Understanding Semantics

A Textbook for Students of Linguistics and Translation

©2010 Academic Paper 112 Pages


Semantics is a fascinating subject, because it is “cognition turning in upon itself". This subject has also often seemed baffling with many different approaches to it. Semantics is also an appealing subject because it is about how people make sense of each other linguistically, but it can be a frustrating area of study because it requires us to make sense of people and what they have in mind.
Semantics is also a wide subject within the general study of language. An understanding of semantics is essential to the study of language acquisition and of language change. In this sense we can quote Holliday (1994: xvii) who states:
“A language…is a system for making meanings: a semantic system, with other systems for encoding the meanings it produces. The term 'semantics' does not simply refer to the meaning of words; it is the entire system of meanings of a language, expressed by grammar as well as vocabulary”.
The study of semantics includes the study of how meaning is constructed, interpreted, clarified, obscured, illustrated, simplified, negotiated, contradicted and paraphrased.
The idea of this book on semantics initially grew out for the above considerations. Moreover, it will shed new light on a subject whose problems and obscurities have seemed inexhaustible. Therefore, it became necessary, or, in other words, crucially imperative, to produce, publish and provide students and scholars with this treatise which may give an academic insight and practical approach.


Table Of Contents

immense help not only to the students, but also to the teachers and researchers of lin-
guistics in various colleges and universities in Arab countries.
· Look into some of the crucial aspects of semantics.
· Formulate a clear vision and proper approach to semantics.
Bring 'the specialist' face to face, and familiarize him/her as well, with some basic is-
sues of semantics.
No book acknowledgement would be complete without some glib references to the book
gnomes who come out at right erase connecting sentences and key modifies in book draft.
Those gnomes really piss me off. But they are not bad with lentils.

1.1 Defining
1.2 What does linguistic semantics deal with? ... 15
1.3 What do semanticists do when they study meaning? ... 15
1.4 Is semantics a separate modul? ... 15
1.5 Semantics: A Critical Historical background ... 16
1.6 Can Semantics indeed be very important? ... 17
1.7 Types and Subfields of Semantics? ... 17
1.8 Semantics and learners' linguistic behavior ... 18
1.9 What is Semantics in a nutshell ? ... 18
1.10 Sense Relations ... 19
EXERCISE (1) ... 29
2.1 Defining
2.2 Semantics and Pragmatics : Overlap ... 35
2.3 Semiotics and Pragmatics ... 36
2.4 History of Pragmatics ... 37
2.5 What does pragmatics include? ... 38
2.6 Speech Acts Theory ... 38
2.7 Felicity
2.8 Conversational
2.9 The Cooperative Principle ... 44
2.10 The Politeness Principles ... 46
2.11 Principle of Relevance ... 47
2.12 Deixis ... 48
2.13 J.R. Searle's Classifications of Speech Acts ... 49
EXERCISE (2) ... 50

3.1 Defining
3.2 Defining
3.3 Defining
3.5 Differences between a Sentence and an Utterance ... 57
3.6 Six Aspects of Utterance Meaning ... 57
3.7 Differences between a Sentence and a Proposition ... 58
3.8 Analytic
3.9 Synthetic
3.10 Contradictory Sentence ... 62
3.11 Entailment ... 63
3.12 Paraphrase ... 65
3.13 Sense and reference ... 66
3.14 Denotations and Connotations ... 68
3.15 The Distinction Between Denotation and Connotation ... 69
EXERCISE (3) ... 71
4.1 Defining
4.2 Lexical
4.3 Structural
4.4 Syntactic Ambiguity with Adjectives and Participles ... 78
4.5 Lexical and Structural Ambiguity ... 81
4.6 Types of Syntactic Ambiguity ... 82
4.7 Other Ambiguous Constrictions... 85
4.8 Syntactic Ambiguity of Noun+ Noun + Modifier ... 86
4.9 Syntactic Ambiguity of Verb + Noun + Modifier: ... 87
4.10 Ambiguity Arising out of Bracketing: ... 88
4.11 The Phenomenon of Ambiguity Persistence ... 92
4.12 The Principal Ways to Avoid Ambiguity ... 92
EXERCISE (4) ... 93

