Theories of Lexical Semantics

Overview


Theories of Lexical Semantics offers a comprehensive overview of the major traditions of word meaning research in linguistics. In spite of the growing importance of the lexicon in linguistic theory, no overview of the main theoretical trends in lexical semantics is currently available. This book fills that gap by charting the evolution of the discipline from the mid nineteenth century to the present day. It presents the main ideas, the landmark publications, and the dominant figures of five traditions: ...
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Overview


Theories of Lexical Semantics offers a comprehensive overview of the major traditions of word meaning research in linguistics. In spite of the growing importance of the lexicon in linguistic theory, no overview of the main theoretical trends in lexical semantics is currently available. This book fills that gap by charting the evolution of the discipline from the mid nineteenth century to the present day. It presents the main ideas, the landmark publications, and the dominant figures of five traditions: historical-philological semantics, structuralist semantics, generativist semantics, neostructuralist semantics, and cognitive semantics. The theoretical and methodological relationship between the approaches is a major point of attention throughout the text: going well beyond a mere chronological enumeration, the book does not only describe the theoretical currents of lexical semantics, but also the undercurrents that have shaped its evolution.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"fills a crucial gap in the literature on word meaning...a long-awaited must-read in lexicological and semantic theory...should be background knowledge for anyone seriously committed to lexical work...a state-of-the-art overview awaited for decades, provides an indispensable reference in semantic theory."—Clara Molina, The Linguist List
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198700319
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2010
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Dirk Geeraerts is Professor of Theoretical Linguistics at the University of Leuven and head of the research group Quantitative Lexicology and Variational Linguistics. He is the author of The Structure of Lexical Variation (1994), Diachronic Prototype Semantics (1997), and Words and Other Wonders (2006) and the editor, along with Hubert Cuyckens, of The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics (2007).

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Table of Contents

List of Figures x

Preface xi

Introduction xiii

1 Historical-philological Semantics 1

1.1 The birth of lexical semantics 2

1.1.1 Speculative etymology 2

1.1.2 The rhetorical tradition 5

1.1.3 Lexicography 7

1.2 The nature of meaning 9

1.2.1 Bréal on meaning and mind 10

1.2.2 Paul on context and usage 14

1.2.3 Variant voices 16

1.3 Classifications of semantic change 25

1.3.1 Main types of change 26

1.3.2 Lower-level patterns 31

1.3.3 Classificatory complexities 35

1.4 Beyond historical-philological semantics 42

Further sources for Chapter 1 45

2 Structuralist Semantics 47

2.1 The structuralist conception of meaning 48

2.1.1 Arguing against historical-philological semantics 49

2.1.2 Types of structuralist semantics 52

2.2 Lexical field theory 53

2.2.1 Trier's concept of lexical fields 53

2.2.2 Lexical fields and syntagmatic relations 57

2.2.3 Lexical fields and formal relations 60

2.2.4 The discreteness of lexical fields 65

2.3 Componential analysis 70

2.3.1 Componential analysis in American ethnosemantics 71

2.3.2 Componential analysis in European structuralist semantics 74

2.4 Relational semantics 80

2.4.1 Major sense relations 82

2.4.2 Theoretical issues 88

2.5 Beyond structuralist semantics 91

Further sources for Chapter 2 98

3 Generativist Semantics 101

3.1 Katzian semantics 102

3.1.1 Formal dictionary entries 102

3.1.2 The emulation of structuralist semantics 104

3.2 Tensions in generativist semantics 106

3.2.1 Minimal or maximal semantics? 106

3.2.2 Decompositional or axiomatic semantics? 113

3.3 Beyond generativist semantics 117

Further sources for Chapter 3 122

4 Neostructuralist Semantics 124

4.1 Elaborating the decompositional approach 126

4.1.1 Natural Semantic Metalanguage 127

4.1.2 Conceptual Semantics 137

4.1.3 Two-Level Semantics 142

4.1.4 Generative Lexicon 147

4.2 Elaborating the relational approach 156

4.2.1 WordNet 158

4.2.2 Lexical functions 161

4.2.3 Distributional corpus analysis 165

Further sources for Chapter 4 179

5 Cognitive Semantics 182

5.1 Prototypicality and salience 183

5.1.1 Prototypicality effects 184

5.1.2 Radial networks and polysemy 192

5.1.3 Basic levels and onomasiological salience 199

5.2 Conceptual metaphor and metonymy 203

5.2.1 Conceptual Metaphor Theory 204

5.2.2 Mental spaces and blending 210

5.2.3 Conceptual metonymy 213

5.3 Idealized Cognitive Models and frames 222

5.3.1 Idealized Cognitive Models 224

5.3.2 Frame semantics and FrameNet 225

5.4 Usage and change 229

5.4.1 Invited inference and pragmatics 230

5.4.2 Mechanisms and regularities 233

5.5 Cognitive semantics in context 239

5.5.1 Meaning in the mind 240

5.5.2 Meaning in culture and society 249

5.5.3 Meaning in text and discourse 258

Further sources for Chapter 5 267

Conclusion 273

References 288

Author Index 328

Subject Index 335

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