I’m a university student from Bonn, Germany, and have to write a linguistic term paper for my semantics class. My topic is: Meronymies in English - Is a cap part of a bottle? So I’m dealing with the subfield lexical semantics. The most important thing to mention is that it has to be an empirical term paper, and we are obliged to use questionnaires and dictionary entries to get results. My problem is that I cannot think of any useful questions for my questionnaire right now. I would be very happy if you could help me a little bit, and maybe come up with a few ideas :)

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    Welcome to Linguistics SE! My first question would be, why did you choose meronymy as a topic? If you figure out what you find interesting about meronymy this could help you come up with questions. Also, what do you want to achieve with your questionnaire and what kind of questions would make sense? There are so many different types of questionnaires! Could you give an example of a question that you think could be useful?
    – robert
    Aug 7, 2013 at 13:09
  • contact the PI of this NSF project
    – user483
    Aug 7, 2013 at 21:04
  • I have finished my questionnaire, and it would be really helpful to find a few participants here as well :) Here is the link: surveymethods.com/EndUser.aspx?AF8BE7FEABE5F8FDAB Thanks :) Laura
    – Laura_86
    Aug 8, 2013 at 18:53

1 Answer 1


I would suggest formulating a narrower question if you want some focused answers :-). It would be useful to first come up with a question you would like to ask about meronymy before getting into the nitty-gritty of designing a questionnaire (incidentally, using dictionary entries as empirical evidence for a lexical semantics paper strikes me as deeply odd).

You could, for example, ask questions about the taxonomy of meronymic relations (see, e.g., this paper in CogSci: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1207/s15516709cog1104_2/pdf ) - to what extent is the 'part of' semantic relation primitive? We can say that a leaf is part of a tree, and a ship is part of a fleet - but do these express the same primitive semantic relation?

(Just to clarify, i'm not suggesting you ask these questions in your questionnaire, but i'm suggesting a possible over-arching research question to guide your questionnaire construction)


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