Trier, Gipper, Coseriu, Lyons
  • Generativist semantics (1960 -): Katz and Fodor, McCawley, Dowty
  • ”Neostructuralist” semantics (1980-): Wierzbicka, Jackendoff, Bierwisch, Pustejovsky, Mel’cuk, ”corpus-based”
  • Cognitive semantics (1980 -): Rosch, Lakoff, Fauconnier and Turner, Fillmore, ”usage-based”…
restrictions no focus on
Restrictions: No focus on
  • Philosophical, anthropological, psychological approaches
  • Applied linguistics: lexicography, computational linguistics, language teaching
  • Important aspects of lexicology: etymology, morphology, social variation
  • “the practice of lexical semantics”
  • Research published in other languages than English, German and French
strong points
Strong points
  • “the book tries to go beyond a mere description of the different approaches. It will try to provide a framework that makes sense of the succession of the different schools of thought” (xvii)
  • “the evolution of lexical semantics shows a great deal of progress, to the extent that the empirical domain … is systematically broadened. On the other hand, the various theoretical approaches are at least partly in competition with one another.” (xvii)
  • “an awareness of older work may be fruitful for ongoing research” (xviii)
recurrent themes
Recurrent themes
  • Onomasilogical(from concept/domain to lexeme) vs. semasiological(from lexeme to concept/meaning) approaches
  • Diachronic vs. synchronic focus
  • “Maximalist” vs. “minimalist” semantics
  • Mentalist vs. non-mentalist semantics
  • Structure vs. usage -oriented
weak points
Weak points
  • Implicitly partial: for a “maximalist”, “mentalist”, “usage-based” approach
  • Someone one-sided presentations (Coseriu)
  • Somewhat too schematic: “neostructuralist”
  • Obvious gaps: Talmy, Levinson
  • At times too compact to follow easily, without going to original sources
  • Many examples, but no thorough description of particular semantic domain (e.g. Space)
  • By reading the original texts from the corresponding periods, enter a “dialogue” with Geeraerts
  • For the seminars, and especially for the presentations (and papers), complement with own examples, in other languages
  • Attempt to provide evaluations, and perhaps even syntheses, that need not be the same as the author.