How semantic research is done?

(I mean: research about meanings/usages of words)

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How semantic research is done?

#1  Postby seeker » Feb 02, 2014 6:31 pm

I have some questions about how semantic research is done. For example, how can empirical research be done when we want to know how people in group G use word W, and what different variations of meaning of word W can be found in people within group G, compared with another group G'? Are there standard procedures for doing this kind of research? Are there journals where studies of this kind are published? Do you know bibliography about these issues?
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Re: How semantic research is done?

#2  Postby don't get me started » Feb 04, 2014 12:59 pm

Hmm, interesting question and one that I cannot give a comprehensive answer to I'm afraid. Semantics is not my major field, but I have some background knowledge about how words and meanings work. I'll give some examples.

One basic way of looking at word meanings and usages is through corpus studies. In this field, a data base of text is made. Some of the larger ones run to tens of millions of words. There are different corpora for different types of language. Spoken or written, British or American (or other national varieties) TV programs, interviews, casual conversation and so on. A computer program (A concordancer) will search for every instance of the word in the corpus and display it in it's immediate context.

Here is a concordance for the word 'effect' (You don't need to read it all...just scan it)

001. e table should be thinking, well does that change adversely EFFECT other jobs in our areas and it shouldn't happen that
002. eight days but that's ignored! And that's that's that's an EFFECT of of statute so if you are getting your divorce, mak
003. matter? I've taken speed as powder right and erm it had an EFFECT like these ones. It's a thirty have a look on the bot
004. the divisions are not identical. Yeah. Yeah? And it has an EFFECT. Mm. If York had erm five percent greater number of e
005. to teach. Yeah, I suppose it would. True! Would it make an EFFECT? Mm. I suppose I, I better go and get hair done. Yes,
006. e Right. she argues, not unreasonably, that it does have an EFFECT on the management It certainly does. because of the
007. ill the same number of young people. Mm. That would have an EFFECT. Have an impact, that's right. Yeah. What did occ
008. s , the primary purpose of the York greenbelt is to have an EFFECT on the character of historic York, is it not? It is t
009. time staff, which is one I raised. Yes. Because that has an EFFECT on how you can use people. Erm Yeah, I was looking at
010. nction, you could release, reduce delays from junctions and EFFECT of your making your total journey in a shorter time
011. ewspapers, I really don't expect the Times erm, to have any EFFECT on the F T's sale. Could you just on that remind us w
012. main switch areas. At that stage he didn't seem to have any EFFECT on anything in terms of erm, alerting anybody, so e
013. s. Did it? Yeah. As a deterrent. Which it never has had any EFFECT on at all. That was the reason behind it. It was a, a
014. ought the Italian style double-breasted Mm. for their baggy EFFECT see. Yeah but where can you buy them? Tut that sho
015. ss the county. I mean Trident is one and that has a certain EFFECT. Erm I don't know but there may well be activities fo
016. It doesn't matter whether it's a solid fuel fire or a coal EFFECT er g gas fire or whether it's an electric fire. If th
017. would make a difference, because it would have a cumulative EFFECT and that's why I think we can do it in our own soci
018. ure development of these sites would not have a deleterious EFFECT on the conservation area, the listed buildings, the a
019. ou are all welcome. O.K. I'll try do a version, but it does EFFECT on Q P 5 an Q P6 you see as well coughing. Can you an
020. aces within their area, which of course will have a further EFFECT of decanting even more cars into neighbouring streets
021. the erm chemicals they were spraying on them had a harmful EFFECT on their nervous systems. Er this is sort of thing we
022. at the lord's table. Now that is not to deny that it is in EFFECT surely of bringing Christians together, but there are
023. hat er he will support the Conservative resolution which in EFFECT recognises that some of the changes in government
024. hear it from the witness. Which like the breaching order in EFFECT. It just sets out the information with any further su
025. ould be. Right how do you er plan to address that issue? In EFFECT although although the water is the same product it's
026. r if we strike this out. Maybe she's not covered by this in EFFECT. Well, I mean, we have a different costing form but w
027. rld complementary medical evidence showing it does state in EFFECT that the have our local populations. Even in this c
028. pounds this is where a bit of estate planning can come into EFFECT in your will. Now you may want to leave everything t
029. rtain considerations that obviously we take er we take into EFFECT. And what are they? Well obviously the fact that we e
