Polysemy In The Semantic Field Of Movement In The English Language (стр. 1 из 2)

Introduction

One of the long-established misconceptions about the lexicon is that it is neatly and rigidly divided into semantically related sets of words. In contrast, we claim that word meanings do not have clear boundaries.1 In this paper we will give proof of the fuzziness of meaning through an analysis of the semantic field of MOVEMENT in the English language. We will show that many MOVEMENT verbs belong not only to several subdomains within the field of MOVEMENT, but also to various semantic domains through metaphorical extension.

Before dealing with the double or even triple membership of MOVEMENT verbs, let us first present the model on which our description of the lexicon is based, the Functional-Lexematic Model (Martín Mingorance, 1984, 1985a,b; 1987a,b,c; 1990a,b).

1. The Functional-Lexematic Model

The FLM integrates Coseriu’s Lexematics (1977), Dik’s Functional Grammar (1997a) and some fundamental principles of cognitive linguistics. Following Faber and Mairal (1998: 4-5), the two main objectives of this model are, on the one hand, the construction of the linguistic architecture of the lexicon of a language, and on the other hand, the representation of knowledge based on the linguistic coding of dictionary entries.

The FLM establishes three axes of analysis: the paradigmatic, syntagmatic and cognitive axes. The elaboration of the paradigmatic axis entails the structuring of the lexicon in semantic domains —each corresponding to a basic area of meaning,2 and the organization of lexical domains into hierarchically constructed subdomains elaborated on the basis of shared meaning components A subdomain is “a subdivision of semantic space derived from the factorisation of the meaning definition of its members”3 (Faber and Mairal 1998: 6). Word definitions are built according to Dik’s method of Stepwise Lexical Decomposition. This means that the definition structure of each lexeme consists of the nuclear word —the archilexeme— and a series of semantic features which mark its distance from the preceding members of the subdomain.

Following Faber and Mairal (1999), the domain of MOVEMENT is organised into four subdomains. The first subdomain describes generic movement, while the other subdomains subsume lexemes which denote movement in a number of contexts: liquid, atmosphere and land. Cutting across this major configuration of the domain, the parameters of manner and direction introduce further divisions within each subdomain.4 For instance, these parameters traverse the following subdomains within the subdomain lexicalizing generic movement:

1. Direction:

To move towards a place/person/thing

To move back

To move up

To move down

2. Manner:

To move quickly

To move slowly

To move smoothly

To move in a circular manner

As an example of a subdomain structured paradigmatically, we have selected the subdomain To move down:

fall: to move down from a high position/the sky/a tree.

plunge: to fall suddenly a long way from a high position.

plummet: to fall very quickly from a high position.

come down: to fall (rain/snow) heavily.

descend: to move down a slope/stairs (fml).

The verbs indented to the right (plunge, plummet, come down) are defined in terms of the verb immediate above them (fall), which thus becomes their definiens. They are basically differentiated from one another in terms of manner. The other archilexeme of this subdomain is descend.

The construction of the syntagmatic axis implies the analysis of the complementation patterns of each lexeme using predicate frames as integrated formulae.

The following types of information are captured in predicate frames:

(i) the form of the predicate

(ii) the syntactic category to which it belongs

(iii) its quantitative valency, i.e. the number of arguments that the predicate requires

(iv) its qualitative valency, i.e. the semantic functions of the arguments and the pertinent selection restrictions

(v) the meaning definition

Predicate frames describe a state of affairs and specify the relationship between the predicate arguments (represented by the variable x). Each argument is characterized by a selection restriction —described in terms of binary semantic features— and fulfills a semantic function (Agent, Experiencer, Goal, Recipient, etc.).

Consider the predicate frame of the verb bow:

[ (x1: prototyp. human)Ag (x2: prototyp. part of the body)Go ]Action

DEF = to bend your head and upper body as a greeting or as a sign of respect.

This frame describes an Action and specifies the relationship between a human argument, performing the function of Agent, and an argument fulfilling the function of Goal and semantically marked as part of the body (head).

The elaboration of the cognitive axis entails the formulation of the predicate conceptual schemata, which are cognitive constructs encoding semantic, syntactic and pragmatic information and representing our knowledge about the lexical unit in question. Conceptual schemata are codified at three levels: lexeme, subdomain and domain.

2. Polysemy of MOVEMENT verbs

Many MOVEMENT verbs fall within several subdomains. This double/multiple membership may be accounted for on the following grounds:

a) The meaning component focalised

b) The genus of the lexeme

c) The metaphorical extension of the verb

Let us examine each of these factors.

