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					                      Outline of Semantics
Forms of thought
Mapping meaning onto language
Word meaning
   Semantic features
   Prototypes and Stereotypes
   Relational meanings
(Word meaning and) longer expressions
   Reference and Sense
Sentence meaning
   sentence v.s. utterance
Discourse meaning: cohesion, coherence,
  background knowledge, the cooperative principle
                        Yun-Pi Yuan                 1
           Forms of thought
• A thought may be compared to a cloud
  shedding a shower of words.
• Mental representation:
  Have you ever had the experience of
  wanting to express a thought, but you
  couldn't find the words for it?
• Language is NOT the basic form of
  thought. (Then, what is?)

                   Yun-Pi Yuan            2
         Mental Representation

• Mental imageries:
 A. sound images
 B. visual images
 C. math
 D. movement—action patterns

                      Yun-Pi Yuan   3
              Sound Images

• You can ―play‖ music in your head, no?
• Reading music

                   Yun-Pi Yuan             4
               Visual Images
• ―Pictures in your mind‖
• How do you find your way home?
  – ―see‖ the whole bus/car route home to school
• Remembering scenery: the apt. I stayed in
  NYC, in Hsintien, and the one I stay now.
• Recognizing people: matching pictures
  already in memory with what you see now.
• Painters: Michelangelo
• Matching colors; dressing.
                     Yun-Pi Yuan                   5

• Doing math problems in your head.
 (―Hsin Swan‖ 心算)

                  Yun-Pi Yuan         6
      Movement (Action Patterns)

• How to tie knots, use tools, dance, write
  Chinese calligraphy, tie your shoes, braid
  hair, use chopsticks, etc.
• Books explained with pictures and words:
  often easier just to follow pictures
  – E.g., origami

                    Yun-Pi Yuan                7
 Transfer among Different Forms of Thought

• Yes, we do it all the time:
  e.g. We describe pictures in mind in words;
  form pictures from words heard; put some
  sort of process into math—then explain in
  words; for dance draw pictures of steps, etc.
• Therefore, language is not the basic form of
  thought. (And we don’t really know what it;
  maybe these forms are all basic, & we have
  some sort of code that allows us to convert
  one to another).
                      Yun-Pi Yuan            8
• However, we’re interested here in semantics,
  the study of meaning in language, so
  basically we’re most concerned with how
  meaning is represented in language, but
  since we can convert one form of mental
  representation to another, semantics is
  related to all forms.
• Importance of meaning: the basic function of
  language is communication
• Difficulty to define ―semantics‖ completely
                    Yun-Pi Yuan             9
    Mapping Meaning onto language (1)
• Examples
 English, Chinese, & Spanish: He gave me a pen.                        (Nash 92)

 Turkish: Babam bana topu verdi.
          (father to-me ball gave)
              actor recipient object action
   (possessed by speaker)            (definite) (past, 3rd person, singular)
                                                (witnessed by speaker)

 Hebrew: Aba natan li                            et        ha kadur.
        (daddy gave me                                     the ball)
               actor action recipient object definite object
                 (past, 3rd person, singular, masculine)
                              Yun-Pi Yuan                                  10
  Mapping Meaning onto Language (2)
• None of these languages marks all the
  possible elements of meaning or everything
  we know (e.g., sex of the receiver, how
  recently when the event occurred, how the
  giving was done).
• All these could be marked in language and
  each language chooses different aspects to
• So, semantic elements are lang. specific.
                    Yun-Pi Yuan           11
   Mapping Meaning onto Language (3)
• Examples of ―possession‖:
  A. my shoes
  • can be thrown away when worn out, but other
    people not likely to wear them
 B. my chair
  • but other people can sit in it
 C. my nose
  • has nothing to do with others, nor will I ―throw it

                        Yun-Pi Yuan                  12
  Mapping Meaning onto Language (4)
• Note the differences:
  A. He has a big nose.
      (―Have‖: I ―possess‖ something; more general
      than ―own‖)
  B. *He owns a big nose.
      (You cannot own parts of your body; only
      materials or object which you can give away
      or buy/sell it, can be owned.)
  C. He is the possessor of his big nose.
    (―Possess‖—closer to ―own‖ than to ―have‖)
                      Yun-Pi Yuan                13
  Mapping Meaning onto Language (5)

