Lesson_8_Definitions - Rules for Constructing Good Lexical...

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Unformatted text preview: Rules for Constructing Good Lexical Definitions The ability to recall and explain a concept does not necessarily reflect understanding, nor does it guarantee that students can apply and use the concept in a meaningful way (Julyan & Duckworth, 1996 ). 1.Don’t make definition too broad or too narrow Ex: Sibling is “brother” (too narrow because it fails to include sister 2. Convey the essential meaning Ex: Horse is the animal ridden by Napoleon during the battle of Waterloo 3.Provide a context for ambiguous words Ex. Bank is ambiguous Why is this definition ambiguous? 4. Avoid Slanted Definition Ex: Students appreciate the personal attention in the classroom, the relatively small classes (Source: college brochure) 7. Avoid Circular Definitions Ex Student is someone who studies Recognizing Faulty Definitions How to recognize faulty definitions and construct good ones. "A circle is a figure all of whose points are equidistant from a given point." A little reflection will reveal the inadequacy of this definition. The definiens includes not only circles, but arcs and spheres as well. Hence our definition is too broad. Too broad. How to Correct this definition • The definiens needs to be recast. But how? The definiens, as we know, consists of two parts: the differentia and the genus. Let's glance at each of these. • The differentia ("all of whose points are equidistant from a given point") is adequate, but the same cannot be said for the genus ("a figure"). This is too broad, because it admits arcs and spheres. So let's try a more restricted genus: "a closed, plane figure." This genus excludes arcs and spheres and so accomplishes our purpose. Our definition is now adequate and may be broken down as follows: "A circle" (the definiendum) "is" (the copula) "a closed, plane figure" (the genus) "all of whose points are equidistant from a given point" (the differentia). "A thief is a person who steals money." Is this true of all thieves? No. Is this true only of thieves? Yes. This definition fails the "all" part of the test. It is too narrow. Too narrow "A camel is the ship of the desert." "The lion is the king of beasts." Definitions should avoid this kind of language Based on your reading of this chapter, is this definition faulty because it is too broad, too narrow, figurative, lacking in context, slanted, obscure, circular, or fails to capture the essential meaning of the word? "A camel is the ship of the desert." "A camel is the ship of the desert....
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This note was uploaded on 11/13/2010 for the course BA BA12345 taught by Professor Harry during the Spring '10 term at University of Economics and Technology.

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Lesson_8_Definitions - Rules for Constructing Good Lexical...

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