5.1 Defining
5.2 Some More Examples of English Idioms their Meanings ... 99
5.3 Defining
5.4 Types of Collocations ... 102
5.5 The Three Kinds of Collocational Restrictions ... 103
5.6 Proverbs
... 103
5.7 Examples of some English Proverbs ... 104
EXERCISE (5) ... 105

1.1 Defining Semantics
Semantics can be simply defined as:
A) The study of meaning communicated through language.
B) The study of meaning in human language.
C) The study of meaning of words sentences.
D) The study of the linguistic meaning; that is the meaning of words, phrases and sentences.
E) Semantics is part of grammar proper, unfortunately, because semantics is the poorly
understood component of grammar, it can be one of the most difficult areas of linguis-
tics to study.
Three central components which make up a grammar: Phonology, Syntax and Semantics
1.2 What does linguistic semantics deal with?
Linguistic semantics deals with the conventional meaning conveyed by the use of words and
sentences of a language.
1.3 What do semanticists do when they study meaning?
Semantics is the study of meaning: the study of the relations that linguistic expressions bear
to the world in virtue of which they are meaningful. Hence, semanticists study the knowledge
of meaning language users, possess, and the way they use this knowledge.
1.4 Is semantics a separate modul?
Phonology sound
Syntax arrangement
make up of words

Answer No. 1
Semantics is a separate linguistic module, like phonology and syntax.
Answer No. 2
Meaning cannot be identified as a separate autonomous level because meaning is a product of
linguistic levels.
1.5 Semantics: A Critical Historical background
A] Semantics is derived from the Greek SEMANTIKOS, or "significant" derived from
{sema}, sign, feature; and refers to the study of meaning, especially in natural languages.
B] A related term, semiotics, concerns the study of signs in general, including, e.g. the
meaning of human habits, traffic signs, or information processing of animals.
C] At the beginning, semantics was called the " waste basket of syntax". In the late fifties and
early sixties, linguists tried to make linguistics a science. Thus, they applied many mathematical
methods to the linguistic studying. Linguistics was ideally considered as an algebra of language.
D] In the mid-fifties Chomsky developed his famous theory of generative transformational
grammar. Although he knew the domain of his research is somewhat limited, he concentrated
his attention on grammar and paid no attention to the study of meaning. In this way, semantics
came to be called the ''waste-basket of syntax.''
E] The word "Semantics" emerged in 1894 for the first time in English language in a paper
read to the American Philological Association entitled "Reflected Meaning". In 1880, Paul
gave significance to the matters of meaning. Reising (1825) uses Semasiology as study of
meaning. To find principles governing development of meaning along with syntax and
etymology in Latin philology.
F] Malinowski, a Polish anthropologist used the word "semantics " for the first time in
English used in a non-historical sense. Michael Bread was perhaps the second well-known
scholar who in his book, Semantics
Studies in Science of Meaning, published in 1900 used this word (Semantics)in its present
sense of a systematic study of what meaning is how it operates.
To quote M. Bread (1985:17):

...the study where we invite the reader to follow us is of such a new kind, that it has not even
yet been given a name. Indeed, it is on the body and the form of words that most linguists
have exercised their acumen. The laws governing changes in meaning, the choice of new
expressions, the birth and death of idioms, have been left in the dark or have only been
casually indicated. Since this study, no less than phonetics and morphology, deserves to have
a name. We shall call it Semantics, i.e. the science of meaning...
1.6 Can Semantics indeed be very important?
Sometimes Semantics can indeed be very important and not only in legal, setting, etc. The
worst accident in the history of aviation happened on March 27, 1977. Two aircrafts collided
on a runway in Tenerife, 583 people died. One of the several problems that led to the terrible
accident was the following misunderstanding:
Pilot of KLM4805: Ah- roger sir, we are cleared to the Papa Beacon, flight level nine zero until
intercepting the three to five. We are now at take off. Tower: Ok...[masked by noise] stand by for
take off, I will call you. The pilot understood we are now at take off as "we are now taking off";
whereas the tower understood it as "we are now at the takeoff point. (Steven Cushing: 1994)
1.7 Types and Subfields of Semantics?
A part of Semantics. Semantics of language. Linguistic Semantics started with Breal's
publication on Semantics (1897).Semasiology explores word meaning:
I. Semantics can be divided into:
{a}Structural Semantics (Greimas):-
· A structural, linguistic and semiotic approach to Semantic. It is a Semantics of text.
{b}Logical Semantics:-
· According to Carnap, Semantics studies expressions and their designata.
{c}General Semantics:-
· A movement of ideological language criticism and practical rhetorical therapy which
begins in 1933 with the publication of Science and Sanity of Alfred Korzybski. Not re-
lated to linguistics or semiotics.

