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Flashcards in Semantics Deck (29)
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Words that are opposite with respect to one of their semantic properties, e.g., tall/short are both alike in that they describe height, but opposite in regard to the extent of the height. See gradable pair, complementary pair, relational opposites.


complementary pairs

Two antonyms related in such a way that the negation of one is the meaning of the other, e.g., alive means not dead. See gradable pair, relational opposites.


gradable pairs

Two antonyms related in such a way that more of one is less of the other, e.g., warm and cool; more warm is less cool, and vice versa. See complementary pair, relational opposites.



In a gradable pair of antonyms, the word that is not used in questions of degree, e.g., low is the marked member of the pair high/low because we ordinarily ask "How
high is the mountain?" not *"How low is the mountain?"; in a masculine/feminine pair, the word that contains a derivational morpheme, usually the feminine word, e.g.,
princess is marked, whereas prince is unmarked. See unmarked.



The term used to refer to that member of a gradable pair of antonyms used in questions of degree, e.g., high is the unmarked member of high/low; in a masculine/feminine pair, the word that does not contain a derivational morpheme, usually the masculine word, e.g., prince is unmarked, whereas princess is marked. See marked.



Classes of words where one of more of the following components are the same: pronunciation, spelling & meaning



Words that with different meanings and spellings but have the same pronunciation



Words spelled identically, and possibly pronounced the same, e.g., bear meaning “to tolerate,” and bear the animal; or lead the metal and lead, what leaders do.



Different words spelled the same (i.e., homographs) but pronounced differently, e.g., bass, meaning either “low tone” [bes] or “a kind of fish” [bæs].


semantic features

Conceptual elements by which a person understands the meanings of words and sentences, e.g., “female” is a semantic feature of the nouns "girl" and "filly"; “cause” is a semantic feature of the verbs "darken" and "kill".



A grammatical morpheme that marks the semantic class of a noun, e.g., in Swahili, nouns that refer to human artifacts such as beds and chairs are prefixed with the classifiers ki if singular and vi if plural; kiti, “chair” and viti, “chairs.”


count nouns

Nouns that can be enumerated, e.g., one potato, two potatoes. See mass nouns.


mass nouns

Nouns that cannot ordinarily be enumerated, e.g., milk, water; *"two milks" is ungrammatical except when interpreted to mean “two kinds of milk,” “two containers of milk,” and so on. See count nouns.



A type of sentence that describes activities such as John kissed Mary, as opposed to describing states such as John knows Mary. See state/stative.



A type of sentence that describes states of being such as "Mary likes oysters", as opposed to describing events such as "Mary ate oysters". See event/eventive.


negative polarity items

An expression that is grammatical in the presence of negation, but ungrammatical in simple affirmative sentences, e.g., any in "James does not have any money" but *"James has any money".



The various NPs that occur with a verb, e.g., Jack and Jill are arguments of loves in Jack loves Jill.


argument structure

The various NPs that occur with particular verbs, called its arguments, e.g., intransitive verbs take a subject NP only; transitive verbs take both a subject and direct object NP.



The thematic role of the noun phrase whose referent does the action described by the verb, e.g., George in "George hugged Martha".



The thematic role of the noun phrase whose referent undergoes the action of the verb, e.g., Martha in "George hugged Martha".


thematic roles

The semantic relationship between the verb and the noun phrases of a sentence, such as agent, theme, location, instrument, goal, source.



The thematic role of the noun phrase whose referent is the means by which an action is performed, e.g., a paper clip in "Houdini picked the lock with a paper clip".



The thematic role of the noun phrase whose referent perceives something, e.g., Helen in "Helen heard Robert playing the piano".


theta assignment

The ascribing of thematic roles to the syntactic elements in a sentence.


uniformity of theta assignment

A principle of Universal Grammar that states that the
various thematic roles are always structurally in the same place in deep structure, e.g., the thematic role of theme is always a direct object.


relational opposites/ antonyms

A pair of antonyms in which one describes a relationship between two objects and the other describes the same relationship when the two objects are reversed, e.g., parent/child, teacher/pupil; John is the parent of Susie describes the same relationship as Susie is the child of John. See gradable pair, complementary pair.


intransitive verbs

A verb that must not have (does not C-select for) a direct object complement, e.g., sleep, rise


ditransitive verbs

A verb that appears to take two noun-phrase objects, e.g., give in he gave Sally his cat. Ditransitive verb phrases often have an alternative form with a prepositional phrase in place of the first noun phrase, as in he gave his cat to Sally.


transitive verbs

A verb that C-selects an obligatory noun-phrase complement, e.g., find.