Session III: Exercises


Exercise 1A: Elicitation Test


Try to explain/order results in terms of componential analysis and/or in terms of prototypical categories.


1B: Find additional examples of prototypical categories.


Exercise 2: Differences between structural and cognitive semantics with regard to the notion of meaning





Meaning = sum of sememes (distinctive lexical features) of a lexical unit

Three-legged dog is still a dog (componential analysis therefore has no extralinguistic relevance)

Meaning = storing a concept in memory and linking this concept to a sound; a concept arises from the assignment of similar phenomena to the same category (the categorisation of referents) [-> general principles of perception: similarity and contrast]; or, more simply put: the meaning of a word is the cognitive category it is linked up with


Meaning cannot be captured by recourse to language-specific semantic knowledge alone (restaurant = eating place); typical frames are also necessary (how do we behave in a restaurant?); culture-specific frame semantics and prototype semantics are complementary (in the Antarctic the penguin is the prototypical bird)

Meaning is always language-specific; the meaning of a word is determined by its position in the network of the language (paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations)

Existence of semantic primitives; all humans have the same conceptual apparatus

Meaning is an open-ended category; all the knowledge related to a concept is part of its meaning

Arbitrary relation between signifié and signifiant


Partially motivated relation between signifié and signifiant

Semasiological (what does X mean?)


Onomasiological (what do we call this referent?)




gives more weight to distinctive features (e.g. armchair [WITH ARMS])


stresses the saliency (= Prägnanz) of particular features (familiarity, intensity, frequency)

advantage: allows straightforward intralingual and interlingual comparisons (e.g. vegetable, potato)


advantage: captures fuzziness of psychological reality