• How does a child learn semantics?
• Slobin Model (Nash 91)
     KNOWLEDGE of the world


  Parts of KNOWLEDGE marked in language X
  (language the child is learning)
                   Yun-Pi Yuan              14
    Mapping Meaning onto Language (6)
• Semantics is concerned with the bottom two
  parts of the diagram: universal semantics (2nd part
  and the semantics of particular languages (3rd part
• The child first learns about the world, then
  aspects that have to be marked in language in
  general, and aspects that have to be marked in
  specific language.
• The child has to learn which aspects of situations
  the grammar requires us to mark:
  – Time, physical characteristics of objects,
    psychological, physical, & social aspects of the people
    involved & many other things . . . .
                         Yun-Pi Yuan                 15
  Mapping Meaning onto Language (7)
• The child’s problems of mapping meaning
  onto language:
  A. Which aspects of knowledge of world would
     likely to be marked?
  B. Which aspects must be marked in a
     particular language?
  C. How are they marked? (words; word order,
     affixes, function words, …)
• So, we’ll look at various attempts to explain
  how some aspects of our knowledge of
  meaning are expressed in language.
                    Yun-Pi Yuan             16
               Word Meaning

• Word meaning including:
  A. features
  B. prototypes
  C. stereotypes
  D. relational meanings (degree, direction)
  E. reference and sense (take us into semantics
  of longer expressions)

                      Yun-Pi Yuan            17
• Definition: more basic concepts/ideas that
  cannot be “defined” any further; primitive
  semantic elements.
• Combinations of features: [+ -] (e.g., see Nash 94-95)
  A. Advantages
     1. a universal element found in all langs.
  (Nash 95)

     2. similar to phonological features
  B. Disadvantage: very limited application
                         Yun-Pi Yuan                 18
        Advantage 1: Universal

• While we may speak different languages,
 we’re all humans with the same human
 brain, & perceive the world with the same
 human senses.
 e.g. [+HUMAN], [+ANIMATE], [+ROUND],
      [+MALE], [+FEMALE], [+LIQUID],
      [- MOVEABLE], etc.

                  Yun-Pi Yuan               19
Advantage 2: Similar to Phonological Features

• Psychologically similar to phonological
• Same kind of mental operation; from
  phonology  semantics, the use of [+ -]
• Phonemes: defined by its features
  e.g. /p/=+consonantal, -voiced, +stop,

