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Title:In opposition to an organized lexicon: Pragmatic principles and lexical semantic relations
Author(s):Murphy, M. Lynne
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Green, Georgia M.
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Psychology, Cognitive
Abstract:This dissertation argues that what are traditionally called lexical relations (antonymy, synonymy, hyponymy, meronymy, etc.) are not strictly part of linguistic knowledge. Instead, these semantic relations among words are shown to be predictable from more general cognitive principles. Special attention is paid to the case of antonymy, since arguments that lexical relations are specified in the lexicon have crucially relied on antonymy data. However, such treatments fail to account for the fact that antonymy and other lexical relations are context-dependent. A pragmatic Principle of Opposition is introduced which requires that antonyms (i.e., opposites) (a) comprise a binary set, (b) share all contextually-relevant properties but one, and (c) describe incompatible conditions/objects/events/situations. The oft-cited cases of big/little and large/small are discussed in detail in order to test this principle. In order to show that markedness relations need not be specified in the lexicon, a scalar treatment of gradable adjectives is provided which accounts for the asymmetric distribution of so-called 'marked' and 'unmarked' adjectives. This dissertation also argues that synonymy is a subtype of a more general similarity relation and that other so-called lexical relations merely reflect relations among the things that the related words refer to. None of these relations among words can be represented within lexical entries, since all depend on the particular senses of the related words in context. Since the senses of words cannot be simply listed in the lexical entry (because there are an unlimited number of them), relations among specific senses cannot be represented in the lexical entry either. Thus, like reference (Nunberg 1978), relations among lexical items are a pragmatic matter, depending on knowledge of what the words are used to refer to, what qualities the referents have, and what aspects of the referent or its name are relevant to the context at hand.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Murphy, M. Lynne
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9624446
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9624446

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