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Lecture Summary (10/24/06)

At the start of our 2nd meeting we took once again a brief look at the class topics during the semester. Afterwards we proceeded with last week's homework (see last summary) and a short revision.

The first major topic of the lecture was "The Meaning of a Dictionary: Information". Right at the beginning of every dictionary there is the so called metadata. This term describes the catalogue information about the production of the dictionary which is intended for dictionary identification. But the more important aspect for our purpose are off course the different types of lexical information in the dictionary entries themselves:

  • form/appearance (e.g. spelling, pronounciation)
  • structure/formulation (e.g. construction of words, place of words in larger constructions like sentences)
  • content/meaning (contains definition, relation with other words and examples)

After that we dealed with the theme of definitions. First of all we learned something about the basic definition types:

  • Standard dictionary definition: definition by nearest kind and specific differences; X is a Y kind of Z (e.g. a baby is a young kind of child)
  • Contextual definition: the term is used by embedding it in a larger expression containing its explanation
  • Recursive definition: defines something in terms of itself; contains base condition, recursive condition and exclusion condition (e.g. definition of prime numbers)
  • Real definition: ostensive definition (conveys the meaning of a term by pointing out examples); models (e.g. showing the picture of an ellipse to define the term "ellipse" )
  • Circular definition (should be avoided): uses the term being defined as a part of its own definition

Subsequently we took a look at the components of definitions. For this purpose we used the definition of the word "poodle" as an example: "a dog with thick curling hair". In this case "a dog" is the genus proxiumum while "with thick curling hair" forms the differentia specifica. The genus proximum has to be seen in a hierarchy or tree structure (poodle -> dog -> animal).




Definition: a form of words which states the meaning of a term, eather meaning in general use (descriptive definition) or the meaning which the speaker intends to impose upon it for the purpose of his or her discourse (stipulative definition); contains definiendum (term to be defined) and definiens (form of words which defines the definiendum)

Explanation: a statement which points to causes, context and consequences of some object, process, state of affairs,etc. together with rules or laws that link these to the object; can only be given by those with understanding of the object

Find dictionary definitions of 5 different words of different parts of speech and give examples of genus proximum and differentia specifica

genus proximum = red; differentia specifica = blue

tree (noun): a plant having a permanently woody main stem or trunk, ordinarily growing to a considerable height and usually developing branches at some distance from the ground

underestimate (verb): to estimate at too low a value, rate or the like

heavy (adjective): of great weight

and (conjunction): conjunction used to connect words, phrases or clauses that have the same grammatical function in a construction

badly (adverb): in a bad manner

1.11.06 16:56

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