Entrenchment, salience and basic levels.

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Entrenchment, salience and basic levels.
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  116 DAVID TUGGY Croft,  William.  1993. The role of domains in the interpretation of metaphors and metonymies.  Cognitive Linguistics  4:  335-70. Croft,  William.  2001.  Radical construction grammar: Syntactic theory  in  typological  per spective.  Oxford: Oxford University Press. Fauconnier, Gilles. 1997.  Mappings  in  thought  and  language.  Cambridge: Cambridge University  Press. Fauconnier, Gilles. 1999. Methods and generalizations. In Theo  Janssen  and Gisela Re-deker, eds.,  Cognitive linguistics: Foundations,  scope,  and  methodology  95-127-  Berlin: Mouton  de Gruyter. Fillmore,  Charles  J.  1975. An alternative to checklist theories of meaning.  Berkeley  Lin guistics  Society  1:  123-31. Kemmer, Suzanne.  2003.  Schémas and lexical blends. In Hubert Cuyckens, Thomas Berg, René Dirven, and Klaus-Uwe Panther, eds.,  Motivation  in  language:  Studies  in  honor of  Gunter  Radden  69-97. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 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Saussure,  Ferdinand de.  [1916]  1996.  Cours  de  linguistique  générale.  Ed. Eisuke Komatsu. Trans. George Wolf. Oxford: Pergamon. Schank, Roger  C,  and Robert P. Abelson. 1977.  Scripts, plans, goals  and  understanding. Hillsdale,  NJ: Laurence Erlbaum. Sweetser,  Eve. 1999.  Compositionality  and  blending:  Semantic composition in a cognitively realistic framework. In Theo  Janssen  and Gisela Redeker, eds.,  Cognitive linguistics: Foundations,  scope,  and methodology  129-62.  Berlin: Mouton  de Gruyter. Taylor, John R. 1995.  Linguistic categorization: Prototypes  in  linguistic theory.  2nd ed. Oxford:  Clarendon Press. (3rd ed.,  2003) Tuggy, David. 1992. The affix-stem  distinction:  A cognitive grammar analysis of data from Orizaba  Nahuatl.  Cognitive Linguistics  3:  237-300. Tuggy, David. 1993. Ambiguity, polysemy, and  vagueness. Cognitive Linguistics  4:  273-90. Wierzbicka,  Anna. 1996.  Semantics: Primes  and  universals.  Oxford: Oxford University Press. CHAPTER  5 ENTRENCHMENT, SALIENCE,  AND BASIC LEVELS HANS-JÖRG  SCHMID 1.  INTRODUCTION One  of  the basic tenets  of  Cognitive Linguistics  is  that  the  human capacity  to process  language  is  closely linked  with,  perhaps even determined by, other fundamental cognitive abilities. This chapter is concerned  with  possible manifestations of  such abilities—most notably among them perception, memory, and attention allocation—in  linguistic competence and use.  It  deals  with  mechanisms that influence the  storage  of concepts and constructions in long-term memory and  with factors involved in the retrieval and activation of concepts and constructions from memory during ongoing  language  processing. This  chapter falls into seven sections. Following this introduction, section  2 illustrates the  use of  the notions  of entrenchment  and  salience  in Cognitive  Lin guistics and provides  initial  definitions. Section  3  deals  with  the role of entrenchment in the emergence, sanctioning, and blocking of  linguistic  units. More specific linguistic  effects  of entrenchment and salience in the lexicon are discussed in  sec tion  4. Section 5 reviews an attempt to measure the relative entrenchment of categories in lexical taxonomies. Section  6  deals  with  effects  of  entrenchment and salience in the  area  of  syntax, and section  7  offers  an outlook on future research in this  area.  118  HANS-JORG SCHMID 2. THE NOTIONS OF  ENTRENCHMENT N S LIENCE  IN COGNITIVE  LINGUISTICS 2.1.  Entrenchment When  speakers encode their conceptualizations in words and sentences, they  uti lize  their  competence,  that is, the linguistic knowledge of  phonological,  semantic, grammatical, and collocational properties of words and syntactic structures. This knowledge is stored in their long-term memory. It is fairly  unlikely,  however, that speech processing is always carried out in a creative, generative fashion in the  sense that language users always  have  to actively, or even consciously, search their memory for means of encoding what they  have  in  mind  or decoding what they hear or read. Presumably, a lot  of  what speakers say is available in memory in some  kind  of prepackaged, ready-made format. Convincing evidence for this claim are the words of  a language, since these represent nothing  else  than conceptualizations that  have been fossilized by convention in a speech community. We hardly  ever  stop to think what language would be like without prepackaged concepts readily encodable by words. To refer to a dog that we see running across a meadow, there is no need to consciously construe