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Title: Semantic molecules and semantic complexity (with special reference to "environmental" molecules)
Contributor(s): Goddard, Cliff  (author)
Publication Date: 2010
DOI: 10.1075/rcl.8.1.05god
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Abstract: In the NSM approach to semantic analysis, semantic molecules are a well-defined set of non-primitive lexical meanings in a given language that function as intermediate-level units in the structure of complex meanings in that language. After reviewing existing work on the molecules concept (including the notion of levels of nesting), the paper advances a provisional list of about 180 productive semantic molecules for English, suggesting that a small minority of these (about 25) may be universal. It then turns close attention to a set of potentially universal level-one molecules from the "environmental" domain ('sky', 'ground', 'sun', 'day', 'night', 'water’ and 'fire'), proposing a set of original semantic explications for them. Finally, the paper considers the theoretical implications of the molecule theory for our understanding of semantic complexity, cross-linguistic variation in the structure of the lexicon, and the translatability of semantic explications.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Review of Cognitive Linguistics, 8(1), p. 123-155
Publisher: John Benjamins Publishing Company
Place of Publication: The Netherlands
ISSN: 1877-976X
Field of Research (FOR): 200408 Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics)
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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