II. Subfields of Semantics are called:
[A] Lexical Semantics:
· Which is concerned with the meaning of words, and the meaning of relationships
among words.
[B] Phrasal Sentential Semantics:
Which is concerned with the meaning of syntactic units larger than the word.
1.8 Semantics and learners' linguistic behavior
If Semantics is studied in a proper spirit, it can certainly help us to improve our linguistic
behavior. In this sense, Leech (1981:XI) says the following:
...the more we understood the cognitive and communicative structure of language, the better
we are able to recognize and control the "pathological" or destructive elements in communi-
cation, and the better we are able to appreciate and to foster the forces that make for concord.
1.9 What is Semantics in a nutshell ?
· Investigation of ''Semantic Knowledge'' (part of linguistic competence): various aspects
of meaning that native speakers know consciously or unconsciously.
· Semantic Knowledge/ Competence
E.g. Relationships among words:-
In the study of linguistic meaning of words, one should study the types of relation-
ship between words such as:.
- Homonymy
- Synonymy
- Antonymy.
- Polysemy.

1.10 Sense Relations
(1) Homonymy
Homonymy describes when two senses of a given word (or derivation) are distinct. Typically,
they are separated by etymology are therefore entirely unrelated in meaning. One classic
example is "bat". As in airborne mammal (from the middle English word "bakke" meaning
flying rodent) vs. "bat" as in an instrument used in the game of cricket (from the Celtic for
stick or cudgel). There is no underlying relationship between these two meaning which have
come about independently from differing root languages. (Stokoe,1992:1).In this sense we
can quote Lyons (1990:557) who writes:-
There is one further criterion that is involved in the definitions of homonymy: that of formal
identity . Two word-tokens are formally identical in the phonic medium if they have the same
phonological representation. They are formally identical in the graphic medium if they have
the same orthographic representation. In languages that are conventionally written with an
alphabetic or syllabic orthography, both kinds of formal identity generally coincide. But they
are in principle completely independent of one another...
(2) Polysemy
Polysemy describes where two senses of a word are related in that they share membership of a
subsuming Semantic classification. Consider the word "mouth" as in a part of the body vs.
"mouth" as in the outlet of a river .
a) He lifted his glass to his mouth. (The part of your face which you put food into or which
you use for speaking).
b) The mouth of the River Nile. (the part of a river where it joins the sea.)
Both meanings are subsumed by a higher concept ( in this case they are both described as an
opening).In this sense we can quote Lyons(1990:552)who writes :
...all speakers of English would probably agree that the noun 'mouth' is a single lexeme with
several related senses (i.e. that it is polysemous . They would not of course use such theoreti-
cal terms as' lexeme' and 'polysemous '. But they might tell us that in such expressions as 'the
mouth of the river' and 'the mouth of the bottle' it is the same word ,'mouth', that is being
used as in an utterance like Don't speak with your mouth full; and they might well account