an appropriate conceptual unit from scratch,  because  words like  dog  or  poodle  are readily available. The question of how to name this entity  will not  reach a level of conscious  awareness,  and the activation of concepts matching our  experience of the dog  will  hardly require cognitive effort. The reason is that familiar  concepts like 'dog' or poodle' are deeply  entrenched  in our memory so that their activation has become a highly automated routine. When  we are faced  with  a more exotic animal, say a tapir in a zoo, the situation  will  be different,  because  the cognitive  processes  relating the perceptual input  that determines the target conceptualization to the corresponding phono logical  unit are  less  well entrenched. We are likely to need more time to identify and  categorize the animal by considering some of its most prominent  attri butes before we can even begin to search our mental lexicon for a word matching this  cognitive category. Clearly, then, the conceptual unit 'tapir', which is represented by this cluster of attributes, is  less  well entrenched than the cognitive unit  'dog'. Cognitive  units come to be entrenched and their activation automated to the extent that they  have  been used before. According to Langacker  (1987:  59), there is  a continuous  scale of entrenchment in cognitive organization. Every use of a structure has a positive impact on its  degree  of entrenchment, whereas extended periods of disuse  have  a negative impact.  With  repeated use, a novel structure becomes progressively entrenched, to the point of becoming a unit; moreover, units are variably entrenched depending on the frequency of their occurrence. ENTRENCHMENT, SALIENCE, AND  BASIC  LEVELS  119 Langacker conceives of entrenchment as being fostered by repetitions of cog nitive  events, that is, by cognitive occurrences of any  degree  of complexity, be it the  firing  of a sin 8 le neuron  ° r  a massive happening  of  intricate  structure and large-scale architecture (1987:100).  As a result, the  degree of  entrenchment  of a  cognitive or linguistic unit correlates  with  its frequency of use. Geeraerts, Grondelaers, and Bakema  (1994) ar g ue for a  more refined version  of  this  idea (see section 5). On their account, it is not frequency of use as such that determines entrenchment, but frequency of use  with  regard to a specific meaning or function in comparison  with  alternative expressions of that meaning or function. Entrenchment of concepts or constructions not only depends on the frequency of  activation by individual speakers (and in that  sense  is not a completely private matter), but it also applies to languages as such and whole speech communities, because  the frequency of occurrence of concepts or constructions in a speech com munity  has an effect on the frequency  with  which its members are exposed to them. The (tacit rather than explicit) implication is that this results in some  kind  of collective automatization effect, which makes it possible to talk of the  degree  of entrenchment of a concept or construction in a given language. In  short, the notion of entrenchment is thus used in Cognitive Linguistics— and  especially in Langacker's influential framework of Cognitive Grammar  (1987, 1991; this volume, chapter  17)—to refer to the  degree  to which the formation and activation  of a cognitive unit is routinized and automated. 2.2.  Salience The notion of  salience  is employed in Cognitive Linguistics in two closely related ways, yet distinct enough to  call  for differentiation. The first  usage,  called cognitive salience, concerns the activation of concepts in  actual speech events. Cognitive units must be activated when they are required for speech processing, and this may result from either one of two mental processes: the activation of a concept may be controlled by a conscious selection mechanism, whereby the concept enters a person's focus of attention and is being processed in current working memory (Anderson  1983:118-20;  Deane 1992: 35); alternatively, a concept may be activated through  spreading  activation,  which occurs when the activation  of  one concept (e.g., 'dog') facilitates the activation  of  others (e.g., 'bark', 'tail  wagging', 'far', poodle', alsatian', 'collie', etc.) (see Collins and  Quillian  1969; Collins  and Loftus 1975; Anderson 1983:  86-125;  and Deane  1992:34).  Irrespective of how  a cognitive unit has been activated, it is said to be  salient  if it has been loaded, as it were, into current working memory and has thus become part of a person's center of attention. Since the use of concepts that are already activated requires minimal  cognitive effort, a high  degree  of cognitive salience correlates  with  ease  of activation  and  little  or no processing cost. Currently inactive concepts, on the other hand,  are nonsalient.  