Questions tagged [meaning]

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Can we claim that all words derived from the same root must necessarily be related in the meaning?

In many languages that I know morphology plays a role in creating words. And, as much as I know, in morphology we have a root, which is the most important part. Now, in seimitic languages (like Arabic,...
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Who says that words historically evolve from concrete meanings to more abstract meanings?

Conventional wisdom says that when a word has two meanings -- one concrete/tangible and one abstract -- the concrete meanings is the older one, and the more abstract one is the newer meaning that ...
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2 votes
1 answer
92 views

What is the term for words that were once polite and became impolite?

Sort of the opposite of a euphemism but not exactly -- I am thinking how the word "lady" when used to address an adult, female stranger seems to have a negative connotation as in "...
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2 answers
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What is the linguistical terminology for (and if) letters of a given alphabet have(ing) their inherent meaning?

Letters or phonemes. Letters, like runes according to this article: https://sonsofvikings.com/apps/fireamp/blogs/history/viking-runes-guide-runic-alphabet-meanings-nordic-celtic-letters At least that'...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Are there different "kinds" of meaningless sentences?

There is famous sentences by Chomsky ("Colorless green ideas sleep furiously") to show that syntactically sentences can by devoid of meaning, or at least have a very odd or dubious meaning. ...
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How to identify politeness strategies?

I'm working on a project and I need to learn how to recognize politeness strategies based on Brown and Levinsons' theory. Even though I've read the theory and many different examples I still have ...
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1 answer
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Is meaning prescribed?

The way I see it, there's two aspects to the choice between the descriptivistic and prescriptivist approach. There's the ought aspect; how ought we view the meaning of words? Then there's the is ...
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-1 votes
2 answers
173 views

Is Baron Hoffman correct — "The meaning of words is a matter of dictionaries and grammars"?

happy new year. I am a legal profession, not a linguist. I hope this is a worthy linguistics question. Can I have your thoughts please on this quotation by Lord Hoffman, a former Law Lord? Nowadays ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Name for a deliberate change of a meaning? [closed]

Is there a specific name, a figure of speech, for a "deliberate, even subtle change of the meaning of a word"? Example: "- You're doing politics at school as a teacher! - Everything can ...
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3 answers
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Why is “I pray” a response to “thank you” in many languages?

I noticed that “I pray” is used as a response to “thank you” in many languages. For example, Turkish Teşekkür ederim. (“I thank.”) Rica ederim. (“I pray (or make a request).”) Italian Ti ringrazio....
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1 vote
1 answer
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Is there a human language with a continuous and differentiable morphology/phonology?

This might be a strangely framed question for a liguist, since I'm a physicist and know very little about this field. My question relates to how changing a symbol (for example a letter) in a word ...
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1 answer
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Perception of "luck" in terms of positive/negative aspect, improbability pattern and scale in different languages

I am interested in how concept of luck is expressed in different languages. As far as I know, in most Indo-European languages, there are similar ways to express the concept of luck and situations ...
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1 vote
1 answer
205 views

Examples for calque / loan-translation words with different meanings in different languages

Are there words/phrases/compound-words in two different languages that use the same words in their respective languages (like a calque / loan translation) but result in different meanings? Here is a ...
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"Matter" and "What Matters"; "Substance" and "Of Substance"

This thought is directed at those who have an interest in the deeper meaning of language and how it connects to our perspective of reality. Perhaps a bit philosophical. If this is not the proper place,...
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1 answer
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Is an unambiguous description of left and right side of the body available in some languages

The nautical terms "port and starboard" refer to the left and right side of a vessel when looking from the stern to the bow. At first it seems silly, but, it's actually great to ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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Do we have a term for priori knowledge in linguistics?

Broadly speaking, these terms have been introduced throughout history to categorize knowledge: A priori, rationalism, deductive reasoning => meaning that we gain new knowledge, only by using ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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What is the phenomenon of wrong sticky memory?

I want to learn some words from different languages. For example I want to learn Greek μελάνι which means ink. However, since I knew this word as dark or black in English morphology and etymology from ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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What is meant by the maxim, "Context is King"?

How is context "king" in deriving meaning from words?
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2 votes
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How can you differentiate kick from kick at? [closed]

In English we can find both expressions: He kicked the door. and He kicked at the door. It seems to me that they have the same meaning. Can we find the context in which only one of them is appropriate ...
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1 vote
2 answers
3k views

What are the target and source domain of this metaphor

The metaphor is: "the shower of arrows was over". Could "War" the source domain? And the target domain could be "water"? It doesn't make sense to me. I have read the ...
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1 answer
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Why is there pressure to change seemingly neutral words that some consider 'offensive' to their more 'neutral' synonyms?

Clearly, there is now pressure to stop using words such as whitelist/blacklist (which are now considered racist) and instead replace them with allowlist/denylist; master/slave terminology in tech is ...
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4 votes
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Why does "also" in German and in English denote different things?

There are some words in the German language that may seem to be familiar to a native English speaker, but in the end, it turns out that they are so-called "false friends" and have different meanings. ...
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2 votes
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Is it possible to infer the meaning of a word of a language based on corpus analysis, without prior knowledge of the language?

If I am totally foreign to a language, are there corpus analysis methodologies and theories that I can employ to figure out the meaning of a word in a corpus based on that language? If yes, do point ...
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What are the differences between speech acts and implicatures?

Here's what I have come up with. What I understand is that implicature is always indirect and not explicit, so the hearer must infer from the context. Speech act, on the other hand, may be direct ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
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What is the entailment of this sentence?

I found that most of the examples of entailment are statements about a third person, but never the speakers themselves. So I wonder what the utterance like "I'm cold." entails?
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2 votes
1 answer
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What is meaning according to Saussure?