                    Yun-Pi Yuan             20
• Very limited application—do not work for
  many words
  e.g. A. chair/stool/bench/bean bag
       B. ugly/beautiful
       C. red/green
       D. table/desk
       E. book/pamphlet
• Lead to idea of prototypes
• [activity: have some students draw a ―tree‖]
                    Yun-Pi Yuan              21
                        Prototype (1)
• Definition: a typical/ideal example (serving to
  represent the whole class); an examplar
• Concept of prototype: helps to explain meaning
  of certain words in terms of resemblance to the
  clearest examplar.
• Eleanor Rosch’s experiments:
  – A psychologist at the Univ. of California at Berkeley
  – Carried out experiments in order to test the idea that people
    regarded some types of birds as “birdier” than other birds, or
    some vegetables more vege-like, or some tools more tooly
  – Questionnaires passed to more than 200 psychology students
                              Yun-Pi Yuan                     22
                        Prototype (2)
   • A category name (e.g., fruit, vegetable, bird, clothing, etc.)
   • About 50 examples for each category
   • Rate how good an example of the category is, on a 7-point
• Results: surprisingly consistent
  A. bird:
   – Robin, sparrow, canary, dove, lark, parrot, owl, . . . peacock,
      duck, . . . penguin, ostrich, . . . bat
  B. clothing:
   – shirts, dresses, skirts, pajamas, bathing suit, shoes,
     stockings, tie, hat, gloves
  C. vegetable:
   – pea, carrot, cauliflower, . . . onion, potato, mushroom
                              Yun-Pi Yuan                      23
                  Prototype (3)
• Judgment not based on frequency of usage of
  the word (though likely to have some effect)
  nor on the basis of appearance or use
• People seem to have some idea of the
  characteristics of an ideal examplar (in Rosch’s
  words, a ―prototype‖). Then they match other
  terms against the features of the prototype to
  determine if it’s a member of the same
  category (i.e., sufficiently similar to the
  prototype, but not have to share all its
                      Yun-Pi Yuan              24
• Definition:
• a list of typical characteristics which describes
  the prototype
• more abstract representation of possible
• e.g. bird
  • feathers, wings, beak, fly, lay eggs . . . .
• e.g., elephant
  • gray, very thick-skinned, hairless, with a trunk and
    two tusks, heavy (adult: weighing several tons)
                         Yun-Pi Yuan                25
                  Relational Meanings
• Words may differ +- a feature (e.g., man/boy,
    man/woman). But, many sets of words differ, or may
    be grouped, in other ways, including ―degree‖ and
•   Degree: amount—contrast to +- of features
           e.g., hot/cold, long/short, tall/short, hard/soft,
           good/bad, wet/dry, beautiful/ugly
•   Direction: buy/sell, come/go, give/receive,
               borrow/lend, read/write.
•   Note: A. ―father‖—also relational (in a different way)
           B. ―kill‖ and ―hurt‖—cause and effect relations
                    (Nash 95, 96) Yuan
                               Yun-Pi                     26
             Longer Expressions
• Our examples of features for words like
  ―father,‖ ―kill,‖ ―hurt,‖ etc. seem to remain at
  the word level.  word meanings interact
  with syntax
• However, we have to use phrases and even
  clauses (e.g., ―x causes y pain‖) to get at
  word meaning.
• So, word semantics cannot be separated from
  the semantics of longer units of language, to
  which we now move  reference & sense.
                      Yun-Pi Yuan              27
                   Reference & Sense (1)
• Reference and sense: applying to semantics of both
    words and longer expressions
•   Reference: dealing with the relationships between
    language and the world (Nash 98); part of language that
    refers to WHAT/Sth. (a real thing or person) in the world.
    e.g. ―My son is in the beech tree.‖
         (identify person) (identify thing)
          the largest city in Taiwan
          the students in the linguistics class
          my husband, dragon, ghost, all your children will
          be handsome
                               Yun-Pi Yuan                       28
           Reference and Sense (2)
Sense: dealing with relationships inside the
  language. Something in the head; ―extra
  meaning‖ or an abstract idea—concerned with
  relations within language itself; relations with
  other words.
  e.g. The moon was bright last night.
      (reference, refers to a certain object)
       My love is like the moon. (sense,
      something more is involved in the phrase
      ―the moon‖ than just the object)
                      Yun-Pi Yuan              29
               Reference and Sense (3)
• Sense but not reference: function words, such as and,
    or, never, perhaps, otherwise, but. These make
    connections between meanings of different units of
•   Every expression that has meaning has sense, but
    not every expression has reference.
•   Same reference but different sense:
    e.g. The evening star             west. (sunset)
         The morning star Venus east. (sunrise)
    Same object (same reference) but different sense
    (different aspect); different ways of referring to the
    same thing (i.e., the planet you see at different time)
                          Yun-Pi Yuan                  30
           Reference and Sense (4)
• The same word can have more than one
 sense (i.e., meaning). For example,―bank‖
 a. I have an account at the Bank of Scotland.
 b. We steered the raft to the other bank of the
 c. The DC-10 banked sharply to avoid a crash.
 d. The banks of dark cloud promised rain.
 e. Who do you bank with?
 f. Hospital blood banks have saved many lives.
                     Yun-Pi Yuan             31
           Reference and Sense (5)
• Other examples:
  my father/ the man who married my mother
  (same reference? Could be different?
  Different senses/meaning?)
• Could have different reference
  e.g. stepfather or illegitimate child
  different senses, although refer to the same
  person (=same reference)
                     Yun-Pi Yuan             32
           Reference and Sense (6)
• Examples of reference/sense (Nash 99-100)
• When I said ―Turn in your homework,‖ I meant
  the homework due today.
• When my niece said in Taiwanese that she
  wanted a cup of ―te‖, she meant drinking
  water, not tea.
• ―That’s the man!‖ ―Which man do you mean?
  There are several men there.‖
• What does semantics mean?
• It’s hard to say exactly what love means.
• Partial means ―not complete.‖
                    Yun-Pi Yuan           33
         Reference and Sense (7)

