[b-hebrew] Contextual Semantic Domains

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Nov 20 18:21:45 EST 2003


On 20/11/2003 13:21, furuli at online.no wrote:

> Dear list-members?
>
>
> It seems to me that it is difficult to abandon terms that have been 
> cherished for a long time. When I argue in a scholarly context, I 
> often get the question: "Can you give an example?" It is often easier 
> to grasp ideas by looking at them from a practical point of view, how 
> they work.  So allow me to ask a few questions regarding the term 
> "lexical meaning," which often is used without being adequately 
> defined, and often  being used in a wrong way, in my view.  In order 
> to test my claim "that 'lexical meaning' cannot be expressed in 
> writing or in speech, it must be known (except with very simple 
> words),' I ask a few questions.
>
> First I use the translational setting: Expressed in English, what is 
> the "lexical meaning"  of the nouns NP$ and XSD and the verb $LM?

Well, if you want to see how Reinier de Blois has dealt with XSD and are 
talking about "lexical meaning" as he defined it, see the entry XSD at 
http://www.ubs-translations.org/sdbh/vocabula/ (which covers het only). 
Here is an extract, covering the verb, the noun, and the adjective 
XASIYD with five different lexical meanings:

> (a ) */Events /*: /Description B1 /
> *noun * = attitude of commitment towards fulfilling one's obligations; 
> these may be obligations defined within the context of a covenant or 
> agreement, or moral obligations to do well to someone who did well to 
> you before; ST people, deities
>
> ...
>
> (b ) */Events /*: /Description B2 /
> *hithp. * = to act in accordance to [a]; AG people, deities
>
> *...* 
> <http://ubs-translations.org/sdbh/cgi-bin/vocabula/ref.pl?10,22,26,2;19,18,26,2;>
>
> (c ) */Events > Objects /*: /Description B2 /
> *adjective * = someone who practices חֶסֶד, who is committed towards 
> fulfilling his/her obligations; these may be obligations defined 
> within the context of a covenant or agreement, or moral obligations to 
> do well to someone who did well to you before; AG people, deities
>
> ...
>
> (d ) */Events /*: /Description B2 /
> *noun * = to bring disgrace upon oneself; AG people
>
> ...
>
> (e ) */Events /*: /Description B3 /
> *pi. * = to cause someone else to experience a feeling of shame; ST 
> people; CA people
>
> *...* 
> <http://ubs-translations.org/sdbh/cgi-bin/vocabula/ref.pl?20,25,10,1;>

I have omitted the intervening parts which describe contextual 
"meanings" or use.


>
> ...
>
> Can the "lexical meaning" in each case be expressed with one word, ...

Certainly not! One word might be a synonym but would not be a 
definition. Well, in exceptional cases a one word definition might be 
adequate e.g. defining KELEB as "dog", but certainly not as a rule and 
only if (as is not true with this example) there are no non-literal senses.

> ... or must the "lexical meaning" be expressed with several different 
> words in each case? Or can it be that the "lexical meaning" cannot be 
> expressed by words at all, because it is tied to a concept in the 
> minds of living people?

Good question! Surely not completely and adequately. But if there are to 
be any helps for readers and translators, lexicographers are bound to do 
the best they can to express these meanings.

-- 
Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
http://www.qaya.org/





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