[b-hebrew] Contextual Semantic Domains

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Tue Nov 18 17:49:18 EST 2003


This looks like an artificial distinction that doesn’t have a real world application.

All a lexical meaning is is a distillation of how a lexeme is used in multiple contexts, looking for special patterns and all that is involved therewith. A lexicon allows a person who is unfamiliar with a particular lexeme to access that distillation, the work that others have done, without himself redoing the same work. What makes it interesting is when a lexeme is used poetically, in an unusual situation other than its usual context to make a point, set the mood or make a connection to its normal context as a literary device. Sometimes that requires cultural knowledge in order to make sense of it.

An example that comes to mind: a young man of amorous intentions but who is flatly turned down by the young woman is said to have “struck out” in his efforts. The lexeme “strike out” comes from a particular ball game in which it describes a certain play of that game. Its poetic use in this example works because it brings with it a whole truck load of contextual clues that it acquired in its normal context. To someone who does not know that ball game, the lexeme makes no sense. I don’t see how there can be a lexical meaning apart from context. Both work together.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: CS Bartholomew <jacksonpollock at earthlink.net>

> Reinier de Blois following J.P.Louw** draws a distinction between lexical
> and contextual semantic domains:
> ----Quote***
> In an article written in 1991, Louw makes a distinction between lexical and
> contextual meaning. According to him, the former deals with those aspects of
> meaning that a word ³contributes in and of itself,² whereas the latter deals
> with the information provided by the utterance in which that word occurs
> ³involving the circumstances of and the objects referred to in a specific
> context in terms of its usage in such a context along with other words or
> phrases contributing to the context.²
> ----end quote
> Does anyone who has taken a serious look at this issue have any reservations
> about developing a Hebrew dictionary which is structured around this
> distinction?  
> greetings,
> Clay Bartholomew 
> **Louw, J.P. 1991. ³How Do Words Mean ­ If They Do?². In: Filología
> Neotestamentaria 4:125-142.
> Reinier de Blois
> United Bible Societies
> Woerden (Utr.), The Netherlands
> by Reinier de Blois
> AFRETCON BAGAMOYO 2002, section 4.1
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