9. Semantics: Study questions 1. How is the term “prototype” used in semantics? Prototype is a term used to refer to the most characteristic instance of the category (e.g. robin is a bird). We find no difficulty to describe the words canary, dove, duck, flamingo, parrot, pelican and robin as birds as they are much closer to the prototype (sparrow or robin), but we might wonder if ostrich or penguin is a bird. 2. Using semantic features, how would you explain the oddness of these sentences? (a) The television drank my water. The oddness of this sentences does not derive from its syntactic structure. Structurally, this sentence is well- formed following the sentence structure (NP V NP), but semantically is odd. This oddness comes from the idea that the verb drank requires a subject noun having the semantic feature (+ animate) (capable of “drinking”), yet here the noun television has the feature (-animate). (b) His dog writes poetry. The oddness of this sentences does not derive from their syntactic structure. Structurally, this sentence is well- formed following the sentence structure (NP V NP), but semantically is odd. This oddness comes from the idea that the verb writes requires a subject noun having the semantic feature (+ human) (capable of “writing”), yet here the noun dog has the feature (-human). 3. Identify the semantic roles of the seven noun phrases in this sentence. With her new golf club (Instrument) , Anne Marshall (Agent) whacked the ball (Theme) from the woods (Source) to the grassy area ( Goal) near the hole (Location)and she (Experiencer) suddenly felt invincible. 4. What is the basic lexical relation between each pair of words listed here? (a) damp/moist (Synonymy) (b) deep/shallow(Anotnymy) (c) furniture/table(Hyponymy) (d) married/single(Antonymy) (e) move/run (Synonymy) (f) peace/piece (Homophony) 5. Which of the following opposites are gradable, non-gradable, or reversive? (a) absent/present (Non-grad) (b) appear/disappear (Reversive) (c) fail/pass (Reversive) (d) fair/unfair (Grad) (e) fill it/empty it (Reversive) (f) high/low (Grad) 6. Are these underlined words best described as examples of polysemy or metonymy? (a) The pen is mightier than the sword. (metonymy) (metonymy) (b) I had to park on the shoulder of the road. (polysemy) (c) Yes, I love those. I ate a whole box on Sunday! (metonymy) (d) The bookstore has some new titles in linguistics. (metonymy) (e) Computer chips created an important new technology. (polysemy) (f) I’m going to sue your ass! (metonymy)

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