On Some Problems of Meaning – Polysemy between Sense Enumeration and Core Meaning Paradigms
Filozifija i drustvo, Belgrade: Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory of the University of Belgrade: 25 (4): 146–163.
18 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2015
Date Written: December 26, 2014
Polysemy is a semantic phenomenon which occurs when one lexical item has more meanings which can be seen as related to each other. It is to be distinguished from the other extreme pole of ambiguity, homonymy, which occurs when two or more unrelated meanings are by means of an etymological accident tied to the same orthographic and/or phonological form. Even though polysemy can be considered as a non-issue, since discourse easily solves all of the problems of possible ambiguity for use in everyday language use, accounting for it (in an systematic manner) in terms of how polysemy is represented in the mental lexicon and how to account for the criteria governing the meaning distinctions and the interaction of meanings, for example, is a challenge still not fully met. The paper first gives an overview of the existing theoretical accounts of polysemy which arose over the course of the last two centuries to meet one of the said challenges, namely how polysemy is represented in our minds. The discussion is followed up by a conclusion of the predominant and most plausible theoretical view on multiple meanings stemming from the presented philosophical, semantic, and cognitive frameworks and models.
Keywords: polysemy, ambiguity, cognition, language philosophy, semantics, prototypically, cognitive semantics, neostructuralism, generative semantics, lexical pragmatics
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