Some words, like run, get, advance, etc... are "deep" in semantic structure. Other words (mostly names) like Japanese, French, tapir, strychnine, etc... are "shallow" in semantic structure. And some words, like "water," have properties of both deep and shallow words: water is a name like ethanol, strychnine, dimethylmercury, but it can be used as a deep word: watery, waterlike, aquatic, are derivations (conceptually) from water.

Why does this dichotomy exist, and has anyone wrote something about it?

  • Are you talking about ostensive reference versus non-ostensive? If you can distinguish something objectively (tapirs, strychnine, French, water), you can refer to it ostensively. But if you use a word abstractly or metaphorically, you're not "pointing to" something but describing or presupposing something; that's a different thing altogether.
    – jlawler
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 16:23
  • @jlawler I think that is exactly what I am talking about.
    – Fomalhaut
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 13:05
  • Well, then, try google.com/search?q=ostensive
    – jlawler
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 16:46


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