120  HANS-JORG SCHMID ENTRENCHMENT,  SALIENCE AND  BASIC  LEVELS  121 The second  usage of  the notion  of  salience,  ontological salience, is not related to temporary activation  states  of concepts but to more or  less  stable properties of entities in the world. The idea is that by virtue of their very nature, some entities are better qualified to attract our attention than others and are thus more  salient  in this  sense.  The obvious  link  between  ontological salience  and  cognitive salience  is that mental concepts of salient entities  have  a better chance of entering our focus of attention.  As a consequence, ontologically salient entities are more likely to evoke corresponding cognitively salient concepts than ontologically nonsalient ones. For example, a dog has a better attention-attracting potential than the field over which it  is running. Therefore, it is likely that  observers of  the  scene  will  be more  aware  of the dog and its actions than of the  field. The notion of  salience  may thus denote both a temporary activation  state  of mental  concepts  (cognitive salience)  and an inherent and consequently more or  less permanent property of entities in the real world  (ontological salience). It follows from  these  definitions that there is a two-way relationship between salience and entrenchment. On the one hand, ontologically salient entities attract our  attention more frequently than nonsalient ones. As a result, cognitive  events related to the processing of ontologically salient entities  will  occur more frequently and  lead to an earlier entrenchment of corresponding cognitive units, or concepts. This  is perhaps most noticeable in the early  stages  of  language  acquisition when active, movable, or otherwise interesting—and therefore salient—entities such as people, animals, or colorful and noisy toys, which  have  a relatively high potential  of attracting  children's attention, stand a better chance of early entrenchment as cog nitive  units than  less  salient entities, such as walls or carpets. It must be emphasized, however, that there is no one-to-one causal  link  between ontological salience and entrenchment,  because  from a certain point onwards, children acquire the ability of  adults to conceptualize one entity, say a given dog, via a whole  range  of differ ently  entrenched concepts such as 'dog', 'poodle', 'mongrel', 'animal', or 'creature'. This  shows that it is, of course, not real-world entities themselves that get entrenched but possible concepts of entities. On  the other hand, deeply entrenched cognitive units are more likely to become cognitively salient than  less  well entrenched ones. The reason is that a smaller amount of spreading activation  will  suffice to activate them. The question  of  which factors determine the choice from a  range  of concepts that are entrenched to an intuitively  similar  degree  ('dog', 'poodle', 'animal')  will  be discussed in more detail in  sections 4 and 5. What sections 1 and 2  have  shown so far is that there is no general agreement on how to define the concepts underlying the terms  entrenchment  and  salience.  However, unlike in other  areas,  the terminological unclarity is not  the result of a long-standing  debate  but rather a symptom of the novelty of  the concepts involved (see also Geeraerts 2000). 3. THE ROLE OF ENTRENCHMENT IN THE  EMERGENCE, SANCTIONING, AND BLOCKING OF  LINGUISTIC  UNITS As  shown in the previous section, the term  entrenchment  designates the  storage  of concepts and constructions as (variably) routinized items in long-term memory. By the  same  token, it accounts for the  emergence  of linguistic items  with  a high degree  of unit-hood, that is, symbolic associations between semantic and pho nological  structures (Langacker 1987:  57~59)  with little  perceived internal com plexity.  Indeed, although the size of linguistic units can vary from single morphemes to quite elaborate syntactic constructions, it is the hallmark of fully entrenched units that they are conceived of as single gestalts. As Langacker  (1987: 59) points out, When a complex structure  coalesces  into a unit, its subparts do not thereby  cease  to exist or be identifiable as substructures Its components do become  less  salient, however, precisely  because  the  speaker  no longer has to attend to them individually. It is by virtue of their Gestalt-like nature that, despite their possible internal complexity, units are relatively  easy  to process and manipulate and that they require  little  effort to combine  with,  or integrate  into,  other structures. This is the main  cognitive  advantage of  entrenchment. Note, however, that as there are  degrees of  entrenchment, a linguistic item's unit