for their feeling that is the same word by saying that the basic, or literal, meaning of 'mouth' is
something like aperture in the face(through which men and animals take food , breathe ,emit
vocal signals ,etc.) and that this meaning has given rise ,by some discernible process of
metaphorical or figurative extension , to the use of the same word in referring to other kinds
of openings or apertures...
Some more examples of polysemy :
· The bank was flooded yesterday (building)
· The bank was very nice and understanding (personnel)
· The bank was founded in 1990 (institution)
· I am the bank (when playing Monopoly)
· A blood bank, a memory bank (a place where something is stored)
· A river bank (the rising ground bordering a river)
· We were protected by a bank of about two feet high (a small flat mound) .
(3) Synonym
The term synonyms or identity of meaning is a semantic relation which is used to mean
sameness of meaning. According to James (2004tes that have the same sense: 106)'' synony-
my is the relationship between two predicates that have the same senses''.
There are words which sound different, but have the same or nearly the same meaning. There
is a tendency to limit synonymic status to those elements, which given the identity of their
referential, can be used freely in a given context. There are no perfect synonyms, since no two
elements can be used with the same statistic probability in absolutely all contexts in which
any of them can appear. Synonymy is always related to context. Two lexical items are
perfectly synonymous in a given context or in several contexts, but never in all contexts. The
term used to describe this is relative synonymy. Context, that is the position on the syntagmat-
ic axis, is essential for synonymy.
e. g. deep water *deep idea
profound idea *profound water
deep / profound sleep; deep / profound thought.
We can notice that the distinction concrete/ abstract is not relevant here, since words like idea
and thought, both abstract, behave differently in relation to the pair of relative synonyms deep

and profound. Talking about the terms used in describing synonymy, it is necessary at this
point to present Lyons' classification of synonyms into:
absolute synonyms;
partial synonyms;
near synonyms.
Absolute synonyms should be fully, totally and completely synonymous.
i. Synonyms are fully synonymous if, and only if, all their meanings are identical ;
ii. synonyms are totally synonyms if and only if they are synonymous in all contexts;
iii. synonyms are completely synonymous if and only if they are identical on all relevant
dimensions of meaning.
Absolute synonyms should satisfy all the three criteria above, whereas partial synonyms
should satisfy at least one criterion (Lyons, 1981: 50-51).
D. A. Cruse (1987: 292) comments on Lyons' classification, arguing that identical and
synonymous are to be understood as completely synonymous; secondly, near- synonyms `more
or less similar, but not identical in meaning' qualify as incomplete synonyms, and therefore as
partial synonyms, so the distinction between the two classes is not so clear as Lyons claims.
Referring to absolute synonyms in language, Cruse states that there is no real motivation for
their existence, and if they do exist, in time one of them would become obsolete, or would
develop a difference in semantic function. For example, sofa and settee are absolute syno-
nyms, but at a certain point in time sofa had the feature /elegant/, which now seems to have
disappeared from the conscience of the speakers who use the two terms in free variation. But
according to Cruse, this state of affairs would not persist, since it is against the tendency
towards economy manifest in any language.
Examples like sofa and couch refer to the same type of object, and share most of their
semantic properties-/ piece of furniture/ / used for sitting/ /with arms/ / backed/ / upholstered/-
, so they can be considered synonymous. There are words that are neither synonyms nor near
synonyms, yet they have many semantic properties in common. For example, man and boy
imply /+male/ /+human/ features, but boy includes the property /+youth/, so it differs in
meaning from man. The question to be asked is how to determine all relevant dimensions of
meaning in order to establish the type of synonymy we are dealing with. Cruse draws a
distinction between subordinate semantic traits and capital traits. Subordinate traits are those

