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Networks and Knowledge in Roget's Thesaurus$
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Werner Hüllen

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199553235

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199553235.001.0001

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A Cognitive View of Synonymy

A Cognitive View of Synonymy

(p.144) 10 A Cognitive View of Synonymy
Networks and Knowledge in Roget's Thesaurus

Werner Hüllen

Oxford University Press

The chapter provides a concept of synonymy which all my historical and book-orientated research has as its basis. Synonymy is not merely an anomaly in the semiotic system because it disregards the elementary rule that the difference of form creates the meaning; synonymy is a basic phenomenon of lexis because words can only be semanticized by words, which means that every word in a language has its synonyms. Besides, the rules of textual constitution demand that there be perfect synonyms to avoid repetition. However, the meaning of words is not what we find in dictionary definitions. On the level of the system, so-called synonyms are still different from each other. But in performance and within given bounds, which are delimited by the lexemes, the meanings of words adapt certain senses following the constraints of co-texts and contexts. This is a highly economic principle which avoids creating new lexemes for every shade of meaning. In performed language—not in the system created out of reflection—words can therefore also adopt perfect synonymy. These ideas are explained in greater detail and with illustrative examples. They follow the lines given by cognitive linguists (e.g. Pustejowsky, Greenberg).

Keywords:   cognitive framework, human mind, malleability, mental representation, linguistic competence, icon, homonymy, construal

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