030. sh and water and air, but little has been done to study its EFFECT on the human population. In the Amazon research is ha
031. it's a drain on, on the time, not just his but the knock-on EFFECT. Ray's also introduced a holiday traffic for the Scar
032. neously with the software. The that is the kind of knock-on EFFECT we experience. So let's look at the er software, who
033. at mine were really here until they . Did it have a lasting EFFECT on you Mollie? Well, you can be the judge of that! No
034. speed cushions and what have you which, which have a lesser EFFECT on, on erm on both minibuses and buses. Not reall
035. l, whatever we want to say. Yeah. I, I think we'd have more EFFECT if, if we'd erm gave them in at the shop where we'r
036. ality system procedures. And those which have absolutely no EFFECT on the quality of the service that we provide to our
037. belt function, the the the the boundary between them has no EFFECT on the greenbelt purposes . It is the boundaries to
038. ng whether or not Or in the County Council's opinion had no EFFECT for the determination of whether or not these sites p
039. something like Divorce any gift to a spouse, quote is of no EFFECT, unquote. But there are big problems that arise there
040. and smoke it in a pipe with tobacco, would it have the same EFFECT? I don't know I bet it would eh? I used to use them w
041. and that kind of thing, road markings, do not have the same EFFECT er but we are working on that and hopefully in our n
042. r that, he could of gone to Doddington market, get the same EFFECT couldn't ya? Same thing both selling rubbish Eh? G
043. was then really went into the school side, whereas the same EFFECT in York was much more minimal because Yeah. spr
044. ically saying is that erm it it er it wouldn't be a serious EFFECT acceptable in normal planning terms. And you have gre
045. ut if there was then that increase by convention would take EFFECT on the first of January nineteen ninety four but the
046. ence. No it's right, it is not just an application for that EFFECT. I see alright well or I I invite members of the jury
047. ovely Eighty eight, forty one, something, something of that EFFECT. And he's got to add them together? I think add the
048. and the Councils' replies, before I close the enquiry. The EFFECT of that would be that I would receive no further writ
049. cauti cautious than we have been in this country about the EFFECT of Chernobyl. Erm Of the total of goods that are sold
050. ay out of the main bedroom and I heard P C say words to the EFFECT of get down and I turned round to see what was g
051. I sh I won't say the exact words but they were words to the EFFECT that er that I was sorry, that I understood and appre
052. iven I don't know the audit timetable I can't visualise the EFFECT this would have but it seems that one could be making
053. onment of the four hundred and fifty million between er the EFFECT of programme re- orientation and other factors. Ca
054. ooks and periodicals but had he done so that would have the EFFECT of taking more than one hundred thousand pounds
055. or the safety of the occupiers. Did you say anything to the EFFECT that Lawrence was being harboured at the flat at or d
056. reet corner cos we've done it and it is it we don't get the EFFECT we want, because most people walk past us. Cos while
057. ssed another man. She's now in her seventies. Yes, it's the EFFECT you have on women Someone had a kiss in a broom cu
058. terms are a result of a British initiative. They've had the EFFECT of halving the value of payments due to creditors dur
059. the process of that it will be essential to monitor erm the EFFECT of some of the changes as you go forward to see in fa
060. y penalized because they happen to be sick or disabled? The EFFECT of metering will hit the poor and the disadvant
061. y style benefits to a nineteen ninety style membership. The EFFECT on us that every year our General Secretary during t
062. ery negative for the environment, they destroy rivers, they EFFECT the navigation, they are quite popular with the popul
063. the gospel is that if you and I allow that intervention to EFFECT us personally, then like those four men surely we too
064. the the the, the slimming down of the armies yet to take to EFFECT. Presumably they're still, you know, flying around an
065. ublicity is fairly short-lived, of course it has tremendous EFFECT on the British media, and we're all very, very happy
066. it was the thirteen years of binging I mean Yeah. wha what EFFECT does that have on you? Erm, it it, it makes it very,
067. is so thick here that it obscures the sun. To find out what EFFECT all this burning may be having on the upper atmospher
068. lar reference to what the new European unity law will, what EFFECT it'll have on trade in that part of the world. So tha
069. go into too much detail but basically what it is that with EFFECT from nineteen ninety one the smoke alarm smoke dete
070. therefore even if the copy is kicking around er that won't EFFECT the matter. The only problem will arise if somebody t
071. m four today whereas if we see that asks that the full year EFFECT of those er financial fire fighters are concerned, we
072. unt you can leave to the children at that point? Erm you're EFFECT erm limited to well no you could leave anything you l

http://www.lextutor.ca/concordancers/concord_e.html Use this tool to create your own concordance.
(Just google 'Corpus Concordance' to see what it looks like in the original. The copy and paste didn't keep the highlighting and centering.)



As you can see, the left words of the target word are organized alphabetically, so you can see patterns emerge.
Lines 2-9 list 'an effect', lines 48-61 list 'the effect'. So we can already see that the noun 'effect' is more likely to occur with the definite article than the indefinite article.
Likewise, if collocated with an adjective it is often with a negative one (Lines 18 and 21) or with a limit /upgrade adjective, lines 65 and 36 for example.
Even this cursory search has started to show patterns in usage and collocation. You can select for left or right hand placement, up to three or four words in either direction.

I was at a conference and someone was referring to some research that had been done on 'Actually' and 'In fact'. Now these would seem to be synonyms in daily usage, but the research found (now my memory is hazy here so I can't remember which was which) that one of them tended to occur more at the beginning of an utterance, the other at either mid-position or end position. One of them collocated with negative content utterances, the other with neutral of positive content. One was used to introduce corrections more than the other, and a whole bunch of other facts about the way these words TEND to get used.

The key point of corpus studies is that they are evidence based. Our intuitions about words and meanings, even as educated native speakers of a language, are often not particularly helpful.
An example that I once came across (I lost the reference!!) is directly related to my field. In a corpus study of the word 'Should', the most common usage is not the 'advice' meaning (You should quit smoking), but the logical outcome meaning (They should arrive by Thursday if you posted them yesterday). Most ESL textbooks introduce should in its advice meaning, way before it's logical outcome meaning, wrongly so.

That is a VERY brief overview of corpus. I'll post more on other meaning related research that I have come across when i get some time.
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Re: How semantic research is done?

#3  Postby don't get me started » Feb 05, 2014 2:13 am

In addition to asking about the meaning(s) of a word, it's collocations, likely placement in an utterance, it's tendency to appear in a passive or causative construction and so on, a further aspect of meaning is how a word differs from a near synonym. One of the regular questions I get as a teacher is not 'What does X mean?', but rather 'What is the difference between X and Y?'
These questions are often very difficult to answer.

The problems of explanation are many.

Translation is often insufficient as languages often do not match one-to-one in meaning. For example, the Japanese word 'Noru' can be translated into English as "Get on" (buses, trains, ships) or "Get in" (cars, taxis, trucks, elevators), or 'Be on', 'Ride', 'Take', 'Be in' or others.

Circularity. "Say means speak, speak means talk, talk means tell, tell means say." The student is unlikely to be any wiser after this.

Obscurity. The language used to explain the word is of a more complex nature than the word being defined. "Pentadactyl limb termination" may be one way of defining 'hand', but an upgrade of complexity in lexis does not in and of itself constitute a definition.