2.1. Focalization of a meaning component

We have used Dik’s (1997a) pragmatic functions of Focus and Topic to account for some instances of polysemy in the semantic field of MOVEMENT. These functions specify the information status of the constituents of the predicate within the communicative setting in which they occur, and they are assigned to the constituents after the assigning of semantic and syntactic functions. The Topic is the entity about which the predication predicates something in the setting in question, whereas the Focus refers to the most relevant information in the setting:

(1) As for Mary (Focus), I don’t care for her (Topic).

The application of such functions to the paradigmatic description of the lexicon is based on the organization of the lexicon at three levels: domain, subdomain and lexeme. In consonance with this idea, we may formulate various levels of focalization:

Level of focalization 1: Domain

Level of focalization 2: Subdomain

Levels of focalization 3, 4, ... : Lexeme

A domain stands for the level of focalization number 1. It performs the function of Focus in that it represents one of the basic areas of meaning.

A subdomain represents the level of focalization number 2 in that it focuses on an area of meaning within a domain.

The following levels of focalization are formulated at lexeme-level. This means that the lexemes of a subdomain represent different levels of focalization based on the meaning hierarchies within the subdomain.

What is most relevant is that what is Focus on a level becomes Topic on the level below. Then a domain, which performs the function of Focus on the level of focalization number 1, becomes topic at subdomain-level in that it presents the given information, since all the subdomains of MOVEMENT lexicalize the concept of movement. Therefore, the archilexeme of the lexical field, move, which performs the function of Focus at domain-level in that it codifies the nuclear meaning of the domain, becomes Topic at subdomain-level, since it is the definiens of the archilexeme of each subdomain.

Similarly, a subdomain, which acts as Focus on the level of focalization number 2, becomes Topic at lexeme-level, since all the lexemes in the subdomain share the nuclear information formalised by the subdomain. Then, as we move down in the semantic hierarchy which characterizes the internal structure of each subdomain, what is Focus in the meaning definition of the archilexeme (level of focalization number 3) becomes Topic in the meaning definition of its hyponyms (level of focalization number 4). For example, if we take the subdomain analysed above, To move down, the definiens “to move down” acts as Focus in the definition of fall (the archilexeme), and as Topic in the definition of plunge, plummet and come down, the function of Focus being performed by the semantic parameters of manner and place in that they individuate the members of the subdomain.

Let us now consider the functions of Topic and Focus in the case of lexemes belonging to several subdomains. Here the function of Focus applies to a particular meaning component, which thus becomes especially relevant. The verbs whizz and zoom involve quick movement, thus belonging to the subdomain To move quickly. But they can also denote movement through the air:

(2) The bullets whizzed past.

Then, these verbs belong to the subdomain To move quickly or To move through the air depending on which parameter is highlighted, whether manner or medium.

Similarly, the verbs circle and whirl refer to circular movement in the air. If the manner component is focalized, then the verbs fall in the subdomain To move in a circular manner. If the focus is on the medium, then the verbs belong to the subdomain To move through the air.

The table below shows the double membership of these verbs.

VERB FOCUS DIMENSION MEANING
whizz zoom circle whirl Manner To move quickly To move in a circular manner To move (an engine/device) very quickly with a loud whistling noise To move (a vehicle/an aircraft) very quickly with a loud buzzing/humming noise To move in a circular manner in the air To turn round in the air very quickly
whizz zoom circle whirl Medium To move through the air To move very quickly through the air with a loud whistling noise To move very quickly through the air with a loud noise To fly around in circles To move very quickly in a circular manner through the air

2.2. Genus of the lexeme

Many verbs describe generic movement. Verb membership is then determined by the semantic parameter of medium or direction, or by the parameter specifying the nature of the subject/object.

The table below presents the verbs whose membership is influenced by the medium parameter.

VERB MEDIUM DIMENSION MEANING
dart Air Land To move through the air To move quickly using one’s feet To fly suddenly and quickly (insects) To run suddenly
dive plunge Air To move down through air To move down through air To move downwards To move down through air quickly and steeply To move down through air suddenly a long way To fall suddenly a long way from a high position
dive plunge Water To move in/down below the surface of a liquid To cause sb/sth to move in/down below the surface of a liquid To move head-first down into water To cause sth to move down into water quickly and violently
sink Air Water/ Liquid/ Substance To move down through air To move in/down below the surface of a liquid To move down through air To move down below the surface of a liquid/ soft substance
glide Water Air Land To move over liquid To move through the air To move smoothly To move (boat) quietly and smoothly across water To fly quietly To move quietly and smoothly in an effortless way

The verb dart describes sudden movement in air and on land:

(3) He darted across the room.

