Word Meaning and Sense Relations

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WORD MEANING AND SENSE RELATIONS
What constitutes a sentence in any given Language is the combination of words in a systematic manner. Of course, this must be meaningful at least within a “social mass which at any given moment establishes its value (De Saussure in Akwanya 2002:49) Note that this position tends towards syntax which gives/assigns meaning to a group of words in acceptable pattern of combination in a Language.

Sense relation as noted by Agbedo (2000:152) show. “The sense of a word reveals itself through the relations of meaning which the word contracts with other words in the language”. Semantic relations of these types are well-defined and systematic. Since the word is the most significant unit of morphological analysis, there must be a way it relate with others within the system called Language in terms of its meaning. The ways are as follows; it based on the works of Agbedo and Akwanya. (i)Homophony

(ii)Synonymy
(iii)Hyponymy
(iv)Opposites
(v)Polysemy
(vi)Semantic Field Theory
(vii)Componential Analysis

1.Homophony: A sense relation in which a word is pronounced like another but different in meaning, spelling or origin is homophony. Examples are, Sun/son, some/sum, bale/bail, tail/tale, gate/gait, break/brake, red/read, bred/bread, flair/flare, buy/by/bye, know/no. Some times two differently words are spelt alike but are pronounced differently, for example, lead/led, lead/li:d/ 2.Synonymy: According to palmer (1976:50) Synonymy is used to mean “sameness of meaning Akwanya sees Synonymous words as “different phonological words having similar meanings”. Ordinarily it is very simple but it is extremely difficult to find perfect synonyms in English. The only example in this regard is “adder” and “Vipper”. Akwanya described it as “identity”. This situation has led to emergence of two major interpretations of the word Synonymy: Absolute Synonymy: This happens when the two words are interchangeable in all contexts without any change in the degree of semantic normality. For Ullman “(Agbedo 2000:152) only those words can be described as Synonymous which can replace each other in any given context without the slightest change either in cognitive or emotive import” This position if followed will mean that Synonymy does not obtain at all. Akwanya’s “Adder” and “viper” example will also be knocked out. Lyons in Agbaedo (1968) rejects this position saying “… They combine to radically different criteria and prejudges the question of the inter dependence” Descriptive Synonymy: There is also what we can describe as descriptive Synonymy. This happens when the lexical items are the same interms of descriptive meaning. Two lexical items are descriptively Synonymous when they can be substituted for one another without another affecting in their truth condition. Descriptive Synonymy in sentences (a)The future is hidden from us

(b)The future is concealed from us
The two sentences above show that “hidden” “and conceal” have identical truth condition i.e. where one is true, the other is also true and vice. Another phenomenon that falls within purview of Synonymy is the extension of synonymy to cover lexical items that are syntagmaticaly joined to equate or be synonymous with a single lexical item for example, bull to be synonymous with male adult bovine animal and vixen: for “female fox. The problem here is that the native speaker’s cannot substitute for example, female for vixen due to the rule of normal interchangeability. There is also context: - Dependent synonymy where two items appear to be synonymous in a particular context. For instance, sheep and ewe in the sentence

The ………… is feeding its lamb.
Either word can fit in. “The space where sheep is used, the feminity is implied by “feeding”. If it is ewe that is used, the same meaning is passed across.

(3)Hyponymy: Lexical items may be related by the meaning of one including or excluding that of...
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