• In the above examples the first three 
  reference (use ―refer to‖); the 2nd three
  examples  sense (cannot use ―refer to‖)
• In every day conversation, the words
  ―meaning,‖ ―mean,‖ etc. are used to
  indicate ―reference‖ sometimes, and
  ―sense‖ other times.

                   Yun-Pi Yuan                34
                  Sentence Meaning (1)
• Proposition= the basic idea/thought of the sentence;
    events or states; say something about events/states.
•   Proposition: predicate +argument(s) (Nash 19-20. 84+)

        Aspect of entity,             entity (some
        quality, state,               sort of thing)
        activity, relation with
        other entity/ things.
• A sentence can have more than one propositions.
• Proposition:
    – only linguistic element, without interpersonal meaning
    – corresponds roughly to a complete independent thought

                                  Yun-Pi Yuan              35
               Sentence Meaning (2)

• sentence:
  – sentence or propositional meaning only
• utterance:
  – what speakers say or write; you can give the time,
    date, place of an utterance
  – includes: intonation, stress, patterns, gestures
  – has propositional and contextual (or interpersonal)

                        Yun-Pi Yuan                 36
• Definition: a unit of language (an abstract
  thing, a part of language itself); a string of
  words put together by the grammatical rules
  of a language.
• Meanings of a sentence come from only
  within the language, independent of context.

                     Yun-Pi Yuan                37
• What speakers say or write: you can give the time, date,
    place of an utterance (including intonation, stress, patterns
    and gestures)
•   An event in the world which can be thought as an example of
    a sentence, or of part of a sentence (e.g., a phrase or a word)
•   Definition: the meaning of an utterance comes from both the
    language & the context & from features of language (e.g.
    intonation, stress, gestures)
•   Different functions in context:
    statement of fact       thanks          apology
    explanation              tease          promise
    suggestion              insult
    denial                  request, compliment
    e.g. Mr. Nash likes tea. (Nash 20)
        argument          argument
                 predicate (shows relationship)

                             Yun-Pi Yuan                      38
          Sentence Meaning (3)

• Propositional meaning (sentence) vs.
  interpersonal meaning (utterance)
• Proposition (Nash 84-85) vs. utterance (Nash
  100-101) analysis:
• e.g. ―The book is open.‖—accusation
  ―Tom opened the book‖— defense against
                                  accusation; put
                                  blame on
                                  someone else
                    Yun-Pi Yuan                 39
           Sentence Meaning (4)

• Examples of utterance:
  ―Can you open the window?‖—mother to
  child (order)
  ―Is your homework ready?‖
  –student     student (=can I copy it?)
  –teacher      students (=now, turn it in)
• Meaning of utterances based on the context
  (depending on the interactions of the
  speakers and their relationship).
                    Yun-Pi Yuan            40
              Sentence Meaning (5)
• Sentence vs. utterance
  e.g. He loves her.—sentence
                                         (understand, but
     ―He loves her.‖—utterance           who are they?)
      (in a movie/novel; with context)    (with knowledge
                                          of reference of
• Expressions without propositional meaning, only
  interpersonal meaning: e.g. Hello, Goodbye, pardon,
  Hey, Hooray ( something like verbal gestures); (Nash

                           Yun-Pi Yuan                41
           Sentence Meaning (6)

• Utterance meaning has to be
  determined from the context (intentions
  of speaker/hearer, their relationship; the
  time, place, roles)
• Sentence meaning (propositions) is
  independent of context.

