Linguistik-Klassifikation: Lexikologie/Etymologie / Lexicology/Etymology
Measuring nominal descriptivity
- Using Ultan's theory of descriptivity grading as a starting point, I will attempt to capture this differential utility in terms of [...] criteria of literalness, explicitness and syntactic complexity. I will first briefly present his System and investigate some generalizations which he has proposed on the basis of his study of body part terminologies in numerous languages. I will apply his theory to nouns in this and four other semantic domains, in three North American Indian languages. I will test his generalizations and propose some new ones. I will then present an alternative system of descriptivity grading and compare the results of its application with those of Ultan's system. In the final section I will suggest another methodology for quantification. An appendix at the end of the paper lists all of the descriptive lexical items mentioned, graded according to both systems.
Descriptivity grading of finnish body-part terms
- 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.