I was reading a book on cognitive linguistics (I'll dig out the reference if anyone needs it...it's on my shelf at work) and the author looked at the two words 'Coast' and 'Shore'. Now on one level these two words seem to be synonyms, describing a boundary between land and water. But most people would probably not align with a statement that the two words mean the same thing. The author investigated some of the possible differences between the meanings. One aspect was investigated by asking the questions "If one takes a coast to coast journey, does one travel over water or land? and if one takes a shore to shore journey does one travel over water or land?" The author suggested that as 'coast to coast' mostly refers to a land journey and 'shore to shore' refers to a water journey there are reasons to propose that 'Coast' refers to the land/water boundary as seen by the 'mind's eye' from the landward side, and 'Shore' refers to the land/water boundary as seen by 'the mind's eye' from the seaward side.

I found this explanation interesting, and the cognitive basis of semantic differences intrigues me. In addition to this explanation, I think that there is a scale difference between the two words, with 'coast' being a larger scale phenomenon than 'shore', and that 'shore' more readily pluralises and can refer to lakes as well as seas, while 'coast' is more resistant to pluralization and mainly refers to seas, not lakes.(Perhaps related to the scale question again.)

Contrasting near-synonyms gives interesting insights into human cognition and the ways that various languages chop reality up into chunks that have internal logic, but may be specific to that particular language's worldview.
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Re: How semantic research is done?

#4  Postby don't get me started » Feb 11, 2014 3:59 am

I'm not sure if anyone is still interested but I'll post some more here. I'm enjoying looking back over some semantics books and articles that I read a few years ago.

This next section is drawn from 'Linguistic Categorization' by John R. Taylor. (Oxford)
Especially pages 112-116.

Now, if you ask anyone who has studied a foreign language, prepositions are one of the most difficult parts of speech to come to grips with. Not only are they extremely polysemous, they seldom mirror meanings across languages. In German you go 'auf Uralub', and you live 'auf dem Lande' and you meet people 'auf einer Party' whereas in English you go ON holiday, Live IN the country and you meet people AT a party.
Prepositions are often relegated to the category of 'things that just have to be learned' in text books. However, cognitive linguists have 'taken up the challenge of the alleged arbitrariness of prepositional usage' (Taylor, 2005, p. 112.)

If we take two sentences with the preposition 'over', the meanings would seem to have little in common:

1)The plane flew over the city. Vs 2)He held his hands over his face
In 1) the orientation between the trajector (the plane) and locator (the city) is vertical, non contact and dynamic.
In 2) the orientation is horizontal, contact and static.

However, a semantic chain can be constructed in which each successive item retains some aspects of the previous meaning, while introducing new aspects, until we arrive far from where we started. For example:

a) The plane flew over the city
b) He walked over the street.

In this pair the meaning of 'from one side to the other' is common in both pairs, in describing the path of the trajector, but the relationship between trajector ( 'plane, man) and locator (city, street) has changed from non-contact to contact.

b) He walked over the street
c) He walked over the hill

Now the contact aspect of the relationship is maintained in both b) and c) but the nature of the path has been changed from a flat trajectory to a curved (up, reach an apex and then down) trajectory.
And so on, with each step maintaining something of the previous meaning, not attending to other aspects of the previous meaning and introducing new aspects of meaning which are foregrounded in subsequent steps of the semantic chain.

Here is the chain as represented in the text (ibid, pp.113-114)

a) The lamp hangs over the table.
b) The plane flew over the city
c) He walked over the street
d) He jumped over the wall
e) He turned over the page
g) He turned over the stone
h) He fell over the stone
i) He pushed her over the balcony
j) The water flowed over the rim of the bathtub
k) He lives over the hill
l) Come over here
m) Pull the lamp down over the table
n) He walked all over the city
o) The child threw his toys all over the floor
p) He laid the table cloth over the table
q) He put his hands over his face

Various meanings emerge during this chain. Path shape, goal orientation, overcoming obstacles, covering, hiding and so on, with each item retaining something of the previous until we get from a to q.