                   Yun-Pi Yuan           42
               Sentence Meaning (7)
• Practice:
                       Utterances       Sentences   Propositions
Can be loud or quiet
Can be grammatical
or not
Can be true or false
In a particular
regional accent
In a particular
language                  Yun-Pi Yuan                       43
                Sentence Meaning (8)
  • Practice:
                       Utterances Sentences propositions
Can be loud or quiet      +             -         -
Can be grammatical        +             +         -
or not
Can be true or false      +             +        +

In a particular           +             -         -
regional accent
In a particular           +             +         -
                          Yun-Pi Yuan                 44
              Sentence Meaning (9)
• Utterance
  – A concrete thing; an event
  – Can be spoken or written, context involved
• Sentence
  – An abstract linguistic unit or structural form
  – An abstract unit (including linguistic content)
  – Flesh + frame
• Proposition
  – Ideas, concepts; very loosely structured thinking
  – Flesh only
                        Yun-Pi Yuan                   45
    Proposition, Sentence, & Utterance (1)

• Family tree relationship:

  sentence               sentence           sentence

utterance utterance utterance utterance utterance utterance

                           Yun-Pi Yuan                   46
   Proposition, Sentence, & Utterance (2)

• A single proposition could be expressed by
  using several different sentences (e.g., ―He
  killed Jane,‖ or ―Jane was killed by him‖) and
  each of these sentences could be uttered an
  infinite number of times.
• ―I do.‖ = a sentence, but can be uttered
  several times  different utterances
  – Elizabeth Tayor married several times. Every time
    when she said, ―I do.‖  a different utterance.

                       Yun-Pi Yuan               47
 Proposition, Sentence, & Utterance (3)
physical actions          mental processes
[gestures]                [thoughts]

                          abstract semantic entities

                          linguistic entities
                          [e.g. sentences]

                          actions [e.g. utterances]
                   Yun-Pi Yuan                   48
                  Discourse (1)
• Language longer than a sentence; naturally
 spoken or written language in context
  – Paragraphs, conversations, interviews, etc.
• Important at many levels: syntax +
  morphology; meaning; discourse structures—
  the structures of units longer than a sentence.
• Textbook e.g.: (Nash 101)
  The monster danced with Yang Li-Hua. He
  enjoyed it. She didn’t.
  – It shows meaning & syntax have to be analyzed
    in units longer than a sentence.
                       Yun-Pi Yuan                49
                 Discourse (2)
• Examples of different discourse structures
 A. writing
    a. paragraph
    b. composition (longer organization)
    c. book (chapter…)
    d. story—typical structure: chronological
    e. sonnet, 五言絕句,七言絕句,七言律詩
 B. apartment descriptions:
    American vs. Chinese
                      Yun-Pi Yuan              50
                   Discourse (3)

• In conversation, discourse grows between
 speakers—many ―discourse pairs‖
  – Greeting/greeting; Q/A; compliment/reply (accept
    or reject); complaint/apology, etc. (interpersonal
    meaning obviously involved here)
• Conversation: casual/classroom/ ordered
    discussion/debate/interview/ritual (e.g.
    church ritual, graduation, wedding ritual,
    classroom ritual—起立.敬禮.坐下.報告)