status may also be variable, that is, there are no discrete boundaries between units and nonunits. As  already hinted at, it is not only lexical concepts that get entrenched  with repeated use, but also collocational patterns, or  constructions  in the Construction Grammar  sense  of the term (see Croft, this volume, chapter 18), and syntactic structures. For example, given their high frequency of  usage,  lexical bundles like J don't know,  I  don't  think,  do you want,  or  and  I  said  (Biber et al. 1999: 994) are likely to be highly entrenched, and so are frequently recurring clause patterns such as abstract NP as subject + copula + r/zar-clause' (e.g.,  the thing/fact/point/problem  is that...)  or 'abstract NP as subject + copula + to-infinitive' (e.g.,  the aim/job/task/ idea  is  to.. .;  see Schmid 2000). Firmly  entrenched units play a crucial role in the  emergence  of novel linguistic structures, a process which is known as  sanctioning  in Cognitive Grammar (see Langacker, this volume, chapter 17). If the way to the establishment of novel structures in the repertoire of  individual  speakers  and in the lexicon and grammar of a language  is paved by similar structures that are already well entrenched, their entrenchment (i.e., of  these  novel structures)  will  be facilitated in  turn.  On the other hand, well-entrenched structures can  inhibit  or even block the adoption of novel  structures (Langacker 1991: 162). This occurs, for example, in the field of word-formation,  where the entrenchment  of  potential  novel structures like English stealer  or German  Bauer  (as a derivation of the verb  bauen  'build') is blocked by the established words  thief  and  Bauer  'farmer' respectively. 1  122  HANS-JÖRG SCHMID 4.  SALIENCE  AND  ENTRENCHMENT EFFECTS  IN  THE LEXICON:  BASIC LEVELS  OF  CATEGORIZATION According  to the theory of spreading activation, many more words than those that   are uttered in  a  given speech act are activated during the process of  lexical  retrieval.  | This  claim  is  supported  by  association and priming experiments, which  suggest that whole networks  of  concepts that can  be  related  to a  target word  in  various ways  (e.g., synonyms, antonyms, superordinates, subordinates, collocates, elements of  one frame) achieve some level  of  activation during lexical retrieval (Aitchison  j 2003:  84-101). It is  from these networks that  the  most suitable means  of  encod- ing  the conceptualization to be conveyed, the  active node  (Langacker  1987:384;  1991:  j 159-60),  is  selected during speech production. This  suggests  that the  stage  of  conceptual categorization, which  is  part of lex ical  retrieval (see Levelt 1989:  222-34),  may involve two levels of  activation:  the ac tivation  of a  conceptual network and  the  activation  of  the active node from the options provided by the network. The two  steps  result in the allocation of different  i degrees  of salience across possible concepts, and this, in  turn,  raises the question as to  the  factors determining this allocation process. Arguably, the  degree  to  which concepts  are  entrenched  in  long-term memory  will  play  a  crucial role  in  both stages.  All other things being equal—for example,  the  match between  the  target conceptualization  and the concepts—well-entrenched concepts  have  a better chance of  being selected  as  active nodes than  less  well entrenched ones. What  is  known about the differences between categories  with  regard  to  their degree  of  entrenchment?  While  it is of course difficult to make justified  assessments  j about the entrenchment of  individual  concepts (but see section 5), there  is a  long-  j standing tradition in anthropology, cognitive psychology, and linguistics in trying to attribute  degrees  of  entrenchment  to  certain types  of  cognitive categories. Ac cording  to research to be reviewed in the following,  it is  on the so-called  basic level of  categorization  that the most deeply entrenched categories  are  found. Before the term  basic level  itself was introduced into cognitive psychology by Rosch  et  al.  (1976),  there was evidence that categories were not on  a  par  with  regard to their entrenchment levels.  In a  seminal study, Berlin and Kay  (1969)  collected data from twenty languages suggesting that there  is a  set  of basic color terms  whose extension on the color spectrum  is  similar across languages  of  different develop mental  states.  