Meaning in Terms: A Monosemic Approach to the Lexical Semantics of English and Japanese Terms Taken from Narrative Contexts


This presentation aims to look at a possible monosemy of English and Japanese terms taken from narratives by Natsume Soseki and Virginia Woolf. Monosemy, the univocal relationship between a term and its meaning, appears to be a rare phenomenon. Contemporary critics have so far focused on the polysemic nature of terms (Lyons 1977; Cruse 1999), others have simply taken the monosemy of terms for granted (Wüster 1979; Paltridge 2014). Recent communicative approaches have even ignored the existence of monosemy (Cabré 1998). However, the possession of one meaning appears to be an inherent property of terms from specialized languages in specific contexts. In recent years, linguistics have applied the study of sense possessions to scientific, economic, legal and academic terms. Few have shed light on the monosemic potential of geographical terms. My presentation aims to make up for this deficit and pursues a double objective. First, I shall analyze the sense boundaries of proper names (London, Tower Bridge; 東京, 京都) and of words from the general language (fog, city; 霧, 朝霧) taking into account morpholexical, semiotic and terminological aspects. Then, I try to put these terms into context using Natsume Soseki’s The Tower of London and Virginia Woolf’s The London Scene as narrative examples. In line with the conference theme, the narrative context of these stories might allow for some insight into the variability or inflexibility of word meaning helping to establish a possible monosemic nature of geographical terms from a diachronic as well as synchronic perspective.

Author Information
Andreas Pichler, Aix-Marseille University, France

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2017
Stream: Humanities - Language, Linguistics

This paper is part of the ACAH2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon