Componential analysis is a method of describing the subject matter of a language. A method in both semantic and cultural description, componential analysis is perhaps best characterized as a method of ideography. In Coral Gardens and Their Magic , Malinowski demonstrated the immediate relevance of descriptive semantics for ethnography. But the application of rigorous method in this area began only after World War ii, inspired by the methodology of structural linguistics and developed and utilized by anthropologists trained in this discipline Goodenough The first ethnographic use of the method illustrated the categorization of kinship relations in Truk Goodenough

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Different schools of lexical of componential analysis 2. This means that the units of the symbolic levels — particularly those of the lexicon — perform not only the functions of signification and classification of reality. Igor The systematic productivity of linguistic meaning is its most striking feature and it distinguishes human languages from many other semiotic systems. Abstract words production is subject to the sentence what you mean.

That is, word meanings must be able to provide an appropriate finite base for an adequate recursive theory of indefinitely many sentential meanings. In order to better grasp the sense of these ideas, Componential Analysis C. Method is introduced into language semantic field. Lexical decomposition is an alternative term for C.

Basic meanings- reducing the vast variety of lexical meanings to a limited number of basic meanings. Precision -providing a means of presentation that allows a precise interpretation of lexical items.

Language Comparison- determining the semantic relations between expressions of different languages. Since a professed goal of modern linguists is to characterise the class of possible human languages in as narrow a way as possible, the core of this goal is to try to characterise the class of possible word meanings of natural languages in as narrow a way as possible. Dowty, , P Let us now see the history back ground and vary schools of linguistic beliefs structural or non- structural e.

Hjelmslev, Louis, a Danish linguist, was a representative of early European Structuralism and the first one who gave definite proposal for a componential semantics. Cruse Hjelmsler -like procedures the beginning with complex meaning and reduces them to simpler ones, guided the meanings of other words. Unbelievable is that lexical decomposition was first used by anthropologists as a technical method for describing and comparing the vocabulary of kinship in different languages.

Until some years later did some scholars Lamb, Weinreich or Katz and Fodor, e. John Lyons, One of modern linguists representatives is Lyons. He defines C. To sum up, each lexical item will be entered in the dictionary with a complex of semantic components. A set of redundancy rules applies automatically to reduce the number of components stated for each item.

Thus lexical relations can be stated in term of the components. Saeed P In America, Componential Analysis C. Pinker is one of these representatives. Saeed 97 P Another famous contemporary compontialist, Anna Wierzbicka, who differed with other compontialists; she takes componential not from the structuralism, but from further back in the past: She uses Leibniz source, but starts with a small list of what appear to be indispensable notions, and tries to express, as may meanings as possible with these, only adding items to the list of primitives when forced to do so.

Her argument is: Like human birth, all with some innate capacities, there exists surely an expressible primitive in all languages. She dismissed analyses of the Katz and Fordor variety as not so much genuine analysis of meaning as translations into an artificial language for which no one has any intuitions.

A typical Wierzbickan analysis gives as following:. This analysis is intended to capture in maximally simple terms: the fact that punishment is objectively justifiable causation, that suffers for an offence. As Wierzbicka herself referred: If the role of these primitives as a foundation on the basement of all complex meanings is recognised, then it can be used as an instrument for improving lexicography. Pulman 83 pp. Her approach focuses on language comparison though has drawbacks. One is lack of precision and the other is unable to define words connected with antonym and directional opposition.

In many languages there are primitives that are expressed by bound morphemes, rather than by separate words. Some morphological markers a. Human male [one who has never been married] b. Human male [young knight serving under the standard of another knight] c. Human [one who has the first or lowest academic degree] d. Animal male [young for seal without a mate in the breeding season]. About this point, I will interpret it in the next part. Palmer 87, pp 8, Pustejorsky is one who objects to Semantic Primitives.

He opposes mere feature decomposition, instead, he is for unexplored aspects of lexical meaning. Pink and Grimshaw are also the ones who are against Semantic Primitives. They emphasis more on the function of syntax behaviour of words, i. Verbs are undoubtedly the most important lexical category of English language. Every English sentence must at least contain one verb, need not at the least include nouns; Comparing with nouns there are far fewer verbs in an English sentence.

Verbs are thus the most complex lexical category. For any theory of lexical semantics, representing the meanings of verbs presents especially difficult. There is controvertible evidence that verbs actually are organised in lexical memory in terms of their irreducible meaning components. There is difference between decomposition and a relational analysis, even if certain elements of a decomposition analysis constitute the semantics of some of the relations of analysis.

Another important process, which should be aware is that, the kinds of relations used to build networks of nouns and adjectives could not be directly imported into the verb lexicon, or they could not be changed when they were applied to verbs. The complexity of English verb predicates also the difficulty of noun phrases. If we can find some kind of framework to make the semantic relation of verbs clear, it will help us to analysis noun phrases, even the whole sentence easily.

How finitely can many lexical meaning be sentential meanings must be addressed as the central question in meaning theory. The context is the key element to decide. Often, this refers especially to the words with polysemy meanings.

The two combinations of meaning in the one clause above are meaningful only if the semantic components of the words fit together properly. In order to assert which combination of the two meanings are correct, we must relate the sentence to the context, asking ourselves: What kind of person is Barbara?

Is she active in social activity? So, if you think about the context you are reading, the judgement of one from the two meanings, I think, is out of question. So, to make clear lexical contrasts and similarities is the second aim of lexical decomposition. The mostly used semantic decomposition of verb perhaps is CAUSE sub-predicate of generative semantic method , which expresses a kind of semantic relation.

There are large amount of inchoative and causative verbs whose meanings can be decomposed in this way, even if some of them can be further decomposed, this kind of approach is still powerful on meaning explanation.

Dowty 79 P. Surely, to kill entails to die, but it is not the hyponym or synonymous of to die, one killed the other, not means the doer died but in fact, the patient died. So kill is one condition of cause somebody to die, but not the only reason for the result to die. Pulman 83 pp37, The third aim of lexical decomposition is to differ lexical relations and entailments. Decomposition methods have also been used in typological lexicon studies, e.

Goddard 98 Charpter. The following set of words is used for performance by Cruse, also represent for decomposition of verb. So far so good, but how can the verbs that mean differently in different context be analysed?

His examples to specify the relevant selective restrictions:. He explained that the formulation above could be understood in two ways, a. Above two cases he argued that: There are good reasons for distinguishing relatively extrinsic co-occurrence restrictions even if it is difficult in some cases to pin down exactly what the co- occurrence constraints are.

Thus, in order to judge anomaly is the fourth aim of the C. The last aim of lexical decomposition is to avoid discontinuities. In I switch my computer on, again I switch it off. What should arise our attention is that different languages differ also in their analysis methods.

When we translate or speak a foreign language, we will make wrong or funny sentence if we choose words whose semantic components are not compatible and not fit together properly.

The problem is especially severe in translation, where one is introducing new ideas and new collocations. German: Falsch Freund. In sum, Lexical decomposition represents the sense of a word in terms of the semantic features, which comprise in this word. As a method for characterising the sense of words, lexical decomposition has several advantages:. First, it explains our intuitions as speakers of English that some words are more closely related with these meanings than with those of others.

Finally, this method allows us, at least in principle, to characterise the senses of a potentially infinite set of words with a finite number of semantic features. On the other hand, lexical decomposition has several practical limitations. First, linguists have been unable to agree on exactly how many and which features constitute the universal set of semantic properties, especially once the handful of features already mentioned.

Moreover, nouns, especially concrete nouns, seem to lend themselves to lexical decomposition more readily than do other parts of speech; for example verbs, cf. So, Componential Analysis Method is not expected to be abandoned unless and until it has been explored in much greater depth and found either successful or ultimately unworkable. F Z Fenglei Zhang Author.

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Componential Analysis

Componential analysis feature analysis or contrast analysis is the analysis of words through structured sets of semantic features , which are given as "present", "absent" or "indifferent with reference to feature". The method thus departs from the principle of compositionality. Componential analysis is a method typical of structural semantics which analyzes the components of a word's meaning. Thus, it reveals the culturally important features by which speakers of the language distinguish different words in a semantic field or domain Ottenheimer, , p.


Componential Analysis Method



Componential analysis


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