8 votes
Accepted

How to define colors in the Natural Semantic Metalanguage?

Anna Wierzbicka wrote a chapter in her 1996 text Semantics: Primes and Universals on the semantics of colour terms. In this chapter she presents a theory where colours are understood according to ...
  • 5,517
8 votes

Is there a shared word for "word" and "thing" in any language other than Hebrew?

The Proto-Slavic word *rěčь “speech” (Old Church Slavonic рѣчь) has its descendants in all the modern Slavic languages, mostly with the same meaning. But in Polish rzecz [ʐɛtʂ] and in Ukrainian річ (...
  • 16.7k
8 votes

Is there a shared word for "word" and "thing" in any language other than Hebrew?

Japanese こと koto corresponds to both "(abstract) thing, matter" (written 事) and "word" (written 言), although the word for "word" in the modern language is 言葉 kotoba, a ...
  • 4,477
7 votes
Accepted

4 or 5: is thumb a finger? Distribution across languages

What about the idiom “five finger discount” that is popular in at least modern English? Giving someone a “high five” also indirectly refers to the five fingers of one’s hand. To me the “thumb” has ...
7 votes

Can we use etymology to determine the nature of synchronic semantic and morphosyntactic differences between (near-)synonyms?

This version of the etymological fallacy is easily disproved with false friends that have the same etymological root. Your claim is correct. For example, English embarassed and Spanish embarazado/a (...
  • 6,083
7 votes

Word meaning as function of the composition of its phonemes

This is probably not the kind of answer you are looking for, but I guess the following two points would have to be considered as strong indications that meaning is not computed from phonology. ...
6 votes
Accepted

What's the difference between metonymy, meronymy, meronomy and mereology?

The key to understanding is the difference between objects and names of objects: A meronom is a part. A meronym is the name of a part. A meronomy is a relationship between parts and sub-parts. ...
6 votes

Etymological Fallacy

The problem with using etymology to infer the meaning of a word is that language is always changing, and how a word is used now is not necessarily how it has been used historically. Linguists do not ...
  • 2,334
5 votes

Is there a name for the concept describing the particular way in which adjectives and nouns interact together to create meaning

The examples you give aren't really cases of adjectives modifying noun, but cases of nouns modifying nouns. In the case of "The Penguin Wars", "Penguin" is called an attributive noun or a noun ...
  • 1,484
5 votes

Is an empty morph a lexeme?

I don't think there is a theory-neutral term for the "super group" you're looking for—and I think the reason there isn't is that no such term would help the way you want it to. Pre-theoretically, I ...
  • 2,605
5 votes

Word meaning as function of the composition of its phonemes

Interestingly, it is so self-evident that the arbitrariness claim is true that nobody has experimentally verified the claim. But it would not be hard to do, if you have access to a captive subject ...
  • 73k
5 votes

What are the reasons to justify that some text is in X language?

You are making the erroneous assumption that "X is in language Y" is a claim that can be verified as true or false. For many combinations of text and language, of course it can be verified, but for ...
  • 6,744
5 votes

Is there a shared word for "word" and "thing" in any language other than Hebrew?

Aramaic mellṯā has the same two meanings (not just in Jewish dialects, but also in Syriac etc.)
  • 23.1k
4 votes

Is there a single origin for the connection between time and weather?

There may not be a single origin; who knows. But the Greek word used is marked, and that does suggest a more explicit connotative meaning than what @Mitch described in his answer. Here's how I've ...
4 votes
Accepted

(A)Telicity & Events

Just found my old notes from grad school. It's not quite clear if your interest in telicity is historical (e.g. how did Dowty 19XX understand telicity?); obviously, a lot has been done since then. The ...
  • 8,504
4 votes

'sibling-in-law' constructions: Why the polysemy/vagueness?

The expression of family relations does not occur in a social vacuum: it is tied up with the cultural norms surrounding those relations. If you live in a society where the dominant norm is the nuclear ...
4 votes
Accepted

Was there a Proto-Germannic root of "miskunn"

From Bokmålsordboka: miskunn m1 (norrøntmisskunn, egentlig 'det å ikke skylde en for noe', -kunn beslektet med kunne med eldre betydning 'skylde') særlig i religiøst språk: (Guds) nåde A ...
4 votes

What are the reasons to justify that some text is in X language?

There are no objective absolute criteria for language-identification. There may, however, be subjective criteria, and there may be comparative criteria. Subjective criteria depends on one or more ...
  • 73k
4 votes
Accepted

What's the name for a word/meaning pair of a polysemous word?

A specific term is unknown to me, but the task of disentangling the meanings of a word is named word sense disambiguation in computational linguistics. So I think word sense is usable for the pair (...
3 votes

Are there any languages in which 'knowledge' is not a mass noun?

Yes, it can in fact be plural in most European languages. In French, Italian, German, Spanish, Russian et altri there are connaissances, conoscenze, Kenntnisse, conocimientos, знания... which are ...
3 votes

Are linguistic units organized in conceptual categories?

Yes, there are many patterns of conceptual organization evident in language.It shows up in all sorts of psycholinguistic effects such as priming as well as in the way language structures are related ...
3 votes
Accepted

Did 'the' in 'the which' mean anything?

The which is simply an alternate construction of the relative pronoun which (probably only introducing nonrestrictive relative clauses). the which: (archaic) a longer form of which, often used as a ...
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3 votes

Is there a word in which the concept and its complement is expressed?

Sounds like you're referring to words such as "length". Is that what you mean, or are you looking for words that explicitly morphologically consists of a pair of antonyms for that? If the latter is ...
3 votes

How to understand semelfactive aspect of a verb? How is it varied/similar to iterative aspect?

They are quite similar, and you've isolated the main difference: semelfactive is once, iterative is many times. Although it is translated "aspect" here, it may not be a verbal property at all in some ...
  • 6,083
3 votes

"but" usage (redundancy of "but")

I think you answered your own question! "but" is used to […] indicate that the first clause is contrastive to the second in a way In your first example, "I am not a teacher" contrasts with "I am a ...
  • 57.5k
3 votes

What are the reasons to justify that some text is in X language?

Like in most cases of categorisation, Prototype Theory helps. There are exemplar texts of a language. I'm not actually an expert of Latin, but perhaps Cicero, Seneca, the Vulgate, and Aquinas could be ...
  • 5,517
3 votes
Accepted

Etymological Fallacy

Very ironically, understanding etymology today to be "true word meaning" is commiting to the etymological fallacy. First, etymology is often uncertain and speculative, because speech in ...
  • 1,410
2 votes

Lexicosemantic and lexicosyntactic?

Lexicosyntactic patterns are strings of words paired with syntactic structures; they depend only on the syntactic categories of the component words, with no reference to their meaning. Lexicosemantic ...
2 votes

Are linguistic units organized in conceptual categories?

I think that memory is more 'semantic' than 'linguistic', but, yes, we store these categories. The larger sets are 'hypernyms' of the subsets (which are 'hyponyms' of the larger sets). ex: Fido is a ...
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