[Edling] How to teach semantics ?

Ann S Gavriel Perry sense07 at waitrose.com
Mon Oct 9 09:46:09 EDT 2017

Dear Dr Mostari Hind,


I suggest a module to begin with on  'grammar as meaning'  -  with
ambiguities and formal/informal differences in meaning.

For instance, explain true properties and principles of English verb tenses
- such as Present Perfect Progressive among others - showing the strength
and influence of context in most utterances - these can be very small or
very great differences in meaning ( = how to know which is meant - negative
or positive meaning? e.g.:  I have been waiting for the bus an hour/ I have
been waiting for this opportunity all  my life....etc. Context is key in
majority of 'speech acts'.


Then there is scope to move smoothly on to the connection between
grammatical idiomatic 'meaning/s'  - within for example phrasal
verbs/idioms/pronunciation & phonemics.... Such a module might be entitled
'Speech' Semantics - to include also the homophones in formal English which
occur in phrases or groups of words (especially academic or technical speech
and written language) = sounds sounding the same but not related in meaning
at all and therefore confusing  when heard within spoken discourse (dire
critic/diacritic;  rigorous / regress*)  - and make the point strongly about
syllabic stress (as in the latter example*).


You could round up the distinction between formal and informal semantics
with a move to the evidence that there are words known as  'Latinates' (from
the universally translatable Latin language)  which are clear in meaning and
need to be used instead of phrasal verbs (mostly non-translatable
Anglo-Saxon/Germanic root vocabulary) for academic or formal writing = e.g.
set fire to = ignite;   tell = inform, pick up = gather, carry on =
continue....  (literally hundreds of these =- you can make a 'matrix' with
verbs and particles and Latinate equivalents);   small nuggets of true
information - all  nouns in English ending in '....tion' / '....sion' are of
Latin derivation (derivation itself) - therefore Latinates  belong in a good
basic introduction to semantic relations and in fact to any study of English
as a 'means' for deep understanding of 'meaning'....


Rather more generally, and a little humorously, you say what you teach
(?usually ) "...is a bit classical and boring...".  An obvious response to
that  goes like this:  teach in a non-boring way!  


Hope this helps or encourages...

Best wishes,

Ann Gavriel



From: Edling [mailto:edling-bounces at bunner.geol.lu.se] On Behalf Of mostari
Sent: 24 September 2017 00:02
To: edling at bunner.geol.lu.se
Subject: [Edling] How to teach semantics ?


Hi all, 

I am actually teaching one semester semantics and I am seeking help in
finding out exciting and original topics that require debate because what I
teach like semantic types and semantic relations ( antonyms , homonyms etc)
is a bit classical and boring .


I am looing forward to hearing from you 


Dr Mostari 

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