Natural Semantic Metalanguage

Topics: Linguistics, Semantics, Natural semantic metalanguage Pages: 5 (1124 words) Published: July 4, 2011

“Natural Semantic Metalanguage”

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Awliya Rahmi ( 0810731006 )

Citra Ayu Wardani ( 0810732056 )

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Rini Anggraini







Using language iss not just about knowledge of the words but also what they mean in cross-cultural communication. Natural Semantic Metalnguage is a language which is used to describe other language. In spite of that, it may be used to describe not only other languages in general, but also themselves. It can be defined as kinds of semantic analysis approach in finding the simplest meaning of a word.

This approach states that there are many aspects influence language and they can not be separated in analyzing the simplest meaning of words. Those aspects are:

1. The difference of social communities

2. The systematical difference

3. The difference of culture

4. The different style of speaking and communication

Natural Semantic Metalanguage

Before we go further, we should understand the definition of the word “metalanguage” since it might be new for some of us. Metalanguage is the language that is used to present, name and describe terminological information, the language of a particular field name in an entry, e,g. "synonym" is the English name of the data field, that contains synonyms to main entry terms. To make it simpler, metalanguage is a language that can be used to describe languages. Then, we already know that semantic is the study of meaning in language. So, semantic metalanguage is theory and a practical, meaning-based approach to linguistic analysis.  The leading proponents of the theory are Anna Wierzbicka at the Australian National University who originated the theory in the early 1970s (Wierzbicka 1972), and Cliff Goddard at Australia'sUniversity of New England (Goddard & Wierzbicka 1994, 2002). It is called natural semantic metalanguage because it is derived entirely from natural language and because it can be understood via natural language without any additional arbitrary signs and conventions.

To compare meanings, one has to be able to state them. To state the meaning of a word, an expression or a construction, we need a semantic metalanguage. Moreover, Natural Semantic Metalanguage ( NSM ) is important to compare meanings expressed in different language and different culture.

Semantic Primitives

Linguists of the NSM school rely on semantic primitives (or semantic primes) for analysis. Semantic primes means the suggestion that we have as part of our inherited human faculties a basic set of innate 'concepts', or perhaps more precisely, a non-conscious propensity and eagerness to acquire those concepts and encode them in sound-forms (words). The words that those concepts become encoded in what is called semantic primes, or alternatively, semantic primitives — 'semantic' becauselinguists have assigned that word in reference to the meaning of words (=linguistic symbols). Words that qualify as semantic primes need no definition in terms of other words. In that sense, they remain undefinable. We know their meaning without having to define them. They allow us to construct other words defined by them.

List of Semantic Primes

When Wierzbicka and colleagues claim that DO, BECAUSE, and GOOD, for example, are semantic primes, the claim is that the meanings of these words are essential for explicating the meanings of numerous other words and grammatical constructions, and that they cannot themselves be explicated in a non-circular fashion. The same applies to other examples of semantic primes such as: I, YOU, SOMEONE, SOMETHING, THIS, HAPPEN, MOVE, KNOW, THINK, WANT, SAY, WHERE, WHEN, NOT, MAYBE, LIKE, KIND OF, PART OF. Notice that all these terms identify simple and intuitively intelligible meanings which are grounded in ordinary linguistic...

References: Lyin, John. 1995. Linguistic Semantics. Cambridge University Press.
Wierzbicka, Anna. 1991. Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: The Semantics of Human Interaction. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
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