                        Yun-Pi Yuan                 51
                  Discourse (4)
• Some important elements in discourse:
  cohesion, coherence, background knowledge,
  the co-operative principle
• Cohesion:
  – ―the ties and connections which exist within
  – Something which exists in the language
  – Two kinds of links:
     • Grammatical         Text: a piece of spoken or
     • Lexical             written language.
                       Yun-Pi Yuan                52
                 Cohesion (1)
• Examples of cohesion: (Yule 140)
 pronouns, (e.g. he, my, I , it); lexical
 connections (e.g. Lincoln convertible—the
 car—the convertible); general connections
 with shared meaning elements (e.g.
 ―money‖—bought—saving—penny—worth a
 fortune—sold—pay); relationship marker (e.g.
 ―however‖); tense—first 4 sentences: past
 tense, last one: present—a different time.
                     Yun-Pi Yuan          53
               Cohesion (2)
• Cohesion: the grammatical and/or lexical
 relationships between the different
 elements of a text. This may be the
 relationship between different sentences
 or between different parts of a sentence.
 A: Is Jane coming to the party?
 B. Yes, she is.
 There is a link between Jane and she, also
 between is… coming and is.
                   Yun-Pi Yuan               54
                     Coherence (1)
• The relationships which link the meanings of
    utterances in a discourse or of the the sentences in
    a text.
•   These links may be based on the speakers’ shared
    knowledge (background knowledge)
    e.g. A: Could you give me a ride home?
         B: Sorry, I’m visiting my sister.
    There’s no grammatical or lexical link between A’s Q
    and B’s reply, but the exchange has coherence,
    because both A and B know that B’s sister lives in
    the opposite direction to A’s home.
                          Yun-Pi Yuan                55
                 Coherence (2)
• Coherence: that the text makes sense—
  coherence achieved more by people than by
  texts (than by language itself)—we expect
  coherence—we ―try to arrive at an
  interpretation which is in line with [our]
  experience of the way the world is‖ (Yule 141).
• Generally, a paragraph has coherence if it’s a
  series of sentence that develop a main idea
  (i.e., with a topic sentence and supporting
  sentences which relate to it).
• An example of coherence without cohesion (Yule
                      Yun-Pi Yuan            56
                Coherence (3)
• A cohesive text, without coherence (Yule
• Coherence: sth. Which exists in people
  (experience of the world); beyond linguistic
  knowledge (i.e., beyond knowledge of the
  world, of how conversational interaction
• Obviously, there’s something else involved
  [what is it?] in the interpretation of a
  conversation, except the information
  expressed in the sentences.
                       Yun-Pi Yuan          57
                Coherence (4)

• It is clear that language users must have a
  lot of knowledge of how conversational
  interaction works which is not simply
  ―linguistic knowledge.‖
• This leads us to Conversational Interaction
  (e.g., turn-taking, pauses, see Yule 143-
  144  read on your own) and Background
  Knowledge and Co-operative Principle.
                    Yun-Pi Yuan            58
            Background Knowledge
• Examples (Yule 146-47)—inference, build-up,
  changing inference
  first two sentences: Who is John?
                How’s he traveling? (plane? boat?)
  3rd sentence : Who’s John? (How traveling?)
  4th sentence: Who’s John?
  5th sentence: surprise
• We create what the text is about (not just the
  text does this), based on expectations of what
  normally happens (=background knowledge).
                      Yun-Pi Yuan               59
         The Cooperative Principle (1)
• In conversation participants are assumed (by
  others) to be cooperating. (Yule 145-146)
• Four Maxims: set out by Grice (1975)
  Quantity: as informative as is required; no
            more, no less.
  Quality: Don’t say something you believe
           to be false or something you don’t
  Relation: Be relevant.
  Manner: Be clear, brief, and orderly
                      Yun-Pi Yuan               60
         The Cooperative Principle (2)

• These are the normal expectations:
• e.g., expectations about Quantity: ―To make a
  long story short,‖ ―I won’t bore you with all the
• Quality: ―As far as I know‖; ―Correct me if I am
  wrong‖; ―I think‖; ―I feel‖; ―It’s possible that…‖

