Lexico-Semantic Content & Part of Speech [Split]

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eldin raigmore
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Lexico-Semantic Content & Part of Speech [Split]

Post by eldin raigmore »


Interjections have phatic content rather than semantic lexical content.
Grammatical-function words are extremely light on lexical, semantic content; they have none, or next-to-none.

I have seen it written that all words with much (lexical or semantic) (content or load or weight) belong to one of the following parts of speech;
Nouns and/or pronouns
Verbs
Adjectives
Adverbs
Adpositions

and all other words are either interjections or grammatical-function words.

........

True or false?

Or, how true? Or how false?

Or, true under what circumstances? False under what circumstances?

Or, true for which languages? False for which languages?
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor »

Okay, so something that springs to mind is that pronouns and adpositions also have a very low lexical or semantic content in some languages.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore »

Creyeditor wrote: 11 Jul 2020 19:21 Okay, so something that springs to mind is that pronouns and adpositions also have a very low lexical or semantic content in some languages.
Yes they do, in my opinion; in English, for example.
In my (possibly limited) experience it seems to be (unless I’ve been mistaken) mostly generativists who think adpositions are content-heavy in some languages. I don’t know which languages

How content-heavy a pronoun is depends on which semantic facts about its antecedent it must agree with.
For instance in Texperanto it may have to agree with two or more of the co-referent noun’s first consonant and/or first vowel and/or last consonant and/or last vowel.

In a Bantu language with thirty or forty gender-and-number noun-classes it might have to agree in class and case.

In such languages there may be a great deal of semantic content in a pronoun,
particularly if there are five grammatical numbers* and forty genders, and most of the genders are mostly semantically-based.

*singular, dual, paucal, lesser plural, greater plural
*singular, dual, lesser paucal, greater paucal, plural
*singular, dual, trial, paucal, plural

The more cases, especially the more “semantic” (as opposed to “syntactic”) cases, the language has, the more syntactic information case conveys; including the cases of pronouns.

In fact, if the language has case-stacking, and cases had to be stacked on the pronoun, it might be quite “heavy” semantically!

......

As for semantical or lexical content of adpositions;

The more adpositions a language has, the more information the speaker’s choice of adposition conveys.
For instance, if there are sixteen of them, choosing one conveys four bits of information, twice as much as if there were only four to choose from; if there are sixty-four of them, choosing one conveys six bits of information, three times as much as if there were only four.
How much of that information is lexical/semantic content? I guess I don’t know.

English has about fifty adpositions, doesn’t it?
It’s surely in the top ten, probably in the top five, and maybe in the top two or three languages by number of adpositions.
But if I am not mistaken (and maybe I am), that’s less than a quarter the number of adpositions the Natlang with the most adpositions has.

If adpositional phrases are head-marked, the adposition may tell a great deal of semantic information about its object noun-phrase by agreeing with its number and gender, especially if there are a lot of numbers and a lot of genders and most genders are mostly semantically assigned.
In fact, a bivalent adposition may have to agree with both of its object noun-phrases in different, independent ways, thus communicating semantic details about both of them.

And if adpositions are double-marked, an adpositional phrase modifying a noun may say something about the meaning of the noun it modifies; or an adpositional phrase modifying a verb may say something about the meaning of the verb it modifies.

—————

IIANM English is one of the natlangs some generativists say adpositions carry a significant load of semantic lexical content in.

If so I’m not sure I agree. But maybe.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Reyzadren »

eldin raigmore wrote: 11 Jul 2020 16:36I have seen it written that all words with much (lexical or semantic) (content or load or weight) belong to one of the following parts of speech;
Nouns and/or pronouns
Verbs
Adjectives
Adverbs
Adpositions

and all other words are either interjections or grammatical-function words.

........

True or false?

Or, how true? Or how false?

Or, true under what circumstances? False under what circumstances?

Or, true for which languages? False for which languages?
I mean, if we're analysing it langly instead of lingly, it shall be false more often than not because most languages would have their own categorisation system, innit? For example, that other natlang that I speak has only 4 categories: nouns, verbs, adjectives and task words.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore »

Reyzadren wrote: 12 Jul 2020 23:51 I mean, if we're analysing it langly instead of lingly, it shall be false more often than not because most languages would have their own categorisation system, innit? For example, that other natlang that I speak has only 4 categories: nouns, verbs, adjectives and task words.
No, it would be true for That Other Language.
The “task words” aren’t loaded with weighty semantic lexical content. (Are they?)
So the only words that are so loaded, are among the five categories that are mentioned (even if two of those categories don’t exist in That Other Language.)
....
Thanks for responding!
How’ve you been?