which have a role within the meaning of a word analogous to that of a modifier in a syntactic
construction (e. g. red in a red hat).For instance, /walk/ is the capital trait of stroll, /good
looking/ of pretty and handsome. For nag , /worthless/ is a subordinate trait.
Sometimes words that are ordinarily opposites can mean the same thing in a certain context, a
good scare = a bad scare. The apparent synonymy of two utterances that contain a pair of
antonyms hides opposite or at least different connotations.
e.. g. How old are you? - neutral connotation; inquiry about someone's age
How young are you? You shouldn't smoke. -negative connotation; it's obvious you are too
young to do that;
I don't know how big his house is. - neutral
I don't know how small his house is. -negative connotation; I know that it is too small
Even when using synonyms this implies not only a high degree of semantic overlap, but also a
low degree of implicit contrastiveness,
e. g. He was murdered, or rather/ more exactly, executed.
He was cashiered, that is to say, dismissed.- the synonym is used as an explanation for
another word.
Synonymy depends largely on other factors such as:
· register used, wife [neutral], spouse [formal, legal term], old lady [highly informal];
· collocation, big trouble *large trouble;
· connotation, notorious [negative], famous [positive]; immature [negative], young [positive].
· dialectal variations, which may be geographical ,- lift (British English), elevator (Amer-
ican English)-, temporal,- wireless became radio, -, and last but not least, social - toilet
replaced lavatory, settee became sofa-,though the last two subtypes of variations cannot
be always separated; (Cruse, 1987: 282-283)
· morpho- syntactic behavior,
e. g. He began/ started his speech with a quotation.
Tom tried to start/ *begin his car.
At the beginning/ *start of the world...

All the examples above refer to lexical synonymy, but there are also grammatical synonyms,
operating at the level of morphology, means of expressing futurity, possibility, etc.
e. g. He will go / is going / is to go tomorrow.
He can/ may visit us next week if the weather is fine.
(4) Antonyms
Words having opposite meanings are called antonyms. There are four types of antonyms in
the literature on Semantics which are the following:
1. Converse terms
2. Gradable opposites
3. Binary opposites
4. Multiple incompatible
light = dark
dead = alive
The difference among binary, gradable, and conversed antonyms is represented in the follow-
ing figure:
Antonymy has several characteristics which set it apart from the other lexical ­semantics
relation , in this sense we can quote Cruse ,(1988:197):
Single Married
x give
x receive

... Of all the relation sense that semanticists propose , that of oppositeness is probably the
more readily apprehended by ordering
Speaker... About the mysterious quality of antonyms. Cruse again writes... opposites
possess unique fascination, and exhibit properties which may appear paradoxical. Take, for
instance, the simultaneous closeness, and distance from one another of opposite the meaning
of pair of opposites are felt to be maximally separated. Linguists and lexicographers studying
antonymy have focused mainly on the semantic aspects and on identifying different types of
opposites .
Psychologists and Psycholinguists in contrast, seem to be more interested in the fact that
antonyms have strong association, an association which seems to be the basis the clang''
phenomena. In this way, their work provides a counterpoint to the linguistic approaches
described earlier, answering some of the questions which linguists have not deal with.
(5) Paronymy
The definition of paronyms is merely grammatical. It shows how adjectives can be manufac-
tured from abstract nouns by modifying the word ending. Paronymy appears as a notion
incomparable with synonymy and homonymy. Things are defined to be synonyms and
homonyms in so far as they share the same name, whereas two things are paronyms when
they are called by different ''names'' (terms) of which one is nevertheless derived (grammati-
cally) from the other.
Paronymous are those who called by two names,of which the one is derived from the other by
varying the inflexion of termination. (K. Hintikka, 1959:14).
(6) Hyponymy Hyperonym (over name)( Literarily undername)
Hyponomy , referred to as inclusion , is the inclusion of one meaning of a more specific term
in the meaning of more general term. That is' if the referent of term 'A' includes the referent of
term 'B', then term 'B' is a hyponym of term 'A' Consider the following pairs of sentences:
(1) A. There is a dog in the garden.
B There is an animal in the garden.
(2) A There is a snake under the grass.
B There is a reptile under the grass.

