Lexical Taxonomy

Topics: Trigraph, Gh, Taxonomy Pages: 12 (1456 words) Published: February 17, 2013
By Dr. K.B. Kiingi This paper purports to lay a firmly principled method of taxonomizing the lexicon of any given human language. It will be recalled that earlier attempts by writers like Roget (1852), Dornseiff (1934), Hallig and Von Wartburg (1952), Wehrle and Eggers (1961) and McArthur (1981) have all provoked a hail of critical discussions as manifested in Ballmer and Brennenstuhl (1986:112-126) and Jackson (1988:216222). The overall verdict of the discussants is that the taxonomies are pseudo-taxonomies since they do not exhibit a lucid hierarchical structure that is an indispensable feature of a scientific taxonomy. The lexical taxonomy I undertake to enunciate in this paper is formally analogous to but more productive than the biological one. First of all I intend to present a situation-role theory which happens to bear a very close affinity to versions of semantic participant role theory such as those treated in Quirk et al (1985) and Brown and Miller (1991). To a physicist “ change of state” is the change from one to another of the three states of matter, i.e. gaseous, liquid or solid state, Whenever we use language, we also talk about states and changes of state but of anything such as quantity, number, space, time, force, heat and electric charge. Let a state or change of state be formalizable as in (1).


Š [θ1 ε1 + θ2 ε2]

Š is a situation predicate, θ1 and θ2 are semantic roles of the thought categories ε1and ε2 respectively. As thought categories I posit: state q, change of state c, quantity u, number n, space l, time t, matter m, material object r, biotic matter b, plant f, animal z, human h, electric

charge e, mechanical force k, sound s, heat w, light o, and abstract product i. As roles I propose: general situation bearer Q, volition-bound situation bearer E, holonym W, hypernym V. reference O, source X, direction D, medium P, measure M, comitative T, goal G, opposition N, equality U, augmentative S, diminutive L, general contactor A, perceptive contactor R, intracorporal contactor I. psychomotor contactor B, cognitive contactor K, attitudinal (or emotional) contactor F, contacted H, causer C, volition-bound causer Z, and effected Y. Using contact, causation and volition as classificatory criteria, the participant roles can be tabulated as follows.








In the situation formula (1), θ1 can assume the values Q, E, A, R, I, B, K, F, C, and Z, θ2 while can range over W, V, O, X, D, P, M, T, G, N, U, S, L, H, and Y. With (2) – (19) taken from Brown and Miller (1991:309) and (20) (58) from Quirk et al (1985:754) ample exemplification of the situation – role theory follows.


She was singing.

Š[Zh + Š[Qs + Xh]] Š[Qr + Gq] Š[Zh + Š[Qr + Gq]] Š[Zz + Yl] Š[Eh +Mi] Š[Eh + Gl] Š[Eh + Xl] Š[Eh + Pl] Š2[Zh2 + Š1[Bh1 + Hr]] Š[[Bh2 + Hr] +Xh1] Š[[Bh1 + Hh2] + Ph3]


The string broke.


John sharpened the knife.


The dog is digging a hole.


Harold ran a mile.


Susan went to Denmark.


Yasuko is arriving from Kyoto.


Helen traveled via Samarkand.


She gave the book to Bill.


I got the cassette from David.


I contacted Jane via her sister.


The painting costs $ 5000.

Š[Qr + Mi]


Miranda knew all the answers. Š[Kh + Hi]


Harriet owns a cat.

Š[Bh + Hz] Š[Ih + Hq] / Š[Fh + Hq] Š[Ah + Hq] Š[Al + Hq] Š[Bh + Hc] Š[Fh + Hq] Š[Eh + Gq] Š[Al +Hq] Š[At +Hq] Š[Ac +Hq] Š[Ai +Hq] Š[Eh + Ol]


Celia is cold /sad.


The child is sleeping.


The town is dirty.


Fiona is the convener.


She’s happy.


He turned traitor.


The Sahara is hot.


Last night was warm.


The show was interesting.


It’s windy.


He was at school.


She got...

References: Ballmer,T.and W. Brennenstuhl. (1986) Deutsche Verben. Eine Sprachanalystische Untersuchung des Deutschen Verbwortschatzes. Tuebingen: Gunter Narr Verlag Brown, K. and J. Miller (1991) Syntax: A Linguistic Introduction to Sentence Structure. London and New York: Routledge Dornseiff, F. (1934) Der Deutsche Wortschatz nach Sachgruppen. De Gruyter, Berlin, 1965 Hallig, R.,von Wartburg, W(1952): Begriffsystem als Grundlage fuer die Lexikographie. Akademie Verlag, Berlin , 1993 Jackson, Howard (1995) Words and Their Meaning. London and New York: Longman Quirk, R, S. Greenbaum, G. Leech, and J. Svartvik (1985) A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman
McArthur, Tom (1981) Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English. London: Longman Roget, P.M. (1852) Roget’s Thesaurus. London: Longman. 1966 Wehrle, H., Eggers, H.(1961): Deutscher Wortschatz. Stuttgart: Klett.
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