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Study questions and activities

Exercises related to chapter 1

I.Answer these questions:

1. What is the etymology of the term semantics?


2. When did semantics become a science?
3. Why is historical semantics significant in the evolution of linguistic semantics?
4. What is the main concern of structuralist semantics?
5. Which are the main methodologies that have been identified within structuralist
semantics?
6. Are word-meaning and sentence- meaning interrelated? How?
7. What distinguishes generative semantics from interpretive semantics?
8. Who are the representatives of interpretive semantics?
9. What is linguistic semantics concerned with?
10. Mention the two major approaches to semantics.
11. What is the difference between a language-intrinsic approach and a referential
approach?
12. Which approach does Eugen Coserius view belong to?
13. What is the distinction between signification and designation according to
Coseriu?
14. What are the types of semantics that belong to the language intrinsic approach?
15. What does referential semantics focus on?
16. What is prototype semantics especially suited for?
17. Does prototype semantics have any flaws (limits)? What are they?
18. Is prototype semantics superior to feature (Aristotelian) semantics? Why?
19. How can we cope with the disadvantages of either structuralist
or prototype semantics?
20. How does cognitive semantics analyse meaning?

II. Which of the following statements are true, which are false?

1. Formalist theories of meaning separate linguistic knowledge from world


knowledge
2. Relations that hold between members of different grammatical categories which
are simultaneously present in a single syntactic structure are called paradigmatic
relations.
3. Both componential analysis and generative semantics deal with semantic
decomposition but in different ways.
4. The main difference between structural semantics and cognitive semantics is that
the former defines and analyses meaning from a purely language-internal
perspective whereas the latter explains meaning primarily in terms of
categorization.
5. Prototype semantics and traditional feature semnatics exclude each other.
6. Componential analysis is a technique that describes both the denotative and the
conotative meaning of a word.
7. Formalist theories of meaning are not able to meet the complexity of semantic
phenomena in natural language.
8. Semes are semantic components shared by lexical items belonging to different
semantic fields.
9. The choice/selection of individual lexical units in construction with other lexical
units is determined by classemes or markers.
10. The distinction between semantics and pragmatics is relevant for cognitive
semantics.

III. Fill in the blanks, using the words given:

semantic components, cognitive semantics, conceptual semantics, semantic structure,


structuralist semantics.

1. ... considers meaning relational, that is, it is determined by its position in a


network in which it is related to other expressions.
2. The atomistic conception of meaning assumes that the meaning of a word can be
determined in isolation by its ... and not by its relations with other words in the
language, as in holistic theories.
3. In ... the meaning of an expression is a concept in the speakers mind. An
expression has a conceptual structure with argument slots.
4. Meaning is representational in ... as it is viewed as linked to a particular mental
representation, called a concept.
5. The conceptual structure is the concept which stands for the thing experienced.
The ... is the meaning which stands for the conceptual structure and it is
expressed by a linguistic form.

IV. Match the type of meaning conception given in column A with the type of premise
given in column B.

Conception (A) Premise (B)


a. Representational 1.Linguistic meaning derives from its reference to an
actual object in the external world
b. Componential 2.Linguistic meaning derives from its mental
representation of the external world which is subjectively
represented
c. Referential 3.Linguistic meaning derives from the semantic
components which it comprises
d. Relational 4.Linguistic meaning derives from its relation to other
linguistic expressions in the same lexical field.
V. Following the relational conception of meaning, the verbs given below express the
concept of theft, and so are placed in the same semantic field. Nevertheless, there exist
meaning differences among them. Can you pinpoint them?

1. rob 2. steal 3. pilfer 4. filch 5. purloin 6. snitch. 7. swindle

Exercises related to chapter 2

I. Answer these questions:

1 What is the distinction between extension and intension?


2 Can two terms have the same extension and differ in intension? Give examples.
3 Can two terms have the same intension and differ in extension?
4 Can intension determine extension?
5 Can extension be influenced by the speaker s psychological state?
6 How can extension be determined socially?
7 What is Frege s definition of sign ?
8 Does a reference/ referent always belong to a single sign?

II. Which of the following statements are true, which are false?

1. Unlike reference which changes each time a linguistic expression is applied to a


different referent, sense does not change when the expression takes on a
different referent.
2. The difference between reference and denotation is that the latter is bound to the
context and depends on particular occasions of utterance.
3. Sense is derived from its semantic relationships with other expressions in the
vocabulary of the language.
4. Denotation is the literal, constant and basic meaning of an expression.
5. The set of properties an expression has is known as its extension.
6. Intension is the relation between the symbol and the real world entities to which it
refers.
7. The Saussurean model of the sign is dyadic, that is it has a twofold structure: a
form (the signifier) and a content (the signified).
8. Ferdinand de Saussures view of meaning is referential.
9. The Peircean model of the sign assumes that there is an observable and direct
relationship between the sign vehicle and the referent.
10. Symbolic signs are based on a relation of convention between sign and meaning.
III. Fill in the blanks, using the words given:

indexical sign(s), sense(s), connotation(s), iconic sign(s), symbol(s).

1. The word reader has three ...: someone who reads something, a book
designed for reading and a device that reads very small writing.
2. The ... of the words pig, fox, mule, sheep and snake point to disapproving traits
of persons.
3. There is a connection, usually of causality, between sing and referent, in the case
of....
4. ... are the most abstract and the least motivated type of sign.
5. An... resembles the referent and provides a perceptual image of what it stands
for.

IV. Match the notions in column A with the explanations in column B.

A B
a. extension 1. thing picked out by uttering an
expression in a particular context
b. referent 2. the relationship between an
expression and its extension
c. connotation 3. set of things which could possibly be
the referent of an expression
d. denotation 4. the mental concept of an
expression, independent of context
e. intension 5. the emotional overtones a speaker
usually associates with each
individual use of a word

V.What are the referents of the following expressions?

a) the teacher of this course


b) the person who is answering this question
c) where you ate lunch last
d) a child of your parents