More on prepositions next time.

(Edit for typos)
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Re: How semantic research is done?

#5  Postby seeker » Feb 11, 2014 5:29 pm

don't get me started wrote:I'm not sure if anyone is still interested but I'll post some more here. I'm enjoying looking back over some semantics books and articles that I read a few years ago.
This next section is drawn from 'Linguistic Categorization' by John R. Taylor. (Oxford)
Especially pages 112-116.
(...)
More on prepositions next time.
(Edit for typos)

Thanks, that was very helpful. I guess the corpus of sentences gives some kinds of information, but not others. Are there another methods? For example, I guess it could be useful to have samples of people from different populations, and to study their reactions to different usages of a term in different contexts. This could show that the same word has different meanings in different populations. Are there studies like this? If so, where are they published? Are they reviewed when dictionaries are updated?
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Re: How semantic research is done?

#6  Postby don't get me started » Feb 13, 2014 7:02 am

I'm glad that I could be of help seeker.
Yes, there are other ways besides corpus for investigating word meanings. I'll talk about that in a further post.
In the meanwhile, I'll continue on the theme of prepositions.
In the post above I looked at how semantic chains can be used to give coherence to wide set of meanings of a single preposition (over).

There are also elements of structure that can be found in groups of prepositions. Below is an explanation that I often refer to
in my EFL classes to try and give students some kind of framework for prepositional usage.

Now, some of the most common prepositions in English are the three words 'In', 'On' and 'At'. These words, in common with all prepositions are polysemous, and also in common with other prepositions, they can be used for reference to both time and space, E.g, 'I was born IN 1967' and 'I live IN Japan.' There are parallels in some of the meanings of these three words, with a kind of scale concept governing the time and place usages.

TIME: Year, Season, Month = IN PLACE: Continent, Country, City = IN
TIME: Date, Day, = ON PLACE: Street = ON
TIME: Precise clock time = AT PLACE: Precise location = AT

So you can see that for both time and space meanings the scale narrows as we move from 'IN', through an intermediate scale of 'ON', to a much more fine-grained scale of 'AT'. Most native speakers of English can use these three prepositions with ease, but most are probably not aware of the underlying conceptual structure.
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Re: How semantic research is done?

#7  Postby don't get me started » Feb 14, 2014 1:08 pm

A few extra views, so I guess that some are still reading.
I'll look at some of the other ways that researchers look at meanings, besides corpus driven endeavors.

Firstly, apologies for not including sources here. I'm in the process of moving jobs for the start of the new academic year in April and consequently, most of my library of reference books and articles is boxed up at the moment. I'll dig them out later.

And so to business.

I was reading a series of articles that dealt with meanings of the word 'Break', as it is used in various different languages.
The word 'break' has a variety of different meanings when used by speakers of a language.

One central part of the meaning seems to revolve around changing the form of an object which nullifies its functionality.
'He dropped the wine bottle on the floor and broke it.' This sentence indicates a change in form (shattered glass) which nullifies the function of the bottle, i.e. holding liquid contents.

However, there are other nuances of meaning that are also covered by the word.
'He dropped his iPad in the bath and broke it.' In this case the change in form is backgrounded (in fact, there is no discernible change of form), while the loss of functionality is foregrounded.

Or, in the sentence 'He broke the branch in half and used the two parts to prop up the tarpaulin.' the change in form is foremost, and functionality is actually brought about by the change in form.

And then there may be sentences which involve a change of form and a loss of functionality, but are not described by using the word break. Screwing a sheet of paper into a ball, changes its form and renders it non-functional for use in a printer, but such a case would not usually be described by saying, 'He broke the paper.'

Then come the metaphorical meanings. For example, in English one breaks a promise, but in Japanese one tears (or rips) (破る)a promise. In English one breaks a bone, but in Japanese one only ever snaps (折る) a bone.

