Lexical meaning as a testable hypothesis
The case of English look, see, seem and appear
This book offers an original treatment of the lexical form look. The work is innovative in that it establishes that the Columbia School conception of an invariant meaning – hitherto found primarily in grammar – is equally operative in core vocabulary items like look and see. The upshot is that grammar and lexicon are both amenable to synchronic monosemic analysis. The invariant meaning proposed for look explains the full range of its distribution, without the need to posit as linguistic units ‘look-noun’ and ‘look-verb’, ‘look-visual’ and ‘look-intellectual’, or constructions such as have-a-look, look-like, etc. The analysis places look in opposition with see, seem and appear for which tentative meanings are posited as well. The hypotheses are supported through qualitative analyses of attested examples and quantitative predictions tested in a massive corpus. These predictions offer new knowledge about the distribution of look, see and other forms that may provide useful for other scholars.
[Studies in Functional and Structural Linguistics, 75] 2018. xv, 144 pp.
Publishing status: Available
© John Benjamins
Table of Contents
List of tables
List of figures
Chapter 1. The problem, methodology and theoretical background
Chapter 2. ATTENTION, VISUAL as the explanation for the choice of look
Chapter 3. Using big data to support the hypothesized meaning ATTENTION, VISUAL
Chapter 4. ATTENTION, VISUAL in competition with the meanings of see, seem, and appear
Chapter 5. Competing analyses of the meaning of look
Chapter 6. Theoretical excursus: A critique of William Diver’s approach to the grammar-lexicon divide and a recapitulation of analytical assumptions and findings
“A model of lexical analysis, demonstrating in a masterful manner that meaning is the central driver of usage, and that specific, explicit, well-articulated hypotheses about what a word means can be justified theoretically and lead to testable quantitative scientific predictions. A linguistic tour de force.”
Ricardo Otheguy, Research Institute for the Study of Language in Urban Society
“This book presents a radical turn in the field of lexical semantics, using qualitative and quantitative research to argue convincingly for a single meaning of the English word look that explains a range of newly discovered distributional generalizations. Within the Columbia School framework, it is a model of rigor, clarity, and responsible engagement with the wider linguistic community.”
Juliette Blevins, The City University of New York, Graduate Center
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