Lexical Semantics. An Introduction Boris Iomdin Russian Language Institute,Russian Academy of Sciences firstname.lastname@example.org
Lecture 2. Plan • Grammatical meaning • Grammar and dictionary • Criteria of grammatical meanings: • Obligatoriness • Generality • Non-universality • Inability to be expressed independently • Limited motivation in reality • Integral description of the language • Grammar rules in the dictionary
Jabberwocky • 'Twas brillig, and the slithy tovesDid gyre and gimble in the wabe;All mimsy were the borogoves,And the mome raths outgrabe. (Lewis Carroll)
Grammatical meaning • A generalized meaning common to a series of words and regularly expressed in the language • A. Zaliznyak: a grammatical meaning is a meaning that for each word of a given class has to be expressed necessarily • O. Jespersen: grammar deals with general facts
Grammatical meaning: criteria • Obligatory: Grammatica ars obligatoria • General • Not universal • Hardly expressed independently • Not necessarily motivated in reality
Grammar and Dictionary • Grammar deals with the general facts of language, and lexicology with special facts. That cat denotes that particular animal is a special fact which concerns that word alone, but the formation of the plural by adding the sound –s is a general fact because it concerns a great many other words as well: rats, hats, works, books, caps, chiefs,etc. O. Jespersen, The philosophy of grammar, 1924
Grammatical categories A grammatical category is a generalization of at least two grammatical meanings which are regularly distinguished in their forms. Nominal grammatical categories:number, gender, case, definiteness, animatedness, possession, … Verbal grammatical categories:tense, mode, voice, aspect,evidentiality, causation, …
Are they universal? • No gender in English / … • No case in English / French / … • No aspect in English / French / German / … • No definiteness in Slavic languages (except Bulgarian) • No number in Pirahã (Brazil) • Nothing (?) obligatoryin Chinese
Grammaticalization A process when lexical meanings become grammatical • Semantic bleaching: my back hurts > back of the class > back in 1980; Turkisharkamda‘behind me’, literally ‘on my spine’ • Phonetic erosion: going to > gonna, homo > on • Morphological reduction: will, shall • Obligatorification: articles (Latin ille‘he’ /illa‘she’ > Italianil / la, Frenchle / la, ...)
Degrammaticalization A process when grammatical meanings become lexical (a rare phenomenon). Many authors claim that grammaticalization is unidirectional and degrammaticalization does not exist at all. • There are several pros and contras • I don’t like communism and other isms • able < -able (drinkable, movable) • Bulgarian neshto ‘something’ > ‘thing’
Partial motivation: gender • muzhchina (M) – derMensch(M) – un homme(M) • zhenshchina (F) – die Frau (F) – une femme(M) • rebyonok(M) – das Kind (N) – un enfant(M) • devochka(M) – das Mädchen(N) – unefille(F) • tarelka(F) – der Teller (M) – uneassiette(F) • blyudce(N) – die Untertasse(F) – unesoucoupe(F) • ryumka(F) – das Weinglas(N) – un petit verre(M) • solntse(N) – die Sonne(F) – le soleil(M) • luna(F) – derMond(M) – la lune(F) • shanson(M) – das Chanson (N) – une chanson (F) • Euro?
Example 2. Spanish • 1. El hombre es mortal. The man is mortal. • 2. El te esta dulce. The tea is sweet. • 3. Pedro es madrileño. Pedro is native of Madrid. • 4. El gato es simpatico. The cat is nice. • 5. El te "Lipton" es bueno. Lipton tea is good. • 6. El mar esta tranquilo. The sea is calm. • 7. Maria esta libre hoy. Maria is free today.
Example 2. Spanish • 8. El azucar ... dulce. The sugar is sweet. • 9. El jersey ... sucio. The sweater is dirty. • 10. El pescado ... fresco. The fish is fresh. • 11. El jersey ... azul. The sweater is blue. • 12. Dolores ... nerviosa, porque el examen de hoy ... dificil. Dolores is nervous because today’s exam is difficult.
A riddle in Spanish • –... roja? Is it red? • –No, ... negra. No, it is black. • –Y porque... blanca?And why is it white? • – Porque ... verde. Because it is green.
Integral description of language Juri Apresjan, The unified, or integrated theory of linguistic description • Every complete linguistic description is ultimately made up of a grammar and a dictionary. • Grammar and dictionary should be mutually adjusted, i.e. coordinated with regard to the types of information included and the formal devices used to record them.
Disparity example: numerals Are numerals a part of speech in English? • No number marking: five books • Derivation patterns: X+teen, X+ty, X+th, X+fold • Syntactic features: five books, five by five • Additive construction: twenty-five = ‘20 + 5’ (stone wall ≠ ‘stone + wall’) Classing numerals as nouns or adjectives (as most dictionaries do) plays havoc with the grammatical rules for genuine nouns or adjectives.
Grammar rules in the dictionary Many grammar rules may have to be included in some dictionary entries: • Morphological rules • Syntactic rules • Collocation rules • Semantic rules • Pragmatic rules • Communicative rules, etc.
Morphological rules: examples Friend, pal, buddy, acquaintance: two meanings of the plural form • His friends / pals / buddies came. • The friends / pals / buddies decided to meet. • His acquaintances came. • *The acquaintances decided to meet.
Morphological rules: examples Russian: absence of imperative forms • xotet’, zhelat’, zhazhdat’, mechtat’ ‘want, dream’ • xotet’ and zhazhdat’ have no imperative • for zhelat’ and mechtat’, negative imperative is possible:Ne zhelaj nikomu zla ‘Do not wish evil to anyone’,I ne mechtaj ob aetom ‘Don’t even dream about that’.
Syntactic rules: examples Sentences with the expletive it • It tried / tormented / tortured him to think that… • *It afflicted / racked him to think that… • It was hard / difficult to climb up the steep slope. • *It was arduous to climb up the steep slope.
Syntactic rules: examples Government (by prepositions or verbs) • come with delight / with joy/ with pleasure • jump in delight / *in joy / *in pleasure • My mind is at rest / at ease about it. • *My mind is at comfort about it.
Syntactic rules: examples Government (by prepositions or verbs) • to spring / to leap over a fence • to leap a fence • *to spring a fence • love for somebody / of something • attachment to somebody / to something
Syntactic rules: examples Attributive vs. predicative adjectives • an affectionate / devoted / fond / doting mother • She is affectionate / devoted to me / fond of him. • *She is doting. • a watchful / vigilant / alert guard • The guard is watchful / vigilant / alert / awake. • *an awake guard.
Next lecture • Linguistic relativity. The naïve picture of the world