They hypothesized the existence  of  focal  colors,  areas  in the spectrum that are particularly likely to  be  named by basic color terms in different languages. Their  research proved  to be an  important inspiration  for  cognitive linguists, be cause  it  indicated that there was  a  much closer and more direct tie between per- ception  and naming than had previously been assumed. Later, Kay and  McDaniel (1978)  supported the universalist notion  of  basic color terms by showing that there is  a  correspondence between at least some focal colors and human color receptors, ENTRENCHMENT,  SALIENCE, AND BASIC LEVELS  123 but other attempts  to  account  for  the existence  of  focal colors of variable universality  have  also been made (see, e.g., Wierzbicka  1990), Looking  at plant taxonomies in  Tzeltal,  a  language spoken in southern Mexico, g er lin  and his collaborators (Berlin, Breedlove, and Raven  1973,1974;  Berlin  1978) found  that there was one level  of  abstraction  at  which the largest number  of  category names were available. This was the so-called  generic level,  situated in the center of  the taxonomies between  unique beginners  (e.g.,  PLANT )  and  life  forms  TREE)  at the  more  general  end, and  specific  WHITE BEAN )  and  varietal  RED COMMON  BEAN) categories  at the  more specific end. The generic level, which included categories like  PINE  or  WILLOW ,  not only provided speakers  of  Tzeltal  with  the widest range of  terms  (471  terms  as  opposed to  4  for life forms,  273  for specific categories, and  8 for varietal categories), but it was also the level chosen most frequently for naming plants. In addition, the generic level stood out from the other taxonomic levels on two further scores:  (i)  the terms used  to  name these generic categories were short and  morphologically simple, and (ii) many generic-level categories, such  as  CORN and  BEAN ,  were  culturally  highly significant and biologically important—some were not  even seen as subordinate to more general life-form categories.  All  these findings point  in the  same  direction:  category divisions at the generic level seem to carve up reality in such  a  way that it  is  convenient to name things  at  this level. This, in  turn, suggests  that the generic level of categorization may play  a  special role in cognitive processing. The term  basic level  of categorization  was  first used  for the  central level  in taxonomies  by  Rosch  et  al.  (1976)  to  reflect this cognitive importance. Their study also provided  the  first  and  most important pieces  of  systematic psychological evidence concerning this level. Rosch  et  al.  (1976)  carried out  a set  of experiments with  the aim of confirming the idea that there  is  one level of abstraction at which the most basic category cuts are made (382).  The taxonomies used as experimental stimuli  had three levels, superordinate, basic, and subordinate, and comprised such categories  as  illustrated in  (1): (1)  superordinate level  FRUIT, FURNITURE basic  level  APPLE, PEACH, GRAPES ,  etc.  TABLE, LAMP, CHAIR ,  etc. subordinate level  DELICIOUS APPLE, MACINTOSH APPLE ,  etc. KITCHEN  TABLE, DINING  ROOM  TABLE,  etc. The experiments yielded the following results (see, e.g., the surveys in Rosch  1977; Lakoff  1987: 46-54; Taylor  1995:  46-51;  Ungerer and Schmid 1996:  69-71): a. Basic-level categories strike  an  ideal balance between specificity  of  conceptual information and variety and range  of  members.  In  contrast,  ca tegories at the superordinate level give  little  specific information but collect a  wide range of different members. And subordinate categories give highly specific information but pick out only small  sets  of  members. b.  Similarly, basic-level categories carve  up  reality  at a  level  of  abstrac tion  keeping  an  ideal balance between intracategorial similarity and  124  HANS-JÔRG SCHMID ENTRENCHMENT,  SALIENCE AND  BASIC  LEVELS 125 intercategorial  difference. On the superordinate level, the difference between category members (e.g., chairs, tables,  sofas,  and cupboards as members of the category  FURNITURE )  is so  great  that only very few category-wide attributes, which may be useful for measuring in-tracategorical similarity, can be found. Then, again, at the subordinate level,  the similarities between neighboring categories outweigh the differ ences  between them. For example, the attributes 'has a  seat',  'is used to sit  on', and 'has a back' are shared by both 'kitchen chair' and  'living  room chair'. c. In experiments, subjects could name the largest number of motor movements typically carried out in interaction  with  objects, when they were confronted  with  basic-level terms.  While  FURNITURE  did not  elicit  more than  'scan  with  the  eyes',  basic-level categories such as  CHAIR  evoked specific descriptions of movements  like  'sitting down', which involve subactions  like  'turning one's head', 'bending one's knees and waist', and 'moving  one's body backwards'. d.  Basic-level categories are the most inclusive categories that allow for the construal  of a visual Gestalt image of a category schema which is compatible  with  most category members. For example, the outer  shapes  of most members of the category  DOG  are so similar that it is possible to imagine a  picture of a dog as such. This is clearly impossible for superordinate categories,  because  their members' outer  shapes  are too divergent. What  these and other findings indicate is that the basic level of categorization is  basic in a number of respects: a. it is perceptually basic  because  it allows for Gestalt perception; b.  it is mnemonically basic  because  it organizes knowledge about things in an ideal  balance between specificity of information and cognitive effort; c. it is functionally basic  because  it captures shared kinds of interactions  with objects; and d.  it is  linguistically  basic  because  basic-level terms tend to be morphologi cally  simpler, to be acquired earlier by children (Brown 1958,  1965),  to be used as the unmarked choice for introducing referents into discourse (Cruse  1977),  and to provide the raw material for extensions of the lexicon by means of metaphor, metonymy, and word formation (Schmid  1996a). In  sum, it  seems  to be cognitively advantageous to divide reality into categories at the basic level, and this is why basic-level categories of persons, animals,  living organisms, and concrete objects are considered the most deeply entrenched categories at our disposal. Not only are they more deeply entrenched than either superordinate or subordinate concrete categories, but they are also more deeply entrenched  than categories subsuming  actions,  events, properties, and abstract ideas, for they seem to provide the earliest and most fundamental way of  comprehending the world around us. Arguably, basic-level categories are acquired as early as in piaget's sensorimotor  stage,  when children begin to interact  with  the objects around  them and  find  out about their similarities and differences by touching and  bodily interacting  with  them (Deane  1992:195). 2  There  have  been attempts to ascribe a similar  kind  of basicness to certain event categories  (Rifkin  1985),  speech act categories (Verschueren  1985),  locomotive categories (Ungerer and Schmid 1996: l0 3), and property categories on a central level of abstraction (Ungerer and Schmid l99 6:  106), but the extent to which these categories really derive their basicness from  an  ontologically early and deep cognitive entrenchment is debatable. 5.  MEASURING THE RELATIVE ENTRENCHMENT  AND  SALIENCE  OF CATEGORIES IN LEXICAL TAXONOMIES In  the previous section, the entrenchment of basic-level categories was mainly ac counted  for in terms of cognitive factors  like  perception, conceptual structure, and early  acquisition.  It  will  be recalled, however, that the  degree  of entrenchment of concepts is also thought to correlate  with  the frequency  with  which they are  acti vated: the more frequently a concept is activated, the more entrenched it  will  become, and, vice versa, the more entrenched a concept is, the easier and therefore more frequently it  will  be activated.  While  the correlation between entrenchment and  frequency of  usage  had essentially already been noted by Brown  (1965:  321) and Rosch  et al.  (1976: 435)>  it was first investigated  with  a closed controlled corpus of running  texts in a study of  oral  narratives by Downing  (1977).  Confirming Brown's and  Rosch's expectations, Downing found that it is basic level names which are most frequently used to refer to concrete objects in actual discourse (476). Much  later, Geeraerts, Grondelaers, and Bakema  (1994)  took up the variable of frequency in order to measure the  degree  of entrenchment of the concepts un derlying  the  Dutch  lexical  field  of  clothing  terms. Their method was not based on the  analysis  of  running  text but on a comparison between pictures  of  clothing  items in  magazines and the lexical items used to describe these items in the captions or texts accompanying the pictures. A large parallel  database  was set up, consisting of, on  the one hand, referential information about such parameters as type of  gar ment,  material, cut, length, and so on, and, on the other hand, of lexical infor mation  about the word naming the particular item  of  clothing.  Among other things, this  parallel setup allowed the researchers to measure the  degree  of entrenchment, or  onomasiological salience  in their terminology, by counting how often a certain type of garment, for example tight cotton pants reaching down to the calves, was conceptualized  as a particular concept and named by corresponding words, for example kledingstuk  'garment',  broek  'pants', or legging  'leggings'. Loosely speaking,
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