Lexis and Semantics

Lexis and Semantics: Define and Usage

Lexis and Semantics definition

Lexis and semantics are terms commonly used in linguistics to describe different aspects of language.

Lexis refers to the vocabulary or the set of words and phrases used in a particular language or by a particular group of people. It focuses on the individual words, their meanings, and how they are used in context.
Example 1:
In the sentence, “The cat is sleeping on the mat,” the words “cat,” “sleeping,” and “mat” are all examples of lexis. Each word carries its own meaning and contributes to the overall message of the sentence.

Example 2:
If we compare the lexis of two different languages, such as English and French, we would observe differences in the specific words used to convey similar meanings. For instance, in English, we use the word “car” while in French, the equivalent term is “voiture.”

Semantics refers to the study of meaning in language. It examines how words, phrases, and sentences convey meaning and how different linguistic elements relate to one another to create meaning. Semantics explores both the literal and figurative meanings of words and the relationships between them.
Example 1:
In the sentence, “She bought a red apple,” semantics helps us understand that “red” describes the color of the apple. Semantics allows us to interpret the meaning behind the words and make sense of the sentence.

Example 2:
Consider the words “hot” and “cold.” Semantics helps us understand that these words have opposite meanings and convey different temperature sensations. It examines how these words are used in various contexts and how they relate to other words to express meaning.

In summary, lexis focuses on individual words and their meanings, while semantics studies the broader meaning conveyed by words, phrases, and sentences and their relationships.

Lexis and Semantics usage and examples:

Lexis encompasses the vocabulary of a language or a particular linguistic variety. It includes words, phrases, idioms, expressions, and even specialized terminology used in specific fields or domains.

Lexis is not limited to individual words but also encompasses collocations (word combinations that frequently occur together) and lexical patterns.
Lexical choices can vary based on factors such as culture, region, social group, and context. Different languages may have distinct lexicons for expressing certain concepts.

Lexis also involves the study of word formation processes, such as affixation (adding prefixes or suffixes) or compounding (combining two or more words to create a new one).

Semantics explores the meaning of words, phrases, and sentences. It investigates how language users assign meaning to linguistic elements.
It analyzes the relationship between words and their referents (the things or concepts they represent) and examines how words relate to one another in terms of synonymy, antonymy, hyponymy, and other semantic relationships.

Semantics differentiates between denotation (the literal or dictionary meaning of a word) and connotation (the associated or implied meanings).
It also considers context and pragmatics, which involves how meaning is influenced by social and situational factors.
Semantics helps us understand figurative language, such as metaphors, similes, and idioms, which rely on non-literal or extended meanings.

Example of Lexis and Semantics:
Consider the sentence, “The old man walked slowly with his cane.”

Lexis: The words “old,” “man,” “walked,” “slowly,” and “cane” are examples of lexis. Each word carries its own meaning and contributes to the overall message of the sentence.
Semantics: Semantics helps us interpret the meaning of the sentence. It tells us that the man is elderly (old), he moved on foot (walked), at a leisurely pace (slowly), using a support (cane). Semantics allows us to understand the relationships between the words and the intended message.

Overall, lexis and semantics are interconnected aspects of language, with lexis focusing on the vocabulary and semantics examining how words and their meanings create coherent and meaningful communication.

Semantics in metaphors and Idioms

Semantics plays a crucial role in understanding metaphors and idioms by helping us interpret their non-literal or figurative meanings. Here’s how semantics helps in understanding these linguistic phenomena:

Metaphors involve the use of a word or phrase to describe something by comparing it to another thing, often using the words “like” or “as.” Semantics helps us grasp the intended meaning behind metaphors by exploring the underlying conceptual mapping between the literal and figurative domains.
Example: “Her voice is music to my ears.”

Literal meaning: This sentence implies that the person’s voice sounds pleasant.
Figurative meaning: Semantics helps us understand that the metaphorical meaning suggests that the person’s voice brings joy or delight, just as music does.
Semantics allows us to identify the associations and connections between the source domain (music) and the target domain (voice) in the metaphor, facilitating our comprehension of the intended message.

Idioms are fixed expressions or phrases whose meaning cannot be derived from the literal meanings of their individual words. Understanding idioms requires knowledge of their conventionalized figurative meanings, and semantics helps in uncovering those meanings.
Example: “Break a leg!”

Literal meaning: If interpreted literally, this phrase would be nonsensical or even contradictory.
Figurative meaning: Semantics helps us understand that this idiom is a way of wishing someone good luck or success, particularly in a performance or competition context. The figurative meaning is not directly related to the words “break” or “leg” but is a conventionalized interpretation of the idiom.
Semantics allows us to navigate the gap between the literal and figurative meanings of idioms, enabling us to comprehend their intended messages and use them appropriately in communication.

In summary, semantics helps us understand metaphors and idioms by revealing the figurative meanings beyond the literal interpretations. It explores the conceptual mappings, associations, and conventionalized interpretations that underlie these linguistic devices, enabling us to interpret them accurately and effectively.

Practice Digital SAT

Find us on Facebook

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You cannot copy content of this page