__________________________________________________

Ought I to split this out to its own thread? It’s starting to look like a not-so-quick question. ....
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Sequor »

eldin raigmore wrote: 13 Jul 2020 02:18So the only words that are so loaded, are among the five categories that are mentioned (even if two of those categories don’t exist in That Other Language.)
What Reyzadren said could still be true if other languages can be said to have further categories than those of your list.

For example, it has been argued before that Mandarin has a distinct category of symbolic "expressives", which are some kind of onomatopoeia that enhances the meaning of a adjective-like stative verbs by entering into compounds with them. Some examples:

亮 liàng 'bright' > 亮晶晶 liàngjīngjīng 'shiny bright' (the sound of 晶 jīng evokes the shine of diamonds or similar, cf. bling bling, and note it is also a root meaning 'crystal')
爽 shuǎng 'pleasant' > 爽歪歪 shuǎngwāiwāi 'happy and excited (slang)' (歪 wāi again is used mostly for its sound, but it is also a verb meaning 'to tilt sth, make it askew', if that helps understand the slang connotation... things that are askew are often understood to be a bit devious yet cool, cf. "wicked" and "cursed" in current English slang)
甜 tián 'sweet' > 甜絲絲 tiánsīsī 'delightfully sweet' (絲 sī [sɨ˥] evokes enjoying the taste of food probably with a full mouth, yet it also means 'silk')
神經 shénjīng 'crazy', 髒 zāng 'dirty', 可怜 kělián 'pitiable' > 髒兮兮 zāngxīxī, 神經兮兮 shénjīngxīxī, 可怜兮兮 kěliánxīxī (兮 xī is an onomatopoeia of sad sighing)
冷 lěng 'cold' > 冷清清 lěngqīngqīng 'cold and deserted' (清 qīng [tɕiŋ˥] evokes shine, and is also a word meaning 'clear'; think of a random vast cold piece of land covered by snow in Siberia or Antarctica)

To the extent that these "expressives" may count as different from stative verbs, they would be an example of content words that are not among the canonical verb/noun/adjective/adverb(/adposition) categories.


Also, a major weakness in the claim you report is the existence of "light verbs", or verbs with low semantic content that mostly just serve to render their accompanying heavy word into a predicate: "take a shower" (= to shower), "give sb some criticism" (= to criticize), "have a nap" (= to nap). Persian and Japanese are well known for making very extensive use of this construction (= well known for using this construction). It is found at least to a small extent in many languages though, to the point I wonder whether any of them lack it (maybe they're absent in morphologically very heavy languages like Seneca or Mohawk?).

You can sometimes find similar helping words that syntactically behave like nouns, adjectives or verbs. Arabic has an unusually short word that declines like a noun/adjective, but basically means something like 'of, having' followed by a genitive NP, creating something that behaves like an adjectival phrase. This is a very weird word in Arabic because adjectives normally agree in definiteness and normally do not take a genitive modifier, but in this word neither is true. It can't easily count as a preposition either because it would be the only one to inflect for gender/case/number in the language. The word is masculine ðuu feminine ðaatu (inflecting for case and number), and is used as in jamalun ðuu s-sanaamayni, lit. "camel of two.humps"; ðuu-hu, lit. "of-his" = 'a family relative of his' perfectly usable as an NP (cf. Latin suus 'a family relative', lit. "his/her(s)"); ðuu qiimatin, lit. "of worth" = 'worthy'.

There is also a lot of similar commentary on the grammatical weirdness of English "worth" when it isn't a noun. It becomes something like a main word to a light verb "be" in "it's worth ten grand" (cf. it costs ten grand) as if "be worth" was a transitive verb, and something like a weird-ass preposition or adjective that takes a complement in the -ing form in "the project is worth doing" (cf. November is for making music, the project is hard to finish). This could be an example of something that straddles the lines of your (or anyone's) word classes. (Somewhat relatedly, there is something to be said about "I had no idea (that) it was true" and "I have no idea what you want", in which "have no idea" weirdly behaves like a verb that takes a noun clause or a headless relative clause direct object.)
eldin raigmore wrote: 13 Jul 2020 02:18Ought I to split this out to its own thread? It’s starting to look like a not-so-quick question. ....
I think you can assume that whenever you ask seven questions in a row, especially typological ones, the answers may not be quick at all.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore »

What Reyzadren said could still be true if other languages can be said to have further categories than those of your list.
Yes, if those other categories were content-heavy or semantically loaded; but it would be those other languages that would be the counter examples, not Reyzadren’s Other Language.
I think you can assume that whenever you ask seven questions in a row, especially typological ones, the answers may not be quick at all.
In retrospect that should have been obvious to me. [:$] [:3] [:x] [:|] [:S]

Also, a major weakness in the claim you report is the existence of "light verbs", or verbs with low semantic content that mostly just serve to render their accompanying heavy word into a predicate:
No, I don’t think those apply at all.
The existence of members of those five classes that happen to be light, doesn’t counter the claim.
What would counter the claim would be the existence of contentful words not among those five classes.

