Chapter 7: Lexical Semantics
Chapter 7 Lexical Semantics Key terms • Antonymy • Homonymy • Homophony • Hyperonymy • Hyponymy • Lexical semantics • Polysemy • Reference • Referent • Referring expression • Sense • Synonymy In another area of semantics, “lexical semantics”, the focus of attention is shifted towards the study of word meaning, and the lexical relations that a word has with others. In lexical semantics, lexical relations, such as syn- onymy, antonymy, hyponymy, hyperonymy, polysemy, homonymy, and the like, are given full consideration. This chapter studies these relations in a direct link with the actual act of translating. 100 Chapter 7 7.1 Reference versus sense Reference refers to the relationship between words or expressions (technically known as “referring expressions”) inside the linguistic system and objects (technically known as “referents”) in the real world. When you hear or read, for instance, the word chair, and you are familiar with its meaning in English, you will have a mental image of it – something that has a seat, a back, and usually four legs; something that you can sit on, move, touch, and so on, as in the following diagram: Th is theory (known as “naming theory”) does not work with abstract words that do not refer to anything in the real world, such as happiness, sadness, beauty, courage, cowardice, and so on. Hearing or reading these words does not conjure up any mental image in our mind. Does that mean that these words are meaningless? In this regard, Goddard (1998/2011: 4; emphasis in the original) rightly comments: People sometimes think that the meaning of an...
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