(3) A There is a sparrow on the bush.
B There is a bird on the bush.
(4) A There is a mouse in the garden.
B There is a rodent in the garden .
In each case, there is a relationship of entailment between pairs of sentences ( A and B) which
is due to the presence of particular pairs of words: dog and animal in(1), snake and reptile
in(2), sparrow and bird in(3), mouse and rodent in(4).In sentence' a' in each pair we have a
word which identifies an' individual', and in the 'b' sentences, we have general words. Thus,
focusing on sentence (1) we can have the following schema:
'X is a dog X is an animal'
When we have this situation we can say that the particular instance or specific term( dog) is
ncluded within the general term( animal). Dog , the subordinate , specific term, is a hyponym
and animal, the general term is the subordinate term 'dog' and 'animal' are in the semantic
relationship of hyponomy. In the same way snake is a hyponym of reptile, sparrow is a
hyponym of bird and mouse is a hyponym rodent and animal, reptile ,bird and rodent are
subordinate of dog, snake, sparrow and mouse, respectively. ( Busiari,2010:50).
Another type of paradigmatic relation is hyponymy / inclusion. It implies as a rule multiple
taxonomies, a series of hypo-ordinate / subordinate terms being included in the area of a
hyper-ordinate/ super-ordinate term. This relationship exists between two meanings if one
componential formula contains all the features present in the other formula. Woman contains
the features /+human/, /+adult/, /-male/.In different contexts, the emphasis is on one of the
features included in the meaning of woman:
e. g. Stop treating me like a child. I'm a woman [= grown- up]
She is a woman [= human being], not an object.
She is a woman [ = female] , so she wouldn't know what a man feels like in such a situation.
One way to describe hyponymy is in terms of genus and differentia. We can discuss about
meaning inclusion, that is all the features of adult are included in woman, and about reference
inclusion, that is all the objects denoted by woman are included into the larger category
denoted by adult.Sometimes we can't have a super-ordinate term expressed just by one word:

musical instrument
clarinet guitar piano trumpet violin
(7) Meronymy (Pactonymy)
Meronymy is a part- whole relationship.
Pane window room.
Nail finger hand.
Piston engine car.
Meronymy is not necessarily a transitive relation. E.g. Abasement/cellar is not necessary part
of a house.
(8) Metonymy
· Metonymy is the substitution of the name of a thing by the name of an attribute of it or
something closely associated with it:
[a] The pen is mightier than the sword.
(The pen) stands for literature and (the sword) for fighting and war; the stage for the theatrical
[b] Ali has read all of Shakespeare.
Shakespeare stands for his work.
· Lexical properties of the argument determine metonymies it can be involved in:
[a] I am parked out back.
[b] I am parked out back and may not start.
[c] I am parked out back and I have been waiting for fifteen minutes.

Conclusion: "parked out back" contributes a property of person, the property they possess in
virtue of the locations of their cars.
(9) Homonymy
Homonyms (from Gr. "homos" means "the same", "omona" means "name") are the words,
different in meaning and either identical both in sound and spelling or identical only in
spelling or sound. The most widely accepted classification of them is following:
1. Homonyms proper (or perfect homonyms)
2. Homophones
3. Homographs
Homonyms proper are words identical in pronunciation and spelling:
a) "Ball" as a round object used in game, "ball" as a gathering of people for dancing;
b) "Bark" v to utter sharp explosive cries; "bark" n is a noise made by dog or a sailing
ship, etc.
i. "Bay" v is to bark; "bay" n is a part of the sea or the lake filling wide mouth
opening of the land, or the European laurel..
Homophones are words of the same sound, but of different meaning, for example:
"Air" ­ "heir", "arms" ­ "alms", "bye" ­ "buy" ­ "by", "him" ­ "hymn", "knight" ­
"night", "rain" ­ "reign", "not" ­ "knot", "or" ­ "ore" ­ "oar", "piece" ­ "peace", "scent" ­
"cent", "steal" ­ "steel" ­ "still", "write" ­ "right", "sea" ­ "see", "son" ­ "sun".
In the sentence: "The play-write on my right thinks it that some conventional rite should
symbolize the right of every man to write as he pleases" the sound complex [rait] is noun,
adjective, adverb and verb, has 4 different spellings and 6 different meanings.
The difference may be confined to the use of a capital letter as in "bill" and "Bill":
"How much is my milk bill?" ­ "Excuse me, madam, but my name is John". On the
other hand, whole sentences may be homophonic: "The sons raise meat" - "The sun's
rays meet". To understand this one needs a wide context.

