1The Sphere of Lexicons and Knowledge

1.1. Lexical semantics

Located at the intersection of semantics and lexicology, lexical semantics is a branch of semantics that focuses on the meaning of words and their variations. Many factors are taken into consideration in these studies:

  • – The variations and extensions of meaning depending on the usage context. The context can be linguistic (e.g. surrounding words), which is why some experts call it “cotext” instead. The context can also be related to the use or register of the language. In this case, it can indicate the socio-cultural category of the interlocutors, for example, formal, informal or vulgar.
  • – The semantic relationship that the word has with other words: synonyms, antonyms, similar meaning, etc. The grammatical and morphological nature of these words and their effects on these relationships are also of interest.
  • – The meaning of words can be considered to be a fairly complex structure of semantic features that each plays a different role.

This section will focus on the forms of extension of lexical meaning, the paradigmatic relations between words and the main theories concerning lexical meaning.

1.1.1. Extension of lexical meaning

Language users are aware that the lexical units to fight, to rack one’s brain and crazy are not used literally in sentences [1.1]:

  • – The minister fought hard to pass the new law. [1.1]
  • – Mary racked her brain trying to find the street where John lived.
  • – John drives too fast, he’s crazy! ...

Get Natural Language Processing and Computational Linguistics 2 now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.