(4) Bees were darting from one flower to another.

The verbs dive, plunge and sink designate downward movement in air and water:

(5) She plunged into the swimming-pool.

(6) The falcon plunged towards its prey.

Sink, as the general term, denotes movement in a wider variety of contexts:

(7) Helen sank into water/mud/an armchair.

However, we postulate that the verbs dart, dive and sink prototypically describe movement in a given medium: dart is prototypically associated with air, and dive and sink with water. Our claim is supported by the fact that the medium parameter need not be syntactically present:

(8) She dived from the bridge and rescued the drowning child.

(9) The aircraft-carrier, hit by a torpedo, sank at once.

Further, as we will show below, sink has a metaphorical projection onto FEELING, which codifies the metaphor Emotion = Liquid (Goatly 1997):

(10) When he crashed, his heart sank at the thought that he might die.

Finally, glide refers to quiet/smooth movement in a wide range of contexts (water, air, land):

(11) The cruiser glided across the sea.

(12) An owl glided over the fields.

(13) The snake glided towards its prey.

As mentioned above, the domain of MOVEMENT is marked by the semantic parameter of direction, which can determine verb membership. The lexemes jump, vault, leap, hop and spring are subsumed under various subdomains depending on whether they denote forward or upward/downward movement over an obstacle:

VERB DIRECTION DIMENSION MEANING
Jump Vault Leap Hop Spring Forwards To move forwards quickly/suddenly To move forwards quickly using your legs To jump onto sth with your hands on it To jump energetically a long distance To jump on one foot (sb)/with both feet (birds/small animals) To jump suddenly
Jump Vault Leap Over sth To move across/over/ through To move over sth quickly using your legs To jump over sth with your hands on it To jump over sth energetically
Jump Spring Hop Up/Down To move up/down using one’s feet To move up/down quickly using one’s feet To jump suddenly To jump on one leg

(14) Robert jumped one metre/over the fence/out of the shadow.

(15) Carol sprang at him/to her feet.

Finally, as shown below, verb membership can also be determined by the parameter describing the nature of the subject or object.

ARGUMENT SEMANTIC SCOPE VERB DIMENSION MEANING
Human/ Object shake tremble quiver To move from side to side/back and forth/up and down repeatedly To move quickly from side to side/ up and down To shake un-controllably/ slightly To shake slightly
Part of the body shake tremble quiver To move one’s body To move one’s body quickly from side to side/up and down To shake un-controllably/slightly To shake slightly
Subject Human Boat sail To move towards a place To move over liquid To travel to a place by ship To move (boat) over the sea
Object rise fall To move upwards To move downwards To move upwards through air To move down from a high position/the sky/a tree
Vehicle/ aircraft plunge plummet To move in/downwards below the surface of a liquid To move downwards through air To move (vehicle) below the surface of water To move down through air very quickly
Human rise fall plunge plummet To move one’s body by raising it To move to the ground To stand up (fml) To move to the ground from force of weight / loss of balance To fall suddenly a long way from a high position To fall very quickly from a high position
Object Object swing lift raise bend To move from side to side/back and forth/up and down repeatedly To cause stb/sth to move up To move in a different direction To move regularly from side to side/back and forth To cause sb/sth to move up To lift sth To turn in a curve/angle
Part of the body swing lift raise bend To move a part of one’s body To move regularly from side to side/back and forth To move a part of one’s body upwards (esp. head/arm/leg/foot) To move a part of one’s body upwards To move a part of one’s body downwards

The verbs shake, tremble and quiver may be found with a subject argument semantically characterized as human or as concrete. But they can also take an object denoting a part of the body via the metaphor Body part = Human (Goatly 1997):

(16) Mark was so nervous that his knees were shaking.

Sail typically occurs with a subject semantically characterized as boat. Its use with a human agent results from a metonymical process (content for receptacle):

(17) They sailed the Mediterranean.

Rise designates upward movement of both human and concrete entities, but the prototypical argument is human, as shown in the restricted use of rise with human subjects when it describes body movement:


Видео

Copyright © MirZnanii.com 2015-2018. All rigths reserved.