Broader semantic categories

ThomasK

Senior Member
Belgium, Dutch
From a didactic point of view I considered it interesting to present certain semantically related words together. I think of words like:
- all kinds of words referring to "no longer available (...)": up, over, past, etc.
- all kinds of keeping: storing, preserving, but also saving, remembering
- all kinds of beating: knocking, striking, hitting, etc.
- all kinds op openers: keys, beer keys (bottle openers, can openers, etc.
- all kinds of covers

I don't think these are called "hypernyms". However, they might fit into Roget-ian categories, I suppose... But how do I find (trace) references to such semantic links in semantics? Case Grammar did/oes present similar links but in something like lexico-grammatical links, I suppose.

Background: I think such supernyms ;-) enable a learner to learn (and distinguish) words that are semantically linked (and can therefore be confused). I think they refer to basic acts and basic things...
 
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  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    From a didactic point of view
    Certainly, when we learn a new language one of the areas of difficulty is to identify where that language makes distinctions where our own language does not. An example that is commonly quoted is Russian, which does not have a single word for "blue" but has separate words for "light blue" and "dark blue" - and of course there are many areas of vocabulary where the distinctions are trickier to explain and understand than with colours.

    I suspect that Roget's categories are somewhat arbitrary: in many areas of vocabulary it would be possible to think of very different systems for classifying words by meaning.
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    So you think of that aspect, the distinctions. Certainly a valuable, useful point of view. Yet those distinctions are very specific. I mainly start from the similarities, which I try to gather in a supernym, and then try to apply to different contexts. In some cases one notices that those "supernyms" bring together words that seem totally unrelated in one language but share a root in the other. I think of "re-tenir" in French and "ont-houden" in Dutch: these two words meaning "remember" share a word meaning something like keeping (tenir, houden). I sometimes think is that it might be useful and possible to make supernymic texts, where the specific verb/word has been replaced by the general, abstract term. In that case one would need to "enflesh" the abstract supernym (onomasiology, I think) by "realising the abstract word into various very concrete words in various languages, which reminds me of your idea.

    You should KEEP the words [in your memory] > memorize, learn by heart, remember
    You should KEEP the vegeta bles in the fridge > store, …
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    One single addition: one of the interesting things is that when you start from broad concepts, it is easier to distinguish the various words that have to do with it, like the "head covers". I notice how different the meanings of a hat are or how the word is used in so very different ways when I just compare English and Dutch. Same thing with the (kind of) keeping I referred to above: there is often some idea of "holding" involved and bringing all those words together and practising them may help... I think it is some form of onomasiology that I am referring to...
     
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