Problem 2

Semantic Fields and Lexical Relations

Course Information
Course Schedule

Posted: Sunday February 23, 2009
Due: Thursday March 12, 2009 before class

Honor Code policy: You can discuss the assignment orally with others taking the class (making sure you are contributing and not just absorbing others' ideas). Again, don't share written work with one another (including diagrams) until the assignments are graded. If you wish, you can test out data on native speakers of English from outside the class. For our assignments, do not consult linguists (undergrad students who have studied anything about semantics; linguistics faculty; or ling. grad students). Use examples to illustrate your statements.

Assignments must be typed/computer-printed and in general look reasonably professional. You can append or add in hand-drawn or computer-drawn diagrams if you wish. Diagrams or pictorial matter should be explained in the text of your answer.

Aim for about 5 double-spaced pages. Diagrams can be extra if you need extra space.

Upload your Word file to Owlspace by the deadline: Thursday March 12 9:00 a.m. The filename should be your last name followed by some indication of the assignment (2). Put your name inside your Word file and use page numbers.

Total points 100.


Consider the following set of adjectives describing properties, and analyze the semantic relations that link these words. What is the semantic field or domain represented in the set? (Arrange the words in whatever order seems appropriate.)

large, long, narrow, small, big, short, little, deep, thick, wide, shallow

In the course of your analysis, say what type of semantic organization(s) seem(s) best suited for describing the structure of this lexical field. You might explore various modes of analysis, adding words to the set where useful. Analyze specific subsets of the words if you see subpatterns. Some of the words are similar with respect to the kinds of nouns they describe. How?

Throughout your analysis, be explicit about the kinds of semantic relations or the parameters which group and distinguish the words you are treating. Include any other semantic elements you see are necessary to characterize meanings in this domain.

This is a very rich set of words in terms of the semantics of the words (i.e. the properties they describe) and the relations among the various words in the set. Focus on the spatial meanings of the words mainly; you can refer to other senses of particular words if you feel it adds anything to your analysis of the set as a whole.

© 2009 Suzanne Kemmer