By Charles Ruhl
During this ebook, the writer argues that phrases may be presumed at first to be monosemic: having a unmarried, hugely summary which means. Semantic study should still first search a unitary which means, resorting to polysemy, homonymy or idiomaticity in basic terms whilst a longer try out fails. using a wide facts base, this booklet exhibits that a few intended "lexical" semantic which means is basically pragmatic or extralinguistic. integrated are vast remedies of the verbs endure, hit, kick and slap, the word take off, and the noun ice. Ruhl experiences linguistic examine tools and idea, such a lot without delay appropriate to the fields of semantics and pragmatics, and in addition to lexicography, cognitive technology, and synthetic intelligence. The speculation of monosemy implies major adjustments of point of view and alertness for all fields which deal in lexical definition.
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Additional resources for On Monosemy: A Study in Linguistics Semantics
The notion of 'system' in linguistics corresponds to the broader notion of 'ecology', the twentieth century's major interdisciplinary discovery. There are two kinds of systems that need to be distinguished, "weak" and "strong". A weak system exhibits MODULARITY: that is, all elements of the system exist within certain contexts, in relation with other elements. A strong system in addition exhibits MUTUALITY: elements are not merely related, but mutually defining. The status of each element determines and is determined by other elements; any change in one element means a change in the nature of others.
Francis Irby Gwaltney)  I would have liked to break the silence but couldn't think of anything cheerful to say. (James Herriot) From this evidence we can see the break in break the ice is the same word that occurs widely in other expressions; only the noun ice is figurative. Break the ice is thus not an idiom; it refers to the breaking of a difficult situation. If a difficult situation is broken, then a start on something can be made; I suggest that 'make a start' is an inference of Result, another example of Pragmatic Page 13 Metonymy.
Yet the disagreement may be more apparent than real. The semantic/pragmatic distinction, as currently envisioned, has its roots in maximalist conceptions, which attribute too much meaning to words. Thus, it is not surprising for linguists to find that supposed word meaning differs little, if at all, from obviously non-lexical meaning; this merely indicates earlier misjudgments. Strictly speaking, it is misleading to describe Posner, Garcia and Andrews as minimalists. A fully minimalist position would claim that words have no inherent meaning at all, deriving all their apparent contribution from functional context.