- Descriptivity grading of finnish body-part terms (1975)
- Three quantificational approaches to the measurement of lexical descriptivity are proposed, based on: the semantic sum of the parts of a lexeme is equal to the whole, paraphrase-term and term-paraphrase congruence, explicitness of semantic elements of a construction. Combination of all possible values into tripartite sets and then into equipollent groups results in a system composed of 12 grades. This system was tested with a semantic domain of the Finnish lexicon: body-part terms. The descriptivity indices for each lexical item were correlated with natural divisions of the body, construction-motivation types (form, function, location), grammatical construction types (endo- and exocentric compounds, derived forms, metaphors), and loanwords. These comparisons result in a number of grade profiles whereby specific descriptivity grades are characteristically associated with one or more types of body section, construction motivation, and grammatical construction. Diachronic and synchronic evidence points overwhelmingly to a process of semantic narrowing in the development of descriptive words and labels from phrases or sentences.
- Descriptivity in the domain of body-part terms (1976)
- In an earlier paper, I proposed a system for evaluating the relative descriptivity of lexical items in a consistent manner in terms of the interrelations of three metrics. The first of these, including five possible degrees of descriptivity, is based on the premise that the sum of the meaningful parts of a given form is or is not equal to the meaning of the whole. The second, also composed of five degrees, is based on paraphrase-term relations in which the logical quantifiers: all, some and no, are applied to the terms of the paraphrase in one test and to the meaningful parts of the term (linguistic form) in the reversibility test. Both tests are applied in the form of logical propositions. The third metric, with three degrees, deals with the relative explicitness of the meaningful parts of a given form: explicit, implicit or neither. […] This system was then tested in a pilot study involving the fairly limited and semantically homogeneous lexical domain of body-part terms in a specific language, Finnish. The purpose of the present paper is to subject comparable data from other languages to the same kind of analysis and compare the results in order to ascertain whether the generalizations arrived at with the Finnish data also hold for the other languages or, more specifically, which of these generalizations are more or less universal and which language or language-type specific? The additional languages to be examined here are: French, German, Ewe, Maasai and Swahili.