These are some of the kinds of things that may come into play when looking into central, marginal and impossible meanings of the word 'break'.

What the researchers were interested in was looking at these different meanings and asking respondents to rate a usage of the word in a sentence on a Likert scale in terms of its representativeness of meaning. The respondents were given a large numbers of sentences containing the word and asked to indicate whether they felt it was very good or very poor, or somewhere in between.

The papers I read looked at the meanings of versions of the word in German and Japanese and English, and found subtle differences in the ways speakers conceived of the central and representative instances of the words in those languages. By such means researchers can uncover subtle variations in the ways different languages describe reality.
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Re: How semantic research is done?

#8  Postby amok » Feb 19, 2014 2:31 am

This thread is a thing of beauty! :cheers: Don't stop, don't get me started!
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Re: How semantic research is done?

#9  Postby don't get me started » Feb 19, 2014 2:17 pm

amok wrote:This thread is a thing of beauty! :cheers: Don't stop, don't get me started!


Thank you very much amok. I'm glad that I could contribute something to the forum that helps share some knowledge and insight into a topic close to my heart.

I'll press on with another aspect of meaning that comes up a lot in my my daily work. The posts above dealt with some different ways of looking at word meanings and usages and were based on academic work that appears in specialist texts and journals. However, looking at language in these terms is often not much use in the EFL classroom.The problem is that learners have limited vocabulary resources with which to deal with definitions.

As was mentioned upstream, translation is often a poor method of explaining meanings to learners. Even when there is some close approximation across the language between words, sometimes the definition can be confusing, on account of the fact that native speakers of a language usually do not have meta-cognitive awareness of the meanings of familiar words. I'll give an example of what I mean by this.

Say I give the following definition and you have to try and work out what the word is.
"This word refers to an animal that is commonly kept as a pet by humans. It barks, wags its tail and is generally excitable."
Now, most people who speak English would quickly hit upon the word 'dog' as the word being defined.

However, supposing I give the following definition.
"This word is used when a speaker assesses that both items in a comparison are empirically characterized by the adjective in the sentence, but to a different extent, with the first item in the comparison possessing the characteristic to a greater extent than the second item."
This is much more problematic. (The word in question is 'even' as in; "Siberia is even colder than Hokkaido.")
It may be the case that the students' own language(s) has/have a word that matches the English word 'even'. The teacher may or may not know this word, but the students may not realize that their own language has a word that performs this function. (As you as a reader probably didn't know before reading this.)

So that language teacher faces a problem, namely, how to avoid reliance on translation or falling into obscurity. (The above definition would probably leave students baffled as to what 'even' means.)

The answer is to be (partly) found in the practice known as 'concept checking'.
In this process the teacher asks a series of questions and gives the students a choice of answers, and the meaning hopefully emerges. For the word 'even' in the usage referred to above, the concept check string would be something like this;

Is Siberia a cold place? Yes or No? (Ans: Yes)
Is Hokkaido a cold place? Yes or no? (Ans: Yes)
Is Siberia colder than Hokkaido? (Ans: Yes)

The principles of concept checking as as follows;
Do not ask open ended questions, always give the students a menu of answers from which to choose.
Do not use the target language in the questions.
Do not use language which is more complex than the target language in the questions.
Do not ask 'Do you understand?'.

Here is a concept check of the expression 'used to' as in 'I used to play tennis at high school.'

Did you play tennis at high school? Yes or no? (Ans: yes)
Did you play tennis at high school one time or many times? (Ans: Many times)
Do you play tennis now? Yes or no? (Ans: No)

Of course this is a bit rough and ready but it does the job in the classroom.
In this case, there is a further dimension in that 'used to' can describe both previous habitual actions, (I used to play tennis in high school) and also habitual states, (I used to have long curly hair when I was a child). By contrast the word 'would' can be used to describe habitual actions in the past (Me and by sister would get up at the crack of dawn on Christmas day and run downstairs) but not habitual states. (?) I would have long curly hair when I was a child.(?)
Students have to be aware that there are nuances of meaning which are beyond them t their current level of proficiency. But using concept checking has been a valuable tool for me also as a teacher when fielding questions of meaning from perplexed students.
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Re: How semantic research is done?