                       Yun-Pi Yuan               61
         The Cooperative Principle (3)
• The 4 maxims and the whole principle 
 allow interpretations (see Yule 145 bottom)
 Carol: Are you coming to the party tonight?
 Lara: I’ve got an exam tomorrow.
  – Lara assumed to be relevant + informative
    (quantity): exam tomorrow study tonight  no
    party tonight (relying on background knowledge)
  – Imagine: she replies: ―Linguistics is interesting.‖
• Just a brief introduction to Discourse—many
 more elements involved, very complex.
                        Yun-Pi Yuan                 62
                         Lexicon (1)
• Lexicon:
    – the set of all the words & idioms of any language
    – a mental system which contains all the information a
      person knows about words
• Q: Do the lexical items (words) of a language have
    some sort of overall structure/organization like
    phonology, morphology, and syntax have?
•   No; not reducible to rules—instead a listing of
    meanings—different from other aspects of language;
    not predictable from overall rules.
•   What’s the exact nature of a unit for definition?
    That is, what is a lexical unit (a word)?
                             Yun-Pi Yuan                     63
                   Lexicon (2)
• Dictionary entry is not exactly what we think of
  as a word. It’s really a paradigm: an example
  of all the forms of a word, used to represent
  the whole set.
• Examples:
  child (the word listed; ―head word‖)—
  represents child, child’s, children, children’s
  take—take, takes, taking, took, taken.
• Some sets include only one member: how, yet,
                      Yun-Pi Yuan              64
                  Lexicon (3)

• How is the paradigmatic form chosen?
• e.g. find a new word in the dictionary:
• ritualistic  look up what?
  – ritual
• larger look up?
  – large

                     Yun-Pi Yuan            65
• The paradigmatic form is the unmarked form: the
  form which does not seem ―special‖ in any way; the
  form that seems most ―basic‖, that has nothing added
  (phonemes, sounds, morphemes).
  e.g. child: child’s, children
        large: larger
        car: cars
        ritual: ritualistic
        strangle: strangulation
―How old is she?‖ the normal Q (Which is acquired first?)
                        Yun-Pi Yuan                 66
                       Markedness (1)
• Markedness: the theory that in the languages of the
    world certain linguistics elements are more BASIC,
    NATURAL, and FREQUENT (these elements are
    unmarked; less basic, natural, frequent elements are
•   Examples:
    A. Singular/plural nouns:
    car—cars (plural derived from singular in English, so
    singular=unmarked; plural = marked)
    B. S-V-O sentence: I dislike such people.
       O-S-V sentence: Such people I dislike.
        Which is marked and which is unmarked?
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              Markedness (2)

• Marking may be a basic principle for
 assigning universal (and possibly innate)
 values to certain kinds of features
                Slobin Model

               (Nash 91)

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               Markedness (3)
C. Frequency: more frequent = ?
   e.g. falling intonation vs. rising intonation
D. Common: more common = ?
   (more specific = marked)
   e.g. dog vs. bitch
E. Distribution: unrestricted (or less restricted
   in degree) =
   e.g. How tall is John? vs. How short is John?
   (also, which is more natural?)
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                Markedness (4)
• Markedness theory applies at all levels:
 A. phonology:
     e.g. /p, t, k, s, n/ unmarked consonants
          /v, z, Q, ð/ more marked (less common)
           falling intonation=unmarked
           rising intonation=marked
 B. lexicon: e.g. dog vs. bitch (marked)
 C. morphology: e.g. car vs. cars (marked)
 D. syntax: e.g. active vs. passive (marked)
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                   Markedness (5)

• Discourse: e.g. politeness

 too polite         unmarked          too informal
 (marked)           Could you lend    (marked)
                    me a pencil?
Would you be so                       Without saying
kind just let me                      anything, just
borrow your                           grasp the pencil.
pencil for a
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             Markedness (6)

• Unmarked elements: easier to acquire
• Marked elements: more difficult to acquire
• Some experimental evidence shows that
 teaching marked forms can lead to faster
 acquisition of both marked and unmarked
 forms, but teaching only unmarked forms
 won’t help students learn marked forms.

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                Markedness (7)
• Problem:
• Judging markedness still mostly by intuition
  (but, can we trust that?)
• Which is marked?
  – his/her
  – easy/difficult
  – early/late
  – dangerous/safe

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• On markedness: Yule 125 D (i)
• small/big, short/long, wild/tame,
 cheap/expensive, near/far, many/few,
 early/late, dangerous/safe, good/bad,
 fresh/stale, easy/difficult, strong/weak,
 thick/thin, wide/narrow, full/empty

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