[b-hebrew] Contextual Semantic Domains
peterkirk at qaya.org
Fri Nov 21 12:25:05 EST 2003
On 21/11/2003 09:06, furuli at online.no wrote:
> Dear Peter,
> Your remarks below are very fine, and I agree with them.
> Lexicographers must do their best, as does Reinier de Blois. However,
> the question is what the lexicographers lead their readers to believe
> that they get by reading a lexicon. Do they find the *lexical meaning*
> of a word in such a lexicon, or do they find something else?
> The explanations of Reinier de Blois are fine indeed, but he does not
> give the *lexical meaning* of each word, he gives only explanations
> and glosses. And it is a pity if his readers believe that they get the
> *lexical meaning*. Your words below reminds me of Paul's words in 1
> Corinthians 13:12, which in English translation can be: "For at
> present we see in a hazy outline by means of a metal mirror". If this
> is applied to Hebrew-English lexicons, that is very fine. If not, the
> readers simply are hoodwinked.
I am reminded more of 2 Corinthians 12:3, "inexpressible things". I
would agree that the lexical meaning is not entirely expressible in
words. Lexicographers realise this and often give disclaimers to this
effect. But we do our best.
> In order to use lexicons in the right way I think its readers should
> be taught the following: The letters and sounds of a word has no
> meaning (save onomatopoetica). But each word signals one (or
> occasionally two or more) concepts in the minds of people speaking the
> same language. The concept signalled by the word is its *lexical
> meaning*, but in most cases a concept cannot be adequately defined, it
> must be known. True, we can in many cases point to a "core sense" of
> the concept. But this is not its *lexical meaning*, but only a part of
> this meaning. Let me illustrate my case by using the word "meaning"
> In The Concise Oxford Thesaurus (1997). Oxford: Oxford University
> Press I find the following under "meaning":
> Meaning noun 1 understand the meaning of what he said, signification,
> sense, message, import, drift,, gist, essence, substance, purport,
> connotation, denotation, implication, significance, trust. 2 what is
> the meaning of the word? Definition, explanation, interpretation,
> elucidation, explication. 3 it was notour meaning to delay him
> intention, purpose, plan, aim, goal, end, object, objective,
> aspiration, desire, want. Wish. 4 his life has no meaning
> significance, point, value, worth, consequence, account. 5 a glance
> full of meaning significance, implication, allusion, intimation,
> insinuation, eloquence, expression.
> Where do we find the *lexical meaning* among these words? We don't
> find it at all. ...
But you are quoting here from a thesaurus, a list of near synonyms. If
you want to find the lexical meaning, look at a good dictionary. You
won't find it perfectly, but you will get much nearer.
> ... But when we hear or read the word "meaning" we get a relatively
> clear or a vague notion in our mind of what is spoken about. But how
> can we use this *lexical meaning* which is more or less vague?
> Communication between individuals by help of words basically consists
> in making a part of the meaning potential visible and to make all
> other parts invisible. The tool we have to achieve this is the
> context. The context does not generate new *lexical meaning* - all the
> *lexical meaning* is found in the concept in the mind - but the
> context helps the listener/reader to see which part of each concept
> the author wants to make visible. The context can generate other kinds
> of meaning, but not a single piece of *lexical meaning*. Thus it is
> definitely wrong to claim that lexical meaning can be found in
> lexicons, ...
What you say here seems reasonable at first sight. But if you want to
demonstrate it more fully, at least start by quoting from a lexicon and
not a thesaurus.
> ... and it is equally wrong to claim that the context has anything to
> do with lexical meaning at all, except of making visible the right
> part of the lexical meaning that already is present.
> BTW. A conclusion of my aspect studies is that the basic purpose of
> Hebrew aspects is to make a part of the verbal meaning visible and to
> make other parts invisible.
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
More information about the b-hebrew