lexical semantics

From: Andrew Kulikovsky (anku@celsiustech.com.au)
Date: Tue May 13 1997 - 02:24:29 EDT

Clayton Bartholomew writes:

> A lexical form has no meaning without a context. The lexical form is a
key into
>a domain (paradigm) of possible meanings. Until the lexical form
>in a context, it is an uninstantiated variable, and it receives it's
>instantiation from contextual information. Outside of the the context
>lexical form is only a key and is semantically empty.

Well this is a little bit exaggerated.

A word has a range of possible meanings - some more common than others.
If a word is given with no context it is hardly "semantically empty",
but rather the meaning attached to it would be the most common meaning
associated with that word.

For example, if we ask people the meaning of the word "stop" the
overwhelming majority would reply with something like "to come to a
stand still or to cease moving".

But then if we were talking about the different punctuation marks and
then asked people to define a "stop" they would no doubt respond with
something like "a small dot placed at the end of a setence, marking its

When used in particular contexts, obviously the context must have the
final say.

Andrew Kulikovsky

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