Did Ferdinand de Saussure define meaning in his Course in General Linguistics?
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2 votes
0 answers
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What word category do twink, adonis, muse etc. belong to? [closed]

Terms such as candy, cutie, honey, princess, diamond, queen(?), stud and bunny are terms of endearment (these terms are often used in a relationship to show affection and may also be used, with ...
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Two meanings of "Someone believes everyone to be invited"

Carnie claims in his syntax book that the sentence Someone believes everyone to be invited has two meanings. I can see only one (when the existential quantifier has scope over universal one: when ...
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1 vote
2 answers
112 views

Is there a formal definition of the term meaning?

According to Wiktionary and Wikipedia, meaningfulness is "the state or measure of being meaningful", while meaningful is "having meaning, significant", while meaning is "the information or ...
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1 vote
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Meaning of the inverted copula

I just discovered the existence of the inverted copula concept. Learning a bit of Latin, you have the structure: Subject - Copula - Predicate. But as the case is the same in Latin for the Subject ...
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3 votes
2 answers
159 views

In case the fregean distinction between "sense" and " denotation" is used in linguistics, what purpose does it serve in this discipline?

I'm referring here to the distinction Frege made in his paper called " Sense and denotation". A classical example is " the morning star" and " the evening star" : different senses but same ...
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1 vote
2 answers
95 views

Can one avoid using the notion of meaning when defining syntax and pragmatics?

In an elementary course on philosophy of language ( at the highschool level) , I try to explain to students the distinction betweeen semantics, syntax and pragmatics. Referring myself to Carnap/...
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1 vote
1 answer
110 views

Does this sentence have two meanings?

The sentence is Some employee must leave. I was told that it is actually ambiguous and has two meanings. But I can only see one. What are the two meanings?
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0 votes
0 answers
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What is the difference between directive function and informational function of a language?

In Geoffery Leech, Chapter 4, Semantics The Study of Meaning, It is written that "The third function of language is the directive function whereby we aim to influence the behaviour and attitudes ...
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-3 votes
1 answer
102 views

what is out of context thinking called [closed]

In the movie "pursuit of happiness" this particular exchange happens Martin Frohm: What would you say if man walked in here with no shirt, and I hired him? What would you say? Chris Gardner: ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
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Hand gesture - Patting

I apologize if the following question is off-topic on this site. Some time ago, I was sitting at a table in a cafeteria/canteen. A few tables away, I saw someone I knew. This person also saw me and ...
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1 vote
1 answer
976 views

How can the Arabic word "Hijr" be translated as "perception" or "understanding" or "intellect" [closed]

The sentence I mention is from Quran (written at least 14 centuries ago) verse 89:5. Full phrase is : هل في ذلك قسم لذي حجر And this is translated as: Sahih International: Is there [not] in [all] ...
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1 vote
0 answers
29 views

Maximally dissecting lexicon according to meaning (heuristically)

I'm trying to find a set of N English terms that maximally express the 'space of meaning' that all words are encapsulated within. I don't know the correct nomenclature to describe what I'm looking for ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
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Can the Hebrew word translated "made" in Genesis 1 be translated as prepared or used? [closed]

Some people say it can be, which very much changes the meaning of the chapter.
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7 votes
2 answers
3k views

Are people's names considered morphemes of a language?

For example, is "Donald" a morpheme of the English language? I can see reasons for and against. Reasons for: It allows us to say stuff like "a language is a function from sequences of morphemes of ...
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1 vote
0 answers
470 views

What is the view of prototype theory regarding features?

For example, the most prototypical exemplars of bird is robin, the least ones are ostrich or penguin. But since it rejects the classical theory (aka the necessary and sufficient conditions), I think ...
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2 answers
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Metalanguage to describe expressing an idea in many different ways

I am looking for a term to describe expressing an idea in many different forms yet the meaning remains the same in each rendition. An example of this: The Australians, Australians, the Australian ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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The most different meanings a verb has been found to have

After considering How we can use the same word in multiple different ways and distinguish it so easily, I'm wondering now how complex it can get. I'm wondering what an example is from any language ...
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1 answer
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Why and how do some words come to mean multiple completely unrelated things?

Take an example of the English word 'just'. While it means 'morally fair' in "a just social system", it also means 'a little' in "just less than 8%". For a myriad of colourful meanings of 'just', ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
67 views

For X to be considered a language, it must possess a partial function from sequences of _____ to meanings. What word goes in the blank? [closed]

Morpheme? Emic unit? Here, one may view the word 'meaning' to sort of mean a "language sufficient to express all ideas." In this sense, a "meaning" may be defined in terms of such an abstract ...
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2 votes
0 answers
39 views

what theories of idioms cover depth of idiomaticity?

It is obvious that, in English, the phrasal verb "get up" (meaning to awake and move out of bed) and the idiom "raining cats and dogs" (meaning rain strongly) have different depths of idiomaticity. ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Does metonymy impart new definitions to words?

In phrases like "force of arms", "challenge our arms" (example:General Mattis recent speech), etc, the word "arms" is an example of metonymy, I think. The phrases refer to war by referring to weapons....
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4 votes
1 answer
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How do we know the definition and meaning of words like "though"

Everyday we use words like "although". I personally have never tried to define it as far as I can remember. One definition of although is "even though", but what is an "even" though. Even is about ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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How is a meaningful sentence or paragraph constructed?

I don't have a formal background of linguistics, but I'd like to know how a sentence or paragraph becomes meaningful to a reader, and how one can construct that. I think it falls to the areas of ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
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"uitsluitend", logic of its double meaning [closed]

First question here. I found the word "uitsluitend" in Dutch language, and I was explained that it has two meanings, one is the present participle of uitsluiten (~excluding), and the other ...
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