Immediate Constituents Analysis

The theory of Immediate Constituents (IC) was originally elaborated as an attempt to determine the ways in which lexical units are relevantly related to one another. It was discovered that combinations of such units are usually structured into hierarchically arranged sets of binary constructions. For example in the word-group a black dress in severe stylewe do not relate ato black, black to dress, dressto in,etc. but set up a structure which may be represented as a black dress / in severe style.Thus the fundamental aim of IC analysis is to segment a set of lexical units into two maximally independent sequences or ICs thus revealing the hierarchical structure of this set. Successive segmentation results in Ultimate Constituents (UC), i.e. two-facet units that cannot be segmented into smaller units having both sound-form and meaning. The Ultimate Constituents of the word-group analysed above are: a| black | dress | in | severe| style.

The meaning of the sentence, word-group, etc. and the IC binary segmentation are interdependent. For example, fat majors wifemay mean that either the major is fat or his wife is fat. The former semantic interpretation presupposes the IC analysis into fat majors | wife,whereas the latter reflects a different segmentation into ICs and namely fat| majors wife.

Distributional analysis and Co-occurence

Distributional analysis in its various forms is commonly used nowadays by lexicologists of different schools of thought. By the term distribution we understand the occurrence of a lexical unit relative to other lexical units of the same level (words relative to words / morphemes relative to morphemes, etc.). In other words by this term we understand the position which lexical units occupy or may occupy in the text or in the flow of speech. It is readily observed that a certain component of the word-meaning is described when the word is identified distributionally. For example, in the sentence The boy homethe missing word is easily identified as a verb The boy went, came, ran, etc. home. Thus, we see that the component of meaning that is distributionally identified is actually the part-of-speech meaning but not the individual lexical meaning of the word under analysis. It is assumed that sameness / difference in distribution is indicative of sameness / difference in part-of-speech meaning.

It is also observed that in a number of cases words have different lexical meanings in different distributional patterns. Compare, e.g., the lexical meaning of the verb to treat in the following: to treat somebody well, kindly, etc. to act or behave towards where the verb is followed by a noun + an adverb and to treat somebody to ice-cream, champagne, etc. to supply with food, drink, entertainment, etc. at ones own expence where the verb is followed by a noun+the preposition to + another noun. Compare also the meaning of the adjective ill in different distributional structures, e.g. ill look, ill luck, ill health, etc. (ill+N bad) and fall ill, be ill, etc. (V+ill sick).

Transformational Analysis

Transformational analysis in lexicological investigations may be defined as re-patterning of various distributional structures in order to discover difference or sameness of meaning of practically identical distributional patterns.

As distributional patterns are in a number of cases polysemantic, transformational procedures are of help not only in the analysis of semantic sameness / difference of the lexical units under investigation, but also in the analysis of the factors that account for their polysemy.

For example, if we compare two compound words dogfightand dogcart,we shall see that the distributional pattern of stems is identical and may be represented as n+n. The meaning of these words broadly speaking is also similar as the first of the stems modifies, describes, the second and we understand these compounds as a kind of fight and a kind of cart respectively. The semantic relationship between the stems, however, is different and hence the lexical meaning of the words is also different. This can be shown by means of a transformational procedure which shows that a dogfightis semantically equivalent to a fight between dogs, whereas a dogcartis not a cart between dogs but a cart drawn by dogs.

Transformational analysis may also be described as a kind of translation. If we understand by translation transference of a message by different means, we may assume that there exist at least three types of translation: 1. interlingual translation or translation from one language into another which is what we traditionally call translation; 2. intersemiotic translation or transference of a message from one kind of semiotic system to another. For example, we know that a verbal message may be transmitted into a flag message by hoisting up the proper flags in the right sequence, and at last 3. intralingual translation which consists essentially in rewording a message within the same language a kind of paraphrasing. Thus, e.g., the same message may be transmitted by the following his work is excellent -> his excellent work -> the excellence of his work.

Transformational procedures are also used as will be shown below in componental analysis of lexical units.

Componental Analysis

In recent years problems of semasiology have come to the fore in the research work of linguists of different schools of thought and a number of attempts have been made to find efficient procedures for the analysis and interpretation of meaning. An important step forward was taken in 1950s with the development of componental analysis. In this analysis linguists proceed from the assumption that the smallest units of meaning are sememes (or semes) and that sememes and lexemes (or lexical items) are usually not in one-to-one but in one-to-many correspondence. For example, in the lexical item womanseveral components of meaning or sememes may be singled out and namely human, female, adult. This one-to-many correspondence may be represented as follows.

The analysis of the word girlwould also yield the sememes human and female, but instead of the sememe adult we shall find the sememe young distinguishing the meaning of the word womanfrom that of girl.The comparison of the results of the componental analysis of the words boyand girlwould also show the difference just in one component, i.e. the sememe denoting male and female respectively.

Thematic classification of vocabulary units for teaching purposes is in fact also based on componental analysis.

Thus, e.g., we can observe the common semantic component in the lexico-semantic group entitled food-stuffs and made up of such words as sugar, pepper, salt, bread,etc., or the common semantic component non-human living being in cat, lion, dog, tiger,etc.

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