#10  Postby don't get me started » Feb 26, 2014 2:04 pm

I'll look at another aspect of word meanings now, and hopefully illustrate some of the subtle ways that two different languages conceptualize the external world.
The languages I'll look at are Japanese and English, and the situation I'll outline is the use of transport.
Let's take the following process. A man stands on a station platform. A train arrives and the doors open. The man moves from the platform to the interior of the train. The doors close and the train moves off. The train continues moving. The train then stops, and the doors open and the man moves from the interior of the train to the platform.
Now, English conceives of this as a three part action on the man's part.
1. The man GETS ON the train.
2. The man IS ON the train.
3. The man GETS OFF the train.

Or, English conceives of all this as subsumed within a single action. 4) (1+2+3)= The man TAKES the train.

In Japanese the situation is conceived as a two part process. Japanese would use the same verb for both 1. and 2. in the list above, but inflect it differently (Base verb 'NORU'. 1. = DENSHA NI NORU. 2.= DENSHA NI NOTEIRU)
Basically, where English represents the change of state as one verb (Get on) and the resultant state with a different verb (Be on), Japanese conceives of the two as much more intimately related, that is, being on a train is represented directly as being a result of having got on the train.(NORU---NOTEIRU).
Both languages represent the reversal of the state with a different word, conceptually not connected to the prior (English: Get off, Japanese: ORIRU). English then uses a further verb to describe the whole process with a new verb: 'take' whereas Japanese refers to the whole process with the same base verb NORU.

So let's summarize what we have so far.

English: 1) Get on. 2) Be on. 3) Get off 4) Take
Japanese: 1) Noru. 2) Noru 3) Oriru 4) Noru

But this is only one aspect of the difference. In Japanese the word 'Noru' can be applied to all transport items. Car, Bus, Train, Boat, Plane, Rollercoaster, Ship, Bicycle, Motorbike.
English makes a distinction between small items that have limited scope for internal movement. Car, Taxi, Elevator, Rowing boat, all use the verb 'Get in'. Large items within which one can move around to some extent, bus, train, ship, plane all use the verb 'Get on'.
This distinction is entirely absent in Japanese.
Furthermore, Japanese 'Noru' is limited to transport items, but the English verb 'Get in' can be used with non-transport items such as 'bed' and 'bath'.

The three part structure in English mirrored by a two part structure in Japanese is found elsewhere.

In the area of being clothed English has: 1) Put on, 2) Wear and 3) Take off, whereas Japanese has 1) Kiru, 2) Kiteiru, and 3) Nugu. (The 'Ki' of Kiru is the same as the 'Ki' in Kimono. Literally, "Wear thing".)
But once again the difference doesn't end there. In the transport example above, English makes a distinction (Large vs. Small transport items) that Japanese doesn't. In the case of clothing, the situation is opposite, with Japanese making distinctions that English doesn't. In Japanese, the verb changes according to the item.
Shoes/ Pants / Skirt = HAKU
Shirt/ Sweater/ Jacket = KIRU
Hat, Cap, Beret, Helmet = KABURU
Glasses = KAKERU
In English the verb 'wear' applies to all items of clothing.

So, hopefully, I have given some small insight to the ways that two different languages deal with semantics and the business of chopping up the stuff of reality into digestible chunks. As a native speaker of English it has been helpful for me to look at these kinds of aspects of meaning and then realize that my own language is not the only lens through which to look at the world. There is an internal logic in many aspects of language that somehow lies ever so slightly beneath the horizon of consciousness, but with a little bit of introspection becomes visible.
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