How Old Is He? Five Years Old. Old Young

Handout 2

Ex. 1. Gradable antonyms: marked vs unmarked?

How old is he? Five years old. old – young

In each of the following pairs determine the ‘unmarked’ member:

small – big

early – late

good – bad

thick – thin

short – long

dangerous – safe

fresh – stale

wide – narrow

near – far

cheap – expensive

easy – difficult

full – empty

many – few

strong – weak

wild – tame

Ex. 2. Determine the lexical relations between the following pairs:

pregnant – not pregnant

dead – alive

give – receive

need – knead

buy – sell

flower – flour

woman – lady

wind – wind

wound – wound

steal – take

murder – kill

awake – asleep

punch – hit

happy – sad

sole (of foot) – sole (only) – sole (fish)

bear – (carry) – bear (tolerate) – bear (animal)

Sense relations between sentences

Ex. 3. Match the terms with the definitions and examples:

entailment mutual entailment / paraphrase contradictoriness

………………………….. – when sentence X is true, Y must be true too; the truth of sentence Y follows from the truth of sentence X.

………………………….. – both sentences X and Y have the same meaning.

………………………….. – it impossible for both sentences X and Y to be true at the same time (given the same circumstances).

Henry was chewing a tulip. / Henry was chewing a flower.

I saw a mouse. / I saw an animal.

He murdered Bill. / He killed Bill.

I saw a big mouse. / I saw a big animal.

John is Tom’s father. / Tom isn’t John’s son.

David stole a pound of beef. / David didn’t take a pound of beef.

John killed Bill. / Bill died.

It is hard to lasso elephants. / Elephants are hard to lasso.

Room 404 is below this one. / Room 404 is above this one.

I am not fond of semantics. / I detest semantics.

My father owns this car. / This car belongs to my father.

John boiled an egg. / John cooked an egg.

We went in a small car. / We went in a small vehicle.

That was an expensive sandwich. / That was an expensive meal.

Henry was chewing a tulip. / Henry was not chewing a flower.

Henry chewed up all my tulips. / Henry chewed up all my flowers.

A tall pigmy came in. / A tall person came in.

John killed Bill. / John didn’t murder Bill.

Mary is Ann’s parent. / Ann is Mary’s child.

Sentence ambiguity

When is a sentence ambiguous?

What is lexical ambiguity?

What is structural ambiguity?

Ex. 4. Disambiguate the following sentences. Are they lexically or structurally ambiguous?

I saw her duck.

The thing that bothered Bill was crouching under the table.

Flying planes can be dangerous.

I saw him walking by the bank.

The chicken is ready to eat.

Old men and women left.

Cinderella watched the colorful ball.

Fine for parking here.

The proprietor of the fish store was the sole owner.

It takes a good ruler to make a straight line.

I cannot recommend visiting professors too highly.

The Principle of Compositionality – the meaning of a phrase or sentence depends both on the meaning of its words and how those words are combined structurally. The sentences John loves Mary and Mary loves John mean different things even though they contain the same words.

Ex. 5. Invent 2 sentences: one as an example of lexical ambiguity and the other of structural ambiguity.

Semantic properties

Ex. 6. For each group of words given below state which semantic property or properties are shared by the (a) words and the (b) words, and what semantic property or properties distinguish between the classes.

a.  widow, mother, sister, aunt, seamstress

b.  widower, father, brother, uncle, tailor

The (a) and (b) words are ______

The (a) words are ______

The (b) words are ______

a.  bachelor, man, son, paperboy, pope, chief

b.  bull, rooster, drake, ram

The (a) and (b) words are ______

The (a) words are ______

The (b) words are ______

a.  table, stone, pencil, cup, house, ship, car

b.  milk, alcohol, rice, soup, mud

The (a) and (b) words are ______

The (a) words are ______

The (b) words are ______

a.  book, temple, mountain, road, tractor

b.  idea, love, charity, sincerity, bravery, fear

The (a) and (b) words are ______

The (a) words are ______

The (b) words are ______

a.  pine, elm, ash, weeping willow, sycamore

b.  rose, dandelion, aster, tulip, daisy

The (a) and (b) words are ______

The (a) words are ______

The (b) words are ______

a.  book, letter, novel, notebook, dictionary

b.  pencil, ballpoint, crayon, quill, charcoal, chalk

The (a) and (b) words are ______

The (a) words are ______

The (b) words are ______

a.  walk, run, skip, jump, hop, swim

b.  fly, skate, ski, ride, cycle, canoe, hang-glide

The (a) and (b) words are ______

The (a) words are ______

The (b) words are ______

a.  ask, tell, say, talk, converse

b.  shout, whisper, mutter, drawl, holler

The (a) and (b) words are ______

The (a) words are ______

The (b) words are ______

a.  alive, asleep, dead, married, pregnant

b.  tall, smart, interesting, bad, tired

The (a) and (b) words are ______

The (a) words are ______

The (b) words are ______

a.  alleged, counterfeit, false, putative, accused

b.  red, large, cheerful, pretty, stupid

(Hint: Is an alleged murderer always a murderer?)

The (a) and (b) words are ______

The (a) words are ______

The (b) words are ______

Evidence for semantic properties

Semantic properties are not directly observable. Their existence must be inferred from linguistic evidence. One source of such evidence is found in speech errors, or “slips of the tongue”, that we all produce. Consider the following unintentional word substitutions that some speakers have actually spoken.

Intended Utterance

bridge of the nose

when my gums bled

he came too late

Mary was young

the lady with the dachshund

that’s a horse of another colour

he has to pay her alimony

Actual Utterance (Error)

bridge of the neck

when my tongues bled

he came too early

Mary was early

that lady with the Volkswagen

that’s a horse of another race

he has to pay her rent