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Semantics for Translation Students



Ali Almanna

This book is an introduction to semantics for students and researchers who are new to the field, especially those interested in Arabic–English translation and Arabic–English contrastive studies. The book first presents key concepts in semantics, pragmatics, semiotics, syntax and morphology and gradually introduces readers to the central questions of semantics. These issues are then analysed and discussed in conjunction with the act of translating between Arabic and English. Seeking a balance between theoretical developments and empirical investigation, the book thus provides both a systematic overview of semantics and an application in the field of English and Arabic contrastive semantics, hence offering a resource for students and teachers of Arabic–English translation.


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Chapter 9: Semantic Principles


Chapter 9 Semantic Principles Key terms • Collocation • Compositionality • Idiom principle • Idioms • Lexical features • Open choice principle • Phrasal verbs • Phraseological features • Phraseological tendency • Slot-and-filler principle • Terminological tendency Semantically speaking, in order to produce utterances or understand them, language users (be they speakers or writers) rely on two features, namely lexical features and phraseological features (cf. Francis 1993; Sinclair 1991, 1998). These two types of features cover both compositional meaning and unitary meaning. This chapter explores two aspects of word use and word meaning in terms of Sinclair’s (1991, 1998) distinction between the “open choice principle” (or “terminological tendency”) and the “idiom principle” (or “phraseological tendency”). 136 Chapter 9 9.1 Semantic principles As suggested above, in order to produce or understand utterances, language users rely on both lexical and phraseological features. To do so, they con- sciously or subconsciously follow two principles, namely the open choice principle (or terminological tendency) and the idiom principle (or phra- seological tendency). At times, the lexical items have both a terminological tendency and a phraseological tendency, as in literal phrasal verbs, such as sit down, stand up, come in, put down, pick up, and so on. In this type of phrasal verbs, in which a verb is followed by a directional particle, it is not difficult to figure out their meanings because both terminological tendency and phraseological tendency are in harmony. However, at other times, there is some sort of tension between these two tendencies, as in, for example aspectual phrasal verbs, such as take off,...

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