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2.8: Problems

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    1.8.1Word Senses and Taxonomies, Metaphor and Metonymy

    In these sections, we saw examples of four ways in which the meanings of words can be shifted or extended or mislearned (in the case of children or second-language learners): generalization,specialization, metaphor (based on similarity), metonymy (based on close association, belonging).

    For each of the following examples, say which of these kinds of shifts or extensions is involved, explaining your answer. The extended/shifted word is in boldface in each case.

    Example \(\PageIndex{1}\):

    (The speaker is an IU student discussing a basketball game; he does not play on the team.)
    You should have seen us beat Purdue last night.


    Both are metonymy. There is an strong three-way association between a school, its athletic teams, and its students, so the speaker can refer to Purdue's team as "Purdue" and his own team as "us". The student and the team "belong" to the university.

    1. They're performing Shakespeare tonight.
    2. A baby uses the word car for toy cars, but not real cars.
    3. What a jock. Is there any sport he's not involved in?
    4. Don't pay any attention to what she's saying. It's just bullshit.
    5. The word tool was originally used only for physical devices such as hammers and axes. Now its meaning includes more abstract devices such as software to help people design machines or produce art.
    6. The English words beef, pork, and mutton were borrowed from French, where they referred to animals rather than meat: 'ox', 'pig', 'sheep'.
    7. The English word infant derives ultimately from a Latin word meaning 'a very young child who has not yet learned to speak'. Of course we now use it for all very young children, whether they can speak or not.
    8. Originally the English word vaccine was used only to refer to a weak form of the smallpox virus used to prevent smallpox. Later it was extended to include any substance that works in the same way against a disease.
    9. The English word igloo, usually referring to a house made of blocks of snow, comes from a word in Eskimo languages meaning simply 'house'.
    10. The English word clock comes from a French word meaning 'bell'. Before there were clocks, it was the bells in church towers that people in Europe relied on for knowing the time of day. Later those bells were replaced by clocks located on the same church towers.

    2.8.2 Differences Between Languages

    In this section, we saw that in the domain of personal pronouns, languages may make use of different dimensions to distinguish the different forms from each other. Below are the Tzeltal personal pronouns (San Jerónimo dialect). Decide which dimensions matter for Tzeltal personal pronouns, what the possible values are for each dimension, and what the values on each dimension are for each pronoun. Remember that a dimension value can be unspecified for a given pronoun (for example, you in English is unspecified for gender). Remember also that each word must have a unique combination of values; otherwise you have not distinguished all of the words from one another. Of course you don't have to know how these words are pronounced, but when writing them, note that the apostrophe is a separate letter in the Tzeltal alphabet.

    • jo'on 'I'
    • ja'at 'you (one person)'
    • ja' 'he, she, it'
    • jo'otik 'we = I and you and possibly others'
    • jo'otkotik 'we = I and others but not you'
    • ja'ex 'you (more than one person)'
    • ja'ik 'they'
    Person Number
    jo'on 1 Singular
    ja'at 2 Singular
    ja' 3 Singular
    jo'otik 1, 2 Plural
    jo'otkotik 1 Plural
    ja'ex 2 Plural
    ja'ik 3 Plural
    Speaker Hearer Number
    jo'on Yes No Singular
    ja'at No Yes Singular
    ja' No No Singular
    jo'otik Yes Yes Plural
    jo'otkotik Yes No Plural
    ja'ex No Yes Plural
    ja'ik No No Plural
    Person Exclusiveness Number
    jo'on 1 Singular
    ja'at 2 Singular
    ja' 3 Singular
    jo'otik 1 No Plural
    jo'otkotik 1 Yes Plural
    ja'ex 2 Plural
    ja'ik 3 Plural

    This page titled 2.8: Problems is shared under a GNU General Public License 3.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Michael Gasser via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.