Homographs are words different in sound and in meaning but accidentally identical
in spelling:

I. Define the following terms with examples:
1. Polysemy
2. Hyperonymy
3. Antonymy
4. Hyponymy
5. Metonymy
6. Synonymy
7. Homonymy
II. Complete the following:
(1) Definition of ... depends upon the model of the sign. The role and definition
of meaning is ...
(2) What is Lexical Semantics?
The study of ... individual lexical items mean, .............. they mean what they
do, ... we can represent all of this, and ........... the combined interpretation for
an utterance comes from.

(3) What is Historical Semantics?
Historical Semantics is the study of the change of meanings of ... through
time, in particular. The change of meaning of ...
III. Are the following syllogisms valid? Explain.
[a] No linguist is a rogue.
·some syntactictians are linguists.
·therefore, some syntactictians are not rogues.
[b] All semanticists are philosophers. Some syntactictians are semanticists. Therefore,
some syntactictians are philosophers.
[c] Some syntactictians are not linguists. No linguist is an economist. Therefore, some
syntactictians are not economists.
IV. Explain how metaphors are related to Polysemy.
V. Complete the following definition of Semantics which is called from Merriam Webster
(1) Semantics is the study of ...
[a] the ...and psychological study and the classification of changes in the .............
of words or forms viewed as ...in linguistic development.
(2) A branch of ...dealing with the relation between ................. and what
they refer to and including theories of ... extension, ................ and truth.
VI. Directions: Read each of the following statements carefully. Decide which of the four
choices best completes the statement and choose the letter A, B, Cor D.
1. Two words that are "opposite" in meaning are called...
A. synonyms . B. homonyms.
C. antonyms . D. homophones.
2. Hide and conceal are called...
A. a gradable. B. complementary.
C. synonyms . D. homophones.
3. Grammatical meaning refer to that part of ...
A. elaboration. B. simplification.
C. external borrowing. D. meaning.

4...defines the meaning of a language form as the "situation in which the
speaker utters it and the response it calls forth in the hearer ".
A. behaviorism . B. contextualism.
C. the conceptualist view. D. the naming theory.
5. The study of the linguistic meaning of words, phrases and sentences is
A. phonology . B. morphology.
C. syntax . D. semantic.
6.The naming theory was proposed by ...
A. Firth. B. Malinowski.
C. Bloomfield . D. Plato.
7.The phenomenon that words having different meanings have the same form is called
A. polysemy. B. hyponymy.
C. antonymy. D. homonymy.
VII. Directions: .Fill in the blank in each of the following statements with one word, the
first letter of which is already given as a clue. Note that you are to fill in with one word
only, and you are not allowed to change the letter given.
1. S... is concerned with the inherent meaning of the linguistic form.
2. The c...view holds that there is no direct link between a linguistic from and what it
refers to; rather, in the interpretation of meaning they are linked through the mediation of
concepts in the mind.
3. The same one word have more than one meaning, this is what is called p...
4. The study of the linguistic meaning of words, phrases and sentences is called s...
VIII: What distinction, if any, would you draw between homonymy and Polysemy?
IX: Examples of descriptive synonyms in English are ;'father', 'dad', 'dady','pop',etc
[p,9] Can you extend this list.

X: Does the verb 'play' have the same sense in such utterances as the following:-
1.She plays chess better than she plays the flute.
2.He's never played Hamlet.
3. I'm playing scrum-half Saturday.
4. Can I go out to play now, mummy?.
1) What does semantics investigate?
2) Explain which semantic relations between words are referred to by the following
A) Synonymy.
B) Antonymy
3) When do we speak of Polysemy and homonymy? Why can it be difficult to decide
which of these relations applies to a particular lexical item. .


Type of Edition
ISBN (Softcover)
File size
937 KB
Institution / College
Jazan University - KSA
Publication date
2015 (December)
Semantics English literature Translation Pragmatics Handbook Guidebook

Title: Understanding Semantics
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112 pages