......

Did I not state the claim clearly? I’ll have to review it.

......

But not now.

....

Thanks for contributing!
I have 41 minutes left to get some sleep before I have to wake up.
If I pull this all to another thread today, it will probably be more than twelve hours from now!
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Reyzadren »

eldin raigmore wrote: 13 Jul 2020 02:18
Reyzadren wrote: 12 Jul 2020 23:51 I mean, if we're analysing it langly instead of lingly, it shall be false more often than not because most languages would have their own categorisation system, innit? For example, that other natlang that I speak has only 4 categories: nouns, verbs, adjectives and task words.
The “task words” aren’t loaded with weighty semantic lexical content. (Are they?)
So the only words that are so loaded, are among the five categories that are mentioned (even if two of those categories don’t exist in That Other Language.)

How’ve you been?
Not sure on the metric that one would use to evaluate lexical content. My initial guess is that it's something that the native speakers gracefully not count as grammar junk. The task words have an assortment of words that include subcategories of adpositions (which you count), and interjections (which you don't count), as well as other stuff: help words, emotive particles etc.

I've always been here lol
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Re: Lexico-Semantic Content & Part of Speech [Split]

Post by Salmoneus »

eldin raigmore wrote: 11 Jul 2020 16:36
Interjections have phatic content rather than semantic lexical content.
Grammatical-function words are extremely light on lexical, semantic content; they have none, or next-to-none.

I have seen it written that all words with much (lexical or semantic) (content or load or weight) belong to one of the following parts of speech;
Nouns and/or pronouns
Verbs
Adjectives
Adverbs
Adpositions

and all other words are either interjections or grammatical-function words.

........

True or false?

Or, how true? Or how false?

Or, true under what circumstances? False under what circumstances?

Or, true for which languages? False for which languages?
As with most of your questions, this is basically just quibbling over arbitrary definitions.

But for what it's worth: false.

Two exceptions I can think of are expressives and classifiers.

Expressives are very common and important in West Africa in particular, IIRC, and they can convey considerable information not just about the speaker's attitude, but about the manner of action, the environment (the weather, for instance), aspect, success or failure, moral judgement, and so forth.

Classifiers can just be agreement, but they can also convey important information. Classifiers based on position or orientation, for instance, are not just agreement. And possessive classifiers in particular can convey a great deal of information in other languages entrusted to verbs - some languages have words essentially translating to things like "my-for-the-purposes-of-use-as-a-building-material", "my-for-use-as-an-ornament", "my-for-eating", and so forth.

Of course, you could just define all the above as being adjectives, adverbs, nouns, verbs, or indeed prepositions, and then your claim is true again, so...
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Sequor »

eldin raigmore wrote: 13 Jul 2020 08:14No, I don’t think those apply at all.
The existence of members of those five classes that happen to be light, doesn’t counter the claim.
What would counter the claim would be the existence of contentful words not among those five classes.

......

Did I not state the claim clearly? I’ll have to review it.
It seems to me you simply listed verbs along with the other classes without much further comment. If light verbs don't count as "verbs" for this purpose, I feel you're incurring into a tautology.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

Ser wrote: 14 Jul 2020 05:24
eldin raigmore wrote: 13 Jul 2020 08:14No, I don’t think those apply at all.
The existence of members of those five classes that happen to be light, doesn’t counter the claim.
What would counter the claim would be the existence of contentful words not among those five classes.

......

Did I not state the claim clearly? I’ll have to review it.
It seems to me you simply listed verbs along with the other classes without much further comment. If light verbs don't count as "verbs" for this purpose, I feel you're incurring into a tautology.
I don't think he is. His thesis is that there are no heavy words that are not verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs or adpositions. How many light verbs there are, and whether they are a type of verb or not, doesn't really say anything about the existence of non-light non-verbs...
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore »

Salmoneus wrote: 14 Jul 2020 18:53I don't think he is. His thesis is that there are no heavy words that are not verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs or adpositions. How many light verbs there are, and whether they are a type of verb or not, doesn't really say anything about the existence of non-light non-verbs...
Thank you, Sal.
Spoiler:
Of course light verbs are verbs; they can be a clause’s entire nucleus. They are “light”, not “empty”. They have semantic lexical content; it’s just a light load instead of a heavy one.
.....

The “expressives” you mentioned ARE a counterexample, if their content isn’t purely phatic nor are they purely grammatical-function words, and they’re also not nouns or verbs or adjectives or adverbs or adpositions.

I’d like to find out more about them

For instance; how do generativists handle them?
Also; how can we know they’re not nouns or verbs or adjs or advs or adps?

.....

You’re not the first responder to mention “expressives”, but you are the first to mention their semantic lexical content.
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